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  • Tuesday, March 12, 2019 16:14 | Anonymous


    Stanley Chang, State Senator, Democrat Hawaii, has had just about enough!


    The temerity of the Supreme Court to think that it has the job of interpreting the Constitution is just getting out of hand.


    He has introduced a resolution in the Hawaii legislature to demand that the Second Amendment be repealed or modified by Constitutional Amendment.


    If you would like to read this drivel it can be found here: 


    https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2019/bills/SCR42_.HTM


    The funny thing is in his resolution he essentially points out that gun control regulations enacted by the State are largely unconstitutional:


    “WHEREAS, under this ‘individual right theory’, the United States Constitution restricts legislative bodies from prohibiting firearm possession, or at the very least, the Second Amendment renders prohibitory and restrictive regulation presumptively unconstitutional.”


    Well, by golly, he has that right!


    So, what is an anti-gun legislator to do in light of such an egregious barrier to gun control legislation?


    (Well, if you are a California legislator, you ignore this completely and simply move forward promulgating unconstitutional legislation.)


    If you are a Hawaii tyrant, you begin the process of amending the Constitution!  Being the petite tyrant, he graciously provides reasoning for his desire to rid himself of that pesky restraint on government power:


    “WHEREAS, in light of the numerous tragic mass shootings at schools, workplaces, and public events, this body believes that it is necessary to repeal or amend the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.”


    Yeah, that will make all those bad things go away.


    But this got me thinking… there is a whole bunch of bad guys, and I mean really, really bad guys, who are walking around and victimizing people as a result of having criminal cases against them being dismissed as a result of Fourth Amendment violations on the part of law enforcement.  Let’s amend his resolution to include the following:


    (If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)


    “WHEREAS, police officers often have a difficult time securing a search warrant due to countless meetings and the requirement of filling out affidavits, and really a search warrant is an anachronistic holdover from our colonial times, this body believes that it is necessary to repeal or amend the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”


    … And since we are rejiggering this whole thing, why stop there?!


    Cosmo… this one is for you:


    “WHEREAS, the State is concerned about criminal activity and conspiracies manifesting in people’s homes outside the view of agents of the State, and in acknowledgement that people tend to alter their behavior and are more compliant in the presence of agents of the State, be it resolved that Military and Law Enforcement shall forego the establishments of private residences, and instead be quartered among the citizens generally in their homes and dwellings.  To enact this policy, this body believes that it is necessary to repeal or amend the Third Amendment of the United States Constitution.”


    And, of course, for those of you who read last week’s blog:


    “WHEREAS, the police of the State require funding through the seizure of assets from defendants convicted of criminal acts regardless of the nature of the infraction, or the nexus between their property and their crimes; and…


    WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court has unanimously ruled in Timbs v. Indiana that the Eighth Amendment via the Fourteenth Amendment protects a fundamental individual right against excessive fines, this body believes that it is necessary to repeal or amend the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”


    Of course, we could also include religion, a jury trial, and voting while we are at it.


    Senator Stanley Chang, yes, “the stupid is strong in this one.”


  • Tuesday, March 05, 2019 17:28 | Anonymous



    For those of you who watch the “Coffee with Steven” companion video to these blogs, you may remember last week I referenced a Supreme Court case that I wanted to discuss.  That case is Timbs v. Indiana… and it is an important one.


    So, to understand the importance of the case, we must understand the importance of the following:  money, Colonial angst, Constitutional protections and, frankly, hubris.  Tea leaf readers may also see some signaling on the upcoming New York Rifle and Pistol v. City of New York.


    First, we need a little background.  Law enforcement agencies have been using a tool known as “asset forfeiture” for quite some time.  Essentially, the argument is that property used as part of a criminal event should be forfeited to the state, more specifically, the law enforcement agency making the arrest… think of it as the equivalent of a letter of marque.


    In Indiana there was a heroin dealer named Timbs.  (These stories always have the best heroes, don’t they?) 


    Well, Timbs’ pop died and he received an inheritance.  He used his inheritance to purchase a Range Rover that cost him about $40,000.  He then used said Range Rover to deliver heroin to his customer (that’s when he was caught).  He was convicted, and the State sought to have title in the Range Rover transferred to itself as part of the Asset Forfeiture Statute.


    The trial court in Indiana said… Whoa, cowboy, the fine for trafficking heroin is $10,000 (yep, apparently there is a statutory fine for heroin trafficking in Indiana, who knew?!), and you want to seize his car worth $40,000???  That sounds like a violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution!


    (If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)


    Rights codified in the Bill of Rights only apply to federal intrusions on said rights.  States are free to screw you, the citizen, all they want.  This was the vision the Framers had… In fact, it was absolutely necessary to set it up this way to achieve the political will necessary for ratification.  After the Civil War, we passed the Fourteenth Amendment.  This amendment allows for the incorporation of rights directly to State constitutions, essentially preventing the State from screwing with its own citizens.  The problem is incorporation only takes place when the Supreme Court says it has taken place. 


    The Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on excessive fines (elegantly referred to as the “Excessive Fines Clause”) has never been incorporated to State Constitutions.  


    That is til now.


    The State of Indiana was less than pleased that it couldn’t get Timbs’ sweet ride, so it appealed to the Indiana Appellate Court.  It got no love there either.  The appellate court agreed with the trial court.  So, relentless in their pursuit of justice… (or cash)… the Indiana court went to the State Supreme Court with the demand it gets this damn car!  The Indiana Supreme Court was more receptive to the State's argument and stated that since the Eighth Amendment’s excessive fines clause was only a federal prohibition on excessive fines, the State was free to plunder at will.


    Timbs then had the temerity to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.  

    The Supremes reversed the Indiana Supreme Court in an unanimous ruling. Ironically, it was in a decision authored by the great Statist herself, Ruth Bader Ginsberg.  To make it more delicious, she used as part of her reasoning the Supreme Court case, McDonald v. Chicago 561 U.S as part of her justification of incorporation.  (McDonald was the post Heller case that stated emphatically the Second Amendment is incorporated into State constitutions.)


    To further her reasoning, she wrote that the “due process” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is the nexus that incorporates the Eighth to the States.  To do this, she references the case of Packingham v. North Carolina 582 U.S. 2017 dealing with sex offenders and restrictions on free speech… an interesting choice of authority.


    Justice Gorsuch (who continues his trajectory towards my “favorite justice” status) concurred in his short opinion and suggested that Justice Ginsburg’s conclusion is correct, but her reasoning is flawed.  He posits that the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is the real bridge to incorporation, not due process.  


    This is important.  If due process is the lynchpin, then all humans are entitled to this civil protection.  If it is privileges and immunities, then it would only extend to citizens.


    Justice Gorsuch’s feelings about this case were evident during oral arguments.  He asked the State, if based on its belief that the Eighth was not incorporated, could a municipality seize a vehicle because the driver was illegally driving in the carpool lane.  The State fumbled and stumbled in its reply, but essentially said yes… it is possible… but it would never happen because the State is essentially good and would never abuse its power.


    Yeah, right. 


    Justice Thomas then weighed in with his own… awesome… concurring opinion.


    He goes through a lengthy historical analysis of the grudge that free people have had against excessive fines since, literally, the English Bill of Rights of 1689.  (Thomas has a knack for going on deep dives.)


    He also takes Justice Ginsburg to task on her due process theory finding instead, as Gorsuch does, the right comes from the privileges of an immunities clause.  In fact, relying on due process as a justification in his opinion creates “notorious” decisions:


    “…and because of the Court’s substantive due process precedents allow the Court to fashion fundamental rights without any textual constraints, it is equally unsurprising that among these precedents are some of the Court’s most notoriously incorrect decisions,  e.g., Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973); Dred Scott v. Standford, 19 How. 393, 450 (1857).”


    Ha ha.


    In fact, he thought the legal fiction of a “process violation” goes right into the heart of the due process adherents:


    “Petitioner argues that the forfeiture of his vehicle is an excessive punishment.  He does not argue that the Indiana courts failed to proceed according to the ‘law of the land’ - that is, according to the written Constitutional and statutory provisions.  His claim has nothing to do with any ‘process’ ‘due' him.  I, therefore, decline to apply the ‘legal fiction’ of substantive due process.”  Justice Thomas Concurring Opinion, Timbs v. Indiana 586 U.S. _(2019)


    Ha! and another Ha!


    Then, lastly, quoting Justice Story Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, he gives us in the gun rights community a little red meat as well:


    “….included the prohibition on excessive fines as a right, along with the ‘right to bear arms’ and others protected by the Bill of Rights that ‘operates, as a qualification upon powers, actually granted by the people to the government’; without such a ‘restrict[ion],’ the government’s ‘exercise or abuse’ of its power could be ‘dangerous to the people’  Id., §1858, at 718-719.”


    So… what does this mean to police departments and municipalities throughout the country who rely on asset forfeiture as a means of funding their departments?


    Well… it depends.


    The interesting thing about this decision is that it only prohibits the government acquisition of property post-judicial hearing.  It does nothing to suggest that the government cannot seize property and keep it until the prosecuting authority determines the State’s desire to bring charges against the defendant.  If the defendant abandons the property, or is in no position to reclaim the property, can the State keep it in default?


    That remains to be seen.  Regardless, most agencies will now have to readjust their programs in light of this ruling.  It also means that to maintain the level of readiness and funding to project power into a community, the agency will have to ultimately rely on other funding mechanisms or reduce its presence.


    Regardless, for those of us who see the Constitution as a cage that bars the growth and power of government, the bars got a retrofitting with this decision. 


    Free people now welcome the Excessive Fines Clause into the family of enumerated, incorporated, fundamental rights.



  • Wednesday, February 27, 2019 07:30 | Anonymous


    How we define freedom…


    Freedom is a term that is typically bandied about in discussions of politics, American history, and other dubious social interactions.  When using the word, a variety of meanings can be intended.


    The other day I was heading into work and listening to Neil Cavuto on Fox News.  He was interviewing a minor presidential candidate who was making the case for a corporate dividend to be awarded from the treasury to all citizens of the United States 12 times a year.  Each of these dividends would be $1000.  Everyone U.S. citizen over 18 years of age would receive these payments, regardless of economic need.


    Thus, a husband and wife would receive $24,000 a year.


    One up side of this proposal is that all social transfer payments (from the feds) be ended and replaced with this program.


    At first blush there is, indeed, an attractiveness to it.  The federal bureaucracy would be decimated and the only thing left would be a giant ATM spitting out thousand dollar bills.


    Oh… there is that pesky thing… economics… that will inevitably get in the way.  If everyone is suddenly a thousand dollars richer, then goods and services will miraculously increase in cost by, you guessed it, $1000.  (For a guide on this, look at the cost of college tuition post-GI Bill and student loan programs.)


    There is another problem, though, with these transfer payments… and for that we need to look at the Constitution:  


    (If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)


    I own my home.  I take care to ensure that the curb appeal of my home is nice, both for aesthetic value as well as a desire to be a responsible neighbor to those around me.  


    My neighbor down the street does not share my same value system, though.  He would prefer to use his time for self-reflection while playing video games and eating pizza.  As such, he has lost his job, as well as his initiative to maintain his property.


    He has been pestered by the neighbors to maintain his property, so he comes to me and demands that I mow his lawn for him.


    I tell him to go to hell.


    He realizes that the only way he can compel me to do something I otherwise would have little inclination to do, is to be forced with the threat of violence to perform that act, be persuaded through argumentation that I would be better off for performing that act, or encouraged through the gradually-rising offer of compensation to perform the act… (yes, in a sense, everyone has a price).


    The government is in place to prevent the neighbor from exercising the first option and threatening me to give up my labor without compensation.


    Left to his own devices, the neighbor must deal with the real possibility that, threatened with violence, I will use violence to stop his actions.  The cost/benefit analysis does not work to his advantage.

    So, instead, he leverages the power of the government to initiate the threat of violence against me.  With the unlimited resources of state-sponsored violence, I am ultimately compelled to engage in the act of servitude that my neighbor originally wanted.  


    That government-leveraged threat of violence for noncompliance and refusal to provide non-compensated labor is Constitutionally problematic.


    What we have just explored is the very definition of slavery… the exact antithesis to freedom:  forced labor, without the option to sever the relationship, and compulsion upon the threat of violence.  


    Now, let's go back to our original proposal.


    Where does the money come from that will be parsed out as a “dividend”?   It comes from the labors of others.  Your labor will be forced from you upon pain of imprisonment,  Then the  proceeds of your labor will be distributed to others for their benefit.  The 13th Amendment abolishes slavery… at least between consenting adults.


    When the government does it, we call it progressivism.


  • Wednesday, February 20, 2019 07:30 | Anonymous


    The Culture of the Gun


    A culture is defined by a common language and a sense of community of shared values.  This community is often reinforced through a sense of victimization, both real and imagined.  


    “There are barbarians at the gates!  Our way of life is threatened by them!  We have an existential threat!  If we don’t hold them back, they will destroy us for the need to destroy us… our freedom, our values, our culture represents a threat to them!”


    Delusions of grandeur, and the politics of victimization often coalesce to form a powerful psychic boundary between “us” and “them.”


    This, in a sense, defines and reinforces the culture.


    When there is no threat to the culture, there is oftentimes… well… not a culture per se.


    We don’t think of the “doing the laundry” culture because we all do the laundry.  There is no group of people putting our ability to do the laundry at risk, and really no unique common language associated with laundry.


    Now… dry cleaners may legitimately have a culture.  They have a common industry vernacular and they see the technological developments of home washers and dryers that have ever-increasing applications for sensitive clothing and steam-cleaning as a threat to their very business.  Thus, within that sub-community, there may very well be a culture.


    There are also the stereotypes generated by those outside of the culture.  These stereotypes, ironically, serve two diametrically opposed purposes:  They strengthens the culture of the outsiders since they are creating a caricature of the target culture that dehumanizes them as the “others” (see the barbarians at the gates above).  They also strengthens the target culture as well since the caricature bears little resemblance to the actual members of the culture, but reinforces the belief that the culture is being assaulted from beyond the walls.  For if the enemies do not want to extinguish us, why would they create characterizations that are so dehumanizing… or, at the very least, offensive?


    (If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)


    Our culture, the gun culture, suffers and benefits from such a dichotomy.  Those forces marshaled against us malign us with characterizations that are misguided at best, racially bigoted and sexist at worst.  


    “You are a gun owner?  I thought all gun owners were southern rednecks!  Gun owners are Bible-thumping homophobes embracing their own white ethnicity and basking in their fragile masculinity.”


    And who can forget a former President opining that we were voting against our own economic interests because…“it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them…”


    Nice.


    Yet, the archetype of the member of the gun culture is literally the exact opposite of what the proponents would proffer.  


    Piper Smith of Armed Equality is a fierce advocate for the Second Amendment, and Constitutional rights generally, and is a member of the LGBTQ community.  She sees the gun for what is really is:  A tool that allows the individual to defend against tyranny of other individuals, and marshaled together, the fundamental building blocks of a militia that keeps the tyranny of the government in check.  In the final analysis, it is the ultimate guardian against the tyranny that comes in the form of a foreign occupying power.


    The culture that comes from the use and training of the gun is made up of other people devoted to the ideals of individual freedom, classical liberalism, and a healthy distaste of state-mandated collectivism.


    She is not a “Bible-thumping redneck from the south.”  She is a lesbian, former Air Force officer living with her fiancé in San Diego.


    She is also embraced by the gun community.  Neither her sexual orientation nor her gender are utterly irrelevant to the culture… it is her passion for freedom that serves as her membership card.


    Colin Noir, the NRA commentator, is African American.  His zealous articulation of the philosophy behind the Second Amendment, and the logic of his reasoning have made him a darling of the “gun culture”… not because he is black.  Again, the color of his skin is completely immaterial to his message.  His value, his gift to our community, is the message itself.  


    The other day I was talking to a new client at Artemis who had just completed Pistol 2.  She is an academic and was utterly beside herself on how “nice and helpful” everyone at Artemis was.  Not our instructors per se… rather our members.  She also was surprised at the lack of monochromatic people hanging out in our lab.


    “Were you expecting something else?”


    “Well, I don’t know… I just expected to see a bunch of older white males.”


    “Why?”


    “Well, I don’t know… it’s just, well… that is what people from my world just assume gun people are like.”


    “So, tell me… I’m curious, are you enjoying this?”


    “Yes… surprisingly, yes.  I love the people here, and learning about shooting is really fun.  I can’t believe it, but I’m seriously considering getting a CCW.”


    …And so it begins.  Our “culture” can grow by incorporating subsequent generations to be sure, but it is so much more fun to recruit members from the other side of the wall!


  • Wednesday, February 13, 2019 07:30 | Anonymous

    This is Sparta!  (aka: Don’t Bring a Foot to a Gun Fight)


    On Thursday of last week we had an interesting experience at Artemis.  One of our corporate clients was here for a very specialized form of training.  These guys take CEOs and other “captains of industry” who are having issues in their personal lives and puts them through a sort of “boot camp for manliness”.  One of the evolutions involves coming to Artemis and going through a scenario on the 300.


    These guys have absolutely no idea what they are about to experience.  They are literally brought in blind, given a lecture about making hard choices, and then one at a time brought into the lab.  There, one of our instructors puts a holster on them and instructs them that he is putting a “weapon” into the holster with a round loaded in the chamber.  Some of these guys have never been in the same room with a weapon before.  Nervous and scared, they are brought onto the 300 and told their wives is being held hostage when suddenly a scenario starts with a woman being held hostage and a bad guy pointing a gun at her head.


    The reactions are interesting.


    Some immediately go for their gun and successfully stop the threat.  Some freeze and watch in horror as their “loved one” is executed in front of them… a direct result of their failure to act.


    Then we have the guy from Thursday.


    Knowing full well that he had a gun on his hip, he chose, instead, to physically attack the video projection… putting his foot through the drywall on the 300.


    Yahoo!


    (In case you are wondering… this was not an effective method for saving the hostage.)


    The 300 was easy to repair… but it did bring up an interesting philosophical point that I want to discuss:  the immorality of less than lethal.  Yes… there may be times when the choice to use less than lethal is actually an immoral act.


    (If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)


    First off, there is never a legal duty to intervene.  Failure to engage, even for law enforcement, has no legal consequences.  That is not to say that there may not be employment-related consequences, psychological consequences, and certainly philosophical consequences… but there will never be criminal culpability imputed to the individual who fails to use deadly force.


    That said, failure to act, or worse, an action that is undertaken for the express purpose of attempting to preserve the life of the assailant may be immoral. 


    Let me explain:


    The subject encounters a victim who is about to be executed by a criminal.  The subject is in possession of a firearm.  Rather than shoot the criminal, thereby saving the life of the victim, he chooses to use physical combatives.  Worse… he tries to shoot the criminal in the arm or leg, in an attempt to preserve the criminal’s life.


    We can all agree that the victim has a 100% “right to exist”.  That right is being threatened by the criminal who is prepared to execute the victim.  The subject, not wanting to take the life of another, attempts to shoot the criminal in the leg, figuring that both victim and criminal can now survive the experience.  


    But what is really going on here?


    We agree that the victim has a 100% right to exist… and by shooting the criminal in the largest target possible (center mass) he has, let’s say a 90% chance of successfully stopping the threat.  (I am specifically avoiding the discussion of shutting down the neural pathway by taking out the medulla oblongata… suffice to say for the purposes of this discussion, a center mass shot affords the highest probability of success.)  Instead, the subject goes for the leg, a smaller target, and one that decreases the possibility of a successful stopping shot.  Let's say, for the purposes of academic discussion, the center mass shot has a 90% chance of success, and the leg shot has a 70% chance of success.  The third alternative… doing nothing or going physical, has a 50% chance of success.


    So… while the victim has a 100% right to continued existence, the subject is prepared to take that right away, and give it directly to the criminal for his benefit.


    The formula goes like this:  Take 20% away from the victim, and give it directly to the criminal by shooting the leg instead of center mass.  


    So… in order to ensure the criminal has the highest potential of survival….the subject is going to rob the victim of a percentage of his chance of surviving the experience.


    Again… this is being done for the sole and pure benefit of the criminal… and the victim suffers the increased risk as a result of this.


    Fundamentally, that is an immoral act.


    (It also damages our equipment.)


  • Tuesday, February 05, 2019 17:01 | Anonymous


    Tyrants cannot afford to be laughed at.  Once the pomposity of the magistrate is ignored as being too boorish, or worse, becomes the subject of ridicule without fear of retribution, power has ebbed from its manicured hands.


    The best “comeuppuance,” clearly, is from Divine Intervention, but close to that is the rejection of the tyrant that comes from the most inconsequential grievance that escalates to massive repudiation of an entire regime.


    Such an event may be about to unfold.


    A couple of weeks ago, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to hear the case of New York Rifle and Pistol Association v. City of New York, No. 18-280.


    A little background is necessary:


    New York has a city ordinance that mandates the only legal way to transport a firearm outside of your home (without a CCW or LTC) is unloaded, in a locked container, AND only to and from the range.


    This secondary clause is the most problematic.


    Assume a resident of New York has multiple properties in the city.  She wants to move a firearm from one location to another.  Her transit from property A to property B is an illegal act (unless, of course, she stops by the range in the middle of her trip).  Interestingly enough, when a gun owner brings his weapon to a city range, the range staff mark in the gun and mark out the gun.  This, theoretically, creates a to and from record.  Now, ranges outside the city do not mark in and out.  So, as a matter of record, gun owners transporting their firearms are “always going or coming from ranges outside the city.”


    The New York Rifle and Pistol Association felt this ordinance was unfair and, arguably, unconstitutional.  The trial court and the court of appeals surprisingly (sarcasm) disagreed.  


    It appealed to the US Supreme Court.


    Since Heller and progeny, there really has not been a meaningful 2A case heard by the Supremes.


    Until now.


    (If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)


    I suspect that this case is going to be a “vehicle case” (no pun intended).  There are times when the Supremes agree to hear a case that, if narrowly tailored, has really no major national import.  Other times, they use a seemingly innocuous case… and use it as a vehicle to enact major changes.


    For years a putatively conservative court refused to hear any challenges to laws implicating the Second Amendment.  It only takes four justices to agree to hear a case… however, it takes five justices to win a case.  Justice O’Connor, while a putative conservative, was no friend to the Second Amendment.  Justice Scalia knew this and refused to join three justices to hear any 2A cases for fear they would ultimately lose, thus, burdening future generations with bad 2A jurisprudence.  


    That changed after O’Connor left the court.  Justice Kennedy was willing to agree that the Second Amendment was a fundamental individual right.  Thus, we had Heller v. District of Columbia.  Kennedy was not, however, ready to go beyond that and we had a stalling of 2A cases.


    Until Kavanaugh.


    With him on the bench, we now have five justices who, arguably, will rule for our Constitutionally-protected rights as opposed to ruling against them.


    It is highly unlikely the Court was animated to strike down (or uphold) a local ordinance.  Frankly, it is just too…pedestrian… for their evolvement.


    I suspect something more grandiose may be looming on the horizon.


    As petit tyrants emerge, becoming governors, congressman, or even presidential candidates, their mantra resonates from their megaphones:  “We know what is best for you!  Freedom is conformity to our beliefs on collectivism!  We will not be constrained by anachronistic calls for the chaos that comes from individual liberty!”  


    Standing in check against their assault on freedom are patriots like you, buoyed by a judiciary who understands the philosophical underpinnings of classical liberalism our Framers sacrificed so much to codify.


  • Wednesday, January 30, 2019 07:30 | Anonymous

    Once again we found ourselves in Vegas in January for the annual NSSF SHOT Show.  This annual convention has gone through interesting transitions over the years.  From an organic market experiment, SHOT is fascinating.  Thousands of independent businesses converge on SHOT every year to showcase their new product lines.  There is no coordination between these businesses.  They are simply studying the firearms market and making independent determinations as to what consumers are looking to buy in the future.  Inevitably, each year there is a dominating thematic overlay.  All of these businesses are looking at the same data, some formally, others anecdotally, and coming to reasonably similar conclusions.  One year everything was “black scary rifles”.  Another year it was all pink guns as the industry attempted a ham-fisted endeavor to cater to the female market.  A couple of years ago it was all about suppressors… and this year:


    Nothing.


    For the most part this year was nothing more than a retread of last year.  That is a sad commentary.  The industry is in the middle of what has been referred to as a “Trump Slump”.  This is somewhat to be expected.  With no existential crisis to our gun rights at the federal level, the panic buying has largely stopped.  This has caused a slowdown in sales… and I suspect a slowdown in R&D.  I suspect as the Democratic field for President starts to crystallize next year, this phenomenon will go away.


    There were some things, though, I did notice that bear further discussion:



    (If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)



    NRA Carry Guard


    During the last two SHOT Shows the NRA booth, which is a big booth, was 100% NRA Carry Guard.  Getting people to sign up was a full-court press.  This year… nothing.  I mean nada.  Literally, there was no reference at all to NRA Carry Guard.  When I asked one of the NRA reps about this he seemed somewhat in the dark himself. 


    “Are you still selling NRA Carry Guard?”  


    “Oh yeah… yes, of course.”


    “You’re just not pushing it here?”


    “Well… SHOT really is not the proper forum for it.”


    Really?  So what the hell were they doing the last two years?  The simple fact that it is absent creates a bigger issue than a more muted presence.  If you are a current NRA Carry Guard member, I am sure you are fine.  If you are considering becoming one, I would contact NRA Carry Guard directly and ask for assurances that it is committed to the market.  It may very well be… but its absence gives me pause.



    Mossberg SPX


    For those of you who read my blog a few months back about the tactical lever-action by Mossberg chambered in 30.30, I have some news.  The weapon looked brilliant on the website… actually, it looked God awful, which made it uniquely brilliant in its own right… kind of the warthog of rifles.  The problem was availability.  You could just not find one for sale!  Well, that evidently was a result of production issues.  Those issues have been ironed out, and starting last week production began.  The SPX should start becoming available in about a month.  One was displayed at SHOT and I played with it for a little while.  


    It is glorious in its audacity.


    The sights on it are pretty friggen awesome too!


    Yeah… I’m going to buy one.



    Glock 43X


    So, Glock has been watching SIG evidently.  With the success of the SIG P365, Glock decided to get into the game.  Glock redid its 43 and created the Glock 43X, now a ten-round micro 9mm.  She is a fantastic competitor to the P365, and one that leaves the Smith and Wesson Shield further and further behind in the dust.  It has the same crisp trigger pull that is standard on Glocks,  and the same Glock feel.  It does not come with the night sights that are present on the P365, and for some strange reason Glock felt that it was necessary to have the 43X outfitted with a silver slide (not to my aesthetic liking… but, hey…vive la différence).


    Uberti


    All right, so this is kinda a fun one.  I have never been particularly interested in cowboy guns as a going concern (Sorry, Dave Allen).  I have been interested in Italian-produced cowboy guns even less.  That being said, I did have a somewhat transformational experience at the Uberti booth.  Just by happenstance, my walking-around pattern at SHOT brought me constantly by the Uberti booth.  Now, many of you know that I have a Ruger Vaquero in my arsenal that I occasionally wear for fun, and shoot even less.  The Uberti models are historically accurate, and have unbelievably crisp trigger systems.  Rotating the cylinders of the revolvers give the feel of an exquisitely machined precision system.  Yeah… a new .45 LC is probably on my list now as well!  


    Holosun


    Those who have talked to me about my rifle work know that I have very little interest in electronic sighting systems.  If the battery dies, then what?  I have also been very, very negative about optics on handguns.  Each time I have used one I spent more time looking for the dot in the window than putting lead onto the target.  Even with suppressor sights installed to speed up the process of acquiring the dot, it has always seemed slow to me.   Now, I may not be the most reliable subject to make this a recommendation, as many with optics on their handguns swear by them.  


    Regardless, in one of our CCW classes we had a student who worked for Holosun.  I looked at his optic and was really, really impressed.  Using essentially the same reticle that appears on an Eotech, the lag I felt on sight acquisition was gone.  These suckers are fast, and the fact they incorporate solar technology along with battery power, makes one of my arguments against them moot.  They are also very reasonably priced.  I may not put one on my pistol… but I am very likely to put one on my new Mossberg SPX!!!



    5.11 New Shoes and Pants


    Ah, my favorite.  


    5.11 has a number of new products that were showcased.  I gravitated towards two of them:  their new pants and shoes.  They have introduced new footwear, and I was especially intrigued with their casual footwear, that incorporates some fundamentals that have needed to be addressed for awhile, specifically puncture-resistance and low profile.  


    The Stryke pants have also been updated.  The new generation of Strykes look spectacular, and has some additional features on them.  This will, of course, require me to go through a complete wardrobe upgrade!  Fortunately, these new products will not officially reach the market until June… so I have a couple of months to start saving my pennies!

  • Tuesday, January 22, 2019 21:03 | Anonymous

    There are times, usually when I read, when I reflect on the struggles through which our nation fought, from the formative Revolution, to the counter-Revolutionary trajectories and expansionist social ideologies of the last century.  In our embrace of capitalism, tempered by government-regulated capitalism, to our current dangerous flirtation with socialism, there has always… literally always… been one constant in our American Drama.


    The Soldier.


    The solider has stood post through the darkest winters and enjoyed the bask of the hero welcome in spring.  He has been tormented by a disgruntled populous, and has had that same populous huddle behind him when the wolf growled at the door.


    The solider took an oath, and has endeavored to live up to that oath.  We are the beneficiaries of that soldier’s solemn sacrifice.


    This reverence for the American warrior ethos found fertile ground in the mind of our younger daughter, Chaney, as she was growing up.


    She came to understand the honorable patriotism of public service, and years ago told us that her dream was to go to the United States Military Academy at West Point.  


    She has always been “connected” to our nation’s warriors.  Growing up a “daughter of Artemis” she shot, she hunted, and she looked in awe at our instructors… men and women who had gone in harm’s way for a cause that transcended their own safety and security.


    She also thrived in her academic environment at the Orange County School of Performing Arts, probably the single most “un-militant” school in Orange County.  Her classical voice became more mature and brilliant each year.


    Still, her patriotism was fierce.  She rose through the ranks of the OCSD Explorer program, competed again and again in team tactics and began to learn the trials of leadership.


    (If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)


    It was leadership that really motivated her.


    MAJ (CA) Sirna, a West Point graduate himself, a sitting judge, and a fellow JAG officer I serve with, offered to be her field force advisor.  He called her up to his courtroom and gave her a formal interview.  Sirna allowed Sandy and me to watch the interview, but we were under strict orders not to intervene.  


    “Why do you want to go to West Point?”


    “Sir, I understand that the world is a dangerous place and our nation will need warriors to protect us in the future, just as we have needed warriors to protect us in the past.  I want to lead these brave soldiers in battle, and I want to get the best training I possibly can to be an effective leader, for both my soldiers, as well as my country.  West Point is the place, where I can honestly see, that mints leaders.”


    Wow… that was our daughter!


    Last Saturday night Chaney received a package in the mail.  She has received her official appointment to West Point, and will be starting the academy next fall.  (Actually, she starts July 1st in a program that all plebes go through called “Beast”.)

    Sandy and I are unbelievably proud of Chaney.  But, Chaney is a product of many people who have encouraged and inspired her.


    Chaney… stand your post, and protect us.  Our nation is that much stronger for the course and sacrifice upon which you are about to embark.


  • Wednesday, January 16, 2019 07:30 | Anonymous


    Sigh.


    I know that many of you read this blog to stay informed on firearm issues.  I know others read it for my perspectives on liberty and freedom.  A few of you, I am convinced, read it for no other reason than to check my grammar and report my inadequacies back to me.  This particular entry is going to go in a somewhat strange and, in many respects, troubling tangent:  male masculinity… or, rather, the lack of it in today’s adolescence.


    My father, for the last few weeks, has been suffering from some God-awful infection that has necessitated intravenous antibiotics.  He is doing okay now… (thanks for asking)… but he has no interest in taking my mother out for a night on the town.  They both have season tickets for the Segerstrom Performing Arts Center.  When they can’t use their season tickets, they typically give them to Sandy and Chaney.  Since Sandy was out of town for CES, Chaney received the tickets and she decided to take me as her “date”.  So, last Wednesday I had a father-daughter date with my daughter at the theater.


    The show was Dear Evan Hansen.


    I had never heard of this show but, apparently, it has won several Tony Awards, and the massive Segerstrom Hall was completely sold out.


    If you are unfamiliar with the subject matter of the show, let me set the stage… so to speak.  


    Evan Hansen is a teenage boy with a crush on a fellow student.  He is socially awkward and parented by a single mother who works as a nurse, and goes to paralegal school at night.  Everyone in the show is adept at social media and posts / tweets / blogs frequently.  A bully, who happens to be the brother of Evan’s love interest, torments Evan and then, ultimately, kills himself.  This sets up for a magical exploration of deceit, reaffirmation of love, and the viral nature of YouTube videos.  


    My problems began at the very first moments of the show.


    Evan is completely devoid of testosterone.  


    I mean COMPLETELY devoid.


    He contorts himself into feminine poses as he sings a falsetto song about being a social outcast.  His putative friend is not quite as feminine, but creepily willing to exploit sexual insecurities for his own gain.  In fact, the only male teenage character who even reasonably represents what I would consider “male” is the bully who kills himself in the first act.


    When Evan was done with his first number, I sat there next to Chaney appalled.  I was expecting the audience to give a tepid applause.  


    I was wrong.


    The crowd went wild with admiration.


    I just sat there wondering what has happened to our world.


    (If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)


    As the lights rose for intermission, I turned to Chaney and asked her, “Is this indicative of the male students you go to school with?”


    “Dad, I go to the Orange County School of Performing Arts… what do you think?”


    “Okay, fair enough, but in general is this how boys are now?”


    “To a large extent, yes.”


    “Really?!?”


    “Sadly, yes.  I think it has to do with a fear of Toxic Masculinity.”


    “Toxic Masculinity???  There was no danger of any masculinity, in what I just saw, reaching to the level of toxic!  My God… what has happened to the American male?!”


    “Well, perhaps he has always been like this?”


    “No way.  Look, you’ve seen seen Band of Brothers… Imagine Evan Hansen cast as a member of the Airborne invading Normandy!”


    “Yeah, you’ve got a point.”


    “So what has happened to us?”


    “Well, today most boys don’t need to have the masculinity they did in 1942.”


    Doing a little Googling when I got home, I found numerous articles and stories pointing out the lack of measurable testosterone manifesting in modern boys.  Most of what I read was anecdotal… as, frankly, is this blog… but it was still eye-opening.


    So… here we are… a brave new world.  


    There is one potential advantage though… one of the fears that we have had throughout our nation’s history is a foreign military power forcibly occupying the continental United States.  If some of America’s enemies see what is coming down the genetic pipe, I’m not entirely sure they will want to have anything to do with us.


  • Tuesday, January 08, 2019 22:36 | Anonymous

    “We arm security guards to protect our money in armored cars!  We should arm teachers to protect our children!”


    No… and yes.


    I have heard this refrain over and over again in the ongoing debate regarding arming teachers, and it makes me cringe each and every time.


    Yes… I fully support allowing teachers to exercise their inalienable right to exist, and employ the most logical tool that will allow them to protect that right.  I do not, however, support the conflation of security guards into this mix.


    Let me explain:


    A teacher, or anyone for that matter, has the right to exist.  If a tyrant threatens that right (you can read tyrant in the most expansive context possible), and there is an imminent likelihood of death or great bodily injury to the teacher, or to another innocent person, then that teacher has the God-given right to defend herself.


    If a security guard transporting money is suddenly confronted with someone who seeks to rob him of his bailment, then deadly force is NOT a viable option.


    Over the holidays, a security guard at Walgreens in Hollywood shot and killed a homeless man he suspected of shoplifting.  There was a confrontation and in the end, the security guard ended up shooting the fleeing suspect in the back, ultimately killing him.  The Los Angeles District Attorney has filed a criminal charge against the security guard.


    My favorite quote from the AOL online story about this (https://www.aol.com/article/news/2019/01/01/california-security-guard-charged-with-murder-after-killing-homeless-man-at-walgreens/23631364/) came from the family of the deceased's attorney who is filing a wrongful death action against Walgreens:


    "Jonathan Hart was profiled because he was homeless. He was harassed because he was gay, and he was shot because he was black.” - Carl Douglas


    (He left out that he was also Jewish, enjoyed Chinese food, and played with puppies… but I digress.)


    (If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)


    Yeah… we need to talk about this.


    As I have mentioned many, many times before, especially in our CCW training program, we carry guns for one exclusive reason:  the preservation of human life.  We NEVER, NEVER, NEVER use deadly force for the protection of property.


    Without getting into the facts of the above case, frankly, I have no idea what actually happened, and I loathe to assess any value on the story from AOL, or the musings of the family’s attorney.  What we can agree on is that the deceased was shot by the security guard.  The fact that he was shot in the back, in and of itself, is not dispositive.  We have seen multiple instances where righteous shootings included entry wounds in the decedent’s back.  Force Science has done some extremely interesting forensic work showing the speed of a deadly force event and the twisting of a decedent’s body.


    For the purposes of academic discussion, however, let’s operate on the assumption that the decedent was, in fact, shot while trying to exit the store.  Essentially, the security guard was trying to “punish” the victim.


    While many of you would quickly realize that this is illegal, variants of this pop up from time to time in conversations with clients.  


    “So I was finalizing a deal with one of my construction workers and he started getting angry… He yelled at me and started coming at me.  I backed up and put my hand on my gun.  He blurted out, ‘Oh! you have a gun,’ and turned and walked away.”


    “Were you in fear for your life at that moment?”


    “From him?  No. But I wanted to be ready!”


    “Yeah… you broke the law.”


    “What? How?”


    “Your actions clearly showed that you had a weapon, which he acknowledged, and as a result of his knowledge, he changed his behavior.”  The California Penal Code (§417) states that you cannot display a weapon in a rude or threatening manner.”


    “But, I didn’t display it!”


    “Actually, you did; the fact that it never broke leather is not particularly relevant.”


    Deadly force, or the threatened use of deadly force, is only allowed at the exact moment the victim is in fear for his life.  If the threat has ended… (the bad guy is running away)… or there was no threat to the victim’s life to begin with, then deadly force makes you the bad guy!


    …. And we NEVER use deadly force to protect property!  Now, if someone is trying to kill you to get at your property…. well, that is an entirely different story.


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