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July the 4th
There are few days that hold reverence beyond that of the Fourth of July. Not necessarily because of the historically accuracy of the date. (The resolution was introduced on July the 4th 1776, but it would not be formally signed until early August of that year.) Yet, officialdom notwithstanding the date, the resolution when introduced may in fact be the best date to celebrate the “birth” of our nation.
You see, the Declaration as a document is really nothing more than a simple piece of parchment. The ideas contained on that parchment, the philosophy codified on paper by our Founding Fathers transcends a simple list: grievances against King George. The ideas mark a revolutionary principle in political thought. A declarative statement by a government that the power the government wields does not rest with the government itself. Rather, the power comes from the people governed and they in turn receive their power from the Creator.
There were many reasons why we fought our Revolution. Those that subscribe to Marxist theory would state that our Revolution was a natural result of systemic market pressures. Academics and sociologists that rely on a tribalism paradigm would acknowledge the market based approach by the leaders of the Revolution, but mostly focus on the tribalism exhibited among the colonial combatants.
Both of these miss the point.
Each individual that fought and supported the Revolution did so for a variety of reasons (sometimes even conflicting).
Some fought for the “rights of Englishman”.
Some fought for the sovereignty of their own state.
Some even fought for no other reason then the sheer enjoyment of fighting.
All however, took up arms against the Crown, fought for one unified principal: The idea that power resides with the people…. not the government.
This is important. The shared experience of the Revolution created the value system and reinforced the political theory established in the Declaration. Ultimately giving rise to our present Constitution and more importantly, the recognized rights codified in the first ten amendments to that document.
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There are many actionable passages with the Declaration, but the “biggie” is the one most people are familiar with:
We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
So… grab a cup of coffee and join me as we deconstruct this clause in honor of our two hundred and forty first birthday.
“We hold these truths to be self evident”
What is the importance of the phrase “self-evident”. Everything. You see, self evident means that empirical evidence is not necessary. We do not need to “prove” that the Sun rises in the East. Nor do we need to “prove” that people have a natural yearning towards freedom. We do need to prove through inference more complex theories. If A=B and B=C we can surmise that A also = C. Yet we do not need to prove what A, B, and C are… for their existence (in this postulate) self evident.
“That all men are created equal”
So, the Founding Fathers used the language appropriate at the time. Yes, women were excluded from this political philosophy, formally at least, but that does not negate the value of the equation. Once, we as a society became enlightened to the equal status of women and minorities, the word “men” could be easily expanded to be inclusive of all humanity.
With that out of the way let’s not be distracted by the sexism and let’s focus on the more important word: equal. When equality exists at birth the justification for social status based on “mere existence” becomes intellectually dubious. I cannot claim a superior status based on my lineage… I can, based on my accomplishments and my contributions to society as a whole, but not simply on the fact that “I am”. When we strip away the awards, the bank accounts, the portfolios and the titles, we all share one thing in common… equality in the eyes of the creator.
“and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights”
This is important.
Rights must come from somewhere. They cannot come from the government. If they do, then they are dependent upon the regime in power at any given time. They must come from something transcendent beyond mortal men. They must come from something higher. Something that is universal and timeless. The Founders identified this being as the Creator. The use of this word was not by accident. They could have easily said “God” but, they didn’t. The Creator is much broader then that. The Creator is synonyms with God. It is also synonyms with Gaia, Mother Nature, the Force, the Pasafarian Spegetti Monster… whatever you want to call Her/Him.
This expansive concept of the Creator is also critically important.
The Declaration does not demand the adherence to a Judaeo-Christian God. To be sure, we were crafted under a Judaeo-Christian construct but, the theory behind the Declaration is even more expansive than that. The Declaration was not written for the group, but for the individual, and my necessity, it is self-evident (remember that phrase?) that all individuals were created by… well a Creator.
Now, since they were created by a Creator, they were also granted essentially all the rights that exist in the universe. This is because the Creator does not create governments. Governments are created by people. Yet the “people” must be invested with the power to create the governments that regulate their behavior. This power is in the form of “rights”…. rights that are transferred to the government for the empowerment of that government. The Declaration tells us to be on notice however: There are certain rights that are “inalienable” meaning that they can not be relinquished, even if the individual wants to. Certain rights we are stuck with, weather we like it or not.
“That among these”
Forgive me for wearing my lawyer hat on this one, but this little sentence is critical. “Among” is the word that needs our attention. “Among” posits that this is not a closed universe. The Declaration is about to direct our attention to three inalienable rights… but we are on notice… there are more then simply these three.
“Are life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness:
Ok… let’s take these one at a time.
“Life”… well this seems obvious. We must retain our right to exist. If we transfer to the government our right to exist then by definition we retain nothing. The government switches from being subservient to the people, to the people being subservient to the government.
“Liberty”… what then is “liberty”? Well, taken at its most basic level… and in constant tension with the idea of government… is the fundamental idea that we as individuals should be free from governmental coercion. Yet, we also institute the government to secure our liberty. This seems to be a contrarian argument. And, to an extent it is. That tension is part of the human condition, yet the Declaration for the first time acknowledged this duality and sought to shift the balance clearly in favor of the individual.
“The Pursuit of Happiness”
Happiness is the most generic of terms. Happiness is also not a universal concept. What makes me happy… (analyzing this stuff from a political theory perspective)… most likely does not make all of you “happy”. Watching Dancing with the Stars, is a recipe for the initiation of my own suicide… but ratings would suggest that there are many out there that do find “happiness” in this. Since happiness is a uniquely personal phenomenon, individuals must be left to their own devices to identify what makes them happy, then purse the means necessary to achieve it. They may never actually achieve the happiness that they desire… In fact, they may realize that what they thought would bring them happiness in fact brings them misery. Furthermore, on a more spiritual level, the Founders would have posited that the pursuit of Happiness is the actual joy… achievement, is an inherently elusive goal.
“That to secure these rights”
These rights, while they are fundamental to the individual, can be meaningless if the individual is targeted by the majority.
“Governments are instituted among men”
So.. the government is a third party that is crafted with one singular purpose: To make sure that individuals are able to enjoy at the very least the three rights granted by the Creator and specified in the Declaration… Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
“deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”
Finally, the “BIGGIE”… Government is empowered by the people. They also by definition have the inherent right to withdraw their support of the governed. When this happens the government must be changed… or if change is refused the government becomes illegitimate, and power automatically returns to the people for them to enact a new government.
This is what is typically referred to as a revolution.
Our Revolution was based on these principles. These principles guide our basic fundamental understanding of our own government as well as an understanding of ourselves.
This idea, this belief, that power comes from the governed. That Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are inalienable rights are the cornerstones of one of the greatest human achievements of all time. This philosophy, crafted by geniuses, and protected throughout our young nations history by the blood of patriots is the reason we celebrate the Fourth.
Take a moment this Fourth of July to reflect on those that have fought, died, and risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor….. so that you can be free.
Persuasion through Violence
“War is merely diplomacy through other means”… Carl von Clausewitz wrote that in his seminal work On War (Pub. 1835). He had a point when it came to the engagements between nation states.
When it comes to civil society, the use of violence is singularly an act of tyranny. Regardless, if the power of pain comes from an instrument of the government, the collective, the abusive spouse, or the common street thug… violence, and the use of violence to shape the behavior of another is rooted in a singular principal: Narcissism.
Last week we saw narcissism on display in Virginia. A malcontent attempted to assassinate members of congress since they would not agree on his world view. Reports would suggest that his desire to control the destinies of those around him have been going on for quite some time. Foster children relegated to his care have suffered continuous victimization at his hands. (In one instance going so far as to terminate her own life rather than to suffer at his hands any longer.)
Interestingly, the typical reactions from neighbors when a monster is reveled were not present here. Normally we hear “He was such a nice man!” “I can’t believe he would do that”, and other protestations from those that live in denial.
Not so in this case.
Here… neighbors were quick to point out that he is a slob of a human. My favorite was “I’m not surprised… he’s a mean little bastard.” Spoken by his next door neighbor.
But let’s get into the weeds for a moment and look at the motivations of his actions… for they mirror the motivations of countless others that have taken up the use of violence in our civil society as a means of achieving a political objective. (Well… that may be a bit presumptuous on my part frankly… there is a good chance that they are using violence primarily because doing so makes them feel part of a collective. Perhaps it is pure tribalism… my tribe will make war on your tribe for no other reason then to do it.)
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Our system of government, popular representative democracy, has survived for over two hundred years for a very specific reason built into our Constitution. A singular belief that power emanates from the “People” and that regardless of the minutiae of our civil society, there are certain aspects of the lives of individual citizens that cannot be touched.
We can kvetch about the way people behave, but we cannot use the power of government to force people into behaving differently.
Said another way: I might disagree with you, your lifestyle, your choices… I may choose not to associate with you because of your choices… or maybe simply because I am a jerk… regardless of my motivations I am powerless to use the tools of government as a means to alter your behavior to be inline with my preferences.
I am totally allowed to use my powers of persuasion to educate you to your misguided ways… but you are in turn free to ignore me… or if necessary make me a pariah, to warn others of my arrogant ways.
What you… nor I… cannot do is threaten each other with violence due to our beliefs, or use violence to threaten others from hearing our message.
This fundamental underpinning on the rights of the individual is what ultimately leads to our longevity as a nation. We can bitch about “stuff”… but there is certain “stuff” , we cannot change… we cannot even attempt to change. The knowledge, that the individual is sacred. It creates predictability in our system of governance… and ultimately gives solace to those that failed to persuade the majority to their point of view.
See… I may have failed to convince you that we should all own guns, but at the end of the day it really does not matter, because the State’s power to take my guns away is supplanted by the Constitutional protections of the Second Amendment.
(If you coughed while reading that last line, I completely understand.)
But therein lies the problem.
As our trust in the edifices of power and the Constitution wanes, (as it has since the 1960’s) our reliance on the protections of that document are also degraded. Without an almost religious adherence to the protections of the minority codified in the Constitution, the value of the Constitution is cheapened to mere paper.
When a class of individuals… people that have enjoyed systemic power for more than a generation… suddenly feel that power base threatened, they do not stop and reevaluate their message… they turn to violence as a means of poking the new administration.
This is particularly dangerous, not just for those at the receiving end of barrel, or a broken beer bottle… it is dangerous for the longevity of our society as a whole. It is… at it’s core, an existential threat to the concept of individualism and freedom.
After 9/11, we passed the Patriot Act. This was designed as an intelligence gathering tool to prevent further acts of terrorism. Within a year, a US attorney was boasting about a drug running trial in Washington State that she had prevailed in, using evidence that was obtained through tools established in the Patriot Act…. an act as drafted that NEVER should have been used to obtain evidence for anything other then terrorism.
This scared the hell out of me! For when would the use of the provisions of the Patriot Act be used by the government for very very unpatriotic things?
It also illustrates a point. Once you build “it”… or create the justification for “it” to be built in the first place… the “it” you sought may turn into something that you could never have envisioned.
Violence… the ultimate “it”… must not be tolerated. The government has tools… existing tools… to combat the use of violence by those that would seek to use violence as an agent for change.
But we must also combat violence ourselves. We must be ready to protect ourselves against violence. The great irony is that ultimately, we must be willing when necessary to use extreme violence as a response to a violent act.
The shooter in Virginia was stopped because of the brave actions of two capitol police officers that brought war down upon the shooter. One officer wounded… but staying in the fight to protect the innocent.
We must not now… not ever… allow tyrants to dictate our way of life!
When a group of individuals are prepared to defend themselves against the actions of tyrannical malcontents, the actions of those monsters are mitigated before they begin. If the slugs are so foolish as to proceed with their acts of violence, then the devastation they bring is marginalized by the presence of those patriots that will stand and defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign… and domestic.
"This bill would restrict someone’s ability to acquire more than one firearm during any 30 day period of time… there is nothing controversial about this…” So spoke California State Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Cannada Flintridge) during an introduction of his bill SB-497 which would restrict the ability of anyone to acquire more than one firearm during any 30 day time frame.
Private Party transfers, Long guns… it does not matter. If it goes bang, you can only acquire one every 30 days.
This creates some logistical issues with certain transfers.
What happens when someone wants to transfer his collection? What happens when someone receives an estate inheritance? Or an attorney takes ownership of his clients guns as a means for a fee waiver?
It does have some exemptions… of course.
Law Enforcement is exempt. (Law Enforcement that is “active”… not law enforcement that is retired). This creates some interesting complications that the Peace Officers Union is going to have to deal with… specifically regarding their carve outs for SB 880 (assault weapons) since they now must argue that a rational basis exists for that carve out… but not for this one.
It also interestingly exempts those with valid hunting licensees, as well as those that win guns at charity events.
Many charity events…. especially hunting related charity events, use firearms (typically, though not exclusively rifles) as a means of generating funds. It is not unheard of for a participant to win two or three rifles and shotguns during a fundraising event. If they were not exempted from this new proposed legislation, the process of raffling off guns would become so commercially unreasonable, that it just wouldn’t be done… and as a result the amount of money generated would suffer.
So this is all fine and good, but what is the point?
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Senator Portantino has a dubious history of generating one dimensional legislation that ultimately comes back to bite him and his group of collectivists. He was the author of California’s Open Carry Restrictive bill. Yes… that one. Up until his legislation, the argument could be made that you had the right to carry a firearm outside your home, (it just needed to be unloaded). The CCW was nothing more than a “time, place and manner” restriction. Once his law went into effect, the only way to carry a firearm outside your home (legally) was through the use of a CCW. Portantino may have inadvertently set the ground work necessary for a legal challenge via Peruta to be heard by the Supremes. That could result in a recognized right to bear arms outside your home nationwide.
If this ultimately happens, we can all thank Senator Portantino for setting the case in controversy in place. (I’m sure he is thrilled about that!)
Seriously though.. what is the benefit of this new proposed legislation? What crimes will it be able to prevent? What benefits to society do we achieve by its adoption? The answer is of course… none.
But there is a nefarious side that might quite possibly benefit the anti’s:
Less places to buy guns.
To understand this, you must also take it in conjunction with another piece of proposed legislation SB-464
This little gem was introduced by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and it has one singular purpose in mind… putting gun stores out of business.
There are many people that have FFL’s in California. Not all though are on the Centralized Firearms Dealer list. This is the list that the State has created that you must be on to perform a legal transfer of a firearm in California. By being on the list, gun stores can log in and complete a DROS or Dealer Record of Sale.
SB-464 would require that all FFL’s (not just the ones on the Centralized Dealer List) enhance their security features to a commercially unreasonable level. Places like Artemis that provide DROS services essentially at cost as a benefit to members would simply have to cease performing transfers.
Small mom and pop gun stores would have to shut their doors.
You see, the costs associated with the level of protection that the bill envisions can easily reach the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Large stores such as Bass Pro with multiple streams of revenue may well be able to absorb the costs. Small stores will have to rely on passing on the additional costs related to security enhancements into their price of their products.
But wait… SB-497 will limit the sale of one gun to a customer each month. Basically, the very best customer a gun store could hope for has a maximum buying power of twelve guns per year.
They simply could not possibly push through the costs of SB-464 onto their customer base.
The result is shutting down. (Or at least shutting down the firearms transfer component of the business.)
So… all this has been a study of the practical… but what about the underlying philosophy?
The Second Amendment recognizes the right of the people to keep and bear arms. To those that are entrenched in power, this has historically bothered them…. but so have other parts of the Bill of Rights.
The Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, the Sixth Amendment. They have been thorns in the side of government from the beginning of our experiment in popular democracy.
What if we were to ration them as they seek to ration the Second?
You are only entitled to the use of your Fourth Amendment right against Search and Seizure once during a 30 day period of time. You can only go to a church of your choosing once during a 30 day period of time… because after all, no one really needs to go to church more than that. No one needs to be secure in their effects and their privacy more than one time a month.
We would be livid, if an elected representative even contemplated such laws out loud, much less sponsored legislation to enact them.
Yet when it comes to protection of our most basic civil right codified in the Second Amendment, we throw up are hands and shake our heads. “This is California”.
When a tyrant attempts to expand power beyond their enumeration, they must be met with swift reprisal. The mere act violates the compact of the governed and they become illegitimate.
Genteel acceptance is the providence for slaves. We must never willingly drape ourselves with chains.
There is a singular emotion. Fear is worthless, numbing, a mind killer… fear serves no purpose other than to remind us of our own mortality. Fear and Rage are twin sisters each with equal access to us. We can choose to embrace fear, or instead embrace Rage.
This is a time for Rage.
Those of you who have been through our CCW class, know of the hypothetical I start each class out with: Sandy and I are at a local restaurant and someone comes in looking to cause mayhem. The purpose of this hypothetical is to highlight Col. Cooper’s color code of situational awareness. It also posits the question… when is force acceptable and under what conditions. In the hypothetical, an identified threat pulls out a knife and threatens the life of the restaurant hostess.
What do you do?
Do you engage? Do you flee out the emergency exit door? Do you freeze?
Midway through our CCW “class 63” this last Saturday, the hypothetical turned into a reality.
While we were in the lab our phones started buzzing with alerts.
London was under attack.
First it was news of emergency vehicles racing towards London Bridge. Another Daesh had decided to weaponize a vehicle. Then the reports came in that diners at Borough Market had also been attacked. Another proto-human had tried to appease Allah with the blood of innocents.
I am filled with rage and with sorrow.
But the target of my venom is not just the scum that perpetrated these attacks…. and make no mistake, I want them and their kind eradicated from this planet. No… today my outrage is directed towards those that aided and abetted them: The British Government.
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The British have invested literally billions of pounds in ensuring that their populace are ready, willing victims. They have feebly attempted to outlaw weapons, but weapons must be defined by use, not by design. The machete, the chain saw, even the pencil are deadly weapons. Just as violent as the firearm in the hands of those that seek to reek havoc. The tool most efficient in stopping their attacks are… you guessed it: Firearms. The one thing that the government prevents victims from possessing.
The sophomoric nonsense extends to this side of the pond as well.
Last week, LAPD’s Charlie Beck penned an op ed wringing his hands and clutching his pearls at the notion that a national reciprocity bill could be foisted upon snowflakes of Los Angeles. Why the hostility?
Beck articulated the rational behind national reciprocity correctly. A person that lives in a jurisdiction ruled by tyrants that do not respect fundamental rights of their citizens could simply get a CCW from another state that is more enlightened. Then Beck and his gang would be forced to recognize the citizens right to carry. Sac re blue!
And what of it?
What moral ambiguity are we afraid of?
Are we concerned that law abiding citizens will suddenly turn into homicidal maniacs? The empirical evidence simply does not prove that out.
Are we concerned that people will put more faith in the power of the individual then the power of the collective?
Especially when that collective is controlled by the governing class.
What if… just to fantasize, the UK did not have the regulatory ban on firearms that has been in place since WWI.
What if, instead of relegating the power of personal protection to the State…. instead of demonizing tools, and trying to relate with actors,… the UK helped foster and develop a firearms culture?
What if, instead of hapless victims in Borough Market there were a collection of hardened patriots?
In Texas, a thug went into a restaurant with the intent to cause mayhem. He killed one person, only to have his killing spree stopped cold by a citizen licensed to carry a firearm.
The gun culture in England has been so decimated that even most first responders don’t have access to firearms, and those that do are often deployed after the event has finished.
So what do we gain by living in this utopian paradise be it Los Angels, New York, London, Paris?
Failure for the most basic rationale for a body politic. Mutual security. The nature of evil cannot be legislated out of existence. Those that think it possible are either intellectual infants or beneficiaries of the barbarians.
There are two types of targets in a war. Counter force (military units, and supply lines) and Counter value (civilians). This conflict… this clash between civilizations, this war between the 21st Century and the 13th century is almost exclusively made up of counter value targets.
The enemy does not target our military assets, they target exclusively civilians. This is primarily done because most civilians are not equipped to fight back.
That must stop now.
We have been drafted. We are conscripts whether we like it or not in this new global drama. We are more than first responders… we are infantry.
Those that would seek to limit our ability to defend ourselves against a military attack are in fact aiding and abetting the enemy.
That must not be tolerated.
We are not just citizens of the enemy in the eyes of Daesh… we are the representatives of both classical liberalism, and by extension western civilization. We must embrace that, and respond in kind. We will train, we will harden ourselves, and we will be vigilant in our day to day lives!
“We will never ‘win’… not in as much as we define winning as a long term prospect, for our enemy is entropy. We mow the grass and put away the lawn mower, but as soon as the blades stop spinning, the grass begins to grow anew. We may weed our garden, but the weeds must always be kept at bay. We never ‘win’ a fight for freedom… we hold tyranny back for a little while longer. We are, as been said before… guardians of freedom, but despotism is only a generation away.”
Bill Whittle, conservative blogger and speaker, Antonia Okafor, NRA contributor and the founder of campuscarry.org, and James O’Keefe, investigative journalist graciously gave their time to Artemis staff and friends this last Friday for a brief Q&A.
Mr. Whittle’s assistant Karla had called into Artemis the week before and spoke to Sandy. The three of them were going to be in Southern California and wanted to come into Artemis for some training. Sandy asked her if she thought the three would be willing to have a “sit down” with some of our members and guests… all thought it would be a wonderful idea.
I acted as the moderator… and since I had the power of the lectern, I threw out the first question.
“How do you define freedom? Is freedom the ability to live your life as you see fit, or is freedom the state of being devoid of economic requirements… comfortable in the knowledge that all of your “needs” have been satisfied by a benevolent power.”
The answers were interesting…
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A strong Libertarian theme permeated all of the answers, with Whittle offering one of the most interesting lines of the afternoon. “Freedom is not attained through slavery.”
Antonia was more circumspect. “God grants dignity through work, our work is what makes us who we are.”
James O’Keefe, the consummate journalist acknowledged the debate as to how we define freedom but was more focused on those that would use power as a means of self advancement at the expense of the governed.
All were in agreement that the work that James does… exposing hypocrisy and corruption… is at the very core the defense against tyranny. One of my favorite examples of this is his undercover video regarding voter fraud. Within the District of Columbia, there has been a fight to prevent the necessity of an individual requirement to present a photo ID when getting their ballot at a polling place. The rational behind those who feel it unnecessary is that it is an unconstitutional burden on the fundamental right to vote. In reality their motivation is more nefarious. Not requiring a photo ID allows for voter fraud. The beneficiaries of that fraud tend to be those that have established institutional power.
James tested the system by reporting to former Attorney Generals Eric Holder’s polling location and asked for Eric Holder’s ballot. He was offered General Holder’s ballot without verification that he was in fact Eric Holder. Before accepting it, James suggested it might be a good idea for him to provide photo ID anyway. The polling worker was insistent that that was not necessary. James, said he would feel more comfortable if he did, and that his license was back in his car. The polling worker shrugged her shoulders, and James headed out to his car, ostensibly to retrieve his ID. His parting words as he left were “I’ll be right back, faster than you can say furious.”
When asked how we, as individuals could defend against tyranny, Whittle picked up his phone and showed it to the group.
“There have been three transformational events in human history. The agrarian revolution, the industrial revolution, and now the technological revolution. Unfortunately the structures of power were built during the last eon. They no longer serve us, nor do they make rational sense. Yet those that benefit from this institutional power will fight to the death to preserve it. Just as they did when we went from agriculture to industrial. Today anyone can order steel from China right from your phone and have it arrive directly to your factory. There is no central planning, there is no necessity for a bureaucracy. This phone, your laptop, your IPad… it represents an existential threat to the power structure.”
James went further.
“That phone has something on it that is the single greatest weapon against the tyrant… a camera. There is a saying, if there is no video, it never happened. Just as the government sees the edifices of power jeopardized by this new eon, so do those who for decades provided us our edited journalism.”
He has a point. CNN has during its best times an audience of around a million viewers. Many viral videos that expose hypocrisy or corruption are viewed millions of times… essentially bypassing the media completely.
As such the media,.. and those that they protect, are less than thrilled about this development.
Dale Terrien asked a poignant question of Antonia, “… colleges have become incubators of liberalism, to the point that if you do not actively support a liberal cause you are by default opposed to it. With that in mind, how do you provide a forum for competitive ideology?”
Antonia’s response was also interesting. “Through emotion.”
Antonia pointed out that most conservatives tend to argue through a paradigm of logic. She grew up though as a devout liberal, as such her emotional side tends to be far more developed. She argued that a message that exclusively relies on logic will be lost on a generation that exists solely in an emotive form. “You need to appeal to their emotions first and logic second.”
So what are we in the end to do?
All the panelists agreed that we must embrace technology. The cameras on our phones and our computers are by far the most effective defenses against tyranny. So are our associations. Strength comes first through the passionate defense of liberty. Strength is multiplied and becomes insurmountable when we channel that support through structure. Join the NRA, Join the CRPA, take online courses at Hillsdale College,… train, train, train. Train not just your body but your mind. Question assumptions and the edicts of the powerful. When intellectually sound, support them… when dubious or unconstitutional, fight them… when corrupt, expose them!
Finally,… support those that are in the fight with us. Seek out those that are on the front lines of freedom and give them aid and support. Look for bloggers, Youtubers, and pundits, and follow them… donate to them… forward their writings to friends. Start with these three… Bill Whittle, James O’Keefe and Antonia Okafor.
Remember, each generation has a unique responsibility to ensure that our freedoms and liberty are handed off to the next. The forces of tyranny always wait for an opportunity to oppress… NEVER NEVER NEVER give them that opening.
Well, as many of you know the California Department of Justice last week released their “new and improved” proposed regulations for the registration of “Assault Weapons”.
Well… this is not entirely true. They “filed” their regulations with the Office of Administrative Law, but did so blindly. They did not want people to see what they actually were until they were approved. As it turned out, the regulations were leaked… so we at least now know what they are. For those of you that would like to take a look at the 60+ pages, click here
You may remember that last December 28th they issued their first proposed regulations for a legislatively mandated program that was to begin on Jan 1, 2017. Those were widely pilloried for engaging in executive overreach and being volitive of federal law. They were pulled and some of us (me included) naively believed that the DOJ would simply enact the simple directive of the Legislature when in came to SB 880.
Yeah, that didn’t happen.
Basically DOJ waited until mid year, well into the legislatively mandated time frame and then proposed substantially the same damn thing.
They also are potentially engaged in an indictable criminal enterprise.
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So, let’s review the whole concept here:
If you own a firearm that was acquired prior to Jan. 1. 2017 (as proved through DROS registration) then you have the opportunity… for a period of one year… to register that weapon as an “Assault Weapon”.
So… for those of you that are new to this whole thing let’s go through a basic primer about California rifle laws.
A centerfire rifle with a detachable magazine, and one or more “evil” features (such as a pistol grip, telescoping stock, flash suppressor, et. al) is considered an “assault weapon”.
The key here is “detachable magazine”.
This has been the case for many years. The work around to ensure that you had a fixed and yet removable magazine was the use of a bullet button. DOJ had clarified that a magazine that can only be removed with a tool was in fact a fixed magazine. Well a bullet button requires a “tool” to be activated and have the magazine release. Hence, for years a rifle with a bullet button on it was not considered an “assault weapon” since it did not pass the threshold of having a removable magazine.
Then SB 880 came around stating that a bullet button was not sufficient to allow a rifle with one affixed to it to be considered a “fixed magazine”.
So…. on January 1, 2017, ALL rifles with bullet buttons on them would now be construed to have “detachable magazines” and thus fall into the category of “assault weapon”.
If you are in possession of an “assault weapon” and it is not registered with the State of California as an “Assault Weapon” then YOU ARE COMMITTING A FELONY.
Now… the State cannot simply through legislative fiat engage in what is called a “taking”. They have to compensate you for your loss.
In an attempt to avoid considering this a “taking”, the legislature envisioned a scheme where someone who owned the rifle prior to the law taking effect would be able to continue to own it as a registered weapon even after the law’s effect. Basically a grandfather clause.
This is where things go a little sideways.
SB 880 articulates that there are two types of firearms out there: “Assault Weapons” and “Non-assault weapons. It is a binary universe. Either the AR-15 is an assault weapon or it is not. The DOJ proposed regulations decided to create a third category: “Bullet Button Assault Weapons.”. If you look through the California Penal Code for this special category of weapon… you will not find it. The legislation exists only at the executive halls in the Dept. Of Justice.
Please remember… the only governmental body allowed to craft “laws” are the legislature. The DOJ simply enacts regulations to allow them to effectively enforce the laws established by the legislature. They are not allowed to expand on laws to achieve an objective that the legislature was not able to garner enough political support for, during the legislative process.
They are also not allowed to mandate that a law abiding citizen commit a felony in order to ultimately be compliant with the law.
You see… according to the DOJ in § 5474 (b) you have to build out your rifle, make sure that there is a bullet button on it, and then go to work taking photographs of said rifle. Once those photos are uploaded onto your computer you need to send them (along with a payment of $15) to DOJ so that they can “inspect” the photos to determine if the firearm is one that is capable of being registered as an “assault weapon”. If it does fall into their category of an “assault weapon”, they will then perform a second level check to ensure that the weapon was acquired prior to January 1, 2017.
Here is the issue… on January 1, 2017, if you had your weapon rigged with a bullet button then you instantly became a felon, since you were in possession of a “non-registered” assault weapon. Moreover, if you did not have your weapon system completely assembled (stripped lower only), the only way for you to register the firearm as an “assault weapon” is to build it out, install a bullet button, and start taking pictures.
This is extremely problematic.
So… let’s think about this.
It is May 21 and you want to register your gun. Your gun is currently illegal. (Remember… the bullet button is no longer “enough”.) Yet DOJ wants to see pictures of your gun with a bullet button on it.
So now you are going to take evidence photos of you committing a felony and send it to Sacramento??
Sorry… the 5th Amendment mandates that you can not be compelled to testify against yourself.
Moreover… it states explicitly in the new proposed regs that you cannot register anything other than a fully built firearm. So… if you have a stripped lower you have to build it out…. and… put a bullet button on it, which as we mentioned above is (after Jan 1) illegal.
So, DOJ is now demanding that you perform an illegal act.
They are also economically benefitting from that illegal act (remember that pesky $15 filing fee)
That means they are engaged in a criminal conspiracy.
What we need now is a brave District Attorney that is willing to go prosecute employees of DOJ!
See… gun laws can be dangerous.
So this begs the next question…. what do you do?
Freedom lost is only one generation away. You... ALL of you... are sentinels standing watch protecting our liberty. Your sacred responsibilities do not end with shaking your head in frustration.
1 Well actually that is not entirely true. The legislature envisioned that the registration process would begin on Jan 1, 2017 and last through Dec. 31, 2017. As of the date of this writing (May 24th, 2017 the ability to register your weapon is still not available.
2 Actually this is one of the main problems with SB 880, since the firearm cannot be transferred to any third parties in the State of California they value of the property has effectively been reduced to zero. For a “taking” to be legal the property holder must be compensated for their economic loss.
And then there were five…
You might remember a few weeks back, we discussed the variants between Sheriffs in California regarding the number of firearms that a CCW can put on their certificates. There are no State mandated amounts, and there is wide disparity throughout the State. Some jurisdictions limit the number of weapons a CCW holder can have on their permit to three, while others use five or six, and some jurisdictions put the number so high, that a CCW holder can virtually put their entire armory on their permit.
Some jurisdictions even allow for the CCW holder to put rifles and shotguns on their permit, but this is usually only in rural jurisdictions where ranchers use long guns for varmint control and leave their long guns easily accessible in their trucks.
Up until last week, residents of Orange County were allowed to have three firearms on their CCW. Now, to be fair, the process for adding or replacing guns has been streamlined over the years, making it pretty darn convenient for a CCW holder to put an additional weapon on their permit. Unfortunately, with the limited space for weapons, this often caused a high degree of consternation on the part of the CCW holder.
“I really want to put this new Mega Blaster 3000 on my card… but what should I give up?”
A couple of years back, OCSD had made the decision to expand the number of allowed guns to five, then at the last minute tabled the idea. We have always wondered what sort of calculation went into the decision to remain with three guns since there is clearly no dispositive evidence to suggest that five guns creates any degree of potential liability on the part of the CCW holder or the issuing department.
Well… the gears of justice may turn slowly, but they do turn.
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Towards the end of last week, we began receiving calls and emails from clients that had read on blog posts that OCSD was changing their position on the three gun policy. On Friday, we received official news from the CCW licensing unit that as of Monday they would be changing the number of firearms that a CCW holder could list.
So now… OFFICIALLY… a CCW holder with a license from Orange County Sheriff can list up to five (5) guns.
This is a major step in the right direction.
Make no mistake, the rational behind limiting the number of firearms a CCW holder can list is inherently flawed. States like Arizona, Utah and Nevada license the individual… not the weapon. Some states require that a CCW holder show proficiency with the “type” of weapon that they are going to carry… not necessarily the specific serialized pistol. As such, a CCW holder can qualify on a revolver… and carry anything that is designated as a revolver. Likewise, they can qualify on a semi-automatic, and carry any semi-automatic. (Typically most CCW holders that live in these jurisdictions will qualify on both, thus allowing them to carry pretty much anything that is available.)
This scheme is clearly superior to the arbitrariness of three (3), five (5), six (6), or 19 that currently exists in California.
That being said, whenever freedom leaks out through the cracks of the Iron Door, we must both acknowledge the advancement, and take pleasure in the fact that those that would restrict our rights, lost at least one battle… if not the war itself.
We must also give credit to OCSD for changing its policy.
Frankly, they did not have to do anything.
Most people are quite content with a maximum of three guns, and there are a great many CCW holders who only have one or two registered on their card.
As members of Class 62 went through their CCW training this last weekend, a couple of them stated that they did have additional pistols at home, but that they were completely inappropriate for CCW carry, so they had little interest in qualifying them and putting them in the additional “slots” on their permit.
To counter this thinking, I explained that one of the first things that I was going to do was to put my Ruger Vaquero on my permit.
I went to my office and retrieved my Cowboy gun from my safe.
The students laughed when they saw it.
“You are going to put that on your CCW? How in the world would you conceal that?!”
“In my range bag.”
You see, I have no interest in actually “carrying” this weapon. To be sure, it is pretty sweet looking, and I’ve seen people conceal shotguns before, (usually bad guys unfortunately), so I know that from a literal standpoint it could be done… but why?
Especially when I could just as easily carry my 1911, my Sig, or my .38 revolver.
Yet, a weapon that is on my permit creates a legal exemption for me.
The only way that I can transport a weapon from my home (or in my case my office), to the range is unloaded in a locked container, outside of my control.
Weapons that are listed on my permit are exempted from the California Penal Codes specified methods of transportation. I can have my range bag on the passenger seat, unlocked and stuffed full of my CCW guns and be completely compliant with California laws. Not so, if they are not listed on my permit.
With the Ruger now available to be listed on my card, the chances of running afoul of the law has just been reduced. That is a good thing.
So is it a good idea to have your guns listed… absolutely.
Does it make that much of a difference that for some of your firearms that you may choose to list, you have no intention of actually carrying?… nope.
While this new change may give us a practical benefit, we must acknowledge a victory… albeit a small one… but a victory none-the-less.
This week our measure of freedom expanded.
That expansion might have only been limited to two firearms… but it is an expansion regardless.
“Well Dr. Franklin, have you given us a republic or a monarchy?”
“A Republic Madam… if you can keep it.”
"Yes… If we can keep it."
Sandy returned from the NRA and brought back the workbook that was used in the National Firearms Law Seminar for me to read.
One of the entries was an excellent article by Nelson Lund, JD, Ph.D of George Mason University, Antonin Scalia Law School. It was entitled “The Right to Arms and the American Philosophy of Freedom”.
Light reading for a Friday afternoon.
(The paper in its entirety, can be found at http://report.heritage.org/fp62)
Professor Lund does an exquisite job of articulating the true meaning behind the Second Amendment and the quintessential necessity of the Second Amendment in protecting classical liberalism.
For at its core, our country has been founded on the idea of empowerment of “the self”. We eschewed collectivism repeatedly throughout the history of our young nation, from the tensions in establishing the balance of federalism, to our codification of the ideas of limited government.
Freedom has always been our paradigm. When the State has the power to provide… the State has the power to also take away. Each establishment of State power creates a zero sum game. As the power of the State ratchets up… the power of the individual necessarily is reduced.
To a collectivist, this is perfectly acceptable… since they are, (regardless of their willingness to admit it) following the political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes.
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In case you have never been introduced to Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), he is often miss-identified as a forerunner of conservatism. Just as collectivist and statist despots (see Hitler, Pol Pot, Franco, et al) have been miss-identified as conservatives.
Quite the contrary, all of the despots above… and frankly many liberals today are in reality far closer to the Hobbesian view of the necessity of an all powerful state than their conservative and libertarian colleagues.
Basically Hobbes said, that when people exist in a “State of Nature” (Jus Naturale… or without the presence of a government authority), the law of self preservation dictates all morality. More to the point.. if the act enhances the survivability of the actor, then by definition: it is morally acceptable. Regardless of the effect on others, Hobbes considered this lifestyle to be “nasty, brutish and short.”
His answer: The Leviathan. A government run by a totalitarian benevolent dictator. One where the use of violence and coercion by the ruler was perfectly acceptable since the alternative was violence on the part of everyone else.
John Locke (1632-1704), the true philosophical inspiration of the Declaration of Independence saw a fundamental flaw in Hobbes’ view. Relegating power to a centralized State that used a monopoly on violence to secure an agenda was not only contrary to the intrinsic desire for human freedom, but was based on a premise that “…..men are so foolish that they take care to avoid what mischiefs may be done them by polecats or foxes, but are content, nay think it safety, to be devoured by lions.” (John Locke, Two Treatises on Government, “Second Treatise of Government,” ed. Peter Laslett (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988) ch.4 p.93
Governments are by design oriented towards the expansion of power. Empowerment comes from a single source: The People. Thus, if the power of the government were to expand, it would be at the direct expense of the people governed.
The Second Amendment, was the singular line that could not be crossed. The Second Amendment was not enacted to allow for sport, nor subsistence hunting. The Second Amendment was crafted to recognize the fundamental humanity that the Constitution was crafted to protect.
The Second Amendment acknowledges what the Declaration of Independence articulates. “We are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” For without the Second Amendment, the right to our continued existence (ie: right to life) is jeopardized.
To be sure… not all “Conservatives” are antagonistic to collectivism. Some would use the power of the government to enshrine a social agenda that comports to their own world view.
The Founders saw this as a potential problem and sought to limit the influence of the government on the individual. Collectivists have moved away from this ideal since the early twentieth century, and as a result have established the architecture for the potential despot.
I encourage you to read the full article… “The Right to Arms and the American Philosophy of Freedom”. Understanding the philosophical underpinnings of the Second Amendment are crucial to defending it. Understanding the political philosophy that helped establish our Constitution is always essential for the true patriot.
HR 38, National Reciprocity and the Commerce Clause
One of President Trump’s campaign promises was to push through national reciprocity. The simple idea that a CCW should effectively have the same privileges, immunities and full faith and credit as a drivers license would when the owner of the permit travels between the various states.
For those that travel regularly, or even periodically this is not only beneficial, but frankly… well… expected.
If I have possession of virtually any document from the State of California, be it a drivers license a court decision, a marriage license or a tax document the governments of the various other states in the union are mandated to recognize the validity of that document.
Unless of course we are talking about a CCW. Then all bets are off.
Now gun rights advocates clearly have a concern when it comes to interstate travel, but frankly there are greater concerns when it comes to the Second Amendment.
The gem in a National Reciprocity bill is the issuance of non-resident CCWs. Specifically when it comes to our brothers and sisters that live in the certain totalitarian regimes in California, and New England.
Enter H.R. 38 introduced by Congressman Richard Hudson (R-SC)
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H.R. 38 is an interesting bit of legislation.
The bill specifies individuals that have a CCW in one state MUST be allowed to carry concealed in every other state (subject to local laws and restrictions of course). Actually, this last sentence is not entirely accurate. H.R. 38 explains that a state that has legal provisions for the issuance of a CCW must recognize the validity of the CCW that the carrier has from an other state.
So it would be wrong to call this a “National CCW”… since it merely regulates behavior between the States.
Basically, if you have a CCW in California, then Nevada must recognize it.
But what if you don’t have a CCW in California?
What if you live within the Peoples Republic of Los Angeles and your Sheriff does not feel that you are politically connected enough to have a permit to carry concealed? But, you do have a non-resident CCW from Arizona?
Well… H.R. 38 would appear to be your golden ticket.
H.R. 38 has four references to non-residents:
▪ In the preamble, it give its purpose as: “to provide a means by which nonresidents of a State whose residents may carry concealed firearms may also do so in the State.”
▪ In § (a), where it states that reciprocity applies to persons who reside in Constitutional Carry states without licenses.
▪ In § (a)(1), the bill says that it applies to States that have a concealed carry licensing regime for their own residents;
▪ In § (a)(2), stating that the bill applies to States that do not prohibit the carriage of concealed firearms by state residents for lawful purposes.
That is it.
Beyond that, there is no limiting language suggesting that the bill be narrowly interpreted to only be applicable to residents that have CCW’s from their home states.
Congressman Hudson has stated that it is the intent of the bill to allow residents of a states that have restrictive CCW issuance policies, to be given a mechanism to do an “end run” around that restrictive mechanism.
There is one little thing that gives me pause though…
Not a “deal breaker”, and frankly something that is easily correctable. But something that does need to be addressed: Congress’s authority to enact this statute.
H.R. 38 states quite clearly that the power to enact this legislation comes from the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
Congress has the power to regulate commerce between the states. This power began to be recognized as having some serious regulatory gravitas during the New Deal era. Much of Roosevelt’s regulatory scheming used the commerce clause as justification for federal empowerment. Often the intellectual gymnastics necessary to follow the logic of federal regulatory power were herculean. Farmers that had one or two cows found themselves under federal regulatory guidelines when it came to milk production. Milk that they were producing not for customers, but for their own breakfast tables. The theory was that since they were milking their own cows, they would not go to the store and buy milk that had been potentially transported via interstate commerce. Thus, their activity “effected” interstate commerce.
Even civil rights cases have been justified under the commerce clause. A hotel in Georgia that refused to rent rooms to African Americans was held to be in violation of Federal Law. They were subjected to Federal Law because a hypothetical African American traveling from Florida through Georgia might get tired and need to rent a room. Since he could not rent a room at this particular hotel it “effected” interstate commerce, inasmuch as said traveler might decide to to go on the trip in the first place.
Over the last few years, the court has begun to back away from the Commerce Clause for jurisdictional justification of federal regulation.
This would put a challenge to H.R. 38 in somewhat of a precarious position.
Would SCOTUS be more antagonistic to State laws that prohibit the exercise of the Second Amendment or another expansion of the Commerce Clause?
I’m not particularly thrilled about the intellectual justification of Interstate Commerce either.
§ 926D. (a)(b) states: …… may possess or carry a concealed handgun (other than a machine gun or destructive device) that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce…..
So… this would seem to suggest that once a firearm travels between state lines, it is “infected” forever with potential Federal Regulatory control. David Engdahl of Seattle University has called this the “‘herpes’ theory” of interstate commerce, whereby “some lingering federal power infects whatever has passed through the federal dominion.” D. Engdahl, The Necessary and Proper Clause as an Intrinsic Restraint on Federal Lawmaking Power, 22 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 107, 120 (1998).
It would be far better (in my opinion, and as I mentioned at the beginning of this blog), if this bill… which I have to tell you, I like… were amended to find its authority based on the Full Faith and Credit, or Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Constitution.
This would provide a good solid intellectual justification for Federal jurisdiction, and set this up for a less King Solomon like decision by the Supremes. They would not have to rule in favor of an expansive Commerce Clause justification to support the Second Amendment, nor would they have to sacrifice the Second to protect us from Federal overreach later on down the road based on a reinvigorated Commerce Clause.
For now H.R. 38 patiently waits in the House. If it passes, it will be quite some time before it becomes law.
Regardless… H.R. 38 may very well be the proverbial light at the end of a long dark tunnel for the residents of places like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.
The Golden State’s law-makers that serve in the Public Safety Committee met to discuss AB-306 or as it has been labeled the Public Property Protection Act. This bill, introduced by Assemblymen Ivan Gomez-Lipshitz (D- Reseda) makes it a crime (Felony) to use deadly force, or the threat of deadly force in defense of oneself or others. The philosophical underpinnings of the bill are based on the belief that people within the borders of California are in fact property of the State. Since property can be regulated, the State has chosen to regulate the interactions between peoples.
“Our people are our resources!” stated Assemblyman Gomez-Lipshitz during his opening presentation. “Too many individuals have taken it upon themselves to act as individuals.” “This needs to stop now! I cannot tell you how many times my office has informed me that one of my constituents tried to rob someone… an act that itself is nothing more than a cry for help… and the person they were trying to rob did the unthinkable… they shot my constituent! This needs to stop now!”
Heidi Washington “Aurora” Francis Snodgrass, a sociology professor at Cal State Van Nuys summed up the prevailing sentiment among the pro-306 action committee:
“There is systemic racism, sexism, economic subjugation and generally bad behavior from privileged men and womyn. (Ms. Francis insisted that the use of the “y” in “womyn” be used in her quote. We explained that our spell checker would probably auto correct and she threatened us with a law suit. Under advice of counsel we deactivated our auto-correct for this paragraph).
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“Allowing people to defend themselves means that their dependence on the State is negligible. This is antithetical to California’s Progressive Values. If everyone is property of the State, we kill two birds with one stone. We move closer to Marxist ideology while at the same time allowing the state to further a progressive agenda.”
(We pointed out that her use of the idiom “killing two birds with one stone” was a patriarchal stereotype and evoked both violent imagery as well as being “speciest”. She responded by ending the interview claiming that our push back was a “triggering event”. She has threatened us with legal action for the emotional devastation she now is claiming.”
Lauren “Snooky” Gomez, the spokesperson for Gang Protection Now, an advocacy group for minority gangs that claim unfair persecution from privileged society, and an outspoken supporter for AB-306 had this to say:
“We love this bill! Love it! With all of these doctors, lawyers, and other rich people now packing heat, the playing field is starting to level. We used to be able to feel pretty comfortable that we could do the things we needed to do to get the stuff we needed to get with little to no resistance coming from the people we needed to take them from. Now when we go about our work… there is the real possibility that we might get killed! This S@#$T has got to stop! If people are told they can’t fight back, then it makes out job a lot easier, and a lot safer. We know that the legislature is going to support this… we told them too.”
When pressed about the comment regarding the legislature Mr. Gomez explained:
“Look, we own those guys. We are their constituents, not the people that live in their districts. We provide the money, the man power, and when necessary the muscle to make sure that they stay there in their nice air conditioned halls. We might not vote… but we make sure that the people that do vote, vote the right way.”
AB-306 is expected to pass the public safety committee and head to the full Assembly for approval. Governor Brown has already signaled his willingness to sign it.
"This story is for all intents parody… all characters are fictional…. if you read this and lost your mind and spent hours googling the people in the story or the legislation then you clearly did not read to the end!"
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