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.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Chuck's Gun Shop "protest" to be covered on Hannity and Colmes tonight

Email notice from the Illinois State Rifle Association:

May 31, 2007:
Last Saturday's Protest at Chuck's Gun Shop on Fox News Channel Tonight at 8:00 CDT

This is a quick note to our members and other readers:

If you've been following the fallout from Jesse Jackson's protest at Chuck's Gun Shop last Saturday, especially Father Michael Pfleger's inflammatory threats leveled at John Riggio and pro-gun legislators, then you might want to tune into the Hannity & Colmes show tonight on the Fox News Channel.

This show is transmitted via cable, satellite, certain broadcast affiliate TV and radio stations at 8:00 pm CDT. If you don't have the Fox News Channel, or don't have a TV, you might be able to listen to a live webcast at www.foxnews.com.
I don't know how much (if at all) "Father" Pfleger's outrageous behavior will be covered, but there's one way to find out.

UPDATE: For those who missed it, you're in luck--here it is. It turned out to be all about Pfleger's death threat. It was worth watching just for the beginning, which had much clearer audio of Pfleger than the initial MP3 file did.

Oh look--Pfleger to get another opportunity to spew his venom

One might think that the only thing people would be interested in hearing from "Father" Michael Pfleger is a retraction of, and an apology and explanation for, his call to "snuff out" gun shop owner John Riggio, along with unnamed pro-rights legislators. One would, apparently, be wrong. Next Wednesday, he'll be on TV, as part of a panel, in a bit of irony too bizarre for decent fiction, on reducing youth violence in Chicago.

The panel will also include Phil Cline, Chicago's chief "Only One" (you know--the boss of Anthony Abbate, and these six guardians of public safety).

I wonder whom Pfleger will advocate killing this time.

The old "he didn't know what 'snuff' means" defense

I know I keep talking about this (also here), but I'm still not quite ready to drop "Father" Michael Pfleger's call to "snuff out" gun shop owner John Riggio, along with unnamed pro-rights legislators. Here in the U.S., we're just not accustomed to the clergy advocating murder. This isn't Moqtada al-Sadr chanting some variation on "Death to America"--this is an American born and raised Catholic priest calling for murder.

Some might claim that Pfleger didn't really mean that Riggio and Pfleger's enemies in the legislature should be killed. In fact, one of his minions makes just that claim

Vince Clark, a spokesman for Pfleger, told Cybercast News Service Wednesday that the pastor wasn't aware of the violent connotation of "snuff" and didn't mean to threaten bodily harm.

"I've never heard that compared before with the word murder," Clark said. "He [Pfleger] was never aware of that. If that was the case he would never have used that language."
So, Vince, just what did the good Father think "snuff" means? There are, admittedly, some definitions of the verb form of "snuff" that do not mean "to kill." It can also mean to "sniff," or "inhale." Maybe that's what Pfleger meant: "We're going to drag John Riggio from his shop like a rat, and sniff (or inhale) him." Doesn't really make much sense, does it? Snuff can also mean "to extinguish." The problem with that is, when one is talking about a living being, "extinguishing" is pretty synonymous with killing (unless, I suppose, the person to be extinguished happens to be on fire, in which case extinguishing him would presumably be doing him a favor--but that's clearly not what's going on here). So, I ask again, what did the suddenly English-challenged Father think "snuff" means?

As it turns out, Vince has an answer to that question.
Clark said Pfleger's use of the word "was meaning 'to expose' but to do no bodily harm." He said the backlash from gun rights advocates is "uncalled for, but they're going to take the angle that they desire."
"Expose," eh? Now that's a . . . creative way to use the word "snuff." So could a flasher be said to have "snuffed himself"? While we're at it, what exactly would Pfleger be "exposing" about Riggio--the fact that he is a gun dealer? Riggio hasn't exactly tried to hide that fact (which would, after all, not be particularly good for business). He is even in the Yellow Pages. I also could not help but notice that Clark says that condemning Pfleger's vile rhetoric is "uncalled for." Calling for the "snuffing out" of a man who makes his living and feeds his family on the profits from a legal business of which you disapprove is perfectly acceptable, but expressing outrage over incitement to murder is "uncalled for"?

If I were the type with a propensity for intemperate speech, I might call Vince Clark a lying motherpflucker.

Also see: The War on Guns: The Pfleger Cover-Up Begins

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

War on Guns hits another one out of the park

And who (if I can be forgiven for possibly staying with the baseball metaphor a bit too long) served up the big, juicy, hanging curveball? None other than the good reverend, "Father" Michael "Snuff 'Em Out" Pfleger. You see, Mr. Codrea has noticed that Pfleger's St. Sabina Church seems to be enjoying a tax-exempt status to which it is not entitled.

Mr. Codrea goes into it in detail, so be sure to hit the above link and check out what he has discovered, but the extremely bare-bones version is that Pfleger's St. Sabina Church is a 501(c)(3) corporation, which makes it tax exempt, and makes donations tax deductible. All that is well and good, but there are restrictions (of course there restrictions--with the feds, you just gotta have restrictions). Among those restrictions is the rule that as a condition for the coveted tax-exempt status, the organization must refrain from overtly seeking to engage in politics, and efforts to influence the legislative process. Mr. Codrea shows multiple examples of the "church's" endeavors along those very lines.

Looks pretty cut and dried, doesn't it? It certainly does to me, but then again, I'm not the IRS, and it seems that the "authorities" have a habit of giving Pfleger a free pass for outright criminal activities. I'm not referring to Saturday's apparent attempt to incite murder (another issue for which it is too early to say what consequences, if any, he will face), but to some lesser crimes.

As an example, he has engaged in numerous gun "buy-backs" that would certainly seem to violate Illinois law (and possibly even federal law), but has never faced prosecution.

Illinois gun rights activists say this is illegal under state law because Father Pfleger does not have a Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card, nor is he a licensed firearms dealer. Under the law, they insist, he can’t legally take possession of a gun, not even for a little while. Other people get in trouble for doing the same thing.

A call to the CAGE unit was no help. The man who answered would not give his name, became rude when asked about the gun turn-in project, and declined an offer to call me back at my office to confirm he was actually speaking to a reporter. When I asked to speak to his supervisor, his response was, “I am the supervisor.” He then hung up on me.
He has also vandalized signs that offended him (his contempt for the Second Amendment is well documented, but apparently, he's pretty selective about who should get to enjoy the benefits of the First Amendment, as well). Despite the fact that he did not contest the obvious fact that he committed that crime, he was acquitted.
In his crusade, Pfleger has gone so far as to spend several hours in jail for painting over cigarette and liquor signs. Charged with criminal damage to property, Pfleger admitted the vandalism in court in July 1991 but argued that he had a moral right to act. The jurors agreed and acquitted him.
So clearly, Pfleger seems to be permitted to play by a different (and much more forgiving) set of rules than those imposed on the vast majority of us. Perhaps, though, the IRS, as a federal agency, will be less affected by whatever grip Pfleger seems to hold on the Chicago political machine.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I knew Father Michael Pfleger was crazy, but I didn't know he was homicidal

Over that last few days, I've discussed (here and here) the mob of people that gathered in front of Chuck's Gun Shop, in Riverdale, Illinois, to complain about lawful sales of firearms. I talked a bit about some of what Jesse Jackson spewed, but I neglected to say much about his even crazier counterpart, Father Michael Pfleger (in this picture--from an unrelated event, he's the one who is not Louis Farrakhan).

It's actually not that I neglected to post what Pfleger said, it's just that it's so over-the-top, so unbelievably vile, that I hesitated to post it without being able to back up the fact that he did indeed say it. Well, thanks to the Illinois State Rifle Association, now I can back it up. One of the counter-protesters at Chuck's Saturday recorded Pfleger's hate speech, in which he called for the murder ("snuffing out," in his words) of John Riggio (owner of Chuck's Gun Shop) and pro-rights legislators.

During an address at an anti-gun rally in front of Chuck's, Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina's Church, exhorted the crowd to "drag" shop owner, John Riggio, from his shop "like a rat" and "snuff" him. Rev. Pfleger went on to tell the crowd that legislators that vote against gun control legislation should be "snuffed" as well. As many know, "snuff" is slang for especially violent murder.
Still don't believe me? Listen to the MP3 file.

So much for "Thou shalt not kill," eh? Clearly, the civilian disarmament lobby is the farthest thing from being an "anti-violence" movement, as it purports to be. Apparently Pfleger has gotten tired of even pretending that violence prevention is the goal.

UPDATE: Kudos to the Second Amendment Foundation for helping to make sure this isn't just swept under the rug.

By the way, it looks as if Pfleger (or
someone from St. Sabina, anyway) stopped by here--too bad he didn't leave a comment--even if it was just to threaten to "snuff" me out, too.

Give up the Second Amendment, so Tish doesn't "just about throw up"

Tish Durkin admits to having some rather oddly passionate views about firearms (including the acknowledgment that she "just about throws up" when she sees a pistol on TV--sounds like a medical condition, if you ask me), and this, apparently, is why gun laws in the U.S. should be made much more draconian than they are already, according to her blog in the Huff 'n' Puff Post.

Frankly, I don't care whether Virginia's lax gun laws were entirely, partly, somewhat or not at all responsible for the April 16 massacre at Virginia Tech. I wanted much stricter gun control before that catastrophe happened, I wanted much stricter gun control during the whole media circus that went to Blacksburg after it happened, and I want much stricter gun control now that we are all on our customary way to forgetting, till the next time, that it happened.
It's refreshing to see that she confesses to not being able to promise that more restrictive gun laws would reduce violence--but, unfortunately, she doesn't care whether it would help or not. She wants the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms to be transformed into a grudgingly granted privilege. Actually, she goes still farther in admitting that the utility of restrictive gun laws in reducing violence is a far from sure thing.
. . . Seung-Hui Cho may well have been able to do even greater harm even more quickly had he, say, built a bomb. That goes for all kinds of crazy people hell-bent on doing all kinds of crazy things, from the 9/11 attacks to the Oklahoma City bombing to, for that matter, the teenager here in Ireland who just got manslaughter for hammering his sister to death. It is true that it takes all kinds of other factors, such as serious mental illness, to transform a gun from a neutral piece of metal to a lethal weapon. It is true -- or at least it seems true to my admittedly non-expert eye -- that worldwide, there is no infallible corollary between high rates of gun regulation and low rates of gun murder; many independent sources note that in Britain, for instance, the 1997 imposition of a total handgun ban has done nothing to curb that country's long-term acceleration in the rate of gun-related crimes. It is true that, without benefit of anything like the gun control measures that I'd like to see, violent crime in America began a marked and sustained decline in the mid-1990's.
So how can she acknowledge the paucity of evidence supporting the efficacy of restrictive gun laws in reducing violence, while still calling for the addition of yet more laws to the 20,000 plus already on the books? By shifting the burden of proof from those who claim more legislation is the answer for reducing violence--by forcing gun rights advocates to prove that restrictive gun laws would not help.

Frankly, the whole issue of whether or not more onerous restrictions would reduce violence is beside the point--the real point is that this is a right she seeks to curtail. Even if she had her proof that restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms would save thousands of lives per year (something that I contend will never be proven, because it is not true), she would be arguing for the exchange of liberty for safety--and there are still, blessedly, many Americans who are utterly unwilling to make such an exchange.

Actually, she doesn't quite ignore the rights based argument:
I know, I know: for many gun lobbyists, this whole issue is not about the literal need to curb deaths. It's about the philosophical right to bear arms. Lord knows we could spend our lives in the quicksand of fighting over the meaning of the Second Amendment: does it apply only to the "well-regulated militia" or to the barely-regulated individual, blah blah blah?
"Blah, blah, blah," eh? I gather she doesn't have a lot of respect for that point of view.
According to this thinking, which was very authoritatively voiced on talk radio in the wake of Virginia Tech, a big reason that Americans need the right to bear arms is so that we can defend ourselves, should the need arise, from the American government, just as our colonial forbears did against their British overlords.

Huh? I truly hate to be dismissive of those with whom I disagree, but this just strikes me as straitjacket wackola. But maybe I'm the crazy one. I shall keep an open mind. Could someone please explain how, in the event that the U.S. government turns on us, we will be able to fight back with our handguns - or even arsenal of handguns, and rifles, and machine guns, and whatever else we may have stockpiled in the garage? I mean, don't they have tanks and rockets and stuff? Or does the Constitution enshrine a right to bear nuclear arms? In which case, can I get those online?
Perhaps, Tish, you would be willing to explain to the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan that fighting the U.S. military with only small arms cannot be done. Perhaps you would like to explain that to the families of the thousands of troops who have died fighting these insurgencies. Then, perhaps you might ask yourself how much more difficult counter-insurgency operations would be when the "enemy" is the soldiers' own countrymen. You might even take a minute to consider the fact that the people who would be sending those troops live right here in the U.S., among the very population from which the insurgency would spring (and back into which it could fade at will). Finally, perhaps you would consider the question of if small arms are of so little utility in a serious conflict, why does every military in the world issue so many of them?

Send whatever forces you think could be mustered to implement a civilian disarmament plan, and see how many deaths result from that little endeavor--still think civilian disarmament saves lives?

Molon labe, Tish.

Monday, May 28, 2007

And another thing . . .

In my discussion yesterday of the siege of Chuck's Gun Shop, there was something I forgot to mention about the media coverage. This event, which (depending on whether one believes the Daily Southtown, or the Chicago Tribune) featured either "about 1,000" protesters, or "almost 200," got fairly heavy press coverage. The two newspapers I mentioned, plus ABC7Chicago (in which Jackson compared gun shops to Iraqi insurgency bases) are just the ones I know of to carry stories about it.

Contrast that to IGOLD (Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day), in which 1200 or more gun owners from all over the state went to Springfield, in the finest tradition of grassroots activism, to demand an end to Chicago-style "gun control" over the entire state. The media almost universally ignored it. Perhaps as few as 200 people complain outside a gun store, and it's big news, but 1200 people going to the State Capitol Building, to tell their elected representatives to start . . . representing them, for a change--and it's not a story.

Similarly, with four counties in Illinois adopting resolutions of defiance of the draconian gun laws oozing their way through the Politburo legislature, and more considering similar resolutions, one might expect some kind of reaction from the media. If so, one would be wrong, for the most part.

That's all I have for today. I hope everyone is having a good Memorial Day, and is taking some time to honor the courage, the nobility, and the sacrifices of the brave men and women who have paid with their blood for our way of life. On a personal note, I'll never forget 1st Sergeant Ernest Utt, who was the chief of the cannon crew of which I was a minor part, many years ago, in my paratrooper days. He was killed in Baghdad on June 27, 2004. I am fortunate to have known him, and America is fortunate to have benefited from his brave service.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

So much heat, so little light, from Jesse Jackson and friends

Yesterday, either "about 1,000" (if you believe the Daily Southtown), or "almost 200" (if you believe the Chicago Tribune) people gathered outside Chuck's Gun Shop, in Riverdale, Illinois (near Chicago), to protest the completely legal and above-board commerce in firearms there. The crowd (whatever its size was) was "treated" to speeches by Jesse Jackson and others. If I correctly understand Jackson's column in the Chicago Sun-Times, he believes that gun shops should not be permitted anywhere near urban areas.

Metropolitan areas -- where most people live -- have no use for gun peddlers, for people packing concealed weapons, for kids fighting gang wars with assault weapons. If given their choice, most citizens in cities and suburbs would simply ban handguns, ban assault weapons and ban gun shops and gun dealers. Hunters could buy their guns in the rural areas where they hunt.
Evidently, he believes that people who use guns for evil would not bother driving to rural areas to buy them.

The Daily Southtown article points out that Jackson is not one to let trivialities, such as a lack of factual information, stop him from presenting groundless claims as fact.
Jackson has said in person and in prepared remarks that Chuck's sold the "majority of guns connected with recent shooting deaths in Chicago."

But pressed on his sources, Jackson admitted to the Southtown after the rally that he does not have statistics on the store.

"The police know -- everyone knows -- they get guns from here," he said.
That's good, Jesse--if you don't have information, just make some stuff up.

The Tribune article pointed out something that Jackson and his cohorts said, that I found a bit puzzling:
Jackson and Revs. James Meeks and Michael Pfleger encouraged the crowd to push for stricter gun laws. They vowed that the rally was just the beginning and that civil disobedience was possible.
What kind of "civil disobedience" would one engage in for advocacy of a violation of rights?

The civilian disarmament advocates weren't the only protesters there--counter-protester on the pro-rights side had a question for Jackson.
One man carried a sign that read, "Jesse -- How many armed guards do you have?"
Apparently (and shockingly), Jackson declined to answer that question.

Too bad--I would like to have heard his answer.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Things keep getting better and better in Texas

At the beginning of the month, I mentioned that Texas had been having a good few weeks for gun rights. First the Castle Doctrine bill was passed into law. Shortly thereafter, Governor Perry signed a law stating that gun rights cannot be suspended in an emergency. It would seem rather obvious that Constitutional rights would not be subject to suspension due to unpleasant weather, and that disarming peaceable citizens in times of danger and unrest is exactly the wrong thing to do, but the illegal confiscations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina illustrate the need for additional protection for gun owners.

Governor Perry even had the courage to publicly state the real lesson of the Virginia Tech massacre--that victim disarmament zones are a mass murderer's dream come true. We'll see next year if the freedom lovers in the Texas legislature are able to parlay Governor Perry's vision into an end to victim disarmament zones.

But gun rights in Texas were not finished advancing. This past week, Governor Perry signed a law protecting the confidentiality of concealed carry licensees. As JR, of A Keyboard and a .45, tells us, Texas law was already pretty good in that regard. Now, with the passage of HB 991, it's even better.

Finally, the legislature has passed (and Governor Perry is expected to sign) HB 1815. This bill would ensure that there is absolutely zero doubt that a concealed carry license is not required for merely carry a firearm in one's vehicle. That had been the intent of the law as already written, but certain jurisdictions have refused to acknowledge that. Such abuses will now end.

I'm still working on my idea of getting Illinois (or at least the parts of it outside the Chicago area) annexed by Texas--haven't been able to stir up much interest in the idea yet.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Counties show their teeth

In response to my May 16th post about the recent movement among Illinois counties to adopt resolutions condemning the ever-worsening attacks on Illinoisans' gun rights, StraightArrow pointed out that for the resolutions to mean much, the sheriffs would have to enforce them.

unless your sheriffs in such counties are willing to arrest and charge any agent of the state who tries to enforce the laws they say they will not tolerate, it means nothing.

A sheriff can do so. A local judge can then keep them in jail without bail for any number of crimes which they will have committed. But, it matters not if they don't have the balls for it.

If you draw a line in the sand, you must defend it when it is trespassed or surrender.
Perhaps some Wyoming Sheriffs will show their Illinois brethren how to follow SA's advice.
County sheriffs in Wyoming are insisting that all federal law enforcement officers and personnel from federal regulatory agencies must clear all their activities in a Wyoming county with the Sheriff's Office. Speaking at a press conference following the recent US District Court decision (case No 2:96-cv-099-J) Bighorn County Sheriff Dave Mattis stated that all federal officials are forbidden to enter his county without his prior approval.

"If a sheriff doesn't want the Feds in his county he has the constitutional power and right to keep them out or ask them to leave or retain them in custody." The court decision came about after Mattis & other members of the Wyoming Sheriffs' Association brought a suit against both the BATF and the IRS in the Wyoming federal court district seeking restoration of the protections enshrined in the United States Constitution and the Wyoming Constitution. The District Court ruled in favor of the sheriffs, stating that, "Wyoming is a sovereign state and the duly elected sheriff of a county is the highest law enforcement official within a county and has law enforcement powers exceeding that of any other state or federal official."
Four Illinois counties (Pike, Brown, Schuyler, and Hancock) have already adopted resolutions protesting Cook County-style, draconian gun legislation, with others set to consider similar resolutions. That's all well and good, but of rather limited meaning, unless the county sheriffs actively enforce the counties' power. That power exceeds that of both the federal and state governments, but is very rarely asserted.

Constitution loving sheriffs in Illinois, take heed--Wyoming has shown you the way.

EDITED TO ADD: By the way, I realize that the article quoted is from 2000, and that the Wyoming Sheriffs' actions are not new developments--the fact remains that the Sheriff does have the authority to protect his county from unconstitutional edicts from the state and federal governments.

Ask the experts

War on Guns has already taken a good look at "the expertise" of some civilian disarmament advocates, but I think the "experts" said enough to leave room for a bit more commentary.

Those who advocate defenselessness as a matter of public safety are horrified by the idea of students and faculty being permitted to carry an effective means of self-defense. About the best argument they can come up with is that the police would be unable to tell the difference between the murderer and those trying to stop him, thus causing "friendly fire" casualties.

If anything, they said, it would have made things worse. Terry Hartnett, a member of the Million Mom March of Northern Virginia, said it would be difficult for police to determine who started the shooting if they entered a room full of gun-toting students.
This ignores the fact that the police, in almost all cases, would not be "entering a room" while the shooting was still going on. At both Virginia Tech and Columbine, for example, the police did not enter the buildings until the killers were already dead (by their own hands). If the pool of intended victims had included one or more people equipped to give the murderers the biggest (and last) surprise of their lives, it would have been over even sooner, with even less chance of the police charging into a gun fight.

One of the Million Marching Mommies helpfully provides us with a "fact":
But more guns equal more violence, according to Martina Leinz, of the Million Mom March. "It�s just a fact," she said.
Which explains all the mayhem at gun shows and in gun shops, and illustrates why shooting deaths are so rare in "gun free" cities like Chicago and Washington D.C.

Former gun rights supporter, and now gun rights nemesis Bob Ricker (or "Judas" Bob, as Mr. Codrea calls him), weighs in with some expertise of his own.
Guns are available everywhere, regardless of a lot of purchasing laws, said Bob Ricker, an advocate for sensible gun laws and the former chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association of America. He said there are more than 200 million guns in America.
Let's see here--"guns are available everywhere," according to Ricker, "regardless of a lot of purchasing laws." Sounds like an admission that prohibition doesn't work--a fact that would seem to have been proven rather obvious many decades ago, but it's a bit surprising to hear it from the mouth of someone in favor of restrictive laws.

The author of the "article" makes it pretty clear that she agrees with "the experts"--but no doubt she's an expert at journalistic objectivity.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Speaking of Connecticut . . .

While I'm on the subject of bizarre attitudes in Connecticut about guns, I should probably mention that the drive in Connecticut to turn crime victims into criminals is moving forward. I refer (as I did here, among other places) to Connecticut Senate Bill 903. This bill would make failure to report the loss or theft of a firearm within 72 hours of the time the owner knows or "should have known" (and how is that defined?) a crime (a felony, on subsequent "offenses"). It also places responsibility on the gun owner to store his or her firearms in a manner that makes stealing them difficult (if the specifics of what the storage requirements are have been defined, I haven't been able to find them). I'll bet that private owners of guns will be held to higher standards than the Hartford, Connecticut police department has managed to meet. In other words, this law says that if your gun is stolen, you are subject to blame for it--good thing we're not holding the poor burglar fully responsible for his actions.

Also, referring again to today's earlier post about Stanley Janiak (the owner of the illegal "arsenal"), this law brings up an interesting dilemma. What if any of his guns are stolen? Clearly, SB 903 cannot be applied to him, because requiring him to report that he lost firearms he was prohibited from having would clearly be forcing him to incriminate himself, and thus be a gross violation of his Fifth Amendment rights. In other words, not only would this bill make criminals out of crime victims, it would also be specifically inapplicable to many criminals. All you have to do to be exempt from this legislation is to own your guns illegally.

This is what I call some Looney legislation.

The obvious solution--strong, common sense pipe control laws

My interest is generally piqued when I see such headlines as "EMS workers find arsenal" (particularly in light of Virginia Governor Tim Kaine's recent remarks about wanting to "monitor" what he refers to as "caches" of ammunition). Often, these so-called "arsenals" consist of as few as ten firearms and a couple thousand rounds of ammunition. This "arsenal" in Connecticut sounded a bit more interesting (at least at first).

NEW BRITAIN - A 55-year-old city man is in police custody after officers allegedly found 36 weapons, including machine guns, grenades and bomb-making materials, in his Concord Street home.
You don't want me to get started again about so-called "assault weapons," so I'll just try to overlook that one. Machine guns, of course, scare the living daylights out of much of our increasingly easily frightened society of sheeple, so it's no wonder that the presence of a few of those would go a long way to bestowing "arsenal" status on a gun collection--especially in a news story. The grenades and bomb-making materials did kind of get my attention. Here I was imagining blocks of C-4, detonators, maybe some detonating cord, etc. Reading on brought me to a rather different reality.
In the basement of the house, police found metal piping that could be used for making pipe bombs, police said.
Yep--that's the extent of his "bomb-making materials"--some lengths of pipe. In other words, if your home has indoor plumbing, you're a potential bomb-maker. Oh, and the "grenades"--well, don't get too excited.
Officers also found at least 10,000 rounds of ammunition, empty grenade shells and body armor, police said.
His "grenades" were inert, hollow metal vessels--probably not something you would want dropped on your head from above, but no more likely to explode than a pipe wrench (which, I suppose, could be viewed as a "bomb-making tool").

Our arsenal owner is in trouble--he is a convicted felon, and as such, is barred from possessing any firearms (another thing you don't want to get me started on is the "logic" of judging a man to be too dangerous to be allowed to own firearms, but to allow him to live free in society--where he can easily accumulate hundreds of yards of metal piping). The machine guns were presumably not licensed as per the NFA of 1934; likewise the suppressors ("silencers" in popular parlance--which, as far as I can tell, are tightly regulated for the sole purpose of making firing ranges noisy enough that neighbors have something to complain about).

Interestingly, one of the charges he faces is "possession of body armor." Being not particularly familiar with Connecticut law, I did a bit of research to try to determine how it could be illegal to own something that has exactly zero utility for offense. From what I could determine, it turns out that body armor is legal in all fifty states (although Connecticut does impose the rather puzzling requirement that it only be sold in face-to-face transactions, rather than by mail--presumably, someone thinks that serves some purpose). The problem is that federal law prohibits felons from possessing it.

That's right--we have a federal law on the books for which the only purpose is to make people easier to kill. We're telling (supposedly rehabilitated) felons that they have a legal obligation to be penetrated by any bullet that hits them. Hell--why stop there? If we want to shorten felons' lives, there must be more effective ways to do it. We could bar them from wearing seatbelts. We could require them to smoke a pack a day (no filters allowed). Why not mandate a diet high in trans-fats for them?

When protective clothing is considered part of an "arsenal," and the possession of it is controlled by law, something about our society is severely off-kilter.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Virginia governor wants to monitor ammunition "caches"?

I read this morning that Virginia Governor Tim "Kaine wants lawmakers to change Va's gun laws," by overcoming the General Assembly's "affection for firearms." The article was pretty short on specifics, but this part certainly stood out:

In general, Kaine said, he is troubled that Virginia law allows any individual to stockpile ammunition with no way for authorities to monitor the cache. Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech gunman, began his rampage with 377 rounds of ammunition, according to police.
I don't know how many rounds constitute a "cache" of ammunition, to Governor Kaine's way of thinking, but I do know that if I had only 377 at the house, I would consider it a shortage of crisis proportions. I sure as hell would have a serious problem with "the authorities" considering it any of their business.

As I said, the article is short on specifics, so I have no idea how Kaine proposes to "monitor" every resident's ammunition supply (and that's before we start discussing people who load their own--a practice that would inevitably grow in popularity as soon as the government stuck its intrusive nose into acquisition of the finished product). I can't help but have nightmarish visions of mandatory "arsenal licenses," laws against "stockpiles" beyond a given size (a size, no doubt, that I would find trivial)--basically, the government pushing the people toward a Lexington and Concord moment.

Oh, by the way, Kaine also commented about lifting universities' victim disarmament zone status:
He also said college presidents and police chiefs have told him that allowing students and faculty to carry weapons on campus “would be a disaster.”
A disaster? What the hell do they call the outcome of not permitting peaceable citizens to carry the means to defend themselves effectively? Am I to understand that the university policy-mandated defenselessness that contributed to many of the deaths of thirty-two good people is something other than a disaster?

The disaster is the criminalization of the exercise of the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Compromise? Sounds like abject surrender to me

Ed Campbell seems to believe that his membership in the NRA puts him in a position to negotiate gun rights and gun laws on the behalf of all American gun owners. I disagree.

As a responsible gun owner and a logical person, I am writing to say that -- because I value life, the right of all Virginians to a safe commonwealth, and my personal right to keep and bear arms -- the time has come for some enhancements or additions to the laws that govern access to firearms.
Infringements on fundamental liberties cannot be "enhanced"--they can only be exacerbated.
Obviously, a system of uncontrolled access to guns ceased to work years ago.
What's "obvious" to me is that there has been no "system of uncontrolled access to guns" for many decades (since at least 1934, anyway), so I would argue that such a system did not "cease to work" so much as it ceased to exist.
However, our Constitution gives us the right to bear them.
Our Constitution does not "give" us that right, or any other--it codifies the guarantee of rights that inhere in us by virtue of our humanity.
Contention aside, the time has come for compromise. I think there is plenty of room for rational compromise.
There is no "compromising" on fundamental liberties--one either demands his rights, or meekly submits to being subjugated.

And now we get to the meat of Mr. Campbell's "compromise." He's generously willing to give up more than I'm listing here--these are just the "highlights":
High-capacity magazine ban. I own a Super Nine, or high-capacity 9mm. It can carry 16 rounds, plus one. It never seemed inappropriate, until now. Even for personal defense, a simple eight-round magazine would be fine. Also, a high-capacity magazine ban for all weapons would negate the need for a gun ban.
So a magazine that was appropriate before becomes verboten because some sick punk uses similar magazines for evil? Besides, "negate the need for a gun ban"? There's no such "need" to be negated.
Concealed carry in schools for veterans and law enforcement. This just makes good sense. To get a concealed carry permit in Virginia requires a special application, a full background check and a judge's approval. An additional class, made available to veterans in school, law-enforcement officers and classroom teachers, would remove the restriction on concealed carry on school premises. This should apply only to institutions of higher learning, not anywhere minors make up the student body.
Oh, goody--at least the Only Ones' rights are to be respected.
Enhanced background checks on all purchases, including the Department of Motor Vehicles, criminal background and psychiatric history.
Well, that makes sense--we certainly don't want speeders to be able to arm themselves.
Centralized databases to make background checks more accurate and effective.
Because what's the point of living in a police state, if it's not an efficient police state?
Make a hunting license mandatory for firearms purchase. At the very least, this will help to ensure gun owners are properly trained in firearms safety.
Because we all know that the Second Amendment exists to protect our right to hunt.
Additional funds for disarming illegal, unregistered gun owners.
"Unregistered gun owners"? So I guess mandatory registration was a little detail of his proposal that Campbell forgot to mention.

To be fair, Campbell wants the civilian disarmament advocates to do their share of compromising, as well.
Preserve the Tiahrt Amendment. Gun tracing doesn't work. Banning the most "popular" guns for crime simply creates the next "popular" gun. This is also just going to cause a lot of lawsuits, and don't we have enough of those? Plus, the NRA really wants to win this one, so let them have it, OK?
Well, that doesn't seem like much of a concession--after all, the Tiahrt Amendment is already in force, and has been for several years. For it to be a compromise, wouldn't the other side have to give up something it already has?
No waiting period for bolt-action, shotguns (nonrepeating) and revolvers less than eight shots.
Come back to me when that sentence has been translated into comprehensible English.
No waiting for concealed carry permit holders.
Well that's nice--a government permission slip authorizing the exercise of a fundamental human right would even let you do so right away. How generous.
No gun bans.
Now we're talking. Put me down for a quad-mount, belt-fed Browning M2HB .50 caliber machine gun. Of course, that's a bit heavy and bulky for carrying around on one's person, for that, how about the AA-12 fully-automatic shotgun (with the FRAG-12 explosive, armor-piercing, fragmenting shells, please)? Or is that not quite what you meant by "no gun bans"?

Mr. Campbell's "compromise" is one that even Neville Chamberlain would have rejected out of hand.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Innocent until proven guilty? Not according to the Illinois House of Representatives

Today, the Illinois House of Representatives voted on HB 3633, which would require the revocation of Firearm Owners Identification Cards for anyone subject to an order of protection. The House vote passed, 79 to 30.

My contempt and loathing for domestic abusers is second to no one's, but I must protest any law that would deprive a fundamental human right to someone who has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have committed any crime. Our justice system is (or at least has been) predicated on the presumption of innocence pending the proof of guilt--the abandonment of that vital principle is a quantum leap down the road to tyranny.

I also could not help but notice something about the numbers in today's House vote. Recently, I have discussed several times the fact that many Illinois legislators who have received very high grades from the NRA, who have nevertheless voted against gun rights (these discussions have been in reference to SB 1007, and can be found here, here, here, and here). What I noticed today is that although only thirty representatives were willing to vote against a measure that would strip gun ownership rights from people who have not been found guilty of any wrongdoing, forty-eight of them have A grades from the NRA (OK--one of them is actually an A-, but nine of them have A+ grades). Of those "staunch defenders of gun rights," not two out of three saw fit to vote against this bill (oddly enough, one who did vote against it has a D grade from the NRA).

The NRA apparently grades on a rather generous curve.

That's what I said

Saturday, I discussed the Illinois Senate passage of SB 940, a bill to require the inclusion of mental health records in the information provided to the FBI for NICS checks. I pointed out that the main effect of the bill, requiring such data to be included even in cases of outpatient care, if the patient is determined to be "a danger to himself or others," makes no sense. If he is so dangerously mentally ill, why is he not being committed?

Apparently, I'm not the only one who finds this rather odd. University of Chicago law professor Mark Heyrman is similarly puzzled by this illogic.

HEYRMAN: If it comes to the attention of a mental health provider that someone is a clear and present danger to themselves or others, that provider files a commitment petition unless they can talk the person into going voluntarily. This is a nonsensical bill.

He says the bill as its worded now contradicts itself and would not be effective.
I suppose passing this kind of legislation is easier than looking for actual solutions.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Civilian disarmament advocates--urging us to participate in our own subjugation . . . for the children

In today's Chicago Tribune appears a letter written by Thomas Mannard (Executive Director of the Illinois Council against Handgun Violence) and Arne Duncan (Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Public Schools), ostensibly lamenting the murder of high school student Blair Holt, but in reality exploiting his death to forward the ICHV's agenda of disarming the citizenry. The letter ignores the myriad gun laws that were already broken merely by the killer having a handgun (which, by virtue of Chicago's gun laws, would have been illegal even if he were of legal age), let alone bringing it onto a school bus.

The only U.S. city with gun laws more draconian than Chicago's is Washington D.C. (you know--the city whose gun laws have been found by a Federal Appellate Court to be blatantly unconstitutional)--but Chicago's laws did nothing to preserve Blair Holt's life. Given both Chicago's and D.C.'s perennial placement among the "leaders" in violent crime among our large cities, this young man's death is clearly no exception in that regard.

It seems that in the wake of the Parker v. District of Columbia ruling, more and more civilian disarmament advocates are abandoning any attempt at stealth, and are now openly acknowledging that the goal is a complete revocation of the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms. Instead of disingenuously pushing for what they had once called "reasonable restrictions," while promising no attacks on "legitimate" use (i.e., sporting use--as if the framers of the Constitution believed that protection of the right to sport should be enshrined in the Bill of Rights), they are now openly admitting that the real goal is total civilian disarmament. The letter's last sentence is a case in point.

We as a society need to start showing that we value our children more than the right to bear arms.
Apparently, we are to believe that the legacy we owe to future generations is one of disarmed, helpless, thralldom.

I reject that notion. I will continue to fight all gun laws--and I will do so for the children.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Second Amendment Carnival XII

I would be remiss if I failed to express my appreciation for Armed and Safe's inclusion in Second Amendment Carnival XII.

Thank you, Stan--as always, to be included among this company is an honor of which I will long struggle to be worthy.

Illinois Senate wants to get into the mental health police business

In a not particularly difficult to predict development, the Illinois Senate voted yesterday to jump onto the bandwagon of including "confidential" mental health records in background checks for firearms purchases. The speed with which this measure came up for a Senate vote might be a record--only the day before, Commissar Senator Kotowski hijacked a completely unrelated bill, gutted it, and turned it into firearms legislation. Why does that sound familiar?

A major part of the change this bill would make in current law is that it would include not only mental patients who are committed to a hospital, but also some who are receiving out-patient care:

. . . unless the person's mental condition is of such a nature that it poses a clear and present danger to himself or herself, any other person or persons or the community.
It's not that I am particularly bothered by the idea of trying to keep firearms out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill, but if someone is indeed judged to fit into that category, what the hell is he doing running around free, receiving only outpatient care?

Anyone so dangerously mentally ill that he must be barred from buying firearms legally is presumably also too dangerous to be trusted to not steal a gun, or to not buy one on the black market, or to not simply wreak his carnage by some other means.

Legislation like this reinforces the dangerous--lethally dangerous, in many cases--myth that gun laws can succeed in disarming the lawless. They cannot, and counting on them to do so costs both lives and liberty.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Do we really need the Second Amendment?

As a gun rights activist, it feels more than a little strange to say this, but I have recently come to the conclusion that if the Constitution is truly the supreme law of the land (and we are all, of course, taught that it is), we don't really need the Second Amendment--at least on the federal level. Before my fellow gun rights activists cringe in horror at my blasphemy, allow me to explain.

Part of the beauty of the Constitution is that it specifically forbids the federal government taking powers not explicitly granted to it within the Constitution. This is spelled out in the Tenth Amendment, but even the Tenth is regarded as a truism, that adds nothing to the Constitution that was not already there. The powers granted by the Constitution to the federal government are actually quite narrow (not something one might guess from looking at the huge, bewildering array of federal laws now on the books--but, to be blunt, the vast majority of federal laws are unconstitutional), and do not include the power to regulate civilian ownership and use of firearms.

In other words, not only are all federal firearms laws unconstitutional, they would continue to be so even if the Second Amendment were repealed.

That doesn't mean I have any interest in throwing it out, of course. The enormous number of federal laws (both pertaining to firearms, and not) that are on the books, despite the government's utter lack of authority to impose them (the grotesque excesses of scope bestowed upon the Commerce Clause, for example) provides mute testimony to the vital importance of having some "back-up" protection for rights built into the Constitution.

I believe that where the Second Amendment is truly even more vital is in relation to state and local laws. Granted, as things stand today, the Second Amendment has not been held as being incorporated (by the Fourteenth Amendment) to the state and local levels, but I am at a loss as to why any part of the Bill of Rights can be disregarded by any level of government. How is a right "inalienable," if any part of the government can claim that only other parts of the government are obligated to honor it?

I contend that "shall not be infringed" means shall not be infringed by anyone--on the federal level, the state level, the county level, or the local level. That is why we need the Second Amendment.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Violating two Bill of Rights amendments at once in San Francisco

More gun laws proposed in San Francisco? Yawn.

OK--the fact that Mayor Gavin Newsom is proposing more gun legislation is hardly news. Still, one of his proposed laws caught my eye. It's a "lock up your safety" law that would require gun owners to store their guns disabled with a trigger lock, or sequestered in a locked box--you know--so gun owners can't actually save their lives or the lives of their families with it. The "justification" given for this proposed law is a bit . . . peculiar.

Authorities said lock boxes would help to keep legal guns from being stolen and then later used illegally.
Because a thief just wouldn't dare steal the whole box, and get into it at his leisure. If the victim were home (and effectively disarmed by the law), the criminal certainly wouldn't use his own weapon (or superior size/strength, or force of numbers, etc.) to force the homeowner to open the box for him.

The truly chilling part of this article is in a quote from District Attorney Kamala Harris.
The idea, she contends, is to remind legal gun owners how to behave.

"Just because you legally possess a gun in the sanctity of your locked home doesn't mean that we're not going to walk into that home and check to see if you're being responsible and safe in the way that you conduct your affairs," Harris said.
For the sake of argument, let's set the Second Amendment aside--this is San Francisco, after all, which seems to have some kind of immunity from that particular Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right. Still, I figured the Fourth Amendment still had some relevance, even there--Ms. Harris apparently disagrees.

I think it's (past) time for gun owners to remind her how to behave. A good reminder might be showing her what happens to a home invader who "walk[s] into" a gun owner's locked home.

This demonstration will not involve a locked-up gun.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Fighting back against Cook County's civilian disarmament tyranny

OK--I know I promised to give everybody a break from Illinois issues, but this is hot stuff. Besides, I did post something this morning that wasn't about Illinois, and at least this isn't (specifically) about SB 1007.

I have written in the not too distant past about resolutions adopted in several Illinois counties protesting the ever more draconian gun legislation inflicted on the state, the vast majority of which (if not all of which) oozes down from Cook County. Pike and Brown Counties adopted such resolutions last month (discussed here, here, here, and here). A scanned copy of Pike's resolution can be found here. Brown County's is short and sweet:

Brown County, Illinois - Resolution

We disagree with SB 16 and any new bills or laws which would restrict or deny the 2nd amendment rights for law abiding citizens. We further affirm our rights under the U.S. Constitution Bill of Rights 2nd Amendment which states "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Voted on and passed 8-0 4-9-07
Today's news is that Schuyler and Hancock Counties have both adopted similar resolutions. Furthermore, according to this article, Henry County is in the process of adopting such a resolution.
Henry County Sheriff Gib Cady said after the press conference that the county is adopting a resolution opposing any legislation, 'that would infringe upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms and consider such laws to be unconstitutional and beyond lawful legislative authority!'
Today's other news is that a brand new effort is underway here in my own Madison County to do the same. This online petition has been posted today, to urge the Madison County Board to adopt the following resolution:
Madison County, Illinois Gun Control Resolution

WHEREAS, the Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms is guaranteed as an Individual Right under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and under the Constitution of the State of Illinois, and;

WHEREAS, the Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms for defense of Life, Liberty, and Property is regarded as an Inalienable Right by the People of Madison County, Illinois, and;

WHEREAS, the enjoyment of all safe forms of firearms recreation, hunting and shooting is greatly valued by the People of Madison County, Illinois, and;

WHEREAS, the People of Madison County, Illinois, derive great economic benefit from all safe forms of firearms recreation, hunting, and shooting conducted within Madison County using all types of firearms allowable under the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Illinois, and;

WHEREAS, the Madison County Board, being elected to represent the People of Madison County and being duly sworn by their Oath of office to uphold the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Illinois, and;

WHEREAS, the Illinois House of Representatives and Illinois Senate, being elected by the People of the State of Illinois and being duly sworn by their Oath of Office to uphold the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Illinois, and;

WHEREAS, proposed legislation under consideration by the Illinois State Legislature would infringe the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and would ban the possession and use of firearms now employed by individual citizen in Madison County, Illinois, for defense of Life, Liberty and Property and would ban the possession and the use of firearms now employed for the safe forms of firearms recreation, hunting and shooting conducted within Madison County, Illinois;

NOW, THEREFORE, IT BE AND HEREBY RESOLVED that the People of Madison County, Illinois, do hereby oppose the enactment of any legislation that would infringe upon the Right of the People to keep and bear arms and consider such laws to be unconstitutional and beyond lawful Legislative Authority!
Free Illinois gun owners.

So, New York, you don't like one gun per month?

The civilian disarmament lobby and its media puppets seem to have settled on Virginia as a favorite target of their hysterical finger pointing. With the new law in Virginia that will subject Bloomberg's private detectives to prosecution if they attempt any more "straw purchases," and with the "Bloomberg Gun Giveaway" (organized by the Virginia Citizens' Defense League, in order to help finance the legal defense of some Virginia gun dealers who have already fallen victim to Bloomberg's "sting operations"), the New York media has become especially fussy with Virginia. I wrote about a particularly contemptible column in the New York Daily News back in April.

Now, Douglas Turner, of the Buffalo News, gets in the act with his own opinion piece, titled "Virginia's gun laws are killing New Yorkers". I suppose that the thugs who actually shoot people in New York are simply unfortunate victims of Virginia laws that somehow compel them, against their will, to shoot people in New York (I wonder which Virginia laws require that).

Turner claims that Virginia is responsible for much of the violence in New York, because many guns used by New York street thugs were bought in Virginia by gun traffickers, who then sold them in New York. But wait a second--I thought one gun per month gun rationing laws (such as Virginia's) were supposed to be the be all and end all solution to gun trafficking. This law is so restrictive that (as far as I have been able to determine) only two other states (Maryland and California) have implemented it (South Carolina also had such a law on the books at one time, but has since repealed it). That's right--even New York itself does not subject its citizens to that particular restriction.

Well, you heard the man, Virginia--change your gun laws. No more restricting people to exercising their Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms to only once per month.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The treason spreads

Tomorrow, I absolutely promise to write about something other than SB 1007--in fact, it won't even be Illinois-centric. For the moment, though, I can't let this treasonous behavior go. I've already written (here, here, and here) about the NRA endorsed traitors in the state Senate, who voted for SB 1007. Our newest turncoat is in the House.

Today, Representative Ed Sullivan (not that Ed Sullivan), Jr. (R), with his NRA endorsement and B grade, signed on as Alternate Chief Cosponsor to SB 1007. A call to his office elicited a promise for a return call to explain his actions (which would require one hell of an explanation), but I've not yet heard a word.

The fix is in. Whatever the other side promised must be compelling, because our supposed "allies" in the Politburo legislature are selling us out wholesale.

Fighting the Kotowski/Millner Civilian Disarmament Act

By the way, I should have mentioned that what we need to do now is flood the House Executive Committee's (that's where SB 1007 is at the moment) phone lines with calls pushing for opposition to SB 1007.

Chairperson : Daniel J. Burke (217) 782-1117

Vice-Chairperson : Joseph M. Lyons (217) 782-8400

Republican Spokesperson : Dan Brady (217) 782-1118

Edward J. Acevedo (217) 782-2855

Maria Antonia Berrios (217) 558-1032

Bob Biggins (217) 782-6578

Richard T. Bradley (217) 782-8117

Brent Hassert (217) 782-4179

James H. Meyer (217) 782-8028

Robert S. Molaro (217) 782-5280

Robert Rita (217) 558-1000

Angelo Saviano (217) 782-3374

Arthur L. Turner (217) 782-8116

More discussion of the Kotowski/Millner Civilian Disarmament Act

I have decided to brave the risk of being tediously fixated on the Senate passage of the hideous SB 1007, and write a bit more about it (can you tell I'm still more than a little annoyed?). I discussed last Saturday, and again yesterday, the perfidy of some senators whom gun owners had a right to believe they could trust not to vote against our interests, but who ended up doing exactly that.

In that group, I would include Senator Dan Cronin, Senator Kirk Dillard, Senator Randall Hultgren, Senator Matt Murphy, and Senator John Millner. Today's focus will be on that last one, with his NRA endorsement and A+ grade.

Instead of talking about the NRA's "grade inflation," though (which has already been discussed here and elsewhere), I want to take a closer look at the depth of Senator Millner's treachery, and his apparent attempt to justify it. It was not enough for Senator Millner to "merely" vote for Commissar Senator Kotowski's civilian disarmament bill--he chose to sign on as a chief cosponsor, immediately after Kotowski derailed the bill from its original purpose (protecting children from sexual exploitation), and turned it into a pointless attack on the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms.

But wait! There's good news--Senator Millner is on our side after all--he said so, in a phone conversation with an angry constituent:

I was put right through to Sen. Milner. As some of you know he voted yes on the mag ban. I called to voice my displeasure. Some of you also may remember he voted no on the AWB. Why the switch? Well Mr. Milner first said he has been swamped with email's and was having an impossible time explaining in an e mail why he voted the way he did. He than proceeded to talk to me at great length about his dislike for any type of gun control. At several time's I thought I was talking to one of my shooting buddies instead of a politician. He own's an AR has Hi cap mag's. What this all come's down to is the Dem's in this state are fighting hard. Men like Senator Milner are outnumbered and attacked from every angle. They are doing everything they can. And the mag ban was the bargaining chip. It was that or a gun ban. A 50 cal. ban. Which could have included muzzle loader's. He told me this ban has been ammended to piece's from what the dem's originally wanted. How would you have like'd to do 10 year's for one 20 round mag? He hope's he did'nt make a mistake. And made it very clear to me that he is on our side. I will be watching and in my opinion if we could vote in more men and woman like Sen. Milner we would not have much to worry about. Your opinion's Will be appriciated.
Now I don't know the person who originally posted this at AR15.com, and thus cannot vouch for the veracity of his account. Still, I cannot easily think of a motive for fabricating such a story. So, if we are to believe that this conversation took place, Senator Millner's rather strong support for this attack on gun rights was motivated by a desire to . . . protect gun rights. Sure--makes sense to me. Apparently, he believes that his enthusiastic support for the Kotowski/Millner civilian disarmament bill will help ensure that other anti-gun legislation (even more heinous, I suppose) will be thwarted. Too bad he didn't see fit to explain that remarkable assertion (when I called it "remarkable," I never said the remarks would be polite). Senator Millner sounds like just the guy I might be able to interest in a good deal on a pair of breeding mules.

Thanks for your "help," Senator, but next time, please don't bother.

The House Rules Committee has assigned this bill to the House Executive Committee. From there, it could go to the House floor for a vote at any time. Anyone who intends to help fight it had better hurry.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Quick update

I wrote Saturday about five Illinois state Senators who I was told had received endorsements and high grades from the NRA last November (plus one who was not endorsed, and received a D grade, but whose voting history would seem to indicate an F), but who still voted for the SB 1007 abomination.

At the time, I could not positively confirm those grades, or that the NRA had endorsed them (although I trusted the person who stated those claims). That has changed--I now have last November's issue of "American Rifleman" in front of me, and it confirms what I had been told: Senator Cronin--endorsed with a B grade, Senator Dillard--endorsed with a B+ grade, Senator Hultgren--endorsed with an A grade, Senator Millner--endorsed with an A+ grade (and he signed on as chief cosponsor of the bill when it was hijacked from being a bill about sexual exploitation of children, to one about magazines!), and Senator Murphy--endorsed with an A grade.

Who needs the Bradys, when we have the NRA?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A vote for nothing

There are some elements in this op-ed piece ("All or Nothing") from the Stanford University newspaper with which I disagree, but on one point, I think its author, economics major Chris Seck, is spot-on.

If we decide that more anti-gun legislation is the answer—a solution popular in this corner of America—we must recognize that gun control must be absolute in order to work. Half-measures like restrictions on “non-sporting” firearms, extended registration periods, or increased background checks are insufficient. We will require a total ban on civilian ownership of guns because if our gun-control laws are rigorous, but not absolute, the vast majority of innocent people will be completely defenseless against the few criminals who manage to procure guns. Half-hearted gun control laws will be broken too easily; they are insufficient against determined criminals.
I could not have said that better myself. Laws designed to reduce "the availability of guns" that so horrifies civilian disarmament advocates will of course only reduce that availability to those who obey the laws. Such people, as Mr. Seck points out, are exactly the last we should be disarming, while the people who are most likely to use firearms for evil are exactly the last who would be disarmed. That's a two-pronged strategy for failure.

The only way--the only way--to disarm those who pose a threat to society is to sweep up every gun in private hands. That endeavor would likely be a bit messy.
However, in order to enforce such absolute gun control, severe penalties, including lengthy jail terms and huge fines, will need to be imposed on illegal gun owners. Moreover, active measures will need to be taken to disarm existing fugitives, outlaws, and gang members who already own guns.
At this point, Mr. Seck shows himself to be a master of understatement:
This may prove to be a very difficult task politically. The process of enforcing a total disarmament of our population will be costly and may require draconian measures. It may be necessary to modify parts of the Second Amendment.
"It may be necessary to modify parts of the Second Amendment"?--there's no "may" about it--civilian disarmament would absolutely require drastic measures to be taken with the Second Amendment, and the only "modification" that would really make sense for this kind of agenda would be its utter abolishment. But while we're chopping up the Bill of Rights, we must not commit the massive folly of stopping with the Second Amendment. War on Guns discusses one civilian disarmament zealot's detailed plan for disarming us all (WoG also hosts a superb guest editorial on the subject).

With his sweeps of every home and every business, with no probable cause (and thus no search warrant--at least none issued under due process) Simpson would clearly require the Fourth Amendment to go. As the people inevitably resisted, free speech would need to be reined in--can't have Constitutional patriots whipping the rabble into a frenzy--there goes the First Amendment. Fifth Amendment? Hell, we're already ignoring that, when doing so helps disarm the populace--we just have to step it up a little.

Actually, the federal government's utter lack of authority to pass laws regulating firearms would not be changed by the repeal of the Second Amendment, because according to the Tenth Amendment, any powers not specifically delegated to the federal government by the Constitution are beyond federal authority--and the power to regulate arms is not one of those Constitutionally mandated federal powers. Granted, the Tenth Amendment is another part of the Bill of Rights that for years has been used as a Charmin substitute, but still, if we want to do this right, we had better get rid of that one, too.

Without really trying hard, I have found the need to repeal half the Bill of Rights, if we are to be serious about a civilian disarmament plan. We might as well get rid of the whole damned thing, while we're at it.

The op-ed piece in the "Stanford Review" that inspired this blog post was called "All or Nothing"--in keeping with the author's (well supported) contention that for so-called "gun control" to actually "work" (make society safe from "gun violence"--by the way, for the sake of argument, I'm ignoring the fact that in a society without guns, if it could be brought about, killers would do their dirty work with other implements), we would have to completely ban private ownership of firearms, and enforce the ban with an iron fist. If we don't do that, then we must get out of the "gun control" business entirely, because partial measures will always disarm the law-abiding, peaceable people faster than it will the violent criminals.

All or nothing? Mark me down for a big ol' plate of nothing.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

NRA endorsed Senator: "I never promised to vote against all gun control measures"

And it's a good thing he didn't make such a promise, because if he had, the promise would have been broken last week when his vote proved to be essential for the passage of SB 1007. I've mentioned this magazine ban bill before (also here). As David Codrea points out, even this monstrosity's author comes close to acknowledging that it will not save any lives, when he admits that "criminals are going to get guns"--but we're somehow expected to believe that they won't get magazines?

While we dig in to fight this in the House, it might be instructive to look a bit more closely at Illinois State Senator Matt Murphy, who I quoted in the title of this blog post. Here is part of an email sent by Senator Murphy to a constituent and gun rights supporter who (understandably) felt betrayed by Murphy's vote:

Re: Senator Matt Murphy: SB1007
Marc, I understand your disagreement with my vote. However, I never promised to vote against all gun control measures. What I promised is that I would oppose SB16, the defeat of which is the ISRA's number one priority this session. That bill has been abandoned by Mayor Daley's chosen senate sponsor in part because of my opposition. Others who would seek to represent you in the senate may not have been as willing as I to stand by you on this issue. I urge you to consider this reality, and the totality of my record on this issue, going forward.
Apparently, we are expected to be grateful that he stands against an enormous violation of gun rights, and ignore the fact that he is one of the perpetrators of a somewhat lesser attack on the Constitution.

This, perhaps, is not surprising in a politician, for whom adherence to principle is apparently a mortal sin (I think most would cheerfully sell their own children into sexual slavery for a big enough chunk of the electorate). The reason I think gun owners might have had a right to expect a bit more from Senator Murphy, though, is that rumor has it that Senator Murphy has received an A+ grade from the NRA. I have been unable to confirm that, but according to the Brady Campaign, Murphy did receive the NRA's endorsement in his successful race against a Brady endorsed candidate last November.

I know that I am not the first to ask this, but how seriously are we supposed to take the NRA's endorsements?

UPDATE: A source I trust lists the very favorable (except Muñoz--he's a special case) NRA grades for six Senators who voted for SB 1007:
1007 vote Y
NRA Rating B

1007 vote Y
NRA rating B+

1007 vote Y
NRA rating A

1007 vote Y
NRA rating A+

1007 vote Y
NRA rating D
This dude's Hardcore anti-gun and he got a D

1007 vote Y
NRA rating A
The "special case" status I bestowed upon Muñoz stems from the fact that he is so consistently, so strongly in favor of draconian legislation, that the only grade for him that makes more sense than F is F-.

As you can see, Murphy received "merely" an A, rather than an A+, as my earlier information had it. Speaking of A+ grades, it appears that the only one who
actually received that grade was Senator Millner, who actually signed on as a cosponsor of the bill, immediately after Commissar Senator Kotowski hijacked it from an anti-child molestation bill, into an anti-freedom bill.

Again, I must ask--what does it take to earn a good grade from the NRA?

UPDATE II: Having found a copy of last November's American Rifleman (Illinois edition), I have confirmed that those are indeed the grades the NRA gave these enemies of the Second Amendment--great call, NRA.

Friday, May 11, 2007

New Jersey competing with Illinois for greatest idiocy among lawmakers

Yesterday, I wrote about the VPC's Josh Sugarmann's strange attempt to use the tragedy that didn't happen at Fort Dix as justification for--you guessed it--yet more gun laws. Even more oddly, the new gun laws Sugarmann proposed would have banned not the guns that the would-be killers were planning to use, but guns they had practiced with, but had apparently rejected for the actual attack, in favor of something with more firepower. As incomprehensible as that argument is, some New Jersey legislators have apparently decided to try it as well, to advance a bill that would ban .50 caliber rifles.

These guns have even less to do with the planned attack on Fort Dix than SKS rifles do--not only did they apparently not plan to use .50 caliber rifles (which would have been a rather odd choice), they hadn't practiced with them either. Far be it from civilian disarmament advocates to let a news story go by without attempting to tie it into their hysterical calls for more draconian gun laws, though.

The lawmakers said their measure (A-3998) has gained increased significance after six men were charged Tuesday with planning an assault on Fort Dix with the goal of "killing as many soldiers as possible," using military-grade weapons, like mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and AK-47s.
In another article, he tries to claim that the attack (that never happened) would have been much worse if it had (not) been carried out with .50 caliber rifles, rather than (not) being carried out with AK-47s.
"As unnerving as the Fort Dix terrorism plot was, it could have been all the more worse if the weapons of choice for alleged assailants had been .50-caliber assault guns instead of AK-47s," said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D., Mercer)
"More worse?" Is English a second language for this genius? Never mind that the idea here was to kill many soldiers quickly, which would be quite difficult to do by shooting them one at a time from a great distance--the point is that the bad guys had planned to use guns, and we have a bill here that would ban some guns, so let's . . . ban some guns.

Perhaps recognizing the tenuous nature of the connection they were trying to claim, one of the assemblymen tried to bolster the case for a ban with other arguments.
"In a post-9/11 society, there is simply no reason for .50-caliber weapons to be available for civilian use," said Gusciora (D-Mercer).
Refresh my memory--in the five and a half years since the September 11th attacks, how much carnage has been wrought in the U.S. by people using .50 caliber rifles? None, huh? No hurry, I suppose. I guess Assemblyman Gusciora was all for civilian ownership of .50 caliber rifles before September 11, 2001.

Of course, there's always gang violence.
"With the continued rise in gang violence across the state and the fact that New Jersey possesses numerous chemical plants and rail yards vulnerable to attack by .50-caliber weapons, we have a serious responsibility to stop these inherently deadly weapons from falling into the wrong hands."
Ah, yes--the scourge of "gang sniping," and gangs' famous hatred of trains, is certainly something that needs to be addressed.

Go ahead, pass your foolish, draconian law. See how long it takes for someone to start building and selling rifles chambered for some .499 caliber cartridge, just as powerful as the .50 BMG (maybe more so). If you can get the votes to ban that, someone will come out with a .498 then .497, etc. You can inconvenience us, but you can't stop us.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sugarmann: ban the firearms that the would-be Fort Dix attackers were not planning to use, in the attack that never happened

I find myself today in unfamiliar territory--defending the Bush administration. If I don't do it particularly well, keep in mind that I haven't had a lot of practice.

From whom am I defending our fearless leaders? None other than Josh Sugarmann, founder and executive director of the Violence Policy Center (their "policy" regarding violence seems to be to render everyone defenseless against it). The aspect of White House leadership to which Josh takes exception (today) is what he perceives to be inadequate regulation of SKS rifles.

But is it too fine a point to call out the Bush administration for having specifically authorized the import of the foreign-made SKS assault rifle (by placing it on the innocuous sounding "curios or relics" list) that was one of the weapons the U.S. government alleges that six men plotting an assault on Fort Dix trained with in the Poconos?
For one thing, there is no such thing as an "SKS assault rifle." Assault rifles are capable of fully-automatic fire. SKS rifles are not even described very well by the term--invented by the civilian disarmament lobby--"assault weapon," because they do not have detachable magazines, and are thus rather slow to reload (yes, I am aware that some SKS's have been modified to accept AK magazines, but this modification apparently makes the guns notoriously prone to jamming).

In fact, our intrepid would-be jihadists had obviously realized that SKS rifles would not be up to the task of killing a great number of soldiers, as illustrated by their attempt to obtain more capable firepower (their arrest occurred during an attempted purchase of fully automatic AK-47s--already very tightly regulated--from an "arms dealer" who was actually a government informant). The SKS rifles entered this discussion only by virtue of the fact that they were the firearms used in the videotaped target practice.

Sugarmann's opportunism in exploiting tragedies to advance his single-minded agenda (and "single-minded" might be giving him excessive credit for the number of minds involved) is old hat (and contemptible). An attempt to exploit a non-tragedy (the arrests of people who had planned--however poorly--to kill a great many of our soldiers is a good thing, is it not?) as justification to ban the guns that the alleged conspirators had rejected as being inadequate is merely laughable.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

More proposed federal tyranny, courtesy of Commissar Senator Feinstein

Since I've been trying to keep up with draconian gun legislation on the federal level, I figured I'd mention Feinstein's latest atrocities.

First, we have S. 1316, introduced Monday, which is supposed to "clarify" that people convicted of felonies or domestic violence misdemeanors in other countries have forever surrendered their right to keep and bear arms here. Her gloat page press release contains a summary:

Bill Summary

The Firearms by Foreign Convicts Clarification Act would:

* Close a loophole created by a 2005 Supreme Court decision, Small v. United States, which declared that the law prohibiting felons from possessing firearms did not apply to foreign felony convictions.
* Treat foreign convictions the same as domestic convictions for purposes of purchasing firearms from licensed dealers.
* Provide an exemption only if a person can show that their foreign conviction is invalid because:
o the defendant was denied fundamental due process, or
o the conduct on which the foreign conviction was based would be legal if committed in the United States.
Never mind that some countries, where values are different from those common here, might charge someone with a felony, for an action that would only be a misdemeanor here (but still a crime, thus not subject to the second exemption listed). As for the first exemption, I wonder how one is supposed to "show" that he was denied fundamental due process in the proceedings that led to his foreign felony conviction--and does that mean "fundamental due process" under our Constitution, or by the laws of the country in which the conviction was adjudicated? Finally, why the hell are we allowing people convicted of felonies into the country, anyway?

Now for the big one--S. 1331 would ban .50 caliber rifles, despite the near total absence of a credible threat posed by these firearms. This one, though just introduced yesterday, already has ten Senate cosponsors (including the usual suspects: Kennedy, Clinton, Durbin, Lautenberg, and Schumer). It's too new for the text to be available, but we do have some information.
Long-Range Sniper Rifle Safety Act of 2007

This legislation would:

* Add the .50 BMG caliber sniper rifle to the list of firearms classified as “destructive devices” under the National Firearms Act, which would mean they must be registered when purchased or sold;
* Require the same registration for any “copycat” sniper rifles that might be developed in the future with destructive power that is equivalent to the .50 BMG caliber sniper rifle; and
* Allow people who already possess .50 BMG caliber sniper weapons up to seven years to register their existing firearms by implementing a registration process identical to what was used when “street sweeper” and other firearms were reclassified as “destructive devices” in 1994.
I realize that, strictly speaking, this is not a "ban," in that if one is willing to jump through all the BATFE's hoops for an NFA registered "destructive device," they can still be owned (at least if one lives in a state that does not ban "destructive devices"). For a great many people, though, such mandatory legal gyrations would, in effect, constitute a ban. The mandatory registration is, in itself, a deal breaker for many people, and with damned good reason. I also wonder who it is that would determine which calibers have "equivalent" destructive power to the .50 BMG. Certainly sounds open-ended--after all, if a person is killed with a .22, is that not "equivalent" to being killed with a .50 caliber rifle--is such a person any less dead?

I have a feeling that S. 1331 is going to get pushed hard--we'll need to push back, harder.

So--what does it mean

I made brief mention yesterday of the decision by the DC Circuit Court to not hear the Parker v. DC case again (this time in front of the entire court, rather than a panel of only three judges), but where does that take us? Hell--I don't know, but I'll give it a look.

Certainly, timing is affected--according to the Volokh Consipiracy (this was back in March), the removal of the necessity for an en banc hearing moves the timetable along considerably.

Say that the D.C. Circuit decides not to rehear the case en banc; that probably means the en banc petition will be denied within several months. Assume that it's denied by late June — the petition for certiorari will be due in late September, the Supreme Court will consider it in the next month or two (unless it decides to call for the views of the Solicitor General, but I doubt this will be necessary). That means the case will likely be heard in early 2008, and decide by June 2008.
I'm getting a bit ahead of things, though--there is certainly no guarantee that the Supreme Court will agree to hear it--they have, after all, managed to dodge the necessity to make a substantive ruling on the Second Amendment for almost seventy years, and there is little to indicate a newfound desire to jump in now. Still, while we're speculating, we might as well speculate on what happens if SCOTUS does agree to hear the case--otherwise, we're already done, and what's the fun in that?

So, the next question gets right to the heart of it--what will a SCOTUS decision look like? I don't think that anyone doesn't believe that Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas will uphold the individual rights (as if there's another kind) interpretation. Many seem to have little doubt that Justice Alito and Chief Justice Roberts will also hold to that view--although one observer for whom I have a good deal of respect is not nearly so confident in those two. Stupidly, I neglected to ask him about what it is on which he bases those doubts. Even if we Roberts and Alito do dismiss the uphold the individual rights interpretation, that still leaves us one justice short, and we're starting to run low on "conservative" ones. Some help may come from an unexpected quarter--the Parker v. DC ruling (on page 27) notes that Justices Ginsberg and Souter--not normally considered staunch friends of private gun ownership--might still be unwilling to buy the odd assertion that the right to keep and bear arms is tied to military service.
We also note that at least three current members (and one
former member) of the Supreme Court have read “bear Arms”
in the Second Amendment to have meaning beyond mere
soldiering: “Surely a most familiar meaning [of ‘carries a
firearm’] is, as the Constitution’s Second Amendment (‘keep
and bear Arms’) and Black’s Law Dictionary . . . indicate:
‘wear, bear, or carry . . . upon the person or in the clothing or in
a pocket, for the purpose . . . of being armed and ready for
offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another
person.” Muscarello v. United States, 524 U.S. 125, 143 (1998)
(Ginsburg, J., dissenting, joined by Rehnquist, C.J., Scalia, J.,
and Souter, J.) (emphasis in original). Based on the foregoing,
we think the operative clause includes a private meaning for
“bear Arms.”
So what does it mean? Obviously, I still don't know, aside from the fact that we're a bit closer now.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

DC Circuit Court declines to rehear Parker v. DC en banc

I'm a bit surprised to see that Parker v. DC won't be going in front of the entire DC Circuit Court.

This morning’s decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to deny a petition from the District of Columbia for a hearing of Parker v. District of Columbia before the full court was “right and proper,” said Alan M. Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation.

“This is a strong signal that the D.C. Court of Appeals, which is the second most powerful court in the country, feels the original ruling by Senior Judge Laurence H. Silberman is solid,” Gottlieb stated. “It is now up to the district to accept the ruling and begin the process of licensing handguns to be kept legally in district residences, or to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.
Interesting. Now to see if the Supreme Court will still choose to dodge it (I'm not entirely sure that they won't).