Category Archives: Gun Control

Pet Issues

Everyone has their own pet political issues that they’re particularly passionate about. My political interests, like my hobbies, are many and varied, but two particularly stand out as critical in my mind:

  • Gun rights.
  • Strong cryptography.

Indeed, crypto rights are something I’ve been passionate about since before I got involved with guns. Those two issues are those that I will not ever agree to compromise on, since I believe both to be fundamental to liberty.

Both topics make great litmus tests to determine how a government regards its citizenry: a government that respects its citizens and treats them as reasonable, honest adults will trust them to be responsible with potentially-dangerous items like firearms and with private (and potentially-dangerous) communications and thoughts that it cannot monitor.

A government that doesn’t, wont.

Without privacy and the ability to defend oneself from threats, how can any individual or civilization survive?

What about you? What issues do you think are critical? Why?

 

LA Times: “Should people on the no-fly list be able to buy guns? Yes.”

The LA Times surprised me by breaking with the President and saying that yes, people listed on the no-fly list shouldn’t have their rights infringed without due process. I’m sure the President, Senators Feinstein and Schumer, and the various gun-control groups aren’t super thrilled.
Full article here.
This paragraph sums up the whole article:

One problem is that the people on the no-fly list (as well as the broader terror watch list from which it is drawn) have not been convicted of doing anything wrong. They are merely suspected of having terror connections. And the United States doesn’t generally punish or penalize people unless and until they have been charged and convicted of a crime. In this case, the government would be infringing on a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution ? and yes, like it or not, the right to buy a gun is a constitutional right according to the U.S. Supreme Court.

They even point out that the majority of people on the list are foreigners who are already prohibited from buying guns legally in the US:

Of those, the vast majority [of people on the list] are noncitizens living overseas; the number of American citizens on the list is believed to be fewer than 10,000 people.
That’s important because federal law already bars gun sales to most people who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents or holders of valid visas, which means the vast majority of the people on the suspected terror list would already be barred from buying a firearm in the U.S. even without Feinstein’s law. That leaves us with about 10,000 American citizens (and some legal residents) who, under the proposed law, would be barred from exercising a constitutional right. That gives us pause.

Of course, just because the LA Times supports due process doesn’t mean they support gun rights. It’s wise to keep?Maxim 29 of the Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries?in mind: “The enemy of my enemy is my enemy’s enemy. No more. No less.”
Supporting gun rights is?a bridge to far for the LA Times, and they still strongly support stuff like bans on popular firearms and other measures. Still, they recognize that, like it or not, people have a right to own guns and so long as that right exists the government shouldn’t infringe on it:

Truthfully, no one should be allowed to buy assault rifles or other military-style firearms, and the country would be better off with much stronger gun control laws for other firearms than exist now. What’s more, this page disagrees with the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling that the 2nd Amendment guarantees an individual the right to own a gun. But that is a recognized right, and we find it dangerous ground to let the government restrict the exercise of a right based on mere suspicion.
[…]
Ending gun violence is critically important, but so is protecting basic civil liberties. Although we agree to the ends here, we object to the means.

Still, it’s better than?sycophantically supporting gun control no matter what, so I’ll take it.

New York Times: “We want to take your guns away.”

It is past time to stop talking about halting the spread of firearms, and instead to reduce their number drastically ? eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition.
[…]
Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.

– “The Gun Epidemic“, December 5th 2015 Editorial, New York Times
Hey, look at that. They?do want to take your guns (and ammo!) away.
Of course, we knew that all along, but it’s nice for them to finally come out and say it.

“We need more gun control! It’ll totally work this time!”

In the wake of the San Bernadino shooting I have several long-time friends on the Book of Face calling for more gun control as a means of stopping such tragedies.
One person proposed “common-sense” things like “banning assault weapons, closing the gun-show loophole, universal background checks, restricting magazine capacity, waiting periods, training requirements, safe storage laws, actively taking guns away from people no longer eligible to own them, licensing, registration” and so on. They failed to realize that every single one of those things is already the law in California and did nothing to prevent the bad guys from carrying out their terrible crime.
Another went so far as to say that the country should ban bullets, since banning guns is legally off the table. <sarcasm>Right, because that’ll totally work, no court would ever have a problem with that, there’d be no incentive for criminals to illicitly produce or import cartridges using the same methods?used for human or drug smuggling, and nobody can possibly make bullets, powder, and primers from scratch.</sarcasm>
*sighs*

Whaddya know, they *do* want to take your guns away.

The anti-gun-rights side is getting desperate at their near-complete inability to restrict our rights at the federal level, with only slightly more success at the state level. We have the Brady Campaign calling the NRA “terrorists” and we have?Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo coming clean with something that pro-gun folks have known for a while: they actually do want to take our guns. He even says as much in an earlier article: “Yes, we really do want to take your guns. Maybe not all of them. But a lot of them.”

As long as it seemed possible to pass regulations limiting the most egregious abuses of gun ownership, there was some political logic to accepting the gun culture basically on its own terms and advocating for specific fixes. These include limitations on weapons designed for or less exclusively mass violence, basic background checks on gun purchases, perhaps waiting periods for purchasing a firearm, etc.
Getting those sorts of limited, incremental restrictions passed would certainly be harder if gun advocates knew that the gun control supporters actually wanted or were building toward more dramatic efforts to take guns out of circulation, require licensing – in other words, to fundamentally change the nature of gun ownership in the country.

(Bold added by me. -AZR)
Sorry, Josh, we’ve known that was endgame for you and others who feel the same as you?for decades. It hasn’t fooled anyone, no matter how many times the Brady Campaign or Bloomberg’s groups change their names.

It’s now clear that even the most innocuous restrictions on guns – simply requiring real background checks, restrictions on big magazines which let you snuff out more people before someone at your school massacre tackles you – are not even up for discussion or any good faith bargaining. No restrictions are allowed. Period. This present reality has to be accepted and understood.

Glad to see he recognizes that our?rights aren’t up for discussion or bargaining away. Sorry, you get nothing, nor should you.

I’m under no illusion that there’s any political will at the moment to dramatically reform private gun ownership in the country. But precisely because no reforms are possible today it makes perfect sense to flesh out the alternative – not minor restrictions on the margins but a society which has dramatically fewer guns, where private ownership was limited and regulated like how you would in a civilized society and one in which we took seriously limiting the needless deaths and suffering guns cause today.

You want to take my guns away.
I won’t give them up.
Your move.

Question of the day: Can the Swiss keep ammo at home?

A common meme going around the gun control circles these days is that, though the Swiss have lots of guns, they’re not allowed to keep ammunition at home, and that ammo is only available at authorized shooting ranges. The implication being that if the US restricted ammo in the same way, it’d be just as safe as Switzerland.
This claim is false, but there’s some subtleties involved that cause confusion. Hopefully I can clear things up a bit.

  • Up until 2012 the Swiss military required that soldiers (which is nearly all military-age men, due to their mandatory service) keep their military-issued rifle and a sealed box of military-issued ammo at home. This was intended to be used in case of invasion, so that soldiers could fight their way to a local armory to get more ammo, equipment, etc. In 2012, in light of the political and military stability in Europe, the military stopped issuing ammo for soldiers to keep at home and recalled the ammo that was previously issued.
  • The Swiss government encourages marksmanship by subsidizing ammunition sold at shooting ranges, even if that ammo is not used in the military-issued rifle. Subsidized ammo is intended only for training purposes, and it must be used at the range and cannot be taken home.
  • Similarly to the US, sporting goods stores and gun shops sell unsubsidized commercial ammo to gun owners for their own use. This ammo can be kept at home and used for any lawful purpose, such as self-defense, recreational or competitive shooting, hunting, etc.

Clear? Good. Now stop perpetuating falsehoods.

Social media roundup, part 2

Back in late 2013 I checked how popular various pro- and anti-gun groups were on Facebook at Twitter. I figured I’d repeat the analysis to see how things have changed in the intervening years. Newly-added groups or individuals are bolded.
Gun Rights Groups:

  • National Rifle Association (Facebook): 4,360,790 (2013: 2,748,839) +58.64%
  • National Rifle Association (Twitter): 294,000 (2013: 191,692) +53.37%
  • Gun Owners of America (Facebook): 1,107,856 (2013: 276,867) +300.14%
  • Gun Owners of America (Twitter): 68,300 (2013: 22,786) +199.75%
  • Second Amendment Foundation (Facebook): 378,722 (2013: 119,810) +216.1%
  • Second Amendment Foundation (Twitter): 11,200 (2013: 4,962) +125.72%
  • National Association for Gun Rights (Facebook): 4,274,248
  • National Association for Gun Rights (Twitter): 7,424
  • Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (Facebook): 205,747
  • Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (Twitter): 1,442

Gun Industry:

  • National Shooting Sports Foundation (Facebook): 348,490 (2013: 157,718) +120.96%
  • National Shooting Sports Foundation (Twitter): 41,800 (2013: 21,104) +98.07%
  • SHOT Show ? run by NNSF (Facebook): 96,866 (2013: 44,573) +117.32%
  • SHOT Show ? run by NSSF (Twitter): 51,400 (2013: 23,649) +117.35%
  • Glock, Inc. (Facebook): 1,475,378 (2013: 614,185) +140.22%
  • Glock, Inc. (Twitter): 158,000 (2013: 63,336) +149.46%
  • Smith & Wesson (Facebook): 1,184,344 (2013: 680,937) +73.93%
  • Smitth & Wesson: (Twitter): 140,000 (2013: 54,447) +157.13%
  • Sturm, Ruger & Company (Facebook) 493,549 (2013: 345,734) +42.75%
  • Sturm, Ruger & Company (Twitter): N/A (Ruger appears to have no Twitter presence anymore.) (2013: 18,310)

Gun Control Groups:

  • Americans for Responsible Solutions (Facebook): 177,283 (2013: 89,414) +98.27%
  • Americans for Responsible Solutions (Twitter): 1,671 (2013: 210,708) -99.21%
  • Mayors Against Illegal Guns (Facebook): N/A (MAIG no longer has a Facebook account.) (2013: 19,271)
  • Demand Action ? MAIG on Twitter (Twitter): N/A (MAIG no longer has a Twitter account.) (2013: 26,860)
  • Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America (Facebook): 442,548 (2013: 122,938) +259.98%
  • Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America (Twitter): 36,500 (2013: 12,254) +197.86%
  • Brady Campaign (Facebook): 112,893 (2013: 58,650) +92.49%
  • Brady Campaign (Twitter): 25,600 (2013: 17,170) +49.1%
  • Violence Policy Center (Facebook): 58,268 (2013: 20,571) +183.25%
  • Violence Policy Center (Twitter): 3,926 (2013: 1,934) +103%
  • CSGV (Facebook): 198,066 (2013: 46,314) +327.66%
  • CSGV (Twitter): 13,800 (2013: 9,575) +44.13%
  • Shannon Watts (Facebook): 1,166
  • Shannon Watts (Twitter): 11,800
  • Everytown for Gun Safety (Facebook): 905,324 (Everytown didn’t exist in 2013, but was formed from MAIG.) +636.41%
  • Everytown for Gun Safety (Twitter): 56,500

What can we learn from these numbers?
Compared to the 2013 stats, all entries on the list except Ruger (who discontinued their Twitter account) and ARS (who lost essentially all of their Twitter readers, for whatever reason) had significant growth.
The NRA alone has more than 2.3x the number of Facebook followers of all the gun control groups combined. The National Association for Gun Rights is nipping at the heels of the NRA, with 98% of the number of followers. The GOA has only 58% the followers of all the gun control groups combined, though they dominate all the gun control groups except Bloomberg-funded Everytown.
The Brady Campaign (5.9% of gun control followers) and VPC (3.1%) are more or less rounding errors, with ARS (9.3%) and CSGV (10%) being only slight better.
Everytown alone has 47% of the total number of gun control followers. Everytown + MDA make up 71% of the total number of gun control followers, though the GOA + SAF have 10% more followers than Everytown + MDA. Glock alone has 9.5% more followers than Everytown + MDA.
Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a Colorado no-compromise gun rights group, has more Facebook followers than any gun control group except Everytown and MDA.
Recently I’ve seen gun control advocates suggest that they have enough people on their side to join the NRA en masse, outnumber the gun owning members, and either dismantle the organization or vote in NRA elections to change the group’s position on issues. Although absurd on its face, the proposal is even more laughable when you consider that the grand total of people who’ve clicked “Like” to *any* of the gun control groups on Facebook is less than half the number of people who’ve done so for the NRA even though clicking “Like” involves no expense or effort. Actually joining the NRA requires the expenditure of actual money for 5 years to get voting privileges, something essentially none of the gun control advocates are willing to do.
Every single one of the gun-rights groups is a membership organization funded by dues-paying ordinary people. None of the gun-control groups have dues-paying members, and while some individuals and groups donate money to the groups, the vast majority of the funding for Everydown and MDA (the only groups that matter) comes from Bloomberg and other wealthy elites.
Gun control groups are basically paper tigers, though backed by Bloomberg’s billions, at least two of those tigers have a bit of a bite. We should be wary.

Looking at Hillary Clinton’s gun control proposals

Hillary Clinton just released her proposed ideas for gun control that, if elected, she says she will implement. As expected, they’re nearly all politically-motivated non-starters. Also, she cites Everytown as an authoritative source and blames the NRA for a host of problems.
Evidently she thinks it’s 1993 and she has a chance at passing them. Let’s take a look at what she supports:

  • “Fight for comprehensive background checks” — this is the standard “universal background check” claptrap with some interesting additions: she’d remove the “default proceed” from NICS (“Sorry, NICS has been downsized. We’ll get to your request in a few months.”) and take unilateral, executive action to declare that anyone selling a “significant” (but unspecified) number of guns be declared “in the business” of selling firearms, and thus required to get an FFL. Personally, the current standard of being “in the business” is a bit nebulous so it’d be good to get a more concrete definition, but I don’t trust Clinton to set that standard.
    Also interesting: she seems to be abandoning the widely-debunked “40% of gun sales are made without background checks” claim and is now saying “20-40%”.
  • “Hold dealers and manufacturers fully accountable if they endanger Americans” — again, fairly standard gun-control stuff: repeal the Protection in Lawful Commerce in Arms act (thus exposing law-abiding gun and ammo manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to nuisance lawsuits intended to bankrupt them) and crack down on “bad apple” gun dealers.
    Don’t get me wrong, shady dealers supplying criminals deserve to get penalized and shut down, but she claims that 38% of dealers inspected in 2011 were non-compliant with federal law. If true, this is almost certainly because of various minor paperwork errors (someone writing “Y” instead of “Yes”, for example), not serious criminal violations.
    It seems Hillary’s administration, if elected, would be as hostile to FFLs or more than her husbands administration.
  • “Keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, other violent criminals, and the severely mentally ill” — More standard stuff, some of it reasonable. She supports adding people convicted of stalking or domestic abuse to the list of prohibited persons, which seems sensible: current law doesn’t apply to people who abuse someone with whom they have a dating relationship (as opposed to a marriage). I can’t really argue with changing the law to cover people convicted of domestic abuse, regardless of who they abuse.
    However, she loses me by saying straw purchasing is only a “paperwork violation” rather than a proper federal crime, which she thinks should be changed. I’m not aware of any other paperwork violations that carry the threat of 10 years in jail and a quarter-million dollar fine.
    She’s a bit vague when she says she wants to “[i]mprove existing law prohibiting persons suffering from severe mental illness from purchasing or possessing a gun”, so I can’t really comment. People whose mental illness means they pose a danger to themselves or others shouldn’t possess firearms, but I strongly feel that nobody should lose their rights without getting their “day in court” (emergency commitments excepted), so this vagueness is worrisome.
    Lastly, she claims that “military-style assault weapons do not belong on our streets”, and that they are a “danger to law-enforcement and our communities”. She says she “supports keeping assault weapons off our streets”. I agree with her last sentence: no weapon should be left on the street. They should be kept in a good home, preferably in a good safe, and used for lawful, safe enjoyment, protection of the innocent, sport, etc. I’m happy to take in any homeless guns. More seriously, she doesn’t explain why the country’s most popular legally-owned firearms — some of the most rarely-used-in-crime guns, to the point where the FBI doesn’t even have a separate category for them in their annual crime reports — are so dangerous compared to other, unspecified firearms, nor does she offer any justification as to why they should be restricted.

In short, it’s Bloomberg’s wishlist, plus a little more. Someone needs to tell her than 1994 isn’t coming back.

Liability in gun-free zones?

The recent shooting in Oregon got me thinking about liability and gun-free zones.
Our opponents have proposed limiting gun ownership by mandating gun-owners carry liability insurance1.
Why don’t we, the gun-owning community, turn that around and use it to our advantage? For example, a place that’s open to the public (e.g. a university, stadium, shopping mall, theater, government building, etc.) should be partially liable for violent crimes committed on their property unless they have a “secure environment” in which all people are screened for weapons, security is provided, and unauthorized access is prohibited. Simply putting up a sign and calling it a day would no longer be sufficient.
Think of courthouses and airports: they ban guns, but have screening procedures to ensure that unauthorized people are not armed within the property, and police are readily available in case of any incident.
Can’t afford to provide screening and actual secure environments but still want to disarm law-abiding people? Then you should bear some responsibility in the event that people are victimized on your property. Don’t want to do that either? Easy: let people have the means of protecting themselves.
Naturally, private locations (e.g. homes, private businesses not serving walk-in customers, etc.) would not have such requirements.
Thoughts?

  1. Somehow they ignore existing renters/homeowners policies that cover accidental injury or death, including those involving guns, and which are typically quite affordable, and think that “gun insurance” would be prohibitively expensive. []