California gun control update: mixed Results, overall not bad

The LA Times reports on CA Gov. Brown’s recent decisions on gun control bills.
In brief,

  • The AWB expansion that would ban all semi-auto rifles with detachable mags was vetoed. From the Times:

    The ban on rifles with detachable magazines goes too far, he said in a veto message, because it would outlaw the sale of guns used by hunters and marksmen.
    ?I don?t believe that this bill?s blanket ban on semiautomatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement on gun owners? rights,? Brown said.

  • Lead ammo will be illegal for hunting starting in July 2019, giving hunters and manufacturers time to switch to non-lead ammo for hunting purposes. (My understanding is that the restriction only applies to hunting, not shooting at ranges.)
  • Gun ownership will be prohibited to people who make serious threats to psychoanalysis.
  • The state’s “handgun safety certificate” (answer 10 questions at the gun shop and they give you a card good for 5 years that says you can buy handguns) will now also be required for long guns.

The NRA-ILA has more details here. They have links to the governor’s veto statements, which make for interesting reading.
In short: the results are somewhat mixed, but they could have turned out a lot worse. Considering this is California, I’m generally pleased with the results — there were a few things, like the safety certificate, which are effectively minor infringements on our rights but no more so than the NICS check that also takes place at a dealer (the 10-day waiting period in California is much more onerous), but the obnoxious, major infringements were stopped and the governor put, in writing, that the ban on semi-auto rifles would infringe on people’s rights.
That’s pretty good.

NBC: Does anyone care about gun control? (Answer: No, not really.)

NBC has a rather motivating article about how, despite the best efforts of the gun control crowd, pretty much nobody cares about the subject.
The pro-gun-rights side has raised more money, gained more members (Gifford’s ARS gained about half a million new members post-Newtown, while the NRA gained twice that and now has over 5 million members), and has more of a presence in government (a 9-1 spending advantage in Washington). The NRA alone has over 3x the number of members of “The Big Three” gun control groups combined: ARS, The Brady Campaign, and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Amusingly enough, NBC says that the post-Newtown push for gun control doubled the membership in the Brady Campaign and MAIG — this only goes to show how small those groups actually are and how little grassroots support they have.
NBC talks about this situation and its historical precedence:

Such lopsided growth mirrors what happened after the Columbine massacre. The Senate failed to pass a bill requiring universal background checks, among other popular reforms, and the gun control movement was swallowed by a wave of gun rights activism. It spent the next decade in the wilderness, starved of funding and support as the NRA won victory after victory.
This time?after the failure of a similar background check bill in April, and the recall of two pro-reform politicians in Colorado last month?the mission has narrowed to a single overarching goal: maintain the momentum. ?It?s like a sugar rush,? says Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign, of the cycle of public concern after a major shooting. ?It seems like we have intensity?there?s sympathy, there?s outrage?but that intensity proves to be transitory.?

Later, Mr. Gross attempts to explain the lack of intensity thusly, “Common sense is not an intense emotion.” Of course, he assumes that his proposals are “common sense” and would actually do something to reduce violent crime, stop deranged madmen, and somehow preserve the rights of law-abiding people (though there’s no real evidence that he supports those rights).
Clearly, not many people agree with him.
NBC points out this lack of grassroots support for the anti-gun-rights side when they say,

But this seemingly unbeatable political coalition?three deep-pocketed groups, allied with a sitting president, seemingly aligned with a huge majority of Americans?enters the fall on a low ebb that seemed unimaginable just a few months ago. ?It?s not important enough, sadly,? says Johnathan Abbinett, 60, a founding member of the Nevada chapter of Americans for Responsible [S]olutions. His chapter colleague Christian Gerlach, 26, isn?t even sure the chapter exists any more. ?I only went to that first meeting,? he says, before changing the subject.

Both ARS and MAIG ran extensive nationwide tours over the summer: ARS visited 7 states, while MAIG went to 25 states in 100 days. The results were somewhat disappointing for the anti-gun people:

But the results of both tours were mixed at best. In state after state, major politicians ducked Giffords and Kelly, despite (or perhaps because of) ample advance notice of their arrival.? In Alaska, Mark Begich, one of four Democrats who voted against closing the gun show loophole, was said to be vacationing on an island without cell service when the tour arrived. In North Dakota, ?friends in the NRA? forced a last minute venue change, according to a Team Giffords advance man, who himself declined to be named for fear of mixing with gun-grabbers from Washington. And when members of MAIG arrived in Fargo, the mayor told them that guns were not a problem.
The grassroots side of the campaign struggled as well. At a MAIG event in Columbus, Ohio, the Buckeye Firearms Association organized a counter rally that drew twice the crowd.? In Raleigh, N.C., when Giffords passed through, a gun blogger turned out two-dozen people shaking green signs that read: Guns Save Lives. But perhaps the most dramatic scenes were in Manchester and Dover, N.H., where protesters arrived ?full battle rattle,? as one man noted on a Facebook page for the counter-protest, toting guns?including an AR-15?and forcing Giffords out a back exit after her speech. The same week, Mayors Against Illegal Guns made its own campaign stop in the state, where police subdued one pro-gun activist with a taser and dispersed the crowd.

With the exception of the pro-gun activist being disruptive and getting tased, that sounds like a bunch of pretty solid wins for our side. I’m not familiar with the details of the “full battle rattle” folks in Dover, but I’m not so keen on firearms being openly displayed for political purposes at such events (concealed, yes, openly used for political purposes, no). Still, overall things sounded pretty good for our side.
NBC shows an interesting bit of insight with this bit,

To make the world safer, the gun control lobby wants fewer guns in the hands of bad guys. The pro-gun side supports the same goal. But it also wants more guns in the hands of the good guys, believing that a bullet is the best way to stop the next unfolding national tragedy. ?Both sides think the other is crazy and dangerous, but only the pro-gun side seems to have supporters who are passionate enough to focus on almost nothing else.

They’re right — the pro-gun side does want fewer guns in the hands of bad guys (our objectives should be the same, though our methods of accomplishing those objectives differ) — but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the pro-gun-rights side “focus[es] on almost nothing else”, rather that we’re more personally invested.
Why? Owning a gun is not something to be taken lightly, and gun owners are often fairly active with the shooting sports, competitions, hunting, training, etc. We’ll meet up with friends at the range, go to the SHOT Show, show off our groupings online, setup individual blogs not sponsored by some larger organization, discuss gear, techniques, or events, shop for parts and accessories, and so on. For many, owning a gun is part of their lifestyle and they’ll vehemently defend against potential infringements. Although pro-gun-rights people come from different walks of life, different cultural backgrounds, live in different places, have different political views, etc., we share a common, unifying thing that helps bind the community together and helps us overcome our differences.
The anti-gun-rights people don’t really have that same level of involvement in the issue — it’s hard to drum up passion for something that’s not an active part of their lifestyle, involving an item that they don’t own and often have little experience with, and which doesn’t really involve the type of social activities that bring them together.
Although anti-gun-rights people often blame the “NRA” or the shady “gun lobby” for their failures, and to some extent they’re right, I think the real reason we keep winning is because we actually have a large, diverse, and passionate grassroots that they lack. It’s fantastic to see ad hoc, unorganized, unfunded gatherings of pro-gun-rights people bring out double the number of anti-gun-rights people attending scheduled, announced events like those that ARS and MAIG arranged.
Still, we need to keep in mind that while anti-gun-rights people are our opponents in the political realm, they’re still Americans and still people who, while we may disagree with them, still deserve civility and respect. Mockery and hostility is always counterproductive. Many have no connection with or understanding of the gun culture and those involved with it. Some have personal connections with gun-related tragedies that motivate them. We should strive to understand and accept their reasons, positions, and motivations, and to work with those who are willing toward meaningful solutions that reduce violent crime, protect people and their rights, and generally improve the lives of everyone. After all, we all want to live in a world without violent crime.
NBC closes the article as follows,

Even before Washington shutdown, the Big Three had almost no hard events on the calendar for October, and sparse calls to action compared to earlier in the year. Each organization will mark the Newtown anniversary in December, but how, exactly, they aren?t ready to say. And a similar sense of hiatus pervades activists on the front lines. None of those contacted were willing to rank gun control as their top concern, or even something they were still working on, not with marriage equality, immigration reform, health care, and poverty crowding the mind.
If there were another vote in Congress, [Beverly] Moffet [a retired judge in Columbus, Ohio, and a supporter of Americans for Responsible Solutions] added, ?I think people would turn out for it.?
Until then, however, she doesn?t see the point.

Excellent. We need to keep the pressure on, both in Washington, in the state legislatures, and in the public eye: gun control isn’t the solution and, while we oppose infringements on our rights, we still want to reduce violent crime and will work for realistic, practical improvements that will make a difference and preserve people’s rights.
If we can keep up the pressure, continue to present a good public image (*looks pointedly at people pushing rifle open carry*), bring new shooters into the fold, vote, contact and work with the legislature, move some key cases through the courts, and not put our feet in our collective mouths, I think we can make some good improvements for our cause like national CCW reciprocity, overturning various onerous laws like state-level AWBs, registration, licensing, etc., getting more states switching to a shall-issue CCW model, and so on.
We’re in a great position now and have a lot of advantages. Let’s try not to screw this one up.

Ammoman’s open list gets spammed, subscribers lose their minds

Ammoman?uses a Yahoo Groups mailing list to announce the availability of various products, specials, etc.
Evidently the list manager failed to configure the list to be “announce only” for authorized senders. Instead, it was setup to be an unmoderated discussion list. This misconfiguration wasn’t noticed up until today when a spammer randomly decided to send a spam message to the list.
Evidently this caused the entire list to lose its mind, with hundreds of people replying to the list, first to inquire about the spam, then to wonder why they were getting copies of messages from others inquiring about the spam, followed immediately by people trolling the list, followed by hundreds more sending “UNSUBSCRIBE” or “REMOVE ME” messages to the list (even though that merely sends that message to everyone and doesn’t unsubscribe one from the list — the list itself has very clear unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of every message but people can’t be assed to read it). All of this helps contribute to the chaos and amplifies the list traffic dramatically. (Fortunately, a simple filter redirects all the crazy list messages into the trash folder — in a day or two I’ll remove the filter so I can get the regular notifications from Ammoman.)
Also, some people evidently blame the government and, specifically, Obama for this incident.
It disturbs me that people too stupid to figure out how to unsubscribe from a mailing list or setup a filter and who blame the government for a relatively minor technical cock-up walk among us every day. (Again, The Onion is prophetic.)

HLF offering “USGOV shutdown” deals on 80% lowers

I just got an update that HLF Manufacturing is offering some special deals on 80% complete AR-15 lower receivers (no FFL required, you just need to do some relatively easy machining work to complete the remaining 20%, thus making your own AR lower) for as long as the federal government remains shut down.
Due to supply concerns they increased their prices over the last few months (even then, things sold out in hours) but their “special” prices for this sale are the same as their pre-increase price of $75 for a bare aluminum 80% lower and $84 for the anodized aluminum 80% lower.
Their website is here. If you buy the necessary jig from CNC GUNS and tell CNC GUNS that you’re going to order an 80% lower from HLF, HLF will give you a $25 discount on a single, bare aluminum 80% lower (see here).
If you’re interested in making your own AR-15, this is a pretty good deal.
(Full disclosure: I have placed an order with HLF, but otherwise have no relationship or affiliation with HLF, CNC, or any other company. This is a completely unsolicited post and I get no benefit from mentioning it.)

Thoughts on rifle open carry

not_wrong_asshole
Yes, in many places you have the right to carry a rifle wherever you go. Outside of certain narrowly-defined situations, however, such behavior is unexpected, unsettling, and often counterproductive (even in places that are friendly to handgun open carry).
As Sebastian says, openly carrying rifles to “educate” people “[brings] both parties together to support gun control. That was quite an education! We have enough trouble to deal with on a regular basis without having to worry we?ll need to turn people out to fight a gun ban that didn?t need to happen.”
Seriously guys, knock it off.
Before you go start open carrying long guns in public, you might want to read and understand this: open carry as a means of working toward a specific goal (e.g. VA used to allow only handgun OC in restaurants but not CC. People started OCing in restaurants to highlight the silliness of that law. VA eventually changed the law to allow CC.) is one thing, but open carry — particularly of long guns — just for the hell of it, or to “educate” people in general is a different thing entirely.

Exactly.

The folks spraying our cities with bullets are not NRA members or legal gun owners. And despite the tendency to tie it all together, they have nothing to do with the Adam Lanzas of the world.
[…]
This is why gun-control advocates need to abandon the routine of using mass shootings to turn law-abiding citizens into social pariahs and instead focus on something that could work.

– LZ Granderson, in this CNN Opinion piece.
Go and read the whole thing.

On Starbucks

This. Sebastian hits the nail on the head, as usual.
I get where Starbucks is coming from, but I think they handled this situation somewhat poorly. Some better wording (“display” vs. “bring”, as Sebastian puts it) would have made it clear that they weren’t so keen on being an unwilling focal point of the open carry debate while still allowing people to carry discretely in accordance with local laws.
The current wording alienates all law-abiding, peaceable gun owners who carry concealed and disturb nobody, not just those who were pushing the bounds of civility by openly carrying rifles into a coffee shop where such behavior is not customary. Change the wording slightly to ask people to not carry openly and there’d be significantly less controversy.
I don’t drink coffee so I pretty much have no reason to ever go to Starbucks, but if I did then I’d definitely have second thoughts about any future business there based on their handling of this situation.

“Military-style” no longer cutting it, now it’s “law-enforcement style”

[T]he suspect, Aaron Alexis of Texas, bought a law-enforcement-style shotgun ? an 870 Remington pump-action ? and used it on Monday as he rampaged through the navy yard, said the officials, who requested anonymity because the investigation was continuing.
[snip]

The gunman then perched himself above an atrium where he fired down on people who had been eating breakfast, officials said, adding that he used shotgun shells that had roughly a dozen large ball-bearing-like shots in them, increasing their lethal nature.

?When he discharged, the pieces of lead would spread the farther they went,? the one official said. ?It is similar to weapons used in bird shooting but on a more serious scale. These were not bullets but many small pieces of lead flying through the air.?

The New York Times

Evidently The New York Times is not satisfied with simply calling the Remington 870 “a pump-action shotgun” and had to slip “law-enforcement style” in there to make it sound particularly scary.?Also, they evidently haven’t heard of buckshot before and make it out to be some sort of special, unusual, extra-deadly type of ammo.

Is a shotgun loaded with buckshot dangerous? Absolutely.?It’s a gun. Putting black plastic furniture on one of the most popular shotguns in the country for sporting, self-defense, and yes, law-enforcement use doesn’t make it any more dangerous than the same shotgun with wood furniture.

You’re Not Helping

The new Fox & Friends host, Elisabeth Hasselbeck (formerly the lone conservative on ABC’s The View) suggested during the Tuesday morning show that “the left” was trying to make Monday?s mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard about “gun control.” Instead she pointed out that the country doesn’t need a national registry for guns, it needs one for to [sic] track video game purchases.

-?GamePolitics
As a gun owner and a gamer, I find remarks like this to be firmly in the “you’re not helping” category. Millions of people in the country (and many more all over the world) — including myself — enjoy playing video games, including those with violent content. The vast, overwhelming majority of gamers are ordinary people who go about their lives without harming anyone.
Is there some overlap between violent madmen and those who play video games? Almost certainly, just as there’s some overlap between violent madmen and those who use toothpaste, watch movies, hold particular religious beliefs, listen to certain musical groups, hold a specific political view, etc. However, as far as I’m aware, there’s no conclusive evidence that any of these things have a causal relationship with violent outcomes.
As fellow gun-rights supporters have pointed out, violent crime rates have dropped over the last few decades while the number of privately-owned guns has increased. Over the same time period the sale of video games, including violent ones, has also increased as has their realism and detail.
Blaming video games for violent crime is a bold claim. Is it possible? Perhaps, but if I may quote Carl Sagan, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Such evidence is not forthcoming. Making unsupported claims of this type is silly, counterproductive, and makes gun-rights advocates look absurd by association.

On Donations

I’ve been a Life Member of the NRA for many years now and while I occasionally disagree with certain things they do ((I’m not a big fan of Wayne LaPierre and think that his constant demonizing of “liberals”, while occasionally well-deserved, is driving otherwise-sympathetic people away from the NRA and gun rights in general when our side needs them the most.)), overall I’ve been quite happy with them.
In addition to subscribing to several pro-gun blogs, twitter feeds, and mailing lists, I also subscribe to several belonging to anti-gun-rights groups just so I can keep up to date on what’s going on. In particular, I’m interested in the so-called “moderate groups” like Mark Kelly and Gabby Gifford’s?Americans for Responsible Solutions which, despite their mild name and claims to being moderate, continue to promote the same tried-and-ineffective policies like bans on popular guns, limiting magazine capacity, banning private transfers, and other policies that seem to come directly from groups like the VPC and the Brady Campaign.
In the days leading up to the big Senate vote, I received several letters from ARS asking for donations and support for their cause. Instead, I donated twice the amount ARS requested to the NRA-ILA.
Budget permitting, I will continue to do so for the foreseeable future and?recommend?that you do too.