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Camp San Luis Obispo
As a military officer, you become accustomed to certain courtesies and privileges when on base. When a group of JAG officers is given orders to muster at a facility that is 200 miles away for a three-day conference, the event comes with certain… well… expectations.
This was not one of those weekends.
I am writing this blog tonight from my bunk, sitting cross-legged on my rack in the barracks with a bunch of grumbling JAG lawyers all exhausted from a day of “death by power point.”
We were ordered into formation this morning at 0400, and with the exception of three 15-minute breaks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the commissary, we went all the way to 2100 before we were marched back to our home away from home.
During the time that we were poring over legal cases involving random Article 15s and, of course, the mandatory sexual harassment training, we were given the passing news that the US bombed Syria.
It would have been nice to find out a little bit more about that…. but, hey… we had no internet, and we were doing some very important Army-type stuff.
Many of you know my law partner, Cosmo… While I am a lowly Captain, Cosmo towers over me as a Major.
He once told me that, “It is the divine right of all military personnel to complain.”
I never really understood that until this weekend.
All joking aside, this conference has proven to be invaluable.
If you are not aware of the truly remarkable JAG lawyers we have in California, you should be.
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There have been a few times in my life when I have felt completely and utterly outclassed. My colleagues in my JAG unit honestly represent some of the finest legal minds in all of the United States. The brain power that this unit generates is truly staggering.
With all of these lawyers, let’s throw in a couple of Army Surgeons, two Army Psychologists, and, just to make sure the humor between the ranks stays acceptable, two Chaplains.
All training has some inherent value, and, while the whole is important, there are often nuggets of brilliance that may be overlooked.
One of these nuggets stood out enough for me to decide to write this entry. It has to do with training, and it came from a Chief Warrant Officer.
“Every day is a training day. Some days are emergency days. You can schedule training days…emergency days schedule themselves.”
This really hit home.
We spend a lot of time training. That is by design.
That is also something we can “schedule.”
We know that at 1615 we have a 4M class at Artemis.
I know that at 0745 I need to report to my JAG shop for legal training.
What I don’t know is when the bad guy is suddenly going to show up and try to kill me.
I can’t schedule that.
So I train constantly, I train consistently, and I train with purpose. At the end of the day as I go to bed, I know that I had a successful training day. Every so often I go to bed a survivor… knowing that I either survived, or avoided entirely, a violent encounter. That night I go to bed knowing I had a successful emergency day.
When we don’t have regular training days, we are not, by definition, prepared for the irregularly occurring emergency days.
Come on, i' God's name; once more toward our father's.
Good Lord, how bright and goodly shines the moon!
The moon! The sun; it is not moonlight now.
I say it is the moon that shines so bright.
I know it is the sun that shines so bright.
Now, by my mother's son, and that's myself,
It shall be moon, or star, or what I list,
Or, ere I journey to your father's house.
Go on, and fetch our horses back again.
Evermore cross'd and cross'd; nothing but cross’d!
Reality has imitated art. In Massachusetts, US District Judge William Young issued a ruling last week, in Worman et al. v. Healey, that the AR-15, the “modern musket,” is not a weapon that is protected by the Second Amendment.
Interestingly, he based a large part of his ruling on Heller v. District of Columbia.
This is where things get interesting. In his ruling he states:
“More specifically, Justice Scalia explained, ‘weapons that are most useful in military service — M-16 rifles and the like —‘ are not protected under the Second Amendment and ‘may be banned.’” (Civil Action No. 1:17-10107-WGY)
(For those of you following along at home, this is where Judge Young tells us that the sun is, in fact, the moon.)
We scratch our heads and read Heller, where Scalia actually states:
“This holding is not only consistent with, but positively suggests, that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to keep and bear arms (though only arms that ‘have some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.’)” (Heller v. District of Columbia 554 U. S. ____ (2008)
So… how did we get from “Only arms that have some reasonable relationship to the preservation and efficiency of a well-regulated militia” to “Weapons that are most useful in military service are not protected by the Second Amendment”?
They make it up.
We have been amused at the tortured logic that the anti-gun courts have used to justify prohibitions on firearms and firearms use. From the Fourth Circuit, in Kolbe v. Hogan, suggesting that the AR-15, the most ubiquitous rifle in America, was not in “common use,” to the proposal of “intermediate scrutiny” as a balancing test for laws that affect the Second Amendment.
When a fundamental right is potentially affected by a law, the “test” to determine whether that right is volitive of the Constitution is called a strict scrutiny analysis. Essentially, there must be a “compelling state interest,” and there must be no “less restrictive alternatives.” If the right being affected is not a “fundamental right,” then the State must only show a “legitimate state interest,” and the law must have a “rational basis” in achieving that interest… Anti-gun Appellate Courts, knowing that virtually nothing survives a strict scrutiny analysis, but being completely aware that a fundamental right should require strict scrutiny, came up with… on their own… a brand new “intermediate level of review”… cause, hey… why not?! Appellate Courts have elected to test the suspect law by seeing if “there is an important government interest, and the law is substantially related to achieving that interest.”
But hey, why stop there?
If the test does not get you the results you were looking for, then bypass the test completely and just completely rewrite the controlling case law!
That is what Judge Young did.
Stare decisis. Who needs stare decisis? We can use Makis it Upis!
We have a “well-regulated” legal system (to quote the Framers), and that legal system is predicated on predictable outcomes. When the outcome of a controversy…especially a controversy that is based on a fundamental right…is exclusively based on the political whims of a jurist, the social underpinnings of our legal system are shaken to their core. Without reliance that Madam Justice is blind, our society fails.
I want you to think of the color green.
Really think about it. Imagine the most perfect form of green there is. From a car, to a freshly cut lawn… yes, you can even think about money, if you would like.
Now, realize that it is entirely possible that you are the only entity who exists in this universe that perceives green the way that you do.
This same divide exists between those who espouse logic and those who rely on emotions.
A number of years ago, I watched as a group of anti-hunters held a protest outside one of our Safari Club events. (Safari Club International is a hunting organization that generates more money for habitat preservation than Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund.)
These people were triggered.
Veins were on the verge of popping as they shouted, “murderer” and “butcher” at us as we headed into our function.
What was their goal?
Did they really expect that one or two of us would stop and listen to them shouting at us, and then turn to each other and say, “Larry… do you hear that?!? They think that we are murderers! Boy, they are mad… really mad! Just look at them. Hmmm… we really should do whatever is necessary to make these good people feel more comfortable. What say we just stop hunting right here and now? You good with that?”
Of course they didn’t expect that. Their emotions were the single driving force of their actions. We could amass all of the scientific data available to show that the North American Model of Game Management did more to save species than any other policy enacted. We could explain the ethics and morality of hunting. We could even point out the hypocrisy of eating meat from a grocery store or restaurant, while being opposed to hunting. Yet, all of these arguments would have fallen on deaf ears.
They could never process what we were saying, because we were speaking two entirely different languages. Theirs was the language of emotions; ours was that of logic.
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Over the last few days, Sandy and I have replied to many Facebook and direct email messages of individuals who are appalled that we 1) Support the Second Amendment, and 2) Have the audacity to display our affiliation with the National Rifle Association.
Our responses are always measured and logic oriented.
They are met with diatribes, and invectives.
The Antis have always asked for a “dialog on common sense gun reform.” Well, this time they got one… and they have been less than pleased that their ideology is being held up to rational scrutiny.
You see, theirs is a doctrine of emotionalism. Ours, by contrast, is one of logic. True, we have our emotional side as well. Reliance on historical precedent is, by definition, an emotional argument. Both sides of this divide have attempted to wrap themselves in the cloak of history. Yet, our use of history is far more nuanced than that of our adversaries. They try to use a form of revisionist history to suggest the Second Amendment should not be interpreted as anything more than a footnote in the Constitution to protect against a federal standing army. We use history as a means of showing the philosophical underpinnings of the Second Amendment.
The Antis are also not particularly receptive to cogent responses to their queries. During one email exchange, I was told emphatically that my interlocutor was, in fact, a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. I thanked him for supporting the Constitution in its totality, and asked where then does our disagreement lie?
He responded by stating he cannot understand why I am against… you guessed it… “common sense gun reform."
I asked exactly what that meant.
He then issued a litany of proposals that were, in fact, already law.
I pointed that out, and his response was that these laws are not nation wide.
Yet, in my state they are present, and we still have gun crimes.
Well… that is because all of these “illegal” guns were coming from neighboring states where there were “lax” gun laws.
I suggested if that were true, then the aggravated assault and murder statistics should be higher per capita in these neighboring states since, by definition, gun acquisition was easier there. Yet, they are not… so the only rational inference is that the “gun laws” present in my state are either ineffectual, or perhaps actually responsible, for the increased crime.
He responded by calling me a Fascist.
Since Florida, we have been consistently frustrated by anti-gun “experts” educating us on the dangerous nature of our weapons with clearly little understanding of even the basic nomenclature of our guns. (I swear, if I hear someone say “Full Semi Auto” again, I’m going to lose it!) We have also seen the rhetoric of the Antis become completely mired in the emotive nature of persuasion. Pathos must be tempered with Logos. When the Antis rely on the collectivist infallibility, they betray the weakness of their argument. Without a logical armature, their arguments resonate only in an echo chamber.
Those who must be persuaded… the ones with the guns… are not moved by their protestations.
Over the last weekend we witnessed the March For Life… or March for a lifestyle… or was it March for Our Lives? (I wonder if Planned Parenthood was consulted first on the use of that name?)
In any event, coinciding with the demonstrations were a number of “interesting” speeches, Facebook snap shots, and one demonstrably disturbing picture.
One of the youth leaders of this putative anti-civil rights movement was interviewed and offered a profanity laced tirade displaying a paranoia bordering on potential mental illness. In his missive, he seemed to harbor a particular vindictiveness towards older generations. (Evidently “ageism” is only tangentially a suspect class. When circumstances dictate, they can conveniently be used for ginning up the crowd.) According to this youth, the root cause of our social ills is not guns, not video games, not social awkwardness, not a culture of violence… it is old people who are not capable of using Apple’s iMessage.
He also seemed miffed that he cannot control the levers of the State the way he wants. A new law in Florida mandates that students in schools have clear backpacks and ID cards.
Sac re blu! That is a violation of their 1st and 4th Amendment rights! (Well, 4th, and possibly 5th, not 1st… but since he is playing fast and loose with the Constitution anyway, whose counting?)
He and his gang are demanding that rights be taken away by the government, but is he then shocked that rights he wants to hold on to are also subject to government revocation?
Apparently, the answer is yes…
Facebook posts popped up with the authors noting: “Exercising our First Amendment Rights!” Signs were held high that said, “NRA=Terrorist Organization,” or my favorite, “Yes, we do want to take your guns!”
Think about this: With the level of vitriol thrown at us as gun owners by the Antis… with the Antis knowing we are armed, and in their mind, mentally unstable, what do you think they would be willing to do to dissenting voices if we were unarmed?
So… here is a modest proposal:
Before we talk of gun control… Before we talk of guns “being fired on full semi-automatic”… Before we talk about restricting any more of our rights… I want to do a little limiting of the 1st Amendment.
I want a federal law banning the discussion of firearms, and their use, by anyone who has not gone through a firearms training course, and showed proof of ownership of at least one handgun and one rifle.
I will be the first to tell you that I have little to no experience in animal husbandry. As such, I would be the last person in the world to seek to enact legislation that seeks to regulate, mitigate, or ultimately decimate the animal husbandry industry.
If I were so inclined to delve into the world of animal husbandry, it is not outside the possibility that I might notice certain practices or procedures that might be modified to make the practice more efficient or safe… but that would not… could not… come without extensive knowledge of the process first.
To act, without first establishing that knowledge, is an act of unilateralism.
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. once wrote “unilateralism breeds the arrogance of ignorance… and ignorance breeds bad policy.”
The Bill of Rights stands as a bulwark against the passions of the majority. When the majority seeks to use the power of democracy to switch the levers of government against a minority, they are hamstrung by the protections enumerated in the Constitution.
When the majority seeks a complete abrogation of the Bill of Rights…. we have the Second.
“How can you not be for reasonable, common sense restrictions?”
“Why does anyone need an AR-15?”
“The NRA is a bunch of domestic terrorists!”
“You right-wing Republican/Conservative a@#hole…you are the problem!”
“My child’s right to live, outstrips your desire to play with dangerous toys.”
These are some of the responses to postings that I have seen on social media in recent days. Some of them have been directed to me. (I especially liked the one that suggested that I was a Republican Conservative. For the record… I consider myself a Classical Liberal… which, in modern parlance, would mean I am a Libertarian.)
The cacophony of anti-liberty rhetoric is rising to a level that I have never seen before, and it troubles me deeply.
Last week, throughout the country, thousands of high school children left their classes to march in favor of the State taking away their Constitutional rights.
Imagine the liberal intelligencia 40 years ago clamoring against civil rights!
So… what happened? What caused this visceral emotional response to law-abiding citizens exercising a fundamental right?
There are two intellectual camps that have formed in the United States over the last 30 years. Collectivists and Individualists. Individualism… the hallmark of Classical Liberalism is completely antithetical to the tenants of Collectivism. Collectivism requires a third party, though, to force compliance.
That third party would be the State.
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There are so many intersecting theories as to how Collectivism came to be a part of our national identity. We fought wars against Collectivism. Communism and Fascism are putative enemies of each other, but they both drink from the same well. The idea is that the State has ultimate power, and that subjects of the State exist solely for the benefit of the collective. Socialism… the springboard to Communism, has, as its basic tenant, a belief that is completely antithetical to a people who fundamentally rejected all semblance of slavery.
When we enacted the Thirteenth Amendment, we codified a belief that the individual was the most dignified political construct. Individuals have exclusive power over their own economic decisions. Labor, extracted by force or the threat of force, is the ultimate usurpation of the power of the State… yet it is the single most essential tenant of the Collectivist political systems.
If I am forced to believe dogma, to provide service to others, or to provide labor or property for another, I am a slave. When it is the State that dictates these acts, I am a no longer a citizen, I am a subject.
Political theory,… especially Classical Liberalism, and the foundations in limited government are no longer part of our national lexicon. This is no wonder, since our curriculum in universities and high schools is largely devoid of anything that challenges a collectivist world view.
Even victimology is predicated on collectivist mentality.
“I am a victim,” because of my associative construct. Language must be modified and adapted so as not to offend me. For offense is the only thing that binds me to my group. As such, I demand collective guilt amongst those that I perceive have “wronged” me. Since I have no direct evidence that a specific individual has acted in a manner that has caused me harm, I must, instead, rely on the fabricated construct that the assumed belief system of those who are different from me is manufactured for the singular purpose of collective victimization.
This is the height of arrogance. But it is an arrogance born of absolute necessity.
For without the belief that there is institutionalized antagonism towards the sub-collective… there is very little to rationalize the angst necessary to sustain it.
Individualism is entirely different.
Individualism celebrates diversity of the individual. In fact, that diversity is critical to economic expansion and growth.
It also is necessary to the growth of the polity.
Hegelian growth is based on the idea of an established thesis. We all accept a social order based on this thesis. Individualism breeds individual thought. From these independent thoughts comes a challenge to the thesis. This challenge is called an antithesis. That antithesis either has merit in the whole, or in part, and from this a new thesis emerges. This action is called synthesis. This is how history moves.
When the thesis becomes petrified and refuses to accept the possibility of fallibility, history stalls. Since the thesis has taken over controls of the State, the people naturally become enslaved to statist ideology, for the protection of the social order becomes paramount. Any thought that runs contrary becomes criminal.
Firearms have always been the ultimate symbolic expression of individualism.
That is why they are so contrary to the minds of a collectivist. They must rally the power of the State to ensure that Individualism is marginalized and controlled. It really is a zero-sum game. For each time the State asserts more control over the individual, Collectivism grows and Individualism is mitigated.
The Collectivists have demanded that we capitulate (yet again), and surrender our freedoms under the guise of “common sense” reforms. We are literally spent from the last 30 years of offering up our freedoms in the name of comity.
That stops now.
It is time for the Collectivists to begin to offer up concessions to us.
They must be the ones willing to expand (or rather return) our rights to keep and bear arms first. They must be the ones to articulate which regulations can be abandoned in order to ensure that individuals are secure in their Second Amendment rights.
Let them be the ones to propose abandoning the nonsensical magazine restrictions. The idiotic cosmetic “assault weapons” ban. Let them admit that the California Roster of Handguns serves no rational basis. Let them agree to national reciprocity. Then, and only then, may we consider specifically targeted restrictions that serve a compelling state interest, and have no less restrictive alternatives.
The CEO, Dan Blankisoff, of Home Despot, the nation’s largest home improvement retailer, announced that, effective immediately, the retail giant would cease selling products that can be used to kill.
“For too long we have been a party to carnage. The Second Amendment sadly prevents the government from regulating out-of-existence firearms. The reality, though, is that most tragedies occur using the very products we sell. Nothing mandates that we sell these dangerous products, and there is no Constitutional authority that would prevent us from discontinuing their sales.
Dick’s Sporting Goods took the bold step of ceasing the sale of ‘assault rifles.’ We are taking the bolder step of removing from our shelves everything that a criminal could use to kill another person.”
When asked exactly what products would be coming off the shelves, Blankisoff looked at the reporter for seven seconds before answering.
“We have people looking into that.”
“I understand, sir, but from my own experience, literally everything you sell in your stores could be used as a weapon, from hammers, to metal pipe, to paint… Is there anything that you sell that could not be used as a weapon?”
His response was simply, “I told you, we have people looking into it.” He then turned to California State Senator Francis Xavier Garcia Snodgrass. He was recorded scolding Senator Snodgrass on the hot mike saying, “Frank, what the hell man? You told me there would not be any aggressive questions! I’m going to look like an idiot up here! This is crap, man!”
Senator Snodgrass quickly ran past Blankisoff, and took the microphone.
Speaking to reporters, Senator Snodgrass was quoted as saying, “What are you guys doing? Do I need to remind you who pays your bills? We were able to get Blankisoff to publicly come out and ride the wave of anti-gun sentiment, and come up with something that shows that he, and we, care. You have the audacity to question him on it? Who the hell do you think you are? Banning guns, or classes of guns, has much potential to stop a shooting as a restraining order has in stopping a stalker. You guys should know better. You are not allowed to judge us on whether what we are doing makes any sense… you can only judge us on our motivations. Well, our stated motivations.”
Blankisoff was seen yelling at an aid as he walked off behind the curtains.
While the press conference was underway with Senator Snodgrass and Mr. Blankisoff, legislation was also being presented on the other side of the country that would make citizens safer.
In New Jersey, Senator Sally Cortez-Lipshitz introduced legislation to allow for state product regulation of kitchen and chef retail stores.
“Every day I go to the mall, I have a panic attack,” said Senator Cortez-Lipshitz. “I walk by Sur la Table or Crate and Barrel and I feel terrified. Do you have any idea what they sell in there? They have hundreds of assault knives and weapons that are, in some instances, almost a foot long. Who needs a knife that is a foot long? Some of their pots and pans are dangerous, too. These weapons are being sold to God knows who, without any sort of government oversight. That needs to stop now!”
Jim “Big Bob” Gomez, owner of Big Bob’s Big Trucks in Austin, Texas, also announced that he would no longer sell oversized pick-up trucks to the general public.
“No one needs to own a truck, especially one capable of holding more than a thousand pounds. I’m mean, really, if you want to be a truck driver, join the Teamsters Union. Only trained professionals should have access to these weapons of destruction, and certainly no one needs anything more than a 30-inch tire.”
Jim Maddison of the Constitution Project, a controversial pro-Constitution think tank, was asked for his thoughts.
His reply was simply, “Sigh…”
Seven people are sitting around a dinner table at a restaurant.
The discussion turns to ordering. Six people are in complete agreement that they should all order the fish. One poor patron is allergic to fish and says that she will opt out and order a steak. The six look at her in disgust and explain that she MUST order the fish. She points out that since she is paying the bill separately she has the economic power to order, or not order, anything that she wants.
They decide to hold a vote to decide if she should be forced to order the fish.
As you can imagine, the vote is six to one that she must comply with their demands.
She points out that while the vote may very well have been compliant with the rules of parliament, her ability to purchase has not been mitigated. She still has the dollars in her purse, and she can spend them on literally whatever she wants at the restaurant.
That is the power of minority rights.
In ancient Greece, Plato articulated the concept of democracy… and he was not particularly thrilled about the idea. In a democracy, the majority dictates the direction of the polity… and if the majority wants to steal and kill a minority to “get their stuff,” that, theoretically, would be completely acceptable.
Our Founders also understood the downsides of democracy, and instituted a glorious solution that transcended the basic principles of a republican form of government. They fundamentally recognized minority rights. This is enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
The majority has no inherent power.
They are not a mob that can use violence to ensure societal compliance. They can only seek to control the levers of governmental power to advance their social and political agendas. Once the power of the government has been invoked, it is constricted by the Constitutional limitations set forth in the Bill of Rights.
The majority can set the course of government policy… but they can never use the government to harass or decimate a minority. This minority is expansive. It clearly includes racial minorities, but it also includes minorities of thought. Disagree with me, and I cannot use the power of the State to limit your ability to speak, or to associate, or even to arrest you.
The Bill of Rights serves as our bulwark against the passions of the mob… the majority. It has kept our Republic intact for over 200 years. It also faces one of its biggest assaults right now.
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This last week, President Trump made two extraordinarily disturbing statements. First, he suggested that due process should take place after the powers of the State had seized weapons from someone suspected of being mentally incompetent. This actually implicates multiple Amendments. First, and obviously, the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, and second, the Fifth Amendment, “… [no person should]…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
President Trump’s argument is that sometimes, well… that darn “due process” just takes too long.
Establishing probable cause, and getting a judge to grant a warrant can happen literally in seconds. Now if probable cause does not really exist, it is the check and balance of the judiciary to ensure that the executive is not becoming tyrannical.
That is the whole friggin point!
The fact that those who have been calling Trump a despot since the election are now completely comfortable allowing him to essentially ignore the Constitution and expand executive power at the direct expense of the people is both disingenuous and disgusting.
Then he dropped this little gem:
When addressing Senator Pat Toomey he said, “You are afraid of the NRA."
Afraid of the NRA?
What the hell does that mean???
The NRA is the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.
Yes… you read that right… CIVIL RIGHTS organization.
Just as the ACLU is supposed to check the powers of government when it comes to abuses of the Constitution, so does the NRA. They conveniently choose to ignore that pesky 2nd Amendment when it comes to litigation. The NRA fights on behalf of the people in ensuring that the government does not abrogate the rights of the people.
Who, that has sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, could possibly be “afraid” of an organization that has, as its charter, the mission to ensure that elected representatives do not violate their oath?
The passions of the mob are aligned against gun owners, conflating legal and illegal gun possession into a single group. The mob does not have the fortitude, nor the extended passion, to organize and begin non-governmental confiscation of firearms. They do seem to have the ear of the President and Congress though. The bulwarks against their passions are the rights granted by the Creator and codified in the Bill of Rights.
When one is abolished, all are in jeopardy.
Then tyranny wins.
A number of years ago my daughter needed to attend a Hunter Safety Class. Being the proud dad of, at the time, a seven-year-old precocious suburbanite little girl, I dutifully hauled her out to our local range where they were conducting the class. This was my third time sitting through this. The first had happened 20 years ago when I went through the program. Then again, when my older daughter, Carolyn, was about nine, and now it was Chaney’s turn. Sort of like a state-sponsored “right of passage,” if you will.
What struck me this time was a casual statement the instructor made to the class.
“You have a responsibility to the 20 not to turn the 60 against us.”
What he meant by this little missive was a rudimentary study in political demographics. Twenty percent of the population is pro-hunting. They understand the benefits of hunting, both to themselves, as well as game populations. They may have unique personal agendas… from cultural, to spiritual as to why they hunt, but collectively they form a voting block that will never support legislation that would limit a hunter’s right to pursue game.
Then there is the other 20 percent. These guys are completely antagonistic to hunting. They see no benefit to going afield, and consider hunting and hunters barbaric. While they may consider themselves reasonable, logical individuals, they have little regard for science or logic when it comes to this. To them, hunting is not morally ambiguous, it is evil and, therefore, their crusade against hunting is inherently righteous. The fact that it is grounded in emotion, rather than logic, is of little consequence.
These two groups essentially cancel out each other when it comes to voting. To be sure, full participation in an election is required of each, lest the other one gain a numerical advantage to the apathy of the other side… but for the most part, there is a static balance between the two.
Then there are the 60 percent that lie between. These are the voters that can be swayed to either side from election to election. It is these 60 percent that hold the future in their hands. The mission of both enemy camps is to shore up their own base, and then to persuade the 60 to vote for their cause.
This persuasive argument comes in two forms: Appealing to the logic of the 60… and pointing out the bad behavior and egregious acts of the opposing 20. If the other side acts unreasonably, then the 60 will logically gravitate towards the opposing 20, regardless of the merits of their overall argument. After all… who wants to associate or defend the egregious behavior of others?
This is where we are now when it comes to firearms rights.
The debate is not just about the logical right of a CCW holder to defend children in schools, or the inherent right of individuals to exercise their Second Amendment rights by buying the weapon of their choice… this has become an existential threat to the Constitution itself. For once the Second has been repealed or neutered to such a degree that it becomes ineffectual…there is nothing that prevents the tyrant from moving on to the First, the Fourth, or the Fifth. (Yes, Cosmo…even the Third could be repealed!)
This brings up something that I have been observing for quite some time when we go to the range for our live-fire shoots.
One of the things that we, as shooters,… (not just CCW holders, who are a special group which requires a unique set of standards)… need to understand is that we are literally on stage, all the time.
The 20 percent who find the idea of firearm ownership abhorrent is in a continual battle with us, and the prize is the hearts and minds of the 60.
It isn’t supposed to be this way.
The Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights, is a document that is specifically designed to protect the minority from the majority. If the majority of voters thinks that a specific race of people should not be afforded the right to vote, or engage in economic activity, or speak, or enjoy the right to counsel, their efforts to impose their will on this minority are stymied by the very document that empowers the majority to vote in the first place. The Constitution is the ultimate protector of “minority rights”… and with that comes a predictable body politic. When predictability occurs, trust is generated. Trust is not necessarily altruistic. It is just a reasonable interpretation of what will logically occur given a set of actions. Since there is trust in the polity, there can be a measure of risk incurred. Risk may take the form of voting, risk may take the form of signing a contract for employment, or the lending of money. Since the rights of the minority are sacred and protected by our core document, we can make measured decisions and rely on predictable outcomes. When we become totally dependent on the will of the masses, when the rights of the minority exist temporally based exclusively on the whims of the majority… there is no predictability and our society, our economy, both cease to exist.
The truly scary part is that we now have a clarion call to repeal or ignore sections of the Constitution for the singular benefit of the 20 that find the idea of personal firearm ownership, and use of firearms, antiquated at best… antisocial at worst. They are prepared to destroy the foundations of our Republic in order to achieve the emotive goal.
And some of us have aided them.
There are evil individuals who have taken up arms against their fellow citizens and students. They are the friends of the anti-gunners.
Whether their motivation was political, retributive, religious… or just because they are insane, makes little difference. The beneficiaries of their actions are those antagonistic to the Second.
Just as Daniel Boone, Davy Crocket, Annie Oakley, Audie Murphy, and Chris Kyle serve as models and inspiration for our side of the pro-2A 20 percent… so do the monsters at Columbine, at the Pulse Night Club, Aurora, and now a school in Florida serve as evil icons for the antis.
That leaves the question of where do you stand?
I told our CCW class this last weekend that things have changed. When you are at the range and you are training, what do you look like?
Think about that question for a second.
What do you look like?
Are you polished? Are your weapon manipulations honed? Do you look terrified to be holding a gun? Do you look ridiculous holding a gun? Are you following range rules as though they were inspired by Divine Providence? Are you polite? Are you competent?
Here is the big question…. If you could look at yourself in the third person and watch your actions, your attention to safety, your marksmanship, your skill sets… would you be comfortable allowing someone that looks and acts like you being the guardian of the Thin Red, White and Blue line that exists between your child and oblivion?
The 20 percent that would seek to empower the tyrants by disarming the citizens are clear in their message to the 60…”The other 20 cannot be trusted!”
What do we show them when we are at the range?
Do we show them, and all who watch, the sheer fallacy of the message… or do we confirm it?
You must assume, at any moment there is a news crew from the legacy media at the range videotaping and hoping for a disaster. If not a news crew, then a kid with a cell phone will do just fine.
“You say that teachers who have CCWs should be allowed to carry on campus… Well, let’s just show you and the audience this video footage of CCW holders training at the range. This was filmed last Sunday… Bob… roll the tape.”
25 million people are now treated to the spectacle of civilians imitating the Keystone Cops, and one having a negligent discharge into the ground.
You think that might have an effect on the 60?
Second Amendment supporters are a massively egalitarian bunch. We are also, contrary to the other 20 percent, the most inviting. We yearn to bring more into our community. We are successful, too… which makes the antis that much more nervous.
Check yourself. Be active, train constantly, train consistently, and train with purpose… but always know that, while you are training, you are being watched. We are not just in a fight for the hearts and minds of the 60 percent… we are potentially seeing an existential threat to our Republic. With the highest standard of professionalism, patriotism, and dedication, recognize our new reality, and act accordingly.
A bomb goes off in Israel; hundreds are injured and killed. A rabbi solemnly walks to the microphone and reminds his country's people that evil exists in the world, and resistance to evil means not succumbing to it.
The next day people go on about their lives.
Each day people are killed or injured throughout the world due to the reckless actions of those that become inebriated, and then get behind the wheel of a vehicle. We scorn them, we prosecute them, but we don’t abandon our vehicles, for to do so, would fundamentally alter our way of life as a result of the actions of a minority.
Each day throughout our country defendants are let out of courtrooms as free people. Not that they did not commit the crime, but rather the actions of the State in collecting evidence violated their Fourth Amendment rights…. yet we seldom engage in a debate to abrogate the Fourth, and allow unfettered police powers.
The First Amendment kills.
It kills both as a result of speech and religion. From the Branch Davidians, to Jones Town, to those poor souls waiting for salvation from Hale Bop, to even the desperate soul seeking spiritual salvation as a means of curing a terminal disease through the medium of a big-haired televangelist.
Yet, we do not cry in mass for repeal of the First Amendment.
The Bill of Rights can be abused. It happens all the time. But these foundational principles of the nature of humanity, and the rights infused from our Creator, cannot be revoked through legislative fiat… regardless of how popular it might be to do so at any given time.
This last week we saw, again, evil manifest.
This time Loki touched the mind of a monster in Florida, and children died as a result.
These children were, by law, required to be in a confined space without the adequate protection necessary to be protected from a foreseeable act. A great debate has ensued since Newtown as to whether teachers should be armed. There are many that feel the mere presence… even the potential presence… of a gun in a classroom is too traumatizing for a student, or parent, to bear. Reluctantly, they acquiesce to the presence of school resource officers… but even they are limited in numbers, and their effectiveness is put into question.
It is sad, but standard fair. When these tragedies occur, the Antis immediately talk about “common sense gun control.” This usually means an outright banning of the AR-15 and standard capacity magazines…. as though this has any bearing on the evil manifest in the heart of the murderer.
Senator Bill Nelson (D) from Florida was interviewed the night of the event, and was boasting about his Second Amendment credentials. “I’ve been a hunter all my life… I own guns… but an AR-15 shoots high caliber ammunition from a high caliber clip! Senator Feinstein and I tried to get these things banned, but were unsuccessful… we need to revisit this… no one needs a weapon whose sole function is to kill hundreds of people.”
What the hell?!?!
Senator Nelson’s protestations aside… No one who is a law-abiding citizen needs the protection of the Fourth Amendment. No one who is not a member of a cult needs the protections of the First Amendment. And let’s be frank…. who really needs that pesky antiquated Third Amendment thing anyhow? (Sorry, Cosmo… I know you feel that the purpose of the Third Amendment was to avoid placing an agent of the State in someone’s home… someone that could enforce the rules of the Crown against the Colonists… In modern day, this might very well take the form of wire-tapping, or warrantless monitoring… but come on… if you have nothing to hide… who should be concerned?)
The point is… and it is the most germane point… what the hell has happened since the 1970s?
We have had weapons that expend projectiles through the use of gunpowder for over 500 years. We have had weapons that were capable of repeated fire as early as the Revolutionary War, and in mass production since the late 1800s. Children… (yes, children) could order a gun from the Sears and Roebuck catalog right up to the 1950s… yet, there were no mass shootings.
Our first mass shooting occurred in the early 1970s just a few years after the 1968 gun control act. After that event… well, all bets were off.
To deny that something is “happening” out there would be folly. Something clearly is… but, what is it?
Colonel Dave Grossman puts this squarely on violent video games, which he describes as a toxic training tool that desensitizes youths towards violence, and makes violence the goal.
Perhaps… Not all players of video games become school shooters… but all school shooters played violent video games.
Modern pharmacology may also play a role.
More people are under the influence of behavior-controlling drugs than at anytime in human history.
What is not at issue is the tool used by the assailants. As we have seen repeatedly now through the use of vehicles, knives and acid… when there is a will to create carnage, there is a way.
So let’s ban guns. Let’s tear out the Second Amendment. Is that too draconian? Then let’s limit it to only the guns that were in service at the time of ratification… (no wait, they had a repeating rifle way back then, too). Ok… let’s specifically ban semi-automatic rifles, as “they have no practical value for self defense.” (Let’s just pretend that the church shooting in Texas never happened, ok?)
What is to prevent a murderer from going to Home Depot and making a gun from scratch… it ain’t that hard, folks.
Well…. we will make that action illegal!
Isn’t murder already illegal?
Alvin Doe et al. v. Becerra
“Many a mickle makes a muckle.”
For those of you who are familiar with 18th century idioms…. (you have an odd hobby).
Those of you who watched the excellent series, Turn: Washington’s Spies, might have heard George Washington utter this phrase. Basically, a lot of little things make a big thing.
Such is often the case in the cause of freedom.
The California Court of Appeal, Third District, just issued a smack down to the State… specifically the California Department of Justice… in the case of Alvin Doe et al. v. Becerra.
While this case will probably not directly affect the majority of you, it does have potentially further reaching implications.
Those of you who want to read the actual decision can access it here:
Here is what the case boils down to:
California has a rule that says you cannot acquire more than one handgun in a 30-day period of time. There are, however, exemptions to that rule; private party transfers are one such exemption with which many of you may be familiar. One of the other exemptions states that if you have a FFL and a COE (Certificate of Eligibility), you are exempt for the 30-day rule.
So… back in 2014 Mr. Doe (and friends), who happen to have Curio and Relic FFLs, and held valid COEs, asked the DOJ, “Hey… we are exempt from that whole 30-day thing right?”
The DOJ replied by saying, “Ummmm… no… you are not exempt.”
The plaintiffs replied, “Huh?!? We are FFLs!”
“Yes, but you are Curio and Relic FFLs.”
“So, you are only licensed for the collection of curios and relics.”
“Can you point us to the applicable law that you are referencing?”
“I don’t need to. I am the State Attorney General, and I get to make this @#$@ up as I go along!”
Well, the Court of Appeals disagreed with the State Attorney General.
One of the two important aspects in this decision involved the following phrase:
In fact, the literal interpretation of the licensed collector exemption, when read in conjunction with the applicable federal law, appears to be that despite the limited utility of the collector’s license during the purchase of a regular handgun, the purchaser remains “licensed” as a collector under federal law. Stated differently, while the license does not apply to a transaction that does not involve a curio or relic, the license is not invalidated by such a transaction. (27 C.F.R.
Basically, once you have a license, you have a license. Even if the underlying transaction does not implicate the license, it does not mean that the license suddenly went away. If there are benefits to being a licensee, they still apply to you.
Second was this little gem:
As to this particular question of statutory interpretation, there is no reason to believe the Bureau of Firearms has ‘a comparative interpretive advantage over the courts.’ (Yamaha Corp. of America v. State Bd. of Equalization (1998) 19 Cal.4th 1, 12)
Boom! Mic drop!
This was the court basically telling the DOJ to cut the crap when it comes to statutory interpretation. Essentially the DOJ had said that since the statutory language was “unambiguous and not open to interpretation,” there was no need to engage in any mandatory Office of Administrative Law procedures. (Administrative law procedures are public processes that allow for the development of administrative procedures that an executive agency uses to enforce statutory law crafted by the Legislature.)
The court disagreed, and basically said that the language is complicated and potentially contradictory…. they blew it when they decided to just move forward and create a policy without going through the proper procedure.
So… does this create any real opportunities for the Subjects of the Crown in California?
Yet, whenever the arbitrary and capricious power of the State is curtailed, we sit back and smile, and raise our glasses in a toast for freedom.
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