Archive for the 'Federal Firearms Laws' Category



Man Kills Bear And Faces Charges

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 3 months ago

From Reason.com (h/t Say Uncle):

Richard Ahlstrand, of Auburn, Massachusetts, faces criminal charges after encountering a bear in his back yard and shooting the damned thing to avoid being mauled or eaten. Specifically, as noted at Reason 24/7, he’s charged with “illegally killing a bear, illegally baiting a bear, illegal possession of a firearm and failure to secure a firearm.” All of these charges, once translated from Massachusetts to American, seem to stack up to outrage that Ahlstrand didn’t make his yard completely inhospitable to animals that are rarely seen in the area, and then investigated a suspicious noise with a weapon in hand rather than cower under the bed. Worst of all, he actually defended himself when he encountered danger.

According to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Ahlstrand had a 50-gallon drum of birdseed in his backyard, and this appears to be the basis of the “baiting”charge against him. Leaving the birdseed outside might be considered a foolish idea in an area where bears are known to congregate, but the same article quotes the police chief claiming that “bear are not common in Auburn” with the last such sighting about a year ago. So Ahlstrand shouldn’t have had birdseed because … ?

When confronted by the bear, Ahlstrand had a shotgun with him — in his own backyard, remember — because he’d heard a noise and thought he’d seen a bear the day before.

From CBS Boston:

Richard Ahlstrand told WBZ-TV he was stocking his bird feeder Friday night when a bear about seven feet tall and 300-to-400 pounds started chasing him.

That’s when he turned his shotgun on the bear.

“I didn’t have time to aim through the sights, but I aimed in the direction of the head on this thing and I pulled the trigger before it got to me.  It just dropped,” he said.

Ahlstrand said he was carrying the shotgun Friday night because he thought he saw the bear in his yard Thursday.

The police version from the Telegram:

Chief Sluckis said the bear is believed to have been attracted to a 50-gallon drum of birdseed Mr. Ahlstrand had in his backyard. He said Mr. Ahlstrand told police he heard a noise outside and felt in fear of his life.

“He went back inside, retrieved a shotgun and decided to shoot the bear,” Chief Sluckis said. “Obviously we believe if Mr. Ahlstrand was truly in fear for his life he would have stayed secured in his home and would have called the police.”

I’ve lived in Boston and Worcester both, sad to say, and so I’m fairly certain that official Massachusetts policy is that people should dial 911 and then curl into a fetal position whenever they hear a curious noise. But living in the wide open spaces of Arizona, as I do, I’m called upon to investigate suspicious noises fairly frequently.

When backpacking I am a great proponent of taking smells away from camp as much as possible.  We have had all manner of wildlife in camp even in spite of our best efforts.  Having a large container of food in the yard may not be the wisest thing to do.

But this is a man, made in God’s image, contrasted with an animal, which is not.  Laws that favor animals over man are immoral, and there is no question what a judge or jury should do in this case.  If I carry a gun in order to stop an assault by another human, I’ll surely stop an assault by an animal.

Prior:

Backpacker Shoots Grizzly In Denali, First Life Saved Since Firearms Legal

State Nullification Of Federal Gun Laws

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 4 months ago

Montana needs a new Governor:

Score one for modernity. Earlier this week, Montana’s legislature passed a nullification bill—a piece of legislation which would have forbidden Big Sky law enforcement from enforcing any new assault weapons ban or ban on high capacity magazines. Steve Bullock, the state’s Democratic governor, announced today that he was vetoing the bill, in part on the grounds that it is “unnecessary political theater.” (That would be because it aimed to nullify laws that don’t even exist yet.)

Nullification—the notion that states can negate federal laws they deem to be unconstitutional—is a doctrine dating to the 19th century that has repeatedly found itself on the wrong side of history, the courts, and the Constitution. And yet it continues to retain mystifying currency on the right, especially among state lawmakers.

The author’s prose is irrelevant and it doesn’t go down as recommended reading or a useful expenditure of your time.  But Milo Townsend gives us a nice rebuttal in the comments.

Firstly, the notion of states nullifying unconstitutional federal Acts dates to the 18th, not the 19th century – none other than both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison urged nullification of President Adams’ Alien & Sedition Acts in 1798 in the first formal political expositions on nullification in U.S. history, the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions.

Second, the doctrine of nullification is not only explicitly sanctioned by the Tenth amendment of the United States Constitution, but is integrally built in to the essential structure of the entire federal charter.

Milo then gives us a link to his article on understanding nullification.  It’s all good and studied prose and does go down as recommended reading and a useful expenditure of your time.  The money quote follows.

The fact is, that in order to see why “We, the People of the several States,” are perfectly in line with the Constitution when we undertake to judge of the constitutionality of the actions and decisions of any branch of the federal government, we need only to open our eyes first to the rationale that gave us our government in the first place. Once we imbibe a sobering dose of that tonic prescribed by our founding physicians, “a frequent recurrence to the fundamental principles of liberty,” it will be evident – dare we say even “self-evident?” – that if our government is truly grounded in republican principles, and is truly a government “of the people, by the people,” then there can be no alternative except to recognize our own responsibility in making such judgments. It is our sovereignty, as free individuals, which gives legitimacy to any power of our system of government, at any level, including the power to undertake constitutional arbitration and interpretation; such powers, then, are therefore ours in primacy, and are only lent to our representatives conditionally. They can, thus, be withdrawn, resumed, or re-delegated at any time by us, the sovereign authorities within this federal republic. In short, the question of whether we, the people, may undertake to judge of the limits and powers of our own federal government is obviously and unequivocally, “Yes!”

And thus does Milo give us the philosophical and historical underpinnings of our republic and the right to hold the federal government accountable my more means than a simple vote.  I have attempted to supply the theological underpinnings in previous articles.

So I have recommended numerous times that (a) the states arrest federal agents who enforce federal gun laws, (b) the states confiscate and destroy form 4473s in every gun shop in their respective states and order the owner to inform them if any ATF agent visits the store or attempts to arrests the owner, (c) the states place arrested federal agents in with the general prison population and prosecute them to the fullest extent of state law, (d) the states stop any additional federal agents from entering the state and forbid any federal agents from in any way assisting those arrested federal agents, and (e) the states enforce the laws of the states – including nullification – with the power of the National Guard or unorganized militia if necessary against the federal government.

If readers have seen this as boisterous chest-thumping, you have misunderstood it completely.  My recommendations are serious.  Furthermore, there is justification for such actions, theologically, philosophically and historically.

Scalia Says Gun Control Is Heading To Supreme Court

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 5 months ago

Examiner:

Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, decrying America’s demonization of guns, is predicting that the parade of new gun control laws, cheered on by President Obama, will hit the Supreme Court soon, possibly settling for ever the types of weapons that can be owned.

Scalia, whose legacy decision in the 2008 case of District of Columbia vs. Heller ended the ban on handguns in Washington, D.C., suggested that the Constitution allows limits on what Americans can own, but the only example he offered was a shoulder-launched rocket that would bring down jets.

And the wily judge suggested to an audience of Smithsonian Associates at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium Tuesday night that he is not just preparing for a new gun control challenge, but that he’s softening up one of his liberal colleague on guns.

The long-time duck hunter revealed that he’s taken Obama appointee Elena Kagan hunting several times, the last being for big game in Wyoming where she shot a whitetail doe. “She dropped that doe with one shot,” he said during an event that featured questions from NPR’s court reporter Nina Totenberg.

[ ... ]

Scalia explained why he wrote Heller, but wouldn’t discuss current gun control limits in Congress and the states. “There are doubtless cases on the way up,” he said, adding that limits on what weapons can be owned will likely be part of any new decision. “There are doubtless limits, but what they are we will see.”

Commentary

Good.  Let’s rock.  Let’s get on with the preservation or diminution of our rights and freedoms.  Time is wasting.  It’s time to revisit the decisions in Heller and McDonald, not because, as Justice Ginsburg thinks, there might be a reversal of Heller on the horizon with a “future, wiser court,” but because Heller didn’t go far enough.  The Supreme Court recognized our right to ownership of firearms, but didn’t specifically broach the issue of “bearing” those arms, i.e., carrying them for personal defense.

This relationship that appears to be developing between Scalia and Kagan is, I’m sure, very sweet and and all of that, but I wouldn’t count on her vote.  Furthermore, the whole issue of duck hunting concerns me.  The Second Amendment, as Scalia knows, isn’t about duck hunting, or deer hunting, or any other “sporting purpose.”  The sporting purposes test imposed by the last round of onerous firearms laws, and enforced by the ATF, is entirely unconstitutional.  I have said before that I think the test is misapplied, and that if it is a firearm, it has a sporting purpose.  But proliferation of this test through the judiciary (from some future decision) is cowardly because it doesn’t formally recognize the truth, and that is that the second amendment exists in order to ameliorate tyranny.

But for the courts, just remember that we firearms owners aren’t likely to have any more respect for confiscatory policies (or anything that can enable confiscation such as universal background checks), onerous policies (such as counting the number of cartridges I can put in my magazine), or unconstitutional tests (like sporting purposes) coming from the courts than we would if it came from the Congress or the President.  And just for the record, the Supreme Court became a laughingstock over the decision on Obamacare.  You wouldn’t want to put the final nail in the coffin holding your honor or respectability, would you?

Be very careful.  Think wisely.  Don’t start things you cannot stop.

UPDATE: Thank you for the visit on this article.  It is timely and important.

Obama Administration’s New Push To Regulate Shooters

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

If Lanny Breuer isn’t arguing against gun possession outside the home, Obama’s Bureau of Land Management (Department of the Interior) is trying to promulgate new regulations on shooters.

Gun owners who have historically been able to use public lands for target practice would be barred from potentially millions of acres under new rules drafted by the Interior Department, the first major move by the Obama administration to impose limits on firearms.

Officials say the administration is concerned about the potential clash between gun owners and encroaching urban populations who like to use same land for hiking and dog walking.

“It’s not so much a safety issue. It’s a social conflict issue,” said Frank Jenks, a natural resource specialist with Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, which oversees 245 million acres. He adds that urbanites “freak out” when they hear shooting on public lands.

If the draft policy is finally approved, some public access to Bureau lands to hunters would also be limited, potentially reducing areas deer, elk, and bear hunters can use in the West.

So exactly how would such regulations be implemented?

This is the key paragraph foes say could lead to shooters being kicked off public lands:

“When the authorized officer determines that a site or area on BLM-managed lands used on a regular basis for recreational shooting is creating public disturbance, or is creating risk to other persons on public lands; is contributing to the defacement, removal or destruction of natural features, native plants, cultural resources, historic structures or government and/or private property; is facilitating or creating a condition of littering, refuse accumulation and abandoned personal property is violating existing use restrictions, closure and restriction orders, or supplementary rules notices, and reasonable attempts to reduce or eliminate the violations by the BLM have been unsuccessful, the authorized officer will close the affected area to recreational shooting.”

The new regulation may as well say that for any reason under the sun when an employee of the BLM wants to close down lands to shooting, he may do so at his discretion.  This has a potentially huge affect on shooters, and the most remarkable thing is its broad sweep (note that implementation of the regulation doesn’t require demonstrated safety issues), combined with the bypassing of the process for making law – you know, the Congress.  Congress has been left out because, you know, the Obama administration knows better than to have to wait on something silly like the law-making process.

Taxpayer Dollars Used To Purchase Weapons for Mexican Cartels

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 10 months ago

From David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh writing at Examiner and Sipsey Street Irregulars we learn how Operation Gunwalker (or Fast and Furious) was no botched sting operation.

In a letter dated June 1, 2010, then Phoenix ATF Group VII supervisor David Voth instructed a Federal Firearms Licensee in Arizona as follows:

Dear Sir,

Per Section 925(a)(1) of the Gun Control Act (GCA) exempts law enforcement agencies from the transportation, shipment, receipt, or importation controls of the GCA when firearms are to be used for the official business of the agency.

Please accept this letter in lieu of completing an ATF Form 4473 for the purchase of four (4) CAI, Model Draco, 7.62×39 mm pistols, by Special Agent John Dodson. These aforementioned pistols will be used by Special Agent Dodson in furtherance of the performance of his official duties. In addition, Special Agent Dodson has not been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. If you have any questions, you may contact me at telephone number 602-605-6501.

Sincerely,

(Signature)
David Voth
ATF Group Supervisor
Phoenix Group VII

In the lower left-hand margin of the one-page letter is the hand-written notation:

“Picked guns
up 6/10/10
Paid Cash”

“Paid Cash” is underlined.

The existence of this letter provided to these reporters by a previously reliable source familiar with the Fast and Furious investigation, coupled with interviews of other sources across the country which put it into context, provides startling proof that the Federal government did not merely “lose track” of weapons purchased by “straw buyers” under surveillance by the ATF and destined for the Mexican drug cartels. In an undercover operation ordered by Fast and Furious supervisor David Voth, the U.S. government purchased firearms with taxpayer money from licensed firearms dealers, instructed them to conduct the sales “off the books,” and used an ATF agent, John Dodson, to deliver them directly to people that Dodson believed were conducting them across the border.

They go further to discuss how Dodson was almost surely set up to keep him from becoming a whistle-blower for the illegal operation.  This isn’t news.  But what is certainly news is how the news treated this revelation.  Bob Owens followed up this story with analysis of his own, and then remarks concerning a Fox News article on the same subject in one of the comments:

Fox News pretty much lifted their article part and parcel from Codrea and Vanderboegh, and should be considered plagiarists. No link to either of their sites, and Sispsey Street was only mentioned in passing; the Examiner not at all.

David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh have been out front on this scandal ever since it broke.  In fact, they helped to break it.  Their contacts beat any other in the main stream media.  Yet as Owens notes, there isn’t even a single link to Sipsey Street Irregulars or Examiner.  The failure properly to source simply propagates, with The Daily Mail sourcing Fox News.

For a period of time Matt Drudge had a link to the Fox News article as his headline.  This, my friends, is stolen traffic.  Fox News stole the content investigated and written by Codrea and Vanderboegh and posted it as their own.

This is shameful in professional journalism.  Fox News owes David and Mike an apology and explanation.

One final note concerns the explanation by Voth of how the Gun Control Act allowed exemption from its stipulations for LEOs.  One commenter remarks at Owens’ post:

Using agency funds (taxpayers’ money) to buy the weapons to be transferred to the cartels means that the operation has, prima facie, violated U.S. Code Title 18, Part 1, chap. 96, section 1960-61, defining the use of federal funds to illegally obtain and/or transfer controlled substances and/or items to unauthorized third parties.

To do this within the law (as in a drug transaction) requires a bench warrant from a state or federal court. The buying or selling has to be done in a controlled manner, the item(s) must never be out of law enforcement control (meaning they at least must be tracked), and they cannot cross state lines or national boundaries without proper notification of authorities on the “receiving end”.

“Fast & Furious” and “Gunwalker” have, on the face of it, violated all of the above provisions.

The argument that the exemptions were intended to allow the trafficking of weapons across national borders is ridiculous in the superlative.  Of course, this won’t fly anywhere, not in court or even with the court of public opinion.  Also note how Voth failed to mention the Arms Export Control Act.

Gunrunner Comment of the Day

BY Herschel Smith
3 years ago

Comment of the day:

The Obama administration, charged with and sworn under oath to the task of enforcing the laws of this country, used a federal agency for the purpose of allowing the laws to be violated, so as to effect changes in the laws they don’t like.

And if they don’t get the law changed, they’ll just unilaterally change it themselves through agency regulation?

[ ... ]

This is the gravest dereliction of sworn duty I have witnessed in my lifetime. Almost directly, it led to the death of an agent under their control.

And it deserves at least 20 years with no parole in Leavenworth prison.

And it has expanded to the Tampa ATF Office, which is currently engaged in a coverup.

Senators Feinstein, Schumer and Whitehouse on Halting U.S. Firearms Trafficking to Mexico

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 1 month ago

Background

We all know about Project Gunrunner, as it is formally called by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE).  We also know about the scandal it has been and is steadily becoming, with Congressional hearings pending and the bureau still stonewalling and using delaying tactics over Congressional inquiries.  We don’t know yet what will come of the hearings, but the BATFE and administration support troops have tipped their hand concerning their strategy.

Senators Dianne Feinstein, Charles Schumer and Sheldon Whitehouse have issued a report entitled Halting U.S. Firearms Trafficking to Mexico.  Within a few days of releasing this study, The Washington Post and CNN parroted the talking points in respective articles.  The study itself is as remarkable for the misrepresentation of the facts concerning firearms trafficking to Mexico as it is for its recommendations for statutory remedies.

Analysis & Commentary

Before discussing the Feinstein recommendations it’s necessary to rehearse the demolition that Scott Stewart at STRATFOR performed of the myth that 90% of the weapons seized in Mexico were of American origin.

For several years now, STRATFOR has been closely watching developments in Mexico that relate to what we consider the three wars being waged there. Those three wars are the war between the various drug cartels, the war between the government and the cartels, and the war being waged against citizens and businesses by criminals.

In addition to watching tactical developments of the cartel wars on the ground and studying the dynamics of the conflict among the various warring factions, we have also been paying close attention to the ways that both the Mexican and U.S. governments have reacted to these developments. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects to watch has been the way in which the Mexican government has tried to deflect responsibility for the cartel wars away from itself and onto the United States. According to the Mexican government, the cartel wars are not a result of corruption in Mexico or of economic and societal dynamics that leave many Mexicans marginalized and desperate to find a way to make a living. Instead, the cartel wars are due to the insatiable American appetite for narcotics and the endless stream of guns that flows from the United States into Mexico and that results in Mexican violence.

Interestingly, the part of this argument pertaining to guns has been adopted by many politicians and government officials in the United States in recent years. It has now become quite common to hear U.S. officials confidently assert that 90 percent of the weapons used by the Mexican drug cartels come from the United States. However, a close examination of the dynamics of the cartel wars in Mexico — and of how the oft-echoed 90 percent number was reached — clearly demonstrates that the number is more political rhetoric than empirical fact.

As we discussed in a previous analysis, the 90 percent number was derived from a June 2009 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to Congress on U.S. efforts to combat arms trafficking to Mexico (see external link).

According to the GAO report, some 30,000 firearms were seized from criminals by Mexican authorities in 2008. Of these 30,000 firearms, information pertaining to 7,200 of them (24 percent) was submitted to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for tracing. Of these 7,200 guns, only about 4,000 could be traced by the ATF, and of these 4,000, some 3,480 (87 percent) were shown to have come from the United States.

This means that the 87 percent figure relates to the number of weapons submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF that could be successfully traced and not from the total number of weapons seized by Mexican authorities or even from the total number of weapons submitted to the ATF for tracing. In fact, the 3,480 guns positively traced to the United States equals less than 12 percent of the total arms seized in Mexico in 2008 and less than 48 percent of all those submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF for tracing. This means that almost 90 percent of the guns seized in Mexico in 2008 were not traced back to the United States.

The most recent data that Feinstein cites, given to her by the BATFE, makes the same observation of the data, and that, by acting director Kenneth Melson.

There are no United States Government sources that maintain any record of the total number of criminal firearms seized in Mexico.  ATF reports relate only to firearms recovered in Mexico that were subsequently traced by ATF based upon firearms identifiers submitted to ATF by the Mexican government.  The Mexican government does not submit every recorded firearm to ATF for tracing …

Which point therefore makes the conclusions one can draw from the data very limited.  But that’s not how the Feinstein report paints the picture.  Right in the background statement, we read that “In a June 2009 report, the Government Accountability Office stated that around 87% of firearms seized by Mexican authorities and traced over the previous five years originated in the United States.”  The Washington Post was quick to pick up on the deconstructed meme, saying that “Of the 29,284 firearms recovered by authorities in Mexico in 2009 and 2010, 20,504 came from the United States, according to figures provided to the senators by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.”  This is clearly not factually correct, as many more firearms were seized by the Mexican authorities than 29,284.

In testimony to the dictum that if you repeat a lie enough times it will eventually be taken as truth, the 90% myth is now mainstream, and I have called out The St. Petersburg Times for relying on the myth for their editorials (with no response).  Senators Feinstein, Schumer and Whitehouse must be relying on the same dictum, because their wish list of increased firearms control measures is so expansive and draconian that it seems ridiculous to have connected all of this to a single effort.  The senators recommend:

  1. Closing the so-called gun show loophole in the laws.
  2. Redoubling efforts to enforce an import ban on weapons that fall into the category of military style weapons (e.g., with features such as pistol grip, forend grip, rails for tactical lights, high capacity magazines, etc.).  I have previously covered and commented on this ATF effort for shotguns.
  3. Reinstating the assault weapons ban.
  4. Multiple sales reporting to the federal government.
  5. Ratification of the The Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking of Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials (CIFTA).

And the justification for all of this?  Earlier in the report, Feinstein and staff discuss the laudable job that the ATF did with project gunrunner, but lament the fact that it alone cannot curb the trafficking of firearms to Mexico.

And now the loyal troops tip their hands.  To be sure, for a progressive, any increase in the power of government is a good thing.  All societal problems stem from a lack of regulation and oversight, all evil has its solution in more laws.  So the senators (and the administration) want what they can get out of this effort, if anything.  But something in the wind is foul.

With the coming Congressional investigations of project gunrunner and the illegality and inappropriateness of such a program, the administration and its troops see vulnerability.  Senators Feinstein, Schumer and Whitehouse are snipers picking at the advancing Congressional column with enfilade fire.  This effort is likely a decoy, a hastily designed effort to squeeze what they can from the failed gunrunner project, protect their flanks and split the advancing column.

Second amendment advocates must be diligent, and Senator Feinstein’s efforts should be monitored, analyzed and opposed.  But the real purpose of this report and its recommendations is to be a battlefield ruse.  With its lack of substantiation of the data, the lack of a basis for the recommendations, and the lack of analysis of the information, it’s as much of an admission of vulnerability and culpability as it is a last gasp effort to deny second amendment rights to American citizens.

Prior:

Project Gunrunner: White House and DoJ Knowledge and Oversight

Analysis of ATF Study on the Importability of Certain Shotguns

Legislation on High Capacity Magazines

Cost Cutting Ideas for the Federal Government

Analysis of ATF Study on the Importability of Certain Shotguns

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 3 months ago

In January of 2011 the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives authored what they call the Study on the Importability of Certain Shotguns.  The comment period ends on May 1, 2011, and my comments have been submitted to the pertinent e-mail address with name, address and other contact information.  My comments are herewith submitted to my readers.

It really is a sad state of affairs at the ATF.  With salient and pressing scandals that deserve attention (along with a need for a thorough house-cleaning and full disclosure by the ATF), lawyers and analysts have been focusing exquisite detail on the features that should be [dis]allowed on importable shotguns.

The ATF is working within the context of the decisions on the ban on assault rifles, a ban that had sunset provisions which are no longer applicable.  Features such as a pistol grip, a forend grip, a rail system for things such as tactical lights (light enhancing devices), high capacity detachable magazines, etc., are deemed to be associated with military style weapons and as such (in the determination of the ATF study team) are not “readily adaptable for sporting purposes.”

But this judgment is arbitrary, and I charge the ATF with circular reasoning.  Rather than appeal to facts which demonstrate whether a specific feature is adaptable for sporting purposes, the ATF study team apparently without reservation gives us the purpose around which their judgments are made, i.e., ensuring that the statutes codified in the Gun Control Act of 1968 remain useful.  As I observe in one comment:

On page 4 the following statements are made: “The 1989 study then examined the scope of “sporting purposes” as used in the statute. The study noted that “[t]he broadest possible interpretation could take in virtually any lawful activity or competition which any person or groups of persons might undertake. Under this interpretation, any rifle could meet the “sporting purposes” test. The 1989 study concluded that a broad interpretation would render the statute useless.”

Wrapped up in this paragraph we have not only an amusing logical blunder but also the real crux of the problem. Authors have presupposed the answer (so-called circular reasoning) at which they must arrive, i.e., the statute must remain useful. Thus, all interpretations by ATF are biased to yield that result. It is not the responsibility of the ATF nor is it within the purview of their authority to ensure the continued usefulness of a statute, if in fact it is rendered useless by advances, common practices, evolution in sporting, or lack of wise crafting of the statute (such as the fact that nowhere in this discussion of “sporting purposes” is there any latitude given for personal protection and home defense under the second amendment to the constitution of the United States). This single paragraph renders the study itself as useless as the statute has become.

As to the issue of the usefulness of military style features on weapons, I remark:

Ask any skeet shooter if s/he enjoys stopping every five shells and the answer makes for easy dismissal of authors’ objections to these features on firearms. Another example might be feral hog hunting, which usually occurs at night since these are nocturnal creatures. Feral hogs are destroying the American landscape, causing many farmers in the American South to go out of business, attacking household pets and even humans.  According to NFS and game control experts, they are multiplying more quickly than can be accommodated by lethal removal. Not only is feral hog hunting a sport involving guides and businesses specifically for that purpose, it may be necessary for lethal removal to be increased by an order of magnitude to save the American farmer.  Nocturnal hunting requires enhanced or tactical lights on Picatinny or Weaver rail systems, and hunting feral hogs might require high capacity magazines. Finally, note that some shooters have medical problems such as arthritis. Pistol and forend grips used for any sport and with any weapon can not only make the weapon less painful to use, it can make the difference between whether the shooter can engage in the sport at all. So with three examples (skeet shooting, feral hog hunting and medical problems) it has been demonstrated that the list of firearms features supplied by authors as not adaptable for sporting make the firearms more adaptable for sporting, and it is the proposed ATF regulations that are directly contrary to the practice of sporting. Many more such examples could be supplied.

I conclude the comments with this summary:

In general I find that the study [a] appeals to authority without citation of those authorities, [b] engages in circular reasoning in that conclusions are fixed at the outcome of the discussion (i.e., ensuring the continued usefulness of a particular statute), [c] is dated and out of touch with current practice, [d] ignores legitimate uses of certain weapon features for various sporting functions and activities, [e] fabricates arbitrary categories, [f] makes what can be demonstrated to be material false assertions. As such, this study cannot be used for promulgating regulation without damage being done to the constitutional rights of citizens of the United States.

Regardless of the disposition of this particular set of proposed regulations, this action by the ATF is yet another warning shot.  The ATF is working very hard to ensure that purchasing and using weapons – legally – is as hard as possible.  And yet the bureau might just take an even harder turn to the left.  If we learn nothing else through this study and related efforts, we learn that the Obama administration is no friend to second amendment rights.

Herschel Smith Comments on_ATF_Study on the Importability of Certain Shotguns

UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link.

I Renewed My NRA Membership Today

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 3 months ago

So I renewed my NRA membership today.  Regular readers know that I had struggled with this issue, and in fact had begun asking salient questions around four months ago.  Brave warriors of the NRA did yeoman’s work trying to defend the NRA’s unofficial endorsement of Harry Reid, but in the end there was no excuse worthy of the argument.  To have sold out the honorable reputation of the NRA for Harry Reid’s having thrown a few dollars at the Clark County Shooting Park while ignoring the fact that he gave us SCOTUS justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor is petty and embarrassing.

So what changed my mind?  Well, there are good winds blowing, at least for the moment.

President Barack Obama’s op-ed column in the March 13 Arizona Daily Star invited all sides of the gun-control debate to a series of meetings in Washington.

Two problems: The President invited the NRA to the summits — which declined to attend — but neglected to extend invitations to other influential Second Amendment advocacy groups, such as the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA).

CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb said it was odd that the CCRKBA, nor its sister organization, the SAF, were invited to the meetings — especially since it was the SAF’s Supreme Court challenged that resulted last summer’s McDonald v. City of Chicago ruling that solidified the Second Amendment’s protection of an individual civil right.

The NRA declined the invitation but responded to Obama’s op-ed with an open letter on March 15 by Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and Executive Director of the NRA Institute for Legal Action Chris Cox. The letter said Obama says one thing (i.e. the Second Amendment guarantees a person to bear arms) and acts another way (i.e. setting in place regulations restricting gun rights), and ripped his administration for being “under a cloud for allegedly encouraging violations of federal law.”

“We suggest that you bring an immediate stop to BATFE’s ‘Fast and Furious’ operation, in which an unknown number of illegal firearm transactions were detected – and then encouraged to fruition by your BATFE, which allegedly decided to let thousands of firearms ‘walk’ across the border and into the hands of murderous drug cartels,” the letter alleges. “One federal officer has recently been killed and no one can predict what mayhem will still ensue.  Despite the protests of gun dealers who wished to terminate these transactions, your Administration reportedly encouraged violations of federal firearms laws…”

Gottlieb, on the other hand, said he would love to speak with Obama during the meetings, which began on March 15 at the White House and will continue through the end of the month. He “would be eager to talk with the White House, especially about the ‘Project Gunrunner’ and ‘Fast and Furious’ scandals, where federal agents helped facilitate gun sales to suspected gunrunners,” he wrote in CCRKBA’s response to the President’s op-ed.

As Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea noted in his March 15 column on examiner.com, the ways the NRA, SAF, and CCRKBA — and other Second Amendment advocacy groups — reacted demonstrates “that the ‘gun lobby’ is not the monolith the media often portrays it to be.”

But Blogosphere Buzz Examiner Bill Belew in his March 16 column asks if the NRA, SAF, and CCRKBA aren’t going to the President’s gun summits, what pro-Second Amendment groups are?

Analysis & Commentary

This is a strong statement by the NRA against Obama’s “summit,” and Chris Cox made an equally strong statement against the proposed recapitulation of the ban on high capacity magazines.  In seventh grade I had a teacher who posed the following dilemma to us.  Six of us are on a life boat, and there is no hope of immediate rescue.  Five can be kept alive if they vote and decide on who gets to be the one who is killed as food for others.  Then there were five who were starving, and the five turned into four, and so on.  You get the picture.

All manner of compromise, argumentation and judgment of worth occurred over the next hour.  When it came my turn to talk (after I was called upon), I refused to play and said that “It’s the devil’s game, and I won’t play the devil’s game.  God is sovereign, and if He decides that today is a good day for me to die, then I die.  There are worse things than dying, such as dying and then facing your maker having just been guilty of murder.  So I won’t play your dumb-ass game.”

It was a hard year for me, and the teacher and I had many run-ins, but I didn’t compromise.  Compromise is usually thought of in today’s culture, with it’s lack of moral foundation, as the “art of politics,” or some such inanity. Rather than being artful, it’s what gave us the massive debt our country now faces.  Compromise gave us a country addicted to social programs and redistribution of wealth, and compromise gave us an out-of-control ATF (who also wants to ban the import of things such as Saiga shotguns, something I’ll be weighing in on shortly).

But compromise is the devil’s game, and he wants more than anything for us to play it.  Compromise is even more effective than a frontal assault, because it masks true intentions and buries real circumstances in a subterfuge of details, codes, argument and hand-shaking.

Wayne LaPierre held strong on Obama’s compromise summit, and since there is no reason to trust that Obama wants anything more than to solicit the NRA’s support on stricter gun control and thus undermine any objections to his nefarious plans, there was no reason to go at all.

But what about Second Amendment Foundation and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms?  The NRA is the most powerful lobby on earth, and there is no reason that it should kowtow to anyone who is aiming for the dissolution of gun ownership rights.  The temptation is always there, but the NRA shouldn’t succumb to it.  Similarly, it’s a dastardly road, this quest to be important, significant or big.

I understand the desire of the SAF and the CCRKBA to be involved and even invoked when firearms rights are discussed.  But when the desire for significance overwhelms good judgment and causes a pro-second amendment foundation to want to meet with an enemy of the second amendment, that foundation has lost its focus as much as the foundation that stands firm now against Obama but abdicates its responsibilities later when enough money is floated, or in other words, when Harry Reid starts another shooting park to get the NRA endorsement.  I love my RRA Elite Car A4 and my Springfield Armory XDm .45, and I use them for personal and family defense (and recently put 400 rounds down range to practice for the day I hope will never come).  But I’ll find another place to shoot rather than take a handout from someone who eventually wants to take the guns away.  It’s called having values.

Compromise is the devil’s game.  It’s for people who have no values.  I have renewed by NRA membership for another year, and I’ll be watching them to see if we have any more compromises.  I can always terminate my membership in a year.

UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link!

Let Him Who Has No Gun Sell His Robe and Buy One

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

From AJC:

A gun rights group filed a notice Wednesday that it will appeal a federal judge’s dismissal of a suit challenging a state law banning weapons in churches, mosques and synagogues.

John Monroe, the attorney for GeorgiaCarry.org, filed a notice that he plans to ask the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review U.S. District Judge Ashley Royal’s decision. Royal ruled Monday that a 2010 law that lists places of worship among locations where guns are not allowed did not violate the First Amendment right to freedom of religion or the Second Amendment guarantee of a right to bear arms.

The lawsuit — brought by GeorgiaCarry.org, the organization’s past president and  the minister at the Baptist Tabernacle of Thomaston — challenged the inclusion of places of worship on a list of places where guns are not allowed –  government buildings, courthouses, jails and prisons, state mental hospitals, nuclear power plants, bars without the owner’s permission and polling places.

The suit called the handgun “the quintessential self-defense weapon in the United States.” Former GeorgiaCarry.org president Ed Stone and other worshipers argued that they should be able to arm themselves “for the protection of their families and themselves” without fear of arrest and prosecution on a misdemeanor charge. The Rev. Jonathan Wilkins of the Baptist Tabernacle said he wanted to have a gun for his protection while working in his church office.

The church claimed members’ efforts to practice their faith had been “impermissibly burdened” because they felt they needed to be armed but feared being arrested if they brought their guns to services.

And Stone wrote in a filing that his  “motivation to carry a firearm as a matter of habit derives from one of my Lord’s last recorded statements at the ‘last supper,’ that ‘whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one … I believe that this injunction requires me to obtain, keep and carry a firearm wherever I happen to be.”

Jesus told us that “The things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man” (Matt 15:18).  Man is no tabula rasa, but guns are what theologians call adiaphorous, or morally neutral.  Christ knew that his people would need protection, and thus he commanded that self preservation come even before clothing.

That’s the key, isn’t it?  It’s something the pro-gun control lobby doesn’t get.  Ownership of firearms has nothing to do with wishing others harm or even in inflicting harm.  It’s always best if a weapon works as a deterrent.  But a man’s life is worth so much that God expects us to do our utmost to preserve and protect it.

Unfortunately, Judge Royal’s decision isn’t based on the idea self preservation.  This church (along with others like it) is now the most vulnerable place around for a perpetrator of a crime to cause carnage and take innocent lives.  The Judge doesn’t intend it, but she has made those parishioner’s time at worship much more dangerous.

Christ said “let him who has no sword sell his robe and buy one” (Luke 22:36).  Judge Royal has now come in between these men and their God-given duty to protect their families.

Prior:

Obama Administration to Press for Gun Control

Second Amendment Challenge

UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit for the link.


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