Monday, June 30, 2008

As Schizophrenic an Editorial as I’ve Ever Read

The Oregonian published what I think has to be the most schizophrenic editorial on the Heller case as I’ve seen. Parts of it seem to be right on the money, and yet other parts of it make me go “huh”? Here’s my take on it:

“Locked and loaded
“The Supreme Court is right to affirm individual gun rights, but be prepared for endless court challenges
“Friday, June 27, 2008 The Oregonian

“Within moments of the Supreme Court's historic ruling on gun rights, bullets flew. The National Rifle Association promised to fire away at gun regulations by filing lawsuits in cities nationwide. Then John McCain attacked Barack Obama as an anti-gun, unpatriotic elitist.

“All this before high noon on the West Coast.”


Okay – off the bat, are we taking just a FEW too many liberties with journalistic imagery here? Obama’s comments on the Heller case were wishy washy to the extreme. Yet the author seems to be saying in the subtitle that he agrees with the decision. Interesting blend of perspectives here.

“The court is right to affirm individual gun rights. But make no mistake: The court's majority of conservative activists deliberately thrust itself into the legislative arena and guaranteed a protracted constitutional fight over every kind of gun regulation, including assault-weapons bans.”

Okay – so what are they, “conservative activists” or judges making the correct call? If they made the right call, then they were duty bound as Justices to thrust themselves into the legislative area and annul the DC laws. Also, why play the “assault weapon” card if they were right (given neither the U.S. nor Oregon place limitations on so-called “assault weapons”)? The editorial seems to be trying (unsuccessfully) to play both sides of the political fence.

“Also, the court's ruling triggers a fierce and potentially explosive fight in the presidential race over gun rights and Supreme Court appointments. Based on McCain's early swipe at his Democratic opponent, this will get ugly fast.”

Despite Obama and the attempts of the Democratic Party to make the Second Amendment a non-issue in this campaign, it’s now an issue. Unfortunately for the Democratic Party, they’ve nominated a candidate just left of Feinstein on Second Amendment issues. It’s politics, you put your money down, roll the dice, and hope you don’t come up snake-eyes.

“The court ruled 5-4 Thursday that a longstanding ban on handguns in Washington, D.C., is overly broad and unconstitutional. The court also struck down the District of Columbia's storage laws for shotguns and rifles, saying that citizens shouldn't be required to use trigger locks or disassemble their weapons.

“This was the Supreme Court's first major ruling on gun rights in nearly 70 years. It was also the court's most aggressive foray into Second Amendment politics in the nation's history.

“The court was correct to define gun ownership as an individual right, rather than merely as a collective right to form militias. For one thing, the right of citizens to arm themselves against tyranny is firmly rooted in American history and cultural identity. For another, the United States is a rare country where citizens grant power to the government -- not the other way around.”


So after all of the hand wringing about assault weapons and the Second Amendment now being a campaign issue, the author indicates that the ruling was correct. The author is also absolutely correct about the cultural underpinnings of not only the Second Amendment but the Constitution itself.

“The court was also correct to point out that these gun rights aren't absolute. As Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority, the court didn't overrule "longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."

“On the surface, this ruling sounds like a mainstream affirmation of the status quo.”


Which is, as I discussed earlier, one of the disappointing aspects of the case – see previous blog entries.

“In the fine print, the court raises as many questions as it answers.

“Does this ruling apply to state laws? What is the standard for a constitutional gun law? What kinds of mental illness? The Supreme Court has signaled its desire to legislate these issues from the bench, rather than leave them to elected officials.

“Obama and McCain both say they believe in individual gun rights. Both have supported reasonable gun laws in the past. This ruling is an opportunity for them to discuss the root issues here: high crime rates, bolstered by illegal firearms, ineffective policing, inadequate schools and intergenerational poverty.

“This would be a much more interesting conversation than the one we're about to get sucked into -- the one about the Pro-Gun Patriot versus the Anti-Gun Elitist.”


So the editorial ends where it began, with no clear thesis other than the author doesn’t want to see the extreme positions battle it out. However, Obama to this point hasn’t seen a gun control law he hasn’t like, whereas McCain’s record is far less spotty and his current platform is very solid when it comes to the Second Amendment.

If anything, this article seems to be written by, if not a pro-gun, at least a reality accepting Democrat who has realized that the “slam dunk” originally forecast in November is now in jeopardy because the Second Amendment is back on the table as a campaign issue. Expect the debate to continue, especially as more lawsuits are filed in response to the Heller decision.

Until next time!

Update: Some Chicago Area Bans Falling Without Lawsuits!

As reported earlier, the NRA has targeted the Chicago-area bans on handguns as a next step after the positive Heller decision. The reaction thus far has been fairly mixed with the Chicago Tribune at one extreme calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment (taking the view that the Second Amendment “grants” rather than “affirms” our right to keep and bear arms). Other parties have been far more reasonable, like Morton Grove, IL which is just north of Chicago. According to a recent story on NPR:

Village Manager Joe Wade says Morton Grove isn't going to wait for a court battle. It's going to act.

"The village of Morton Grove has every intention to comply with [the Supreme Court ruling]," Wade says. "We're going to propose an ordinance that would eliminate the possession-of-handgun ban within the village."


Unfortunately the views of Morton Grove’s leaders are not typical, the same story quote Tom Barwin, a former police officer from the Detroit greater metro area and the current village manager in Oak Park:

"It's just completely befuddling that our Supreme Court would be in alliance with the gangbangers,"

Sorry Tom, it’s not the ‘gangbangers’ that the Supreme Court is supporting, it’s LAW ABIDING AMERICANS who have been DENIED THEIR RIGHTS. The sooner people like Mr. Barwin get that simple fact through their “collective” skulls, the better for all Americans.

The NPR piece also updated the status on the DC decision, interviewing Stephen Holbrook, an outside counsel for the NRA:

For instance, he said, Washington, D.C., officials suggested after the ruling that residents wouldn't be able to legally own semiautomatic handguns.

That's not acceptable, Holbrook says.

"The Supreme Court decision refers to handguns generally — not just revolvers," he points out. He says that means it applies to semiautomatic handguns as well, adding that there may be more semiautomatic handguns in use right now in the U.S. than there are revolvers.

And he predicts that if Washington, D.C., tries to use its zoning powers to keep handgun dealers out, that won't work either.

"It would be like if they banned books in D.C. and they told them they couldn't do that, so they banned bookstores," he says.


The legal challenges to the nation’s Unconstitutional gun laws are just beginning, but there are at least a few hopeful signs. Unfortunately the shrilly vocal gun control minority remains entrenched in many, mainly urban, bastions. It will take years, if not decades, to undo the damage their ill-conceived and illogical bans have caused. It will also take years to see the benefits of a Society where the Second Amendment once again functions as intended.

Until next time!!!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Chicago Tribune Advocates Nullification of Bill of Rights

You read it right, upset over the Heller decision which once and for all clarified the fact the Constitution says what it means, the Chicago Tribune has now advocated the “repeal” of the Second Amendment. Here’s a few key quotes from the “editorial” (warning – not for the squeamish):

"Repeal the 2nd Amendment

"No, we don't suppose that's going to happen any time soon. But it should.

"If the founders had limited themselves to the final 14 words, the amendment would have been an unambiguous declaration of the right to possess firearms. But they didn't, and it isn't. The amendment was intended to protect the authority of the states to organize militias. The inartful wording has left the amendment open to public debate for more than 200 years. But in its last major decision on gun rights, in 1939, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously found that that was the correct interpretation."


Is this Pravda or the Chicago Tribune (or is there really any difference at this point)? Talk about editing history. The 1939 case said nothing about the individual right or mythical “collective right” to bear arms, just that “arms” was limited to those of use in military service. A sawed off shotgun was (erroneously) ruled not-suitable for military service. The Framers also would be absolutely SHOCKED at such a skewed interpretation of the Second Amendment. For them the right of the individual to bear arms was fundamental, and it was furthermore viewed as a safeguard against tyranny. I guess the “writers” and “editors” of the Chicago Tribune must have skipped about 150 years of American history.

One thing at least is clear – the veneer of Constitutionality of the extreme left anti-Second Amendment crowd is finally off. It is now clear to everyone that these individuals do not want “common sense gun control” they seek nothing less than the total disarmament of the American populace. For those of us who have been in the trenches for the last few decades, this revelation will come as no surprise, but for the average person I think it will come as a wake-up call.

The significance of this editorial is staggering. You have one of the largest papers in one of the largest cities in the United States advocating the revocation of one of the inalienable rights this nation was founded upon. They are advocating that we move from the United States of America to some “People’s Democratic Republic” where the rights of the individual are completely subservient to the will of the government and their efforts to control the “collective”. They won’t be so honest and say that, but they will use the term “public safety” which if you look at it in context has been mutated to mean “control of the collective”.

The comments in response of the editorial have been extremely negative – not surprising as an overwhelming majority of Americans understood even before the Heller decision that the 2nd affirmed an individual right. It would be basically like someone advocating repeal of part or all of the First Amendment. The response from the Second Amendment Foundation to the Tribune’s hit piece is right on the money:

“In an editorial published on the day after the Supreme Court handed down its 5-4 ruling, the newspaper called the Second Amendment an “anachronism” that should be repealed. The newspaper supported its argument by falsely claiming that a 1939 case, U.S. v Miller, established the amendment as a “collective right” that applied only to service in some type of militia.”

Truth apparently doesn’t matter to the Tribune, though (as noted above). SAF founder Alan Gottlieb went further:

“The Chicago Tribune’s editors have demonstrated an appalling short-sightedness. If they are so willing to abandon one civil right for an entire class of American citizens, what’s next? Perhaps they would strip some citizens of their First Amendment rights to free speech or religion. Heaven help us should the Chicago Tribune editorial board one day decide that they don’t care for the editorial slant of their competitors at the Sun-Times, and call for a restriction on that newspaper’s freedom of the press.

“Once you make it acceptable to destroy one civil right, it does not take a very big leap to embrace limitations on, or the abolition of, another civil right.

“Not once, in all the years that gun rights organizations have been vilified in the editorial columns of the Tribune and other newspapers did anyone from the firearms community suggest we should repeal the First Amendment. Unlike elitist newspaper editors, gun owners understand that the Bill of Rights is an all-or-nothing document, not a civil rights buffet from which we can pick and choose the rights we want to enjoy and those for which we have no stomach.

“We have always known the Second Amendment affirmed an individual civil right, and a truly objective reading of history by the Chicago Tribune would – if they had any notion of objectivity – lead them to the same conclusion. A generation of parents and grandparents of those now writing such nonsense in the Tribune risked, and all too frequently lost their lives to defend all of the freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights. The Tribune editors may as well just spit on their graves.”


That pretty much says all that needs to be said. The disarmament crowd has now cast away the last vestiges of their cherished “common sense gun control” illusion and have made their ultimate goal clear: the repeal of the Second Amendment and revocation of the inalienable right to keep and bear arms. As I mentioned earlier this week, the battle was won, but the war is just beginning, and it seems our adversaries aren’t afraid to use the nuclear option – and shatter the very cornerstone of our Republic – the Bill of Rights. I can’t help but wonder why these people hate freedom so much, but we shall continue to remain vigilant against their attempts to destroy our nation from within.

Those of you unfortunate enough to subscribe to the Tribune, I urge you to cancel your subscription - preferably with a politely worded letter indicating that you refuse to support publications disdainful of and hostile to our basic Civil Rights.

Until next time!!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Here a Poll, There a Poll, Everywhere a Heller Poll

Newswires and web sites across the nation have been running various polls on the Heller decision, most unscientific. However the Washington Post ran some official statistical surveys on the Heller case and the Second Amendment, and the results were very interesting. According to the article:

72 percent of all Americans said they believe individuals have gun rights under the Second Amendment, that such protections are not limited to "militias." Twenty percent thought the constitutional guarantee covers "only the rights of the states to maintain militias."

So at least it appears that 72% of Americans are passing reading comprehension at this point. Unfortunately 20% aren’t, and the anti-Second politicos are more than willing to parade those sheep in front of cameras at any opportunity.

Now for the “fun” polls – granted these are the self-motivated polls and aren’t scientific, but it is fun to see how the demographics of the various online sources end up voting. The Washington Post also ran a quick vote:

On June 26, the Supreme Court struck down the District of Columbia's handgun ban. Do you agree with the decision?

Yes: 70%
No: 27%
Don't know: 1%
Created on Jun 26, 2008
Total Votes: 20,355


Fairly simple poll question, and it passes the “push poll” sniff test. It’s interesting that the Washington Post unscientific poll roughly mirrored their earlier scientific poll.

UK’s The Guardian also has a poll up, but the numbers haven’t changed in a while, so I wonder if its actually working:

On Thursday the US supreme court struck down Washington DC's 32-year-old gun ban as unconstitutional. Do you agree with the decision?

81.8% Yes
18.2% No


Fairly shocking that 80% would agree with the decision, especially in a UK publication. I’d take this one with a fairly large grain of salt (or maybe even a salt lick). I’d like to believe it, but if the numbers there were accurate, the UK would already be in revolution trying to get their firearms back!

MSNBC had their own more detailed poll which, in their typical style is far wordier:

Do you agree with the Supreme Court's decision to strike down Washington D.C.'s handgun ban? * 21703 responses

Yes. The Second Amendment clearly establishes "the right of the people to keep and bear arms." - 87%
No. The Second Amendment's wording of the right to bear arms refers to militias, not to individual self-defense. - 13%

How do you feel about gun control? * 21728 responses

The regulation of all firearms is necessary to facilitate public safety. - 11%
The right to individual gun ownership is necessary to ensure freedom and personal security. - 65%
Americans have the right to bear arms, but certain types of guns should be restricted. - 24%

Do you own a gun? * 21450 responses

Yes: 72%
No: 28%


Okay – so right off the bat, the 2nd Amendment didn’t “establish” or “grant” anything – it affirmed an inalienable right. That which the Constitution establishes or grants can be taken away... which is exactly what the far left would like to do. Clearly more gun owners than non-gun owners responded to this poll, but it is interesting to see that at least a fairly large chunk of the non-gun owners did realize that the 2nd refers to an individual right.

It will be interesting to see how Heller plays out for the 2008 election cycle. The anti-Second crowd is going to be screaming for blood.

Until next time!!!

The Battle Moves to Chicago

In light of the Heller ruling, restrictive anti-Second Amendment laws across the nation are now the target of lawsuits challenging their Constitutional basis. The city of Chicago has handgun laws which most closely mirror the law just struck down in DC, and the anti-Civil Rights forces there are already in a state of panic with Mayor Daley calling it "…a very frightening decision." Chicago PD goes even further:

"In the sense the Supreme Court has found this is an individual right to bear arms, we recognize (the ruling) is a significant threat," said Jennifer Hoyle, spokeswoman for the city's law department. "It gives people an opening to challenge the ordinance in a way it hasn't been challenged in many years."

So Ms. Hoyle and Chicago’s law enforcement department see inalienable Constitutional rights as a threat. That’s instructive, and tells me just about all I need to know about the government in Chicago. It’s clearly a government that has no respect for the Constitution or the rights of the individual. It is clearly a government that has no place in America.

As reported earlier, the NRA is filing suit against the city of Chicago, and today brings yet another lawsuit. The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) have jointly filed a federal lawsuit challenging the City of Chicago's long-standing handgun ban: McDonald v. City of Chicago. According to SAF founder Alan Gottlieb, "Chicago's handgun ban has failed to stop violent crime. It's time to give the Constitution a chance."

Alan Gura (who argued Heller before the SCOTUS) and local Chicago Attorney David Sigale will represent the plaintiffs. According to Gura:

"Our goal is to require state and local officials to respect our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Chicago's handgun ban, and some of its gun registration requirements, are clearly unconstitutional."

Sigale adds:

"The right to defend our homes and families against those who would do them harm, whether a random criminal, violent ex-domestic partner, or other wrongdoer, is one of the principles upon which America was founded. It is time the City of Chicago trust its honest, law-abiding residents with this Constitutional right."

Expect Chicago to claim the Second Amendment doesn’t apply to them and other sorts of mental gymnastics. The Heller case has opened the door for Americans to reclaim their Constitutionally affirmed rights, here’s wishing the plaintiffs the best in McDonald v. City of Chicago!

Until next time!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Personal Plea! Join the Fight!

The NRA was one of the key organizations behind the Heller case. There were others, like GOA who filed briefs, but it is the NRA that is taking the lead in attacking equally unconstitutional legislation in cities and states across America. It is a great organization performing an invaluable service, but there will be a lot of battles ahead. If you are not already a member, I urge you to join the NRA. I’m an EPL member (easy pay life), and it has thus far been some of the best money I’ve ever spent.

While we take a moment to bask in the afterglow of the Heller decision, it’s important to remember that we’ve won the battle, but not the war... the fight will go on, our adversary is determined and smugly convinced of the "rightness" of their cause - and that cause is nothing less than the disarmament of the American public and abolition of the Second Amendment.

Fortunately America seems to be waking up one person at a time with fewer and fewer people on the "gun control" bandwagon. There may come a time when the gun control advocates become nothing more than a tiny shrill minority with no political clout, but that time is not today. Unfortunately, they still represent anywhere from 20% to 33% of the American public, and they are STRONGLY funded by individuals like Soros and others. International pressure will continue to grow without fundamental shifts in the political makeup of the UK, EU, Canada and others.

All that has happened today is that by the slimmest of margins the SCOTUS affirmed what we already knew to be true... when the Framers wrote "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" they actually MEANT "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Now that our right has been re-affirmed, it is up to us to go out and work to strike down every single law that infringes upon that right. It is up to us to go out and ensure that every politico who doesn't respect our right is defeated. That every referendum proposed by those who would limit our rights is defeated in a landslide.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Our freedom has been affirmed, but it is our duty to ensure that it remains safe. Please join us in the NRA. If possible join other organizations as well – become active. Make your voice heard – together we can make this decision the start of something great to ensure that the America we leave our children and grandchildren is one that we can all be proud of!

Until next time!!!

NRA Moving on Chicago and Others!

As hoped, a favorable Heller decision seems to be opening the floodgates to attack equally unconstitutional bans in other parts of the country. The AP recently had these comments from Wayne LaPierre, Executive VP of the NRA:

"I consider this the opening salvo in a step-by-step process of providing relief for law-abiding Americans everywhere that have been deprived of this freedom.”

The AP reported that “the NRA will file lawsuits in San Francisco, Chicago and several of its suburbs challenging handgun restrictions there based on Thursday's outcome.”

This represents a great first step, but I think we should also be attacking so called “assault weapon” bans as well. The Heller ruling clearly protects firearms “in common use”, and so-called “assault weapons” are “in common use” for hunting, plinking, and personal protection in the overwhelming majority of U.S. states.

More to come!!!

Reactions to the Decision from the Usual Suspects

MSNBC has posted several reactions to the recent Heller Decision – I thought I’d include them here with some commentary.

"This opinion should usher in a new era in which the constitutionality of government regulations of firearms are reviewed against the backdrop of this important right."
- Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

Leahy has a fairly mixed record on 2nd Amendment issues, but at least he seems to be coming out in support of the decision here.

"The right to bear arms is a fundamental right we enjoy as citizens of the United States. From individuals being able to protect their family and their home to sportsmen venturing into the outdoors, this is an important and historic day for all citizens of this great country."
- Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn.

Well said!

"I am profoundly disappointed in Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, both of whom assured us of their respect for precedent. With this decision, 70 years of precedent has gone out the window. And I believe the people of this great country will be less safe because of it."
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Sorry Dianne, the people aren’t buying your “gun control = safety” mantra anymore. Time and time again it has been shown that the areas with the most ardently anti-Second Amendment laws are the ones with the greatest degree of violence.

"Today's ruling is a major victory for the rights of all Americans to protect themselves and their families. The Supreme Court sent a clear message to local, state, and federal governments that this individual right cannot be unreasonably infringed."
- Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas


Also well said!

"I think this is a long overdue decision; I don't think the precedent has been seriously reaffirmed in decades."
- Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis.


Actually the 2nd Amendment has never been affirmed by the Supreme Court. Of course, until the 20th Century, everyone understood the 2nd Amendment just fine and the Court didn’t have to say that when the 2nd Amendment says “the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” it means “the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.

"The nation's top court made the correct decision by reaffirming one of our founding principles, the right of individuals to keep and bear arms. This historic ruling has implications far beyond the District of Columbia."
- Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas


No argument there!

"Today, President Bush's radical Supreme Court justices put rigid ideology ahead of the safety of communities in New Jersey and across the country. This decision illustrates why I have strongly opposed extremist judicial nominees and will continue to do so in the future."
- Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.


Ahhh – so standing up for the Bill of Rights is an “extremist” “rigid ideology”. If so, then call me extremist.

"In the most significant victory for the Second Amendment in recent memory, the Supreme Court today reaffirmed our citizens' constitutional right to keep and bear arms...This decision should send a clear message to opponents of the Second Amendment. The Constitution plainly guarantees the solemn right to keep and bear arms, and the whims of politically correct bureaucrats cannot take it away."
- House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio


Nicely said!

"The Supreme Court's decision underscores our country's commitment to protecting the fundamental rights on which America was founded. Today, America has reaffirmed its promise to the right to bear arms."
- Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Texas


I notice a lot of people on the Democratic side of the aisle coming out in favor of this ruling, and understanding the nuances of the Bill of Rights (note Rep. Lampson says “reaffirmed”, no mention of the Constitution “granting” rights). Why the heck did the party nominate such an anti-Second Amendment candidate for president then?

"While this is a clear victory for those who live in Washington, D.C., it's my hope what was decided here today projects a powerful new precedent for judges to follow across the country."
- Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.


A-men to that, can’t wait to see the next ban struck down!

"Today's ruling, the first clear statement on this issue in 127 years, will provide much-needed guidance to local jurisdictions across the country."
- Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.


Awhattahuh? Nice way to say something without saying anything. He just stated the facts. He didn’t say whether he agreed with the ruling, disagreed with the ruling, or would appoint justices that would overturn the ruling. And Obama is supposed to represent a “change” from the Washington establishment? He just spent several words saying NOTHING. From where I sit, that’s stereotypical politician...

"This ruling does not mark the end of our struggle against those who seek to limit the rights of law-abiding citizens. We must always remain vigilant in defense of our freedoms."
- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.


Now THAT’S an unambiguous stand on the issue, one I agree with heartily, and one I expected from McCain who has been the subject of previous blogs.

"Eighty people a day die at the hands of guns. We have got to stop that. The court clearly ruled that reasonable regulations are permitted under that decision."
- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg


Yeah, but their definition of the word “reasonable” and your definition of the word “reasonable” are two different things. I agree, too many people are killed daily in the US. Do something about GANGS and CRIME, and quit attacking the basic rights and liberties of American citizens.

Not a heck of a lot of surprises there – anywhere really. The rabidly anti-Second Amendment politicians remain so. Those who support our rights continue to do so. Obama, as always, speaks a lot of words and says nothing.

Much more to come on this one!!! Watch this spot!

More on the Decision!!!

If you hit the Supreme Court of the US Blog the complete decision is now online as well as a selection of key quotes from the decision. I’ll start with the key quotes and as I get through the decision I’ll post more later:

“Logic demands that there be a link between the stated purpose and the command.”

“We start therefore with a strong presumption that the Second Amendment right is exercised individually and belongs to all Americans.”

“the most natural reading of ‘keep Arms’ in the Second Amendment is to “have weapons.”

“The term was applied, then as now, to weapons that were not specifically designed for military use and were not employed in a military capacity.”

“Putting all of these textual elements together, we find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.”

“Thus, we do not read the Second Amendment to protect the right of citizens to carry arms for any sort of confrontation, just as we do not read the First Amendment to protect the right of citizens to speak for any purpose.”

“The prefatory clause does not suggest that preserving the militia was the only reason Americans valued the ancient right; most undoubtedly thought it even more important for self-defense and hunting.”

“It was plainly the understanding in the post-Civil War Congress that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to use arms for self-defense.”

So I’ll break here – I’ll have to read the decision more carefully, but the quote above regarding weapons that were not “designed for military use” or “employed in a military capacity” seems to cast some doubt on some of the provisions of the older Miller case, because Heller is now specifically protecting non-military firearms. It’s also important that the decision is not only affirming the right to keep and bear arms, but the right to use arms for self-defense.

“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”

“Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”


This is one of the more disappointing aspects of the decision. If the individual has the right of self-defense, why does that right end at the door of a school or government building? Expect this to be one of the next legal battlefields.

“We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those ‘in common use at the time.’ 307 U. S., at 179.”

“Whatever the reason, handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid.”

“In sum, we hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense. Assuming that Heller is not disqualified from the exercise of Second Amendment rights, the District must permit him to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home.”


Again – this is a disappointing paragraph in some ways. If we have an inalienable right to keep and bear arms, and an equally inalienable right to self-defense, why must handguns be registered and individuals licensed to carry a firearm on their own property? Must we now be licensed and registered to speak? Must Catholics register their religion? This is an area that I’m sure will get a lot of scrutiny over the next several days.

It seems as if we’ve won the battle, but the war is just getting started at this point. Expect challenges to further outright bans over the next several months as well as there are several firearms “in common use” which are categorically banned in several jurisdictions.

Much, much, more to come!

VICTORY!!! 2nd Amendment Affirmed!!!

It’s all over the news this morning, the DC Gun Ban does (or I guess now DID as it has been overturned by the highest court in the land) violate the individual right to keep and bear arms. The only disturbing aspect of the decision is that it was a 5-4 decision, why not 9-0???

Even a cursory investigation into the history of the Second Amendment and Framers intent quickly demonstrates that the framers saw the right to keep and bear arms as a fundamental individual right. The British Crown had attempted to disarm Colonial militias (and thereby quashing any chance the American Colonies had of resisting British tyranny or declaring independence) by disarming individual citizens. Therefore the Framers wisely saw an armed populace as one that could not by cowed as they would be able to stand up for their own liberty.

As with freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble, and freedom of the press, the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental cornerstone of the American Republic. The Supreme Court had an opportunity to unambiguously and without dissent re-affirm one of the basic, inalienable rights affirmed (not granted!) by our Constitution. Unfortunately there seems to be more than ample dissent on this case, and I’ll be reading their arguments carefully to help identify where the next attack on our liberties will come from.

Watch this space for more as I read through the decision!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More Mosin Love

Looks like I picked a good month to make the Mosin Nagant the “rifle of the month” – everyone else seems to have had the same idea. I mentioned the article in American Rifleman in an earlier blog – now Shotgun News is getting in on the action. David Fortier tests the M91/30, M38, and M44 in the June 10th issue of the magazine. The article is called “Those Wonderful Mosins”, and it starts on page 14.

The six page article is written, like most Shotgun News articles, from a shooter’s standpoint. It covers a little bit of the history of each of the three rifles, the physical dimensions of each rifle, the mechanics of each rifle, and how the shoot (trigger pull, accuracy, etc.). Several photographs of the rifles and shooting positions are included, although of relatively low quality because of the newsprint style printing of shotgun news.

Also included are a quick specifications chart, an accuracy and velocity chart compiled from Fortier’s tests, and a sidebar on “feeding your Mosin”. David concludes that the Mosin Nagant isn’t the best bolt action rifle out there, and he’d prefer an Enfield in a fight, but “for an interesting plinker, sturdy brush gun or rugged truck rifle the current crop of surplus Mosin-Nagants are hard to beat for the price.” Not a bad endorsement for an over 60 year old rifle that’s already been through one war. He does, however, leave out the historical aspect of collecting the Mosin Nagant, but then again, he’s not generally writing for collectors!

Until next time!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Winning the Battle of Words on the Second Amendment

Words have power. Words more often than not have an emotional or visceral connotation that goes far beyond the definition provided by Webster or the Oxford Unabridged. For many years, the public discussion around firearms, firearm law, and the Second Amendment has for the most part used terminology designed by and for those who want to eliminate the individual right to keep and bear arms. This tendency puts those who support the Second Amendment at an immediate and distinct disadvantage; therefore I propose that to win the battle of words on the Second Amendment, we first have to take back the terminology.

I started a thread on one of my favorite gun boards (Guns Network) – and had several people contribute their thoughts and ideas. I want to thank the following users who participated in the thread (as of the writing of this blog entry, as the thread is still open): MikeTx, Ezra Coli, Partisan1983, Accurizer, American Rage, Dr Scholl, retromullet, ATAK Inc., GunBum, meatball, Bluntforce, T2K, John Kennedy, krupski, Sr Wing Commander, ironhead7544, ksuguy, Skibane, Blacksmith, Buster Charlie, and DavePAL84.

The following is a list of terms that are frequently misused, abused, or made up – frequently to create an emotional response and prop up the anti-Second Amendment case - with discussion following each term:

High-capacity magazines: Also known as “high-cap mags”. There is no such thing. The term “high capacity” means whatever the anti-Second Amendment crowd dictates it means. Instead they should be referred to as full capacity magazines, normal capacity magazines, or simply magazines as they hold only as many rounds as the overall firearm platform dictates or they are designed to carry.

Rapid-fire magazine: There is no such thing. This term is frequently used by the Brady Campaign and other groups opposed to the Second Amendment interchangeably with the equally erroneous “high capacity magazine” term. The rate of fire of any firearm is not controlled by the magazine – but rather the firing mechanism.

Clip: The M1 Garand and Carcano use “clips” – virtually every other firearm in existence uses a magazine.

Banana Clip: There is no such thing – technically incorrect term used to refer to curved magazines – typically with a 30+ round capacity.

Assault rifle: This one caused a fair amount of discussion. Ultimately the prevailing view is that an assault rifle is a military firearm firing an intermediate power cartridge capable of fully automatic or select fire with at least a 20 to 30 round detachable magazine. The term “assault rifle” is a translation of the German Sturmgewehr. The StG44 was the first firearm with all of these features to be put into production. I therefore contend that if your rifle isn’t fully automatic or select fire it is not an “assault rifle”, even if it has all of the other features.

High-Powered Assault Rifle: Used by anti-Second Amendment proponents as a more emotion evoking version of the term “assault rifle”. The term is deliberately misleading and is meant to create the impression that “assault rifles” are “inherently dangerous” and vastly more powerful than other firearms. In reality, most semi-automatic rifles the anti-Second Amendment crowd deems to be “assault rifles” or “assault weapons” (see below) fire a medium to low power cartridge. Most of these firearms do not have the stopping power of a larger caliber pistol and fire a bullet weighing 130 grains or (frequently) less.

Assault Weaspon: There’s no such thing – its legal jargon coined and written into law by individuals hostile to the right to keep and bear arms. It refers to a firearm containing whatever features the sponsor of the legislations wants to limit or ban, and has no fixed definition. Some recently proposed bills even referred to level action rifles with a tubular magazine capacity of greater than 5 rounds as “assault weapons”.

AK-47: Media outlets all too often use this term to refer to any non-pistol firearm used in a crime rather than an actual Kalashnikov (with the SKS, Mini-14, and even a Ruger 10/22 being the actual firearms in some cases). In fact there are very few fully functional AK-47’s in the United States, and all are Class III weapons. The rest are semi-automatic variants. See assault rifle above. This obfuscation is deliberate in order to demonstrate the “need” for a new “assault weapon ban”.

High-Powered Sniper Rifle: Some argued whether or not the term “sniper rifle” really exists outside of anti-Second parlance. World War II vintage manuals for the M1903A4 rifle, however, referred to it as a “Sniper’s Rifle” – so it’s not too far a stretch there. However, the anti-gun crowd is deeply and profoundly concerned about these “high-powered sniper rifles”. To them that’s any rifle with a scope that fires a military caliber (or more powerful) round. That’s what most of the country calls a basic hunting rifle.

Gun-show loophole: Term used to refer to the fact that private face to face sales of firearms are still legal, as if it’s some “legal trickery” to circumvent the law. Many states require all transactions (even those among private individuals) at gun shows go through a background check, but not all states. Closing the "gun-show loophole" would eliminate private face to face sales at gun shows without a background check. The next step planned by the anti-Second crowd is to eliminate private face to face sales completely.

Gun culture: Term used by anti-Second Amendment groups and individuals to paint firearms owners as a strongly negative influence on society. Term is analogous to the terms “drug culture” or “gang culture”. America does not have a “gun culture” in that sense of the word, it has a “firearms heritage” (thanks Skibane) that promotes individual responsibility and empowerment. That heritage is affirmed (not GRANTED) by our Federal Constitution and most State Constitutions.

One key to protecting the Second Amendment is winning the battle of words around the Second Amendment. The majority of major media outlets and groups dedicated to abridging or removing the right to keep and bear arms have thus far controlled the debate by controlling the terminology. We can no longer afford to try to preserve our heritage and liberties by continuing to debate and discuss firearms using their poisoned lexicon. Effective communication requires using a vocabulary that actually conveys the intended meaning. Gun owners as a group must stop using the “weasel words” of the anti-gunners, and expose their inaccuracies, distortions, and lies for what they really are!

Until next time!

Upcoming Rally in Chicago

Chicago – home of the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and some of the most anti-Second Amendment politicians and laws in the entire United States. It’s about the last place on earth that you’d expect to see a PRO-Second Amendment rally. Yet that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

The Illinois State Rifle Association and IllinoisCarry.com are jointly hosting the event. The rally is planned for 11AM to 1PM on July 11th, 2008. Dr. Suzanna Hupp, former member of the Texas House and Second Amendment advocate, will be the featured speaker. Dr. Hupp is an extremely appropriate choice for a rally in Chicago as she is a survivor of the incident at Luby’s restaurant which could have been stopped by one individual with a concealed handgun – a handgun that Hupp had in her car but because of then-current Texas law she couldn’t bring into the establishment.

I sincerely hope that this rally is a major success – unfortunately I’m too far away to attend this one. I hope we see more rallies like this going forward. It’s a first baby step along the way, and I expect a large counter-protest to be orchestrated by the anti-Second demagogues in Chicago.

The key to upholding and protecting the Second Amendment is education of the People with the facts surrounding the right to keep and bear arms. Another key is not ceding any territory to those who would gut the Bill of Rights – and that includes large cities like Chicago, DC, LA, and New York.

Until next time!!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Heads Up: Gun Facts 5.0 Now Online!

Gun Facts is one of the best sources on the internet for debunking the miasma of BS spewed by the anti-Second Amendment crowd. For anyone looking for solid, reliable data on guns, crime, and the law, this is the place. Version 5.0 is available for download here: http://gunfacts.info/index.html

You can download a screen, print, or press version free of charge. There is also a link to purchase a printed copy for your library. Check it out!!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Angelina and Brad on Gun Ownership

More often than not Hollywood comes down staunchly in the anti-Second Amendment camp. It’s unclear to this author why a group that seems to espouse equal rights for all would want to deny and destroy the most fundamental right of all – the right of self preservation. There are a few exceptions – the late Charlton Heston being probably the most outspoken, but two of the latest to come out in favor of gun ownership came as an absolute surprise to me: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

Angelina and Brad have several children (some adopted with more on the way or already here depending on who you believe), and naturally the proud parents are concerned about the safety of their children. Widely reported as a “confession” by the hand-wringing Hollywood press (as if being pro-Second Amendment was some sort of mortal sin), Angelina states:

"If anybody comes into my home and tries to hurt my kids, I've no problem shooting them. I bought original, real guns of the type we used in Tomb Raider for security. Brad and I are not against having a gun in the house, and we do have one. And yes, I'd be able to use it if I had to.”

Therein lies the simple principle of self defense. If you call the police, it takes time for them to get there – even if you’re a Hollywood multi-millionaire. At the end of the day the responsibility for one’s own safety and security lies with one’s self. However, Angelina’s pro-Second Amendment stance doesn’t appear to stop there:

“There's a side to me that people know is humanitarian, and there's a side to me that's a mummy. But there's also the side that likes to get down and dirty and run and jump around and fire guns. I don't want to lose touch with that. That's one of the reasons I like to do action movies. It's good for me every once in a while."

That sort of gives you a whole new perspective on the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith, eh? So now I’m wondering if I could convince Angelina and Brad to go plinking with the local group.

In this super-charged election year where the partisan rhetoric seems to be nearly at the boiling point, it’s encouraging to see individuals who are in favor of personal firearm ownership for many of the normal reasons (both self defense and skill building / recreation in this case) speak out. Especially when those individuals are members of a community that is typically hostile to our basic Second Amendment rights. Maybe these two will make others who blindly follow what the “in” crowd says is desirable think a little differently about firearms. Well, you can always hope!

Until next time!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Don’t Believe Obama on the Second Amendment!

The NRA has recently posted an expanded version of their article “On the Second Amendment, Don’t Believe Obama!” on the NRA-ILA website.

This blog took a detailed look at Senator Obama’s record and views a couple of months ago, and quite frankly nothing in the NRA document is a surprise to this author. What’s interesting is that a large portion of the country doesn’t seem to “get it” yet, and is accusing the NRA of “misrepresenting” Obama’s position. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth – the positions outlined by the NRA are spot on, and as a result Obama represents a clear and present danger to the Second Amendment.

However, the pro-Obama response is no real surprise. Obama was able to create a cult of personality that propelled him to the Democratic nomination. Now all of his positions will come under intense scrutiny as we move into the general election season. The Democrats have been working to paint themselves as moderates, and have even been running pro-gun candidates to gain and maintain a majority in Congress. Unfortunately Obama is the antithesis of a “pro-gun Democrat” – he’s an anti-Second Amendment radical in the vein of Feinstien, Kennedy, and others. The Republicans will attempt to hammer this point home, but the Obama campaign is going to unique lengths to control the message and tenor of the campaign.

The Obama campaign has taken the unusual step of creating an action site on his campaign webpage to “fight the smears” of the right. At this point, none of the NRA claims are being “refuted” by the Obama campaign, but I expect it is only a matter of time before the political apologists will weigh in.

For the record, here are the NRA points on Obama’s Second Amendment stance (with references at the end of the blog entry):

FACT: Barack Obama voted to allow reckless lawsuits designed to bankrupt the firearms industry.(1)

FACT: Barack Obama wants to re-impose the failed and discredited Clinton Gun Ban.(2)

FACT: Barack Obama voted to ban almost all rifle ammunition commonly used for hunting and sport shooting.(3)

FACT: Barack Obama has endorsed a complete ban on handgun ownership.(2)

FACT: Barack Obama supports local gun bans in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and other cities.(4)

FACT: Barack Obama voted to uphold local gun bans and the criminal prosecution of people who use firearms in self-defense.(5)

FACT: Barack Obama supports gun owner licensing and gun registration.(6)


FACT: Barack Obama refused to sign a friend-of-the-court Brief in support of individual Second Amendment rights in the Heller case.


FACT: Barack Obama opposes Right to Carry laws.(7)

FACT: Barack Obama was a member of the Board of Directors of the Joyce Foundation, the leading source of funds for anti-gun organizations and “research.”(8)


FACT: Barack Obama supported a proposal to ban gun stores within 5 miles of a school or park, which would eliminate almost every gun store in America.(9)


FACT: Barack Obama voted not to notify gun owners when the state of Illinois did records searches on them.(10)


FACT: Barack Obama voted against a measure to lower the Firearms Owners Identification card age minimum from 21 to 18, a measure designed to assist young people in the military.(11)


FACT: Barack Obama favors a ban on standard capacity magazines.(12)

FACT: Barack Obama supports mandatory micro-stamping.(13)

FACT: Barack Obama supports mandatory waiting periods.(2)

FACT: Barack Obama supports repeal of the Tiahrt Amendment, which prohibits information on gun traces collected by the BATFE from being used in reckless lawsuits against firearm dealers and manufacturers.(14)

FACT: Barack Obama supports one-gun-a-month sales restrictions.(9)

FACT: Barack Obama supports a ban on inexpensive handguns.(9)


FACT: Barack Obama supports a ban on the resale of police issued firearms, even if the money is going to police departments for replacement equipment.(9)


FACT: Barack Obama supports mandatory firearm training requirements for all gun owners and a ban on gun ownership for persons under the age of 21.(9)


Regardless of what political spin, apology, or obfuscation some people wish to apply to Obama’s Second Amendment stance, it is clear that he is an absolute radical gun control proponent. The prevailing theme that Obama is running on is “change” – unfortunately the “change” he represents is turning America into a British style disarmed nation. An outcome which must be strongly opposed and avoided!

Until next time!


References:

1. United States Senate, S. 397, vote number 219, July 2, 2005. (http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=1&vote=00219)

2. Independent Voters of Illinois/Independent Precinct Organization general candidate questionnaire, Sept. 9, 1996. The responses on this survey were described in “Obama had greater role on liberal survey,” Politico, March 31, 20087. (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0308/9269.html)

3. United States Senate, S. 397, vote number 217, Kennedy amendment July 2, 2005. (http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=1&vote=00217)

4. David Wright, Ursula Fahy and Sunlen Miller, "Obama: 'Common Sense Regulation' On Gun Owners' Rights," ABC News' "Political Radar" Blog, http://blogs.abcnews.com, 2/15/08. (http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2008/02/obama-common-se.html)

5. Illinois Senate, March 25, 2004 SB 2165, vote 20.

6. “Fact Check: No News In Obama's Consistent Record.” Obama ’08, December 11, 2007. (http://www.barackobama.com/factcheck/2007/12/11/fact_check_no_news_in_obamas_c.php)

7. “Candidates' gun control positions may figure in Pa. vote,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Wednesday, April 2, 2008, and "Keyes, Obama Are Far Apart On Guns," Chicago Tribune, 9/15/04. (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_560181.html)

8. 1998 Joyce Foundation Annual Report, p. 7. (http://www.joycefdn.org/pdf/98_AnnualReport.pdf)

9. “Obama and Gun Control,” The Volokh Conspiracy, taken from the Chicago Defender, Dec. 13, 1999. (http://www.volokh.com/posts/1203389334.shtml)

10. Illinois Senate, May 5, 2002, SB 1936 Con., vote 26.

11. Illinois Senate, March 25, 2003, SB 2163, vote 18.

12. “Clinton, Edwards, Obama on gun control,” Radio Iowa, Sunday, April 22, 2007. (http://learfield.typepad.com/radioiowa/2007/04/clinton_edwards.html)

13. Chicago Tribune blogs, “Barack Obama: NIU Shootings call for action,” February 15, 2008, (http://blogs.trb.com/news/politics/blog/2008/02/barack_obama_comments_on_shoot.html)

14. Barack Obama campaign website: “As president, Barack Obama would repeal the Tiahrt Amendment . . .” (http://www.barackobama.com/issues/urbanpolicy/#crime-and-law-enforcement.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

American Rifleman on the Mosin Nagant in U.S. Service

Continuing our “rifle of the month” feature on the Mosin Nagant, the June 2008 issue of American Rifleman magazine ran a feature article on the Mosin Nagant in U.S. service, unflatteringly entitled “Ugly Duckling”. This author happens to LIKE the look of the Mosin Nagant, but to each his or her own. The article is actually quite good and focuses primarily on the Mosin Nagant Model 1891 rifle produced in the United States for the Imperial Russian government by Remington and New England Westinghouse.

An interesting tidbit that I hadn’t known was the actual price of a Mosin Nagant rifle and bayonet in 1916 - $30 in the original contracts for both Remington and N.E.W. (though after the Bolshevik revolution and subsequent default on both contracts, Uncle Sam bought many of the rifles at the fire sale price of $20 each to keep the two vital arms making plants solvent). Using the inflation calculator a $30 rifle in 1916 would cost just over $600 today (and conversely a $20 rifle in 1916 would run around $375 today). As a collector, these are interesting numbers because near mint condition Remington and New England Westinghouse Mosin Nagants can be had for between $350 and $500 today – roughly equal to the original purchase price adjusted for inflation.




Remington M1891 - 1916 Production



After purchase by the U.S. Army, the M1891 was officially adopted as a “Substitute Standard” rifle. The official designation was “U.S. Magazine Rifle, Model of 1916”. As compared to the Model 1903, the M1891 is a bit ungainly, though several were used in training. In 1918, the M1891 was sent with American troops to Russia in the North Russian Campaign – largely because the large stock of 7.62x54R ammunition in the area simplified logistics. Initially deployed to prevent North Russia (Murmansk and Archangel) from falling into German hands, the Americans ended up fighting communist forces on many occasions.



Remington Receiver Marking


The article also details other campaigns where U.S. forces utilized the Mosin Nagant, as well as the difficulties encountered by Remington and N.E.W during initial production. If you’re not an NRA member and don’t get American Rifleman – SHAME ON YOU! Join here. For the rest of you, I hope you enjoy this well-written and informative article as much as I did.

Until next time!!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Brady Campaign Braces for Defeat

One statement from the ABC interview says it all:

'We've Lost the Battle on What the 2nd Amendment Means,' Paul Helmke - Brady Campaign Head

... and it’s about time to!!! Seventy years of willful misinterpretation of the Second Amendment finally seem to be coming to an end. Unfortunately it won’t mean the end of the Brady Campaign and other groups attempting to legislate away our right to keep and bear arms.

Mr. Helmke concedes: "Seventy-five percent of the public thinks it's an individual right. Why are we arguing a theory anymore? We are concerned about what we can do practically."

The next tactic of the Brady Campaign is to find measures that they believe will be harder to “cast as infringements of the Second Amendment”. Fortunately, it sounds like they’re already barking up the wrong trees and living in their own delusional world.

According to Brady Campaign Attorney Dennis Henigan:

"Universal background checks don't affect the right of self-defense in the home. Banning a super dangerous class of weapons, like assault weapons, also would not adversely affect the right of self-defense in the home. Curbing large volume sales doesn't affect self-defense in the home."

Fortunately I don’t think any of these will pass Constitutional muster. The justices already attacked the focus on a single group of weapons with comments like “is it OK to ban books but not newspapers - because the First Amendment is not absolute.” Also, any claim made by the Brady Campaign is going to put under a legal microscope. Assertions that so-called ‘assault weapons’ are “super dangerous” will be closely scrutinized (and exposed as the hyperbole that they are!). Large volume sales also will face similar scrutiny – are we going to limit the number of blog posts someone can make, or the number of articles an author can write in a newspaper as well? Also, they'll have to make the case that the right to self-defense stops at the property line.

The devil is in the details, however, and I’m anxiously looking forward to the Heller ruling. At a high level, I expect the Second Amendment to once again be affirmed by at least five or six justices. What I don’t know is how far they will go in affirming that right. The full decision will require very careful reading, as will any dissenting opinion as the language of this decision will frame the debate and legislation going forward.

Until next time!

Update on Philly’s Unconstitutional Gun Laws: Two Down!

Well, it’s a case of good news / bad news, but at least two of the city of Philadelphia’s unconstitutional gun laws have been nullified with a permanent restraining order. Judge Jane Cutler-Greenspan struck down the so-called ‘assault weapon’ ban and handgun purchase restriction (one / month) as they violate Pennsylvania’s state preemption laws.

From NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox:

“We are pleased with the ruling, but we will continue fighting to protect Pennsylvania’s state preemption law. The provisions struck down by the court were the backbone of the city’s plan, but there is still work to do. NRA will continue to seek justice and freedom for the law-abiding citizens in the crime-ravaged city of Philadelphia.”


Unfortunately Greenspan allowed three of the laws to stand because she ruled that the “NRA and other plaintiffs did not have legal standing to challenge those laws.” The three remaining laws include one that allows judges to remove guns from people declared to be a risk to themselves or others, another that prevents people subject to protection-from-abuse orders from owning guns, and one that requires gun owners to report the loss or theft of a gun to police within 24 hours.

The decision will be appealed (by both sides – likely up to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court), and it will only be a matter of time until the NRA can locate aggrieved parties to challenge the other laws. It’s sad that clearly unconstitutional laws have to be enforced before they can be challenged. This is a legal battle that will continue for several months, if not years. I’ll continue to bring updates as they come in!

Until next time!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

ATF = Always Think Forfieture!?!?!??

So did you know that the BATFE wants its agents to “Always Think Forfeiture”? In fact, they want to engrain that mantra into their officers so badly that they had 2,000 Leatherman tools engraved with the slogan and distributed them during the Bureau’s Asset Forfeiture training that urges agents to focus on seizing private property. Here I thought the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution stated:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

I guess the BATFE doesn’t think that applies to them.

In response to this latest slap in the face of American citizens, Gun Owners of America reports that Representative Bill Sali of Idaho will be introducing the “Always Think Freedom” Act. According to GOA:

"The Idaho Republican complained about the program and recieved a letter from Acting ATF Director Michael Sullivan, who apologized for the "confusion" over the issue.

"While Rep. Sali appreciated the apology, he said that, 'My constituents deserve to know the truth about this marketing program, which has been interpreted by many Idahoans as anti-gun and anti-private property.'

"The agency halted distribution of the tools in the face of public outcry, but '[t]he fact remains that the ATF thought it was OK to think 'Always Think Forfeiture' instead of focusing on protecting our constitutional rights,' Sali said.

"In a letter to his fellow Congressmen, Sali noted that 'the inscription raises serious concerns to law-abiding citizens as to the intent of an ATF agent who is performing investigations, particularly with respect to law-abiding gun owners.'"

Quite frankly I don’t think anyone is “confused” over this issue. The BATFE got caught with its pants down yet again acting in a way inconsistent with the Constitution. It’s nothing new, though fortunately the BATFE has no longer been able to fly under the radar in recent years. I’ve already written my representative and urged him to support Representative Sali’s bill.

On a related note, the overall reformation of the BATFE has been once again been taken up by Congress. H.R. 4900, the "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Reform and Firearms Modernization Act" represents a combined and improved version of H.R. 5005 and H.R. 5092 which were introduced and passed the House separately last year. Unfortunately the Senate did not act in time to send the bill to the President’s desk. According to the latest email blast, the bill has 211 co-sponsors. Key points of the bill:

"Of highest importance, H.R. 4900 totally rewrites the system of administrative penalties for licensed dealers, manufacturers, and importers of firearms. Today, for most violations, BATFE can only give a federal firearms license (FFL) holder a warning, or totally revoke his license.

"As a result of BATFE abuses and its raid on a Richmond gun show in August of 2005, the House Crime Subcommittee held oversight hearings and congressional investigations in the spring of 2006 which led to the introduction of BATFE Reform legislation in the 109th Congress by then subcommittee chairman Howard Coble (R-NC) and ranking member Bobby Scott (D-VA)."


Full details on the bill can be found here

While it’s only a start, these measures begin the process of reining in an out of control BATFE. If you haven’t already written your representative, please write them soon! Hopefully these bills will form the foundation of once again ensuring that the Bureau remains strictly within its Constitutional mandate.

Until next time!!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rifle of the Month: The Mosin Nagant

You see them on the store of your local gun store – frequently with prices falling under $100, but what exactly is a Mosin Nagant? The most common varieties available today come to us from the former Soviet Union where the World War II vintage rifles were refurbished and stored ready to serve again in a future war, but the Mosin Nagant has a history that actually predates the Soviet Union, including manufacture in the United States during World War I.


Model 1891's


The best overview I’ve seen on the net is over at 7.62x54R.net. This site details the history of the Mosin Nagant, including an identification guide and FAQ.




Dragoon rifle



The Mosin Nagant came in several varieties starting with the original Model 1891. This is a very long rifle by today’s standards (over 50” long). The 1891 was adapted into the Dragoon and Cossack versions. The Dragoon version was further modified into the ubiquitous M91/30 in 1930 with many older rifles being updated to this configuration. The Soviets also deployed sniper variants of the M91/30. M91/30 production continued throughout World War II. A shorter carbine version appeared in 1938 (the M38). The M38 was further modified with a side folding bayonet to produce the M44. After World War II the M44 was also produced by several Soviet allies and satellite states including Poland, Hungary, Romania, and China.




M91/30 Rifle




M91/30 Sniper



Finland also made extensive use of the Mosin Nagant as they were a part of Imperial Russia with the M1891 first came into use (breaking away after the 1917 revolution). Finnish Mosin Nagants are prized as the most accurate and of the highest craftsmanship. Some of the last Mosin Nagants manufactured were Finnish match rifles produced up through the early 70’s. The most common one you’ll encounter is the M39, though Finland produced M91’s and several other variants as well (which are generally rare and fairly valuable).




M44 with laminated stock






Finnish M39



All Mosin Nagants fire the 7.62x54R cartridge which exhibits ballistics similar to .303 British – both are rimmed cartridges firing a 0.311 bullet. The cartridge is becoming increasingly available in the United States, and is easy to reload with anything up to a 200 grain bullet, making it an ideal hunting cartridge.

Most Mosin Nagants available at gun stores today are Soviet and other eastern block refurbs that have been recently imported into the U.S. They also represent an amazingly real and vital piece of world history. As a firearms collector, I have several in my collection, and would value them purely for their historical significance, but they are also resilient rifles that are fun to shoot and make a solid hunting rifle. When purchasing a Mosin Nagant, make sure you look at the barrel condition. All World War II Soviet rifles fired corrosive ammunition, and many of the barrels are worn or pitted – try to find a good one if possible. Then get it out to the range and have fun!

Until next time!!!

A Pro-Second Newspaper Editorial!?!?

Cincinnati’s newspaper, The Enquirer, recently ran a true pro-Second Amendment editorial entitled "High court should shoot down handgun ban" by Peter Bronson. This editorial is one of the first truly honest Second Amendment pieces I’ve seen in print (that wasn’t submitted by a reader, the NRA, or GOA) in quite some time. The editorial takes a tongue in cheek but unfortunately all too accurate look at how the media reports firearms related stories, and then commentary on the upcoming Heller decision.

The piece starts with “A gun owner's glossary for understanding politics and the press”, some highlights:

"Assault rifles: An ordinary semi-automatic that politicians and mediacrats want to outlaw if it looks like a military full automatic - although it doesn't fire any faster than a common semi-automatic .22 varmint gun.

"Gun nut: Anyone who owns anything more powerful than a Daisy BB gun.

"The First Amendment: Sacred wisdom in the Bill of Rights that protects the freedom of the press.

"The Second Amendment: A mistake that should be deleted, according to newspaper editorials that are protected by the First Amendment."

Mr. Bronson believes that five or six justices will rule in favor of an individual right to keep and bear arms. Based on my reading of the arguments a few months ago, I think he has the spread about right. What amazes me is that this will not be a 9-0 decision in favor of an individual right. Framer’s intent is quite clear on this issue, and it appears that any dissenting justices are undergoing rigorous mental gymnastics to over-rule Framer’s intent on this issue, including the "militia intent" of the Second.

Scalia’s comments on the militia argument are dead on:

"But why isn't it perfectly plausible, indeed reasonable, to assume that since the framers knew that the way militias were destroyed by tyrants in the past was not by passing a law against militias, but by taking away the people's weapons - that was the way militias were destroyed? The two clauses go together beautifully: Since we need a militia, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

The article also cites a 1942 case that affirmed it was Constitutional to own a .30 caliber revolver. The author strongly believes that the Court will once again uphold the individual right affirmed by the Second Amendment, with the telling caveat:

"If they don't, the Second Amendment will be shredded - and the rest of our liberties will be less secure."

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Good to see a pro-Second Amendment editorial out there for once. Far too many newspapers, especially in large metropolitan areas, seem to be on the payroll of the anti-Second Amendment movement.

Until next time!!!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Sheriff Stands up for Gun Owners!

The anti-Second Amendment crowd’s latest intimidation tactic has been to acquire and publish the list of concealed carry permit holders and publish them in local papers which are also not-coincidentally equally anti-Second Amendment. These papers have met with various levels of support from the local law enforcement community. However, the extremely anti-gun Medford Mail Tribune, has met with unprecedented opposition from the Jackson County, Oregon Sheriff’s deparment.

According to a press release from the Oregon Firearms Federation:

“The Medford Mail Tribune, which has repeatedly editorialized against gun owners' rights, had sought to gain access to all personal information on every license holder in Jackson County. They began seeking this information after learning that teacher Shirley Katz had a CHL and was fighting a school district policy that claimed she gave up her right to self defense when she became a public school employee.

“When the Medford Mail Tribune demanded the private information on license holders (supposedly to find out how many other Jackson County teachers had chl's) Sheriff Winters refused to turn that information over. The Tribune sued, and the same Judge who declared that Katz had no self defense rights ruled that the anti-gun newspaper could have access to gun owners’ personal information.”


Not only is the Katz decision under appeal, but Sheriff Mike Winter’s has appealed the decision of the Court seeking to continue to protect the identities and personal information of gun owners in Jackson County. I strongly support and applaud Sheriff Winter’s efforts to stand up for not only our Federal Constitutional rights, but the rights of Oregonians under our State Constitution:

Section 27. Right to bear arms; military subordinate to civil power. The people shall have the right to bear arms for the defence [sic] of themselves, and the State, but the Military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power[.]”

It’s a sad day in Oregon when our own state Courts ignore the Constitution in order to press an agenda that results in a disarmed and cowed populace. Hopefully these ridiculous and erroneous decisions made by the lower Court will be corrected. Otherwise, Oregon could soon find itself in the same boat as California, Massachusetts, and Illinois where the inalienable right of self-defense is legislated away.

Until next time!!!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

What is a Machine Gun?

You’d think that would be an easy question to answer. According to Dictionary.com, a machine gun is “a small arm operated by a mechanism, able to deliver a rapid and continuous fire of bullets as long as the trigger is pressed.” In this fairly decent definition of the term, the key component is a mechanism that is able to deliver “rapid and continuous fire”. This definition rightly implies that the firearm in question is specifically designed to continually fire individual rounds of ammunition as long as the trigger is depressed. Unfortunately in the US, the legal definition is far murkier.

In the United States, it is the role of the BATFE to classify firearms as to their mechanism of operation – be that single shot, semi-automatic, or fully automatic. In order to accurately classify firearms, there should be a logical standard that is universally and fairly applied. However, as many groups have pointed out, this is not the case!

The problem that exists is that the BATFE’s criteria are not only arbitrary, but frequently inaccurate and applied prejudicially. A couple of examples from the article above:

“[A] SGMB semi-auto rifle [was submitted] to FTB for classification. They observed that if they removed the safety selector, the sear did not disconnect with every pull of the trigger. (A safety selector, usually called a "safety," is used to render the firearm in a condition to fire if the trigger is pulled, or conversely to prevent it from firing. The sear is the component that releases the hammer.) Upon cursory examination, this configuration appeared to enable the firearm to fire multiple times on one trigger pull, and therefore the ATF declared it a “machine gun” -- without ever test firing it.

“They failed, however, to observe that the firearm had a second disconnector that operated independently of the trigger pull. (A disconnector is a component that prevents full-auto function; it is a part that distinguishes a semi-auto from a machine gun.) Operating off of the bolt carrier movement, this second disconnector prevented full-auto fire. Due solely to the ATF's own lack of firearms knowledge and incomplete testing methods, they wrongly classified this SGMB as a machine gun - even though in real-world practice it was incapable of and not designed for full-auto fire.”

Another area of interest is in the ability to convert a semi-automatic firearm into a fully automatic firearm.

“The FTB often attempts to demonstrate that a semi-automatic version of a firearm could be “readily restorable” into a machine gun.(1) If the gun is “readily restorable” it may be illegal to possess or manufacture without special licensing.

“To prove how “readily restorable” a firearm is, one of the agency's “experts” may do something as quick and simple as perform a test fit of full-auto components into the semi-automatic firearms – about 15 minutes work. An “expert” in another case may give a similar firearm to a machinist and allow him eight hours in a modern machine shop and try to make the firearm into a machine gun. Yet each expert may testify in court that he performed reliable tests to determine that a semi-automatic weapon was “readily restorable” -- that is, quickly and easily convertible into a possibly illegal weapon.”


Quite frankly these sorts of tests are patently dishonest – yet they are accepted as expert testimony in the Courts as well as the rulings are used to decide what weapons are legal or not legal to own and sell as semi-automatic firearms. Unfortunately beyond filing a civil suit, the People have no means to redress these imbalances as the BATFE has no oversight at this point.

The abuses of the BATFE are finally becoming a hot issue in Congress. H.R. 4900 has been introduced which would reign in some of the insanity. Introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio), the bill clarifies the standard for “willful” violations (on which many firearms related cases hinge), codifies limits on firearm trace data, requires the ATF to establish investigative standards, and restores a policy which allowed the importation of barrels, frames and receivers from non-importable firearms (among a host of other needed reforms). This bill represents a great first step – and I urge you to write your representative in support of the legislation!

Until next time!!!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Zero Tolerance = Zero Intelligence

Yet another week, yet another Outrage of the Week from the NRA.

Not surprisingly, this one deals with a school, a "zero-tolerance" policy gone horribly irrational, and the state of Massachusetts – once the cradle of freedom – now one of the hotbeds of the Anti-Civil Rights movement. In this case Winchendon, Massachusetts fourth-grader Bradley Geslak "was suspended from Toy Town Elementary School for bringing a Memorial Day souvenir to school." The souvenir – an expended blank cartridge from the town’s Memorial Day celebration. That’s right folks, it’s not a weapon, it’s not even a cartridge for a weapon, it’s an EXPENDED BLANK. When is this insanity going to end?

The youngster was suspended for 5 days for effectively holding this expended cartridge at lunch. According to his mother, Crystal Geslak:

"He was just playing with it at lunch. He wasn't showing it to anyone; he had it in his hand and was playing with it...

"I was totally shocked. I couldn’t believe this was happening. It was just an empty shell, not even from a real bullet. A sharpened pencil would be more dangerous than this piece of metal.

"He was so proud to have been given them. His dad’s a veteran, his uncle’s a veteran, both his grandfathers are veterans. Memorial Day is a big thing to us. It’s a very important holiday and we have a big celebration every year."


So you think that would be the worst of it, but no, the irrationality of this school district goes even deeper. Her son will now have a “weapon-related suspension” on his record and Bradley may have a probation officer, yes a PROBATION OFFICER, assigned to him.

If you agree that this is an outrage and would like to express your concern over the handling of this issue (or the fact that it was an issue at all), the NRA website provided the following contact information:

URL: http://www.winchendon.mec.edu/

To leave a voice message for Brooke Clenchy, Superintendent of Schools, please call 978-297-0031.

I’m going to be leaving a politely worded, yet pointed message as soon as I can get my blood pressure back down to normal...

Until next time!