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Seven people are sitting around a dinner table at a restaurant.
The discussion turns to ordering. Six people are in complete agreement that they should all order the fish. One poor patron is allergic to fish and says that she will opt out and order a steak. The six look at her in disgust and explain that she MUST order the fish. She points out that since she is paying the bill separately she has the economic power to order, or not order, anything that she wants.
They decide to hold a vote to decide if she should be forced to order the fish.
As you can imagine, the vote is six to one that she must comply with their demands.
She points out that while the vote may very well have been compliant with the rules of parliament, her ability to purchase has not been mitigated. She still has the dollars in her purse, and she can spend them on literally whatever she wants at the restaurant.
That is the power of minority rights.
In ancient Greece, Plato articulated the concept of democracy… and he was not particularly thrilled about the idea. In a democracy, the majority dictates the direction of the polity… and if the majority wants to steal and kill a minority to “get their stuff,” that, theoretically, would be completely acceptable.
Our Founders also understood the downsides of democracy, and instituted a glorious solution that transcended the basic principles of a republican form of government. They fundamentally recognized minority rights. This is enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
The majority has no inherent power.
They are not a mob that can use violence to ensure societal compliance. They can only seek to control the levers of governmental power to advance their social and political agendas. Once the power of the government has been invoked, it is constricted by the Constitutional limitations set forth in the Bill of Rights.
The majority can set the course of government policy… but they can never use the government to harass or decimate a minority. This minority is expansive. It clearly includes racial minorities, but it also includes minorities of thought. Disagree with me, and I cannot use the power of the State to limit your ability to speak, or to associate, or even to arrest you.
The Bill of Rights serves as our bulwark against the passions of the mob… the majority. It has kept our Republic intact for over 200 years. It also faces one of its biggest assaults right now.
(If you arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)
This last week, President Trump made two extraordinarily disturbing statements. First, he suggested that due process should take place after the powers of the State had seized weapons from someone suspected of being mentally incompetent. This actually implicates multiple Amendments. First, and obviously, the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, and second, the Fifth Amendment, “… [no person should]…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
President Trump’s argument is that sometimes, well… that darn “due process” just takes too long.
Establishing probable cause, and getting a judge to grant a warrant can happen literally in seconds. Now if probable cause does not really exist, it is the check and balance of the judiciary to ensure that the executive is not becoming tyrannical.
That is the whole friggin point!
The fact that those who have been calling Trump a despot since the election are now completely comfortable allowing him to essentially ignore the Constitution and expand executive power at the direct expense of the people is both disingenuous and disgusting.
Then he dropped this little gem:
When addressing Senator Pat Toomey he said, “You are afraid of the NRA."
Afraid of the NRA?
What the hell does that mean???
The NRA is the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.
Yes… you read that right… CIVIL RIGHTS organization.
Just as the ACLU is supposed to check the powers of government when it comes to abuses of the Constitution, so does the NRA. They conveniently choose to ignore that pesky 2nd Amendment when it comes to litigation. The NRA fights on behalf of the people in ensuring that the government does not abrogate the rights of the people.
Who, that has sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, could possibly be “afraid” of an organization that has, as its charter, the mission to ensure that elected representatives do not violate their oath?
The passions of the mob are aligned against gun owners, conflating legal and illegal gun possession into a single group. The mob does not have the fortitude, nor the extended passion, to organize and begin non-governmental confiscation of firearms. They do seem to have the ear of the President and Congress though. The bulwarks against their passions are the rights granted by the Creator and codified in the Bill of Rights.
When one is abolished, all are in jeopardy.
Then tyranny wins.
A number of years ago my daughter needed to attend a Hunter Safety Class. Being the proud dad of, at the time, a seven-year-old precocious suburbanite little girl, I dutifully hauled her out to our local range where they were conducting the class. This was my third time sitting through this. The first had happened 20 years ago when I went through the program. Then again, when my older daughter, Carolyn, was about nine, and now it was Chaney’s turn. Sort of like a state-sponsored “right of passage,” if you will.
What struck me this time was a casual statement the instructor made to the class.
“You have a responsibility to the 20 not to turn the 60 against us.”
What he meant by this little missive was a rudimentary study in political demographics. Twenty percent of the population is pro-hunting. They understand the benefits of hunting, both to themselves, as well as game populations. They may have unique personal agendas… from cultural, to spiritual as to why they hunt, but collectively they form a voting block that will never support legislation that would limit a hunter’s right to pursue game.
Then there is the other 20 percent. These guys are completely antagonistic to hunting. They see no benefit to going afield, and consider hunting and hunters barbaric. While they may consider themselves reasonable, logical individuals, they have little regard for science or logic when it comes to this. To them, hunting is not morally ambiguous, it is evil and, therefore, their crusade against hunting is inherently righteous. The fact that it is grounded in emotion, rather than logic, is of little consequence.
These two groups essentially cancel out each other when it comes to voting. To be sure, full participation in an election is required of each, lest the other one gain a numerical advantage to the apathy of the other side… but for the most part, there is a static balance between the two.
Then there are the 60 percent that lie between. These are the voters that can be swayed to either side from election to election. It is these 60 percent that hold the future in their hands. The mission of both enemy camps is to shore up their own base, and then to persuade the 60 to vote for their cause.
This persuasive argument comes in two forms: Appealing to the logic of the 60… and pointing out the bad behavior and egregious acts of the opposing 20. If the other side acts unreasonably, then the 60 will logically gravitate towards the opposing 20, regardless of the merits of their overall argument. After all… who wants to associate or defend the egregious behavior of others?
This is where we are now when it comes to firearms rights.
The debate is not just about the logical right of a CCW holder to defend children in schools, or the inherent right of individuals to exercise their Second Amendment rights by buying the weapon of their choice… this has become an existential threat to the Constitution itself. For once the Second has been repealed or neutered to such a degree that it becomes ineffectual…there is nothing that prevents the tyrant from moving on to the First, the Fourth, or the Fifth. (Yes, Cosmo…even the Third could be repealed!)
(If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)
This brings up something that I have been observing for quite some time when we go to the range for our live-fire shoots.
One of the things that we, as shooters,… (not just CCW holders, who are a special group which requires a unique set of standards)… need to understand is that we are literally on stage, all the time.
The 20 percent who find the idea of firearm ownership abhorrent is in a continual battle with us, and the prize is the hearts and minds of the 60.
It isn’t supposed to be this way.
The Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights, is a document that is specifically designed to protect the minority from the majority. If the majority of voters thinks that a specific race of people should not be afforded the right to vote, or engage in economic activity, or speak, or enjoy the right to counsel, their efforts to impose their will on this minority are stymied by the very document that empowers the majority to vote in the first place. The Constitution is the ultimate protector of “minority rights”… and with that comes a predictable body politic. When predictability occurs, trust is generated. Trust is not necessarily altruistic. It is just a reasonable interpretation of what will logically occur given a set of actions. Since there is trust in the polity, there can be a measure of risk incurred. Risk may take the form of voting, risk may take the form of signing a contract for employment, or the lending of money. Since the rights of the minority are sacred and protected by our core document, we can make measured decisions and rely on predictable outcomes. When we become totally dependent on the will of the masses, when the rights of the minority exist temporally based exclusively on the whims of the majority… there is no predictability and our society, our economy, both cease to exist.
The truly scary part is that we now have a clarion call to repeal or ignore sections of the Constitution for the singular benefit of the 20 that find the idea of personal firearm ownership, and use of firearms, antiquated at best… antisocial at worst. They are prepared to destroy the foundations of our Republic in order to achieve the emotive goal.
And some of us have aided them.
There are evil individuals who have taken up arms against their fellow citizens and students. They are the friends of the anti-gunners.
Whether their motivation was political, retributive, religious… or just because they are insane, makes little difference. The beneficiaries of their actions are those antagonistic to the Second.
Just as Daniel Boone, Davy Crocket, Annie Oakley, Audie Murphy, and Chris Kyle serve as models and inspiration for our side of the pro-2A 20 percent… so do the monsters at Columbine, at the Pulse Night Club, Aurora, and now a school in Florida serve as evil icons for the antis.
That leaves the question of where do you stand?
I told our CCW class this last weekend that things have changed. When you are at the range and you are training, what do you look like?
Think about that question for a second.
What do you look like?
Are you polished? Are your weapon manipulations honed? Do you look terrified to be holding a gun? Do you look ridiculous holding a gun? Are you following range rules as though they were inspired by Divine Providence? Are you polite? Are you competent?
Here is the big question…. If you could look at yourself in the third person and watch your actions, your attention to safety, your marksmanship, your skill sets… would you be comfortable allowing someone that looks and acts like you being the guardian of the Thin Red, White and Blue line that exists between your child and oblivion?
The 20 percent that would seek to empower the tyrants by disarming the citizens are clear in their message to the 60…”The other 20 cannot be trusted!”
What do we show them when we are at the range?
Do we show them, and all who watch, the sheer fallacy of the message… or do we confirm it?
You must assume, at any moment there is a news crew from the legacy media at the range videotaping and hoping for a disaster. If not a news crew, then a kid with a cell phone will do just fine.
“You say that teachers who have CCWs should be allowed to carry on campus… Well, let’s just show you and the audience this video footage of CCW holders training at the range. This was filmed last Sunday… Bob… roll the tape.”
25 million people are now treated to the spectacle of civilians imitating the Keystone Cops, and one having a negligent discharge into the ground.
You think that might have an effect on the 60?
Second Amendment supporters are a massively egalitarian bunch. We are also, contrary to the other 20 percent, the most inviting. We yearn to bring more into our community. We are successful, too… which makes the antis that much more nervous.
Check yourself. Be active, train constantly, train consistently, and train with purpose… but always know that, while you are training, you are being watched. We are not just in a fight for the hearts and minds of the 60 percent… we are potentially seeing an existential threat to our Republic. With the highest standard of professionalism, patriotism, and dedication, recognize our new reality, and act accordingly.
A bomb goes off in Israel; hundreds are injured and killed. A rabbi solemnly walks to the microphone and reminds his country's people that evil exists in the world, and resistance to evil means not succumbing to it.
The next day people go on about their lives.
Each day people are killed or injured throughout the world due to the reckless actions of those that become inebriated, and then get behind the wheel of a vehicle. We scorn them, we prosecute them, but we don’t abandon our vehicles, for to do so, would fundamentally alter our way of life as a result of the actions of a minority.
Each day throughout our country defendants are let out of courtrooms as free people. Not that they did not commit the crime, but rather the actions of the State in collecting evidence violated their Fourth Amendment rights…. yet we seldom engage in a debate to abrogate the Fourth, and allow unfettered police powers.
The First Amendment kills.
It kills both as a result of speech and religion. From the Branch Davidians, to Jones Town, to those poor souls waiting for salvation from Hale Bop, to even the desperate soul seeking spiritual salvation as a means of curing a terminal disease through the medium of a big-haired televangelist.
Yet, we do not cry in mass for repeal of the First Amendment.
The Bill of Rights can be abused. It happens all the time. But these foundational principles of the nature of humanity, and the rights infused from our Creator, cannot be revoked through legislative fiat… regardless of how popular it might be to do so at any given time.
This last week we saw, again, evil manifest.
This time Loki touched the mind of a monster in Florida, and children died as a result.
These children were, by law, required to be in a confined space without the adequate protection necessary to be protected from a foreseeable act. A great debate has ensued since Newtown as to whether teachers should be armed. There are many that feel the mere presence… even the potential presence… of a gun in a classroom is too traumatizing for a student, or parent, to bear. Reluctantly, they acquiesce to the presence of school resource officers… but even they are limited in numbers, and their effectiveness is put into question.
It is sad, but standard fair. When these tragedies occur, the Antis immediately talk about “common sense gun control.” This usually means an outright banning of the AR-15 and standard capacity magazines…. as though this has any bearing on the evil manifest in the heart of the murderer.
Senator Bill Nelson (D) from Florida was interviewed the night of the event, and was boasting about his Second Amendment credentials. “I’ve been a hunter all my life… I own guns… but an AR-15 shoots high caliber ammunition from a high caliber clip! Senator Feinstein and I tried to get these things banned, but were unsuccessful… we need to revisit this… no one needs a weapon whose sole function is to kill hundreds of people.”
What the hell?!?!
Senator Nelson’s protestations aside… No one who is a law-abiding citizen needs the protection of the Fourth Amendment. No one who is not a member of a cult needs the protections of the First Amendment. And let’s be frank…. who really needs that pesky antiquated Third Amendment thing anyhow? (Sorry, Cosmo… I know you feel that the purpose of the Third Amendment was to avoid placing an agent of the State in someone’s home… someone that could enforce the rules of the Crown against the Colonists… In modern day, this might very well take the form of wire-tapping, or warrantless monitoring… but come on… if you have nothing to hide… who should be concerned?)
The point is… and it is the most germane point… what the hell has happened since the 1970s?
We have had weapons that expend projectiles through the use of gunpowder for over 500 years. We have had weapons that were capable of repeated fire as early as the Revolutionary War, and in mass production since the late 1800s. Children… (yes, children) could order a gun from the Sears and Roebuck catalog right up to the 1950s… yet, there were no mass shootings.
Our first mass shooting occurred in the early 1970s just a few years after the 1968 gun control act. After that event… well, all bets were off.
To deny that something is “happening” out there would be folly. Something clearly is… but, what is it?
Colonel Dave Grossman puts this squarely on violent video games, which he describes as a toxic training tool that desensitizes youths towards violence, and makes violence the goal.
Perhaps… Not all players of video games become school shooters… but all school shooters played violent video games.
Modern pharmacology may also play a role.
More people are under the influence of behavior-controlling drugs than at anytime in human history.
What is not at issue is the tool used by the assailants. As we have seen repeatedly now through the use of vehicles, knives and acid… when there is a will to create carnage, there is a way.
So let’s ban guns. Let’s tear out the Second Amendment. Is that too draconian? Then let’s limit it to only the guns that were in service at the time of ratification… (no wait, they had a repeating rifle way back then, too). Ok… let’s specifically ban semi-automatic rifles, as “they have no practical value for self defense.” (Let’s just pretend that the church shooting in Texas never happened, ok?)
What is to prevent a murderer from going to Home Depot and making a gun from scratch… it ain’t that hard, folks.
Well…. we will make that action illegal!
Isn’t murder already illegal?
Alvin Doe et al. v. Becerra
“Many a mickle makes a muckle.”
For those of you who are familiar with 18th century idioms…. (you have an odd hobby).
Those of you who watched the excellent series, Turn: Washington’s Spies, might have heard George Washington utter this phrase. Basically, a lot of little things make a big thing.
Such is often the case in the cause of freedom.
The California Court of Appeal, Third District, just issued a smack down to the State… specifically the California Department of Justice… in the case of Alvin Doe et al. v. Becerra.
While this case will probably not directly affect the majority of you, it does have potentially further reaching implications.
Those of you who want to read the actual decision can access it here:
Here is what the case boils down to:
California has a rule that says you cannot acquire more than one handgun in a 30-day period of time. There are, however, exemptions to that rule; private party transfers are one such exemption with which many of you may be familiar. One of the other exemptions states that if you have a FFL and a COE (Certificate of Eligibility), you are exempt for the 30-day rule.
So… back in 2014 Mr. Doe (and friends), who happen to have Curio and Relic FFLs, and held valid COEs, asked the DOJ, “Hey… we are exempt from that whole 30-day thing right?”
The DOJ replied by saying, “Ummmm… no… you are not exempt.”
The plaintiffs replied, “Huh?!? We are FFLs!”
“Yes, but you are Curio and Relic FFLs.”
“So, you are only licensed for the collection of curios and relics.”
“Can you point us to the applicable law that you are referencing?”
“I don’t need to. I am the State Attorney General, and I get to make this @#$@ up as I go along!”
Well, the Court of Appeals disagreed with the State Attorney General.
One of the two important aspects in this decision involved the following phrase:
In fact, the literal interpretation of the licensed collector exemption, when read in conjunction with the applicable federal law, appears to be that despite the limited utility of the collector’s license during the purchase of a regular handgun, the purchaser remains “licensed” as a collector under federal law. Stated differently, while the license does not apply to a transaction that does not involve a curio or relic, the license is not invalidated by such a transaction. (27 C.F.R.
Basically, once you have a license, you have a license. Even if the underlying transaction does not implicate the license, it does not mean that the license suddenly went away. If there are benefits to being a licensee, they still apply to you.
Second was this little gem:
As to this particular question of statutory interpretation, there is no reason to believe the Bureau of Firearms has ‘a comparative interpretive advantage over the courts.’ (Yamaha Corp. of America v. State Bd. of Equalization (1998) 19 Cal.4th 1, 12)
Boom! Mic drop!
This was the court basically telling the DOJ to cut the crap when it comes to statutory interpretation. Essentially the DOJ had said that since the statutory language was “unambiguous and not open to interpretation,” there was no need to engage in any mandatory Office of Administrative Law procedures. (Administrative law procedures are public processes that allow for the development of administrative procedures that an executive agency uses to enforce statutory law crafted by the Legislature.)
The court disagreed, and basically said that the language is complicated and potentially contradictory…. they blew it when they decided to just move forward and create a policy without going through the proper procedure.
So… does this create any real opportunities for the Subjects of the Crown in California?
Yet, whenever the arbitrary and capricious power of the State is curtailed, we sit back and smile, and raise our glasses in a toast for freedom.
Our Colonel walked into the JAG office, and was met by the anonymous, “Attention on deck!”
All of our conversations ceased, and we rose to attention.
“As you were.”
We all returned to our seats, and watched in silence as the physically imposing COL (CA) Bollinger made his way to the center of the conference table.
We were assembled for drill in our “JAG Shop” at JFTB Los Alamitos.
There were roughly 20 commissioned officers (and two PFCs) for our monthly drill. We all serve in the California Military Reserve as Judge Advocate General Officers. For those of you who have never heard of this division (or missed the TV show), we are military lawyers.
“Today’s drill is going to be a little long, I warn you.”
“We are going to be going over some internal cases and discussing some philosophical issues associated with your military service.”
Hmmm… this cannot possibly be a good thing.
“Before we begin, I want to implore all of you: Wear your rank, as though it is the last one you will ever have.”
This opening statement from COL (CA) Bollinger, who, in his civilian life, is a brilliant defense attorney, left me honestly confused. Most of us in the room are Majors or LTCs. I am one of a handful of Captains. Was he suggesting that we should look at promotion as irrelevant?
As he continued, the brilliance of that statement began to make sense.
“You have a singular mission. Your job is to advise commanders of the legality of their actions. Many will not be particularly thrilled with your advice. Many will seek to ignore your advice. You must strive to ensure that your advice is both accurate and followed. Your client is not the commanding officer; your client is the California and the Army National Guard. You might be called upon to provide legal advice to a soldier who is about to be deployed, or you might need to run interference for a soldier who is deployed. You must ensure that that soldier is given the best legal representation he or she can get… because, ultimately, their mission is dependent on their being able to execute it. You are serving the soldier… but, ultimately, you are serving the mission of the U.S. Army.”
“Some might be upset at your insistence to legal protocols. Some may even seek to have you transferred, or your promotions stalled, as retribution for your dedication to military justice. They may be successful, for a time. You must find their actions and schemes to your personal ambitions irrelevant. Justice and honor must take precedence over your own advancement. Do what is right…. wear that rank as though it is the last you will ever have, and provide counsel accordingly.”
Motivational speech notwithstanding, the Colonel had a valid point.
We swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. We accepted billets in the Legal Services Division of the California State Military Reserves. Our mission is to defend soldiers and offer advice. Those that would stand in our way must be brushed aside as we move forward. As the war correspondent, Alex Quade, stated so eloquently when reporting on her time with the Green Berets, “They have a constant phrase, ‘Charlie Mike’…. continue the mission.”
Someone asked me once… a cop… what it is like to successfully argue a motion for the suppression of evidence that lets a known criminal out of incarceration. He was not asking me specifically, it was more of a general question. As an attorney, how could you do such a thing?
My law partner, Cosmo Taormina (A Major in the same unit that I serve), once told me that defense attorneys sit at the right hand of God. “We are the last line of defense against the unlimited powers of the State. We are what makes the government act with legitimacy. Without us, the forces of tyranny have no road blocks.”
He is right.
I responded to the law enforcement officer with my own version.
“I do not defend criminals. I defend the Constitution. When the State has violated the Constitution, I call them on it. The criminal is simply an unintended beneficiary.”
I have sworn three oaths to the public in my life.
The most recent one took place in that JAG shop at Los Alamitos when I became a commissioned officer.
Before that, I swore an oath when I became an officer of the California Supreme Court. (Incidentally, that oath, which all lawyers take upon passing the bar, is decidedly similar to the military oath.)
Before that, I took an oath, five days a week for twelve years. Most of you took that oath along with me.
Each morning I would stand at my desk and take an oath pledging allegiance to the United States of America, One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
That was not a short-term oath.
It does not dilute with the passage of time.
All of us are duty bound to follow the pledge that we all have taken. There are times when we might be disparaged for our actions in support of that oath. We might suffer personal retribution as we pursue justice and fight against tyranny. Yet, we must know that our cause is just and guided by divine providence. We must take solace in the knowledge that our generation stands as guardians to the next of the blessings of liberty. We must always be ready, even in the face of insurmountable odds, to “Charlie Mike." There is no greater struggle than the fight against tyranny. We must all wear our rank as though it is the last we will ever have.
SHOT SHOW 2018
Each year the shooting industry converges on Las Vegas for our annual “Shooting & Hunting Outdoor Trade Show.” This is for all intents and purposes the functional equivalent to the Detroit Auto Show for guns. Literally, all manufacturers have some sort of presence at the show, and they are not only looking for dealers to sell their existing product lines, but also unveiling their new products for the next year.
This is also a bit of a political gathering as well; at least, it has been in the past. Politics were decidedly subdued this time around… probably had something to do with the perceived lack of an existential threat to our industry as a result of the new administration.
In fact, there was a subdued atmosphere to the whole show.
It was crowded… no change there from last year. But the buzz and excitement of prior years was just not there.
There were, however, some pretty cool things that deserve to be discussed:
If you arrived from the Newsletter, start reading from here.
Sig Sauer P365
So, Sig Sauer has developed a new striker fire handgun that seeks to compete directly with the Glock 43. It is small and sleek. From what I can tell from a few dry fire rotations, they seem to have included a SRT trigger as a stock item. From working the action and pressing the trigger in a dry fire environment, my first reaction is that this is a gun that is absolutely outstanding. Obviously, I was not able to send live rounds down range on the convention floor, so I can’t comment on how it actually performs in the field… but the limited time I had with it, I loved it. Frankly, I love it far more than the Glock 43. It “feels” better… and, without a doubt, the trigger is far superior. Of course the California Department of Justice views this as an “unsafe” handgun since it is not on the roster. Thus, those of you reading this in Occupied California can only get access to this gun through the roster exemptions. The rest of you who are reading this in the United States… go out and try this little guy. I think you will like it.
Magpul Pro 700 Rifle Chassis
I love bolt-action rifles. I always have. Many of the chassis that we put on our guns look ridiculously cool, but really do not do anything to improve the accuracy of the rifle beyond a loaded barrel or pillar bedding. This beast was designed for one purpose… aiding the shooting to achieve the best possible hit on target that the rifle is capable of producing. It is specifically designed to allow for an ergonomic interface between the shooter's body and the weapon, from adjustable cheek welds (this is common on many chassis), to a thumb shelf for the shooter’s thumb so they can dispense with the pistol grip. (Really?!?! Someone finally came up with this!) For anyone interested in long-range accuracy, I would HIGHLY encourage you to check out the Pro 700.
Cocktail Discussion: Arrest of Former Deputy David Martin for Illegal Weapons
Then there is this.
I seriously debated writing about this in this blog, and waiting for next week to explore it. But, since we discussed it at SHOT, I figured what the hell…
A former deputy with the Butte County Sheriff’s Department was arrested this last week for illegal weapons possession. The details of the story are sketchy at best. What I can surmise, though, is that Mr. Martin is not a particularly nice guy. (A few of his neighbors have made statements suggesting this to be the case.) He likes guns. He likes to assemble guns. He ordered decommissioned weapons online, ostensibly to mine them for parts. (Honestly… I did not even know this was a “thing.”) Cool, though… Mr. Martin is into recycling.
ATF launches an investigation of Mr. Martin due to his online purchases.
He is arrested for “illegal assault weapons.”
Now, I have some questions which, seemingly, have not been addressed. Was he arrested by ATF or by local deputies who were assisting? It appears that the weapons violations revolve around his AR-15s, which would lead me to infer that he had traditional magazine releases on them (bullet buttons would not be a problem until after June 30th).
Ok… so let’s deconstruct this:
Mr. Martin is a jerk…. not illegal.
Mr. Martin purchased decommissioned parts off the Internet…. not illegal, per se. According to the article, ATF secured a search warrant based on the probable cause theory that he was purchasing these parts for the assembly of a machine gun…. Huh???
When searching the premises, they find weapons that violate California state law… good faith search and ostensibly in plain view, good to go… but what about the underlying probable cause?
As you can see, my major concern here is the basis of the ATF search warrant. If I am at Home Depot, and I buy a bag of fertilizer, did I just give ATF probable cause based on a theory that I am going to make explosives? Since explosives could be relatively small, does the warrant allow them the scope to search through every nook and cranny of my house?
This case deeply troubles me. Now, having said that, I am even more dubious about the reporting on this case. There may very well be a much stronger reason that the ATF executed the warrant, and the “assault weapons,” for all I know, are machine guns. Nonetheless…. it made for an interesting discussion at one of the bars during the show.
Oh yeah…. my skills at the blackjack tables sucked this year, too.
A number of years ago I read, On Combat, by LTC Dave Grossman. There are a handful of books in my library that I can honestly say are life changing; On Combat is one of them. Grossman’s study of physiological and psychological dynamics that take place in the toxic realm of combat is unsurpassed. Moreover, his research into the motivations of soldiers called to live the life of sacrifice is both informative and inspirational.
So, when I was given a heads-up that Grossman was going to be doing a presentation for members of the Law Enforcement Community in Orange County, I jumped at the chance to listen to his lecture.
He is one of the most impassioned and dynamic presenters to whom I have ever had the pleasure to listen. The organization that sponsored LTC Grossman is called The Bascom Group. These guys own, and manage, real estate developments throughout the country. To give back to law enforcement personnel in their communities, they sponsor Grossman to come out and present to these agencies for free. (Hell, they even give lunch to the cops in attendance.)
One of the managing partners of The Bascom Group is a gentleman named David Kim. David met Sandy at this initial lecture, and the two became friends. A few months later The Bascom Group contacted Artemis and asked if we could help organize another Grossman event, this time in Pomona. We were more than happy to help, and Sandy was able to put together a spectacular event. This developed into our hosting another presentation in Scottsdale, and, then again, in Costa Mesa.
Recently, The Bascom Group asked us to put together another Grossman event…. this time in Vegas.
Now it was our own Terra’s time to shine.
Many of you have met Terra. She is our office manager and resident artist. This was also the first time she had been asked to fill up a theater full of cops in an area that she does not live. She dove headfirst into the project, and in the end, filled a theatre at UNLV with 300 State and Federal Law Enforcement Officers. She did a great job… it didn’t hurt that Grossman’s reputation for an awesome lecture precedes him.
Last Thursday, I accompanied Terra to Vegas to see Grossman again, and to introduce Grossman to the law enforcement officers in attendance.
His class, as always, was mesmerizing.
He focused on something that I know he has mentioned before, but now seems to stress a bit more: Always have your gun available.
Now, this lecture was not for CCW holders per se; it was for sworn law enforcement officers. Yet, he has seen an issue nationwide, throughout the years, which he is determined to confront head on: Off-duty cops who choose not to carry their guns.
The psychological trauma that comes from knowing that you have the skill set to save lives, but you have consciously made the decision not to carry the necessary tools required by that skill set, is too much for many survivors to bear.
“If you have the ability to carry a firearm, never be without the lifesaving tools of your profession.” Truer words have never been spoken.
What was also interesting were the words of appreciation we received. During the breaks quite a few officers approached me to thank me for “putting this together.” I told them the credit really belonged to The Bascom Group and Terra’s hard work. That said, we were all glad they could attend.
Many of them… interestingly enough most of them were federal law enforcement… were simply thrilled to have this kind of training available to them at all.
“We don’t typically get this type of training.”
“Rarely do we ever get anything this practical and eye-opening.”
“I’ve read many of Grossman’s books… but I never thought my department would actually let me attend one of his presentations.”
These were some of the expressions of gratitude we received.
While we are happy… thrilled… that these officers were able to get this training, we are concerned that a greater emphasis is not being placed on continual reinforcement of the skills necessary to prevail a deadly encounter.
Budgets, bureaucracy, and politics are, in my view, merely excuses for obstructionist, institutionalist personalities. If their individual paychecks were in jeopardy, they would figure out a way to get paid. If their own existence were threatened, they would prepare to prevail. Those that stand on the front lines against the forces of chaos must be given the training and the tools necessary to prevail against those who would seek to destroy them.
The Battle of Thermopylae
It is a noble idea that there are some conflicts, even where the resulting defeat is inevitable, that must still be joined with extreme ferocity. I have included Miguel de Cervantes’ character of Don Quixote for a reason. He is a tragic character, a cuckold driven to the point of insanity and desperation to find a reason for his own existence; he pretended to battle with windmills. One could argue that he was well aware that the buildings he called “dragons” were nothing more than farming structures, yet the only way he could maintain his dignity was to accept an alternate reality wherein he was a knight of the church doing battle against demons.
We often look at our pro-gun legislators… (yes, there actually are a couple)… and see that they will introduce bills aimed to protect our freedoms. Yet, we sadly do little to acknowledge them. Sure, we give them the occasional “like” on Facebook, or read approvingly an article that references their bill, but we, as gun owners, typically focus our energies on the negative. We shake our fists at the petite tyrants who would usurp our freedoms… but rarely do we shake the hands of those who go into the lion’s den and try, however doomed that attempt might be, to fight for the cause of freedom.
Let’s look at two recent items that have come up in the new legislative session:
AB-1394: This bill was killed in the Public Safety Committee this last week. Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, who has announced his run for Governor of the ungovernable State of California (and who is also an Artemis client), argued passionately for this bill. It would effectively delete the requirement of “good cause” for the issuance of a CCW. Many of you are well aware that the “good cause” requirement differs wildly between jurisdictions. In Orange County, the “good cause” is interpreted in a manner in which a reasonable law-abiding citizen has an extremely high probability of attaining a permit. In Shasta County, the “good cause” requirement is essentially read as “the applicant wants a permit.” In Los Angeles and San Francisco, it means you are a celebrity or FOS (Friend of the Sheriff). This creates the irony that a resident of Orange County, who has a permit, can carry into Los Angeles, but a resident of Los Angeles cannot carry outside his door. (One day I would like to see this challenged on an Equal Protection Theory…. Who knows… if there are any Los Angeles residents out there who would consider being a plaintiff, give me a buzz.)
Allen argued his position, and the merits of changing the law. He was eloquent, passionate, and above all else… eminently logical.
His bill never made it out of Committee.
The outcome was not surprising, but the sheer fact that it was brought up in the first place deserves recognition, and a “thank you.”
Next we have SB-710, sponsored by State Senator Joel Anderson, R-38th District. This bill would have allowed the use of suppressors for the legal pursuit of game. For those of you who don’t hunt, this might require some explanation. When we hunt (with rifles), we don’t wear hearing protection. For the successful hunter this really does not make a tremendous difference. When we are at the point that we have an animal in our sights, and we press the trigger, our adrenaline is at such an accelerated level we actually don’t hear the gun… or if we do, the sound of the report is manageable. When we must, unfortunately, take follow-up shots, the sound of the rifle can be debilitating.
Those that are participating in the hunt with us… our guides, or friends, or family members, often do not have the advance warning that the hunter is about to press the trigger. If you have ever been at a rifle range without wearing hearing protection, you know how potentially dangerous this can be to someone’s ears. The use of suppressors poses absolutely no danger to the public. The use of suppressors on a rifle while hunting provides only benefits to the hunters, and their hunting partners. Again… this was an eminently logical bill.
It died in Committee, too.
Senator Anderson is well aware that many of the citizens of California have a misguided and ill-informed understanding of managed hunting. Few understand that the North American Game Management Model has done more to create thriving populations of deer, elk, and bear. He is also aware that the anti-gunners have little interest in expanding the rights of gun owners. Still, he went to bat for us. We must recognize his efforts, and thank him for his support.
Then there is the other side…
Senator Antony Portantino, D-25th District, was back at it again. His Quixotic war with guns has been focused on those who sell them. He attempted, last year, to make the security measures that FFLs needed to go through so onerous… so expensive, that few, if any, gun stores would be capable of doing business in the Golden State. In this session he came up with a new idea… mandate that every FFL in California MUST be inspected by the Department of Justice every two years. At first blush this seems reasonable, until you look at the rationale and the cost. Every FFL that does business in California knows that at any time a DOJ inspector, or an ATF investigator, can come into the FFL’s business and demand to do an inspection. These inspections take anywhere from a couple of days to a week to perform. There are a limited amount of DOJ inspectors, and, with the new ammunition laws in effect, there are now more records that need to be inspected. For what purpose does this mandatory inspection serve? Who benefits from this? What pressing problem will now be thwarted by the implementation of this law? What we do know is that there will need to be a lot more inspectors hired. The cost to the State will increase, and the cost to the consumer will also naturally go up.
This one passed through the Committee without any problems at all.
I urge you… contact Assemblyman Allen and Senator Anderson, and thank them for their service, and their attempts at protecting our freedom. Then pour yourself a glass of whisky, and contact Senator Portantino, and, ummm… let him know what you think of him.
The Devil’s Cabbage.
The Gateway Drug.
Marijuana has had a fascinating history since the end of Prohibition. Without getting into the philosophical arguments associated with decriminalization… Many of you know my libertarian beliefs… I fundamentally believe that YOU own your body… What you do with it is totally within your own jurisdiction. You can sell your body for labor; you can sell your mind and intellect for commercial purposes. If we extrapolate that to the natural conclusion, what you put into your body is completely up to you. If the State has a right to control what you consume, or how you sell your labor, then it means the State has a higher property interest in your body than you do.
That is where I get all squeamish.
Apparently, there are quite a few of you who tend to agree with me… or at least are more interested in the pharmaceutical benefits of marijuana than the philosophical arguments surrounding its usage.
This last week I received several calls about marijuana, and how it relates to guns.
Some background information is in order: Most people believe that, to some degree, marijuana is legal in California and a number of other states as well. This is not an entirely true statement. Marijuana is not “illegal” under state law. It is, however, a federally controlled substance. As such, it is completely within the jurisdiction of the Feds to regulate, and, if they choose, prosecute a marijuana user or seller.
The 4473 Form you fill out when you buy or transfer a gun is a federal document.
That document (which you are signing under the penalty of perjury) §11 (e) reads as follows, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance? Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law, regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”
Hmmmm… Well, that is pretty clear.
So… the questions I usually get go something like this:
“Hey Steven…. hang on… I’m just looking at how all of these molecules in the air are forming into a gas… Whoa! Sorry about that, um… So, if I have a Medical Marijuana Identification Card… Sorry… if a friend of mine has a Medical Marijuana ID Card… can they still like, you know, buy a gun”?
“ALRIGHT! That’s awesome dude!… Wait, uh… what do you mean possibly?”
“So here is the thing. The 4473 Form requires you make a declarative statement that you are not an “unlawful user.” If you say you are not, we will take your word for it. That being said, a Medical Marijuana ID Card does not conclusively rebut the presumption that you are being honest in your statement that you are not an “unlawful user." It simply means that you are in possession of a Medical Marijuana ID Card. There are a number of reasons why you might possess that card: 1) You like the look of the card; 2) You like having multiple licenses in your wallet; 3) You own a medical marijuana business; or, 4) You think our drug laws are asinine and even though you are not a drug user, you want to show your solidarity with the zombies and the rehab clinics.”
“Oh yeah… okay… so, I uh, I don’t do drugs, dude.”
“Nah… I like my reality as it is man.”
“Of course you do.”
The exchange above, notwithstanding the confusion around marijuana and its relationship to firearms ownership, has proven to be quite confusing to many. To make matters even more complex, Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, announced on Thursday of last week that he would be ending the policy of the DOJ not prosecuting medical marijuana dispensaries for violation of federal law. (Well, that is not exactly what he said… What he is really doing is allowing his Deputy US Attorneys to use prosecutorial discretion when it comes to going after these dispensaries.)
Regardless, an individual that is “using” marijuana may not be in possession of a firearm. This creates the next rabbit hole; what exactly is “using”? Is using contemporaneous with the possession of the gun? Is it constructive possession? When filling out the 4473 Form, is it at that exact moment in time that is under discussion? (“Well, right now I’m not an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana… Can’t say the same tonight after I get done watching Bonanza on TV Land!”)
As is often the case, there are no clear-cut answers… What I can tell you is that your body truly is your temple… treat it like one. While I am antagonistic toward laws that mandate how you live your life, or what you do with, or put into, your body, I also have a rational mind. I would never suggest a law is necessary to prevent someone from jumping off a cliff… but I would not recommend that activity simply because it is legal. I have seen the devastation caused by drug use… nothing good ever comes of it.
Instead, I wholeheartedly endorse the consumption of whiskey.
As we enter kicking and screaming into 2018, we must take stock of where we are, and the forces that are conspiring against us.
First, the good news: We are all still breathing.
Now, the areas of concern: Pretty much everything else.
A number of years ago I was taking a class with the famed TJ Johnston of AllSafe Defense. TJ, for those of you who don’t know, is sort of an institutional icon in California. He helped develop the NRA Personal Protection Outside the Home class, and sat on the Board of Directors for the NRA.
Toward the end of the class he offered his dire predictions for gun rights in California. He was, of course, correct in his assessment… but we, as gun owners, have been able to muddle through for the last few years nonetheless.
Over this New Year’s weekend I read a story that gave me pause, though.
As you all know from last week’s blog, and from the general scuttlebutt in the 2A community, the Anti’s are using access to ammunition as a means of stifling our gun rights.
One of the most egregious aspects of this is the bottlenecking of the stream of commerce regarding ammunition exclusively to FFLs and “Licensed Ammo Vendors.” The original intent of the law was to ensure that all ammunition sales take place “face to face”… meaning that if a product was purchased via the internet, it would have to be delivered first to a FFL or to a “Licensed Ammunition Vendor.” From there, the purchaser would have to physically visit the business to pick up the product.
We have focused so much of our attention on the buyers and the FFLs, we have all but forgotten the impact this has on non-FFL ammunition businesses.
Years ago there was a custom reloader up in Glendora called “Gunsmoke” Larry. Larry was a sole proprietor, and operated out of a ramshackle office on the second floor of a run-down office building. His little office always looked like a bomb had just gone off in it. Loose brass, fittings, and unopened lunch bags littered the torn and stained carpet. Larry would always be smiling, sitting behind his cinder block constructed counter, working his press and building custom loads for clients.
He was an artist.
All of my long-distance loads were custom produced by Larry, and I literally trusted him with my life, as did a boatload of other customers.
He was a gem that never advertised his services. Like the old speakeasies…. you had to tell him who sent you the first time you arrived at his office.
He also did not have an FFL.
There are literally hundreds of other “Larrys” throughout California.
These small shops were mandated after Proposition 63 to get an ammunition vendor license. (Reloading does not fall under the auspices of Prop 63… but not every purchase through these shops is reloaded ammunition. Sometimes, you just need some Winchester White Box. Rather than reloading a ton of .45, it is cheaper for these guys to just resale them.)
One such shop was in the news article that I had read.
The owner had applied for a vendor’s permit, and, as of last weekend, had still not received it.
As of January 1, he was out of business… courtesy of the State of California.
They mandated a regulatory license, and had failed to honor their obligation to provide said license. His vendors refused to ship him product without a license, and thus, he was literally starved of product.
This is unacceptable.
The fact that the State requires this nonsense is, in my opinion, a violation of the Constitutional rights of both the buyer and the seller.
Many believe the slow process of the DOJ in issuing these licensees is part of a nefarious plot to further squeeze out the 2A community.
That very well may be… and nothing surprises me anymore.
But a good friend, and client of ours, once said something to me that has always rung true:
“Never bet against lazy.”
I am more apt to believe that the bureaucracy of government is more at fault than some ill-oriented intent.
Regardless, whether ineptitude or malicious action, there is no excuse for purposely, or negligently, driving an honest owner out of their business.
I hope this poor individual, and those like him, bring legal action against the State, and do not do as so many of our brothers and sisters have done, and simply flee to other states east.
“Vigilentibus et non dormantibus, juris serventium.”
The law does not help those that sleep on their rights.
We must be as forceful in our retaliation against the tyrants and the lazy as they are in their meddling with us. The law is a double-edged sword. Those who would use it against us must be prepared to defend themselves against our legal retaliations.
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