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I am sickened!
On Monday morning, I woke up at 2:30am. The dog was crying, she wanted to be let outside to do what dogs do at 2:30 in the morning when everyone should be sleeping. As I stumbled towards her crate, I grabbed by cell phone to check the time. That is when I saw it…
Multiple alerts telling me about Las Vegas.
As Gretchen did her thing outside, I stood there next to the sliding glass door in our darkened kitchen reading the reports on my phone. Alone in the dark, in my underwear, I could see my body illuminated in the soft reflection on the glass. The vulnerability I saw in my reflection was how I felt as I scrolled through the news reports.
How could this have happened?
Who would do such a thing?
At the time, the reports were indicating a total of twenty deaths with hundreds injured. I knew that the death toll would be rising. I felt the same pit in my stomach that I have now felt multiple times. I felt it on 9/11, I felt it at Dallas, I felt it at Charlie Hebdo, I felt it at San Bernardino… now, I was feeling it again.
We have been given reports about Antifa protesters sparking violence… was this it? Was it a religiously inspired attack? Was this North Korea launching an asymmetric warfare strategy? Were narco traffickers fighting it out and these poor people got caught in the crossfire?
I was looking for a rationale explanation. Somebody (or… as I figured at the time, a group of people) did this to achieve a specific calculated objective.
As I returned to bed, Sandy woke up and could sense something was wrong.
“What’s going on?”
“Attack in Las Vegas. The details are sketchy, but it looks like there are a number of fatalities.”
She turned on her light and as I got into bed and we started scrolling through the news feeds on my phone.
(If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here:)
We try to make sense of the unimaginable. We searched for some type of meaning and motive of the madman. Sometimes mercifully, it exists and we can take solace in the fact that as we move through the universe, even the most perverse among us are moved by rational goals.
When those goals are present, we can identify the threat before it strikes. If we miss the indicators, we can chastise ourselves then take swift and cataclysmic retribution against the aggressors. There is a sense of moral justice that comes with converting our rage to “extreme violence of action”.
When no apparent motive exists, we feel hopeless. Our universe becomes unpredictable. We are at the mercy of the fates, and we have no idea when our individual chords will be cut.
As of this writing, there is no established motive on the part of the shooter. Isis has issued a statement suggesting that the shooter was radicalized, but absent proof at this point they may simply be taking credit for something they had no part in.
What we do know is that whatever caused that man to open fire on a group of innocents created a manifestation of pure evil… and the ultimate in arrogance.
He thought to himself, that he was justified in ending the lives of potentially hundreds of people for his own benefit. He may have known that his was a suicide mission, but that does not alter the fundamental arrogance of his actions.
Those people did not choose to die… he made that choice for them.
Even in the darkest of moments, there are however glimmers of light. The image of first responders identifying where the gun fire was coming from and running towards the Mandalay Bay hotel with pistols drawn. Pistols! In the face of automatic gunfire, with nothing else they could do, these guardians were prepared to bring war upon the shooter with the only tools they had.
Strangers covering injured strangers with their own bodies. Citizens, turning into first responders and hurriedly moving the immobile out of harms way while at the same time exposing themselves to the deadly rain of bullets that the shooter was hailing down upon them.
And my favorite, an act of abject defiance. The image of a sole individual standing up erect in a sea of humanity that had laid down on the ground. This unidentified man wearing a tank top and shorts facing the hotel and raising his hand towards the shooter… and flipping him off. Then to top it off scowling at the window with his finger still raised, and taking a swig on his beer.
There will be investigations.
The motives of the shooter may… hopefully… come to light. If he was in fact an operative of a larger organization the forces of America will bring hell upon those that aided and abetted him.
We will analyze our tactics, our procedures, we will make ourselves more hardened more secure, but we will never give up that which gives us our greatest strength: A fundamental belief in the value of life and our precocious freedom that allows each of us to flourish.
We will prevail… for perseverance is the foundation of our national character.
Please say a prayer for those that fell at the hands of the madman. Please hold close those poor families that are dealing with the pain of the instant loss of their loved ones.
Please, stay safe and vigilant.
What is the value of an ID?
Law school was an “interesting” experience. One of the more dynamic exercises was a direct result of the course work being taught in the “Socratic Method”. The format was simple, before each class you would have a list of cases that were going to be discussed. Your job was to read each of these appellate decisions and develop an intimate knowledge of all aspects of the decision.
Typically this theater of education went something like this:
From the podium, the professor would look over his reading glasses at the sea of students arrayed in front of him. Then glancing down at his seating chart, he would bellow out, “Mr. Lieberman, would you please state the facts in the case of Johnson v. Reading Pipe and Supply.”
I would then follow the kabuki method… shuffling papers on my desk in a vain attempt to look like I was searching for my brief… in reality, (and everyone, including the professor knew what was really taking place)… I was stalling trying to remember what the hell the facts of the case actually were.
(CONT'D FROM BLOG HERE)
Finally, I would begin a pathetic recitation… at least of the salient facts that I could remember. This would be subject to constant interruption.
“Ummm… Johnson had a house on a busy street next to a commercial property, and….”
“Mr. Lieberman… would it make a difference if the street was not busy?”….
“Ummm… no sir… it would not.”
“Then please restate the facts in a more succinct manner.”
“Yes sir… Mr. Johnson owned a house on a street next to a commercial property, and..”
“Mr. Lieberman,… I know you are more intelligent then this… is it dispositive that the house was on a street?”
“No sir… I guess it would not.”
“Mr. Johnson owned a home next to a commercial property, and…”
“Mr. Lieberman,… perhaps, I gave you too much credit… would it make a difference if Mr. Johnson owned the property?”
“No sir, it would… wait… yes! It actually would! That is a material fact that ultimately will form a basis of the courts logic in its ruling.”
“Really? Well, Mr. Lieberman please expand on this nugget of logic that you have discovered… How does ownership color the facts of the case?”
At this point, I would have to switch from a simple presenter to that of an advocate. I would begin to point out aspects of the case that supported my argument.
To be honest, most of my professors simply sucked at this teaching methodology. Their ability to intellectually joust with us was beyond their capacity. Save one guy… my Contracts professor.
I will never forget Professor Christensen. He was an elderly lawyer, who clearly had a love of food… (he could stand to lose fifty or sixty pounds)… and would only ever be seen in public wearing his three piece suit with his trademark pocket watch in his vest. The Professor had been a railroad lawyer with the Union Pacific for most of his career, and was now easing into retirement as a law professor.
And… He was brilliant.
The Socratic Method was built for this guy. Once he “rope a doped” you into defending your position, it was “game on”. He would then question you in a manner that led you out onto an intellectual tree limb, far enough for that metaphorical limb to ultimately come crashing down under the weight of your pathetically illogical argument.
You always came out of that class intellectually humbled… but, also a stronger logical thinker.
Listening to Tucker Carlson on my way home the other night, I was reminded of Professor Christensen.
Carlson was interviewing a lawyer that was a member of a group that had filed a lawsuit against the State of Texas claiming that their new voter ID law disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of voters.
Carlson would have none of it.
“You mean to tell me that these hundreds of thousands of Texas residents have no forms of ID?”
“Yes… studies show that….”
“Ma’am, with all do respect,… how does an individual exist in society without a form of identification? They cannot drive, they cannot purchase things, they cannot even take advantage of government services? You mean to tell me that there are hundreds of thousands of these shadow people living in the State of Texas?!?”
“Tucker… this is a fundamental right we are talking about! Even if there were only one individual they must have access to the ballot box. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say anything about ID’s being required. To require someone to provide an ID to vote is per se Unconstitutional!”
“Ok, I understand your position. While I simply don’t agree with the supposed aggregate numbers you’re claiming… at least, you are intellectually honest and saying that even if there were only one plaintiff here, you would still be filing this law suit.”
“I guess, I could also surmise from this that you would hold this same logic to fundamental rights in general?”
“I, ugh.. I’m not sure what you are getting at?”
“Well.. I would suppose that if an individual did not have a valid form of identification, they are still entitled to fourth amendment protections against search and seizure, and first amendment protections of free speech?”
“Of course! As I said, the Constitution does not spell out the need for an ID card.”
“Excellent! So when can I expect to see your group suing the ATF and State governments for their infringements on peoples’ Second Amendment rights by requiring an ID for a purchase or transfer of a firearm?”
“Ummm… we, ugh… we are only focused on voting rights.”
“Yeah… that is what I thought.”
Well done Professor Carlson… well done.
Chief Justice John Marshall was often fond of stating that “hard cases make bad law”. This is surely the case, as no one wants to see inherent injustice held as acceptable by a court because the Legislature has acted, or failed to act to provide adequate protections.
Yet, what is considered “adequate protections”?
The commercial and social interactions between people often involves a contractual principal. Both parties gain as a result of the transaction. Sometimes… oftentimes… the bargaining position between the parties is unequal. The protections of the legal system is to ensure that the forum for these interactions are knowable, and predictable. Both parties are rest assured that if their disputes need to be resolved by an impartial third party, that party will be bound by rules of conduct that prevent either of the combatants from gaining an unfair advantage.
Yet what of the State?
At our founding, we were deeply concerned about the tyranny that comes from a State granted limitless powers. We formulated a concept of limited government by ensuring that the State was only allowed to operate with specified enumerated powers. Beyond those specific “things” there is really nothing much that the State can do.
We often hear people claim that their “free speech” right is being threatened by their employers. Yet, this claim is inherently without merit. The individual is always allowed to speak. It’s just that their speech is not without contractual implications. You can say whatever you want… but your employer is also free to terminate you because of your speech.
At least to a point.
The Constitution, and more specifically the Bill of Rights, were constructed to ensure that the State could not abrogate “Fundamental Rights”. (The evolution of Fundamental Rights not with standing). Yet, we altered that meaning to the present state to say that the State can abrogate fundamental rights as long as they pass certain tests. When the rights in question affect a class of people that are defined by certain criteria, then the test in question (Compelling State Interest / No Less Restrictive Alternatives) becomes so difficult for the State to withstand, that the law the State created is typically overturned as being unconstitutional.
When your friend tells you not to say something,… and you do… they are completely allowed to distance themselves from you as their friend. They cannot be “compelled” to maintain your friendship as somehow the penalty of loss of friendship is tantamount to a violation of your First Amendment rights. The protects of the Amendments were not intended to limit the conduct of individuals amongst themselves… they were intended as protections that individuals had against the tyranny of the government.
This brings us to California’s AB 785. Essentially, this law only makes sense if we stop thinking of ourselves as individuals, and instead view ourselves as property of the State… specifically, The State of California. Barring this philosophical shift… AB 785 is a complete abrogation of our most basic principals of limited government and individual freedom.
In a nutshell, AB 785 seeks to make the ownership of a firearm by someone convicted of a misdemeanor: that has been classified as a “hate crime”… illegal for ten years.
That seems reasonable… yes?
Unfortunately, no it does not.
The argument that the proponents of AB 785 put forth is that someone that has threatened someone else with the exercise of one of their civil rights because of the victims race, religion, national origin, gender identification, or sexual orientation is guilty of a “hate crime”.
This is by necessity a fact specific analysis.
If, I am single and begin to chat up the woman in line in front of me at the polling place… taking so long to woo her with my elegant prose… that she misses the deadline to cast her ballot, have I interfered with her civil right of voting? Since I identified her as a member of a specific class (female), have I interfered with her civil rights because of her gender? If she were to argue that I clearly had the intent to prevent her from voting because of her gender.. then yes.
Once this law has been triggered, then an automatic weapons prohibition follows.
Here is the problem: I am not, nor have I ever been, the subject of Constitutional limitations. The Constitution is intended to limit the powers of the State… not me.
Worse, the penalty for violating this law is the loss of a Constitutionally protected right… your right to keep and bear arms.
This literally makes no sense.
When the doctor tells me that as a I diabetic, I cannot eat cake… he is speaking of a knowable reality. When I tell my family to chastise me if I eat cake, I am taking steps to ensure that I remain healthy. When I further state to my family… that if I eat cake, I should be made to do push ups… I am setting up a rationale based punishment to ensure compliance with my doctor’s order. When my non-diabetic children each police each other, making each other do push ups for eating cake, it might be cute… but, it is not rational. They should not be held to the same rules for diabetics since they don’t suffer from my disease.
To punish the State for an abrogation of civil rights is wholly appropriate.
To punish an individual for an abrogation of civil rights just simply does not make sense.
Philosophy has ramifications. Since misdemeanors that are based on legislation that legislators are not empowered to regulate can be used as a means of preventing someone from exercising a fundamental right then where do we stop?
Why does AB 785 stop solely at the Second Amendment?
Why not also abrogate the Fourth and the Sixth?
It is far easier for the State to dispense with probable cause when dealing with the public.
Fourth Amendment be damned! Make life easy for law enforcement and allow them to search anyone at anytime! There is no expectation of privacy for those that have ran afoul of the law!
Hey… if they have committed a “hate crime” misdemeanor then why should they have a gun?..… and why the hell should they have access to a lawyer?!
Make everyone guilty of “something” and suddenly we have new and exciting opportunities to “fight crime”.
We can have fun with this! (Just think how safe we will all be!)
Books and Covers.
We are all subject to our prejudices. This is part of the human condition, and though we attribute negativity to it, the reality is that we are creatures of categorization. That is how we perceive our world. To deny this, would be to deny our own humanity and make a constructive farce of the human condition.
True… when we categorize, we tend to do it via an adherence to the negative. Rarely do you hear…
“Oh, figures… she is Ethiopian… of course she is beautiful.”
“He is a video gamer… his ability to overcome tough obstacles is obvious.”
“What do you expect… she is a redhead… you know that redheads are natural leaders.”
Quite the contrary.
Our stereotypes tend to focus on the negative, and even when positive traits are highlighted, it is usually in the passive aggressive format of “yeah, they are like that… but it is “that” that makes them so annoying.”
The same is true in the gun world. It is unfortunate… but it is true.
The Curio and Relic collector feels that they are the only true aficionado of the “gun”. Their understanding of complicated and rare actions and calibers is the entry pass to the “club of the gun”. They are our historians, and thus our experts. We are as necessary to them, as the audience is necessary to the performer. We are there to adulate… beyond that nothing more is wanted nor needed.
The Hunter sees the weapon as a tool. A means to an end… and not the only means to an end to be sure. An old weapon is just that, an old weapon. A new weapon has no more glamor or interest then a new backpack, or skinning knife. They look at the Curio and Relic collector with complete bafflement. What is so “special” about a particular type of gun? Sure… if it were owned and used by someone famous, then of course… but beyond that, really?
Then, there are the “Urban Ninjas”. The hardened “Warriors of Steel” (and sometimes hardened “fat”) that scarf up the black scary rifles with the argument “I’m buying one before they tell me I can’t”… and this might be true… but, it is also a good excuse to buy one.
In general, these camps tend to stay apart… because there are preset ideas on who they are… what motivates them… and the value they bring to the conversation.
This can also translate to the individual.
(If you have arrived here from our newsletter continue reading here;)
Last week, I had a woman in our CCW class, that caused me initial concern. I saw from her client profile, that she was over eighty years old, and the firearms she was putting on her CCW were exclusively revolvers.
“Oh boy” I thought.
I pretty much had established a prejudicial portrait of this woman before she ever walked in the door: Limited weapons experience, an older lady was looking to get a CCW for protection, and the reason she had revolvers were exclusively based on the recommendations of her son, (or daughter) or the recommendation of a gun store clerk.
Her age not withstanding, she would be a difficult client to work through the process.
This pre-class assessment was not done in a vacuum. I have had other students that fit the same basic profile, so I had some empirical evidence to support my pre-established conclusions.
The day of the class, this charming matronly woman came into our lobby. Physically she looked pretty much as I expected her too. A grandmotherly air… “delicate” is not the word… perhaps “polished” would be a better descriptive.
Regardless, she had a simply delightful southern drawl developed from what I later learned, were her years growing up and living in West Virginia before moving to Southern California.
I asked her why she chose revolvers.
“Because that is what I shoot.” Was her simple reply.
During the class, she was attentive and asked pointed questions that clearly showed she was grasping the philosophical concepts associated with the use of deadly force. When we discussed the legal implications, she instantly pointed out the logical inconsistencies associated with California gun laws… and in an extremely dignified manner, voiced her displeasure with them.
Then it was out to the range.
She was one of the first students to gear up. Some students struggled with their holsters and mag pouches, she was was not one of them. Her gear was simple, but she donned it quickly and efficiently.
My first indication that something was up should have been, when I noticed her custom ear protection. This was perhaps, not her first rodeo.
On the first command of “gun!” She quickly drew her double action revolver and delivered five quick shots high center mass to the target. Without me asking her too, she instantly flipped the open action over, dumped the spent casings, grabbed a speed loader and went to work quickly and efficiently reloading. When she was done, the empty speed loader fell to the ground as she made her way back to the holster.
“Remember to scan.” Was the only thing I could say to the students standing on the line.
She looked back at me and gave me a quick nod.
Again I yelled “Gun!”
Her speed to contact was lightning fast. Five quick shots, and then another perfect reload.
Next, it was a Mozambique drill.
Again blazing fast speed to contact… two rapid shots center mass, then a shot to the head.
When it was all over… I went down range and looked at her target. A silver dollar could have easily covered all the holes in the center mass part of the paper and her head shot was exactly at the bridge of the nose.
“You’ve shot before”
“Yep… did you think that because I was an old lady with a revolver I hadn’t?” She said with a sly smile.
“My dear,… you have taken advantage of me.”
“That is the secret to my defense sir.”
We all have prejudicial opinions of others. That is part of what creates the social construct of society… and contrary to what many think, that is not necessarily a bad thing. It helps us categorize, make decisions… and frankly most of the time we are usually correct in our assumptions. If we are consistently wrong, then our prejudices must be altered for they offer us little value.
Yet, we must never forget that people are just that… people. They come before us with a lifetime of experiences that we are completely unaware of. Hiding in the folds of a personal history might be some unbelievable weapons training.
You have been warned:
Beware of the bad ass grandma!
(A parody… sort of)
Democrats in Sacramento are feeling dejected after internal divisions caused the unceremonious shelving of SB 497. SB 497 originally introduced by Anthony Portantino (D- La Canada Flintridge), was designed to limit individuals that are legally allowed to purchase firearms to a rationing scheme. Had SB 497 passed, law abiding individuals would only be allowed to acquire one firearm a month, period. Current law prohibits an individual from purchasing more than one “new” handgun a month. There are however no limitations on the number of long guns a person can acquire at one time. There is also an exemption for private party transfers of multiple handguns. This typically comes into play when someone is acquiring multiple weapons through an estate transference, or a judicial dispensation.
The purpose behind SB 497 was to not only to remove the exemption for private party transfers, but to ensure that dreaded long guns, ghost guns, assault guns, and war guns were also limited to a single firearm per month.
Senator Portantino spoke of the necessity to enact SB 497 when he introduced this bill. “No one needs more than one weapon a month. You don’t need more than one shotgun to shoot a deer.”
(And… here’s the parody part…) Assemblywoman Harriet T. Snodgrass-Dominguez (D- Rialto) echoed Portantino’s reasonable statements. “Let me speak in the language that gun owners understand” She stated from the Assembly floor. “God does not want you to have more than one gun a month! He has made it abundantly clear that he does not want you to have any guns at all, but he is willing to allow you to have one gun a month… but no more! If he did want you to have more than one gun a month, he would not have allowed the people of California to elect us as your representatives! Go take the money you save and buy dirt bikes or whatever you people do… but don’t question the merits of this bill. If you do you are questioning God!”
(If you have arrived here from our newsletter continue reading here:)
The passion of those in the legislature that have pushed long and hard for reasonable gun regulations was thwarted by the Gun Lobby and their minions in the Senate.
“This is an important win for current and future gun owners,” said Craig DeLuz, spokesman for the Firearms Policy Coalition. “The rationing of civil rights should never be tolerated.” (This is not parody.)
(Still parody folks…) This statement, a clear micro-aggression and cultural appropriation of the historic black civil rights struggle, was pushed back by the head of Mad Moms Against Big Guns. Loretta Sanchez-Greenberg stated, “The NRA, the FPC, the CRPA… all of these bigoted racist, “anti-womyn" organizations, they all do the same damn thing. They make it hard for us to get what we want. We are only interested in making sure that people don’t have guns. How hard is that to understand? What right minded educated person wants a gun anyway? Senator Feinstein was correct in saying that if no one had a gun in an active shooter situation, the bad guy would just put his gun down realizing that there was no one around to fight back. The presence of guns just makes everyone feel icky.” (Unfortunately, this last part is not parody.)
Tom Smith of the NRA was quoted as saying, “There is no rational reason for the State to limit someones ability to acquire a presumptively legal product. More to the point, these products are protected by the Second Amendment to the Constitution. The only way for a fundamental right to be restricted by a state law is for that law to be tested against the rubric of “Strict Scrutiny”. Under that test, there must be a “compelling state interest” that necessitated the crafting of the law, and there can be “no less restrictive alternatives.” Clearly, under SB 497 would fail that test and would have cost the State hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees defending a law that would have been overturned as unconstitutional.”
(Back to parody) “Bull —-it” said Assemblyman Hugo Rodriquez (D- Novato)
“There is no reason, we need to be constrained by a document like the Constitution! That was drafted by white guys, white guys that owned slaves! The whole damn thing just gets in our way. We are not now, not ever going to be constrained by the selfish words of wealthy religious fanatics from over two hundred years ago.”
Since SB 497 was gutted to not include the one gun a month restriction, progressive democrats are dealing with the emotional ramifications. This week, crystal meditation specialists and yoga therapists are partnering with minority sensitive grief counselors to ensure that our elected representatives are well taken care of and prepared for the next legislative session.
I am writing this on Sunday at 35,000 feet. It is early morning as I make my way slowly across the country from Milwaukee back to Orange County, via an all too brief stopover in Denver.
For those of you, who have never been to Milwaukee… it is an interesting mini Gotham. Two separate time periods intertwine downtown. Romantic and perfectly maintained buildings with an Art Deco motif, gives you the feeling of a 1930’s metropolis. Soda Fountains… yes, they really have soda fountains, (evoke the image of the 1950’s). It is little wonder that Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley were based in Wisconsin.
The NRA also chose to host their first NRA Carry Guard Conference here in Milwaukee as well. From the moment it was announced, there has been deep speculation as to the choice of venue. Was the NRA firing a shot across the bow of USCCA which is based in Wisconsin? Was there a nuanced nod being given to Sheriff Clarke, the outspoken defender of freedom and contributor to the NRA? Or did they simply get a good price on the convention center? Perhaps, we will never know.
What they did get were crowds.
The attendance at the conference was huge. Frankly bigger than I was expecting. I am not sure if the attendees came for the seminars, the vendors, or just to hang out with fellow gun enthusiasts, but they were certainly there. (They even drew about a half dozen protesters that mustered in front of the Wisconsin Center with such erudite signs as “Guns are Bad” or Repeal 2A).
What really got me though… and I state this at the risk of sounding arrogant… was “me”.
Its hard to state the exact number of show attendees, but it certainly was a few thousand. After walking the show floor and making mental notes on what vendors I wanted to spend more time with, I stumbled on the NRA’s virtual reality training program. This sounds far cooler than it ultimately turned out to be. Essentially, wearing VR goggles, I got to experience an interactive commercial for NRA Carry Guard. Still, there was a degree of training involved. In the scenario, I found myself in the middle of a convenience store robbery. After firing two rounds at a suspect that was preparing to shoot the store clerk, I pulled back my “gun” to a center chest retention position and began to physically scan search and assess… looking for additional threats and/or to find better positions to move too.
After the scenario was over, the instructor pulled the goggles off of me and asked me if I was a cop.
“Your speed to contact and the way your pulled to retention on your pistol while you scanned for additional threats.”
“No… I’m not a cop… I work with them… and I help train them… but I’m not sworn. How are the other show attendees doing on this?” “Most will shoot the suspect then just stare at him lying on the ground. They have no established procedures for secondary threat assessments. They don’t even think about retention methods.”
“What percentage freezes and does nothing?”
“About thirty percent”.
Later, I made my way to the UTM shoot-house. (For those of you who are unaware of UTM, these are rimfire ballistic training rounds at reduced velocity. They allow for indoor training opportunities without the threat of structural damage or the need for ear protection). My first evolution was with an AR-15 with a red dot. After watching me work the course of fire with the AR, the instructor took me over to the pistol area and said, “Ok.. well it is obvious you know what you are doing, so I’m going to change up the course a bit.”
After completing the course of fire, I handed back the firearm to the instructor and heard clapping. I had drawn a gallery of observers that had watched me do the course of fire. Apparently my performance was enough to garne an applause.
I decided to watch the next two participants.
Well… that explained the applause.
These guys clearly knew guns. From listening to their conversations… pretty intricate and nuanced discussions were taking place regarding calibers and firearms and their pedigree. Yet watching them shoot was like watching a train wreck.
They were certainly competent at hitting a target. Yet their posture, grip, speed to contact, engagement in follow-on shots, and practically everything else was a complete disaster. These good people were recreational shooters… not gunfighters.
Finally, I made my way to the Glock booth.
They had literally just revealed the Gen 5 Glock 17. I wanted to fool with it.
I waited as the Glock representative finished up with another show attendee. He was discussing the “feel” of the gun. As they thanked him and walked away, he turned his attention to me. Sizing me up and down he said, “You want to take a look at the Gen 5?”
“Yes, I was hoping to take a look at it.”
He started saying something to me as he handed me the firearm. I took the gun and held it with a firm master grip with my strong hand, trigger finger running straight along the frame. Finding a safe direction, I did a quick chamber check to ensure it was empty then I pressed out in a full draw.
The Glock rep stopped talking mid sentence.
“Ok… different spiel for you… you clearly are a professional.” “Excuse me?”
“I always like to get the gun in the hand of attendee first to see how they handle it. It sort of tells me how I should address them. Most here, it looks like are recreational shooters. I can tell by the way you handle the firearm you are not a hobbyist.”
I guess to an extent this recognition was somewhat flattering. But it was also a little disturbing. We, that have chosen to be ultimately responsible for our own safety must ensure that our weapons knowledge, weapons handling, and Mastery at Skill at Arms is unparalleled.
We must be constantly be training, training to the point where it takes conscience action to hold a weapon in a manner inconsistent with effectively putting lead on target.
We must train to such an extent that when we hold the weapon in our hand, it looks as though we have the command of the pistol, the same way a conductor has a command over a baton.
This convention served to some degree as a wake up call.
We must not allow ourselves to become lazy in the bearing of arms.
We must train… constantly, consistently, and with purpose to ensure that when called upon we can employ superior tactics and if ultimately necessary… lethal action against a determined and deadly assailant.
Receptive laziness, or the non purposeful handling of arms will ultimately translate to failure in combat.
This is a contest that none of us can afford to fail.
There are few things in this world more powerful then the immutable force of an individual dedicated to a singular proposition. Walls, battlements, even a army amassed from the depths from hell itself cannot hold back the warrior who with single minded aggression of action repeatedly asserts himself upon his goal.
Except of course when dealing with government bureaucracy.
If that is what stands between you and what you need, you are hosed.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a case that the Law Offices of Lieberman and Taormina was working on.
Just to refresh: Back in the year 2000, our client’s father passed away, leaving him some firearms. Nothing too fancy, but they clearly had sentimental value. He moved his mother to Las Vegas to get on with her life. Upon relocating, she told our client that she was afraid being alone in her new home without the companionship of her late husband. This was entirely foreseeable and understandable. To make her feel more comfortable, our client asked if she would like to have one of his revolvers to keep by her bed.
That did the trick.
Mom felt secure and was ready to get on with her life.
A year later, she turned to dating again. Unfortunately, her choice in male partnership was still in the development phase, and she chose to get involved with a criminal. The dirtbag stole her gun and used it to purchase a go-cart.
When our client found out, (mom had booted the deadbeat), he contacted the Las Vegas police and reported the gun stolen.
Then it was out of site, out of mind.
Until the summer of 2011, when Brian Stowe, a Giant’s baseball fan decided to come to Los Angeles to a Dodger / Giant’s game and made the supreme mistake of wearing a Giant’s jersey while in enemy territory.
Brian Stowe was beaten in the parking lot, and almost died from his injuries. Fortunately, his assailants were caught a couple of weeks later. Unfortunately, one of the two knuckleheads had a revolver in his possession. Guess who’s revolver it turned out to be?
LAPD did a serial number search and found the weapon was registered to our client. LVPD had not bothered to inform anyone about the report of the weapon being stolen ten years earlier. They executed a search warrant of our client’s home and seized ALL of his firearms.
This frankly was reasonable since they had no way of knowing if our client was a gun runner or not. All LAPD knew was that somehow, a gun was found in the possession of a bad guy and it was registered to our client with no reports to their knowledge of it being stolen.
So his guns were taken and he was given a property receipt and a copy of the search warrant.
Unfortunately, LAPD did not bother to fill out the warrant properly, nor did they give the applicable cross reference material necessary on the property receipt to find any records about the weapons in the future.
After numerous attempts on his own to retrieve his property, and even using the services of another lawyer, he had all but given up on ever seeing them again.
Then… he hired us.
Cosmo and I went to work and after some back channel detective work, we found the guns in the LAPD gun unit and attempted to secure a court order to get them released. Cosmo fought with the court to get a case number. Literally, having to get past the clerk and physically digging through the search warrant records from back in 2011. He then had to fight against a seriously misguided DA who didn’t want to return weapons back to a law abiding citizen. That same DA also could not understand the clear and unambiguous statements of a detective at the gun unit who said that he was more than prepared to hand the guns back.
Finally, that same DA accused me in open court of potentially fabricating the email chain that we produced between us and said LAPD detective.
That little interlude came dangerously close to one of us, me or the DA winding up being held in contempt of court.
Finally, we had our order signed by the judge and the waiting game came with LAPD to arrange a time for me under the auspices of my FFL to go to the detention center and pick up the guns.
Thursday of last week, I had the appointment.
Standing in the waiting area of the detention center, I got to hob nob with about thirty of LA’s more colorful citizenry. Often times, low level offenders are given the opportunity to “self book”. Meaning that rather then get arrested at an inconvenient time, they can go to the detention center, get themselves booked, and then are immediately released on their own recognizance while they await trail.
These were the upstanding members of the community that I got to hang out with while I waited for our client’s guns.
(As an aside, I had the opportunity to be on the receiving end of a conversation with a gentleman who claimed to be the Messiah. Apparently, the whole “cleanliness is next to Godliness” message was lost upon him post resurrection.)
Cosmo had once told me, that the best way to understand the bureaucracy of the judicial system is to accept the paradigm that there are thousands of employees that have a singular job… to say “no”.
Were they to say “yes” that would require them to potentially risk their continual employment, and possibly… potentially… necessitate them actually “doing something”. Both, are anathema to a bureaucrat.
To ensure that “yes” never becomes an option they created a byzantine set of rules, rules that have no rational basis in need or fact to wear as armor against the potential of being called to act.
I saw this manifest that day.
Our FFL is a federal license. The copy of the FFL is totally sufficient to show my status as a Federal Firearms Dealer. When asked to produce my FFL, by the woman in charge of property I pulled out a color copy of our license. I instantly saw her face light up.
“I’m sorry, I cannot accept that. I need to have the original FFL. You will have to make another appointment.”
“You do? Why? There is nothing that states that this copy is not sufficient.”
“I’m sorry, but that is the rule. When would you like to come back?”
“No worries, and I won’t need to make another appointment. I brought the original too… here you go.”
(It was spectacular watching her face turn ashen as I handed our original FFL over…. as an aside I would like to take this moment to thank my wonderful wife for teaching the value in “over preparation.)
She went back into her dungeon and one hour and twenty five minutes later, she returned with the firearms that had languished in solitary confinement for the last six years.
Back at Artemis, they were recorded into our inventory and our client was informed that justice had FINALLY been served. He could now come in and have his property returned to him.
This was not a case of national importance. It will not make or destroy the Republic. It was however important to our client. It was also important for both Cosmo and me. It was important, not because the guns should never have been taken in the first place. It was important, because the bureaucracy of the state had been marshaled against this man and was effectively denying him justice.
Tyranny must be fought whenever it is discovered. Little victories like this one add up. As George Washington was fond of saying “Many a muckle makes a mickle.”
©️ Copyright 2017, This article was written by Steven Lieberman, Co-Owner of the Artemis Defense Institute and Partner of The Law Offices of Lieberman and Taormina. Please share this blog to every 2A supporter!
The “Perfecting” of History
Over the last few days, the single most important story that could dramatically effect our lives: The escalation on the Korean Peninsula has been supplanted by a insane act of violence in Virginia. Once again, the weapon of choice was not a gun or a knife… it was an automobile.
It was also a desperate reminder that politics has a failure point… what then happens… the result is often bloodshed.
Our system of government is elegant. It was developed to withstand the whims and vagaries of successive generations and stylistic attitudes. It does this through an absolute prohibition of allowing the government the ability to screw around with the minority.
This is important. Minority rights are the bulwark against tyranny. It also allows for both constructive dialogue as well as a shared “American Experience”. Without both, our Republic is lost.
The Constitution was written with goals in mind. Chief among them, as articulated in the Preamble: “To Secure the blessing of Liberty, to ourselves and our Posterity…”
Liberty is freedom from Tyranny, and that has traditionally been seen as tyranny by the majority against the minority. This is not always the case. There have been far too many instances of the reverse being true as well: Tyranny of the minority, against the majority.
The genius of our Founding Fathers is the realization that the government was a tool of force. A blunt, egregious club that if used properly was only effective in protecting the boundaries of human conduct. People would need to rely upon their own devices for social interaction and self development both personally and economically. The government was to be limited to securing the forum for an individual to act in a manner consistent with the development of their own personal happiness. Counter to this system, would be an individual using the coercive power of government to achieve a personal end.
Yet, here we are.
Individuals have become “corporatized”. There is no such thing as the “individual” . There is only the membership in a group or tribe that creates social value…. and for the first time in our history, the inclusiveness of that group or tribe has become selective. No longer do we yearn to have our thoughts grow, and have influence on others. Now, we seek exclusivity through the moniker of “Minority”.
(If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here)
If we are a member of a minority group, we are defined as “aggrieved”… Yet the protector of our group has always been the Constitution itself. If the majority refuses to read your pamphlet, they cannot be coerced into doing so by the government. The market place of ideas will regulate which speech is sought, and which is considered worthless. The individual must tailor his message to achieve the widest receptive audience. If he is not successful, then his message… at least, at that time in history… will fall upon deaf ears. The majority cannot however use the power of the government to silence him. They can only use their freedom to ignore him.
The majority in any one particular City State, may not like the bearing of arms, but to the minority that finds comfort in the safety they provide, they should be secure in the knowledge that their rights are protected by the Constitution.
Yet, when the minority finds offense in the very nature of the Constitution… Well, now we have a problem.
Those that spout off about racial superiority are by definition intellectually inferior. Yet, should we say the same about those that seek cultural separation? What exactly is the culture that we are talking about in the first place? I participate in a variety of cultures. I am a lawyer, and as such, I participate in a culture that is based around other lawyers and an interest in eschewing emotion for logic. I am a historian, I surround myself with others that share a similar interest in using history as a measure of the human experience. I am a firearms enthusiast, a hunter, a Libertarian. All of these “cultures”, I am a part of, and some are mutually exclusive.
Because of the First Amendment, I am free to associate with those that hold a similar ideal and position within my culture. I am also desperately interested in attracting new members to my culture. My culture cannot be exclusive or they will ultimately die.
There is a common thread that connects all of these cultural tapestries… A fundamental understanding that I AM AN AMERICAN.
That means something.
That means… that I fight against tyranny. That I fight against the forces that would subjugate the Constitution to their own benefit, and that, I fight for the fundamental rights of my fellow Americans.
When we took our oaths as military officers, we swore to protect the Constitution against all enemies both foreign and domestic…. the “domestic” clause is there for a reason.
Abraham Lincoln in his Lyceum address said “ All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasures of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force to take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be it’s author… and it’s finisher.”
THIRD TIME IS THE CHARM
This week, I wanted to have a conversation about freedom. Specifically, I wanted to talk about the phrase at the beginning of the Preamble of the Constitution that stipulates that the Bill of Rights were codified to “….secure the blessings of Liberty”
That will have to wait.
Sometimes, tyranny will intrude into even the most polite of conversations.
This happened last week, when the California Department of Justice finally found their ideal bureaucrat in the Office of Administrative Regulations.
Those of you that have “modern muskets”… California has identified you in the most despicable of terms. More to the point, they have decided what cosmetic features on your rifles are acceptable and what are not. Lastly, they have violated the concept of separation of powers and picked up where the legislature was not prepared to go.
So… to bring everyone up to speed:
Last year, the Legislature voted on a series of bills regarding firearms ownership. One of those bills was SB 880. Essentially, it said that a semi automatic rifle that had a bullet button affixed as a magazine release…. a device that was specifically created to allow for compliance under California law… was no longer effective. Up to this point, it was deemed that a semi automatic firearm, with one or more “evil features” and a traditional magazine release was an “assault rifle”. If the magazine was fixed in place, (a status that the bullet button allowed for) then it was not an “assault rifle”. SB 880 changed that. Now, if you have a rifle with a bullet button… then by definition, it is not exempt, and thus must be characterized as an assault rifle.
But the legislature did allow for a caveat. IF the weapon was owned before January 1 of 2018, then it could be registered as an “assault weapon”. Something that was prohibited for civilians to do up to this point.
DOJ decided that this exemption did not go far enough.
By definition, if following the law as developed by the legislature, the owner were to register the weapon as an “assault weapon”, they should be able to remove the bullet button and install a traditional magazine release. Since there is only one definition of “assault weapon”, and there are no sub categories, the registration process should have been remarkably simple.
DOJ thought otherwise. They crafted a new definition of “assault weapon”. Essentially, in their eyes there are two: Traditional “assault weapons” with regular magazine releases, and “Bullet Button Assault Weapons”… rifles that must live out their days with the bullet button fixed to the side.
They put forth their regulations and the methods to register the rifles. They did this in a manner that prohibited individuals from seeing the regs. The NRA and the CRPA squared up against DOJ and they backed down, voluntarily pulling their regulations in May.
Then, they tried again.
This time, they put forth substantially the same regulations they had put forth the first time, and they were rejected by the Office of Administrative Law.
So, they did what any good tyrant would do… they simply refiled.
This time, a new bureaucrat, (or perhaps the same one… but having had a counseling session with their masters)… approved the regulations.
So… as of this writing, you are free to register your “bullet button assault rifle” with the State of California.
I urge you not to.
First off… the registration process is unnecessarily intrusive and frankly potentially violates your Fifth Amendment rights.
While there is no law that states that you must “build out a rifle”, the registration process demands that you do. There are many people that have lowers that they purchased prior to the end of the year. No where in any legislation does it state that those lowers must be built into full rifles for registration. Yet, the DOJ demands that you do just that. They even want you to take photographs of the rifle and send them to Sacramento electronically.
Here is the thing… if you were to take your stripped lower, and assemble it in preparation for registration, and you affix a bullet button on it, you are committing a felony.
Yes… you need to commit a felony first, in order to become legally compliant.
Moreover, in the registration process they demand that you state date of acquisition of your firearm with a high degree of specificity. Many of you (and me as well) don’t have copies of our original DROS paper work. If we “guesstimate” when we picked it up…(information that DOJ has in their possession and can check)… and you get the date wrong: You’ve committed a felony.
Many of you know that as we moved forward towards registration last year, I was of the position that we should all register our guns and replace the magazine releases with traditional buttons. I wanted the State to scratch their heads, and wonder how they created a scheme where suddenly hundreds of thousands of rifles now had regular magazine releases on it.
Well… the State bypassed the rule of law, and created this bazaar registration mechanism that prevents that from happening.
So… now, I urge you all NOT to register your guns.
Go featureless… at least for the time being. Perhaps this really is the best course of action to make a political statement.
The tyrants wanted to force you to give up your modern musket and register it as an “assault rifle”. They wanted you to be forced into modifying your gun and make it less efficient, and less safe.
Show them how you feel by bypassing their unbelievably expensive registration system, and winding up with a regular magazine release to boot. Remember… if it is featureless, it can have a regular magazine release.
The weapon might look ridiculous, but then again sometimes we must make sacrifices in order to fight the forces of oppression.
WRENN v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Whenever freedom nudges upward from the dark ooze of tyranny, we must pause and acknowledge. Sometimes, the burst of light that emanates from the darkest region comes upon us like a fiery blaze. Illumination… inspired by Divine Providence that completely burns away the chains and cables of tyranny in one glorious inferno.
Other times there are glimmers of of hope. Brief instances of enlightenment that remind us that freedom is the natural yearning of all suffering under the yoke of oppression. Often times, those momentary flashes happen and are quickly extinguished by the prevailing infrastructure of institutionalized tyranny.
Though, they are short lived... they remind us that patriots lurk in the background. Minutemen who always stand ready to protect our experiment in limited government and freedom. Even when others have become ambivalent.
If enough of these “freedom sparks” occur... there stands the real chance of a larger ignition, so we monitor and nurture these independent events.
Such as what occurred last Tuesday in the United Sates Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
The case is Wrenn v. District of Columbia… and it turns on a singular question: Can a government acknowledge that an individual enjoys an enumerated right… a right that pre-exists the formation of the government in question… but create a scheme where the individual must beg for permission to exercise that right, and for the most part have the government deny the request?
Judge Griffith in his decision answered the question emphatically: No.
The District of Columbia has played an important role in our understanding of the Second Amendment. It was the District's out right ban on the possession of firearms… even in the home… that was the core component of the famous Heller v. District of Columbia. This case provided the framework for the late Justice Antonin Scalia (may God rest his soul), to articulate the basic understanding of the Second Amendment that we all already knew: That the Second Amendment was not a “collectivist right” applying only to members of the National Guard… an argument that merited virtual know empirical academic scholarship… yet one that the "antis" had promulgated for years. Instead, he acknowledged that the Second was an Individual Right. More importantly, it was an Individual “Fundamental” Right… meaning that via the Fourteenth Amendment, the right to Keep and Bear Arms was not an exclusive limitation of federal intrusions… it had now been incorporated to each of the State Constitutions preventing State actions that would bar the ability of the people to exercise their Second Amendment Rights.
Tyrants… both local and national, being what they are cannot accept the idea of an empowered citizenry... so attempts were made both in the Judiciary, as well as in local governments to create a Byzantine bureaucratic maze that must be navigated for an individual to bear arms... that out of sheer desperation the individual chooses to give up. Courts also crafted “intermediate tests” to determine wether regulatory statues violated the Second Amendment. The “intermediate tests” are unheard of when it comes to the testing of an enumerated right… the appropriate level of review should be what is referred to as “strict scrutiny”… still, flouting the express language of the higher court they did so anyway.
The District of Columbia adopted a “Good Reason” standard that one must achieve before the Masters of City Government were to acquiesce to a mere citizen be allowed to leave their home with a concealed firearm.
“State your reasons succinctly… and if it pleases the Crown then perhaps, we will agree to it.”
Since the bearing of Arms by a citizen never “pleases the Crown”… it was highly doubtful that a permit would ever be issued. Empirical evidence of approvals vs. denials proved this out.
Judge Griffith stated enough was enough.
The Constitution had bee abrogated too long by petty tyrants. Hence forth, the “good reason” requirement was abolished.
The District of Columbia has a few days to appeal for an En Banc review. (Those of you how followed Peruta know how this can go). There is of course always the potential of an appeal before the Supremes. Though there is no guarantee that they would even consider the case.
Finally,… this case, bears little immediate concern to our own local and State tyrants. They are not bound by the decision of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Yet, it should give them pause.
While this little flicker of freedom may in fact quickly be extinguished, it could also merge together with other sparks, and quickly spread to a gloriously brilliant inferno.
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