Archive for the 'Federal Firearms Laws' Category

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

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 10 months ago


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.


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
12 years, 12 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
13 years 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, 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
13 years, 2 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, 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, 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 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.


Obama Administration to Press for Gun Control

Second Amendment Challenge

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

Obama Administration to Press for Gun Control

BY Herschel Smith
13 years, 2 months ago

So my oldest son Joshua calls me up and says to me, “Well, you were right.  Look on Drudge right now.  In the wake of the Arizona shooting, the White House is going to press for more gun control.”  I responded that just as a leopard cannot change it spots, Obama cannot change himself.  He is a statist and everything he does will be consistent with that worldview.

I had predicted to my son that the Obama administration will press for more gun control, which (I speculated) will include not only a ban on high capacity magazines, but a renewed “assault weapons” ban, extended waiting periods for any firearm – including long guns – and a whole host of other things.  Time will tell the scope and breadth of the proposed legislation, but this should become more apparent within the next few weeks.

At the beginning of his State of the Union address, President Obama tipped his hat to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who’s now recuperating in a Houston medical facility. But throughout the hourlong speech, he never addressed the issue at the core of the Giffords tragedy—gun control—and what lawmakers would, or should, do to reform American firearm-access laws.

That was intentional, according to the White House. An administration official says Obama didn’t mention guns in his speech because of the omnipresent controversy surrounding the Second Amendment and gun control. Tuesday’s speech was designed to be more about the economy and how, as Obama repeated nine times, the U.S. could “win the future.”

But in the next two weeks, the White House will unveil a new gun-control effort in which it will urge Congress to strengthen current laws, which now allow some mentally unstable people, such as alleged Arizona shooter Jared Loughner, to obtain certain assault weapons, in some cases without even a background check.

Tuesday night after the speech, Obama adviser David Plouffe said to NBC News that the president would not let the moment after the Arizona shootings pass without pushing for some change in the law, to prevent another similar incident. “It’s a very important issue, and one I know there’s going to be debate about on the Hill.”

The White House said that to avoid being accused of capitalizing on the Arizona shootings for political gain, Obama will address the gun issue in a separate speech, likely early next month. He’s also expected to use Arizona as a starting point, but make the case that America’s gun laws have been too loose for much longer than just the past few weeks.

Even though Loughner used a pistol (Glock 9 mm) with an extended magazine, the administration will make a case for a renewed ban on every weapon that could possibly be placed in that category, including long guns.  I had previously issued a challenge concerning extended magazines and other such bans of hand guns, posing the question whether such a ban is logically and constitutionally legitimate.  To date there hasn’t been even a hint of success in supporting such a ban.

It doesn’t matter.  In the spirit of Rahm Emanuel’s dictum never to let a crisis go to waste, the White House doesn’t want to appear to be capitalizing on the Arizona shooting, but intends to capitalize on the Arizona shooting.


Second Amendment Challenge

Legislation on High Capacity Magazines

Breyer: Founding Fathers Would Have Allowed Restrictions on Guns

UPDATE: I was right about the assault weapons ban.

“The president has been clear about his position on the assault-weapons ban, to use an example … back in the campaign, that’s been restated,” Mr. Plouffe said.

Candidate Obama supported reinstating the assault-weapons ban, which expired in 2004 – and which included a ban on high-capacity magazines. But since becoming president, Obama has largely steered clear of the gun issue. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg chided Obama Wednesday for making no mention Tuesday of what he called “the broken background check system.”

Forget about high capacity magazines.  Those will get swept up in the larger rubric of “assault weapons.”  He’s going for bigger fish in this legislation.

Second Amendment Challenge

BY Herschel Smith
13 years, 3 months ago

A study of the current public debate (including comments generated from Legislation on High Capacity Magazines) shows that the arguments by pro-gun control advocates generally fall into one or more of three categories.  The first category is hyperbolic, exaggerated and overheated prose.

For example, E. J. Dionne, Jr., writing for The Washington Post, believes that advocates of the Second Amendment hold “peculiar” views, that they are “extremists,” and that their rhetoric has been instrumental in blocking legislation that would have saved lives.

I came to realize, partly from e-mail exchanges with ardent foes of gun control over the years, that the real passion for a let-anything-go approach to guns has little to do with culture or hunting. It is rooted in a very peculiar view of how America has maintained its freedom. Rep. Ron Paul, as is his wont, expressed it as plainly as anyone.

“The Second Amendment is not about hunting deer or keeping a pistol in your nightstand,” the Texas Republican declared in 2006. “It is not about protecting oneself against common criminals. It is about preventing tyranny. The Founders knew that unarmed citizens would never be able to overthrow a tyrannical government as they did. . . . The muskets they used against the British army were the assault rifles of that time” …

The approach to guns, violence and “tyranny” promoted by loud voices on the right has been instrumental in blocking measures that could at least have contained the casualties in Tucson – or at Virginia Tech or Columbine. Extremism in defense of feeble gun laws is no virtue.

Dionne doesn’t really know any of this as we will discuss further, but while the Washington Post attempts to frame their anti-gun views in respectable arguments, a discussion thread at Media Matters (focused on the so-called Second Amendment Remedy) turned quickly into a lambaste of “right wing extremists,” and one commenter weighs in by saying that “the “Second Amendment Remedies” remark is one that even the most hypnotized wingnuts won’t generally defend.”

But Ken Klukowski, a research fellow at Liberty University School of Law, observes:

This right has two purposes. One is so Americans can defend themselves from criminals. Another — talked up by the Tea Party but ridiculed by the liberal elite — is that the Second Amendment protects citizens against our own government.

The Supreme Court declared in its landmark 2008 D.C. v. Heller decision — a decision praised by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. — that the Second Amendment was enshrined in the Constitution because when vast numbers of citizens have guns and know how to use them, “they are better able to resist tyranny.”

When serving on the California Supreme Court, now-D.C. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown observed, “political writings of the [Founding Fathers] repeatedly expressed a dual concern: facilitating the natural right of self-defense and assuring an armed citizenry capable of repelling foreign invaders and quelling tyrannical leaders.”

Ninth Circuit Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain explained the Second Amendment “right contains both a political component — it is a means to protect the public from tyranny — and a personal component — it is a means to protect the individual from threats to life or limb.”

The most sobering words come from Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit, who wrote, “the simple truth — born of experience — is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people.”

The son of Holocaust survivors, Kozinski continued, “The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed — where the government refuses to stand for re-election and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.”

When leftist rhetoric suffers from a refusal to do even the most basic homework, it’s difficult to take it very seriously.  The second category into which much rhetoric seems to fit is one of a fundamentally flawed mechanical understanding of firearms and how they work.

Robert Rector, writing for the Pasadena Star-News, says that he’s ex-Army, but then treats us to this confused set of plans for gun control:

The Second Amendment is a reality. We have the right to keep and bear arms and I do not wish it repealed … I do believe we need to reinstitute the federal assault weapons ban, signed into law by President Clinton and allowed to expire under President Bush. It would, among other things, have prohibited the magazine which allowed the shooter to fire 33 rounds before he was stopped.

I believe we need effective gun control. The right to bear arms doesn’t allow you to own nuclear weapons, surface-to-air missiles or flame-throwers. We should add to that list semi-automatic handguns, super-sized ammo magazines and concealed weapons of any kind.

Rector doesn’t wish the Second Amendment to be repealed, but he wishes to ban semi-automatic handguns, high capacity magazines and “concealed weapons of any kind.”  How exactly one could allow Second Amendment rights and yet ban the ownership of any weapon that could be concealed isn’t explained (or obvious).  Perhaps Rector wants us to return to single action pistols (that aren’t concealable – if there is such a thing), but he justifies this by denying a right to own a nuclear weapon.

The third category into which much of the rhetoric falls is illogical.  Most proponents of a ban on high capacity magazines confuse causation with correlation, and one may include the “excluded middle” in their list of problems.  If high capacity magazines weren’t so readily available, they say, crimes like this wouldn’t occur.  But this hasn’t been demonstrated, and there are other options.  The shooter could simply become skilled at rapid magazine changeout (and see here and here too).  Or perhaps since criminals don’t care about the law, they might choose to steal a high capacity magazine or obtain one on the black market.  Another option might be to become skilled at the use of tool and die equipment and fabricate their own (after all, it’s only a box with a spring).  Yet another option would be to carry two or more handguns, with rounds chambered, so that magazine changeout would be unnecessary.  The reader may be able to come up with more options.

Besides being unable to demonstrate that a ban on high capacity magazines would effect the desired outcome, it is a particularly ghoulish and creepy argument anyway to say that it’s okay for a shooter to kill ten people in a crowd (the proposed limit on magazine capacity), but greater than ten deaths is not acceptable.  The threshold is completely arbitrary and totally capricious.

One may add to the list of logical fallacies ad hominem insults and an appeal to authority (the genetic fallacy).  The leftists are especially crowing about alleged gun rights advocates supporting the proposed ban on high capacity magazines.  Vice President Dick Cheney may be open to the idea, although he doesn’t explain what he thinks it will accomplish.  And Peggy Noonan even recommends that Obama pursue the idea, while observing that the GOP likely won’t fight it in the Congress.

What civilian needs a pistol with a magazine that loads 33 bullets and allows you to kill that many people without even stopping to reload? No one but people with bad intent. Those clips  were banned once; the president should call for reimposing the ban. The Republican Party will not go to the wall to defend extended clips. The problem is the Democratic Party, which overreached after the assassinations of the 1960s, talked about banning all handguns, and suffered a lasting political setback. Now Democrats are so spooked they won’t even move forward on small and obvious things like this. The president should seize the moment and come out strong for a ban.

Of course, Noonan gives us yet another problematic argument, i.e., assuming that the Constitution is discussing needs rather than rights.  The road down which she turns is a dastardly one indeed, since Noonan may be not able to convince an empowered government that she needs an automobile for travel or a computer for writing her commentaries.

So here is a challenge – a Second Amendment challenge.  Give us an argument by which we may conclude that a ban on high capacity magazines (or semi-automatic handguns) is constitutional and will effect the desired outcome.  Do so without using hyperbolic, exaggerated language and without insults, and make it demonstrably logical in its construction.  In all of my study I have yet to run across such an argument.

Prior: Legislation on High Capacity Magazines

Legislation on High Capacity Magazines

BY Herschel Smith
13 years, 3 months ago

Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) has introduced legislation to “restore the prohibition on large capacity ammunition feeding devices in the United States.”  She intones, “Though it will remain impossible to estimate, I believe that the increased difficulty in obtaining these devices will reduce their use and ultimately save lives.”  Law abiding citizens who want to obtain the high capacity magazines through legal means will be prohibited from doing so under her new laws, and the criminals will still obtain whatever they want by any means that they want.  Representative McCarthy is a stooge.

Her legislation goes even further than the assault weapon ban that expired in 2004, outlawing the sale or transfer of clips that hold more than ten rounds, even those obtained before the law takes effect.  Proponents have argued that there is no “need” for such magazines.  Neither is there a “need” for me to eat steak, but it tastes good.  When a politician uses the phrase “there is no need” in the context of firearms, it only goes to show that they don’t yet acquiesce to the notion of rights.

But let’s play this silly game of “need” for a moment.  Could you tell Ramon Castillo in Houston, Texas, that there was no need for a high capacity magazine after having to save himself and his wife by killing three assailants?  According to the police:

Investigators said so many shots were fired inside the jewelry shop in a two- or three-minute span that they could not estimate the number of rounds. “We’ve got bullet fragments all over the place, casings all over the place, shotgun slugs all over the place, so it’s really hard to determine at this point how many rounds were actually fired – but quite a few.”

Castillo used at least three different firearms: a 9mm, .380, and a shotgun.  Or how about feral hogs?  Ask the dog boys around Abbeville and parts of Northern Georgia how threatening 400 – 500 pound feral hogs can be to children and even adults, and how, at times, dozens of rounds have to be fired to take them down.  If a 400 pound feral hog was running towards your child, do you think you might want a high capacity magazine?  Oh, and they’re in about 40 states now, and after breeding with imported and violent Eurasian boars, there are about six million of them.

In Des Moines they apparently believe that the framers never figured on a right to bear a Glock, and elsewhere the phrase killing machines has taken on an evil connotation.  In Knoxville, Jack McElroy gets his numbers wrong, talking about a 31-round clip.  I have a 30 round magazine, but you know, you have to count that one in the chamber (30 +1), if you go to the trouble of putting it there.

But none of these individuals has had to defend his life like Ramon Castillo, or had children attacked by feral hogs.  So this silly need game that we just played is a Red Herring.  Can we get back to talking about rights?

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

BY Herschel Smith
13 years, 10 months ago

When backpacking with one particular individual, I would usually get into a discussion about firearms in national parks.  “It’s against the law,” said he.  No, said I, there is no law per se.  The Congress never voted on such a stipulation, so it isn’t law.  Some lawyer working for the federal government wrote a section of the federal code that stipulated this, and it has been treated as “law” ever since.  It may be regulation, but it isn’t law, and there is a distinct difference.

The debate never ended between us, but the Congress did indeed end the national debate by voting on this issue and they reversed the regulation, allowing national park visitors to carry firearms.  This new law – and it is a law – has only been in effect for several months, and it has saved its first backpackers.

A backpacker shot and killed a grizzly bear in Denali National Park and Preserve on Friday after the animal charged toward his hiking companion. This is the first shooting incident since a change in federal law that allows firearms to be carried in many national parks and wildlife refuges went into effect in February.

This is also the first known shooting of a grizzly bear in the wilderness portion of the park by a visitor.

According to park spokeswoman Kris Fister, the backpackers were hiking in an area about 35 miles from park headquarters when they heard noise in nearby brush. The male hiker drew a .45-caliber pistol he was carrying, and when the bear emerged and charged toward his female hiking companion, he fired about nine rounds toward the grizzly.

The bear returned to the brush, at which point the hikers headed back the way they came, until meeting a park employee and reporting the incident.

Since it was unclear if the animal was killed or only wounded, the area was immediately closed to other hikers. The bear’s carcass was discovered Saturday evening by park rangers near where the shooting took place.

The names of the hikers have not been released, pending investigation into the justification of the shooting. According to the press release issued by Fister, it is legal to carry a firearm in the original Mt. McKinley portion of the park where the incident occurred, but it is not legal to discharge it.

Run that one by me again?  It’s legal to carry it since Congress reversed the stupid policy, but it isn’t legal to discharge it in self defense?  How have the lawyers taken a perfectly good law and screwed it up with additional obfuscatory regulations?

And actually, we don’t know if this is the first life saved by the new law.  There may have been many others since criminals must now assumed that at least some percentage of their prey now pack heat.  I would expect the same results in national parks we see everywhere else when people carry firearms.  Crime will drop.

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