The Paranoid Center

Reason has an excellent (but lengthy) article on the return of the militia scare.  

Fri Jun 19 00:02:52 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Mexican guns, again...

Some of us have wondered how the BATFE was so sure that American guns were being smuggled across the border into Mexico.  It turns out, they were the ones doing the smuggling.

It used to be a common saying that in any political meeting with 3 members, one was from the FBI, one was from the BATFE, and the third person was an ordinary citizen telling everyone to calm down and stop talking about blowing things up.  I see that's still true.

Categories Fast and Furious

Fri Jun 19 00:02:37 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Where Great Britain Used To Be

It seems that even granting police dramatic stop-and-search powers doesn't prevent being mugged from being a part of everyday life.  However, at least the stop-and-search powers are being abused in a racially balanced manner!

Fri Jun 19 00:01:07 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

In case you missed it the first time...

... here's another article describing the Obama Administration's attempt to ban pocketknives.

Yes, really.

He's been politically blocked from going after guns, so why not go after knives?  It's easier to slip that under the radar since there isn't an existing political infrastructure to defend it.

Fri Jun 19 00:00:39 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Prejudice and gun owners

A black man's tale of the prejudice he has experienced as a result of his interest in the shooting sports.

It's not what you think.

Wed Jun 17 11:23:21 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The Knife Ban is coming...

... possibly because Obama has been frustrated in his desire to ban guns.  From the Volokh Conspiracy:
Under the 1958 federal Switchblade Act, switchblade knives are not importable into the United States, and may not be shipped across state lines. On May 21, U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) proposed the revocation of four previous Ruling Letters; the effect would be a drastic expansion of the definition of non-importable knives. The organization KnifeRights warns that revocations would outlaw approximately 80 percent of the current market in knives.
The 2nd Amendment doesn't say firearms... it just says arms.  To me, that means knives are included.  So far we have been lucky in that attempts at regulation have mostly been aimed at firearms, but if this rule change slips through the back door, that will no longer be true. 

Wed Jun 17 01:15:06 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Credit where due

The Huffington Post features an article in favor of concealed carry reciprocity (because it prevents hate crimes).  Shocking, but true.  It features the bare bones of Tom Palmer's story (a gay man who defended himself from a homophobic attack with a handgun); some of you may remember that Palmer was one of the original plaintiffs in the Heller case.

I am all in favor of responsible adults being armed, including minorities who are arguably more at risk.

Mon Jun 15 11:18:22 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Alan Gura on the high stakes of DC's gun ban

This video is from Reason magazine's interview with Alan Gura, filmed shortly before the Heller decision was released.  I'm including it here mainly for completeness, since I seem to have missed it when originally published.

Mon Jun 15 10:25:21 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Controlling the terms of the debate

It used to be that the anti-gun crowd could change the terms of the debate about guns at will.  First it was "Saturday Night Specials", then "Assault Weapons", and so on... but today, in an article about a college denying free speech rights to a gun rights advocate, I saw this:
Opponents of concealed carry say there are relatively few students who are behind the movement. "What we're hearing is that they do not want guns on campus," said Chad Ramsey, spokesman for the Brady Campaign, a gun control advocate in Washington. "There is a smattering of Second Amendment activists out there. But I don't think there is a major grassroots effort among students -- I think most students have been advocating the other side of the fence."
Yes, that's a Brady Campaign spokesman referring to gun rights advocates as "Second Amendment activists" rather than "NRA shills" or "gun nuts" or "right-wing extremists." 

Fri Jun 12 14:57:17 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Chicago Gun Case cert petition filed

Gura's Chicago Gun Case blog has posted his petition for certiori to the Supreme Court.  The petition itself is here. Reading through it, I am again impressed with the very careful legal work of Alan Gura's team.  As you may recall, the case which became Heller v DC at the Supreme Court level started out as Parker v DC -- but the case lost most of its plaintiffs to standing issues.  The saving grace was that one of the plaintiffs had tried to register a handgun, and been denied.  The NRA's sort-of-parallel case, Seegars, failed because none of its plaintiffs had taken that step.

The Chicago gun cases are similar.  Gura has carefully lined up three plaintiffs who have actually been harmed by the ban.  All three have attempted to register handguns and been denied.  Two of them have also been denied the ability to register handguns they already possessed (Chicago requires that any firearm must be registered with the city before taking possession).  Two of the plaintiffs own long arms, and are thus subject to the annual re-registration requirements; one of those plaintiffs had allowed his registration to lapse, which prohibits him from re-registering the firearm. 

Additionally, one of the plaintiffs purchased a rifle through the Federal Civilian Marksmenship Program, which shipped the rifle directly to his home in Chicago.  This prevents registration of that rifle in Chicago permanently, because of the requirement to register before taking possession.  It also sets up an interesting tension between the government legally sending a rifle to a place where it is impossible to legally own it.  That same resident tried to register the rifle, was denied, and appealed the denial administratively, and was denied again.

If that's not sufficient to ensure standing, nothing is.

Notably, the petition says:
The day after Petitioners filed their complaint, the National Rifle Association (?NRA?) and various individuals brought a separate challenge to the Chicago handgun ban, albeit not to the other provisions challenged by Petitioners. NRA also led a lawsuit challenging a similar handgun ban implemented by the Village of Oak Park, Illinois. It does not appear that the challenged provisions had been enforced against the NRA plaintiffs. This case, and the two NRA cases, were related in the District Court.
Normally, I'm all in favor of what the NRA does on the political side.  They are a powerful force in politics.  However, Gura's legal work seems much more thorough and carefully thought out, at least with regard to picking plaintiffs.  I don't know why that is -- other than it's obviously very difficult to convince people to put themselves in legal jeopardy or draw official attention to challenge laws with significant criminal penalties.

I will be reading through the petition and posting more comments as I find things worth commenting on.  For now, I will leave you with the reminder that we won't necessarily see this case before the Supreme Court; I think it's the best of the three cases we know of (Nordyke in the 9th circuit and Maloney in the 2nd circuit) but the Supreme Court could pick all of them, any of them, or none at all. 

Wed Jun 10 08:33:33 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Can a 10 year old spot a terrorist?

Probably not, even after watching this training video... especially as the training video covers "extremist views" rather than terrorism.  No doubt the kids will be turning in anyone who advocates that they defend themselves from the playground bully. 

Wed Jun 10 07:57:07 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Boomershoot 2009: Joe to the rescue!

It's a bird!  It's a plane!  ... No, it's just Joe.

He's not actually riding to the rescue, either, but he certainly looks like it.  Note the "propaganda corps" patch on his right arm.

Wed Jun 10 07:41:46 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Boomershoot 2009: Target area

Look closely at the picture below.  Can you see anything that looks like a target?  There are lots of them; the easiest ones to see are just in front of the earthen berm with the trees at the bottom of the picture, but the hillside beyond has at least as many.

Yes, all those little white dots are the targets.  Click the picture to get the full version, where you can see them a little better.

Tue Jun 09 06:48:58 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Gura vs The Supreme Court, part II

Alan will be filing a petition for certiori with the Supreme Court in the Chicago Gun Case very soon now.
It wasn't surprising, considering the panel's comments at oral argument.  Of course this decision is completely wrong.  The Seventh Circuit should have conducted a modern selective incorporation analysis and held the Second Amendment incorporated.  The dicta suggesting that the right to self-defense may be abrogated by statute, and that the exercise of fundamental individual rights can be curtailed at the state level as a nod to federalism, is particularly troubling.
I basically second all of that.  This was an awful ruling, particularly where it suggests that the state could abrogate entirely the right of self-defense.  Yes, it's true that the basic decision (holding that the 7th Circuit is bound by ancient Supreme Court precedent, willingly or not) is not entirely unreasonable; nonetheless, insofar as the ruling does say something of its own, what it says is horrifying. 

Fri Jun 05 01:03:38 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Pastor: Come to church, bring your guns...

A friend of mine forwarded this article:
"We're doing this just like we were having a church picnic," said Pastor Ken Pagano of New Bethel Church, describing what he calls, an "open carry celebration."

"We believe in the right to bear arms and we're promoting responsible gun ownership and safety with gun handling," he said. "You can bring your firearm, but it has to be unloaded and in a safe secure receptacle."

It's an interesting way to promote awareness of the "gun culture" among those who may not realize that it exists.  When I went to Boomershoot this year, I took along a new shooter with me -- someone who had shot before, occasionally, but not in a long time and not for fun.  One of the things they expressed to me about the process of getting a rifle set up for Boomershoot was that, once you started talking about guns, it was as if everyone around you suddenly clicked a box in their head that said "It's ok to talk about guns around this person", and suddenly there are a lot of people showing interest.

I think there is a kind of ... social restraint that many gun owners practice habitually.  A restraint that reflects the media's constant angry attacks on gun owners, and the perceived general social attitude towards us.  We don't talk about guns with just anyone, even if we are completely willing to open up on the topic with other gunnies. 

Since this person was relatively new to the whole idea, it was an eye-opening experience to suddenly see everyone around them in a new light.  And I can't help but think that we need more people to have this experience, to learn and to understand that normal folks, ordinary people, have and use guns for fun.  That the media stereotype is only a stereotype.

Thu Jun 04 11:01:35 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Security Theater

If there are any of my readers who have not yet realized that the entire existence of the Transportation Security Agency is a complete waste of time and money, I have a pair of examples for you.  Examples that, sadly, are not the exception, but seem to be the rule.

First, we have Breda's experience of flying with a prosthetic leg: groped on the trip out, groped on the trip back, but the TSA missed her pocketknife on the way back.

Second, we have a more serious case of Security Fail: Don, the Armed School Teacher, flew legally with a handgun and ammunition.  This involves declaring the firearm to the airline and, depending on the airport, jumping through a slightly different set of security hoops.  Sometimes, though, the security doesn't quite work the way it is intended.  In Don's case, the fancy new and expensive scanner did not detect a standard steel firearm and ammunition in an ordinary handgun case.

I wonder how much we the taxpayers paid for that expensive piece of worthless equipment?  (Yes, I know: too much.)

To make things worse, though, even after Don declared the firearm to the local agents (since he needed to put the declaration tag into the case after they inspected it), one of the other agents tossed it into the back room to be loaded into the airplane.  Without his declaration form.  It took Don arguing with two different agents (one a supervisor) in order to get the bag retrieved so he could put in the form that would protect him from being arrested for trying to smuggle a handgun onto a plane.

To make this clear: two TSA agents, one a supervisor, were initially quite happy to have a declared firearm loaded onto a plane illegally.

Now, I'll grant that the declaration form is sort of silly.  It's basically a way for the owner of the firearm to prove to the authorities "See, I told you this was here" to avoid getting in trouble.  It won't actually make the gun less dangerous, although the requirement that the gun be unloaded probably helps a bit... assuming the security staff know how to verify that.  But it's the sort of silly that involves serious consequences to ordinary folks if it's not followed. 

Finally, we have another example of airline security becoming a voluntary form of humiliation for the amusement of government employees: the urinal flush sensor that doubles as TSA security camera.

Thu Jun 04 09:04:29 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Boomershoot 2009: an elaborate tripod setup

One of the more elaborate benchrest setups.

Thu Jun 04 04:07:40 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]


I've warned about the privacy risks in traffic cameras of various sorts before.  Now, the Texas Senate has demonstrated that I was right all along to fear that traffic cameras will be used by the government to prosecute people for... well... anything that they can make stick.
The Senate's surveillance camera proposal promises taxpayer funds to the same private companies that operate photo radar and red light camera systems threatened by the House bill. License plate readers use the same basic technology as automated ticketing machines. Instead of tracking, for example, only those who exceed a certain speed threshold, the plate readers will store a video image of the front passenger compartment and rear license plate of every single passing vehicle. Optical character recognition software identifies the registered vehicle owner and allows for easy indexing of the time and location of travel for each person identified using the highway.
No longer are your personal travels private without the police dedicating a 24-hour surveillance team.  Soon, where you've been and when you were there can be found with a simple database query.  

Wed Jun 03 12:07:34 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Boomershoot 2009: A simple shooting position

My partner's shooting position at Boomershoot 2009, as it was set up on the second day of the rifle clinic.  You can see the butt of my rifle in the bottom left of the picture; it's almost identical to my spotter's.

UPDATE: For anyone who missed the definitive description of these rifles last year, they are both Savage 12F/TR target rifles in .308 with Nightforce benchrest scopes and Harris bipods. 

Wed Jun 03 07:42:04 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Does the 2nd Amendment protect .50-cals?

California state court of appeals says no.  [Full decision here].  This issue will almost certainly see a lot more litigation; this opinion is clearly based on Heller and yet bases its result on invalid assumptions.  .50 caliber weapons are declared to be "unusual and dangerous", and "assault weapons" have "such a high rate of fire and capacity for firepower that it's function as a legitimate sports or recreational firearm is substantially outweighed by the danger that it can be used to kill and injure human beings."

In truth, of course, .50 caliber weapons are only moderately unusual; they are very popular for long-distance sport shooters and have been manufactured for civilian use for years.  There are almost no crimes committed with these rifles, so in practice, their manufacture for civilian sale is not especially dangerous.

The situation with assault weapons is similar.  Assault weapons are simply ordinary semiautomatic rifles that happen to be designed for something other than hunting.  They are used and possessed peacefully by millions of people, as well as being useful for self-defense in the home. 

It would be very difficult to conceive of a way that assault weapons would not pass the "common use" test from Heller, at least when before an honest judicial panel that has been presented with the proper evidence.

UPDATE: Not actually the 9th Circuit, but a state court instead.  Oops.  Must read closer.

Wed Jun 03 07:25:58 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Orrin Hatch defends gun rights

Here's the key paragraph:
Indeed, in virtually all cases where someone tries to link support for the rights of gun ownership to unlawful behavior, the facts paint a much different picture. The truth is, the vast majority of gun crimes are committed with guns that were obtained illegally. While the issues are often lightning rods for attack, fewer than 2 percent of all gun crimes involve guns purchased at gun shows, and concealed-carry permit holders commit so few crimes that the statistics can't even be tracked. When faced with these facts, anti-gun enthusiasts are left with only one option: attack on personal and/or cultural grounds. This is why we've become inundated with stories and depictions of gun nuts and violent extremists. Apparently, opponents of the right to bear arms believe that, if they can paint all supporters of gun rights with the same big brush, they don't have to come up with any real arguments.
I was reading an anti-gun editorial just before I read Orrin's piece.  Here are some selected quotes from the other article:
deep-pocketed influence peddling with political campaigns... people can see if their daycare worker or dentist is armed... "The NRA is asking gunmen to refrain from mass shootings while key gun bills are before legislators," says a newscaster in a recent editorial cartoon... the NRA realized its wet dream last year... recoiled at its paranoid secessionist/military weapon wing...
The only argument the anti-gun side has left is cultural bigotry and guilt by association.  They want to blame gun rights supporters for criminals who use guns illegally, and ignore the fact that every day, millions of gun owners did not use their guns to hurt anyone.  In fact, if you believe the National Crime Victimization Survey, approximate 220 people use a firearm to defend themselves each day.  (That's the low-end estimate, by the way).

Wed Jun 03 07:03:30 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Terrorism in the United States

It seems that the attack on a military recruiting station in Arkansas was in fact terrorism (motivated by political/religious reasons).  This doesn't surprise me a bit.  Those eager to condemn Obama for permitting the first terrorist attack on US soil should take note that this is hardly the first such attack.

Wed Jun 03 00:49:16 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Common Sense on gun issue

... and yes, this time it really is common sense, not what usually passes for common sense among journalists.

Tue Jun 02 20:12:41 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

7th Circuit rules against incorporation

The 7th Circuit has ruled against incorporation.  The full ruling is here (link has already invalidated itself once, it may not work for you).  Posters in the comments at Of Arms and the Law are keeping updated links if you have trouble.

Tue Jun 02 13:44:41 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

An effective letter to the editor...

... in support of gun rights.

Tue Jun 02 13:21:12 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

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