Category: Gun Rights

Due Process for Me, But Not for Thee

By , November 19, 2015 7:42 pm

Charles C. W. Cooke, an ex-pat Brit and newly minted citizen of the United States squarely hits the nail that the hammer-headed American public seems to be missing more and more recently. As he writes in the National Review,

As a result, the question here shouldn’t be ‘why does the NRA oppose using this [terrorism watch] list in a civil context?’ but ‘why doesn’t everybody oppose using this list on a civil context?’

Why indeed? Why do so many people fail to see that our constitutionally protected rights to due process are nowhere to be seen in the President’s proposal to deny Second Amendment rights to anyone found on that secret list? The mind boggles.

The Facts Versus The Meme

By , October 4, 2015 9:41 pm

I’ve read more than once, in reaction to the recent tragedy in Oregon, that we need to regulate guns. Of course, we do regulate guns–at the federal and at the state level. If you’re interested, here’s the most recent version of the ATF Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide, all 233 pages of laws, regulations, Q&A’s explaining the morass of laws, and more. A full 9 1/2 pages of just the Gun Control Act of 1968 is devoted to Section 922: “Unlawful Acts.” The phrase “It shall be unlawful” is used 22 times in that section, usually leading off long lists of unlawful acts. And that’s just one act. The Guide also contains the National Firearms Act, the Arms Export Control Act, and a section of the law governing the Postal Service as well as four different “Parts” of the Code of Federal Regulations.

And that’s just Federal Law. Each state and many cities have their own laws, many of which are much more restrictive than the Federal Law, which essentially sets the minimum standards. For example, the assault weapons ban is no longer on the federal books. But don’t tell that to California or Connecticut. The NRA provides a handy guide of state law if you’re interested.

Finally, none of this takes into account the fact that it’s crime punishable by imprisonment and even death to kill someone with a firearm. Use a firearm in the commission of a crime, and generally the punishment for the underlying crime is enhanced. Etc. etc. etc.

Could more be done? More laws? More regulations? Reasonable minds differ–and they’re not all on the anti-gun crowd.

What if?

By , July 15, 2013 11:09 am

What if NBC had not doctored the recording of George Zimmerman’s telephone conversation with the police, you know, to make it sound like Zimmerman had told the police–unsolicited–that Trayvon Martin was black, which gave the impression that he was racially profiling Martin?

What if the media had referred to Zimmerman as Hispanic rather than White-Hispanic from the get go.?

What if the public had known early on that Zimmerman was 1/8 black, that he mentored black children?

What if the media had looked behind the gates of the gated community Zimmerman lived in?

What if some talking heads hadn’t speculated about a supposed “racial slur” uttered by Zimmerman, a slur that actually wasn’t?

What if the public had understood that the police initially had, in fact, arrested Zimmerman, handcuffed him, and taken him to the police station?

What if the media had made it clear from the outset that the evidence indicates that Zimmerman had, in fact, obeyed the police 911 dispatcher and stopped following Martin? If there had been evidence to the contrary, you’d think the state would have introduced it at trial, right?

What if the public had been made aware from the beginning that the forensic evidence supported Zimmerman’s story that Martin attacked him, that Martin was on top of him, that Martin was pounding him MMA-style, that Martin bashed his head against concrete many times, and that the only evidence of injury to Martin–other than the fatal gun shot, of course–was Martin’s bloody knuckles?

What if the media had done a better job of helping the public understand that this case was not about “stand your ground,” but was instead a case about simple self defense?

What if the prosecutor’s office had been–to put it charitably–more forthcoming about evidence in the Martin/Zimmerman case?

What if more in the media had followed Reuters’ lead in attempting to humanize a man that Florida State Attorney General Angela Corey, in full out CYA mode, continues to maintain is a “murderer” even after the not guilty verdict in a case that she never should have filed?

What if the public the media is supposed to serve, particularly that part of the public that is so outraged by the Zimmerman verdict, had actually followed the case in detail and actually had some idea of what the real case was really about?

Was Zimmerman justified in shooting Martin? The actual evidence seems to back up his version of events, but in the end, I don’t know, and neither do you.

Would the outcome have been different had their roles been reversed? Assuming Martin had had similar legal counsel working with the same evidence, I’d say yes. But I don’t know, and neither do you. If, in my hypothetical, Martin had been saddled with an overworked and underfunded public defender, then the outcome very well could have been different. But again, I don’t know, and neither do you.

Would this case have attracted the attention it has, had the media done its job, had the race hustlers remained stage right (or left, I don’t care), I think the answer would be no.

Look, the African-American community is justifiably outraged about the short straw it too often draws in our justice system. And I can understand the outpouring of sympathy and concern for Trayvon Martin’s family. His death was a tragedy. But to use George Zimmerman as a tool to root out injustice, to destroy his life in a different, but very real way in order to advance that cause is another unnecessary tragedy–or a travesty, as Zimmerman’s attorney characterizes it.

Finally, I don’t want to make this about guns. Yes, a gun was involved. A legally acquired, legally carried gun. But for a moment, let’s forget that. Let’s suppose that Zimmerman’s version of events is accurate. Let’s suppose that Trayvon was the aggressor, that he sucker punched Zimmerman, that the punch laid Zimmerman out on the ground, that Martin straddled Zimmerman’s body, pummeled him MMA style, bashed his head against solid concrete. (All this, by the way, is a reasonable inference from the actual evidence rather than from speculation.) Let’s assume that Zimmerman did indeed think his life was in danger. And let’s assume that Martin didn’t stop, and Zimmerman couldn’t stop him. Under those assumptions, Zimmerman likely could have died an equally violent death.

In other words, assuming Zimmerman’s version of events is accurate, because he had a gun, someone died. It just wasn’t him.

This sad case was not about guns. It was about self defense.

Update: I just discovered TalkLeft, a blog written, in part, by a Denver criminal defense attorney. Her post on this case is worth reading.

So You’re Anti-Science if You Don’t Accept Research Posing as Science?

By , March 17, 2013 9:00 am

Apparently, the NRA and all of us Right Wing Gun Nuts are anti-science, according to a post on Lawrence O’Donnell’s MSNBC site, which in turn references a 1993 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. I guess that’s marginally better than being called racists, homophobes, fascists, deniers (oh wait, deniers by definition are anti-science), and such. But only marginally. Well, of course, there is another side to the story, and I’m simply preserving it here for future reference.

Herewith are links to two articles published on They shed additional–and much needed–light on Mr. Roth’s story (the one on O’Donnell’s site). The first one actually links to the latter one by the way. I recommend you read them. Here is the key quote from both in reference to that 1993 “scientific” study, among others:

Contrary to this picture of dispassionate scientists under assault by the Neanderthal NRA and its know-nothing allies in Congress, serious scholars have been criticizing the CDC’s “public health” approach to gun research for years. In a presentation at the American Society of Criminology’s 1994 meeting, for example, University of Illinois sociologist David Bordua and epidemiologist David Cowan called the public health literature on guns “advocacy based on political beliefs rather than scientific fact.” Bordua and Cowan noted that The New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association, the main outlets for CDC-funded studies of firearms, are consistent supporters of strict gun control. They found that “reports with findings not supporting the position of the journal are rarely cited,” “little is cited from the criminological or sociological field,” and the articles that are cited “are almost always by medical or public health researchers.”

Reasonable minds can differ. I recognize that. But in most cases all the reasonable minds aren’t standing on just one side of the issue. That’s especially true when one side is calling the other “anti-science,” “deniers,” “racists,” “homophobes,” “fascists,” and the like.

Edited: added clearer references/links in the first sentence of this post as well as to the sentence that leads into the block quote.

More on Assault Rifle Lingo

By , January 20, 2013 8:27 pm

I posted on assault rifles a few weeks ago. This post goes into much more detail. Whatever side of the gun control debate you’re on, being in possession of some facts is always good.

Key grafs:

The military defines an assault rifle as a lightweight, intermediate caliber select fire rifle. Quite the mouthful isn’t it. Broken down into everyday terms, it means you can carry it for a long time because it is light weight. Intermediate caliber refers to a cartridge between the full power rifle and the pistol, and you get more ammunition for the same weight compared to full power rifles.

. . .

The second correct definition of an assault rifle is based on cosmetic features set by politicians. These rifles are all semi-automatic, or self-loading in old school firearm terms. Every time you press the trigger, one round is fired, and one round only. The action cycles, replacing the now expended case with a fresh round from the magazine. While this can be accomplished very rapidly, it is still one shot per trigger press.

What makes one rifle an assault weapon, and a rifle that works exactly the same way and looks very much the same not an assault weapon? The politicians that set the cosmetic features of a rifle they deem to be an assault weapon. So this second definition is slippery and can be very broad, but boils down to some group of politicians decided that the rifles with X features are “scary”, and thus “assault weapons”. This also means that it varies by state. California has a very wide definition of what an assault rifle is with a list of specific firearms for good measure. Free markets being what they are, there have been many creative ways found to manufacture rifles that work exactly like, or very close to, the CA definition, without crossing those legal lines.

But what does this mean to the current hue and cry spewing forth from the likes of Piers Morgan and Senator Diane Feinstein? It means that through ignorance or malice, they are lying. The CT school massacre was an act of pure evil, and a Bushmaster rifle may have been used. It was NOT however, an “assault rifle” either in true (military) terms, nor in the made up terms of the CT assault weapons ban. (Sec. 53-202a. Assault weapons: Definition) The rifle was semi automatic, but lacked some cosmetic features deemed “scary” or “evil” by some know nothing politicians and wasn’t included in the specifically named list of weapons.

And here’s something I didn’t know (among many things, mind you): the AR in the name AR-15 stands for Armalite, the first manufacturer of such rifles, NOT “assault rifle.”

So Could This Be the 1,000th Cut?

By , January 12, 2013 10:29 am

David Gregory, possessor of a high capacity magazine in D.C. and the silver-haired talking head of Meet the Press, will not be prosecuted for possessing said high capacity magazine that he brandished in the face of NRA president Wayne LaPiere in a effort to make the point that said high capacity magazines should be illegal. Ironically, said high capacity magazine was in fact illegal to possess in Washington D.C., a fact Gregory knew because his office had contacted the D.C. Metro Police and inquired as to the legality of possessing said high capacity magazine and were told no, even Mr. Gregory could not legally possess said high capacity magazine despite the fact that he was a “trusted” journalist, was friends with the prosecutor, and would be interviewing President Obama soon thereafter about, among other things, the need to pass new gun laws, including the need to ban said high capacity magazines for the safety of the children and some sort of political advantage.

James Brinkley was not available for comment. Neither was the Rule of Law, having suffered possibly its 1,000th cut. Word is that the little people (as in “the law is for the”) have finally risen up and are marching to the nation’s capitol for a high-capacity magazine-light vigil, viz. the comments to this Ann Althouse post (apologies for the foul-word weary):


There Are Assault Rifles and Then There Are “Assault Rifles”

By , January 4, 2013 9:30 am

Dear reader, this rifle:


Is not the same as this rifle:

(Note the owner’s discussion of his rifle; unfortunately, what to him looks “cool,” to others looks scary.):


Wouldn’t it be more honest and wouldn’t it lead to more productive debate on the important gun control issue if we referred to actual assault rifles as, you know, assault rifles and mock “assault rifles” as, well, mock assault rifles? Or look-alike assault rifles or pretend assault rifles or fake assault rifles or __________ (fill in the blank) assault rifles?

Our military uses assault rifles. People who hunt or shoot recreationally do not. The dweebs, schmucks, twits, wackos who shoot up schools and theaters also do not use actual assault rifles. They use the pretend, the mock, the look-alike variety. And that variety is not automatic. It is not a machine gun. It shoots one bullet per trigger pull. Actual automatic rifles and machine guns have been well-regulated and basically outlawed for personal use (with very minor exceptions) since the National Firearms Act of 1934.

The Wikipedia** entry on assault rifles, provides the following definition of an assault rifle, the type of rifle our men and women in uniform use in battle:

An assault rifle is a selective fire (either fully automatic or burst-capable) rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine.

Wikipedia then list 5 criteria a rifle must meet to qualify as an assault rifle:

In a strict definition, a firearm must have at least the following characteristics to be considered an assault rifle:
-It must be an individual weapon with provision to fire from the shoulder (i.e. a buttstock);
-It must be capable of selective fire;
-It must have an intermediate-power cartridge: more power than a pistol but less than a standard rifle or battle rifle;
-Its ammunition must be supplied from a detachable magazine rather than a feed-belt.
-And it should at least have a firing range of 300 meters (1000 feet) (emphasis supplied)

The key element for my purposes is “It must be capable of selective fire“; that is, the shooter must be able to change from fully automatic mode to semi-automatic or “burst-capable” mode, essentially by a flick of a switch on the gun.

Now here’s the important part: the AR-15 used at Sandy Hook and the guns used at the Aurora, Colorado, theater and at Columbine and at the mass shootings elsewhere, by this definition were not assault rifles. They had only one mode: semi-automatic, which means that each pull on the trigger results in just one shot. Yes, I realize that trigger pulls don’t take a lot of time, but that’s another argument. For now, I’m just trying to define one term of this important debate.

So why is the term “assault rifle” and its cousin “assault weapon” bandied about so cavalierly? Well, we have Congress and the the gun control lobby (and a less than vigilant and sometimes cheerleading media) to thank for that. In 1994 Congress, with the help of the gun control lobby, enacted the Assault Weapons Ban. According to Wikipedia:

In United States politics and law, “assault weapons” are usually defined in legislation as semi-automatic firearms that have certain features generally associated with military firearms, including assault rifles. Some definitions in “assault weapon” legislation are much broader to the point of including the majority of firearms, e.g. to include all semi-automatic firearms or all firearms with detachable magazines. The 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which expired on September 13, 2004, codified the definition of an assault weapon. It defined the rifle type of assault weapon as a semiautomatic firearm with the ability to accept a detachable magazine and two or more of the following:
-a folding or telescoping stock
-a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon
-a bayonet mount
-a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor
-a grenade launcher (emphasis supplied)

Note the absence of the “selective fire” element. Folks, I repeat: We’re talking about weapons here that fire just one bullet each time you pull the trigger.

So, by a simple sleight of hand, Congress took a weapon that is really no different than most hunting rifles in its essential mechanics and turned it into one that general public thinks must be the same type of rifle our military uses in Afghanistan–simply by hanging the word “assault” around its neck.

Again, my purpose in this post is not to debate gun control. My purpose is to define terms fairly and accurately, so that when we participate in the debate, we use terms accurately and thereby actually communicate.

Now if the media would just pitch in.

**Yes, I know that Wikipedia has its problems as a reliable source; however, I chose to use it here because it is easily accessible and because the discussion seems fairly balanced.

Let’s Just Cut Down Some of the Trees. One Tree Actually. That Big One Over There.

By , December 31, 2012 12:40 pm

Is “Giv{ing] Up on the Constitution” on your list of resolutions for 2013? It’s on Louis Michael Seidman’s.

I get his point, and I disagree with it. I like that the Constitution has been a drag on powerful presidents, finger-in-the-wind senators, a sometimes capricious judiciary, and an often fired-up citizenry. It had its flaws in the past, has others even now, but the Constitution also has mechanisms to correct those problems. It’s also worth mentioning that the Constitution has little or no bearing on much of what passes for law nowadays. In other words, not every legal issue is a constitutional issue.

In any case, to Professor Seidman, I’d respond with the words of Robert Bolt–through the mouth of Sir Thomas Moore–in his play A Man For All Seasons:

More [to his soon-to-be son-in-law William Roper]: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ‘round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?
This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down (and you’re just the man to do it!), do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

Even Mr. Seidman acknowledges some good things in our Constitution: free speech, equal protection, things like that. He’d like to keep them. And so would I. But how secure would those rights be without a Constitution? Not very, I worry. They’re under attack even now. Fish in a barrel they’d be if we amended the Constitution out of existence.

Constitutional Howlers

By , December 27, 2012 3:49 pm

Piers Morgan, the British ex pat currently lecturing the USA on its guns laws, is a sometimes Constitutional scholar, or at least he plays on on TV–and on Twitter. To wit:

Piers Morgan_Twitter_2012-12-27_1539

When our elites are this dense, is there any hope for the rest of us? Jim Treacher thinks not . . . kind of. I mean, after all, David Gregory is a member of the lecturing, hectoring elite class, no? Where will we go for guidance? Oh the humanity. Etc. etc. etc.

Common Ground on Guns

By , December 19, 2012 9:42 am

Frank Miniter, a gun owner and the author of “The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Manhood,” writes today on National Review Online to offer some good advice to both sides of the gun debate:

. . . So let’s step forward . . . onto common ground. Consider what President Barack Obama said in Newtown: “In the coming weeks, I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement, to mental-health professionals, to parents and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have?”

What about engaging gun owners? The National Rifle Association (NRA) estimates there are 100 million gun owners in America. An October 2011 Gallup poll found that 47 percent of American adults keep at least one gun in their home. Americans own more than 300 million firearms. In both recent shootings — in the Oregon mall and the Connecticut school — the killers used stolen guns. How about working with gun owners to make sure guns are stored safely? How about allowing those with concealed-carry permits to defend fellow citizens? Aren’t these choices? After all, currently more than 8 million Americans have concealed-carry permits.

When gun-control proponents feverishly demand that law-abiding Americans give up their right to self-defense as the price for a disturbed person’s heinous act, then free, law-abiding gun owners necessarily find themselves on defense, as they’d rather not be left defenseless. There is a better way.

As gun-control advocacy groups and politicians focus solely on gun control, the NRA, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), and others have been left with the task of teaching firearm safety. While Hollywood and the video-game industry sell gun violence, somehow those preaching gun safety and self-defense have become the bad guys. This demagoguery is counterproductive. . . .

Miniter goes on to discuss “five things gun-control advocates and gun-rights groups should be able to agree on to help prevent a future Columbine or Sandy Hook.” You can read them at the link. They all sound reasonable and doable to me. And they just might actually work. As he says, in the first of his five points:

When an epidemic of drunk driving bloodied our highways, we didn’t demonize car owners and pass bans on automobiles. We worked with the American people, stiffened penalties, and had national campaigns explaining the problem. We talked about designated drivers and hotlines for alcoholics. We treated the American people as adults. We showed a good, moral path to follow.

We need to work with gun owners in the same open, honest way.

Just guessing here, but if you treat gun owners like an adults instead of demonizing them as a brain-dead gun nuts (cue the Piers Morgan video clip), they might consider working with you towards solving this problem.

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