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Ladies of the night….
No wait! That’s wrong!
Yes… that is better.
Last Thursday, we had Ladies’ Night at Artemis. Typically during Ladies Night… I set myself up at the front desk and stay put until our clients go into the lab. Each month, we have a different themed lecture and different speakers. I usually stay out of the mix.
March was different. Stacie, who runs our Ladies Night program had asked me to be the “guest” lecturer for this month with a focus on Situational Awareness… The dynamics of the threat cycle and… if I wanted, a little law and philosophy, because… hey… its me.
My impressions (of Ladies’ Night) were not what I expected them to be. Many of the women that come to this program are regulars, and as such, I already had a fair amount of knowledge of their personalities. There were a number of newcomers though… Some had husbands that train at Artemis… or are wives and daughters of law enforcement officers… others, like the mother and daughter duo… found us on the internet and thought “Ladies Night” would be a good way to introduce themselves to us.
Of the women that I know in the program, I would consider them all to be strong and independent. Those that train with us regularly have a high level of gun handling skills and understand the basic fundamentals of use of force philosophy. Some of them… are CCW holders and as such feel a deep responsibility to continuously train.
I hope that my audience found my lecture interesting and intellectually stimulating. They did ask some very pertinent questions and I am proud to report no one fell asleep during the presentation.
In the lab however, we all became students.
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Those that had little to no gun handling experience started at square one and progressed nicely. They had drilled into them the importance of gun safety, muzzle discipline and began the process of becoming defensive shooters.
Towards the end of the night, our new guests made their way over to the 300 where I was putting clients through use of force scenarios and doing fairly extensive debriefs.
Two of the women and their actions stood out.
Both of these women, I would consider to be “strong”.
They have a good sense of self and are naturally protective of others. Under a high stress event though, they did the unthinkable…. they failed to act. They did absolutely nothing… they FROZE.
All agreed… that had these women been protecting their children… their actions would have probably been different… but since they alone were the potential victims, they were far more submissive.
Understandable… but unacceptable!
Each of these women have loved ones that absolutely depend on their continuous existence. Emotional, spiritual, psychological, and sometimes economic support are provided by the presence of these women…. were they to suddenly leave this world, the psychological trauma left by their passing would be for many of their loved ones, insurmountable.
Moreover, we as creatures inherently understand that in a world of uncertainties… sometimes, tragedy occurs. We hurt… but we can deal with falling trees and hurricanes. Monsters that attack our loved ones… well that is something entirely different.
A child will never recover from the fact that their mother was murdered. The psychic scar will alter forever the course of their life.
We all must be prepared to act. There are loved ones that count on us coming home. If we fail to act we are most assuredly putting them in harms way.
You have value.
That value is transcendent. That value must be defended against tyranny. There are simply too many people who desperately need you to survive. Forsaking their needs for the benefit of the attacker is, in my opinion an immoral decision.
You must train… know your strengths… know your weaknesses… and most of all develop the willingness to survive.
Outside of the Comfort Zone
In everyone’s life, there are times that demand the expansion of known operational zones.
Sometimes these are mandated by circumstances… others, strictly by desire. Regardless, growth, empowerment, understanding comes from actually “doing” rather than simple passive education.
Depending on our clients, our business is often based on this principle. Many individuals come to us with limited to no weapons training. Some are terrified about the prospect of actually shooting a gun… others, are terrified subconsciously about the potential of realization that their skills do not necessarily match the ideas of competency that they imagine they already possess.
Our goal is always to push past that and to achieve real learning and ultimately… mastery.
Sandy and I along with our daughters had the opportunity this past weekend to become students to something that was very foreign to us… thus… having us experience the same level of trepidation that many of our clients go through.
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Growing up, I had always wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle. This was based exclusively on a singular interest: They look cool!
My arguments had no utilitarian values. Cheaper gas, quicker drive times, faster speeds… these were irrelevant to me. Motorcycles simply looked bad ass… and I wanted one.
Unfortunately, there was an insurmountable obstacle that prevented me from learning:
There were certain rules in our home. Generally, these rules had some degree of flexibility that allowed them to be tailored to specific situations, but there was one that was carved in stone inspired from Divine Providence. NO MOTORCYCLES. The mere act of taking a class would have violated this fundamental principle since the class would have necessitated riding one at some point.
Upon marriage, my mother transferred her angst of motor bikes to my wife Sandy.
Oh, there was one point a few years ago where the power of my logic almost overcame the arguments against “the bike”.
While Sandy and I were coming home from somewhere with the kids in the back seat, I pushed and pushed the idea that we should at least “know” how to ride a motorcycle. This appeal towards education was having the desired effect. I could see Sandy’s internal gears turning and the possibility was beginning to exist… that I might actually change her mind. Then the cars ahead slowed down and we crawled past an accident scene.
A motorcycle vs. a car.
The results of the combat resulted in a fatality.
Sandy watched as we rolled by the carnage.
“Get your mom to agree to you learning how to ride and then we will talk about.”
Then something changed…
A few months back, without any prompting. Sandy came to me and suggested that both us and the girls should know how to operate a motorbike. Specifically an off road bike. Her arguments were sound… the same arguments I had used in the past: Lack of knowledge in a critical time could result in our demise.
At that same time, our eldest put on her Christmas wish list… “motorcycle riding lessons”… when it comes to education and training, Sandy is totally open to it. So this past Christmas, Santa not only gave our eldest the lesson, Santa gave us ALL riding lessons. The next step was looking for quality training and after discussions with our member Aaron Cress and David Langford (both team members of Kawasaki at the Corporate level)… a plan was set. They were going to personally teach us how to ride.
As we arrived at the muster point off Stoddard Wells Road in the High Desert, I was nervous. The kids and Sandy seemed perfectly fine, but I was scared.
I’m not sure if the fear was based around the precepts that my mother had instilled over these many years, or simply not having the skills to actually ride these things… but to argue that there was no trepidation on my part would have been wrong.
Aaron and David got the bikes ready and began to explain the clutch and the gear select.
When I was a kid learning how to drive a stick shift, I had my dad in the passenger seat next to me. There are no passenger seats on a bike. I was going to have to take all this information in and then go with it on my own. As soon as I got the bike into first I would be flying solo.
I was also worried about my kids and Sandy.
If I was this nervous, how were they?
I slowly increased the throttle and let out the clutch.
Ok… I think I get the concept.
I tried it again… This time to my shock I found myself moving. Yes… actually moving! Well.. in first gear and probably at about 10 miles an hour… but moving none the less.
Since we were on a clear expanse of land and I could hear the engine straining, I pulled in the clutch, lifted up the gear select to second gear and released the clutch again.
HA! it worked!
Well… if that worked, let’s try third gear.
I could see that Sandy and the kids were enjoying the same rate of success that I was as well.
Within 30 minutes… we were taking the bikes on dessert trails.
Sure, there were a few stalls. Dumped the bike a couple of times too. But these were minor set backs… not catastrophic failures.
By the end of the day, we noticed that we were sore and tired, but unbelievably satisfied.
We all had a blast!
Sandy and I had something else though: The knowledge that “if we ever NEEDED to get on a bike and go, we could and so could our kids”.
One of our clients years ago witnessed a horrible home invasion robbery. One that easily could have resulted in the death of his son. During that event, one of the criminals dropped a Beretta 92FS.
Our client, who had no knowledge of guns was afraid to pick it up.
Guns scared him… and the Beretta has a “complicated” look to it. He had no idea how to operate it. His response was to freeze.
After that event, he came to us and asked us to teach him how to shoot. He was not convinced he would ever buy a gun, but he knew he needed to know how to operate one.
I am fairly convinced that we are going to end up acquiring bikes here in the near future… maybe not a cruiser at this time, but one for emergency purposes… after all, I still have to obtain the approval of my mother before we move on… once we acquire them… we will need to head out and practice with them some more… not a problem… they are simply too much fun not to do so.
They do have an obvious utilitarian value. Knowing how to operate one is the ultimate point.
By Steven Lieberman
There are true Masters of Skill at Arms.
Individuals that embody the quiet professionalism of a warrior that peacefully walks among us. Those that exude a quiet confidence and athletic perfectionism that instantly comes to play when they have a weapon in hand.
They are our goal.
Through dedicated practice, countless repetition, and diligent study, we endeavor to match our abilities to theirs.
Then there are those that are are… well…. shall we say “content” to simply be licensed to carry a firearm.
It is the latter that has always given me the greatest concern and consternation. They also occasionally find their way into our CCW renewal classes.
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This last weekend, we had one such client.
As Sandy was checking students in at the fumble table… John V, playing the ever watchful range master yelled back to inform her that a student was playing with a firearm while in line. This egregious violation was quickly handled by Sandy in her typical professional yet stern manner.
The client had three guns for his CCW. All, older models and small caliber. .25 to be specific. He had not gone through our initial CCW training, but had seen that we had a class this last weekend, and that fit in with his need for a four hour renewal certification.
He was sent up on the line to qualify his guns.
A few minutes went by… while Sandy and I were checking in the other shooters, I looked up to see Michael, one of our instructors heading back towards us with a weapon in hand pointed towards the ground,
This has happened before.
Typically, this means that a client’s gun has suffered a severe malfunction that requires armorer’s tools to repair or we need to make a determination that the gun is beyond our means of field service and needs to be taken to a gunsmith.
“His gun went down while he was shooting. He claims that the the round went off but the casing failed to eject. Now this thing is completely sized up, and I can’t get it to release.” “By the way… we are going to have to really watch this guy. His gun handling is marginal at best.”
I took a look at his firearm. The slide would not budge, and the empty casing only seemed to be part of the problem. This was definitely something that would have to be worked out with a gunsmith. There was no way that I was going to let this firearm pass today’s qualification shoot.
“Yeah… This gun is done for today. I’ll tell the shooter what he is going to have to do to get it back onto his certificate.”
As Michael and I walked back towards the line, we saw John… one of our other instructors intently staring at the shooter in question as he cracked rounds off on one of his other guns.
Suddenly, John moved forward toward the instructor with concerned speed.
“Finger! Finger! Finger!”
Now concerned and only about five feet from the shooter, I watched as he negligently discharged a round into the ground about four feet in front of him.
The shooter did not seem to care.
Both John and I put our hands on the shooter and told him to cease fire.
Confused, he complied and put his gun down on the table… though it took repeated demands for him to do so.
I told the shooter to come off the line and follow me.
Once out of ear shot of the other shooters, I informed him that he was being disqualified from the class due to egregious safety violations. He began to protest, saying that he did not discharge the weapon.
I told him he did. Both John and I saw it, and the fact that he did not acknowledge it made it that much clearer to me that we could no way in good conscience issue him a certificate.
I instructed him to take some additional courses with us that focus on safe gun handling, and get the broken handgun repaired. Once it was repaired we would be happy to reevaluate him.
I asked him how often he shot these guns.
His response did not surprise me:
“During the last qualification shoot two years ago.”
This is completely unacceptable. If you are going to engage in an activity that has a foreseeable harm as a result of that activity… you have a duty to mitigate that foreseeable harm. Walking around in public with a gun comes with a pretty clear foreseeable harm… the only way that harm can be mitigated is with constant, consistent repetitive practice. Firing your gun once every two years in my opinion is a breach of that duty.
There is simply no excuse. Training opportunities are simply too available for today's CCW holders to claim that they “don’t have the time to practice.”
Failure to practice is a conscience decision… and one that exposes all of us to potentially catastrophic harm.
With RIGHTS, Come RESPONSIBILITIES! Start training now!
A while ago we wrote about the case of Kolbe v. Hogan. This involved Maryland’s ban on AR-15 and similar semi automatic rifles. The case was brought before a district court and ultimately made its way to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Recently, they released a decision that: like their brothers and sisters on the 9th Circuit in many of their decisions, eschews the Constitution and the directives of the Supreme Court in favor of a policy based outcome, rather than good jurisprudence.
In other words… the 4th Circuit has engaged in the time honored tradition of engaging in “MSU”… (Making S@#%T Up)
The late Justice Scalia recognized the Second Amendment of the Constitution as a core fundamental right in the case of Heller v. District of Columbia, (later clarified as applicable to the states in McDonald v. Chicago). Recognizing the Second as a fundamental right implicated the 14th Amendment and as such prohibited States from enacting statutes or ordinances that touched upon the Second Amendment, unless the needs of the State were balanced against the needs of the people through a virtually insurmountable balancing test.
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This test is referred to as “strict scrutiny”. Essentially a fundamental right, like all fundamental rights, (ie: speech, freedom of religion, due process, etc.) can only be limited if there is a “compelling State interest, and there are no less restrictive alternatives that can be applied to achieve that compelling State interest. As a general matter of form, there are always “less restrictive alternatives”… and as a result, the vast majority of statutes that implicate a fundamental right fail when tested against a “strict scrutiny” analysis.
If on the other hand, a right is deemed to not be a “fundamental right” a lower standard of review is called for. Here the statute in question will be upheld as Constitutional if the law is “rationally related to a legitimate government purpose”.
In Heller, Justice Breyer issued a dissent. In his dissent, he suggested that the Second Amendment… well, it might be a “right”… but hey,….guns are kinda dangerous (and scary)…and the desires of the State… well, they need to be really considered a little bit more than that pesky desire to err on the side of freedom. To ensure that the anti gun crowd would be able to continue to promulgate regulations of guns, he suggested an “intermediate level of review” for statutes that implicate the Second Amendment. His proposed idea was that if there was a “significant government interest, and the regulation was substantially related to that interest” the court should err on the side of the State and uphold that statute.
Here is the thing… Justice Breyer’s dissent has no force of law!
It is a: “Gee… if I only had four other justices that agreed with me, I could have foisted this on the American people thing, but I didn’t… so what the hell… this is what I would have done.”
Naturally, courts like the 4th and the 9th have decided to essentially ignore the directives of the Supreme Court under Heller and actually adopt the intermediate level of review test established by Justice Breyer.
What the hell?!?!
Imagine, if this was not a Second Amendment question and instead involved a statue that implicated the First Amendment.
If a dissenting conservative justice were to suggest that freedom of religion, while acknowledged as a core fundamental right, should be tested under Justice Breyer’s intermediate level of review, and lower courts ignored the majority opinion that the First Amendment was sacrosanct and required a strict scrutiny analysis… instead, adopting the dissenting justices policy, there would be riots in the street!
Not so with the battered and abused Second Amendment.
Justice Thomas finally issued a smack down Jackson v. San Francisco.
Jackson appealed to the Supremes and was ultimately denied Certiorari (essentially the court deferred to the lower court and refused to hear the case). Justice Thomas was less than pleased with his court’s decision not to hear the case. In a dissent to the granting of Cert., Justice Thomas essentially said “why the hell are these lower courts ignoring us in our clear directive to use strict scrutiny and instead using that whole “intermediate level” nonsense?
He also quoted a line from the original Heller that bears repeating: “A Constitutional Right subject to future judges’ assessments of its usefulness is no Constitutional guarantee at all.”
So, that brings us back to Kolbe.
Evidentially, the court decided not to listen to Justice Thomas’ admonition. They went ahead and instead tested the statute banning the AR-15 against an intermediate level of review. From their decision, it is clear that jurisprudence was not at the forefront of their decision. Making sure anti-gun policy was upheld in their view was far more important.
Years ago, a teacher friend of mine was ecstatic that Barrack Obama had been elected President. He was excited about the possibilities that now existed to “move this country in a more progressive direction.”
I asked him what he meant by that, and he started listing off potential government programs that could be created or expanded to develop his utopia that he dreamt of.
I explained that his ideas were dangerous.
Not the gravamen of his desires. I disagreed with what he wanted to do from a policy standpoint, but what really concerned me was the governmental and legal architecture that would have to be put in place to create the utopia he dreamt of.
“What happens when you have built all these pathways to government control, pathways that by their very definition limit the freedom of the individual, and suddenly.. years from now…you have a government in place that is despotic. Or, as the case may be… a government that rejects the progressivism you have developed and sought to use the established architecture for their own agenda? An agenda that by definition is antithetical towards yours?
His response was less than thoughtful. He believed that the glories of the new regime would make anything but progressivism impossible for the American people to accept forever more.
Well… we saw how that turned out.
This is the same problem with policy driven legal decisions. Justice Holmes once famously stated “Hard cases make bad law”.
What he was referring to were cases that tugged on the emotional strings of justices, or cases where individual judicial prejudices had to be ruled against to ensure logical consistency of juris prudence.
While the Justices of the 4th Circuit might have achieved their policy goals… the damage they have done to the Constitution is paramount.
Perhaps, Justice Thomas might soon be able to admonish the lower courts again.
There are times that warrant the specific mention of individuals for standing up for freedom.
This time, believe it or not…one of them is a politician.
In this blog I would like to call your attention to Melissa Melendez R- Lake Elsinore, Chuck Michel and our good friends at the California Rifle and Pistol Association.
Assembly Woman Melendez has introduced AB-757.
Assemblywoman Melendez deserves all the acolytes she has received from the gun community for stating the obvious: A citizen suffering an existential threat must have the ability to preserve their own life. A government… in this case a sheriff… must acknowledge that someone who articulates a desire to carry a firearm in light of this existential threat has shown sufficient “good cause”.
AB-757 would rationalize our States patchwork of pro and anti freedom jurisdictions and essentially instruct all sheriffs that if an individual is legally allowed to own a gun, and articulates that they would like to have a CCW under a “general interest in self defense” theory the sheriff must accommodate them.
Essentially, this would put into codified law the original ruling under the 9th circuit three judge panel in Peruta v. San Diego.
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Will her bill get enough votes to pass, make it through the Senate, and get a signature from the Governor?
Yet, stranger things have happened. None-the-less, Assemblywoman Melendez has done something for gun owners we rarely see in the legislature… she has gone on offense.
Those of us that cherish freedom have watched as our guardians stood at their posts and fought back against the marshaled forces of tyranny. Yet, the onslaught has always been too great. We have relied on beliefs that “These laws are clearly Unconstitutional”… “Surely the courts will overturn them?”… and sadly… “well, I don’t own those types of guns… this really isn’t my fight.”
The California Rifle and Pistol Association, and the great Civil Rights Lawyer Chuck Michel have pushed to counter-attack time and time again. Yet, for every victory in the court room, there are more restrictive laws cooked up in Sacramento.
From challenging each of the egregious gun regulations promulgated by the California State Legislature, to demanding withdrawals of onerous administrative regulations attempted by the California Dept. of Justice, Chuck Michel and the brilliant attorneys at his firm have fought the battle for freedom with their keyboards, printers and intellect.
Yet, as each of these groups and individuals stand to fight for you they cannot do so with your support both financial and emotional. Call Assembly Member Melendez (951) 894-1232 and let her and her staff know that you support AB-757. (While you are at it… contact your own representative and let them know you want them to give their full support to AB-757 as well.
Then go to the California Rifle and Pistol Association website and become a member. (www.crpa.org) Then do something more…. get involved. For you… and you alone are the defense against tyranny.
Edmund Burke articulated it perfectly: that for evil to flourish it simply takes good men to do nothing.
Doing “nothing” as freedom is assaulted by the very institutions that are formulated to protect it is simply not an option.
The DOJ Withdrawl
Last year the California Legislature passed a series of laws regarding firearms. One of those laws dealt with the classification of an “Assault Weapon”. SB 880 states that a semi-automatic firearm with a detachable magazine, and one or more “evil features”… (a pistol grip, a flash suppressor, a collapsable stock, etc.)… are “assault rifles”.
This definition does not alter the already established definition of an “assault rifle”. Prior to Jan 1, 2017 many California rifle owners used a product called a “bullet button” to “fix” the magazine in place. (Remember… the definition only becomes actionable if it is determined that the magazine is not “fixed” in place). “Fixed in place” became a legal term of art indicating that the magazine could “only be removed with a tool.” The makers of the ubiquitous Bullet Button developed a product that replaced a traditional magazine release. To remove the magazine, the shooter needs to insert a punch tool into a hole in the magazine release mechanism. The hole is big enough for a .556 round to also be used. Hence the ability to change magazines and be legally compliant.
SB 880’s big contribution to the California legal landscape is that they said that the “bullet button” is no longer recognized as a legitimate method for keeping the rifle from being designated as an “assault weapon.” Now… according to the legislature… the only way for a magazine to be “fixed in place” is that the action of the rifle must be “cracked” or “hinged” open prior to the magazine being released.
They also said that if an individual legally owns a semi-automatic rifle prior to Jan 1, 2017, they can opt to register it with the State and have it recognized as an “assault rifle”. (They have from Jan 1- Dec. 31 2017 to do this)
Pursuant to this new set of laws, on December 29th, the California Dept. of Justice filed a set of Administrative laws to establish the regulations necessary to implement SB 880.
Apparently the California Justice Department did not feel that the legislators had gone far enough when it came to “assault rifles”. They decided it was within their prerogative to essentially craft new legislation.
One of the more interesting things they came up with was an entirely new category of “assault weapons.”
In their regulations they sate that the only weapons that can be registered with the state of California are fully completed weapons. (I have no idea where this one comes from. The 9th Circuit has already stated that virtually every component of a firearm is not really a firearm and thus potentially regulated by the State. Now the State is saying that the only thing that makes a firearm a firearm is a fully completed an assembled weapon. It can’t be both kids.)
They also state in their regulations, that you need to photograph the completed rifle, electronically send it to Sacramento, and then they will designate it as an “assault weapon”…
with a catch…
It must keep the “bullet button” in place.
Huh? The only purpose of the “bullet button” was to keep it from being designated as an assault rifle. Now the only way it can be an “assault rifle” is to have a bullet button?!?!
So… from this we glean that DOJ unilaterally developed two types of “assault rifles.” One is the traditional definition that the legislature articulated… the second being “bullet button assault rifles.”
Here is the more interesting part: The methodology for for registering the rifle requires you to photograph it.
Remember I said that as of Jan 1 the “bullet button” no longer would be sufficient to keep the rifle from being designated as an “assault rifle”? Well… according to the DOJ admin regs, they wanted you to get out your rifle…with your “bullet button” installed on it… photograph it and send the photos to Sacramento. Then they would “approve” it as an “assault rifle” and you would need to keep it in that exact configuration…
Ok.. couple of things.
First… where in the law does it state that a registered lower needs to be completed for a form of registration? If registration were contemplated at different levels of construction then why not articulate that? If the lower alone is not an “assault weapon” then why create restrictions on transference between parties?
Second… remember that whole photograph thing?
So let’s say you want to register your “bullet button assault rifle”. You grab it out of the safe and go to work snapping pics on your Iphone. What you are really doing is recording visual evidence of a crime. You see… if that photo was taken after January 1 then by definition the gun sitting there on your kitchen table with a “bullet button” is an unregistered “assault weapon”. The only way to become legally compliant would be to take a picture of yourself committing a crime, send that information to DOJ, and then you get your permission slip. Forgetting a Fifth Amendment violation… why would a governmental agency demand that you commit a crime first in order to be essentially given an exemption from committing it in the future?
Well… regardless of the idiocy, on Friday the 10th of February, DOJ withdrew their administrative policies.
Now, many are seeing this as a great victory… and to be fair, it may be,….but right now we just don’t know. They may be been given some “legal advice” showing them the moronic nature of their regs, and the fact that they would clearly be challenged in court, and ultimately have them overturned.
They may have something even more onerous, and difficult to challenge waiting to be filled. We should know soon enough.
Regardless…. as of today there is currently no methodology for registering your rifle. The only “legal” rifles in California are featureless, Break Action (Bullet Button 2.0 or variant) or truly permanently fixed magazines.
We will keep you up to speed as things develop.
“The Constitution does not protect aliens… it protects American Citizens wherever they are in the world.”
I heard this missive from a federal judge on the radio while driving into work the other day. The issue they were discussing was the President’s executive order to create “extreme vetting” of travelers and immigrants arriving from “suspect” countries. The question to the judge was weather or not such measures were unconstitutional.
I don’t believe they are… but I also fundamentally disagree with the good judges analysis.
The Constitution does not simply protect Americans… it is… it must be… far more transcendent than that.
The Constitution was drafted with two goals in mind. 1) To enumerate the rights that individuals are entitled to, and 2) To set up the administrative framework necessary to form a government to secure those rights.
So. If the Constitution enumerates certain rights of the people, it only stands to reason that the rights of the people come from the Constitution.
The rights that are recognized by the Constitution are pre-existing rights that existed far earlier then 1787 when the Constitution was drafted. The Constitution simply “recognized” these rights and codified them.
So….. that begs the question: Where do rights come from?
Well, for that answer we have to look at our other “founding document” The Declaration of Independence. Here Jefferson spells it out quite succinctly. Rights are granted to us from the Creator. (God, Gaia, The Force, Mother Nature… whatever you want to call Her… it all springs from the same Well Head.)
Does it really make sense that when God created people He sat back and said, “Ok… so I’m going to give you guys some rights… some you can transfer to a central government… others you are stuck with… but regardless, a few thousand years from now there is going to be this chunk of land in a place called North America. Those of you that find yourself born or naturalized there, well… those guys are going to get “special rights.”
Our rights that we enjoy are transcendent of national identity.
Think of it this way. The Second Amendment exists everywhere on the planet. The Second Amendment exists in Texas, in California, in Bolivia, in Japan. Not all governments are enlightened enough to recognize that right. Our Founders though realized that rights must emanate from somewhere transcendent. A government that provides rights is empowered to take rights away. A government that is established to secure rights can be swept away by the very people that empowered it, if it loses sight of it’s obligations and seeks to increase it’s power at the expense of the governed.
We must be consistent in our political philosophy.
For though we might find the expediency of authoritative policies attractive, the ramifications can lay bare our Republic.
No… our Constitution is transcendent of any particular administration. Our Constitution is also transcendent of any judge or legislator.
Our Constitution is a document inspired by Divine Providence, not a mere suggestion of transient and fashionable ideas.
In an effort to thwart what has been perceived by the State Legislature, as a hostile Trump Administration towards California Progressive values a series of new laws has been proposed by State House Democrats to ensure that “California Values” are able to survive within the Golden State.
These three bills, collectively knowns as the SOS Initiative by House Democrats, for “Security of the State”, and known by the small contingent of House Republicans derisively as “Save Our Skins”, is an effort to ensure that the rampant populism that swept Trump into office does not effect the established power structures in California.
AB 201 Criminalizes Criticism of the Legislature
Under AB 201 any criticism in print or through active protest would be considered a felony. The amount of time that legislators spend dealing with angry constituents slows down the progress of government. More importantly, according to the bills sponsor Representative Brown (D-Alameda) “Criticism of the government is tantamount to treason. We are elected, specifically because we know what is better for our communities then the people who live in our communities.” Said Brown, wearing a simple T-shirt with the words “I’m Smarter Than You” printed on the front.
“When the people criticize there is an implicit argument that they know more than we do.” “This is not only rude, it gets in the way of us doing the work we were elected to perform.”
When asked if the bill would survive a Constitutional challenge Brown replied, “Yes… I think it will. Our colleagues in other jurisdictions have already enacted laws that clearly violated the Second Amendment. Circuit Courts have done some pretty awesome intellectual gymnastics to ensure that those laws are not overturned. We now live in a world where the Courts have the power to take a fundamental right like the Second Amendment, and water it down to the point that we can say that literally nothing that goes bang is covered by that loathsome amendment. If we can do that to the Second, why not apply it to the First as well?”
According to Brown, ensuring that people are happy means ensuring that the legislature is happy.
“Hey.. if Mamma ain’t happy, no one is happy!… and the legislature is one big “F..ing” mamma! The last thing that we need is criticism right now.”
AB 217 Allows DOJ to act without administrative approval
According to the co-sponsers of AB 217 Representative Frank Domingues (D-Marin) and Representative Martha Johnson-Snodgrass (D-Los Angeles) One of the biggest obstacles to social, racial, environmental, and economic justice is a Dept. Of Justice. Specifically a Dept. of Justice that only can uphold laws that the Legislature enacts.
According to Snodgrass this was seen most clearly with the Assault Weapons ban.
“Look. We in the legislature want to get rid of all guns. Period. We could not draft a law like that obviously. We were expecting our friends in the Dept. of Justice to pick up where we left off and set up regulations that would make it impossible for anyone to have an assault rifle. They tried, but they have been stymied by gun owners. If the DOJ could simply do what ever they wanted without having to establish administrative policy, we could get some serious stuff done.”
Domingues envisions a DOJ finally being able to set up administrative policies that force car owners to only own one car per family.
“We could never get away with that in the legislature, but if DOJ was to set up a standard, we could eliminate massive amounts of green house gasses. It would be awesome!”
AB 305 Demands Each Subject of California to have a Medical Marijuana Card
Assemblyman Richard Francisco-Goldberg (D-Berkely) has sought to mandate that every resident of California be compelled to pay a $25 fee and receive a Medical Marijuana card.
“We don’t know what the Feds are planning, but it is not good. We need to make sure that everyone that needs marijuana for medical as well as recreational purposes has access to the “Devils Cabbage.” If we don’t have a robust market for weed, we won’t have the economic clout to ensure it survives. Thousands of honest, hardworking arm chair philosophers will be stuck pontificating while sober. This will not be pretty.”
Francisco-Goldberg believes that through a law mandating the ownership of a Marijuana card more people are likely to participate in the “Cannabis Culture”.
Aids to the legislatures state that the more people that are dependent on State government for their self medicated needs, coerced into managing their lives through a Byzantine administrative process, and prohibited from criticizing their own government, will result in a greater level of self satisfaction and enhance the “California Lifestyle.”
California Republican reaction was limited to a few words by the California Republican Central committee suggesting a desire to compromise.
The Shotshow is over, and I am still recovering.
Thousands of guns. Really great people. Inordinate amounts of Whiskey. Very little sleep. Vague memories of playing blackjack and talking about shooting to a couple from New York.
At least I think we were talking about shooting.
Pretty much sums up my yearly trip to Vegas.
This year Shotshow show had a decidedly less political component attached to it. Previous shows were oriented towards combating the Obama administrations direct action attempts to marginalize the firearms industry. This year, the show literally ended on inauguration day. Trump has already stated his support of the Second… and most are taking him at his word.
Each year that I have been at Shot I like to look for big broad themes.
The first year everything was “Military Style” firearms.
The second year was “Women's guns” (These were basically the same “Military Style” firearms cerekoted pink.)
The third year we saw slimed down AR-15’s
Last year everything was about suppressors….
This year the theme could best be described as “big ass, aggressive, heavy firearms”
There were also a couple of products that I want you all to be made aware of:
Ok… I really really wanted to hate this. Hudson Mfg. developed the first Striker Fire 1911. Completely metal frame (None of that plastic nonsense)… generally looks like a Glock with an integrated rail light. It’s actually not a rail light, it is a housing for the full recoil spring. (There is a place to attach a light, but with the light on the damn thing it would probably hang so low it would be well below the level of the trigger guard.) What is instantly recognizable is the trigger. It looks similar to a standard 1911 style trigger… except that there is a slightly raised internal trigger safety. Apparently there are, or will be, thumb safeties you can purchase if you want the “full 1911 experience”. Chambered in 9mm (gasp) it also comes with three 15 round magazines for those of you who live in America. For those of you that are still operating behind enemy lines in occupied California, Hudson has not yet built a diminished capacity magazine.
Like I said,… I felt obligated to look at this monstrosity, but I went into it figuring that it was going to be a novelty at best. After picking it up and dry firing it, I fell in love. This gun is friggen awesome. Now I just have to figure out how to get my hands on it to test it under live fire conditions!
I love CZ rifles. I am not a huge fan of CZ pistols though. Except for the new P-10. Again… this is their striker fire answer to Glock. The one major difference: A spectacular trigger. Smooth press, glass break, and quick crisp reset… for anyone that is considering getting a Glock you simply must look at the CZ and compare the two. Oh yeah… unless you live in California… Since it does not have a loaded chamber indicator, a mag safety, or micro stamping the California DOJ considers it an “unsafe gun”… so though it is a major improvement over other similar models as a subject of California (as opposed to a citizen) our rulers have a better understanding of our safety needs then we do…. so no CZ P-10 for you!
I met the boys at Alpha Six Arms. These are Colorado makers of high end long distance rifles. They have agreed to send over their “Hog” rifle chambered in 6.5 Creedmore with a Vertex scope for me to T&E for an upcoming article I’m writing for Tactical World magazine.
The guys from Alpha Six are awesome… and the products they make are flat out spectacular. Built around an AR-10 style operating system, with a streamlined stock and ambidextrous safety I am really excited to get this and take it out to the desert for some long distance shooting. Of course the fact that it is a semi auto, with a detachable magazine creates some interesting issues for us here in California…. I am definitely not going to make this featureless, and I really don’t want to screw around with putting a Armlock on it… so I’m going to have to figure out exactly how this is going to work and be legally compliant.
Sigh… I wonder how much time criminals spend making sure they are compliant with California’s firearm laws?
Sessions and the Courts
This week I am in Vegas at our annual SHOT show (Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade) show. Yes… as you would expect I am going through sensory overload right now… but do not fret readers… I will give you a full debrief next week when I get back.
In the meantime, I do want to talk about some forward looking political prognostications:
Jeff Sessions and the ATF
So, last week the Senate held confirmation hearings on Jeff Sessions as our new Attorney General. There were really no surprises here, nor was their an inordinate amount of time spent on the Second Amendment. There was however a specific mention by Sessions that the Second protects an individual right to the keeping and bearing of arms.
This is an important, if not unexpected departure from the Obama administrations hostility toward firearms ownership and use. He also stated that the the individual right that is protected by the Second is a “Fundamental Right”.
This is important.
As a fundamental right (as articulated by Justice Scalia) the appropriate test do determine whether a statute implicates the Second Amendment (made applicable to the States via the Fourteenth Amendment) would be what is referred to as a Strict Scrutiny Analysis.
Their must be a “Compelling State Interest” and their must be no “Less Restrictive Alternatives”
As a general rule, the vast majority of statutes, be it in reference to Free Speech, Religion, Equal Protection, etc. fail a Strict Scrutiny analysis. This is usually because there are virtually always “less restrictive alternatives.”
The anti-gun circuit courts decided that rather than following the approach articulated by the Supremes they were going to “push back” and create their own two part test… one that has been defined as an “Intermediate level of scrutiny”.
In the first part they claim that they must see if the law implicates the Second Amendment in the first place (United States v. Chovan, 735 F.3d 1127 (9th Cir. 2013))
Typically, anti gun courts claim that virtually nothing effects the Second Amendment except an out and out ban of all firearms.
Beyond that they have used tortured logic to claim that the single largest selling firearm in the United States, the AR-15… a rifle that is used specifically in competitions throughout the country… is not in “common use” and therefore not covered by the Second.
Assuming that they are not able to twist their intellectual gymnastics to the point that they cannot legitimately claim the Second has not been implicated, they now look to see… well… I’ll let the 9th Circuit speak for itself:
If the regulation is subject to Second Amendment protection (i.e., the regulation is neither outside the historical scope of the Second Amendment, nor presumptively lawful), the court then proceeds to the second step of the inquiry to determine the appropriate level of scrutiny to apply. Jackson, 746 F.3d at 960. In ascertaining the proper level of scrutiny, the court must consider: (1) how close the challenged law comes to the core of the Second Amendment right, and (2) the severity of the law’s burden on that right. Id. at 960–61.
Yeah… you read that right… they claim that it is a friggen sliding scale!!!
Imagine if all of our rights protected by the Constitution fell to this “sliding scale” analysis.
Sessions in his hearings essentially discounted this entire scheme. This is an important change not only for the direction of the Attorney General, but also sets a tone that the administration is antagonistic towards jurists that are interested reducing fundamental rights to match the political objectives of any particular administration.
On an unrelated note… potentially… the other day a bill was introduced in Congress to formally disband the ATF. The mission of the ATF would be split up between the FBI and the FDA.
Things are indeed getting interesting in Washington!
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