Y'know, there are times that I think that whole Age of
Reason/Enlightenment and the silly individual rights thing it spun off
was a fluke.
Individual rights *are* a fluke. America is a fluke. North America was
populated by exceptional men and women, people who fled oppression in
their home countries and risked everything they had in return for the
hope of living in greater freedom on their own merits, leaving their
support structures -- both personal and governmental -- as far behind
That paid off in the American Revolution, when
Americans beat back the forces of repression and claimed the right to
govern themselves -- and that as little as possible.
But since then?
no longer a frontier nation. People no longer have to self-select to
come to America. People are born here and receive freedom as a gift
from their forefathers, sometimes reverently but more and more often as
that old sweater that doesn't quite fit and hangs in the closet feeding
Is it any wonder that freedom slowly dies, and that
Americans gradually regress closer and closer to the complacent statism
that is so typical of the rest of the world?
Our culture is more
free, and we started from a position of smaller government. We have a
ways yet to go, but the direction is clear.
We need a new
frontier. We need self-supporting colonies on the Moon, on Mars, in the
middle of the oceans, where ever we can put them. Freedom lives on the
edge of civilization, not the center of it.
There's also a theme to these incidents that runs a little deeper. Gun bigots have managed to get mental illness defined as a reason to prevent someone from legally buying or possessing a firearm. On its face, this is reasonable; people with serious mental disorders aren't capable of handling firearms safely. The problem is that the left, mostly composed of gun bigots, mostly control the definition of mental illness according to their own prejudices and belief sets.
If we allow them to control that definition, it won't be long before wanting to own a gun or being willing to kill to protect your own life (or the life of a loved one) is viewed as a disqualifying mental illness. It's a classic catch-22: wanting to own a gun means you are insane, and insane people can't own guns. But you can have a gun if you don't want one.
So, as you may have guessed, the "Wizard of ID" is in fact Joe Huffman of Boomershoot. I am attending his shooting event for the second time.. and this time around I am much better prepared. I am using the same rifle I used last year (no last minute panics!) and know more about what I'm doing. I also have better blogging equipment, which will enable me to bring a lot more of the event to the web for my readership. My one regret: I started the day with the wrong type of media for recording video. I was at least able to dispatch a minion to retrieve the correct media, so I will have video tomorrow. I hope, anyway.
... it's an FBI investigation, too. That started as far back as December. That's before Obama took office, but after the election, so no doubt the career civil "servants" were trying to adjust their political position with reports like this. There's a particularly good quote:
"This is an assessment of things just to be wary of, not to infringe on
constitutional rights, certainly not to malign our veterans," [Napolitano] said
on NBC's Today Show.
Be wary of people who believe in federalism and small government? Be wary of people who just finished risking their lives for our nation?
It seems the city of Milwaukee would like to pay some enterprising firearms enthusiasts a lot of money. It sounds like the job is pretty harsh, though -- you have to travel to Milwaukee on your own funds, open-carry a firearm as permitted by Wisconsin law, and find of the the special Milwaukee police officers who will "put you on the ground, take your gun, and then decide if you have a right to carry it." If the courts later decide that you had the right to open-carry the firearm, you'll get paid...
It seems like a very long and convoluted way to stimulate the economy, but hey, if you need the money maybe you could make it work for you.
Now, having said that, I think none of us are under any illusion
that reinstating that ban would be easy. And so, what we?ve focused on
is how we can improve our enforcement of existing laws, because even
under current law, trafficking illegal firearms, sending them across a
border, is illegal. That?s something that we can stop.
last point I would make is that there are going to be some
opportunities where I think we can build some strong consensus. I?ll
give you one example, and that is the issue of gun tracing. The tracing
of bullets and ballistics and gun information that have been used in
major crimes ? that?s information that we are still not giving to law
enforcement, as a consequence of provisions that have been blocked in
the United States Congress, and those are the areas where I think that
we can make some significant progress early.
That doesn?t mean
that we?re steering away from the issue of the assault guns ban, but it
does mean that we want to act with urgency, promptly, now. And I think
we can make significant progress.
Mr. President, we have a Constitution that says you can't do that.
The Mexican President called for registration and limits on firearms sales to "common citizens".
One more thing ? one more thing I forgot to mention. One other thing we
can do is to track the weapons that we have in Mexico. If we manage to
detect weapons sold illegally in the United States in violation of this
law on the control of weapons exports, or if, in the United States,
they can have ? probably move forward on a good registry of armament or
on the prohibition of certain massive sales of weapons, for example, to
a hunter or to a common citizen ? we know that these people do not
usually buy hundreds of rifles or assault weapons or grenades ? if we
can move forward in those areas, I do believe that security both of the
United States and Mexico will improve because those weapons are
pointing against Mexican people and Mexican officials today.
Americans are not common citizens. We are not peasants fit only to serve our noble rulers. We are free men, with the right to possess "every terrible instrument of the soldier." [Alphecca gets a hat tip for this one.]
West said a customer of his recently stocked up on .223-caliber
rounds, a caliber often used in assault-style weapons. The customer
bought 1,000 rounds a few months ago through a mail order company.
after the purchase, he received a visit from the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security, whose interest was apparently piqued by a
large-scale purchase of that caliber.
"His wife was home. He was at church," West said.
I don't know how Homeland Security would even find out about that, much less want to conduct a home visit purely as the result of an ammunition purchase. However, the detail about the individual being at church while his wife spoke to the investigators is one of those little tidbits that hints that the story may have a factual basis. After all, if you're just telling a story, why not talk to the investigators yourself?
It's possible they were already watching this individual for some other reason, but that doesn't necessarily help -- given the report that was recently issued from that agency, they might have been watching the guy because he's a recently returned veteran, or because he opposes gun control.
I guess we'll find out soon enough; I've ordered 800 rounds of .308 recently (for completely lawful purposes of course) and I'm not exactly friendly to the current administration. They haven't visited me... yet.
The Volokh Conspiracy has a discussion of how copyright applies to mandatory student papers and commercial services -- in particular, TurnItIn, which checks submitted papers for plagiarism and adds each submitted paper to an internal database. Schools are charged for the service, and students are required to submit their papers for inclusion in the database.
Some students sued turnitin for copyright violations, and lost. Many of the arguments (at least in the comments on the Volokh post) turn on the lack of any commercial market for the work. This was obviously incorrect, so I posted a comment of my own with a hypothetical situation that would change the outcome of the case:
I think turnitin is in the wrong. Part of the reason people are so willing to assume otherwise is that they consider the value of a student-written high-school paper
Here's a hypothetical: Student takes a creative writing class, where he or she is assigned the task of writing a short story. The instructor requires him to submit the work to turnitin for inclusion in its plagiarism database. The student later sends the story, in substantially similar form, to a publisher under a pen name. The publisher initially accepts the story for publication, but their legal department checks the story against turnitin's database and blocks the transaction. (Assume for the sake of argument no other publisher wants the story).
Doesn't that establish a substantial, non-zero value of the student's copyrighted work, which has been denied by turnitin's database, and which would not have been denied had the student been allowed to refused to submit his story?
Regardless of the value of the story itself, which may be limited, what of damages to the student's reputation with that publisher and other publishers? What if the story is the first chapter of a (would have been, but-for) bestselling novel? What if the student is placed on a publisher's blacklist?
I guess the downside is that this is a fairly elaborate fact pattern that isn't present in this case. But not necessarily an uncommon one!
As an aside: I second the comments of others that turnitin ends up with a monopoly through compulsion, and that is also bad. Government should not be picking market winners and losers.
Why post the comment here? Mainly because I had some trouble posting it there and didn't want to lose the work.
Obama gave a speech in Mexico City recently. He called for reviving the federal assault weapons ban and "more strictly enforcing existing gun laws" in an effort to fight drug violence in Mexico. This follows on comments from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Attorney General Holder, and others. All of them used the same number -- 90% -- when referring to the number of guns seized in Mexico and traced to the US.
That number is a lie.
Many bloggers questioned it and Fox News definitively exposed it.
But they have continued to use the same number, and that tells me that the Obama adminstration has not gone off-plan; they had this messaging campaign planned from the very first comment and are still working from the original plan. Ignoring dissent and commentary is not out of character for this administration.
Alberto Islas, a security consultant with Risk Evaluation in Mexico
City, said the 90 percent figure is based on an incomplete sample.
Mexican officials only require ATF traces of guns used in "high impact
crimes," he said. That certainly includes crimes involving violent drug
cartels. That's the sample from which the ATF derives its 90 percent
statistic. Driving up that percentage, Islas said, is the fact that
nearly all of the handguns traced by ATF come from the U.S., Islas
said, while assault weapons are more of a mixed bag - some come from
the U.S., but others come through drug routes in Eastern Europe, Africa
This is a more reasonable view, and it contains an important bit of new information: if guns are coming from the US, those guns are typically handguns (which US citizens have a Constitutional right to keep and bear, per the recent Heller case) rather than "assault weapons". And it makes the Obama's administration's push to renew the assault weapons ban a deliberate political ploy to take advantage of the massive levels of violence in Mexico, rather than an honest attempt to do something about a problem.
Familiar names: Alan Gura filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Second Amendment Foundation. Stephen Halbrook filed an amicus on behalf of the NRA. Don Kates argued the case.
All of the usual suspects on the other side were amici, looks like.
Even though the 9th Circuit incorporated the 2nd, they still ruled that the regulation in question (banning firearms from county properly, which has the effect of banning gun shows at a particular location otherwise open to the public) was a reasonable one. At first blush they probably decided to incorporate so that they could control the analysis of the right, or at least have a voice in it, if the Supreme Court chose not to overrule.
"We are on the lookout for criminal and
terrorist activity but we do not -- nor will we ever -- monitor
ideology or political beliefs," Napolitano said in a statement amid
charges that the department had done just that.
Right. That's why you release a report on "rightwing extremists" that claims anyone who believes in gun rights or small government is a terrorist threat. There was almost nothing in that report other than ideology. Granted, we have some national history with violent racism, but you don't get to lump political ideology in with the racists.
Chicago Gun Case: The City's Brief, issues presented
This brief from the city is concerning all three major Chicago-area cases, two filed against the City of Chicago, one against the village of Oak Park; two of the cases are filed by the NRA, the third by the Second Amendment Foundation and the Illinois State Rifle Association.
85 pages. It's just like the early days of Parker v DC.
There are a couple pages of disclosure forms. I don't see anything interesting there.. the city is relying on Mayer Brown LLP and Klein, Thorpe, and Jenkins, Ltd.
1) whether binding Supreme Court precedent precludes plaintiffs' arguments that the Second Amendment is incorporated into the Fourteenth Amendment.
2) Whether the Second Amendment right to weapons in common use should be incorporated by selective incorporation doctrine as a fundamental liberty interest under the Fourteenth Amendment.
3) Whether plaintiffs' view of the historical evidence of the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment provides an alternative basis for incorporation where the Supreme Court has rejected that approach, and whether, in any event, that evidence establishes a public understanding that the Fourteenth Amendment imposed the Second Amendment on the States.
1. Is the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms incorporated as against the states pursuant to either the Privileges or Immunities or Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment?
2. Do Chicago ordinances banning handguns, requiring annual re-registration of guns, mandating that guns be registered prior to their possession within city limits, and permanently prohibiting the ownership of any particular gun whose registration lapses, violate Plaintiffs? rights to arms and to equal protection?
There are some notable differences there. Mostly, it looks like the defendant's issues statement is intended to emphasize the Supreme Court precedents which have in the past been used to deny second amendment rights (among others). They are trying to stick to precedent without going into detail about what the restrictions are, because it's plainly obvious that the restrictions in place (as clearly stated in plaintiffs' brief) violate Heller... except for the messy bit about incorporation.
More to follow before long, though I'm not sure when I'll have time.
Montana's staunchly pro-Second Amendment Governor, Democrat Brian Schweitzer, has signed Montana HB 246, the Montana Firearms Freedom Act.
The bill declares that a firearm which is manufactured in Montana, and
never leaves the State of Montana, "is not subject to federal law
or federal regulation, including registration, under the authority of
congress to regulate interstate commerce. It is declared by the
legislature that those items have not traveled in interstate commerce."
Sometimes, I wish I lived in Montana. This law should have... interesting... repercussions. Unlike Rick Perry's succession threat on behalf of Texas, a limited challenge such as this can possibly bear fruit without doing more damage than it prevents.
The problem is that the Supreme Court has already ruled on similar cases. While this attempt will likely get a lot of attention and probably generate a legal challenge, it's basically asking the Supreme Court to overrule itself. That's a difficult proposition. The potential wildcard is the effect of the Heller case, recognizing an individual right to own a firearm.
I don't really feel qualified to try to predict where this one is going. It's a tough question, and something I'll try to keep an eye on.
I haven't had much to say about the tea party tax protests, but I've been watching them. It should go without saying that I agree with the goals: lower taxes, lower spending, less government. We founded our nation on those principles, and they are just as valid today as yesterday.
One thing I do find noteworthy is how the media is reporting on the protests (when they bother to report at all). The reporter in the linked video clip isn't reporting on what the protesters have to say, she's arguing with them.
I have family that I'm trying to entice into the shooting sports in Louisville, Ky. That's why the news that the Louisville mayor and city council are trying to pass gun control laws over and above those allowed by the state's preemption law bothers me. To be sure, the attempt is a fairly minor one; banning firearms from the audience of a fireworks display. Yet the attitude is all wrong, and the precedent if this regulation is allowed to stand would provide the opportunity for much worse later on. Here's the actual rule:
safety reasons the following are not permitted in the event area, which
goes south from the Ohio River to Main Street between Clay Street and
cans or bottles are allowed at the event site. Plastic bottles and food
are permitted. There is also plenty of food and soft drink stands to
take care of any needs you may have. Beer is available at the Chow
Wagon at Waterfront Park and the Belvedere Beer Garden.
No alcoholic beverages are allowed.
No bikes, skateboards or skates are allowed in the event venue. You will be asked to walk them in for pedestrian safety.
No firearms are allowed.
Please leave any pets at home.
Due to increased security - all persons and parcels are subject to search.
The fact is, states have preemption laws so that each little region within the state cannot put citizens of the state in legal jeopardy for exercising their right to be armed. After all, how many small towns or cities do you visit on a regular basis? Just in my daily commute to work, I pass through two counties and three cities (one large, two small). If you take into account where I go over the space of a week, you can add another one or two.
If I had to check the local laws for each of those jurisdictions before doing anything relating to firearms, it would be a lot of time and trouble better spent doing other things. More importantly, if I didn't actually check -- and found myself unknowingly violating some silly, pointless gun ban, even without doing anyone any harm -- it would have dramatic legal consequences. Even just for driving through town on my way to a shooting range -- or believing that a concealed-carry permit or open-carry law (both available in Kentucky) would enable me to carry a firearm for self-defense while attending Louisville's fireworks display.
That's not right.
For that matter, what happened to the Fourth Amendment?
Due to increased security - all persons and parcels are subject to search.
Remember, this is a 15x3 block area of public space they are talking about. Granted, it will be crowded, but that doesn't negate the right of self-defense OR the Fourth Amendment.
Texas Governor threatens succession over Obama's policies
Well, "threatens" is probably a little strong. But nonetheless:
"Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union in 1845, one of
the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do
that," Perry said. "My hope is that America and Washington in
particular pays attention. We've got a great union. There's absolutely
no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their
nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that."
For the record, I think Texas leaving the union would be a mistake. Obama will be in power for at least 4 years, at most 8. With any luck, he won't have a completely supine Congress for more than two years. While undoing his policies will be difficult, leaving the nation would have huge downsides that would endure much longer than that. On top of that, it would raise some serious Constitutional questions and probably provoke another civil war regardless of the correct legal answer. Rick Perry isn't exactly the kind of leadership I would get excited about in that scenario.
However... it would be a better option than quietly accepting the rule of a National Socialist dictator. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.
UPDATE: Seems someone has called me an idiot using stumbledupon. Here's exactly what he said:
i just wanted to show here how retarded some people are....a national
socialist dictator? really? you think that would fly in america? if so-
you're a fucking idiot liberal or conservative
I'll apologize in advance for using a few big words, Travis. The statement you are referring to is a hypothetical (5. a hypothetical situation, instance, etc.: The Secretary of Defense refused to discuss hypotheticals with the reporters).
I hope such a situation will never fly in America, but I would be an idiot in truth if I did not recognize that change may happen, whether I like it or not.
Furthermore, my use of the term "National Socialist" was specifically chosen for humorous and rhetorical purposes in light of topics I have discussed on my blog in the past. Specifically, the report recently issued by the Department of Homeland Security demonizing advocates of state and local government who oppose federal power; and Obama's known approval of Marxism and Socialism. You may also wish to consider Obama's actions in the auto and financial industries in light of the definition of socialism: "public or state ownership and administration of the means of production." Combined, these elements certainly make him a national socialist, if not quite a National Socialist... Dictator remains to be seen, but the opposition party has not exactly had much input on policy lately.
The last time we had a document alleging a terrorist threat from liberty-minded individuals, it was the state of Missouri. This time, the federal government (Department of Homeland Security) is the one aggressively using the terrorism label.
Rightwing extremists are harnessing this historical election as a
recruitment tool. Many rightwing extremists are antagonistic toward the
new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of
issues, including immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social
programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms ownership and use.
Rightwing extremists are increasingly galvanized by these concerns and
leverage them as drivers for recruitment. From the 2008 election
timeframe to the present, rightwing extremists have capitalized on
related racial and political prejudices in expanded propaganda
campaigns, thereby reaching out to a wider audience of potential
So disagreeing with the elected president's policies is evidence of "rightwing extremism"?
The Department of Homeland Security is warning law enforcement
officials about a rise in "rightwing extremist activity," saying the
economic recession, the election of America's first black president and
the return of a few disgruntled war veterans could swell the ranks of
white-power militias. A footnote attached to the report by the Homeland
Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis defines "rightwing
extremism in the United States" as including not just racist or hate
groups, but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of state
or local authority.
So racist hate groups are automatically right-wing, and favoring local or state government over Federal government is sufficient to attract law enforcement attention?
The DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has no specific
information that domestic right wing terrorists are currently planning
acts of violence, but right wing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues.
When you get right down to it, this isn't about terrorism at all; it's about an agency that perceives itself to be a likely target for Obama's budget axe trying desperately to make itself appear useful to the new leader. They have decided to do this by publishing propaganda about Obama's political enemies, and using the authority of our national security infrastructure to unjustly smear everyone who believes in liberty with racist, anti-semitic associations. Never mind that there is no such association.
Unfortunately Obama is exactly the sort of politician who is likely to seize that power with both hands and hang on as tightly as he can.
UPDATE: More from Michelle Malkin. The Southern Poverty Law Center was involved in the Missouri report too. Money quote:
If you can redefine dissenting opinion as "hate," you can brand your
political opponents as "extremists" and you can marginalize electoral
threats. "Antigovernment"? "Pro-enforcement"? "Disgruntled"? Feeling
taxed enough already and "recruiting" and "radicalizing" your friends
and neighbors through "chatter on the Internet"?
We are all rightwing extremists now. Welcome to the club.
Dave Kopel at the Volokh Conspiracy has a short podcast about three upcoming cases that may bring the incorporation of the 2nd Amendment before the Supreme Court. There's a long and heated debate in the comments, but the anti-gun side is particularly resistant to rational argument.
One of our glorious legislators has inserted a provision into their legislation allowing "climate change victims" (even those who merely "expect to suffer") to sue the government for "damages" ($75K/year, up to $1.5 million total) stemming from the government's inaction over climate change issues. This is just another way of rewarding a key Democratic constituency: trial lawyers. Why not environmentalists? Well, the environmentalists will get their cut too I'm sure.
The linked article doesn't indicate what bill the provision is attached to, and is rather sparse on details. Still, I thought it was worth mentioning just for the sheer greed implied. What better way to fund a party of professional victims?
The secondary implications of a right to keep and bear arms...
The Volokh Conspiracy examines the implications of a constitutional right to keep and bear arms as applied to waiting periods. Shorter Volokh: Some short waiting periods are probably constitutional, but lengthy ones (New York can take up to 6 months) are probably not.