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.

Thoughts on the March for Our Lives

I’ve got no problem with people gathering together to protest. That’s their right, and part of what makes America great.

To those who are marching out of a genuine interest in making schools and society a safer place, welcome to the club. I support you and your objectives as I also want to see safer schools and a safer society.

To those who are marching to support gun control, I oppose you and your objectives, as they would make people, schools, and society less safe. You are marching for laws that deprive millions of honest Americans of their rights while doing nothing to make anyone safer, and I urge you to reconsider your position.

Dammit

In the SF Bay Area there is a limited number of good rifle ranges. There’s a few commercial  indoor pistol ranges, but they tend to be a bit spendy, but the outdoor rifle ranges open to the public tend to be run  by local authorities like the county recreation department, the sheriff’s office, etc.

One of the more pleasant, well-run ranges I’ve had the pleasure of vising was the Chabot Gun Club in the East Bay. I was really looking forward to visiting it again and shooting there, particularly on their 200 yard line, which is a rarity in the area (most rifle ranges max out at 100 yards).

Unfortunately it was not to be: the local park and recreation authority decided to play stupid politics and, even after the legal intervention of the NRA and the local state affiliate, petitions from members, etc., declined to renew their lease and so the range shut down last year. The range had been there for 50+ years.

That’ Continue reading “Dammit”

Remember when?

FedEx evidently is sticking with the NRA, at least for now, in terms of offering its members discounts on shipping. That’s good, and I hope they continue to do so.

On the other hand, they released a statement that FedEx opposes the NRA’s position on “assault rifles” and that they think they should be limited to the military. (It’s worth pointing out that true assault rifles are indeed mostly limited to the military, police, licensed dealers, and those who jumped through NFA hoops to open them.)

Anyone remember when major companies tried to avoid taking sides in major political issues? Those were the days.

Frankly, I don’t think FedEx as a company should hold or mention political positions unrelated to its business of moving packages around.

So long as the contents of the packages they transport are legal and shipped in accordance with the relevant regulations, they should deliver the  without issue or comment and stay out of unrelated political issues entirely.

Attempting to de-legitimize the NRA and gun rights supporters

Although the pro-gun-rights side has numbers, a real grassroots movement, political influence, court cases, and intensity on our side (at least for now; who knows how our representatives will sell us out), the opposition has a substantial presence on social media and a willingness to use it. This has been made clear by a concerted effort to de-legitimize the NRA, supporters of gun rights, and millions of gun owners and sympathetic Americans.

As an example, various Hollywood stars are now calling for Amazon and other streaming service operators to remove the NRA TV channel or app from their services.

Why? Because they don’t like what they have to say and they are actively trying to make the NRA and its members seem to be not only less legitimate, but instead monstrous accomplices of mass murderers.

Certainly, Amazon and streaming services have the right, as private enterprises, to include or not include any channel or app with their services. It would be well within their rights to remove or de-list the NRA TV channel or app, but I argue that this is both a bad idea and extremely troubling. The content that NRA TV is producing is of interest to a wide audience (else they wouldn’t make it), is lawful, and does not harass, defame, or otherwise harm others. De-listing them would move Amazon and others from a mostly-neutral platform provider to an arbiter of content, which is something I very much doubt they wish to be.

Similarly, people have been pressuring a variety of companies (including Enterprise, Avis, Hertz, First National Bank of Omaha, etc.) to sever their longstanding partnerships with the NRA. I also find this troubling, but less so than the attempts at de-listing the NRA TV app. Again, private enterprises are free to partner (or not) with whomever they choose, but I don’t understand why they bend to the whim of a noisy group of activists who likely don’t use their product or service anyway. Perhaps they think it avoids bad PR and protests on social media? I have no idea: blogs aside, my only use of social media is sharing family photos and the like on Facebook with family and friends since I have a large extended family scattered all over the place. I studiously avoid Twitter like the plague it is.

But I digress: it appears that the initial attempts at de-legitimizing the NRA and gun owners, in that several companies have publicly de-partnered with the NRA (though it likely has little effect over all, and many partnerships like the NRA-branded credit card are likely to be replaced quickly by a more NRA-aligned proivder) has been moderately successful.

How could we, as the gun owning community, counter this? I’m open to suggestions.

Response to Feinstein’s Proposed AWB

Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) recently proposed a new “assault weapons ban” that, as expected, would do nothing to prevent crime or mass shootings. It focuses on specific guns rarely used in crime (and ignores other guns that are identical in function, if not appearance), as well as certain cosmetic features that in no way affect the lethality of those guns. Clearly, this will solve everything.

In response, I will complete an off-the-book 80% AR-15 lower receiver. You can’t stop the signal.

I’m also tempted to send a photo of it to her office along with a letter explaining why I think her proposal is foolish and unworkable, but that’s probably not worth my time.

Tactical Observations

Today’s shooting of Congressional members, staff, police officers, and others in DC (as well as the workplace shooting at a UPS center in San Francisco) prompted me to come out of my frantically-writing-my-PhD-thesis self-imposed eremitism and point out a few observations:

  1. The bad guy starts with the initiative. They choose the time, place, and manner of their attack. Thus, they hold all the cards when the shit hits the fan.
  2. Immediate armed resistance is crucial to taking the initiative away from the bad guy. The Capitol Police officers on protective detail responded immediately and in a coordinated way, were able to suppress the shooter, draw his attention toward them (and away from unarmed, defenseless people), and hold his attention until they were able to neutralize the threat. (“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”)
  3. Being skilled in martial arts or having short-range weapons (e.g. baseball bats) are not bad things in and of themselves, but are essentially useless when the bad guy is armed and out of your immediate reach.
  4. Being unarmed in a gunfight means you lose. You may make it out alive, but that’s a matter of luck.
  5. There’s only two types of people guaranteed to be present at a crime: the perpetrator(s) and the victim(s). Even for an extremely high-priority emergency (bad guy shooting members of Congress in broad daylight, in a public place in the DC metro area), the police are still minutes away. You need to be able to provide for yourself as best you can until they show up and, even then, they need time to evaluate the situation and act.
  6. Cover and concealment are not always available. Still, be constantly aware of where cover and concealment are, and how you can get there from where you are if the need arises.
  7. Hits from a rifle are not always lethal or incapacitating. (I’m curious if the shooter used FMJ ammo. CNN says he had an SKS, but we’ll see if that’s actually the case in the fullness of time.)
  8. Although most shootings involve only a handful of shots, not all are so lucky. You don’t need to be Rambo, but having a spare mag or two won’t hurt.
  9. A gunfight is not likely to be a stand-up, bad-guy-at-7-meters, in-open-view, with-good-lighting type of affair. Train accordingly.
  10. You or others around you may be injured in the course of a gunfight. Train accordingly (e.g. off-hand shooting, shooting while immobilized, etc.) and ensure you’re equipped and trained to effectively provide first aid.
  11. Having good training and good coordination with others (e.g. a partner, family members, etc.) is crucial.
  12. Having a gun is not a magical talisman that will protect you from being shot.
  13. Gun-free zones aren’t. Every UPS facility I’ve visited requires visitors and employees to go through metal detectors and remove anything from their pockets whenever they enter or leave the facility. This didn’t stop the bad guy and didn’t help the victims.
  14. Gun control groups are ghouls.

Numbers

The Women’s March on Washington claim that “over 1 million [people] in Washington” and “over 5 million [people] worldwide” marched the other day. Very cool. I’m happy to see people peacefully exercising their rights and making their voices heard.

Assuming their numbers are accurate, and I have no particular reason to doubt them, I find it interesting how these marchers are — according to both themselves and the media — are part of some mass movement that should influence public policy and to which politicians and other people of influence should particularly listen.

Yet, the NRA with its 5+ million members (not to mention other groups, like the GOA, SAF, etc. with hundreds of thousands of members) is a fringe group of cousin-humping rednecks that should be mocked, denigrated, and ignored by those in positions of authority.

Funny how numbers mean different things.

Election 2016

Well, that was interesting. I, for one, was not expecting that result.

The Republicans had been on the defensive for much of the Obama presidency, often (and usually correctly) used as scapegoats for various gridlock and other problems, and so I was expecting Trump to lose the race for the presidency and his loss to affect the down-ballot results as well. Specifically, I expected the GOP to keep the House (barely) and lose the Senate due to Trump’s antics and the fact that the Republicans were playing defense this time around.

I was feeling very uncomfortable about the future of the Supreme Court, and was thinking that maybe, perhaps, the Senate Republicans should consider confirming Judge Garland to the Supreme Court to cut our losses and prevent Clinton from (immediately) nominating a more extreme candidate.

My fears were reasonable: all the polls, all the analyses, even predictions with solid models and non-delusional (looking at you, Huffington Post, with your 343-215 prediction in Clinton’s favor) thinking from groups like FiveThirtyEight (302-235, for Clinton) all predicted an almost-certain Clinton win and the Dems being likely to pick up the Senate and maybe flip the House. I could only base my fears on what seemed to be solid, time-tested analyses and projections.

I was wrong. Mea culpa.

Instead, the Republicans swept the presidency, the Senate (barely), and the House. Wow.

The only asterisk on this sweep was Trump losing the popular vote by ~0.2%, which a lot of protestors and others have latched onto. Meh. It happens sometimes and it’s no fun for the losing side, but that’s the system for you.

Anyway, I expected the gun-control groups to all be highly energized by the (assumed) Clinton win and do their damnedest to push their agenda. Frighteningly enough, anti-rights folks would have had a pretty good shot with Clinton at the helm, a D-controlled Senate, and at least one Supreme Court nomination.

While I’m not a Republican, not a fan of Trump, and don’t support many of his policies, insofar as gun rights go I’m pleased that he and the Republicans won big. At the very least, the 5-4 balance in the Supreme Court will be restored and Heller should be reasonably safe for the foreseeable future. If other justices leave the court and are replaced during the Trump administration, gun rights should be even more solid at the Supreme Court level.

Now, let’s see what the Republicans can do while they hold the House, Senate, and Presidency. Trump promised to undo the Obama executive orders on guns. Will he? I hope so. Will the Hearing Protection Act remove suppressors from the NFA? During a Clinton presidency, no way in hell. During the Trump presidency, assuming the Republicans get their collective heads out of their collective asses, quite possibly (and that’s amazing).

Trump and the Republicans pulled off a hell of a long shot with their victory this year, so forgive me for indulging in a bit of fantasy, but I’d love to see them pass national CCW reciprocity and repeal the Hughes Amendment. I have some hope for the former but very little for the latter. However, I was surprised by the election, so I’m willing to entertain them both as possible medium and long shots.

So long as Trump doesn’t make a total ass out of himself (at least try, man) and the Republicans don’t do something completely outrageous and alienating to a lot of moderates like trying to ban abortion or gay marriage in some spasm of political delirium, I have high hopes for them keeping the legislature in the next mid-term election and possibly the presidency in 2020. We shall see.

Nobody wants to take for your guns…

…until someone does something bad, they they drop the pretense and start talking about “banning weapons of war”, confiscating them, and instituting more gun control policies that wouldn’t do a thing to prevent criminals from getting or using guns.

So, yeah. They do want to take your guns. Quelle surprise.

Maybe they don’t plan on coming to your house and directly taking them from you now, but they’re willing to play the long game and plan on taking them eventually (particularly with the no-grandfather clauses that don’t let you pass your guns on when you die or the no-sale clauses that prohibit you from selling or transferring your guns to others).