Something to think about.

Why do schools overreact to firearms -- even to the point of 30-day suspensions for a piece of paper folded to vaugely resemble a firearm?  It's not because they are trying to keep the kids safe; the administrators know damn well that a folded paper "gun" is harmless.  And it's not a misguided attempt to keep themselves from being sued by following a strict, no-discretion zero-tolerance policy -- that excuse got old a long time ago. 

Instead, I'm convinced it's really part of their efforts to "educate" the children they are "in charge" of.  They wield strict punishments in futile attempts to prevent even the thought of a firearm entering the pretty empty heads of their students, because if they can do that successfully for 18 years, the vast majority of those students will never break their conditioning as adults.

Mon Oct 24 19:17:27 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The Right to Keep and Bear Arms... in Brazil

It seems that the Associated Press are ... disappointed ... that Brazilians today "soundly rejected" (64% against) a national referendum calling for a ban on all firearms.  I think it's refreshing.  And there's something buried in the story that is worth emphasizing:
"The whole campaign (against the ban) was imported from the United States. They just translated a lot of material from the NRA," said Jessica Galeria, a Californian who researches gun violence with the Viva Rio think tank, referring to the National Rifle Association. "Now, a lot of Brazilians are insisting on their right to bear arms, they don't even have a pseudo right to bear arms. It's not in their Constitution."
Rights are not granted by a Constitution, they are recognized and protected.  The Brazilians seem to have discovered this.  Just because there's no piece of paper that says you have a right doesn't mean you don't have it.  It just means you might need to write up that piece of paper in a hurry when the government tries to violate it.

Hat tip to the Bitch Girls.

UPDATE: The BBC has a surprising moment of honesty:

For the foreseeable future, it is unlikely that any government will feel able to revisit the guns issue - such was the deafening volume of the "No" vote.   Brazil is proud of its recently-restored democracy. And rightly or wrongly, the Brazilian people have spoken.

Mon Oct 24 17:37:07 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Canada embraces insanity...

It seems that the Canadian government is considering firearms lawsuits against US manufacturers of firearms.  You would think that their expensive boondoggle of a registration system would have taught them the proper lessons.  It seems not.  Thanks to David Hardy at Of Arms and the Law for finding the story; he points out that it might be a good time for US manufacturers to extricate themselves from any Canadian connections.  

Sat Oct 22 16:12:04 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

What a difference two years makes!

My first big break into the world of blogging was a series of articles refuting the Detroit News Special on the firearms liability protection issue.  They spent a week exploring, in typically biased manner, the various claims put forward in so-called "product liability" lawsuits targeting the firearms manufacturers.  It was a hit piece aimed squarely at the laws being proposed at the time to prevent such lawsuits, and was very careful to present only one side of the issue. 

But now, their tune seems to be changing.  In the wake of Katrina, their editorial page editor Nolan Finley is talking the talk of gun-rights.  Where was he in 2003? 

Sat Oct 22 11:46:24 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act...

... has passed the House.   Alphecca has a good description of what it does (and what it doesn't).  It's already passed the Senate.  There shouldn't be a problem with Bush signing it, after which many of the lawsuits against firearms manufacturers will be dismissed.   The case that I have been following, DC v Beretta, should be one of them.

UPDATE: Looks like the trigger lock requirement was included in this version.  That's disappointing, since the version without that requirement could also have passed.  The problem would have been time; reconciling the bills between the House and the Senate would have required more time, and more time means more legal costs defending the suits already in motion.

While I think the trigger lock and "armor-piercing ammunition" provisions are both silly and bad precedent, as a practical matter their effect is small.  The real risk is later laws requiring the use of trigger locks, or lawsuits that make not using them subject to significant risk of liability.

Fri Oct 21 18:05:13 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

San Francisco police oppose handgun ban...

Alphapatriot spotted the story about the San Francisco Police Officers Association coming out against the proposed handgun ban, despite several highly-placed supervisors favoring it.  Remember -- politicians pick police chiefs and give them orders.  People who actually work the streets understand that firearms are equalizers.  They make enable ordinary people to resist a criminal attack on equal or better terms.  Take that away, and you tilt the scales towards the criminal.

Tue Oct 18 00:10:36 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Another Seegars update...

According to the Supreme Court docket, the deadline to respond to the Seegars petition for certiorari has been extended through November 21st, 2005.  Doesn't mean much of anything, I don't think, except that we'll have to wait that much longer.

Mon Oct 17 21:54:46 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

It's a small world.

Turns out I am one degree of separation from Harriet Miers -- that is, I know someone who knows her.  Not well, and professionally rather than personally, but still -- it's interesting.

No, this does not offer me any additional insight into her judicial opinions.  I wish it did. 

Sat Oct 08 21:42:58 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Seegars Update

The Seegars plaintiffs have petitioned the Supreme Court for a hearing.  The Supreme Court has not yet responded, but the response is due October 21st.  Here's the docket.  I'll be keeping a close eye on this.

Roberts may or may not be able to participate in this case.  He was on the DC Appeals Court when it was heard by a panel of judges there, and voted in favor of rehearing the case en banc.  That vote failed, but the fact that Roberts voted in the case might be enough.  He has already recused himself from participating in the DC v Beretta case, which was heard en banc; however, the decision to deny cert to that case came down on his first day with the Court and he might well have decided he was not familiar enough to participate.

If Miers is confirmed in time, she could presumably participate in the case itself.  However, participating in the decision for or against cert is going to depend on the timing of the confirmation process and probably will not be fast enough.

Sat Oct 08 11:35:18 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Justice Roberts shows his true colors...

Roberts is definitely not a libertarian-minded Justice.  Apparantly he's afraid that allowing states to legalize assisted suicide (admittedly a fairly tricky issue) might undermine federal regulation of addictive substances.  He also reacted strongly and negatively to the idea that the state of Oregon has sole power to regulate the practice of medicine within its borders (an interesting argument to hear from a liberal, since it could be used against Roe v Wade).

There are lots of arguments for and against assisted suicide, but undermining the War on Some Drugs isn't one that a libertarian would be likely to raise.  Well, not as an argument against assisted suicide... more likely as an argument in favor of it.  After all, the enemy of my enemy and all that.

Life is a choice.  Medical technology has advanced to the point where we can keep someone's body alive long after their mind is gone and their existance is little more than an endless litany of silent screams without even enough volition to give them voice.  That we can do this does not mean that we should do this.

Sat Oct 08 11:13:44 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Massachussetts is determined to become a third-world country...

... by banning .50 rifles and ammunition, confiscating them from their citizens immediately (which prevents the citizens from selling them to someone who could legally own them).  For some reason they are also banning "cop killer" handguns, whatever those are.  

Thanks to Techno Gypsy for spotting it.  If you're in Massachussetts, you might want to contact your legislature.  It probably won't stop them, but it's worth a try.

Sat Oct 08 10:56:54 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

DC v Beretta: Supreme Court denies cert

The Brady Campaign is making noise about the Supreme Court's denial of cert in DC v Beretta.  It's kind of silly, because the Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case doesn't really change much.  While we had of course hoped that the Supreme Court would take the case and strike down the Strict Liability Act that the District is so fond of, the court has repeatedly emphasized that denial of cert is neither meaningful or precedential. 

And I can probably tell you why the court declined to take that case, and the reason is rolled up in the new Chief Justice.  Rehnquist would have been a solid vote for gun rights.  Chief Justice Roberts might be, but he has indicated that he would recuse himself from participating as a Supreme Court Justice in decisions that he took part in as a lower court judge... such as this case, which was heard en banc while he was on the DC Appeals Court. 

While he's not listed in either of the opinions before that court, the simple fact that he was on the court and the case was heard en banc might well be enough to earn a recusal, particularly since I do not have a vote count for this case (Roberts would probably have voted).  It's also possible that Roberts recused himself simply because he was not familiar with the work that has been done on the case; the denial of cert was handed down on his first day. 

Whatever the reason, the Supreme Court docket clearly states that the Chief Justice took no part in the case.   If he would have continued that practice for the remainder of the case, our side would have lost one of our strongest voices and surest votes.  Under those conditions, it's clearly better to retreat for the moment.  The outcome of DC v Beretta is not really in doubt following the appeals court's decision; the industry will face ongoing legal costs, discovery, and a potential settlement, but they will face those things in a matter of eight individuals rather than all victims of gun violence in the District of Columbia. 

In addition, the plaintiffs will have a very hard time proving the link from their injuries to a specific weapon manufactured by one of the defendents, something that almost certainly prevents them from winning anything.  They can only hope to drag the case out as long as possible in discovery, running up the industry's legal costs and praying for some embarassing document or testimony to turn up.

Any further suits will likely follow a similar path to the Supreme Court, and that Court will have a new Chief Justice and possibly a new Associate Justice, both of whom are presumably in favor of the right to keep and bear arms and able to participate in the case. 

And that's assuming that any such suits are still around after Congress finishes the liability protection act designed to block these cases.

Make no mistake, this is not a loss.  It's simply not a complete victory.

Thu Oct 06 20:24:03 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The war on drugs claims another casualty...

Suppose you were confined to a wheelchair due to a crippling spinal injury that left you in chronic pain.  Suppose you asked your doctor to prescribe painkillers to help you deal with the pain, and he did so.  Suppose that the government then threatened to charge him with drug-related offenses, and he denied that he had written you the prescription.  As a result, you are charged and convicted of drug trafficking, resulting in a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years.  Not because anyone thinks you intended to sell the drugs that you desperately needed for yourself, but because the prescriptions allowed you to obtain enough painkilling medicine to cross the absurd legal threshold for "dealing" drugs.

Why should we send a man to prison for 25 years because he didn't want to live his life in constant agony?

Free Richard Paey.

Sat Oct 01 14:26:02 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

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