Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lottery winners

Tonight's utterly sexist video (funny, though):

Oops! Accidental gunshot gets bank robber ten year minimum sentence

So says the Supreme Court, in Dean v. United States, decided yesterday in a 7-2 opinion. Justices Stevens and Breyer, both writing separately, dissented. SCOTUSwiki has a good summary here.

In the case, the bank robber had argued that he should not be subject to the mandatory minimum ten year sentence for use of a firearm during his bank robbery, because the gun discharge was accidental.

From Chief Justice Roberts pithy summary of the facts:
Accidents happen. Sometimes they happen to individuals committing crimes with loaded guns. The question here is whether extra punishment Congress imposed for the discharge of a gun during certain crimes applies when the gun goes off accidentally.

Title 18 U. S. C. §924(c)(1)(A) criminalizes using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to any violent or drug trafficking crime, or possessing a firearm in furtherance of such a crime. An individual convicted of that offense receives a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence, in addition to the punishment for the underlying crime. §924(c)(1)(A)(i). The mandatory minimum increases to 7years “if the firearm is brandished” and to 10 years “if the firearm is discharged.” §§924(c)(1)(A)(ii), (iii).

In this case, a masked man entered a bank, waved a gun, and yelled at everyone to get down. He then walked behind the teller counter and started removing money from the teller stations. He grabbed bills with his left hand, holding the gun in his right. At one point, he reached over a teller to remove money from her drawer. As he was collecting the money, the gun discharged, leaving a bullet hole in the partition between two stations.The robber cursed and dashed out of the bank. Witnesses later testified that he seemed surprised that the gun had gone off. No one was hurt. [citations omitted] ... Slip op. at 1-2.

The majority held that the statute does not require intent to fire the gun, and thus the ten year mandatory minimum applies:
Section 924(c)(1)(A)(iii) requires no separate proof of intent. The 10-year mandatory minimum applies if a gun is discharged in the course of a violent or drug trafficking crime, whether on purpose or by accident. Slip op. at 9. ...

Chief Justice Roberts has this friendly advice for bank robbers who use guns:
... An individual who brings a loaded weapon to commit a crime runs the risk that the gun will discharge accidentally. A gunshot in such circumstances—whether accidental or intended—increases the risk that others will be injured, that people will panic, or that violence (with its own danger to those nearby) will be used in response. Those criminals wishing to avoid the penalty for an inadvertent discharge can lock or unload the firearm,handle it with care during the underlying violent or drug trafficking crime, leave the gun at home, or—best yet—avoid committing the felony in the first place. [emphasis added] Slip op. at 8.


Knife killings up 50% in Big Apple

From the New York Times:
A psychotherapist in an Upper East Side office. A young woman working in a grocery store. A city bus driver behind the wheel in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, on a lunchtime route.

Each of these was featured last year in a snapshot of murder in New York City, where authorities have long been battling illegal firearms — and seeing a degree of success. But these people were killed by knives, contributing to a troubling statistic in homicides.

In 2008, even as gun killings fell, the number of killings committed with knives or other “cutting instruments” rose 50 percent in New York City, the Police Department said: to 125 from 83. Some other large cities saw no such increase last year, and police officials and experts are at a loss to explain what is either a new trend or a spike. [emphasis added]

“It is hard to say with certainty what accounts for the increase,” said Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the New York Police Department.

It was possible, but hard to document, Mr. Browne said, that measures like undercover gun-trafficking investigations and interrogations, in which people arrested for lower level crimes are asked to provide information on gun cases, had led to the rise in knife killings and the drop in gun slayings.

In 2008, 292 people were shot to death in New York, down from 347 the year before, continuing a longtime slide in deaths by firearms.

Over all, homicides of all kinds rose slightly last year, to 523 from 496 in 2007, which was a 45-year low. So far in 2009, about a quarter of killings in the city have been committed with knives or other cutting instruments, about the same percentage as in 2008. But the overall homicide rate is down: 97 through April 16, the Police Department said, compared with 135 in the same period in 2008.

“We may have made it harder for killers to get their hands on guns,” said Mr. Browne. “Knives are still easily and legally acquired.” [emphasis added]
Authorities can try to curtail gun use with measures like buy-back programs, enforced licensing and undercover purchases. For the past seven years, the New York Police Department has had an amnesty program, in which people drop off guns — no questions asked — in return for cash.

But amnesty for pocket knives or steak knives is not a reasonable option, said the Rev. Darryl Frazier of Majority Baptist Church in Jamaica, Queens, where the Police Department organized a gun buy-back program this year.

“The city would go bankrupt,” he said.

Article here. Can knife control in the Big Apple be far behind? We must ban those evil "assault knives"! Do it for the children!

Note that the overall number of homicides rose last year. I guess in the mind of a New York City tyrant, er, politician, a law-abiding citizen getting stabbed and slashed to death is preferable to getting shot to death.

Obama considers "assault vehicle" ban to spur auto sales

From the satire department at ScrappleFace:
Since the Obama administration’s talk of banning so-called ‘assault weapons’ has resulted in a huge spike in semi-automatic weapon sales nationwide, the White House has recently begun a covert ‘whisper campaign’ suggesting the president might also ban U.S.-manufactured cars and trucks with fully-automatic transmissions, now dubbed ‘assault vehicles’.

President Obama reportedly hopes such chatter will give a much-needed boost to U.S. auto sales.

“These fully-automatics are the weapon-of-choice in the vehicular-manslaughter industry,” said one unnamed White House source. “The automatic transmission allows the killer to accelerate rapidly without the manual process of clutching and shifting gears. Assault vehicles murder roughly four times as many people each year as do firearms. If you include suicides, cars still kill nearly twice as many people compared with all types of guns.” ...

Read it here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

And now, for a little hotness: Megan Fox

Tonight's dose of hotness:

Transformers Actress Megan Fox (as usual, click image for hi-res version):

From IMDB:
Megan Fox was born May 16, 1986 in Tennessee. She has one older sister. Megan began her training in drama and dance at the age of 5 and, at the age of 10, moved to Florida where she continued her training and finished school. She now lives in Los Angeles. Megan began acting and modeling at the age of 13 after winning several awards at the 1999 American Modeling and Talent Convention in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Megan made her film debut as "Brianna Wallace" in the Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen movie, Holiday in the Sun (2001) (V).

Little House on the Prairie - outtakes

Tonight's blast from the past outtake video:

Gun Rights News Roundup

Articles, news stories, and op-eds of interest to gun owners:

Columnist Paul Valone answers the question: What's the big deal about background checks?:
... While reasonable and well-intentioned, the argument contains a presumption which, unfortunately, rarely pertains in politics: It presumes the intentions of the bill are honest. Below are the main three reasons why legislation purporting to require “background checks” is unacceptable.


After 15+ years of political action, I say with certainty that subterfuge is the rule rather than the exception: I have seen politicians claim undying support for a bill … just before firing an arrow through its heart. I have sat in the chamber as a legislator killed a bill by offering a “poison pill” amendment while assuring everyone: “This amendment is intended to make a good bill better.” I’ve been assured by a subcommittee chairman that a bill I opposed would never get a hearing, minutes before being told by the chairman of the full committee that it would be heard on Thursday.

In teaching legislative tactics seminars, I tell students: “Lest you think the political process is designed to exclude you, let me assure you that it is.” With few exceptions, politicians are weasels, and the few legislators with character I’ve met will never advance to higher office precisely because they are trustworthy.

Lessons of the Brady Act: In 1993, we were assured by Handgun Control, Inc. and the NRA alike that the National Instant Check System (NICS) would never be used to register guns. NICS transaction records, we were assured, were required to be expunged. Unfortunately, the fine print didn’t say when they had to be expunged, and the Clinton administration immediately instructed the FBI to retain them indefinitely, creating a de facto gun registration system in violation of federal law. Although the Bush administration ordered transaction records expunged in 24 hours, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have already proposed again retaining them.

Conclusions: You cannot create a “background check” system that manipulative politicians can’t turn into a gun registration system, as they already have. The goal of “gun show” legislation, in truth, is to not only decimate the gun culture which reinforces itself via gun shows, but to register private gun sales – in the case of S. 843 – with both the Attorney General and the FBI. [emphasis added]

“Perhaps,” you say, “but what’s wrong with registering guns? It isn’t as though somebody is taking them away from you.” ...

Comment: Go read the whole thing. The government can abuse background check databases for backdoor gun registration, and registration is a necessary prerequisite for effective confiscation.

Bill aims to protect veterans' Second Amendment rights:
A bill aimed at protecting the gun rights of some veterans is under Senate consideration.

The Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, pending before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, would limit the circumstances in which a veteran’s name could be added to a federal database used to do instant background checks for gun purchases.

By law, anyone “adjudicated as a mental defective,” such as people found to be a danger to themselves or others or who lack the mental capacity to manage their affairs, must be registered in the database.

The bill, S 669, which has 15 co-sponsors, would prohibit VA from submitting names to the National Instant Criminal Background Check database unless a judicial authority finds the individuals to be a danger to themselves or others. ...

[New Jersey] Supreme Court considers challenge to one-gun-a-month ordinance:
TRENTON - The New Jersey Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday in the legal battle over a Jersey City ordinance that would limit handgun purchases.

The discussion centered on whether the 2006 ordinance improperly preempts existing state gun laws by limiting handgun purchases to one per person each month.

At issue is the ability of urban communities such as Camden, Newark, and Jersey City to reduce gun-related crime by more closely regulating handgun purchases.

Supporters of the Jersey City ordinance say urban areas need tighter handgun sale standards to prevent surrogates from buying weapons for criminals. Opponents say that existing laws offer sufficient protection and that the ordinance punishes law-abiding citizens to advance a national gun-control agenda.

"There's no legitimate reason on earth why anyone needs to buy five handguns a month," said Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy. [emphasis added] ...

[New York] More infringements may be on the way:
Nine gun-control bills are slated to come before the state Assembly this week.

One of the bills would impose new requirements on firearm dealers, including more stringent record-keeping and employee training and prohibition of so-called straw purchases, when someone purchases a firearm on behalf of someone prohibited from carrying such a weapon. Dealers also would need to carry at least $1 million in liability insurance for criminal acts committed using weapons they sold.

"The additional requirements set forth in this bill will help to reduce the diversion of firearms to the illegal market and will also assist police departments, prosecutors and other law enforcement officials in their efforts to trace and recover illegal weapons," the bill summary says.

Another bill would require firearm license holders to renew them every five years and take safety courses.

"It is incumbent upon us to make sure that handguns are kept out of dangerous hands so that we may better protect our citizens and prevent further tragedies like the melee in Binghamton," the bill summary says. ...

Open carry controversy may reopen concealed carry debate

From Wisconsin:
Kenosha-area lawmakers are lining up behind a recent legal opinion confirming the legality of toting unconcealed firearms in public places.

Some even say it could be an entrée to revisit the controversial issue of concealed carry in Wisconsin, though the current political winds in Madison would make that prospect appear unlikely.

State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen last week issued a memo citing constitutional grounds allowing for the open carrying of firearms, so long as it is done without disturbing the peace and within specified restrictions, such as not taking a gun into a school.

Some have questioned whether that is possible in many settings, particularly in urban areas. Milwaukee authorities have said Van Hollen’s memo will not change the manner in which their officers approach people with guns.

Sen. Robert Wirch, D-Pleasant Prairie, criticized the timing of Van Hollen’s opinion, but he was not about to argue with the content.

“I think the timing was poor, bringing it out right when the 10th anniversary of Columbine was out there,” Wirch said. “But I think that he’s on pretty solid legal grounds with this.”

Wirch said a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning a Washington, D.C., handgun ban, coupled with a 1998 state constitutional amendment that affirmed the right to bear arms in Wisconsin, strengthen Van Hollen’s position. Wirch noted that voters approved the amendment in a statewide referendum.

Enter concealed carry, which has generated controversy in the state Capitol for years. ...

Article here.

First 100 days


And a not so pretty chart:

(Chart from here)

At this rate, I'm not sure we can afford the next 1,000 days.

Chains. We. Can. Believe. In.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Going around in circles

Tonight's carpentry project [language warning]:

Cruise ship 1, Pirates 0

Via Breitbart, we learn of an Italian cruise ship that successfully fended off an attempted pirate takeover via the judicious use of high-speed lead projectiles:
An Italian cruise ship with 1,500 people on board fended off a pirate attack far off the coast of Somalia when its Israeli private security forces exchanged fire with the bandits.

Six men in a small, white Zodiac-type boat approached the Msc Melody at about 1730 GMT Saturday and opened fire with automatic weapons, Msc Cruises director Domenico Pellegrino said. They retreated after the security officers returned fire and sprayed them with water hoses. The ship continued its journey with its windows darkened.

"It felt like we were in war," the ships commander, Ciro Pinto, told Italian state radio.

None of the roughly 1,000 passengers and 500 crew members was hurt, Pellegrino said. The passengers were asked to return to their cabins and the external lights on board turned off.

Pellegrino said all Msc cruise ships around the world are staffed with Israeli security agents because they are the best trained.
The Melody was on a 22-day cruise from Durban, South Africa, to Genoa, Italy, when the pirates attacked late Saturday, slightly damaging the liner, Pinto said.

"After about four or five minutes, they tried to put a ladder up," Pinto told Sky TG24. "They were starting to climb up but we reacted, we started to fire ourselves. When they saw our fire, and also the water from the water hoses that we started to spray toward the Zodiac, they left and went away."

"They followed us for a bit, about 20 minutes, and continued to fire," he said.

Cruise line security work is a popular job for young Israelis who have recently been discharged from mandatory army service, as it is a good chance to save money and travel.

"We have always had great faith in their capacity, they have always been very qualified," Pellegrino said of the Israelis, though he declined to give the name of the firm.

The Spanish warship SPS Marques de Ensenada met up with the Melody to escort her through the pirate-infested northern Gulf of Aden, the Maritime Security Center said. The cruise ship was headed as scheduled to the Jordanian port of Aqaba, returning to the Mediterranean for spring and summer season cruises. ...

Article here. Successfully repelling a pirate attack with gunfire. Imagine that. Given the ranges involved, however, I would imagine that a long gun, preferably a rifle, would have been more desirable than pistols. But, well, gunfights are come-as-you-are affairs -- you fight with what ya got.

Open carry walk sparks 9-1-1 calls, but no arrests

From Michigan:
An apparent organized flexing of Second Amendment rights last weekend was a bit too Wild West for some local citizens and business owners.

Police and deputies responded to a number of complaints about citizens packing sidearms at restaurants, stores and other public areas.

None of the gun carriers was cited.

Michigan's 2001 shall-issue concealed weapons law greatly increased the number of citizens packing handguns. The public, however, does not notice the guns because they are hidden under clothing.

But a shopper with a handgun on his hip in Target is another matter. Security officers followed the man Saturday and contacted city police.

"One of our officers had contact with the man in the parking lot, and that was the end of it," Lt. Christopher Simpson said. "He was carrying legally."

Blackman Township officers responded to reports of a diner with a handgun in a hip holster at Bob Evans Restaurant on West Avenue, and another with a visible sidearm at Wal-Mart on E. Michigan Avenue.

"We verified they were legitimate side carries," Blackman Township Public Safety Director Jon Johnston said.

While the appearance of citizens carrying weapons is unsettling to some, it also is an expression of freedom.

"Sometimes it is a matter of educating the public that this is a constitutional right,"
[Public Safety Director] Johnston said. "We do not take enforcement action against those who obey the law." [emphasis added] ...

Article here. Good to see the Public Safety Director Johnson is supportive of citizens' constitutionally-protected right to bear arms. Indeed, he is correct that we need to educate the general public that open carry by their fellow law-abiding citizens is both legal and not a cause for concern. Having peaceable citizens exercising their right to open carry also helps counter the mainstream media's often virulent and dishonest portrayal of gun owners and general disparagement of our constitutionally-protected rights.

Gun Rights News Roundup

Articles, news stories, and op-eds of interest to gun owners:

U.S. gun owners bought enough guns in three months to outfit Chinese and Indian armies ... combined:
In just 3 months Americans bought enough guns to outfit the entire Chinese and Indian army’s [sic] combined.

You also bought 1,529,635,000 rounds of ammunition in just the month of December 2008. Yeah that is right, that is Billion with a “B”.

This is an evaluation of overall firearms and ammunition purchases based on low end numbers per Federal NIC instacheck data base Statistics. The numbers presented are only PART of the overall numbers of arms and ammunition that have been sold. The actual numbers are much higher.

[Mississippi] Gun, ammo sales booming:
At the Terry Road Pawn Shop in Jackson, military-style long guns don't stay in the cases long.

What's more, it has become increasingly difficult during the last few months for owner Kevin McDonald to stock his shop with auto-loading rifles such as AR-15s and SKSes.

"The demand has gotten so high, I don't think the manufacturers can make them fast enough to keep everybody supplied," McDonald said. "Often when we get them, we go ahead and sell them online because we can sell them at retail price or better." ...

[Massachusetts] Gun, ammo sales booming:
In the words of one Berkshire County gun shop owner, "gun sales have been through the roof" in recent months.

Indeed, sales of firearms in the United States began to rise in the lead-up to the November 2008 presidential election, including here in Democratic Massachusetts — long viewed as a bastion for liberal, anti-gun politics. And they continued to soar for the first three months of 2009, according to the FBI's National Criminal Investigative Service, which performs background checks on people seeking to carry firearms. ...

[New Jersey] Gun, ammo sales booming:
... Despite the economic downturn -- and because of it to some degree -- consumers are opening their wallets and stepping up to the firing line, according to government statistics. At the Bullet Hole, business has been bustling since the election, as customers are investing in firearms. Cerca says they're motivated by crime spikes and the fear that Obama will tighten gun laws.

A State Police spokesman estimates the number of applications to obtain firearms has doubled over the past five months. Nationwide, FBI background checks for permits totaled 1.5 million in November, the highest figure since they began tracking the stats in 1998. The number includes first-time buyers and owners expanding their collection. ...

[Tennessee] Percentage of carry permits revoked tiny:
In it's latest attempt to derail the concealing of permit holder information, the AP has come up with the worst that it could find about the Tennessee Handgun Carry permits. So far (unlike here in Arkansas) nothing has worked.

The latest is this, KTHV is only too happy to comply, "Nearly 1,200 Tennesseans have had their state-issued handgun carry permits revoked or suspended for running afoul of the law over the last four years.["]
Thats out of 339,000 permits by the way, which means the permits that were revoked were only a whopping .35 percent of permit holders. That's not even one half of one percent

The AP doesn't want to give you that piece of information because they don't want you to draw the obvious conclusion.

Clayton Cramer has some stats on the 4,000 self defense related incidents reported on his blog:
These entries are (with one or two exceptions, such as when my neighbor chased an intruder out of his daughter's room) all derived from published news sources. Of necessity, this means that these were incidents sufficiently high profile to receive the attention of both police and news media.
Along the way, we started adding labels by state and interesting characteristics of the incidents. Some interesting statistics from these 4000 incidents:
There were 212 incidents involving concealed carry permit holders.

Not every outcome was happy. There were 30 incidents in which the defender was killed (although often saving the life of another, or preventing the attacker from escaping). There were 191 incidents in which the defender was shot (although not necessarily killed).

For all the talk by gun control advocates that "a criminal will just take away your gun and use against you" there were only six incidents in which the defender's gun was taken away and used against the defender. By comparison, there were 183 incidents in which the criminal's gun was taken away and used against the criminal! More startling is that many of these involved victims that were unarmed at the start of the crime. [emphasis added]

There were 67 female defenders, and 15 defenders under the age of 18.

Sobering numbers: there were 90 criminals identified as being under 18, and 1009 of these incidents were home invasions--where the criminals intentionally broke into a dwelling that they knew was occupied.

For all the talk of inadequately trained civilians, we have one incident involving mistaken identity. ...

Just when you thought it couldn't get worse

Today's cartoon insight:


Monday, April 27, 2009

And now, for a little hotness: Gisele Bundchen

Financial crisis. Global economic collapse. Socialism. Out of control Washington spending. Fears of a pandemic on our Southern border.

We all need a little diversion in these troubled times, so here's tonight's soothing visual interlude and dose of hotness:

Supermodel Gisele Bundchen, from a photoshoot for El Corte Ingles magazine (click on image for high res version. Really):

So that's who New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gets to come home to. Megabuck superstar athletes have a tough life, and don't let them tell you otherwise. :)

Hyundai Assurance

Tonight's automotive news - introducing the new Hyundai Assurance program [language warning at end]:

Isn't it nice to see an automaker going the extra mile for you? :)

Gun Rights News Roundup

Articles, news stories, and op-eds of interest to gun rights:

Sen. Lautenberg wants to close the gun show "loophole":
Exploiting the tenth anniversary of the Columbine tragedy, perennial gun control advocate Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced his latest gun show bill. Lautenberg was joined at the press conference by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Jack Reed (D-RI). "The Hill" quotes Lautenberg as saying:
“There is no rational reason to oppose closing the loophole,” said Lautenberg, the bill’s sponsor. “The reason it’s still not closed is simple: the continuing power of the special interest gun lobby in Washington.”

The bill is S. 843: “A bill to establish background check procedures for gun shows.” What makes it a greater threat than other gun bills in the 111th Congress is the fact that Lautenberg has signed eleven powerful Democrats as cosponsors, including formerly pro-gun Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

Dave Workman says Milwaukee police chief setting stage for confrontation:
Milwaukee, WI Police Chief Ed Flynn is playing with political nitro glycerin, and he doesn’t seem to realize it, or perhaps he simply doesn’t care.

Quoted by the La Crosse Tribune, Chief Flynn says he will ignore a finding by State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen that peaceable open carry of firearms is legal. Flynn’s directive to officers in his department is “if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we’ll put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide whether you have a right to carry it.”

The chief displayed a rather cavalier, if not outright arrogant, attitude when he added, “Maybe I’ll end up with a protest of cowboys. In the meantime, I’ve got serious offenders with access to handguns. It’s irresponsible to send a message to them that if they just carry it openly no one can bother them.”
My message to my troops is if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we’ll put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide whether you have a right to carry it.

Perhaps some higher legal authority might explain to the chief that it is also irresponsible to send a message to the public that a police chief can literally tell the state attorney general to pound sand, he’s going to do it “his way,” and too bad if that violates someone’s civil rights. Already, some people have been arrested for carrying openly, according to my colleague Candace Dainty.

Note to Chief Flynn: Wisconsin is still part of the United States, not a police state. This is the kind of attitude that gets people grumbling about “jack-booted thugs.”

Yet “police state” is exactly what critics in the Open Carry movement have suggested Flynn is trying to establish, evidently with the support of anti-gun Gov. Jim Doyle, and State Rep. Leon Young, a Milwaukee Democrat who plans to introduce legislation banning open carry. ...

[Colorado] CCW permit applications soar:
The number of people in Grand County seeking permits to carry a concealed handgun increased by 283 percent from 2007 to 2008.

Statewide, the increase was 212 percent, and the trend shows few signs of abating.

“We just haven’t seen an end to it,” said Grand County Sheriff Rod Johnson.
“We believe it started with the presidential election,” the sheriff said of the rapid acceleration in the number of people seeking the permits.

He said permit-seekers often volunteer political views regarding Second Amendment issues and that many of them recently have expressed concerns about the Democrats controlling Congress and the White House.

Democrats traditionally are more inclined than Republicans to favor gun-control legislation.

“I believe that citizens have the right to own and carry” firearms, [Sheriff] Johnson said. “Permit holders have never caused me any problems.” [emphasis added] ...

[Texas] Op-ed: College professors support campus carry bill:
Mass public shootings are a horrific feature of modern life. Many of the bloodiest examples of this scourge have occurred on college campuses. As professors, we are particularly sensitive to this danger.

Despite this – no, because of this – we support a bill currently pending in the Texas Legislature that would permit the concealed carrying of firearms on college and university campuses in the state by holders of concealed-handgun permits.

Any public policy involving matters of life and death should be decided only after weighing carefully the competing risks. Examining the relevant facts and data indicates that permitting Texas permit holders to carry weapons on college campuses would improve safety because:

•The best available empirical evidence shows that concealed-carry laws reduce the incidence of mass public shootings.

•Mass public shootings occur almost exclusively in places – like universities – where concealed carry is proscribed.

•There are numerous examples of firearms owners acting to disarm would-be mass murderers, thereby saving lives.

•Concealed-handgun-permit holders are overwhelmingly law-abiding individuals.

If gun bans truly reduced the risk of mass public shootings, then gun-free zones would be refuges from such havoc. Sadly, the exact opposite is true. All multiple-victim public shootings in the United States with more than three fatalities have occurred where concealed handguns are prohibited. Moreover, the worst primary and secondary school shootings have occurred in Europe, despite its draconian gun laws. ...

NSSF explains why Tiahrt amendment restricting gun-trace data is needed:
There are good reasons for preventing firearm tracing data from becoming public information. Doing so protects the lives of law enforcement officers and also the integrity of undercover operations that may have been in place for weeks or even months. Restricting access also prevents the misuse of the data to bring nuisance lawsuits, as New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg did when he launched his own private sting operation against out-of-state firearms retailers and interfered with up to 18 federal investigations for which he was chastised in a letter from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

For these reasons and others, legislation called the Tiahrt Amendment rightly protects gun ownership information from being released to the public, while at the same time allowing law enforcement to access and share the data for their investigations.

Introduced by Congressman Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) in 2003, the legislation has been renewed every year since then and has the support of the Fraternal Order of Police. Even New York's police commissioner, Ray Kelly, opposed the public release of such sensitive information, saying in a 2002 letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft, "The release of trace information . . . seriously jeopardizes not only . . . investigations, but also the lives of law enforcement officers, informants, witnesses, and others." [emphasis added] ...

Gun, ammo sales booming:
Gun sales are soaring in the US amid fears that President Obama is planning a new crackdown on the ownership of weapons.

The country is even facing a shortage of ammunition as gun stores are besieged by customers - even though the President has insisted he is not planning new legislation.

Seven million people have applied for background record checks with the FBI in the last few months so they can obtain a gun licence.

The Guns and Ammo store in Manassas, Virginia, says it has seen a 50% rise in sales since November's election. ...

[Pennsylvania] NRA sues Pittsburgh over city gun ordinances:
The National Rifle Association today sued Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Pittsburgh City Council in an effort to overturn a law that penalizes gun owners who fail to report lost or stolen firearms within 24 hours.

The 19-page lawsuit was filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court on behalf of four Pittsburgh gun owners who say the ordinance — intended to crack down on "straw purchasers" of guns — "severely restricts" their Second Amendment right to keep firearms in their homes.

"The plaintiffs will be prevented from exercising their rights under state law to freely own, possess and transport firearms," according to the lawsuit.
The NRA argues the law should be declared invalid because city lawmakers don't have the authority to regulate firearms under the state's Uniform Firearms Act of 1939. It states: "No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession or transportation of firearms." ...

[Wisconsin] Anti-gun Gov. Doyle wants to repeal state preemption law:
Governor Jim Doyle (D) is proposing to repeal the state's preemption statute which prohibits localities from passing gun laws that are more restrictive than the state's. Wisconsin's preemption law was originally passed in 1995 when Doyle was Attorney General. Doyle was vocally opposed to statewide preemption and its passage left a bitter taste of defeat in his mouth that has never gone away. Now, Governor Doyle is using the arrest of law-abiding Wisconsin citizens exercising their constitutional right to openly carry a firearm for self-defense as a platform to call for its repeal.

If Doyle succeeds in repealing preemption, it would bring Wisconsin into the dark days of draconian gun laws. Cities, counties, and municipalities cannot be allowed to pass ordinances, rules, or regulations more stringent than state law. This leads to a patchwork of laws across the state, which can be confusing for residents and non-residents visiting the state. It can also make criminals out of law-abiding citizens who inadvertently run afoul of a local ordinance. Imagine the extremists in Madison determining their own gun laws! Rest assured, they would use Chicago as their model for their gun laws. ...

[Wisconsin] Mike Stollenwerk says Milwaukee police chief using Bull Connor's playbook:
Earlier this week TV News caught on video a consensual encounter between West Allis police officers and Brad Krause who happened to be open carrying a holstered handgun in public. Like the old Roman saying, the police officers' action can be described simply as: they came, they saw, they left.

In states where open carry has become popular the police often don't even come anymore unless they see or are told of actual unlawful conduct.

But while Wisconsin gun owners like Mr. Krause prepare to play ball with consensual police inquiries into their orderly open carrying of holstered handguns, Milwaukee police chief Ed Flynn appears to be borrowing a page from Bull Connors' playbook. As the Birmingham, AL Public Safety Commissioner in the 1960s, Bull Connors became a symbol of bigotry by using fire hoses and police attack dogs against protest marchers.

Now comes Milwaukee police chief Ed Flynn - hailing recently from Massachusetts but acting like he's from the old South - telling his officers to "take down anyone with a firearm despite Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's finding that people can carry guns openly if they do it peacefully." Chortled Flynn, "My message to my troops is if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we'll put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide whether you have a right to carry it."

With good reason, Reason Magazine notes "You know you have a problem when the chief refers to peace officers as 'troops.'" ...

[Wisconsin] Gene German muses on lawmaker's proposed ban on open carry:
... The Governors reaction to last Monday’s memo by Attorney General VanHollen was to suggest that the state should return to the days when local jurisdictions could enact their own set of ordinances – implying Milwaukee for example could ban open carry if it wanted to. What the Governor (who is also a former Wisconsin attorney general) seems to have ignored is a local ban on open carry would also be an unconstitutional infringement on a citizens protected right.

Rep Leon Young, a former Milwaukee cop is telling everyone that he is “fast tracking” a new state law to ban open carry statewide. Of course, that law would be unconstitutional also for the same reasons. Fortunately, we already have a pretty good idea what the Wisconsin Supreme Court will say about any such law.

Chief Justice Shirley Abramson said in her dissent in Hamdan;
Article I, Section 25 does not establish an unfettered right to bear arms. Clearly, the State retains the power to impose reasonable regulations on weapons, including a general prohibition on the carrying of concealed weapons. However, the State may not apply these regulations in situations that functionally disallow the exercise of the rights conferred under Article I, Section 25.

So, what we don’t know yet is would the Wisconsin Supreme Court only overturn Rep. Young’s new law banning open carry or would the court overturn both the new law and the old ban on concealed carry too? Why force the court to choose? The court could just overturn them both. The sooner Rep. Young can “fast track” his new law banning open carry to the Governor’s desk for his signature, the sooner we will be able to get the Supreme Courts answer to which law or laws will have to fall.

With the help of Governor Doyle and Rep. Young all Wisconsin citizens may soon be able to carry guns totally unrestricted like they did before 1872 - again. ...

[Alaska] College students rally for campus carry:
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Some students at the University of Alaska Anchorage want to be allowed to carry guns on campus.

George Hines, a UAA student, organized a protest Thursday against a UA-system gun ban. About 15 sign-waving students showed up for the protest, held at a street corner near campus. ...

[California] Shooting sports fair closes due to ammo shortage:
The Raahauge's Shooting Sports Fair, a hands-on gun show where you can shoot all the latest firearms on the market, has been cancelled for 2009. The Sports Fair is normally held the first weekend in June each year at Mike Raahauge Shooting Enterprises in Corona. Mike Raahauge said the fair was cancelled because it had become impossible for all the firearm makers to get enough ammunition for this event.

"I just spoke with all of the manufacturers and none of them can get ammo," said Raahauge late last week. "We could hold the fair, but we'd probably be out of ammunition by Friday afternoon."

"Whether the shortage is due to the election of President Barack Obama or the economic downturn or fear of an increase in crime, ammo sales have been like plywood and bottled-water sales before a hurricane in Florida," Raahauge said.

Since President Obama's election, gun and ammunition sales have skyrocketed. Most ammunition manufacturers are operating multiple shifts on their production lines and still can't produce enough ammunition in the major handgun and military-style rifle calibers to meet demand. Besides ammunition, there is also a shortage of semi-automatic handguns, semi-automatic rifles, and reloading components. ...

Cash-strapped California county to stop prosecuting some crimes

From the Golden State, comes this story about the consequences of the bad economy, and one county's ongoing budget problems:
Misdemeanors such as assaults, thefts and burglaries will no longer be prosecuted in Contra Costa County because of budget cuts, the county's top prosecutor said Tuesday.

District Attorney Robert Kochly also said that beginning May 4, his office will no longer prosecute felony drug cases involving smaller amounts of narcotics. That means anyone caught with less than a gram of methamphetamine or cocaine, less than 0.5 grams of heroin and fewer than five pills of ecstasy, OxyContin or Vicodin won't be charged.

People who are suspected of misdemeanor drug crimes, break minor traffic laws, shoplift, trespass or commit misdemeanor vandalism will also be in the clear. Those crimes won't be prosecuted, either.
Barry Grove, a deputy district attorney who is president of the Contra Costa County District Attorneys Association, said, "There's no question that these kinds of crimes are going to drastically affect the quality of life for all the citizens of Contra Costa County."

The decision not to go after any perpetrators of certain offenses, Grove said, amounts to "holding up a sign and advertising to the criminal element to come to Contra Costa County, because we're no longer going to prosecute you." [emphasis added]
Kochly said prosecutors will still consider charging suspects with certain misdemeanors, including domestic violence, driving under the influence, firearms offenses, vehicular manslaughter, sex crimes and assault with a deadly weapon.

Article here. Contra Costa county is located in the Bay area in Northern California. Looks like crime's probably gonna go up, once word gets around to all the criminals that the county's not going to prosecute certain crimes. Let's hope law-abiding residents of the county have acquired the means to defend themselves.

Actually, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that other counties have either already implemented, or are considering implementing, similar no-prosecute policies due to tight budgets.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Upside down

Tonight's totally gratuitous cute-girl-doing-stretchy-things video:

Narcissism without bounds

From Dr. Sanity, on Obama and the Left's narcissism:
Charles Krauthammer recently commented on Obama's response to Ortega's diatribe against the US:
The most telling moment, however, was when Daniel Ortega, the president of Nicaragua, delivered a 53-minute excoriating attack on the United States. And Obama's response was "I'm grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for the things that occurred when I was three months old."

Does the narcissism of this man know no bounds? This is not about him. It is about his country. This is something that occurred under John Kennedy — the Bay of Pigs is what he is referring to. And what he is saying is that it's OK that he attacked John Kennedy, as long as it wasn't me.

Doesn't it occur to him that he ought to defend his country even if stuff happened before him? It doesn't all start with him.

As Krauthammer knows all too well, since he is a psychiatrist, a real narcissist actually does believe everything starts with him, and that he is the center of the universe.

As far a Barack Obama is concerned, it is all about him.

L'etat, c'est moi! Soon, like Louis XIV, and every petty tyrant and political demagogue since, Obama the First will declare himself to be above the law. His massive ego will demand no less. ...

Read it all here.

Swine Flu outbreak hits Mexico, parts of Texas and California

From Bloomberg, on the outbreak of swine flu in Mexico and Texas:
April 25 (Bloomberg) -- The World Health Organization is set to declare the deadly swine flu virus outbreak in Mexico and the U.S. a global concern, potentially prompting travel restrictions, said a person familiar with the matter.

An emergency committee of the WHO in Geneva will declare the outbreak “a public health event of international concern” in a 4 p.m. teleconference today, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting is confidential. In response, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan may raise the level of pandemic alert, which could lead to travel restrictions aimed at curbing the disease’s spread.
Mexico’s Social Security Institute shut all of the theaters and cultural centers it operates nationwide to avoid spreading the flu strain -- reminiscent of actions implemented during the 2003 SARS outbreak in Asia. Travel curbs imposed there damaged economies throughout the region, where that virus circulated most widely.

In Singapore, where 33 infected people died, gross domestic product shrank 11.4 percent in the second quarter of 2003 because of the severe acute respiratory syndrome.
Teams of disease investigators have been sent to California and Texas to trace how the malady has spread, and the U.S. offered to send scientists to Mexico, said the CDC’s Besser. U.S. hospitals are being asked to collect samples from patients with flu-like symptoms, said Schaffner, chief of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt, in a telephone interview yesterday.

‘Sense of Urgency’

“They are asking us who work in hospitals to go to our emergency rooms and our pediatric wards to gather specimens and start testing them,” Schaffner said. “This has a sense of urgency about it.”

Mexico’s government has closed schools, museums, movie theaters and libraries in Mexico City and surrounding areas until further notice, according to an e-mail from the National Arts and Culture Council. It’s also handing out free facemasks and extending the deadline for filing taxes until May 31, Cordova said. A million doses of antiviral medicine are available for distribution, he said. [emphasis added] ...

Article here. Needless to say, a widespread outbreak would have serious public health consequences, including loss of life (particularly among young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems), as well as the potential for severe economic disruption. As the article notes, Singapore's GDP dropped 11.4% in the second quarter of 2003 due to the SARS epidemic.

As a general preparedness matter, having a personal stock of facemasks and gloves is something to consider, if you haven't already done so. Because if a serious flu outbreak ever hits your area, those items will become extremely scarce and possibly unobtainable, almost immediately. Plus, the masks and gloves (I like the nitrile ones) are sometimes useful around the house, e.g., when cleaning, etc. Besides, if a pandemic hits, who wouldn't want to be seen in public wearing those signature pandemic fashion accessories: a stylish N95 facemask and ultrahip purple nitrile gloves. :)

College: No-free-speech zone?

From the Miami Herald (a normally anti-gun rights publication):
... Their First Amendment rights, however, may be another matter. Those are taking a beating these days, right in the place that's supposed to be America's rowdiest free-speech zone: college campuses.

A student who speaks up about the right to own or carry a gun stands a good chance of getting suspended or even arrested:

• When a Central Connecticut State University senior fulfilled a communications-class assignment by giving a presentation on why students and professors should be allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus, his professor reported him to the police, who called him in for questioning. Professor Paula Anderson, questioned by a reporter from the school paper, was unrepentant: The student was a ''perceived risk'' and she had a ``responsibility to protect the well-being of our students.''

• Like old Soviet commissars clapping dissidents into psychiatric hospitals, administrators at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., responded to a student's e-mail criticizing school policy on concealed weapons by suspending him and ordering him to undergo a ``mental health examination.''

• Trying to recruit new members, the Young Conservatives of Texas club at Lone Star College near Houston passed out fliers lampooning gun-safety manuals. (''No matter how responsible he seems, never give your gun to a monkey.'') Administrators confiscated the fliers, threatened to disband the club and -- when the worried students sought legal counsel -- wrote their lawyers that any ''mention of firearms'' amounted to ''interference with the operation of the school or the rights of others'' because it ''brings fear and concern to students, faculty and staff.'' Oddly, the administrators did not suspend themselves, even though their own e-mail included a ``mention of firearms.''

• Tarrant County College, near Fort Worth, took the no-mention policy a step further, banning a student from wearing an empty holster to protest the campus ban on concealed guns. ''We're protecting the learning environment,'' explained Juan Garcia, the school's vice president for student development and, clearly, a devoted scholar of academic doublespeak. ...

Read the whole thing here.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Not your typical stuffy concert

Tonight's musical interlude (sort of), Igudesman & Joo:

Gun Rights News Roundup

Articles, news stories, and op-eds of interest to gun owners:

[Texas] Gun, ammo sales booming:
HOUSTON - Gun stores in Texas and across the country are experiencing a high demand for guns and ammunition fueled by fears of stricter gun-control laws under President Barack Obama and crime related to the recession.

The number of applications for concealed handguns jumped to 12,587 in February, up from 7,626 in the same month last year, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

``They're worried about their security. The day after the election, gun sales exploded. We ran out of everything,'' said Rob Corson, managing partner at Memorial Shooting Center, in an online story Thursday in the Houston Chronicle.

He said traffic has increased four times compared to last year and more staff has been hired since November. They have also asked customers looking for pistols to call ahead to make sure they're in stock. The 9mm Glock, which retails for more than $500, is the most popular at the gun store.

Corson said sales of ammunition are more than double what they were last year. ...

[Washington] Op-ed: U.S. more armed, more polite:
The folks who believe guns are evil aren’t having a very good time lately. Though the Democrats are back in power, there’s no appetite in Washington, D.C., for new gun control laws.

Too many Democrats remember 1994, when pro-gun voters helped vote in a Republican Congress, a long-lasting majority that held on until 2006. Twelve years out of power is a long time.
Another interesting statistic to add to this mix is that earlier this month the FBI announced it had completed its 100 millionth instant background check on people who buy firearms. Since a substantial portion of those sales no doubt involved used rifles, pistols and shotguns, not all of those were for additional firearms held by our nation’s residents.

I couldn’t find a statistic from the shooting sports industry or the Department of Justice that offered a breakdown between new and used firearms. But this much is clear: In the time since the national background checks became law, millions of new firearms have been sold in the U.S.

And yet the crime rate has fallen steadily.

Seems like the anti-gun folks are, pardon the pun, out of ammo. ...

[New York] Lawmaker proposes bill requiring possession permit renewals:
When Jiverly Wong walked into a Binghamton immigrant services center this month and killed 13 people, he was legally permitted to have the 9 mm and .45-caliber handguns used in the rampage.

But that might not have been the case if state law had required him to periodically renew his gun license, contends two legislators proposing an end to what they call "New York's dangerous lifetime permit system."

"That tragedy serves as a somber illustration of how critically important it is that our state licensing system be thorough, that the records be accurate and up-to-date and that handguns be accounted for," said Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, who is sponsoring the legislation with Manhattan state Sen. Eric Schneiderman.

The legislation would require license renewals every five years, allowing law enforcement agencies to better consider criminal convictions, changes in mental-health status or other causes for concern that occur once a permit has been issued. ...

Comment: This story is from the Peoples Republic of New York, so we're not talking about carry permits here, but permits to merely possess a gun.

[New York] Op-ed: proposed gun-control laws off target:
Many local residents have yet another reason to be upset with state lawmakers -- and it has nothing to do with higher taxes or secret budget negotiations.

Area gun owners are decrying a series of proposed laws and regulations that they say would ban or severely limit the purchase of firearms or ammunition within New York. The proposals, being pushed by downstate Democrats, would -- among other things -- establish new regulations for purchasing bullets, set up an ammunition coding system on all handgun and assault weapon ammunition, require the renewal of firearms licenses after five years, impose more stringent rules for weapon storage, and ban the sale, use or possession of 50 caliber or larger caliber weapons. [emphasis added]

Gun owners are also concerned about talk on the federal level of implementing a registration system for firearms, which some see as a first step toward enacting an outright ban on weapons in the U.S. ...

[Massachusetts] Marine charged with "infernal machine" possession:
Standing ramrod straight in his Marine Corps service uniform, Corporal Justin W. Reed pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges he illegally smuggled a semiautomatic handgun and a raft of bomb-making materials onto a Boston-bound plane Sunday.

A judge in East Boston District Court set 2,500 cash bail for the 22-year-old, who was traveling from a military base in California where he taught an urban-warfare course to his home in Jacksonville, N.C.

During Reed's layover at Logan International Airport on Sunday morning, federal baggage screeners going through his military-style backpack found the handgun, a fully loaded gun magazine, a grenade fuse and detonator, model-rocket engines containing explosive mixtures, matches, and a disposable lighter. The bag had been checked without incident at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. His baggage also contained several boxes of 9mm and 7.62mm ammunition. [emphasis added]

Reed was arrested on charges of possessing an infernal machine and attempting to put an explosive device on an aircraft.
In court, Reed's attorney, Jeffrey Miller, said his client has no criminal record and has an "excellent record" as a Marine. He added that Reed had cooperated with authorities.
Prosecutors called Reed very cooperative, but they said they had no plans to drop the charges.
Reed declared the firearm in Las Vegas, as required. Investigators initially reported that he did not declare the gun, which was secured in a locked box, but later determined he had after locating the paperwork, she said.

Still, Reed was carrying items that are prohibited. "These were items that should have not been on the airplane, but they never posed an imminent threat to aviation," [TSA Spokeswoman] Davis said. [emphasis added] ...

Comment: For those unfamiliar with Massachusetts law, such devices are actually referred to as "infernal machines" in the statutes. Quaint, in a Salem witch burning kind of way, huh? And since when do model rocket engines contain "explosive mixtures"? Don't they contain propellant mixtures? At any rate, this seems like a ridiculous prosecution. The young Marine properly declared his firearm, and the TSA says the other items didn't pose a threat to the aircraft. Of course, he is from the military, which according to the Department of Homeland Security obviously means he's a "right-wing extremist". And, well, this is the Peoples Republic of Massachusetts we're talking about here.

[D.C.] DHS official: plan to stop flow of guns into Mexico will respect Second Amendment:
John Leech, the man who oversees U.S. efforts to stop the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, said the government also plans to stop the flow of guns into Mexico – while respecting the Second Amendment.
“We’ve actually produced an arms chapter, and I think you will be very proud of what the United States of America has put in this document in terms of trying to get control of the arms problem,” Leech said of the new strategy report, which is scheduled to be released in the next few weeks.
Leech could not, however, answer the question posed by the subcommittee chairman, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), as to whether the guns getting to Mexico were obtained legally or illegally.

“I’m not an expert on that,” Leech said, adding that he would try to find the answer to the question and get back to the subcommittee. ...

Comment: If you believe that the DHS plan will respect the Second Amendment, I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale that you might be interested in. And isn't it curious that the government can write a document to control a supposed "arms problem" without knowing and being able to say where, and in what quantities, those arms that they are trying to control are coming from?

Elizabeth Warren, TARP Queen

From The Big Money, on Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, who is reporting for Congress on the Treasury Department's spending of the TARP money:
Five years from now, when Tesla Sedans and Facebook and American Idol have miraculously powered America out of its second Great Depression, historians may share a belly laugh about the days—not that long ago!—when respected economists and policymakers spent trillions of borrowed dollars attempting to bail out "toxic" and "troubled" assets, as though they might rehabilitate a subprime mortgage gone bad with a solid hug, maybe a week at Promises for one of those nonperforming (but still chic) California jumbo mortgages. Problem solved! Of course these much-maligned assets were not really the problem, they will chortle. It was the people underlying these assets who were truly troubled; it was the institutions that overleveraged so many Americans so insidiously that were really toxic.

How could we have been so blind? they will wonder.

That the American financial system itself is irreparably broken is already obvious enough to a handful of public figures as diverse as the president of China, the most recent Nobel laureate in economics, and even Jay Leno, who last month personally chided the president for delegating our national nightmare to a banker, a Bush-era strategy that has proven disastrous for more than a year. But I'm convinced that no one grasps the true nature of our hard times better than Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard Law School professor who last month revealed that TARP, the original asset-bailout program that she oversees, had resulted in taxpayers subsidizing tens of billions in investor profits while producing no discernible uptick in bank lending.

Way back in 2003, Warren—a pretty, blue-eyed former Republican farm girl from Oklahoma who rose to become one of Harvard Law's rare female tenured professors—and her daughter published a groundbreaking study of Americans' financial woes titled The Two-Income Trap. The book arose from Warren's tenure as senior adviser to Bill Clinton's National Bankruptcy Review Commission, which might, like TARP, also have become a study in frustration. Handed the task of figuring out how bankruptcy rates could be higher than during the Great Depression—and rising—in prosperous times, Warren was denied the cooperation of the financial industry. So she decided to pore over thousands of pages of federal surveys of household spending patterns that had been ignored for decades. What she found was that modern American households are worse off than their counterparts of a generation ago, even with an additional breadwinner—hence, the title. Today's families literally cannot afford not to borrow, and unregulated financial products, with their limitless interest rates and myriad fees, are literally killing them. ...

Go read the rest here.

Gun control treaty endanges Second Amendment

From Human Events, on Obama's recent comments in Mexico urging ratification of a major gun control treaty:
On April 16, 2009, President Obama emerged from a meeting with Mexico’s President Calderón to announce his support for the “Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing and Trafficking in Firearms” treaty (CIFTA): an international gun control treaty signed by President Bill Clinton in 1997 but never ratified by the U.S. Senate.

Unlike Clinton, Obama has no plans to let the treaty languish without ratification. Thus he promised to push the treaty through the Senate quickly as a means of curtailing the border violence and arms trafficking in Mexico’s current drug wars. Yet the text of CIFTA indicates that the treaty would do very little to curtail violence in Mexico, unless creating a national gun registry in the United States is something that will cut crime south of the border.

For example, the preamble of the treaty describes “the urgent need for all states, and especially those states that produce, export, and import arms, to take the necessary measures to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms.” To accomplish this, the preamble calls for the “exchange of information” and “effective control of firearms [and] ammunition” between nations that sign treaty.

The “exchange of information” implies that our government would not simply have a gun registry that is nationally accessible, but internationally accessible as well.

Article here. Registration, of course, is the prerequisite to confiscation.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Human Tetris

Tonight's "you've got too much time on your hands" stop-motion video - human tetris:

More ATF misleading about source of Mexican guns

Fox News' Greta van Susteren interviews ATF, who mislead about source of Mexican guns:
Fox News reporter Greta Van Susteren recently interviewed ATF agents about the surging violence in Mexico. The ATF is partially repsonsible for enforcing America's gun laws, and recently much of their work has been devoted to stopping the flow of illegal weapons into Mexico. According to the ATF spokesperson interviewed, while the military-grade machine guns used by Mexican drug cartels are being imported from Central America, "the predominate amount of weapons we see are being purchased here [the U.S.] and being traffic to Mexico." [emphasis added] ...

In the videos, notice the very subtle way the ATF agent misleads the viewing public, by stating that "the predominate amount of weapons we see are being purchased here [the U.S.] and being traffic to Mexico." Well, given that the ATF only has enforcement jurisdiction in the U.S., should we really be surprised that most weapons the ATF seizes were purchased here in the U.S.? Or that the guns that the Mexican government sends to the ATF for tracing (likely only a small percentage of the total guns recovered, and an even smaller percentage of total guns in Mexican criminals' hands) are only those whose type and markings would indicate that they may have originated here in the U.S.?

And how many of the guns submitted by the Mexicans to ATF for tracing, and successfully traced to U.S. sources, were traced to non-retail (gun shops, gun shows) sources? In other words, how many were traced to U.S. law enforcement or U.S. military sources (e.g., via theft or via official arms transfer to the Mexican government -- we give them a lot of stuff), and direct commercial sales, approved by the U.S. government, to the Mexican military or other agencies of the Mexican government? That's important information that I haven't seen in any of the press reports I've read. If a large percentage of traced guns aren't coming from retail sources, then common sense would tell us that we shouldn't focus all our efforts on retail channels. And obviously if traced guns were originally legally imported into Mexico via a U.S. government approved arms sale, or U.S. government military aid, then focusing exclusively on the retail channels isn't going to solve the problem.

In addition, while in the video the agent notes quickly and almost in passing that the machine guns the ATF is demonstrating aren't coming from U.S. gun shows or gun shops, that doesn't stop the ATF from showcasing a whole bunch of full-auto firearms that can't be legally purchased by "ordinary" citizens (excluding the relatively small number of transferable Class III full-auto capable weapons available). So the impression given, when taken in conjunction with the agent's misleading "predominate amount" comment, is to present a misleading image of full-auto guns flowing from U.S. gun shops and gun shows into Mexico. Without knowing firearms and the issues involved, that's certainly the impression I would have gotten.

Unfortunately, Ms. Van Susteren does not appear at all knowledgeable about firearms, and thus cannot ask any tough, substantive questions to challenge or expose the agent's subtly misleading responses and statements, or to clearly emphasize for the audience that such full-auto weapons being demonstrated aren't entering Mexico via purchases in U.S. gun shows or gun shops. Or to note for the audience that the AK-47 and M-16 fire a round that's ballistically less powerful than typical deer hunting rifles. Or that the typical deer rifle will punch through concealable soft body armor like that shown in the video just as easily, and with more energy, than rounds from an AK-47 or M-16.

The government is doing its best to mislead the public in order to push its gun control agenda. Sadly, Ms. Van Susteren and Fox News appears to be an unwitting accomplice to such government shenanigans. we need to figure out a way to educate the few fair-minded media folks out there on basic firearms issues, technology, and terminology, so that they can ask tough questions and challenge misleading statements and outright lies that so often spew forth from anti-gun politicians and government officials.

Gun Rights News Roundup

Articles, news stories, and op-eds of interest to gun owners:

From Gunowners of America, on Obama's support for a U.N. gun control treaty:
Remember CANDIDATE Barack Obama? The guy who “wasn’t going to take away our guns”?

Well, guess what?

Less than 100 days into his administration, he’s never met a gun he didn’t hate.

A week ago, Obama went to Mexico, whined about the United States, and bemoaned (before the whole world) the fact that he didn’t have the political power to take away our semi-automatics. Nevertheless, that didn’t keep him from pushing additional restrictions on American gun owners.

It’s called the Inter-American Convention Against Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials. To be sure, this imponderable title masks a really nasty piece of work.

First of all, when the treaty purports to ban the “illicit” manufacture of firearms, what does that mean?

1. “Illicit manufacturing” of firearms is defined as “assembly of firearms [or] ammunition ... without a license....”

Hence, reloading ammunition -- or putting together a lawful firearm from a kit -- is clearly “illicit manufacturing.” ...

Comment: Gunowners of America has a link to send a message to the Senate regarding opposition to ratification of this treaty here.

New Jersey Senator Lautenberg pushing to close gun show "loophole":
Several high-ranking senators led by Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) on Tuesday relaunched their push to require gun sellers to conduct background checks on purchases of all types of guns at state gun shows.

On the heels of the 10-year anniversary of the Columbine shootings the lawmakers pushed to close the gun show “loophole” that exists in more than 30 states.

These states do not require personal gun sellers, who are authorized to hawk their own firearms at gun shows, to conduct a background check on buyers of the guns. This allows people with criminal histories to easily obtain weapons like those used in the Columbine killings, according to lawmakers.

Measures similar to Lautenberg’s bill have passed the Senate twice before but have failed to pass the House because of pressure from gun lobbying organizations like the National Rifle Association, said Lautenberg, who was joined Tuesday by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.). ...

Dave Workman discusses the Nordkye decision:
The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday handed down a long-awaited ruling in the epic case of Nordyke v. King, which started as a lawsuit by gun show operators Russell and Sallie Nordyke against California’s Alameda County, and became something considerably larger.

The court panel, with Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain writing the opinion and Judge Ronald M. Gould offering a concurring opinion, rule that the Second Amendment is incorporated to the states; that is, the right to keep and bear arms that is affirmed by the Amendment now becomes a limit on state and local governments, same as it is a limit on the federal government. ...

Another article on Nordyke:
As my colleague, David Codrea, has already reported, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that state and local governments are bound by the Second Amendment. Since the advent of the Fourteenth Amendment, most provisions of the Bill of Rights have gained power over not only the federal government, as originally intended, but over state and local governments, as well. The Second Amendment was one of the few exceptions--and that has never made sense (and was clearly not intended by the drafters of the Fourteenth Amendment).

In Nordyke v. King, however we may very well be seeing the beginning of the end of that very unsatisfactory set of circumstances, wherein state and local governments need not so much as pay lip service to the Second Amendment. In the 9th Circuit, in fact, that end has indeed arrived. Granted, the 9th is but one circuit court, and unless and until the Supreme Court rules similarly, the other federal circuit courts are free to ignore the Nordyke ruling. Still, this development is very significant, because the 9th is the largest, and thus one of the most important, federal circuit courts. It is also considered the most "liberal," and thus perhaps the most resistant to protecting the right to keep and bear arms.

That perception, actually, was borne out to some degree by the decision, which despite ruling that the Second Amendment applied to state and local governments, also ruled that such governments could ban gun shows on public property. The judges of the 9th Circuit, apparently, attach a different meaning to shall not be infringed than one might expect, based on the . . . actual meaning of those words. In that, the decision resembles some of the more regrettable aspects of the Heller decision. ...

Howard Nemerov on New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand turn towards the Dark Side:
Once again, anti-rights forces in Congress are attacking the Tiahrt Amendment as restricting law enforcement from doing its job, using their pretty new face: Kirsten Gillibrand. But examination of Gillibrand’s campaign finance, and comparing rhetoric to reality, are in order before trusting her as a disinterested public servant trying to protect us.
NBC New York reports:
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is calling for the repeal of a federal policy on record keeping for gun background checks, a law she originally co-sponsored in Congress.

Sen. Gillibrand and fellow New York Senator Chuck Schumer want to change the Tiahrt Amendment, which requires records of gun background checks be destroyed after 24 hours. The amendment restricts cities, state and members of law enforcement from using so-called "trace data" to track how guns are trafficked across state lines.

Gillibrand, a supporter of the National Rifle Association, had originally co-sponsored the bill, which was added on to a appropriations bill, as an upstate Congresswoman. [Emphasis added]

Maintaining background check records creates a registration database, a key goal for gun banners because it enables them to know what guns you own and sets the stage for confiscation. ...

[West Virginia] Win some, lose some: Permit privacy bill loses, reciprocity provision wins:
CHARLESTON — When the smoke cleared away on the final night of the legislative session, the West Virginia Press Association held the winning hand in a duel over guns and the public’s right to know who is toting concealed firearms.

For two years, the battle has raged between the press association and the National Rifle Association in a bill initially offered to allow West Virginia to enter into and honor reciprocal pacts so that states recognized each other’s concealed weapon permits.

But the NRA amended the measure so that no citizen could access permits under the Freedom of Information Act, a move the press association viewed as poor policy in regard to the public’s right to know and scrutinize government records.

“The logic behind it was contrived,” Phil Reale, a Charleston attorney and lobbyist for the press association, said of the NRA’s opposition to public access on grounds it might expose someone in a domestic rift to danger if his or her concealed weapon permit were publicized.

The NRA did score on getting the reciprocal agreements approved.

“They got something out of it, which we didn’t object to,” Reale said. ...

More on open carry in Wisconsin

More reaction to the Wisconsin Attorney General's open carry advisory memo (see my posts here and here), and Milwaukee police chief Ed "We'll put them on the ground" Flynn:

CCRKBA calls Flynn's remarks "outrageous":
BELLEVUE, WA – The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms today criticized Milwaukee, WI Police Chief Ed Flynn for his open defiance of the State Attorney General’s office in a controversy over open carry of firearms.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has stated that it is legal in Wisconsin for citizens to carry guns openly in a peaceful manner. However, Chief Flynn is ordering his officers to “take down” citizens, “put them on the ground” and disarm them, and “then decide whether you have a right to carry it.”

The situation should alarm all Wisconsin citizens, whether they own guns or not, said CCRKBA Legislative Director Joe Waldron, because it places police officers and private citizens in a deliberately confrontational position. Also, he added, Flynn’s approach raises serious constitutional questions because of the state’s clearly defined “right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose” under Article I, Section 25 of the state constitution.

“Because Wisconsin does not allow concealed carry,” Waldron said, “the only way for citizens to exercise their constitutional right to keep and bear arms is to carry handguns openly. Chief Flynn should not assume he or his officers have the authority to decide who can and cannot exercise that right. His attitude is outrageous. ...

Milwaukee chief to officers: Ignore attorney general:
Milwaukee’s police chief said Tuesday he’ll go on telling his officers to take down anyone with a firearm despite Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s finding that people can carry guns openly if they do it peacefully.

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said he’ll continue to tell officers they can’t assume people are carrying guns legally in a city that has seen nearly 200 homicides in the past two years.

"My message to my troops is if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we’ll put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide whether you have a right to carry it," Flynn said. "Maybe I’ll end up with a protest of cowboys. In the meantime, I’ve got serious offenders with access to handguns. It’s irresponsible to send a message to them that if they just carry it openly no one can bother them."
"The idea of people ... openly carrying guns strikes me as somewhere between bonkers and totally ridiculous and stupid," said state Rep. Josh Zepnick, D-Milwaukee.

Van Hollen, a Republican, issued a memo Monday explaining how disorderly conduct overlaps with the constitutional right to bear arms. Van Hollen concluded citizens have a constitutional right to openly carry firearms, and disorderly conduct charges depend on the circumstances., a gun advocacy Web site, issued a statement saying the finding was "spot on." The Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association said the memo clearly finds people can bear arms in an orderly manner.
Flynn, Milwaukee’s police chief, said the opinion was clearly drafted in the safety of the Justice Department’s offices, not on Milwaukee’s streets.

"From an officer’s safety point of view and a public point of view," he said, "we’re not going to start with the assumption that someone displaying a handgun is doing it lawfully." [emphasis added]

Comment: Read the article for more anti-gun hand-wringing. Note that the Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association came out in support of open carry by law-abiding citizens.

Police confront man carrying openly while he was being interviewed about open carry:
As WISN 12 News was interviewing a West Allis man about his past arrest for carrying a gun in the open, police confronted him again Tuesday night -- one day after the state's attorney general ruled it's legal.

"Somebody called the police that somebody was walking around with a gun on their hip," a West Allis police officer said.

"I would fit that description," Krause said.

"That would be you," a West Allis police officer said.

Police arrived up to investigate Krause while 12 News was interviewing him about his previous arrest for carrying a holstered gun on his hip outside his home. One officer saw Krause's gun and asked what agency he's affiliated with.

"I'm the same guy I was when you arrested me the last time," Krause said.

The officers asked for his name and called dispatch.

"The reason I'm checking is because felons can't have guns in Wisconsin," West Allis police said.

Krause is not a felon. He's a certified firearms instructor.
Milwaukee's police chief said he'll go on telling his officers to take down anyone with a firearm despite Van Hollen's finding that people can carry guns openly if they do it peacefully. [emphasis added]

Chief Ed Flynn said officers can't assume people are carrying guns legally in a city that has seen nearly 200 homicides in the past two years.

He said that means officers seeing anybody carrying a gun will put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide if the person has a right to carry it. ...

Columnist compares Wisconsin situation to that of Ohio before Ohio's concealed carry law passed:
Yesterday, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen issued a memo stating "that openly wearing a holstered gun is not grounds for a disorderly conduct charge." The result of this ruling is that open carry is confirmed to be legal in Wisconsin, while concealed carry remains prohibited.

This is similar to the path Ohio took before our concealed carry law was passed in 2004. Instead of an attorney general ruling, here it was the Ohio Supreme Court case Klein v Leis that set the precedent.

In the Klein case, Chuck Klein filed suit against the State of Ohio alleging that the then ban on concealed carry was unconstitutional. Ohio's Constitution guarantees that “The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security” (Article I, Section 4).

The OSC ruled that the total ban on carrying concealed firearms was not unconstitutional because there was another option for exercising the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. The minority opinion clarified that this confirmed that open carry is legal in Ohio.

Soon after, grassroots activists in Ohio held a series of Open Carry Self-Defense Walks to demonstrate in favor of concealed carry reform, culminating in Walks held at the Ohio Statehouse and in front of the Governor's mansion. These Walks were widely credited with playing a significant role in ending Ohio's 145 year ban on carrying concealed firearms. [emphasis added]
Also like Ohio, Wisconsin law enforcement has to make adjustments. They can no longer consider everyone a bad guy just because they're carrying a firearm.
Racine County Sheriff Bob Carlson said from now on, if a caller reports someone with a gun, dispatchers will be instructed to ask other questions such as: Is the person agitated, quarreling, or in a place posted against guns? And so on.

“I want to avoid any kind of visceral leap toward making an arrest purely on the basis of carrying a firearm,” Carlson said. [emphasis added]

Comment: Will Wisconsin gun owners follow Ohio's example of using open carry walks to lobby for concealed carry? Note also that Wisconsin Sheriff Bob Carlson has a much more rational and reasonable approach to "man with a gun" calls than Milwaukee police chief Ed "We'll put them on the ground" Flynn.