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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…
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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.
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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.
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This last week, President Trump made two extraordinarily disturbing statements. First, he suggested that due process should take place after the powers of the State had seized weapons from someone suspected of being mentally incompetent. This actually implicates multiple Amendments. First, and obviously, the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, and second, the Fifth Amendment, “… [no person should]…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
President Trump’s argument is that sometimes, well… that darn “due process” just takes too long.
Establishing probable cause, and getting a judge to grant a warrant can happen literally in seconds. Now if probable cause does not really exist, it is the check and balance of the judiciary to ensure that the executive is not becoming tyrannical.
That is the whole friggin point!
The fact that those who have been calling Trump a despot since the election are now completely comfortable allowing him to essentially ignore the Constitution and expand executive power at the direct expense of the people is both disingenuous and disgusting.
Then he dropped this little gem:
When addressing Senator Pat Toomey he said, “You are afraid of the NRA."
Afraid of the NRA?
What the hell does that mean???
The NRA is the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.
Yes… you read that right… CIVIL RIGHTS organization.
Just as the ACLU is supposed to check the powers of government when it comes to abuses of the Constitution, so does the NRA. They conveniently choose to ignore that pesky 2nd Amendment when it comes to litigation. The NRA fights on behalf of the people in ensuring that the government does not abrogate the rights of the people.
Who, that has sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, could possibly be “afraid” of an organization that has, as its charter, the mission to ensure that elected representatives do not violate their oath?
The passions of the mob are aligned against gun owners, conflating legal and illegal gun possession into a single group. The mob does not have the fortitude, nor the extended passion, to organize and begin non-governmental confiscation of firearms. They do seem to have the ear of the President and Congress though. The bulwarks against their passions are the rights granted by the Creator and codified in the Bill of Rights.
When one is abolished, all are in jeopardy.
Then tyranny wins.
A number of years ago my daughter needed to attend a Hunter Safety Class. Being the proud dad of, at the time, a seven-year-old precocious suburbanite little girl, I dutifully hauled her out to our local range where they were conducting the class. This was my third time sitting through this. The first had happened 20 years ago when I went through the program. Then again, when my older daughter, Carolyn, was about nine, and now it was Chaney’s turn. Sort of like a state-sponsored “right of passage,” if you will.
What struck me this time was a casual statement the instructor made to the class.
“You have a responsibility to the 20 not to turn the 60 against us.”
What he meant by this little missive was a rudimentary study in political demographics. Twenty percent of the population is pro-hunting. They understand the benefits of hunting, both to themselves, as well as game populations. They may have unique personal agendas… from cultural, to spiritual as to why they hunt, but collectively they form a voting block that will never support legislation that would limit a hunter’s right to pursue game.
Then there is the other 20 percent. These guys are completely antagonistic to hunting. They see no benefit to going afield, and consider hunting and hunters barbaric. While they may consider themselves reasonable, logical individuals, they have little regard for science or logic when it comes to this. To them, hunting is not morally ambiguous, it is evil and, therefore, their crusade against hunting is inherently righteous. The fact that it is grounded in emotion, rather than logic, is of little consequence.
These two groups essentially cancel out each other when it comes to voting. To be sure, full participation in an election is required of each, lest the other one gain a numerical advantage to the apathy of the other side… but for the most part, there is a static balance between the two.
Then there are the 60 percent that lie between. These are the voters that can be swayed to either side from election to election. It is these 60 percent that hold the future in their hands. The mission of both enemy camps is to shore up their own base, and then to persuade the 60 to vote for their cause.
This persuasive argument comes in two forms: Appealing to the logic of the 60… and pointing out the bad behavior and egregious acts of the opposing 20. If the other side acts unreasonably, then the 60 will logically gravitate towards the opposing 20, regardless of the merits of their overall argument. After all… who wants to associate or defend the egregious behavior of others?
This is where we are now when it comes to firearms rights.
The debate is not just about the logical right of a CCW holder to defend children in schools, or the inherent right of individuals to exercise their Second Amendment rights by buying the weapon of their choice… this has become an existential threat to the Constitution itself. For once the Second has been repealed or neutered to such a degree that it becomes ineffectual…there is nothing that prevents the tyrant from moving on to the First, the Fourth, or the Fifth. (Yes, Cosmo…even the Third could be repealed!)
This brings up something that I have been observing for quite some time when we go to the range for our live-fire shoots.
One of the things that we, as shooters,… (not just CCW holders, who are a special group which requires a unique set of standards)… need to understand is that we are literally on stage, all the time.
The 20 percent who find the idea of firearm ownership abhorrent is in a continual battle with us, and the prize is the hearts and minds of the 60.
It isn’t supposed to be this way.
The Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights, is a document that is specifically designed to protect the minority from the majority. If the majority of voters thinks that a specific race of people should not be afforded the right to vote, or engage in economic activity, or speak, or enjoy the right to counsel, their efforts to impose their will on this minority are stymied by the very document that empowers the majority to vote in the first place. The Constitution is the ultimate protector of “minority rights”… and with that comes a predictable body politic. When predictability occurs, trust is generated. Trust is not necessarily altruistic. It is just a reasonable interpretation of what will logically occur given a set of actions. Since there is trust in the polity, there can be a measure of risk incurred. Risk may take the form of voting, risk may take the form of signing a contract for employment, or the lending of money. Since the rights of the minority are sacred and protected by our core document, we can make measured decisions and rely on predictable outcomes. When we become totally dependent on the will of the masses, when the rights of the minority exist temporally based exclusively on the whims of the majority… there is no predictability and our society, our economy, both cease to exist.
The truly scary part is that we now have a clarion call to repeal or ignore sections of the Constitution for the singular benefit of the 20 that find the idea of personal firearm ownership, and use of firearms, antiquated at best… antisocial at worst. They are prepared to destroy the foundations of our Republic in order to achieve the emotive goal.
And some of us have aided them.
There are evil individuals who have taken up arms against their fellow citizens and students. They are the friends of the anti-gunners.
Whether their motivation was political, retributive, religious… or just because they are insane, makes little difference. The beneficiaries of their actions are those antagonistic to the Second.
Just as Daniel Boone, Davy Crocket, Annie Oakley, Audie Murphy, and Chris Kyle serve as models and inspiration for our side of the pro-2A 20 percent… so do the monsters at Columbine, at the Pulse Night Club, Aurora, and now a school in Florida serve as evil icons for the antis.
That leaves the question of where do you stand?
I told our CCW class this last weekend that things have changed. When you are at the range and you are training, what do you look like?
Think about that question for a second.
What do you look like?
Are you polished? Are your weapon manipulations honed? Do you look terrified to be holding a gun? Do you look ridiculous holding a gun? Are you following range rules as though they were inspired by Divine Providence? Are you polite? Are you competent?
Here is the big question…. If you could look at yourself in the third person and watch your actions, your attention to safety, your marksmanship, your skill sets… would you be comfortable allowing someone that looks and acts like you being the guardian of the Thin Red, White and Blue line that exists between your child and oblivion?
The 20 percent that would seek to empower the tyrants by disarming the citizens are clear in their message to the 60…”The other 20 cannot be trusted!”
What do we show them when we are at the range?
Do we show them, and all who watch, the sheer fallacy of the message… or do we confirm it?
You must assume, at any moment there is a news crew from the legacy media at the range videotaping and hoping for a disaster. If not a news crew, then a kid with a cell phone will do just fine.
“You say that teachers who have CCWs should be allowed to carry on campus… Well, let’s just show you and the audience this video footage of CCW holders training at the range. This was filmed last Sunday… Bob… roll the tape.”
25 million people are now treated to the spectacle of civilians imitating the Keystone Cops, and one having a negligent discharge into the ground.
You think that might have an effect on the 60?
Second Amendment supporters are a massively egalitarian bunch. We are also, contrary to the other 20 percent, the most inviting. We yearn to bring more into our community. We are successful, too… which makes the antis that much more nervous.
Check yourself. Be active, train constantly, train consistently, and train with purpose… but always know that, while you are training, you are being watched. We are not just in a fight for the hearts and minds of the 60 percent… we are potentially seeing an existential threat to our Republic. With the highest standard of professionalism, patriotism, and dedication, recognize our new reality, and act accordingly.
A bomb goes off in Israel; hundreds are injured and killed. A rabbi solemnly walks to the microphone and reminds his country's people that evil exists in the world, and resistance to evil means not succumbing to it.
The next day people go on about their lives.
Each day people are killed or injured throughout the world due to the reckless actions of those that become inebriated, and then get behind the wheel of a vehicle. We scorn them, we prosecute them, but we don’t abandon our vehicles, for to do so, would fundamentally alter our way of life as a result of the actions of a minority.
Each day throughout our country defendants are let out of courtrooms as free people. Not that they did not commit the crime, but rather the actions of the State in collecting evidence violated their Fourth Amendment rights…. yet we seldom engage in a debate to abrogate the Fourth, and allow unfettered police powers.
The First Amendment kills.
It kills both as a result of speech and religion. From the Branch Davidians, to Jones Town, to those poor souls waiting for salvation from Hale Bop, to even the desperate soul seeking spiritual salvation as a means of curing a terminal disease through the medium of a big-haired televangelist.
Yet, we do not cry in mass for repeal of the First Amendment.
The Bill of Rights can be abused. It happens all the time. But these foundational principles of the nature of humanity, and the rights infused from our Creator, cannot be revoked through legislative fiat… regardless of how popular it might be to do so at any given time.
This last week we saw, again, evil manifest.
This time Loki touched the mind of a monster in Florida, and children died as a result.
These children were, by law, required to be in a confined space without the adequate protection necessary to be protected from a foreseeable act. A great debate has ensued since Newtown as to whether teachers should be armed. There are many that feel the mere presence… even the potential presence… of a gun in a classroom is too traumatizing for a student, or parent, to bear. Reluctantly, they acquiesce to the presence of school resource officers… but even they are limited in numbers, and their effectiveness is put into question.
It is sad, but standard fair. When these tragedies occur, the Antis immediately talk about “common sense gun control.” This usually means an outright banning of the AR-15 and standard capacity magazines…. as though this has any bearing on the evil manifest in the heart of the murderer.
Senator Bill Nelson (D) from Florida was interviewed the night of the event, and was boasting about his Second Amendment credentials. “I’ve been a hunter all my life… I own guns… but an AR-15 shoots high caliber ammunition from a high caliber clip! Senator Feinstein and I tried to get these things banned, but were unsuccessful… we need to revisit this… no one needs a weapon whose sole function is to kill hundreds of people.”
What the hell?!?!
Senator Nelson’s protestations aside… No one who is a law-abiding citizen needs the protection of the Fourth Amendment. No one who is not a member of a cult needs the protections of the First Amendment. And let’s be frank…. who really needs that pesky antiquated Third Amendment thing anyhow? (Sorry, Cosmo… I know you feel that the purpose of the Third Amendment was to avoid placing an agent of the State in someone’s home… someone that could enforce the rules of the Crown against the Colonists… In modern day, this might very well take the form of wire-tapping, or warrantless monitoring… but come on… if you have nothing to hide… who should be concerned?)
The point is… and it is the most germane point… what the hell has happened since the 1970s?
We have had weapons that expend projectiles through the use of gunpowder for over 500 years. We have had weapons that were capable of repeated fire as early as the Revolutionary War, and in mass production since the late 1800s. Children… (yes, children) could order a gun from the Sears and Roebuck catalog right up to the 1950s… yet, there were no mass shootings.
Our first mass shooting occurred in the early 1970s just a few years after the 1968 gun control act. After that event… well, all bets were off.
To deny that something is “happening” out there would be folly. Something clearly is… but, what is it?
Colonel Dave Grossman puts this squarely on violent video games, which he describes as a toxic training tool that desensitizes youths towards violence, and makes violence the goal.
Perhaps… Not all players of video games become school shooters… but all school shooters played violent video games.
Modern pharmacology may also play a role.
More people are under the influence of behavior-controlling drugs than at anytime in human history.
What is not at issue is the tool used by the assailants. As we have seen repeatedly now through the use of vehicles, knives and acid… when there is a will to create carnage, there is a way.
So let’s ban guns. Let’s tear out the Second Amendment. Is that too draconian? Then let’s limit it to only the guns that were in service at the time of ratification… (no wait, they had a repeating rifle way back then, too). Ok… let’s specifically ban semi-automatic rifles, as “they have no practical value for self defense.” (Let’s just pretend that the church shooting in Texas never happened, ok?)
What is to prevent a murderer from going to Home Depot and making a gun from scratch… it ain’t that hard, folks.
Well…. we will make that action illegal!
Isn’t murder already illegal?
Alvin Doe et al. v. Becerra
“Many a mickle makes a muckle.”
For those of you who are familiar with 18th century idioms…. (you have an odd hobby).
Those of you who watched the excellent series, Turn: Washington’s Spies, might have heard George Washington utter this phrase. Basically, a lot of little things make a big thing.
Such is often the case in the cause of freedom.
The California Court of Appeal, Third District, just issued a smack down to the State… specifically the California Department of Justice… in the case of Alvin Doe et al. v. Becerra.
While this case will probably not directly affect the majority of you, it does have potentially further reaching implications.
Those of you who want to read the actual decision can access it here:
Here is what the case boils down to:
California has a rule that says you cannot acquire more than one handgun in a 30-day period of time. There are, however, exemptions to that rule; private party transfers are one such exemption with which many of you may be familiar. One of the other exemptions states that if you have a FFL and a COE (Certificate of Eligibility), you are exempt for the 30-day rule.
So… back in 2014 Mr. Doe (and friends), who happen to have Curio and Relic FFLs, and held valid COEs, asked the DOJ, “Hey… we are exempt from that whole 30-day thing right?”
The DOJ replied by saying, “Ummmm… no… you are not exempt.”
The plaintiffs replied, “Huh?!? We are FFLs!”
“Yes, but you are Curio and Relic FFLs.”
“So, you are only licensed for the collection of curios and relics.”
“Can you point us to the applicable law that you are referencing?”
“I don’t need to. I am the State Attorney General, and I get to make this @#$@ up as I go along!”
Well, the Court of Appeals disagreed with the State Attorney General.
One of the two important aspects in this decision involved the following phrase:
In fact, the literal interpretation of the licensed collector exemption, when read in conjunction with the applicable federal law, appears to be that despite the limited utility of the collector’s license during the purchase of a regular handgun, the purchaser remains “licensed” as a collector under federal law. Stated differently, while the license does not apply to a transaction that does not involve a curio or relic, the license is not invalidated by such a transaction. (27 C.F.R.
Basically, once you have a license, you have a license. Even if the underlying transaction does not implicate the license, it does not mean that the license suddenly went away. If there are benefits to being a licensee, they still apply to you.
Second was this little gem:
As to this particular question of statutory interpretation, there is no reason to believe the Bureau of Firearms has ‘a comparative interpretive advantage over the courts.’ (Yamaha Corp. of America v. State Bd. of Equalization (1998) 19 Cal.4th 1, 12)
Boom! Mic drop!
This was the court basically telling the DOJ to cut the crap when it comes to statutory interpretation. Essentially the DOJ had said that since the statutory language was “unambiguous and not open to interpretation,” there was no need to engage in any mandatory Office of Administrative Law procedures. (Administrative law procedures are public processes that allow for the development of administrative procedures that an executive agency uses to enforce statutory law crafted by the Legislature.)
The court disagreed, and basically said that the language is complicated and potentially contradictory…. they blew it when they decided to just move forward and create a policy without going through the proper procedure.
So… does this create any real opportunities for the Subjects of the Crown in California?
Yet, whenever the arbitrary and capricious power of the State is curtailed, we sit back and smile, and raise our glasses in a toast for freedom.
Our Colonel walked into the JAG office, and was met by the anonymous, “Attention on deck!”
All of our conversations ceased, and we rose to attention.
“As you were.”
We all returned to our seats, and watched in silence as the physically imposing COL (CA) Bollinger made his way to the center of the conference table.
We were assembled for drill in our “JAG Shop” at JFTB Los Alamitos.
There were roughly 20 commissioned officers (and two PFCs) for our monthly drill. We all serve in the California Military Reserve as Judge Advocate General Officers. For those of you who have never heard of this division (or missed the TV show), we are military lawyers.
“Today’s drill is going to be a little long, I warn you.”
“We are going to be going over some internal cases and discussing some philosophical issues associated with your military service.”
Hmmm… this cannot possibly be a good thing.
“Before we begin, I want to implore all of you: Wear your rank, as though it is the last one you will ever have.”
This opening statement from COL (CA) Bollinger, who, in his civilian life, is a brilliant defense attorney, left me honestly confused. Most of us in the room are Majors or LTCs. I am one of a handful of Captains. Was he suggesting that we should look at promotion as irrelevant?
As he continued, the brilliance of that statement began to make sense.
“You have a singular mission. Your job is to advise commanders of the legality of their actions. Many will not be particularly thrilled with your advice. Many will seek to ignore your advice. You must strive to ensure that your advice is both accurate and followed. Your client is not the commanding officer; your client is the California and the Army National Guard. You might be called upon to provide legal advice to a soldier who is about to be deployed, or you might need to run interference for a soldier who is deployed. You must ensure that that soldier is given the best legal representation he or she can get… because, ultimately, their mission is dependent on their being able to execute it. You are serving the soldier… but, ultimately, you are serving the mission of the U.S. Army.”
“Some might be upset at your insistence to legal protocols. Some may even seek to have you transferred, or your promotions stalled, as retribution for your dedication to military justice. They may be successful, for a time. You must find their actions and schemes to your personal ambitions irrelevant. Justice and honor must take precedence over your own advancement. Do what is right…. wear that rank as though it is the last you will ever have, and provide counsel accordingly.”
Motivational speech notwithstanding, the Colonel had a valid point.
We swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. We accepted billets in the Legal Services Division of the California State Military Reserves. Our mission is to defend soldiers and offer advice. Those that would stand in our way must be brushed aside as we move forward. As the war correspondent, Alex Quade, stated so eloquently when reporting on her time with the Green Berets, “They have a constant phrase, ‘Charlie Mike’…. continue the mission.”
Someone asked me once… a cop… what it is like to successfully argue a motion for the suppression of evidence that lets a known criminal out of incarceration. He was not asking me specifically, it was more of a general question. As an attorney, how could you do such a thing?
My law partner, Cosmo Taormina (A Major in the same unit that I serve), once told me that defense attorneys sit at the right hand of God. “We are the last line of defense against the unlimited powers of the State. We are what makes the government act with legitimacy. Without us, the forces of tyranny have no road blocks.”
He is right.
I responded to the law enforcement officer with my own version.
“I do not defend criminals. I defend the Constitution. When the State has violated the Constitution, I call them on it. The criminal is simply an unintended beneficiary.”
I have sworn three oaths to the public in my life.
The most recent one took place in that JAG shop at Los Alamitos when I became a commissioned officer.
Before that, I swore an oath when I became an officer of the California Supreme Court. (Incidentally, that oath, which all lawyers take upon passing the bar, is decidedly similar to the military oath.)
Before that, I took an oath, five days a week for twelve years. Most of you took that oath along with me.
Each morning I would stand at my desk and take an oath pledging allegiance to the United States of America, One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
That was not a short-term oath.
It does not dilute with the passage of time.
All of us are duty bound to follow the pledge that we all have taken. There are times when we might be disparaged for our actions in support of that oath. We might suffer personal retribution as we pursue justice and fight against tyranny. Yet, we must know that our cause is just and guided by divine providence. We must take solace in the knowledge that our generation stands as guardians to the next of the blessings of liberty. We must always be ready, even in the face of insurmountable odds, to “Charlie Mike." There is no greater struggle than the fight against tyranny. We must all wear our rank as though it is the last we will ever have.
SHOT SHOW 2018
Each year the shooting industry converges on Las Vegas for our annual “Shooting & Hunting Outdoor Trade Show.” This is for all intents and purposes the functional equivalent to the Detroit Auto Show for guns. Literally, all manufacturers have some sort of presence at the show, and they are not only looking for dealers to sell their existing product lines, but also unveiling their new products for the next year.
This is also a bit of a political gathering as well; at least, it has been in the past. Politics were decidedly subdued this time around… probably had something to do with the perceived lack of an existential threat to our industry as a result of the new administration.
In fact, there was a subdued atmosphere to the whole show.
It was crowded… no change there from last year. But the buzz and excitement of prior years was just not there.
There were, however, some pretty cool things that deserve to be discussed:
If you arrived from the Newsletter, start reading from here.
Sig Sauer P365
So, Sig Sauer has developed a new striker fire handgun that seeks to compete directly with the Glock 43. It is small and sleek. From what I can tell from a few dry fire rotations, they seem to have included a SRT trigger as a stock item. From working the action and pressing the trigger in a dry fire environment, my first reaction is that this is a gun that is absolutely outstanding. Obviously, I was not able to send live rounds down range on the convention floor, so I can’t comment on how it actually performs in the field… but the limited time I had with it, I loved it. Frankly, I love it far more than the Glock 43. It “feels” better… and, without a doubt, the trigger is far superior. Of course the California Department of Justice views this as an “unsafe” handgun since it is not on the roster. Thus, those of you reading this in Occupied California can only get access to this gun through the roster exemptions. The rest of you who are reading this in the United States… go out and try this little guy. I think you will like it.
Magpul Pro 700 Rifle Chassis
I love bolt-action rifles. I always have. Many of the chassis that we put on our guns look ridiculously cool, but really do not do anything to improve the accuracy of the rifle beyond a loaded barrel or pillar bedding. This beast was designed for one purpose… aiding the shooting to achieve the best possible hit on target that the rifle is capable of producing. It is specifically designed to allow for an ergonomic interface between the shooter's body and the weapon, from adjustable cheek welds (this is common on many chassis), to a thumb shelf for the shooter’s thumb so they can dispense with the pistol grip. (Really?!?! Someone finally came up with this!) For anyone interested in long-range accuracy, I would HIGHLY encourage you to check out the Pro 700.
Cocktail Discussion: Arrest of Former Deputy David Martin for Illegal Weapons
Then there is this.
I seriously debated writing about this in this blog, and waiting for next week to explore it. But, since we discussed it at SHOT, I figured what the hell…
A former deputy with the Butte County Sheriff’s Department was arrested this last week for illegal weapons possession. The details of the story are sketchy at best. What I can surmise, though, is that Mr. Martin is not a particularly nice guy. (A few of his neighbors have made statements suggesting this to be the case.) He likes guns. He likes to assemble guns. He ordered decommissioned weapons online, ostensibly to mine them for parts. (Honestly… I did not even know this was a “thing.”) Cool, though… Mr. Martin is into recycling.
ATF launches an investigation of Mr. Martin due to his online purchases.
He is arrested for “illegal assault weapons.”
Now, I have some questions which, seemingly, have not been addressed. Was he arrested by ATF or by local deputies who were assisting? It appears that the weapons violations revolve around his AR-15s, which would lead me to infer that he had traditional magazine releases on them (bullet buttons would not be a problem until after June 30th).
Ok… so let’s deconstruct this:
Mr. Martin is a jerk…. not illegal.
Mr. Martin purchased decommissioned parts off the Internet…. not illegal, per se. According to the article, ATF secured a search warrant based on the probable cause theory that he was purchasing these parts for the assembly of a machine gun…. Huh???
When searching the premises, they find weapons that violate California state law… good faith search and ostensibly in plain view, good to go… but what about the underlying probable cause?
As you can see, my major concern here is the basis of the ATF search warrant. If I am at Home Depot, and I buy a bag of fertilizer, did I just give ATF probable cause based on a theory that I am going to make explosives? Since explosives could be relatively small, does the warrant allow them the scope to search through every nook and cranny of my house?
This case deeply troubles me. Now, having said that, I am even more dubious about the reporting on this case. There may very well be a much stronger reason that the ATF executed the warrant, and the “assault weapons,” for all I know, are machine guns. Nonetheless…. it made for an interesting discussion at one of the bars during the show.
Oh yeah…. my skills at the blackjack tables sucked this year, too.
A number of years ago I read, On Combat, by LTC Dave Grossman. There are a handful of books in my library that I can honestly say are life changing; On Combat is one of them. Grossman’s study of physiological and psychological dynamics that take place in the toxic realm of combat is unsurpassed. Moreover, his research into the motivations of soldiers called to live the life of sacrifice is both informative and inspirational.
So, when I was given a heads-up that Grossman was going to be doing a presentation for members of the Law Enforcement Community in Orange County, I jumped at the chance to listen to his lecture.
He is one of the most impassioned and dynamic presenters to whom I have ever had the pleasure to listen. The organization that sponsored LTC Grossman is called The Bascom Group. These guys own, and manage, real estate developments throughout the country. To give back to law enforcement personnel in their communities, they sponsor Grossman to come out and present to these agencies for free. (Hell, they even give lunch to the cops in attendance.)
One of the managing partners of The Bascom Group is a gentleman named David Kim. David met Sandy at this initial lecture, and the two became friends. A few months later The Bascom Group contacted Artemis and asked if we could help organize another Grossman event, this time in Pomona. We were more than happy to help, and Sandy was able to put together a spectacular event. This developed into our hosting another presentation in Scottsdale, and, then again, in Costa Mesa.
Recently, The Bascom Group asked us to put together another Grossman event…. this time in Vegas.
Now it was our own Terra’s time to shine.
Many of you have met Terra. She is our office manager and resident artist. This was also the first time she had been asked to fill up a theater full of cops in an area that she does not live. She dove headfirst into the project, and in the end, filled a theatre at UNLV with 300 State and Federal Law Enforcement Officers. She did a great job… it didn’t hurt that Grossman’s reputation for an awesome lecture precedes him.
Last Thursday, I accompanied Terra to Vegas to see Grossman again, and to introduce Grossman to the law enforcement officers in attendance.
His class, as always, was mesmerizing.
He focused on something that I know he has mentioned before, but now seems to stress a bit more: Always have your gun available.
Now, this lecture was not for CCW holders per se; it was for sworn law enforcement officers. Yet, he has seen an issue nationwide, throughout the years, which he is determined to confront head on: Off-duty cops who choose not to carry their guns.
The psychological trauma that comes from knowing that you have the skill set to save lives, but you have consciously made the decision not to carry the necessary tools required by that skill set, is too much for many survivors to bear.
“If you have the ability to carry a firearm, never be without the lifesaving tools of your profession.” Truer words have never been spoken.
What was also interesting were the words of appreciation we received. During the breaks quite a few officers approached me to thank me for “putting this together.” I told them the credit really belonged to The Bascom Group and Terra’s hard work. That said, we were all glad they could attend.
Many of them… interestingly enough most of them were federal law enforcement… were simply thrilled to have this kind of training available to them at all.
“We don’t typically get this type of training.”
“Rarely do we ever get anything this practical and eye-opening.”
“I’ve read many of Grossman’s books… but I never thought my department would actually let me attend one of his presentations.”
These were some of the expressions of gratitude we received.
While we are happy… thrilled… that these officers were able to get this training, we are concerned that a greater emphasis is not being placed on continual reinforcement of the skills necessary to prevail a deadly encounter.
Budgets, bureaucracy, and politics are, in my view, merely excuses for obstructionist, institutionalist personalities. If their individual paychecks were in jeopardy, they would figure out a way to get paid. If their own existence were threatened, they would prepare to prevail. Those that stand on the front lines against the forces of chaos must be given the training and the tools necessary to prevail against those who would seek to destroy them.
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