Here is my humble opinion on how to keep unqualified and/or unstable
people from owning firearms - require every person who wants to own
weapons to serve an enlistment in the National Guard of the State that
they live in for three years. A solution that would carry out the
explicit intention of the writers of the Constitution while allowing
for the implicit right of the individual to "keep and bear arms."
So you won't mind serving three years in the government's propaganda corps before you are trusted with the power to write and publish an article? Good.
Should "we" -- meaning gun rights folks and libertarians -- try to block her confirmation? I blogged earlier:
On the other hand I don't see anyone characterizing this as a
disaster. Obama won the election, so he gets to nominate his picks,
and she seems to be at least minimally
qualified. She will be replacing a liberal, albeit one appointed by a
Republican president. No net change on votes, particularly on Heller
(Souter was one of the four votes against the 2nd Amendment there).
That doesn't mean it's not worth fighting, especially as aggressive questioning will help reveal exactly what sort of judge Obama has picked. I've heard several reports over the past day or so that seem to me to be grounds for concern over and above those already expressed.
Alphecca has found a ruling of hers which is detrimental to free speech for student bloggers. Criticizing school officials on the internet should be protected speech, especially within a public school.
There have been reports that she has a vicious temper. I don't necessarily put much credence in these reports; judges are routinely short and pointed with lawyers from the bench. If proven true, however, it would speak to a significant lack of judicial temperment that would be grounds to block her appointment. It is very important for a justice to be even-tempered to avoid irrationally favoring one side or the other.
The talk radio circuit has a report, unfortunately unsourced, that Sotomayor remained seated in deliberate defiance of protocol when Justice Thomas entered a room. If true, this strikes me as further evidence of improper temperment, and even more disturbing, a lack of respect for the judicial system. Even if you believe the smears raised during Justice Thomas's confirmation hearings, the man is a sitting Supreme Court justice and a judge within the same system should respect that even more than an ordinary citizen.
These things plus what we already know about her view of the 2nd Amendment and several controversial lines from speeches. As I've said, I don't like her on the Supreme Court, but then I didn't expect to like it. There's some inherent risk here, in that Obama could well nominate someone worse if this nominee is blocked, and even managing that much is unlikely -- Obama has 60 votes in the Senate, remember.
So, here's what I think we should do:
Press hard on her past rulings, especially 2nd Amendment and 1st Amendment ones. Make the ACLU squirm when they think of her. Make the public realize that Obama's claimed support for the 2nd Amendment was worth nothing, if that isn't already obvious.
Ask about some of the controversial statements she's made. Insist on a more complete explanation and see if she will repudiate them.
Press her on her temperment. See if she can keep her cool in a testy confirmation hearing. She's been confirmed before, so the answer is probably yes, but let's find out. I'd like to say we should be nice about doing this, but it's hard to press someone's temper while being nice. So...
We should be honest and not make stuff up from thin air or generate controversy from nothing. This should go without saying, but given how the Left plays this game, I felt it important to state explicitly.
We're not likely to stop her, but we can make it clear what her positions are, especially her position on the 2nd Amendment -- which is out of step with something like 80% of the population.
Under the current D.C. law, prospective gun owners are required to
pass a written test graded at the sole discretion of the Metropolitan
Police Department. They must also have vision better or equal to that
required to get a driver's license (even for those who want to possess
a collector's item), submit employment history for the past five years
and surrender all handguns for ballistics testing, among other
Sounds just like the exercise of any other protected right, doesn't it?
The poll revealed that while 92% of identified Republicans who
responded say the U.S. Constitution affirms an individual right to own
a gun under the Second Amendment, only 64% of those who said they were
Democrats believe that. They were even behind the 71 percent of
respondents who claimed no political affiliation, while supporting
individual gun rights..
Let's not get carried away with supposedly pro-gun Democrats. Their supporters are much less likely to hold their feet to the fire on that issue.
CCAC also told Brashier that the college must pre-approve any
distribution of literature to fellow students, and that pamphlets like
hers would not be approved, even insisting that Brashier destroy all
copies of her pamphlet.
Brashier reports that she was also
interrogated about why she was distributing the pamphlets, whether she
owned a licensed firearm and had ever brought it to campus (she has
not), whether she carries a concealed firearm off campus, and whether
she disagrees with the existing college policy banning concealed
weapons on campus.
When Brashier stated that she wanted to
be able to discuss this policy freely on campus, she was told to stop
doing so without the permission of the CCAC administration. Dean Burns
reportedly said, "You may want to discuss this topic but the college
does not, and you cannot make us." Brashier was then told to cease all
activities related to her involvement with SCCC at CCAC and that such
"academic misconduct" would not be tolerated.
Is it even possible to make more mistakes than this school did? The First Amendment prohibits content-based speech restrictions and prior restraint on speech. The 2nd protects the right to own a firearm, the 5th protects the student from answering questions that might incriminate her (since concealed carry on campus is presumably not allowed by law in PA), the 4th protects the student from having her property destroyed, and as an educational institution that presumably accepts state and federal money, the school is bound by those limitations.
The threat of using political speech activity as "academic misconduct" is just icing on the cake.
I haven't seen much attention paid to this case...
... but then I didn't see much attention paid to Parker v DC, either, until Alan started to win. He's arguing this case too. Funding for the case is coming from the Second Amendment Foundation, which is often an unnoticed partner in gun rights cases.
Second Amendment advocates are responding warily to President Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said
on Wednesday that "Judge Sotomayor's position on the Second Amendment
is a clear signal that Mr. Obama's claim that he supports gun rights is
nothing but lip service."
All due respect to Alan Gottlieb here, but that's been obvious for some time.
It's not a great case. According to the article, the police were called because a Down's Syndrome child was shooting at his neighbors with a BB gun. The child let the police into the house, where the police located the parent's firearms. The firearms were not secured as required by state law, and the owner's firearm identification card had expired.
The owner is challenging the safe-storage and registration provisions of the law under Heller v DC. The lower court dismissed the charges, and the prosecutor is appealing.
Leone's office filed an appeal in the state appeals court, disputing a
Lowell District Court decision to dismiss gun charges against a
Billerica man for improperly storing a firearm and possessing a firearm
without a valid firearm identification card.
If the Supreme Court takes this case, it will present a fairly negative portrayal of gun owners. I don't know if a decision has been published in this case, so it's unclear if the decision touches on incorporation at all. I will try to find one.
Between the cases in the 7th Circuit, 9th Circuit, and this one in the 1st Circuit, I think that a Supreme Court case to resolve the split is probably inevitable. The question is, which case will the justices pick?
The NRA has contact numbers to put pressure on the Texas House
... to schedule SB 730, the concealed-carry in parking lots bill. If you want this bill to pass, contact them NOW: there are only a few days left in the session, and the legislature won't meet again for 2 years. (Say, do you suppose we could convince the federal government to only meet once every two years?)
... this one over the issue of standing in the DC Circuit. The case comes from an individual, who is a law enforcement officer in Virginia, seeking to carry a firearm within the District of Columbia. The law enforcement in the District, however, doesn't think he should be allowed -- and has filed a warrant for his arrest on the charge of carrying an unlicensed firearm. More details from Legal Times. Gura's involvement in the case appears to be in the position of an amicus curiae.
Here's the audio download page from the 7th Circuit court. The arguments run about half an hour. Two judges were extremely hostile to the idea of analyzing the merits of the case, and the third seemed to ask questions relevant to that issue; we may see an interesting dissent. I can't predict where that dissent might go, but at least one of the judges has a very audible sense of humor.
Speaking for our side, Stephan Halbrook and Alan Gura. For the city, the only name I caught was "Miss Sullivan" (?). Judges Posner and Bauer were the names I caught.
The bulk of the time was spent with the judges arguing that they are bound by Supreme Court precedent and can't do anything about it. At least two of the judges were not even interested in hearing arguments on the merits. One practically dictated to Alan Gura what the entirety of his argument should be: "I actually don't know why you are so upset by the prospect that Judge Posner and I have raised with you. it doesn't matter what we say, we're not going to resolve this issue, why don't you just say 'Our arguments are preserved, and thank you very much.'" Alan said exactly that, and the judge responded, "This will be resolved elsewhere."
One of the worst bits of sniping: "Do you believe there is a Constitutional right of revenge?" Another: "The position you are taking, as well as the position the 9th Circuit took, is that as long as the court of appeals can think up an argument that is not explicitly rejected by the Supreme Court, decisions of the Supreme Court are just not binding in the Court of Appeals. That may be the attitude of the 9th Circuit, but it's not ours."
It should be noted here that our argument is that the Supreme Court's ruling in Heller basically cleared the way for incorporation through the due process clause, and that it's not necessary to wait for the Supreme Court to incorporate the amendment before engaging in analysis of the issue.
Argument from the City's attorney was somewhat broader, covering the merits of their law and reinforcing the precedent argument. There were some truly awful quotes:
"The precise 2nd Amendment right recognized in Heller... namely, the categorical right to a handgun
The risk of misuse of handguns by criminals outweighs whatever benefits handguns provide to law abiding people. The categorical right to a handgun as recognized in Heller is therefore not incorporated under the due process clause.
"Due process is a flexible concept, of course, and is intended to change with the times."
(From a judge) "One potential consequence of the line you are taking is that the Court will overrule Slaughterhouse, and incorporate everything, and then all of Chicago's administrative tribunals for handling parking tickets will become unconstitutional under the 7th Amendment."
(From a judge) "Do you really think the outcome of this case turns on whether John Lott was right in More Guns, Less Crime?"
(From a judge) "One can handle this kind of Constitutional adjudication without tired slogans."
Alan Gura handled rebuttal with some good quotes, too:
"We are before a court of law, not a court of social policy."
A definition of "ordered liberty" that basically boils down to the right to live under the control of the state: "The ability of people to live together in society considering the rights of all of them in the way that the legislature determines it to be most appropriate at any given time."
The only significant point that I noticed was the question of whether the 14th Amendment should be analyzed in the context of its passage (original intent -- 1868) or in modern times. Alan made some excellent historical arguments that the 14th was originally passed to ensure the right of freedmen in the occupied South to defend themselves with firearms.
It was noted that the 9th Circuit's Nordyke case creates a circuit split.
UPDATE: The three judges were Posner, Bauer, and Easterbrook.
I ran across this press release purporting to be a news article. It claims that the Texas "concealed carry on campus" legislation will "force" concealed guns on campus. It also quotes a student at Virginia Tech who knew one of the victims (now a graduate student at University of Texas):
The fact that the state senate refused to accept an amendment keeping
guns out of campus bars and hospitals shows that this bill is
ideologically motivated and has little to do with student safety and
For your information, Mr. Woods, the concealed carry law in Texas already forbids carry in bars. And if a hospital wishes to prevent individuals from carrying a firearm on their premises, they are certainly capable of posting the standard 30.06 sign like everyone else.
I'm prepared to forgive a little ignorance on the part of the general public, but journalists should know what they are talking about... as should those who hold advocacy positions in special interest groups like the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. But then, the anti-gun bigots have long used ignorance and prejudice as their tools in advancing an agenda that condemns women and minorities to suffer victimization at the hands of those who are stronger or more numerous.
... and sometimes they come from someone who should know better. Shahid Buttar is billed as a civil rights lawyer, so he should know better than to claim that the Supreme Court is presently in "the politicized grip of conservative judicial insurgents." He goes further, claiming that the Roberts court has "affect[ed] reproductive rights, the right to equal education, workplace
discrimination, environmental protection, punitive damages, fraud
liability, access to justice, and more," and that "what once passed for law has been usurped by an institutionally aggressive Supreme Court wielding a political agenda."
People who know what they are talking about understand that Bush replaced Rehnquist, a reliable conservative, with Roberts, another reliable conservative. He then replaced O'Connor, a conservative-leaning woman, with Alito, also a reliable conservative. Net gain for conservatives... about half a justice. Hardly a dramatic shift.
Furthermore, Obama will be replacing Souter. Souter has been a reliably liberal justice on the court, despite being appointed by a Republican. So, the makeup of this court probably won't change much -- although if a more reliable conservative had been appointed rather than Souter, the liberals could expect to gain some ground with this appointment. Instead, they'll just be able to hold the ground that they were given by a President's poor choice.
But it gets worse:
Reacting to the mid-20th century jurisprudence that expanded individual rights & liberties, Presidents Nixon and Reagan each shifted the Court sharply, transforming the institution over the past 50 years.
What he actually means is that the court has been dangerously unbalanced since FDR's experiment in court-packing in the 30s, a period that produced the glorious Wickard v Filburn ruling, which claimed the a farmer growing wheat for his own consumption on his own land could be regulated (and, in fact, forbidden to grow wheat) under the "interstate commerce" clause of the Constitution. If that doesn't demonstrate exactly how politicized and warped the Court's view of the Constitution became under "progressive" justices, nothing will.
That's not the end of it, though.
In the 2008 Heller case, conservatives conjured a novel reading of the 2nd Amendment never before accepted in our nation's 230-year history. Justices Stevens and Scalia traded sharp barbs in their competing opinions:
Scalia likened Stevens to "a mad hatter" and accused him of "flatly
misread[ing] the historical record," while Stevens argued that Scalia's
approach was "feeble," as well as "strained and unpersuasive," and
"fundamentally failed to grasp the point" of rudimentary analytical
That would be the decision where four liberal justices on the Supreme Court voted that the Constitution doesn't mean what it plainly says. That "the people" means "the State". That individuals don't have the rights that they overthrew the British armies to secure.
Quite frankly I'm surprised they dare to call themselves Americans, for fear the Founding Fathers would rise up from their graves in indignation.
There is one small point of light:
In contrast, an assertive progressive visionary could transform the Court over time. First, a Justice able to articulate a compelling overarching vision of the law -- which the moderates lack -- could lay a foundation in dissenting and concurring opinions for future rulings to cite.
He at least recognizes that "moderates" (by which he means liberals) lack a compelling overarching vision of the law. They lack this because they do not rule based on the law; they rule based on the dictates of their ideology.
There are some cases where that applies in the other direction, but they are less common.
On the other hand I don't see anyone characterizing this as a disaster. Obama won the election, so he gets to nominate his picks, and she seems to be at least minimally qualified. She will be replacing a liberal, albeit one appointed by a Republican president. No net change on votes, particularly on Heller (Souter was one of the four votes against the 2nd Amendment there).
... but it usually takes longer than 3 years. The DC Gun Rights Examiner has the scoop on plans for the DC City Council to refuse to allow re-registration of certain long guns presently allowed. This will effectively ban those models. It doesn't necessarily have to be a door-to-door confiscation, but you can bet that the District will be "notifying" those who registered rifles that will be banned under the new laws so that the rifles can be transferred out of the District. And you can bet that if they don't get a satisfactory answer, notification by swat team will follow.
Shocker: DC official admits sky not falling after Heller
Ever since the Heller decision, in mid-2008, the DC police department
has been forced to shift strategies on crime control. They are no
longer permitted to ban firearms from all DC residents in some absurd punish-the-innocent game of political blame-shifting. Instead, they've been forced to aggressively prosecute criminals and leave law-abiding citizens mostly alone -- leaving the politicians free to dream up more red tape that falls just barely short of not permitting gun ownership at all. And the results?
The D.C. police department's aggressive gun recovery efforts and the
office of the attorney general's coordinated emphasis on prosecuting
gun-related crimes are showing strong results: In the past year,
robberies with guns have decreased 12 percent; assaults with guns have
decreased 14 percent; and overall violent crime has decreased by 5
percent in the District.
You read that right. By their own numbers, after Heller struck down their gun control laws, crime is down. It looks like arresting criminals and putting them in jail works, and gun control doesn't.
This is what the "end game" of gun control looks like:
AB962, sponsored by Assembly Member Kevin De Leon (D-45), is in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations. AB962 would make it a crime to privately transfer more than 50 rounds of ammunition per month, even between family and friends, unless you are registered as a "handgun ammunition vendor" in the Department of Justice's database. Ammunition retailers would have to be licensed and store ammunition in such a manner that it would be inaccessible to purchasers. The bill would also require purchasers submit to fingerprinting, which would be submitted to the Department of Justice. Lastly, mail order ammunition sales would be prohibited.
Ever increasing and more draconian restrictions that provide more and more silly hoops for law abiding gun owners to jump through (not to mention more opportunities for accidentally becoming criminals), while real criminals simply ignore the restrictions.
I got the info from a CCRKBA alert, but they don't appear to have posted it to their website. They did include contact information for your legislators in the email, but I don't want to post that here -- it's excessively long for something only of interest to Californians. A little poking around should be sufficient to find the details on this legislation and who to contact in opposition to it.
Earlier, I wrote about a case where a student's use of the command line prompt was judged to be "evidence of computer expertise" and that evidence was used as probable cause to search and seize his computer equipment and terminate his network access. The theory was that he might have sent a (relatively harmless, not threatening) hoax email that Boston College was investigating.
Nonetheless, one conclusion is inescapable. The Internet used to be a place where minimal regulation was the order of the day; people cooperated willingly on core protocols and dealt with problems by adapting the technology rather than relying on the heavy hand of government regulation. For a brief time, the Internet was the frontier: new, exciting, unregulated.
I like the specific proposals he makes here...but I am terrified of the consequences of a significant Constitutional rewrite. There's a significant chance of this sort of effort being hijacked to enable Hope and Change. When what we actually want is a return to the roots of our Constitution. It's worth considering, though.
I see two possibilities here. First, the Democrats agreed to this investigation because they are confident they can arrange for it to produce nothing useful; or, alternatively, they are offering the authors of the report a public platform to justify their suspicions with data. While the original report was clearly unsupported and unjustified in its guilt-by-political-opinion methodology, it's easy for the government officials in Homeland Security to come up with examples of so-called "conservative" or "right-wing" groups that are, in fact, racists or terrorist threats. It won't matter that ordinary, law-abiding, peaceful folks are being tarred by these labels; all the officials need do is point to some specific examples and say, "See? We were talking about these guys all along." They will get a slap on the wrist, and the public will get weeks or months of guilt-by-implied-association... which, ironically enough, was the whole point of the original report.
Put bluntly, after the report is withdrawn, I don't see any positive outcome for investigating how or why it was released.
The short version: It's real, driven primarily by an "unprecedented" increase in demand, manufacturers are working 24/7 to try to catch up, and no one really knows when it will end.
What's interesting: law enforcement and military readiness and training purchases of ammunition have apparantly increased along with the obvious (politically-motivated) increase in demand among civilians. I wonder what's driving the law enforcement and military increases?
The Texas Libertarian Party is opposing State Senate Bill 298, which would impose sobriety checkpoints. Their research references the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, which includes this quote:
to deter drinking and driving, sobriety checkpoints are related more directly
to educating the public and encouraging designated drivers, rather than actually
apprehending impaired drivers. Typically, sobriety checkpoints do not yield
a large volume of DUI arrests. Instead, they offer authorities an educational
tool. Education and awareness serve as a significant part of deterrence. Frequent
use of checkpoints and aggressive media coverage can create a convincing threat
in people's minds that officers will apprehend impaired drivers -- a key to general deterrence.
You didn't actually think that sobriety checkpoints were about catching drunk drivers, did you? Nope. Yet another instance of security theater. Not to mention harassing honest citizens and eroding the fourth amendment.
Another revealing quote:
If an agency's goal is to reduce the number of impaired
drivers over time, it should use both sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols,
as well as any other available methods. The bottom line is to do something "do
everything" to remove impaired drivers from America's highways.
The bottom line is, apparently, who cares if it works? Who cares about the constitutional rights of drivers? Who cares about the inconvenience to honest citizens? Evidently, not the FBI, and not local police forces either. The article quotes Mothers Against Drunk Driving 4 times, and National Commission Against Drunk Driving 3 times -- combined, more footnotes to special interest groups than to actual police or law enforcement sources.
Between the two anvil launches I mentioned earlier, there was a fireball. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out nearly as well as the fireball that everyone got to see on the Blogger Day. But I did get video rather than a still picture of this fireball, so that balances things out a little bit.