Did the jury get it right in the Zimmerman trial?

Tue Sep 17 22:52:34 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Department of Justice to manage list of authorized journalists

The First Amendment protects the rights of free speech and the press; it doesn't say that the government can determine who receives those rights, it forbids Congress from making any law that abridges the freedom of speech. And if the government can license certain journalists for special privileges, it will certainly abridge the freedom of speech of those not so licensed, as they will be under threat of government retaliation.

That's bad enough, but having the Department of Justice manage the list is even worse. That department is one that the press need to keep an eye on the most, as it has a tremendous amount of domestic power and is often abused for political purposes.

If the list of authorized journalists is maintained by the DOJ, they will simply arrange for anyone they want to abuse to lose their protected status.

Luckily this legislation has not yet passed -- not even the Senate.

Tue Sep 17 22:28:06 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

NSA privacy violations not rare

2000 numbers that met the standard, and 16,000 that didn't:

The alert list grew from 3,980 in 2006 to 17,835 in 2009, one of the officials said. About 2,000 numbers on the list in 2009 met the necessary legal standard, the official said, meaning almost 16,000 didn’t. The alert list was shut down on Jan. 24, 2009, according to one of the declassified documents.

I wonder how many were LOVEINT? I bet a lot.

Tue Sep 17 22:26:01 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Google may already have your WiFi password

If you have been using your android phone on a wifi network, and are backing up your settings to Google, the passwords are backed up along with the rest of the data. And if Google has the data, odds are they can read it if they want to. And if Google can read it, it's available to the NSA via national security letter.

That's not as big a deal as it seems. The encryption that makes it possible to password protect a wireless network has never exactly been great. The first two iterations were almost trivially vulnerable and the more recent standards are better, but not enough to trust them against the NSA or even a determined and knowledgeable attacker.

Tue Sep 17 22:06:18 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Another 9-11 consulate attack

Still think Benghazi was about a video on youtube? No? Good. The enemy likes to schedule attacks on 9-11 for some reason. If they are going to be predictable, we should make sure our security forces are ready for trouble. Instead, even though we were up to something in Benghazi, we didn't protect our personnel there. Instead we denied them the security they requested repeatedly, and when they were attacked, we left them to die. The State Department continues to cover up the details of the Benghazi attack, and we still don't know why our people were left to die without aid.

Tue Sep 17 05:31:05 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

So the Tea Party is very dangerous, hmm? Only to incumbent politicians

So says still-employed IRS official Lois Lerner, at least:
In a February 2011 email, Ms. Lerner advised her staff—including then Exempt Organizations Technical Manager Michael Seto and then Rulings and Agreements director Holly Paz—that a Tea Party matter is "very dangerous," and is something "Counsel and [Lerner adviser] Judy Kindell need to be in on." Ms. Lerner adds, "Cincy should probably NOT have these cases."

Is she implying an actual, physical threat from a Tea Party group? Or is it more of a political danger?

I wouldn't put it past her to be trying to imply an actual threat, given what we've seen in various "domestic terrorism" documents trying to link the Tea Party and other political groups on the right to violence. Yet somehow, the violence never quite seems to materialize. Well, almost never.

(Read More...)

Tue Sep 17 05:23:17 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obamacare to force doctors to record your history of sex and drugs in government database

It seems that Obamacare will require that the health records maintained by the government under the law contain social and behavioral data.

As if the NSA didn't already know about it:
Whether you're at the dermatologist or the cardiologist, you'll likely be asked: "Are you sexually active? If so, do you have one partner, multiple partners or same-sex partners?"

Doctors are being turned into government agents, where they're pressured financially to ask questions they consider inappropriate and unnecessary and violate their Hippocratic Oath to keep patients' records confidential.

And we are already seeing incidents telling us about the level of competence and diligence we should expect from the government agencies running these programs. In Minnesota, for example, information on 2400 agents --including social security numbers, addresses, and other identifying information -- was accidentally emailed to an insurance broker.

Tue Sep 17 05:11:25 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Analyzing the Colorado Recall

If you're in a hurry, gun rights advocates successfully got recall elections for two of their politicians, Morse and Giron, both Democrats who played a pivotal role in passing gun control laws. Both were successfully recalled, Giron by a significant margin, despite a being outfunded by around 6 to 1. Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, David Kopel goes into more detail, suggesting that refusing to listen to constituents played as large a part of the recalls' success as did the 2nd Amendment.

Tue Sep 17 04:57:47 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

AP History textbook lies about the 2nd Amendment

More details here, including details for those in the area to object, but the key point:

Textbook version: "The people have a right to keep and bear arms in a state militia."

Actual 2nd Amendment: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

I'm not at all surprised by this. For a long time, the "collective right" version of the 2nd Amendment was dominant in academia, and even after Heller it's not like these textbooks are carefully updated on a regular basis. Enough complaints to the author and publisher may result in an updated version eventually. Enough complaints to the local school board may prod them to look for correct alternatives.

Does anyone know of an AP US History textbook in current use that gets this right? It would be nice to have an alternative to point to.

Tue Sep 17 04:49:04 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

California semi-auto ban on governor's desk for signature

We are talking about California under a Democrat governor, so Jerry Brown is very likely to sign this. There may be an outside chance the Colorado recall results scare him off. The bright side is, we have a better chance of success challenging outright bans on semiauto rifles in court than we do challenging "feature bans" or "regulations" of how many rounds of ammunition a magazine is allowed to hold. For as long as the Heller 5 stay united on the court, overreach by the other side is valuable.

Tue Sep 17 04:38:40 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A mass murder in DC

Details are still confused and the story is developing, but there has been a mass murder in DC at a naval facility and the president is already seeking to take advantage of the opportunity to press for more gun control, along with his gun control allies in Congress. It's important to remember a few things in the aftermath:

  1. Murder is a horrible thing. Our hearts go out to the victims.

  2. The soldiers and civilians at the naval yard were likely disarmed by military policy, not political dictate. Poor policy it may be, but blame where blame is due.

  3. Washington, DC probably still has the strictest gun control laws in the nation. They did not stop this attack. Neither did armed (civilian) guards, though. The sad truth is, probably nothing can stop these attacks.

  4. Early reports suggest the attacker brought a shotgun and stole a handgun and/or AR-15 rifle from the guards he killed. No gun control law will prevent that.

  5. The murderer may or may not be a prohibited person. Reports are he has at least two firearm-related incidents in his past. In the first, he was arrested for malicious mischief involving a firearm (specifically, shooting the tires of construction workers he felt "disrespected" him.) In the second, he was arrested for what he claimed was a negligent discharge (but his neighbor claimed was an attempt at intimidation over a noise complaint).

  6. Reports are that he was a discipline problem of some kind in the Navy. That could also be a disqualifier depending on how he was discharged.

  7. It's unclear how he got the shotgun used in the attack, and the gun control strategy will likely depend on that.

  8. This report says he got the shotgun from a dealer in Virginia, which suggests he passed a background check.
  9. The same report says he was treated multiple times for "sleep deprivation, anger and paranoia". A friend and former roommate says he had a concealed-carry permit while in Texas. The mental health issues sound like a missed opportunity, and the concealed carry permit will look very bad. That said, if he met the legal standard at the time, that's enough.

I fear it's game on again for gun control. Keep your eyes open.

Tue Sep 17 04:29:05 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Police respond to open carry in Walmart

"Well....Today was a first. Wow. I guess people in Marshfield, MO don't like law abiding citizens using their 2nd amendment rights by open carry. First time we had cops called on us for simply shopping in Walmart and open carrying. We're all safe & all turned out well, praise the Lord.

But, dude, any person in their right mind would realize that 5 girls together - 2 of which were open carrying - shopping in Walmart, getting food in Subway, laughing together & minding our own business were no reason to worry.

You know what? I don't open carry to cause a scene. So, to see 5 cops (one with an AR-15), a sheriff & much more storm Walmart as if a major crime had happened was quite shocking. I open carry out of love for my fellow man. Plus, maybe people will realize that a law abiding citizen carrying a firearm is nothing to freak out about.”

People who aren't threatening anyone and exercising their rights within the law should not be hassled by police.

Note that they are being detained without violating the law, and identification is being demanded from them. Note also the very hostile reaction the police officer has to being filmed and the immediate demands for ID.

The local police chief arrives later on. He is claiming that ordinary citizens peacefully exercising their right to legally open carry a firearm can be detained by police if someone else feels "alarmed" by seeing them with the firearm. Our rights don't depend on how other people feel, and an irrational reaction of fear and alarm to the sight of ordinary people exercising their rights should not be grounds for criminal charges.

Claiming that the law allows open carry, but also allows police to respond and threaten those who open carry with criminal charges if other people feel "alarmed" without cause is an abuse of due process.

All that said, there is a flaw in this scenario. The open-carrying male admits he was asked to leave by (presumably) store management. Having been asked to leave, which store management has every right to request, he did so. However, the rest of his group remained in the store -- two of whom were also carrying openly. This creates an ambiguous situation: was the request to leave directed at the man who left alone, or at the entire group? It seems likely, in hindsight, that the request was meant for the entire group and police were called when only the man left.

Carrying concealed tends to reduce those issues, because people aren't alarmed (whether their alarm would be irrational or not) by what they don't notice. While I support the right to open carry, it's important to remember that the legal high ground can shift on tiny details like these. It shouldn't be hazardous to carry openly with lawful intent, but in most communities it is anyway.

Tue Sep 17 03:35:50 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The new Iphone and biometric authentication

It seems the latest iphone gadget from Apple is a fingerprint reader that you use to turn the phone on and authenticate yourself to it. This is both good and bad for security; the good is obvious, in that people who didn't use passwords before may be inclined to start using the fingerprint security feature instead.

One of the bad aspects is discussed in the story linked above. The theory is that the government may be able to force you to unlock your phone, which according to the article was blocked by the 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination previously. The problem with that premise is that phones weren't protected by that doctrine at all. Yes, it would be legally difficult to force someone to give up a password to a protected device, but not impossible; there are already precedents.

Worse, police don't need to get you to put your finger on your phone in order to retrieve the data. Phones don't habitually encrypt their data storage and most are set up such that a developer with the right software can retrieve the data without any difficulty. Trusting that anything you store or communicate on your phone can remain private from the police if they are willing to get warrant is foolish.

The more serious threat is from non-governmental actors, or government actors abusing their authority. Imagine a police officer who forces your finger on your phone in order to delete the video you had recorded of his illegal actions? Or a criminal who does the same, or even a date who just wants to snoop through your emails and contacts while you're asleep?

Using biometric authentication as the only element in a security scheme disconnects the act of permission from the act of identifying a user. That's a bad thing not because it short circuits existing legal protections, but because it makes things easier for those who don't care about legal protections.

Mon Sep 16 12:41:22 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Legislation to trim the National Security Agency's spying activity

It's one thing for the NSA to listen to communications to and from, well, basically everyone. It's another thing for them to actively interfere with the development of cryptography software that makes their job harder. When you think about it, this really does come down to the fundamental right of privacy: do people, Americans in particular, have the right to keep any of their writings and communications secret, or must the government have the ability to access absolutely everything ever written down or sent over the internet?

There's legislation out there to draw this line now, by blocking the NSA from crippling encryption software. It also asks for total repeat of the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which I don't have a problem with considering the abuses but which probably make it a long shot to actually pass.

There's another piece of legislation in the works, supported by both Senator Leahy and Representative Goodlatte, that probably has a better chance.

Mon Sep 16 12:33:00 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Chicago gun registration over

It's worth noting that, as in DC, Chicago's registration system was pretty much a ban in name only.
With 295 recorded homicides in Chicago so far this year, many police officers rely on the registry’s information to understand the movements of guns throughout the city. The online registry contains more than 8,000 gun owners and about 22,000 firearms. Adam Collins, a spokesperson for the Police Department said officers would continue to use a online database of permit holders maintained by Illinois State Police.

You know, it's almost amusing to watch the forces of gun control desperately trying to justify their draconian laws. The police were using the registration system, which contains the few legal firearms owned by Chicago residents, to try to "understand the movements of guns throughout the city"? Maybe they were, but linking that to the murder rate is absurd. If they were doing any sort of data analysis, it wasn't anything to do with crime.

Mon Sep 16 09:34:24 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Sybrina Fulton to testify before congress on stand your ground laws

Sybrina Fulton, the mother of the 17-year-old Martin who was slain in Florida in 2012, will be a witness at a hearing chaired by Durbin (D-Ill.) that will explore the “civil rights and public safety implications” of state laws that allow deadly force to be used by citizens to protect themselves, according to media guidance. The hearing will be held on Tuesday.

This is embarassing. The laws of self-defense are color-blind. Zimmerman didn't need to invoke stand-your-ground, as he was unable to retreat, so the outcome would not have changed in a duty to retreat state. More importantly, as a general principle, there's nothing wrong with using deadly force in self-defense against a lethal threat.

Mon Sep 16 09:32:55 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Legislation to protect tax privacy introduced

Legislators in Tennessee are introducing federal legislation to notify taxpayers whenever their personal tax information is accessed by the IRS. It's a good proposal to begin addressing the problems at that agency, but it will not solve everything.

Under our legislation, the secretary of the U.S. Treasury would have to notify, in writing, taxpayers each time the IRS accesses their tax accounts, tax returns or other tax return information.

Unfortunately this won't be enough by itself.

Thu Sep 12 12:26:29 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

NRA files amicus brief in ACLU's NSA lawsuit

The National Rifle Association argues that the NSA could use it's general-purpose telephone and internet surveillance programs to create a registry of firearms and firearm owners. It's technically accurate -- you could use the NSA's database to do that, and specific possible abuses should be pointed out -- but it feels sort of like complaining about a broken toe after getting a piano dropped on your head. Yeah, the toe is probably broken, but so is a lot of other stuff.

What may be more important is that the NRA's involvement could lead to shifting from the hypothetical ("They could use this to build a database of gun owners") to the concrete ("They DID use this to build a database of gun owners"). The latter would have huge implications and specifically violate federal law, but we don't know if they took that step yet. Under this president, I would not put it past them.

Thu Sep 12 12:25:59 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Caracal C pistols recalled

... for safety issues. Yes, all of them.

Thu Sep 12 12:25:48 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Privacy problems in Maryland's new gun control laws

Maryland Shall Issue reports on the problems, which amount to using employees from non-police agencies who have not had their background checked to process personal information on firearm applications.

In other words, if you buy a firearm in Maryland, they aren't going to bother to background check the people checking your background.

Wed Sep 11 09:30:55 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Colorado Recall Elections today

Since the media has chosen sides, you may be hearing about the 10 people who were denied permission to purchase firearms since the new laws in Colorado came into effect. Publicola has the whole story on that issue.

The recall elections are a rare chance to tell politicians to go stuff themselves on a particular issue, rather than the everything at once nature of a more general election. If you live in the right parts of Colorado and are reading this blog, make sure you vote. The other side will be voting, whether they are supposed to be able to or not.

If you're not sure who to vote for, here's some background information on the candidates. The NRA has a video on the recall.

UPDATE: It appears we are victorious.

Tue Sep 10 06:15:23 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Why exactly do these people get paid to make pronouncements based on ignorance and prejudice?

I mean the idiots at the United Nations who weighed in on the Zimmerman case with this:

“We call upon the US Government to examine its laws that could have discriminatory impact on African Americans, and to ensure that such laws are in full compliance with the country’s international legal obligations and relevant standards,” said human rights expert Verene Shepherd, who currently heads the UN Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent.

First of all, self-defense is a fundamental human right. The law does not refer to race at all. The jury in his case found that Zimmerman acted within the law ... as happens in many other cases. There's no racial component there.

Volokh does an excellent job tearing the comment apart.

Mon Sep 09 10:35:50 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Colorado Recall elections September 10th

Michelle Malkin brings us a recall news update.

Sat Sep 07 14:33:40 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

EPA sends armed SWAT team on raid to enforce... suspected dirty water

You know, if a local business is polluting the local water supply, my first though would be that it's probably accidental, or possibly that new regulations have been issued to make a practice previously considered safe illegal. I would expect to see a letter sent to the company on official Environmental Protection Agency letterhead, possibly with a scientist conducting a local inspection in a lab coat, followed by lawyers in suits if the problem is not corrected. Such disputes can and usually are worked out in court with relative ease and peaceful behavior.

If the EPA's first choice of enforcement method is a SWAT team, we are living in a police state.

Sat Sep 07 14:32:51 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Poll on amending the 2nd Amendment

Here's the amended language they are proposing:
Because a well-regulated National Guard and Reserve, and well-regulated Federal, state, and local public safety departments, are necessary to the security of our free states and our free nation, the rights of citizens, while serving in their capacity in the aforesaid organizations, to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Go vote.

It's not much more than a measure of public opinion, but by making our opinion clear we can keep politicians on notice that efforts like this should go nowhere.

At least they are finally admitting that the 2nd Amendment as written does not refer to the National Guard, the National Reserve, or "public safety departments" (police).

At the time of this writing, the results are 11.5% to approve the proposed change, and 88.5% to reject the proposed change.

And that's with their incredibly tortured linguistic attempt to confuse poll takers.

Hat tip to Sebastian.

Fri Sep 06 12:29:52 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

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