Breaking: FPC wins California assault weapons ban lawsuit

In 2019 the Firearms Policy Coalition filed a lawsuit, Miller v. Beccera, challenging California’s oppressive “assault weapons” ban.

Good news: as of today, they won the lawsuit.

Neutral news: the judge, Roger Benitez, issued a temporary 30 day stay of his order to give the state a chance to appeal.

Bad news: the state is almost certain to appeal.

If you’re not already a member of the FPC, now would be a good time to join and support such great work. The CRPA also is a perennial thorn in the side of the antis, and does other good works: you might as well join there too.

Newsom: “What the hell is wrong with us?”

Speaking today in the wake of the mass shooting in San Jose, California governor Newsom said, in part, “What the hell is wrong with us?” and “Wake up to this reality and take a little damn responsibility, all of us.”

I agree, but not in the way he hopes.

Rather, I wonder when the citizenry and politicians will recognize that gun control isn’t a viable solution, that it isn’t working, and so will actually start thinking about things that might work to reduce violent crime.

California regularly boasts about having some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, but seems to completely neglect the fact that criminals do not follow the law and that enforcing the law is, by nature, reactive in nature. The fact that they’re barely enforcing the laws they have on the books already doesn’t help with more run-of-the-mill crime either. Forcing ordinary, law-abiding citizens to be defenseless, surprise surprise, hasn’t stopped criminals from committing crimes (according to http://www.baggss.us/, in 2014 Santa Clara county had issued 104 CCW permits out of 1,781,642 people listed as being in the county in the 2010 census, with 1,396,807 being over 18, so CCW permits are as rare as hen’s teeth. Not to mention the VTA yard being a gun-free zone.).

For decades, California and several other states have been operating under the assumption that if they pass just one more law and make an already illegal action just a little bit more illegal then that action will stop. It hasn’t worked in California, and it hasn’t worked anywhere else in the country.

I wonder when those in positions of authority will — to use Newsom’s words — wake up to that reality, realize their approach doesn’t work and has resulted in a huge number of needless deaths, take a little damn responsibility responsibility, and try something different?

Pro-tip: host everything yourself, and pay for it

Years ago when I started this blog, certain types of hosting were much more expensive than they are today, particularly if you wanted hosting that didn’t suck.

Storing and transmitting websites that were mostly text (say, a blog), for example, was relatively cheap and widely available. However, hosting a lot of pictures (such as one might embed in a post about shooty goodness with friends) was pricey: the storage itself added up, and bandwidth costs were non-negligible.

Around that time, Google was in its do-no-evil phase and was offering free photo hosting for users, with the additional benefit of free embedding in one’s blog posts and other websites. Considering I was but a college student at the time, not utilizing them for hosting would be foolish indeed. Thus, I would upload my photos to their service, PicasaWeb, and get the necessary snippet of HTML to embed a thumbnail and a link to the full-size image in my posts. Fantastic.

More than a decade on, Google has given up the do-no-evil mantra, and also stopped offering that photo hosting service, as well as their excellent photo management program, Picasa. While it appears the thumbnails of the photos still exist and are still available on my earlier posts, clicking them to see a full-sized image results in a 404 Not Found Error.

Fortunately, I still have the originals on disk and will update them at some point, but it’s definitely more of a hassle with a bunch of manual work needed. Apologies if you’re running into issues seeing images in old posts.

Lesson learned: using third-party services as a key part of one’s site is probably not the best of ideas. Doubly so if you’re not paying them — remember, if you’re paying them you’re a customer. Otherwise you’re a liability or, worse, the product being sold. Such services can be discontinued at any time.

Using a content distribution network (CDN) to make things more efficient and faster? Awesome, but always be able to turn off the CDN or switch to a different provider at any time without much hassle. Using off-site backups? Smart! But be sure the backup service is a backup of your own, locally-maintained files rather than being the sole repository.

Larry Correia on NYAG vs. NRA

Larry Correia summed up my opinion on the matter better than I could possibly have:

1. Wayne LaPierre is super corrupt, so every negative thing he is accused of is probably accurate. He was past his expiration date a decade ago.

2. There was a fight in recent years to keep the NRA to its mission and not just be the WLP slush fund, but Wayne won.

3. However, the narrative of “New York politicians try to destroy the NRA right before election” is probably going to be the biggest political fund raiser in history.

4. Because gun owners mostly don’t know who WLP is, don’t really know what the NRA does good or bad, but they are loyal to the IDEA of what the NRA does.

5. Which means that even if they dissolve the NRA, all those gun owners, their money, and gun rights activists aren’t going to suddenly vanish (sorry, libs). They’ll go to other orgs, some of which are more focused and dedicated to the mission than the NRA is. (however, some of these can/will be just as inept/corrupt).

6. Even with the WLP and Ack/Mack clown show, the NRA is still the 800 pound gorilla with the clout, reach, and contacts, so ideally WLP gets burned at the stake, the NRA cleans house, and refocuses on its actually mission.

7. If #6 doesn’t shake out, expect to see one of the current smaller orgs turn into the new NRA.

8. After a year of record gun sales to newbs thinking we are on the verge of societal collapse, with blue flu and mayors letting chaos reign, the whole “only the police should have guns” argument falls flat. Even the usual gun control parrots are remarkably silent about “assault weapons” while Black Lives Matter is carrying them. Nobody wants gun control right now, so this might actually be a good time to shake up the NRA.

9. That said, we had better get our shit together FAST, because the left’s moral compass is a wind sock, and though they hate the police and love them some AR-15s today, they’ll be happy to go back to banning guns tomorrow and bragging about how they’ll send the police to kill you if you refuse to turn them in.

10. NRA leadership can suck AND New York can be a bunch of hypocritical douches for only going after the non-profits they don’t like. These two things aren’t mutually exclusive. Just because New York consistently sucks doesn’t mean WLP is an innocent victim here.

Where have I been?

As I’ve done so many times in the past, I apologize for the vast gulfs between posts. Life, as you might suspect, has gotten in the way something fierce.

The last decade has been pretty wild: I got married in 2010, my wife and I moved to Switzerland for me to go to graduate school, we had two kids, I finished graduate school with a Masters and PhD in physics, I got a postdoc (a term-limited contract for a new PhD to do research and kick-start one’s career, sort of like a residency for newly-minted MDs) in the US so we moved to California, I worked furiously for two years doing science, and we bought a house.

Just before this whole COVID situation struck, I had the good luck of being hired on as permanent staff at the lab. This helps provide some much-needed stability in a turbulent time, and I’ve been keeping my nose to the grindstone to make a good impression and get off on the right foot with the new group. The work is exciting, challenging, and interesting, with many opportunities for growth, applicability in the real world, etc. Basically a dream job. Can’t complain at all.

With a finite amount of time in the day, I’ve been focusing on spending quality time with the family, working hard, various home-improvement projects, etc. The kids are old enough (6 and almost 4) that their worlds are getting bigger and my role as a father has expanded as well, so I’m teaching them (and they’re learning) how to take care for a house, garden, build and repair things with tools, take responsibility for their actions, interact properly with other people, etc.

Unfortunately, this has left little time for writing, shooting, and other similar pursuits. I’ll do my best, but in the interim I’m still here, still reading what others are writing, and glad to be part of the broader community.

Mixed feelings on NYAG vs. NRA

From NPR:

The attorney general of New York took action Thursday to dissolve the National Rifle Association following an 18-month investigation that found evidence the powerful gun rights group is “fraught with fraud and abuse.”

Attorney General Letitia James claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday that she found financial misconduct in the millions of dollars and that it contributed to a loss of more than $64 million over a three-year period.

The suit alleges that top NRA executives misused charitable funds for personal gain, awarded contracts to friends and family members, and provided contracts to former employees to ensure loyalty.

I have mixed feelings on this announcement.

On one hand, the announcement is brazenly political and is clearly targeted at an organization that NY doesn’t like and who has been (for better or worse) a staunch supporter of President Trump. The NRA has contributed millions of dollars across the country in support of Trump and gun rights, which no doubt really bugs those in NY. The timing of this announcement is clearly meant to kneecap the NRA and Trump leading up to the election and likely distract from various shenanigans in NY. I’m not surprised the NYAG is going after the NRA, especially this close to an election, but still find the whole thing very, very shady, particularly the threat to dissolve the NRA. I would not be shocked to find that Bloomberg, his money, and his influence in NY had something to do with this investigation and its timing.

On the other hand, the NRA has had this coming for a long, long time. There’s been a lot of rot at the top, particularly around Wayne LaPierre, that’s since spread throughout the organization. Those trying to change things from within the system have had a rough go of it, have been fired, asked to resign, etc. Things like WLP’s closeness to Brewer, and Brewer’s wanting to give AckMac the boot and handle all the NRA’s business are highly shady. From what I’ve read, the NRA’s relationship with AckMac had been problematic for a long time, and there’s been a lot of dirty laundry getting aired over the last year.

I can only hope that the NRA takes this as an opportunity to clean house, starting at the top, trim a bit of the fat, and get back to its mission of representing gun owners, supporting and lobbying for gun rights and the shooting sports, supporting ranges throughout the country, offering training and certification, and promoting safety and responsibility. This situation, while obnoxious, can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get their house in order while saving face: the NRA board could boot WLP and his cronies for the alleged fraud, waste, and abuse, thank the NYAG for uncovering such scandalous behavior, and reiterate their dedication to protecting people’s rights and doing so in a proper, above-board way. Alternatively, the NRA could take the path of portraying the NYAG as an outside enemy forcing them to take actions like getting rid of WLP and his allies, while also quietly taking actions internally to reform and prevent such future issues, and thus rally the troops. I’d prefer the former, but would accept the latter, so long as the NRA gets things sorted out.

Although I’ve been an NRA Life Member for nearly two decades, I haven’t always agreed with them (some times even mostly disagreeing with them!), to the point of telling their fundraisers they won’t see an additional contribution from me until WLP and his cronies are gone.

Still, I recognize that the NRA is a large organization that does a lot of undeniably good things, much of it stuff that doesn’t make the papers (like supporting shooting ranges, school teams, competitions, training and certification, promotion of safety, etc.).

Even in the political realm, they’re the 800lb gorilla that the actions of more diffuse, smaller gun-rights groups can’t really replace. The NRA also tends to take a lot of heat in the public eye and keep it away from smaller, more focused groups. Their state-level affiliates like the California Rifle and Pistol Association do yeoman’s work at protecting gun rights, and having the NRA’s national support backing them doesn’t hurt. Even though I don’t always agree with them, they serve a valuable and hard-to-replace role.

If the NYAG ends up dissolving the NRA, that wouldn’t get rid of gun owners and their efforts to protect their rights, but it would be a big setback with wide-ranging political implications.

Having the NRA not recognize that it has a massive opportunity to clean house and refocus would turn such a setback into a catastrophe.

Still Alive

I’m still here, though due to life happening, kids taking up lots of my time (and me loving every minute of it), and work being crazy busy, I haven’t had much time to post.

What little free time I have has been spent upright and outside (trying to rehabilitate the backyard) rather than cooped up by a computer. I’m still actively reading various gun blogs, writing to legislators, and contributing in what small ways I can with the time and resources I have. At some point I’ll get to the range.

I’m pleased to report that I’ve had several opportunities to take advantage of this useful provision of California’s oppressive ammo laws to order ammo online and have it delivered right to the house, and in each case all has gone well. My thanks to Target Sports USA (uncompensated, non-affiliate link) for playing along with California’s nonsense and continuing to do business with California residents.

At the risk of sounding somewhat sappy, having a few dozen articles and posts from gun bloggers showing up in my feed every day is incredibly pleasing and gives me a lot to read. The fact that such postings are coming from independent, usually individually-hosted (as opposed to easily-suppressed groups on social media) blogs written by people passionate about the issue and not doing so for remuneration makes me happy.

Combine an active gun blogging community, the enormous number of fellow Californians who bought huge numbers of magazines during freedom week, and a variety of freedom-loving local people posting positively on Nextdoor (which is social media for folks living within a few physical miles of each other; useful for reuniting people with lost pets, finding good local contractors, and general discussion) about gun rights, even in one of the most gun-hostile counties in California (this is Swalwell’s district), and I find myself reinvigorated, feeling of a “stranger in a strange land” as a gun owners in California, and optimistic about the future of gun rights.

In short, I’m still here, still doing my thing, will try to make an effort to write more, and very much appreciate the community of like-minded others (both locally, in the state, and elsewhere). Thanks for all you do, and thanks for reading.

 

 

Legally avoiding CA’s ammo background check law

Starting July 1st, California is requiring background checks on ammunition orders. Direct-to-buyer online sales are also banned for most people, though one can arrange to have the order sent to a local shop who’ll charge a fee for receiving it and administering the background check.

Were it just a standard background check, it’d be an annoying infringement on one’s rights, but pretty par for the course for California.

But it’s not. From the article,

The state Department of Justice, which will administer the background check program, estimates there will be 13.2 million ammunition purchases each year. But 13 million will be by people who already cleared background checks when they bought guns in California, so they are already registered in the state’s gun owners’ database.

They will pay a $1 processing fee each time they pick up bullets or shotgun shells.

[…] [O]wners of unregistered weapons will have to pay $19 for a one-time background check that can take days to complete and is good for a single purchase within 30 days. Wilcox said that should encourage owners to register their firearms.

That’s pretty sneaky: they rely on the fact that people are lazy and cheap and so are more likely to register their guns if it’s cheaper and faster for them to buy ammo if they do. Plus, the state knows how often one’s buying ammo and I’d be surprised if they weren’t analyzing those records for various purposes.

Fortunately, one can avoid this requirement by simply getting a C&R FFL and a state-issued Certificate of Eligibility (which is basically a document saying “I passed a NICS check!”) to continue to buy ammo online without needing to check in with the state for each purchase.

I highly recommend doing this.

Election Thoughts

Today, the day after the midterms, is always an interesting day to look things over.

Nationally, things went about as I expected: the Democrats took the House, while the Republicans held the Senate. The Arizona and Florida Senate races are still tight (and indeed, the Florida election is now going to a recount), but look to be leaning R. This was tighter than I wanted to see in Florida, but I’ll take it. Perhaps the Florida GOP will realize how close this was, and that not completely alienating gun owners (who may hold their nose to vote for the less-bad candidate, but won’t be excited to do it) is a bad electoral strategy. Texas was also closer than I’d like.

Still, the Republicans had a distinct advantage in the Senate this election, with the Democrats as a whole on the defensive due to the seats in play. 2020 doesn’t seem to be as favorable of an electoral map for the Republicans, so I’m a little worried about that going forward.

For the time being, it looks like federal gridlock will be the rule of the day, in terms of laws getting passed, which is pretty typical. Short of things going completely crazy, I feel reasonably confident that no federal gun control measures will make it to Trump’s desk in the next two years and with solid control of the Senate, the Republicans will continue to appoint pro-gun judges to various federal courts (and, perhaps, to the Supreme Court). I won’t even begin to speculate about what might happen after 2020.

California and New York, while never all that great for gun owners, have turned the corner (with the Democrats flipping the NY State Senate and having complete control of the legislature and executive, and with Gavin Newsom winning the CA governor’s race) and will likely turning the states even more gun-hostile than before. CA Governor Jerry Brown, while never really a pro-gun-rights guy, at least acted to temper the anti-gun forces in CA by occasionally vetoing their more outrageous proposals. Between Newsom and very anti-gun incumbent CA attorney general Xavier Beccera winning his race, that restraint is gone and I’m definitely getting a “BOHICA” feeling. Gun rights haven’t been great in CA for decades, but I suspect a lot of stuff is going to move fairly quickly in the near future. Even if the courts ultimately overturn some things (which is by no means assured), that process is slow compared to how fast they can draft new bills. This is very concerning to me.

New York also worries me: with the Democrats in complete control of the legislature and executive branch, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more gun control going forward at the state level. The most concerning thing to me is the weaponization of the bureaucracy relating to finance and insurance to pressure pro-gun groups. Again, I’m hoping the courts step in to put a kibosh on that, but I’m not holding my breath.

At the local level, the choices here in Alameda County in the San Francisco Bay Area were pretty bleak as far as gun rights were concerned. The choices were pretty much between “Standard California Democrat” vs. “Extreme California Democrat”. A race between a local incumbent Republican (who is basically a standard Democrat anywhere else in the country) and an far-left Democrat challenger ended up with the Republican winning, which surprised me. The fact that the challenger kept spamming our house with mailers talking about her anti-gun bona fides made her defeat all the more sweet for me, though not too sweet: the incumbent isn’t pro-gun by any stretch, but is slightly less anti-gun than the challenger. Her “no” votes on things like magazine confiscation without compensation being based on the “without compensation” detail, not the fact that confiscating long-grandfathered magazines is a bad thing.

Another “positive”, so to speak: Dianne Feinstein won her senate race against far-left Kevin de Leon. Feinstein is definitely anti-gun, but she’s been stuck in her Quixotic ways for decades (e.g. “Ban evil black rifles!” with little other ideas or proposals) and isn’t likely to have any major surprises. She’s also really good at bringing out the opposition when it comes to resisting gun control bills. de Leon, on the other hand, is much more aggressively anti-gun and would likely have tried pushing a lot more new and creative bills that may have garnered more support. For once, I’m glad Feinstein won. Now I need to take a shower.