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DoJ to use warrantless surveillance in criminal case

It's interesting that they are admitting it, but I suspect they are admitting it in order to get a favorable court case.

It's noteworthy because, generally, the modern remedy for 4th Amendment violations has been to exclude the evidence from being used at trial. This has good sides and bad sides, but viewed in that light, seeking to deliberately include the evidence does seem deliberately calculated to tee up that particular question.

2013-10-29 01:50:23.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

California State court rules semiautomatic firearms not protected by 2nd Amd

This is a state court decision, not a federal court. It likely won't have much impact on the national debate, but for the moment it means that California can continue to abuse its gun owner population with impunity. The decision is based on the claim that semi-auto firearms are "dangerous and unusual" (or at least as much so as the short-barreled shotgun in the Miller case).

This is flawed for a number of reasons. Semi-auto rifles are not especially dangerous when used as intended, beyond the danger inherent in any firearm; millions of people own and use them safely, including for self-defense. So-called "assault weapons" are no more dangerous than any other semi-auto rifle, and often substantially less so due to their use of medium-powered ammunition. True assault rifles, ie machine guns, are already heavily regulated and are never used in crime when legally owned.

Hat tip to Of Arms and the Law.

2013-10-28 12:33:52.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Gun control ballot initiative in Washington State

Sebastian has the details.

2013-10-26 00:44:53.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Facebook and Maryland Government to partner on censorship

Reason Magazine has the story.

2013-10-26 00:44:43.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Owning firearms a suspicious activity?

According to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, owning 2 rifles, 4 pistols, and a shotgun should be reported as suspicious activity and is apparently grounds for arrest. For the government, that counts as terrorist activity. For most of my readers, that counts as a good range trip.

2013-10-26 00:44:09.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

New Jersey smart gun law about to start ticking?

New Jersey has had a law on the books for year requiring that all guns sold in the state have "smart" technology to prevent unauthorized users from firing them. The catch is that the law kicks in three years after the first smart gun goes on the market, and no manufacturer has been willing to open that can of worms... until now.

The police, of course, will be able to keep their "dumb guns". And probably be able to turn off your "smart guns". Which doesn't strike me as very smart at all.

2013-10-25 05:22:25.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

California Governor vetoes semi-auto ban

In a surprise victory for gun rights, Democratic governor of California Jerry Brown has vetoed the semi-auto ban passed by his legislature along with 7 other new gun control laws. He signed 11 of them, so let's not pretend this was anything more than a mixed bag overall, but it's a heck of a lot better than simply signing everything that landed on his desk, and from a California Democrat is even more surprising. I can't imagine that this would have even been possible if not for the Colorado recall successes, which have doubtless reminded many politicians that they still have to answer to voters occasionally. I also have to wonder if Brown has national political aspirations -- a middle-ground-ish position could go a ways towards keeping the issue out of play.

Gun owners are not likely to be fooled by the attempt, though. A number of the gun control bills he signed are quite bad enough even without the semi-auto ban. Notably bad are the prohibition on parts repair kits, the registration requirements for ammunition purchases and extending the safety certificate requirement from handguns to rifles and shotguns. The latter in particular amounts to gun owner registration.

Sebastian questions whether we should thank him for the veto. He wasn't doing us a favor, he was keeping his state out of an expensive lawsuit.

(Read More...)

2013-10-25 02:29:15.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Making a difference for gun rights

NBC news cites a gunblogger-led protest as one reason the anti-gun astroturf fails to gain traction.

2013-10-25 02:26:36.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Obamacare developed by the same company as Canadian gun registry

When I first learned that the company behind the Canadian gun registry was working on the Obamacare site, I wondered if shared opinion on that issue had influenced the selection of the company. I should have been asking whether their abysmal failure on the Canadian gun registry was a portent of doom for Obamacare.

2013-10-25 02:25:16.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Democrat campaign manager jailed for illegally requesting hundreds of absentee ballots

Hundreds of illegal ballots. Hundreds.
WSVN reports Jeffrey Garcia pled guilty Monday to one felony charge and three misdemeanor charges after admitting he illegally requested hundreds of absentee ballots while he was running the campaign for Rep. Joe Garcia, who he is not related to.

That felony and trio of misdemeanors adds up to 90 days in jail. Is it any wonder these people think they rule us? They stuff ballot boxes with impunity, and if they are by some miracle caught, charged, and convicted, they'll be punished with a 90-day wrist-slap and a felony that would destroy an ordinary person's life but probably won't impede their work in politics at all.

And if you are sitting there smugly thinking that voter fraud controversies like this have no real impact, John Lott points out that the Pennsylvania State Senate changed party control due to voter fraud in 1994. Given how rarely these crimes are prosecuted, there are almost certainly other cases that we don't know about with similar impact.

2013-10-25 02:21:13.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Big Brother to monitor 80% of credit card transactions for our own good

This isn't even the National Security Agency, it's the Consumer Financial "Protection" Board:
A CFPB strategic planning document for fiscal years 2013-17 describes the “markets monitoring” program through which officials aim to monitor 80 percent of all credit card transactions in 2013.

So. All your phone call metadata. Your email and cell phone address books. The content of your email, if it includes keywords. Your web browsing. Any bank transaction over $10,000. And all of your credit card transactions, in any amount. All of your medical information via Obamacare. God only knows what else.

2013-10-24 19:03:51.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

New anti-gun astroturf group

They do this every election, and they get found out pretty much immediately. I suppose it's enough for them to confuse the issue.

2013-10-24 18:55:02.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

NSA collecting contact and friend list information as well

The collection program, which has not been disclosed before, intercepts e-mail address books and “buddy lists” from instant messaging services as they move across global data links. Online services often transmit those contacts when a user logs on, composes a message, or synchronizes a computer or mobile device with information stored on remote servers.


Technically, email address books are not very standardized. Organizations may have a organizational address book, but most personal email programs just use their own local format rather than storing the address book on the server. But webmail address books are obviously available even in proprietary formats, as are contact lists on instant messaging services and "facebook" like social networking sites.

And the NSA is vacuuming them all up without even bothering to check whether anyone involved is an American.

If this doesn't provoke a completely reinvented, secure and encrypted internet with no single points vulnerable to NSA procedure, we deserve whatever we get.

2013-10-24 18:54:31.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Obamacare lawsuit survives motion to dismiss

Surviving a motion to dismiss isn't really a big deal. There are a lot of reasons to dismiss a lawsuit prior to actual trial, but surviving the motion doesn't mean you will win the case; it just means that the other side didn't find a way to kick you out on a technicality.

The lawsuit itself is actually pretty interesting. It targets the IRS's decision to pay subsidies in states that are not running their own exchanges -- and thus not opting in to Obamacare. Because Congress can't act directly, it conditions the enforcement of the individual and employer mandates on whether the state is receiving subsidies, in effect offering those subsidies as an incentive to create an exchange and allow the federal government to enforce the mandate in that state. If a state doesn't create an exchange, it doesn't get subsidies, and the federal government has no power to enforce the mandate. The IRS decided to pay the subsidies anyway, even for states using the federal exchange, and then to enforce the mandate anyway.

The Supreme Court may see this as a chance to revisit the law, if the case gets to that point, and given the disaster the federal exchange has been, allowing states to opt out entirely seems only rational. And if states can opt out, well, businesses can move to those states.

2013-10-24 18:49:03.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Magazine confiscation in San Francisco

You know the best part about this stupid new law, though?

It's already illegal in California to buy, sell or carry high-capacity [standard capacity] magazines under a law that took effect in 2000. But that ban does not apply to magazines bought before the law went into effect.

Anyone in possession of a high-capacity [standard capacity] magazine now has 90 days to surrender it to police or be guilty of a misdemeanor, though the law does not apply to members of the military or law enforcement. There are also exceptions for museums and ammo magazines "used as props" in television or movies, under legislation authored by Supervisor Malia Cohen.

They forgot to register the magazines first. Confiscation is not very effective when you don't have a list. Although, if they are serious and not just doing this for show, they will probably visit their list of gun owners just to check.

2013-10-24 18:40:46.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

13-year-old killed for his toy rifle

The police need to learn that having a gun is not a reason to shoot. Especially when you are talking about a 13-year-old, but it applies to adults as well. If someone has a gun and is using it to threaten you, and you are a law abiding citizen, then you can shoot him -- not just for having it. Remember, in many states it is entirely legal to carry a rifle openly.

The difference between carrying a rifle and threatening someone with it should be easy to discern. Even more so the difference between carrying and actually shooting. (The lack of extremely loud bangs should be a major clue).

2013-10-24 18:31:42.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

The Real Privacy Problem

An in-depth article on the privacy implications of data-mining technology and the surveillance state. We are already seeing some of this come true; people flagged by the TSA's automated algorithms for special attention often can't be told why they were flagged. If a system can't tell you why it singled you out, there can be no real consequences for the system making poor decisions.

2013-10-24 18:21:37.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

SAF files writ of mandamus in Palmer v DC

Palmer was one of the plaintiffs in the original Heller case, though he didn't make it to the Supreme Court. Now, he's suing for the right to have his firearm with him outside the home. Since Illinois did finally pass a concealed carry law, that makes DC the only jurisdiction that has no legal way to carry a concealed firearm for ordinary citizens (police officers and security guards can).

The DC court has been ignoring his lawsuit, which is ready for a decision, since 2009, and now the Second Amendment Foundation is filing with the appeals court for a writ of mandamus ordering the lower court to decide the case.

As Sebastian notes, this case involves a complete prohibition on carrying firearms -- the only one left in the country. It's not unreasonable to suspect the Supreme Court would like to take the next logical step and rule that completely prohibiting carry of firearms is unacceptable before getting into the weeds on what the standard for licensing should be.

2013-10-24 17:54:52.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Computer Security Fail

It seems that someone working on the Obamacare website forgot to password-protect their database.
Healthcare.gov features a tool to search through health insurance providers in your area to see how much Obamacare can save you. The catch? The catch is, those prices are all AFTER maximum subsidies are calculated into the price by the website.

Want to see what the prices are without subsidies? Well someone forgot to password the database the prices are fetched from. If you want to see it in all its glory head on over to data.healthcare.gov and see it for yourself.

We're supposed to trust these clowns with social security numbers and private medical information? I mean, seriously -- I can sympathize with load problems and last minute bugs and rough launches and interoperability issues, although at some point the excuses run out and you just have to admit that the people in charge of fitting all the separate pieces together are completely incompetent.

But forgetting to password protect your database and leaving it accessible to the public? Seriously?
The same lack of thought which exposed the prices of Obamacare plans without subsidies now also exposes the names, business addresses and business phone numbers of all Healthcare navigators nationwide.


If they don't care about the personal information of the people who are supposed to help sign people up for coverage, how much do you think they care about the information of a person like you they will likely never have any contact with?

I have no words. Really, I don't.

2013-10-23 17:14:43.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Rand Paul proposes Constitutional amendment to prohibit titles of nobility

This is only the beginning of what is necessary, but it is a good beginning. It's not literally prohibiting titles of nobility, as those are already prohibited, but instead blocking the practice of exempting members of Congress and the government from laws applicable to other citizens.

'Section 1. Congress shall make no law applicable to a citizen of the United States that is not equally applicable to Congress.

'Section 2. Congress shall make no law applicable to a citizen of the United States that is not equally applicable to the executive branch of Government, including the President, Vice President, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and all other officers of the United States, including those provided for under this Constitution and by law, and inferior officers to the President established by law.

'Section 3. Congress shall make no law applicable to a citizen of the United States that is not equally applicable to judges of the Supreme Court of the United States, including the Chief Justice, and judges of such inferior courts as Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.

'Section 4. Nothing in this article shall preempt any specific provision of this Constitution.'

The impetus for this, of course, is Obamacare. Congress doesn't seem to want to participate, even though they require everyone else in the country to.

An interesting side effect of this proposal would be to make disposing of banned items legally hazardous. If, for example, police cannot be exempted from a ban on guns, they cannot confiscate guns without illegally possessing those guns themselves.

2013-10-23 16:31:44.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Complaint filed in IRS harassment case

The American Center for Law and Justice files a complaint laying out the specific timing of quotes from Obama matched with the IRS actions in response.
Last Friday, the American Center for Law and Justice (where I serve as Chief Counsel) filed its Second Amended Complaint against the United States, the IRS, and a legion of IRS officials. This Complaint, in which we represent 41 organizations in 22 states, presents perhaps the most complete story yet of the IRS conservative targeting scandal.

If you've been skeptical of a White House connection on the IRS issue, this will open your eyes. When you are President, you don't have to give orders, you can just give speeches and the civil service will know what to do... if they agree with you.

2013-10-23 12:34:24.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Anti-gun push in Virginia with Bloomberg cash

Sebastian has the story and the analysis.

We can't afford to lose Virginia for a lot of reasons, but not least among them the fact that we have already lost Maryland and DC. If we lose Virginia, gun owners will have nowhere to live close to DC if they become involved in the federal government in an elected or professional capacity. You can bet that living for a few decades where you aren't allowed to have firearms, even if it's only a ban on modern sporting rifles, will affect your attitude no matter how pro-gun you started out.

2013-10-23 02:30:00.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Third Circuit rules GPS tracking your car needs a warrant

Ars Technica has the story, and Volokh has deeper analysis.

2013-10-23 02:27:59.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Democrat disowns Libertarian party

Yet I cannot support this coalition or the rally. It is fatally compromised by the prominent leadership and participation of the Libertarian Party and other libertarian student groups; their hard-core ideology stands in direct opposition to almost everything I believe in as a social democrat.

This is why I'm willing to consider voting for Republicans rather than Libertarians occasionally, but not willing to consider voting for Democrats.

2013-10-22 22:32:26.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

When even Interpol can see it...

Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said today the U.S. and the rest of the democratic world is at a security crossroads in the wake of last month's deadly al-Shabab attack at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya – and suggested an answer could be in arming civilians.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Noble said there are really only two choices for protecting open societies from attacks like the one on Westgate mall where so-called "soft targets" are hit: either create secure perimeters around the locations or allow civilians to carry their own guns to protect themselves.

The only person who can possibly be responsible for your defense is you. Your government can't be strong everywhere. If you try, you turn your society into a police state, and the criminals and terrorists simply switch to less well defended targets while you pay billions to guard soccer games.

2013-10-22 03:37:46.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments
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