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Typically I go to SHOT Show every year, and Sandy gets to go to the NRA Convention. This year was a little different. It was decided about a month ago that Cosmo, my law partner, and I would go to the convention primarily to take part in the day-long legal seminar that the NRA puts on every year. Sandy, being the rational person that she is, suggested that it might be more efficient for Cosmo and me to go alone this year and spend our time doing lawyerly-like stuff without her worrying about the two of us getting lost or getting into trouble.
So, with cigars packed in our suitcases, Cosmo and I headed out to Texas for what would amount to a day-long continuing education seminar for lawyers, and a brief opportunity to wander the show floor before heading home.
The legal seminar was put on by the NRA’s chief legal counsel, and opened up with a “State of the Second” lecture by famed law professor Michael O’Shea. Those who have read the original Peruta decision (a spectacular treatise authored by Justice O’Scannlain) basically read a chunk of the work of Professor O’Shea.
There was nothing particularly “new” in his assessment, but he did offer some interesting ways of thinking about the jurisprudence of the Second Amendment that, candidly, had never crossed my mind. I am still digesting his law review article… and I can assure you that I will be bringing more of his brilliant legal thoughts to bear on my own analysis of Second Amendment issues.
Next was Cosmo’s favorite, Gerald Goldstein. Mr. Goldstein is one of the partners of Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr, and, like Cosmo, is a criminal defense attorney. He is a very funny and articulate attorney and, though he self describes as an “old, Jewish Texas hippie,” he is a fierce protector of the Constitution, and is, interestingly enough, both fascinated and deeply impressed by the Supreme Court’s newest Justice, Justice Gorsech. His musings on the Fourth Amendment were both illuminating and instructive.
These two were followed by several other lawyers and one appellate court judge. We started promptly at 8:00 am, and finished right at 5:30 pm. One highlight was the opportunity to meet with the attorney representing the young plaintiff in the Michigan Dick’s Sporting Goods lawsuit, alleging age discrimination in preventing the plaintiff, who is 19, from purchasing a rifle.
After an excellent dinner, some whiskey and cigars, and what seemed like an all too brief night’s sleep, it was off to the actual convention to see “some stuff."
(If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)
For those of you who have read my post, “SHOT Show”…. you pretty much are up to speed on the NRA Convention. The moment I walked onto the show floor I felt as though I was in Vegas…. the same vendors, using the same booths, showing the same stuff that was previewed at SHOT this last January. The only major difference was the option to actually buy stuff at the booths.
Cosmo finally got to meet Colin Noir, and take a picture with him. (I am sure that Mr. Noir was as excited as Cosmo was).
The highlight, though, for both of us was meeting with Sheriff Jim Wilson.
For those of you who read a lot of gun porn, especially vintage gun porn, you have undoubtedly read Wilson’s stuff.
I could have honestly spent hours with Jim just listening to him. Those of you who know my proclivity for talking, realize what a statement this is.
Jim is an anachronistic character… a truly gifted writer who evokes the stylistic flourishes of Robert Ruark, a singer with a baritone voice, who is both rich and accessible, a law man… and, most of all, a cowboy.
Sheriff Jim spent most of his life in a small, rural county in Texas, ultimately becoming the sheriff of that county.
Sandy met Jim at Gunsite a couple of months ago, and the two became instant friends. She called me after she had met him; she described Jim, and mentioned that he was a writer.
That was when I realized she was talking about Jim Wilson.
She told Jim that I had read just about everything he had written, and I was jealous that she had the opportunity to meet him.
His response was pure Jim Wilson. “Gosh, Mrs. Lieberman, you tell your husband that I am honored and touched that he appreciates my writing… but I am dubious about his taste.”
When you think of the stereotypical honored cowboy, the quiet man who lives by a code of honor, you are, in reality, thinking of Jim Wilson.
When there are no lady folk around, Jim also has no problem being a little freer with his language.
We were talking about Colonel Jeff Cooper. Jim and Jeff Cooper were close friends. He said that Cooper never, ever used swear words. Cooper, who was a Marine, was also a Stanford graduate. Jim said that Cooper once told him that he refused to use swear words because he had paid a lot for an education, and he did not need to use curse words to express himself.
Jim kind of smiled to himself and said, “That guy was f#@ing amazing.”
So, all in all, the show and the seminar were outstanding…. but as always, it is good to be home!
Police work is an inherently dangerous business.
Intuitively, we all know that, and when one of our community’s finest places his or her own life in jeopardy to protect the innocent, we swell with vicarious pride and admiration that in a world of such selfish preoccupation there are those who are willing to answer the call, even at their own peril.
Rarely, though, do we shift our focus to those who empower heroes to be heroes… their loved ones.
When we first opened our doors, Artemis trained law enforcement. Many times we were asked by our law enforcement clients if we would be willing to provide training to their wives, girlfriends, and, yes… sometimes husbands and boyfriends. More than just general marksmanship instructions, these cops wanted their loved ones to understand the types of pressures they face daily at work.
One time, an LAPD officer and his fiancé came into Artemis together for a private training session. At the conclusion of one of the more intense scenarios, the fiancé turned to her soon-to-be husband and exclaimed, “Okay… I will never again have an argument with you on the phone while you are at work.” She understood the sheer magnitude of the stress that her soon-to-be husband could, at a moment’s notice, be facing, and she did not want to distract him or cloud his judgment when, literally, his life could be on the line.
Enrolled in our last CCW class we had the wife of a law enforcement officer who is currently living with a credible, specific threat to his safety. As a means of protecting his family, he and his wife decided that she should get a concealed carry permit.
Her ability to shoot was already present. Growing up, her family (also cops), had seen to it that, with access to firearms in their home, she would be knowledgeable in their use and safety.
Understanding the stress of a deadly force encounter, or judgmental use-of-force… well, that was another matter.
One of the programs we developed a few years ago was “Date Night." This was the brain child of Sandy, and it was intended as a covert method of getting the “significant others” of cops into Artemis.
Couching a training event in the guise of a “night out,” Sandy orchestrated an evening of bonding and training. The evening begins with a three-course dinner at Artemis, followed by simulator work as couples for about a three-hour training block.
The program has become wildly successful.
Date Night participants still draw from law enforcement families, but now the ranks have grown to include CCW holders and their partners, to general firearms enthusiasts and their dates.
This broad community of participants is critically important for our law enforcement family.
Not only do the civilian clients get to interact socially with our law enforcement clients, but the partners of our law enforcement participants have an instant social connection to other civilians. This has proven an invaluable component to continual training. Spouses and significant others, after Date Night, often begin to work their way back to Artemis for continual training. This continual training is an essential aspect of what we deem our “couples therapy." When each partner becomes committed to training, and both understand the pre-incident stimuli that could trigger a use-of-force event, the confusion and second guessing by the non-trained partner is minimized.
Additionally, and frankly, more importantly in many respects, the officers begin to know that their significant other has the independent means of protecting themselves when they are not around. This “security” is as important to a healthy relationship as is communication.
Typically, once a quarter on a Saturday night we have our Date Night at Artemis. The event is open to 12 couples, and usually sells out. We highly encourage you to suggest, invite, or even deceive, your significant other…(yes… there have been incidents where the partners have thought they were going to simply see a movie)… and come in for our next Date Night!
In the meantime:
When you see cops, thank them for their service…. and understand, they have the same worries that you do, not just for their safety, or even your safety, but for the safety of their own loved ones. Often these worries can intrude on their day-to-day activities.
Victimization is an intensely personal thing.
Those who feel collectively victimized often arouse the ire and subsequent dismissiveness of those who fall outside of the collective. At a fundamental level, we realize that we are all individuals, and thus, individually, we have the capacity to feel victimized.
There are those who have been victimized because of their status… this is absolutely true. Virtually every minority on the planet has been subjected to collective victimization at one point or another. Even members of the established elite are, at times, victimized by their status (the “rich,” the “privileged” and members of law enforcement, for example, have been targeted for their egregious crime of “existing” in our society).
Still, the politics of victimization must take on a very personal aspect before the aggrieved can truly claim aggrieved status. The collectivists dismiss this notion, finding more political value in the whole being persecuted, than the individual. It flows, then, that when the individual is victimized, the whole group becomes the plaintiff.
There is, frankly, some truth to this.
When the monsters on 9/11 sent planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, all of us as Americans were victims of that atrocity. It mattered little if we watched those horrific events from another coast.
The same can often be said of petty crime as well.
This last week a client came to me and sheepishly told me he had been the victim of a kidnapping hoax.
The “Nigerian Scam” plays on the victim's sympathy toward another person in distress.
This scam is designed to scare the crap out of the victim.
Our client was contacted on his cell phone one morning. The call appeared to originate in Mexico, and the individual on the other end spoke in English with a heavy Latino accent. The first words out of his mouth were, “Charles (the client’s actual name), shut up and listen! We have your daughter, Veronica (the real name of the client’s 38-year-old daughter). If you want to see her alive again, you are going to do exactly as I say. Here is your daughter, amigo.” At this point the caller evidently held the phone up to a hysterical woman, with a typical Southern California accent. She was sobbing heavily and stated, “Daddy, help me! They threw me in a van while I was jogging!” The phone then went back to the “kidnapper.”
“If you want to see her alive, you are going to go to the bank and get us some money.”
The call was on speaker phone, so the client’s wife could also hear. She was obviously as distressed as her husband. The husband mouthed, “Call 911,” to the wife, then complying with the kidnapper’s demands kept the kidnapper on the phone as he raced out the door and headed to the bank.
Due to the wife’s 911 call, police were already present at the bank when the client arrived. The police approached the client and, with the “kidnapper” still on speaker phone, let the client know that this was a hoax. The police had already made contact with the daughter at her work, and she was just fine.
Instantly, the kidnapper disconnected the line.
The client felt foolish.
The law enforcement personnel did an outstanding job of comforting him. They let him know that his actions were entirely reasonable based on the extremity of the circumstances. He did nothing wrong. In fact, having his wife call 911 was literally the “right thing” to do.
Fortunately, she was around at the time of the call. Had she not been, and had the police not been notified, he was completely prepared to take all of his money out of his account and wait for further instructions.
What troubled me, though, was something that the detective told the client:
“This is the eighth time we have seen this happen.”
This sick act is an established crime.
I contacted my friends in law enforcement, and sure enough the number is closer to 12. Worse, there is very little they can do. The calls actually originate from overseas, and other than informing the public (one of the reasons for this blog entry), their ability to combat this problem is limited.
One of the things that was explained to me is that this type of crime usually comes subsequent to some sort of data breach. Either company emails are hacked, or databases become compromised. Typically, elderly individuals in zip codes where there is a relatively high net worth are targeted… (though this type of crime can happen to anyone). Details about the victim’s loved ones are data mined, so the call takes on an aura of authenticity.
Criminals have learned a lot about social engineering.
People have very specific behavioral traits; they are identifiable, and, thus, subject to exploitation. The intimacy of the call is critical. Enough detailed information, like the victim’s name, and the name of their loved one, creates an aura of authenticity. Add to that the sense of urgency that is conveyed, “This needs to be done right now, or you will never see your daughter again!”
We might like to gamble in Vegas… but in a situation like this, with even the chance that the caller might be telling the truth, we are literally shocked into compliance.
There is also a structure to the deal.
A contractual obligation.
If you do X, we will do Y.
While we may not trust a criminal, we feel we have very little bargaining power available to us, and we march forward with our eyes focused on the goal, not even considering that there might be an alternative… like having the wife call the daughter herself.
The thought of doing so did not even occur to our client or his wife until the the event was completely over.
There are bad people out there, people who would use the most monstrous of hoaxes to pry a few dollars from a vulnerable segment of our society. While the “Nigerian Princes” might rely on a person’s generosity (or greed)… these scoundrels prey upon our deepest fear: something bad might happen to our loved ones.
Be aware that evil exists in the world…. and stay vigilant.
Camp San Luis Obispo
As a military officer, you become accustomed to certain courtesies and privileges when on base. When a group of JAG officers is given orders to muster at a facility that is 200 miles away for a three-day conference, the event comes with certain… well… expectations.
This was not one of those weekends.
I am writing this blog tonight from my bunk, sitting cross-legged on my rack in the barracks with a bunch of grumbling JAG lawyers all exhausted from a day of “death by power point.”
We were ordered into formation this morning at 0400, and with the exception of three 15-minute breaks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the commissary, we went all the way to 2100 before we were marched back to our home away from home.
During the time that we were poring over legal cases involving random Article 15s and, of course, the mandatory sexual harassment training, we were given the passing news that the US bombed Syria.
It would have been nice to find out a little bit more about that…. but, hey… we had no internet, and we were doing some very important Army-type stuff.
Many of you know my law partner, Cosmo… While I am a lowly Captain, Cosmo towers over me as a Major.
He once told me that, “It is the divine right of all military personnel to complain.”
I never really understood that until this weekend.
All joking aside, this conference has proven to be invaluable.
If you are not aware of the truly remarkable JAG lawyers we have in California, you should be.
There have been a few times in my life when I have felt completely and utterly outclassed. My colleagues in my JAG unit honestly represent some of the finest legal minds in all of the United States. The brain power that this unit generates is truly staggering.
With all of these lawyers, let’s throw in a couple of Army Surgeons, two Army Psychologists, and, just to make sure the humor between the ranks stays acceptable, two Chaplains.
All training has some inherent value, and, while the whole is important, there are often nuggets of brilliance that may be overlooked.
One of these nuggets stood out enough for me to decide to write this entry. It has to do with training, and it came from a Chief Warrant Officer.
“Every day is a training day. Some days are emergency days. You can schedule training days…emergency days schedule themselves.”
This really hit home.
We spend a lot of time training. That is by design.
That is also something we can “schedule.”
We know that at 1615 we have a 4M class at Artemis.
I know that at 0745 I need to report to my JAG shop for legal training.
What I don’t know is when the bad guy is suddenly going to show up and try to kill me.
I can’t schedule that.
So I train constantly, I train consistently, and I train with purpose. At the end of the day as I go to bed, I know that I had a successful training day. Every so often I go to bed a survivor… knowing that I either survived, or avoided entirely, a violent encounter. That night I go to bed knowing I had a successful emergency day.
When we don’t have regular training days, we are not, by definition, prepared for the irregularly occurring emergency days.
Come on, i' God's name; once more toward our father's.
Good Lord, how bright and goodly shines the moon!
The moon! The sun; it is not moonlight now.
I say it is the moon that shines so bright.
I know it is the sun that shines so bright.
Now, by my mother's son, and that's myself,
It shall be moon, or star, or what I list,
Or, ere I journey to your father's house.
Go on, and fetch our horses back again.
Evermore cross'd and cross'd; nothing but cross’d!
Reality has imitated art. In Massachusetts, US District Judge William Young issued a ruling last week, in Worman et al. v. Healey, that the AR-15, the “modern musket,” is not a weapon that is protected by the Second Amendment.
Interestingly, he based a large part of his ruling on Heller v. District of Columbia.
This is where things get interesting. In his ruling he states:
“More specifically, Justice Scalia explained, ‘weapons that are most useful in military service — M-16 rifles and the like —‘ are not protected under the Second Amendment and ‘may be banned.’” (Civil Action No. 1:17-10107-WGY)
(For those of you following along at home, this is where Judge Young tells us that the sun is, in fact, the moon.)
We scratch our heads and read Heller, where Scalia actually states:
“This holding is not only consistent with, but positively suggests, that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to keep and bear arms (though only arms that ‘have some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.’)” (Heller v. District of Columbia 554 U. S. ____ (2008)
So… how did we get from “Only arms that have some reasonable relationship to the preservation and efficiency of a well-regulated militia” to “Weapons that are most useful in military service are not protected by the Second Amendment”?
They make it up.
We have been amused at the tortured logic that the anti-gun courts have used to justify prohibitions on firearms and firearms use. From the Fourth Circuit, in Kolbe v. Hogan, suggesting that the AR-15, the most ubiquitous rifle in America, was not in “common use,” to the proposal of “intermediate scrutiny” as a balancing test for laws that affect the Second Amendment.
When a fundamental right is potentially affected by a law, the “test” to determine whether that right is volitive of the Constitution is called a strict scrutiny analysis. Essentially, there must be a “compelling state interest,” and there must be no “less restrictive alternatives.” If the right being affected is not a “fundamental right,” then the State must only show a “legitimate state interest,” and the law must have a “rational basis” in achieving that interest… Anti-gun Appellate Courts, knowing that virtually nothing survives a strict scrutiny analysis, but being completely aware that a fundamental right should require strict scrutiny, came up with… on their own… a brand new “intermediate level of review”… cause, hey… why not?! Appellate Courts have elected to test the suspect law by seeing if “there is an important government interest, and the law is substantially related to achieving that interest.”
But hey, why stop there?
If the test does not get you the results you were looking for, then bypass the test completely and just completely rewrite the controlling case law!
That is what Judge Young did.
Stare decisis. Who needs stare decisis? We can use Makis it Upis!
We have a “well-regulated” legal system (to quote the Framers), and that legal system is predicated on predictable outcomes. When the outcome of a controversy…especially a controversy that is based on a fundamental right…is exclusively based on the political whims of a jurist, the social underpinnings of our legal system are shaken to their core. Without reliance that Madam Justice is blind, our society fails.
I want you to think of the color green.
Really think about it. Imagine the most perfect form of green there is. From a car, to a freshly cut lawn… yes, you can even think about money, if you would like.
Now, realize that it is entirely possible that you are the only entity who exists in this universe that perceives green the way that you do.
This same divide exists between those who espouse logic and those who rely on emotions.
A number of years ago, I watched as a group of anti-hunters held a protest outside one of our Safari Club events. (Safari Club International is a hunting organization that generates more money for habitat preservation than Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund.)
These people were triggered.
Veins were on the verge of popping as they shouted, “murderer” and “butcher” at us as we headed into our function.
What was their goal?
Did they really expect that one or two of us would stop and listen to them shouting at us, and then turn to each other and say, “Larry… do you hear that?!? They think that we are murderers! Boy, they are mad… really mad! Just look at them. Hmmm… we really should do whatever is necessary to make these good people feel more comfortable. What say we just stop hunting right here and now? You good with that?”
Of course they didn’t expect that. Their emotions were the single driving force of their actions. We could amass all of the scientific data available to show that the North American Model of Game Management did more to save species than any other policy enacted. We could explain the ethics and morality of hunting. We could even point out the hypocrisy of eating meat from a grocery store or restaurant, while being opposed to hunting. Yet, all of these arguments would have fallen on deaf ears.
They could never process what we were saying, because we were speaking two entirely different languages. Theirs was the language of emotions; ours was that of logic.
(If you have arrived here from our newsletter continue reading here…)
Over the last few days, Sandy and I have replied to many Facebook and direct email messages of individuals who are appalled that we 1) Support the Second Amendment, and 2) Have the audacity to display our affiliation with the National Rifle Association.
Our responses are always measured and logic oriented.
They are met with diatribes, and invectives.
The Antis have always asked for a “dialog on common sense gun reform.” Well, this time they got one… and they have been less than pleased that their ideology is being held up to rational scrutiny.
You see, theirs is a doctrine of emotionalism. Ours, by contrast, is one of logic. True, we have our emotional side as well. Reliance on historical precedent is, by definition, an emotional argument. Both sides of this divide have attempted to wrap themselves in the cloak of history. Yet, our use of history is far more nuanced than that of our adversaries. They try to use a form of revisionist history to suggest the Second Amendment should not be interpreted as anything more than a footnote in the Constitution to protect against a federal standing army. We use history as a means of showing the philosophical underpinnings of the Second Amendment.
The Antis are also not particularly receptive to cogent responses to their queries. During one email exchange, I was told emphatically that my interlocutor was, in fact, a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. I thanked him for supporting the Constitution in its totality, and asked where then does our disagreement lie?
He responded by stating he cannot understand why I am against… you guessed it… “common sense gun reform."
I asked exactly what that meant.
He then issued a litany of proposals that were, in fact, already law.
I pointed that out, and his response was that these laws are not nation wide.
Yet, in my state they are present, and we still have gun crimes.
Well… that is because all of these “illegal” guns were coming from neighboring states where there were “lax” gun laws.
I suggested if that were true, then the aggravated assault and murder statistics should be higher per capita in these neighboring states since, by definition, gun acquisition was easier there. Yet, they are not… so the only rational inference is that the “gun laws” present in my state are either ineffectual, or perhaps actually responsible, for the increased crime.
He responded by calling me a Fascist.
Since Florida, we have been consistently frustrated by anti-gun “experts” educating us on the dangerous nature of our weapons with clearly little understanding of even the basic nomenclature of our guns. (I swear, if I hear someone say “Full Semi Auto” again, I’m going to lose it!) We have also seen the rhetoric of the Antis become completely mired in the emotive nature of persuasion. Pathos must be tempered with Logos. When the Antis rely on the collectivist infallibility, they betray the weakness of their argument. Without a logical armature, their arguments resonate only in an echo chamber.
Those who must be persuaded… the ones with the guns… are not moved by their protestations.
Over the last weekend we witnessed the March For Life… or March for a lifestyle… or was it March for Our Lives? (I wonder if Planned Parenthood was consulted first on the use of that name?)
In any event, coinciding with the demonstrations were a number of “interesting” speeches, Facebook snap shots, and one demonstrably disturbing picture.
One of the youth leaders of this putative anti-civil rights movement was interviewed and offered a profanity laced tirade displaying a paranoia bordering on potential mental illness. In his missive, he seemed to harbor a particular vindictiveness towards older generations. (Evidently “ageism” is only tangentially a suspect class. When circumstances dictate, they can conveniently be used for ginning up the crowd.) According to this youth, the root cause of our social ills is not guns, not video games, not social awkwardness, not a culture of violence… it is old people who are not capable of using Apple’s iMessage.
He also seemed miffed that he cannot control the levers of the State the way he wants. A new law in Florida mandates that students in schools have clear backpacks and ID cards.
Sac re blu! That is a violation of their 1st and 4th Amendment rights! (Well, 4th, and possibly 5th, not 1st… but since he is playing fast and loose with the Constitution anyway, whose counting?)
He and his gang are demanding that rights be taken away by the government, but is he then shocked that rights he wants to hold on to are also subject to government revocation?
Apparently, the answer is yes…
Facebook posts popped up with the authors noting: “Exercising our First Amendment Rights!” Signs were held high that said, “NRA=Terrorist Organization,” or my favorite, “Yes, we do want to take your guns!”
Think about this: With the level of vitriol thrown at us as gun owners by the Antis… with the Antis knowing we are armed, and in their mind, mentally unstable, what do you think they would be willing to do to dissenting voices if we were unarmed?
So… here is a modest proposal:
Before we talk of gun control… Before we talk of guns “being fired on full semi-automatic”… Before we talk about restricting any more of our rights… I want to do a little limiting of the 1st Amendment.
I want a federal law banning the discussion of firearms, and their use, by anyone who has not gone through a firearms training course, and showed proof of ownership of at least one handgun and one rifle.
I will be the first to tell you that I have little to no experience in animal husbandry. As such, I would be the last person in the world to seek to enact legislation that seeks to regulate, mitigate, or ultimately decimate the animal husbandry industry.
If I were so inclined to delve into the world of animal husbandry, it is not outside the possibility that I might notice certain practices or procedures that might be modified to make the practice more efficient or safe… but that would not… could not… come without extensive knowledge of the process first.
To act, without first establishing that knowledge, is an act of unilateralism.
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. once wrote “unilateralism breeds the arrogance of ignorance… and ignorance breeds bad policy.”
The Bill of Rights stands as a bulwark against the passions of the majority. When the majority seeks to use the power of democracy to switch the levers of government against a minority, they are hamstrung by the protections enumerated in the Constitution.
When the majority seeks a complete abrogation of the Bill of Rights…. we have the Second.
“How can you not be for reasonable, common sense restrictions?”
“Why does anyone need an AR-15?”
“The NRA is a bunch of domestic terrorists!”
“You right-wing Republican/Conservative a@#hole…you are the problem!”
“My child’s right to live, outstrips your desire to play with dangerous toys.”
These are some of the responses to postings that I have seen on social media in recent days. Some of them have been directed to me. (I especially liked the one that suggested that I was a Republican Conservative. For the record… I consider myself a Classical Liberal… which, in modern parlance, would mean I am a Libertarian.)
The cacophony of anti-liberty rhetoric is rising to a level that I have never seen before, and it troubles me deeply.
Last week, throughout the country, thousands of high school children left their classes to march in favor of the State taking away their Constitutional rights.
Imagine the liberal intelligencia 40 years ago clamoring against civil rights!
So… what happened? What caused this visceral emotional response to law-abiding citizens exercising a fundamental right?
There are two intellectual camps that have formed in the United States over the last 30 years. Collectivists and Individualists. Individualism… the hallmark of Classical Liberalism is completely antithetical to the tenants of Collectivism. Collectivism requires a third party, though, to force compliance.
That third party would be the State.
(For those of you that have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)
There are so many intersecting theories as to how Collectivism came to be a part of our national identity. We fought wars against Collectivism. Communism and Fascism are putative enemies of each other, but they both drink from the same well. The idea is that the State has ultimate power, and that subjects of the State exist solely for the benefit of the collective. Socialism… the springboard to Communism, has, as its basic tenant, a belief that is completely antithetical to a people who fundamentally rejected all semblance of slavery.
When we enacted the Thirteenth Amendment, we codified a belief that the individual was the most dignified political construct. Individuals have exclusive power over their own economic decisions. Labor, extracted by force or the threat of force, is the ultimate usurpation of the power of the State… yet it is the single most essential tenant of the Collectivist political systems.
If I am forced to believe dogma, to provide service to others, or to provide labor or property for another, I am a slave. When it is the State that dictates these acts, I am a no longer a citizen, I am a subject.
Political theory,… especially Classical Liberalism, and the foundations in limited government are no longer part of our national lexicon. This is no wonder, since our curriculum in universities and high schools is largely devoid of anything that challenges a collectivist world view.
Even victimology is predicated on collectivist mentality.
“I am a victim,” because of my associative construct. Language must be modified and adapted so as not to offend me. For offense is the only thing that binds me to my group. As such, I demand collective guilt amongst those that I perceive have “wronged” me. Since I have no direct evidence that a specific individual has acted in a manner that has caused me harm, I must, instead, rely on the fabricated construct that the assumed belief system of those who are different from me is manufactured for the singular purpose of collective victimization.
This is the height of arrogance. But it is an arrogance born of absolute necessity.
For without the belief that there is institutionalized antagonism towards the sub-collective… there is very little to rationalize the angst necessary to sustain it.
Individualism is entirely different.
Individualism celebrates diversity of the individual. In fact, that diversity is critical to economic expansion and growth.
It also is necessary to the growth of the polity.
Hegelian growth is based on the idea of an established thesis. We all accept a social order based on this thesis. Individualism breeds individual thought. From these independent thoughts comes a challenge to the thesis. This challenge is called an antithesis. That antithesis either has merit in the whole, or in part, and from this a new thesis emerges. This action is called synthesis. This is how history moves.
When the thesis becomes petrified and refuses to accept the possibility of fallibility, history stalls. Since the thesis has taken over controls of the State, the people naturally become enslaved to statist ideology, for the protection of the social order becomes paramount. Any thought that runs contrary becomes criminal.
Firearms have always been the ultimate symbolic expression of individualism.
That is why they are so contrary to the minds of a collectivist. They must rally the power of the State to ensure that Individualism is marginalized and controlled. It really is a zero-sum game. For each time the State asserts more control over the individual, Collectivism grows and Individualism is mitigated.
The Collectivists have demanded that we capitulate (yet again), and surrender our freedoms under the guise of “common sense” reforms. We are literally spent from the last 30 years of offering up our freedoms in the name of comity.
That stops now.
It is time for the Collectivists to begin to offer up concessions to us.
They must be the ones willing to expand (or rather return) our rights to keep and bear arms first. They must be the ones to articulate which regulations can be abandoned in order to ensure that individuals are secure in their Second Amendment rights.
Let them be the ones to propose abandoning the nonsensical magazine restrictions. The idiotic cosmetic “assault weapons” ban. Let them admit that the California Roster of Handguns serves no rational basis. Let them agree to national reciprocity. Then, and only then, may we consider specifically targeted restrictions that serve a compelling state interest, and have no less restrictive alternatives.
The CEO, Dan Blankisoff, of Home Despot, the nation’s largest home improvement retailer, announced that, effective immediately, the retail giant would cease selling products that can be used to kill.
“For too long we have been a party to carnage. The Second Amendment sadly prevents the government from regulating out-of-existence firearms. The reality, though, is that most tragedies occur using the very products we sell. Nothing mandates that we sell these dangerous products, and there is no Constitutional authority that would prevent us from discontinuing their sales.
Dick’s Sporting Goods took the bold step of ceasing the sale of ‘assault rifles.’ We are taking the bolder step of removing from our shelves everything that a criminal could use to kill another person.”
When asked exactly what products would be coming off the shelves, Blankisoff looked at the reporter for seven seconds before answering.
“We have people looking into that.”
“I understand, sir, but from my own experience, literally everything you sell in your stores could be used as a weapon, from hammers, to metal pipe, to paint… Is there anything that you sell that could not be used as a weapon?”
His response was simply, “I told you, we have people looking into it.” He then turned to California State Senator Francis Xavier Garcia Snodgrass. He was recorded scolding Senator Snodgrass on the hot mike saying, “Frank, what the hell man? You told me there would not be any aggressive questions! I’m going to look like an idiot up here! This is crap, man!”
Senator Snodgrass quickly ran past Blankisoff, and took the microphone.
Speaking to reporters, Senator Snodgrass was quoted as saying, “What are you guys doing? Do I need to remind you who pays your bills? We were able to get Blankisoff to publicly come out and ride the wave of anti-gun sentiment, and come up with something that shows that he, and we, care. You have the audacity to question him on it? Who the hell do you think you are? Banning guns, or classes of guns, has much potential to stop a shooting as a restraining order has in stopping a stalker. You guys should know better. You are not allowed to judge us on whether what we are doing makes any sense… you can only judge us on our motivations. Well, our stated motivations.”
Blankisoff was seen yelling at an aid as he walked off behind the curtains.
While the press conference was underway with Senator Snodgrass and Mr. Blankisoff, legislation was also being presented on the other side of the country that would make citizens safer.
In New Jersey, Senator Sally Cortez-Lipshitz introduced legislation to allow for state product regulation of kitchen and chef retail stores.
“Every day I go to the mall, I have a panic attack,” said Senator Cortez-Lipshitz. “I walk by Sur la Table or Crate and Barrel and I feel terrified. Do you have any idea what they sell in there? They have hundreds of assault knives and weapons that are, in some instances, almost a foot long. Who needs a knife that is a foot long? Some of their pots and pans are dangerous, too. These weapons are being sold to God knows who, without any sort of government oversight. That needs to stop now!”
Jim “Big Bob” Gomez, owner of Big Bob’s Big Trucks in Austin, Texas, also announced that he would no longer sell oversized pick-up trucks to the general public.
“No one needs to own a truck, especially one capable of holding more than a thousand pounds. I’m mean, really, if you want to be a truck driver, join the Teamsters Union. Only trained professionals should have access to these weapons of destruction, and certainly no one needs anything more than a 30-inch tire.”
Jim Maddison of the Constitution Project, a controversial pro-Constitution think tank, was asked for his thoughts.
His reply was simply, “Sigh…”
Seven people are sitting around a dinner table at a restaurant.
The discussion turns to ordering. Six people are in complete agreement that they should all order the fish. One poor patron is allergic to fish and says that she will opt out and order a steak. The six look at her in disgust and explain that she MUST order the fish. She points out that since she is paying the bill separately she has the economic power to order, or not order, anything that she wants.
They decide to hold a vote to decide if she should be forced to order the fish.
As you can imagine, the vote is six to one that she must comply with their demands.
She points out that while the vote may very well have been compliant with the rules of parliament, her ability to purchase has not been mitigated. She still has the dollars in her purse, and she can spend them on literally whatever she wants at the restaurant.
That is the power of minority rights.
In ancient Greece, Plato articulated the concept of democracy… and he was not particularly thrilled about the idea. In a democracy, the majority dictates the direction of the polity… and if the majority wants to steal and kill a minority to “get their stuff,” that, theoretically, would be completely acceptable.
Our Founders also understood the downsides of democracy, and instituted a glorious solution that transcended the basic principles of a republican form of government. They fundamentally recognized minority rights. This is enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
The majority has no inherent power.
They are not a mob that can use violence to ensure societal compliance. They can only seek to control the levers of governmental power to advance their social and political agendas. Once the power of the government has been invoked, it is constricted by the Constitutional limitations set forth in the Bill of Rights.
The majority can set the course of government policy… but they can never use the government to harass or decimate a minority. This minority is expansive. It clearly includes racial minorities, but it also includes minorities of thought. Disagree with me, and I cannot use the power of the State to limit your ability to speak, or to associate, or even to arrest you.
The Bill of Rights serves as our bulwark against the passions of the mob… the majority. It has kept our Republic intact for over 200 years. It also faces one of its biggest assaults right now.
(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.
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