Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It's Not A Tradition; It's A Civil Right


Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the Navy Yard murders. Calling it merely a "shooting" serves to focus on the tool while mitigating the evil intent of the murderer.

To mark the anniversary, President Obama released the following short statement:
One year ago, our dedicated military and civilian personnel at the Washington Navy Yard were targeted in an unspeakable act of violence that took the lives of 12 American patriots. As we remember men and women taken from us so senselessly, we keep close their family and friends, stand with the survivors who continue to heal and pay tribute to the first responders who acted with skill and bravery. At the same time, we continue to improve security at our country’s bases and installations to protect our military and civilian personnel who help keep us safe. One year ago, 12 Americans went to work to protect and strengthen the country they loved. Today, we must do the same – rejecting atrocities like these as the new normal and renewing our call for common-sense reforms that respect our traditions while reducing the gun violence that shatters too many American families every day.
First, let me point out, that keeping our military bases and installations gun-free zones protect no one. They only serve to provide an easier working environment for deranged psychopaths.

Next, using the anniversary of the murders of Navy personnel to call for more gun control - "common-sense reforms" - is nothing more than blood dancing. Just like the children murdered at the school in Newtown, the 12 civilian personnel who died appear to be nothing more than debating points to be used by the White House in its quest for more and more gun control.

Finally, the Second Amendment and the right to keep and bear arms is not a tradition. It is a Constitutional amendment that recognized a pre-existing civil right. And as the Supreme Court affirmed in the Heller decision, it is an individual right. Saying that you want to "respect our traditions" conjures up the image of men and boys in a deer camp clad in red and black plaid wool coats and toting Winchester 94s and Marlin 336s. To refer to it as a tradition denigrates what are essential civil and human rights - the right to self-defense and the right to overthrow a tyrannical government. The right to keep and bear arms helps to assure both of those rights.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Costing The Anti's Some Money


I got an email the other day from Mark Kelly (aka Mr. Gabby Giffords) offering me a copy of the new book that he and Giffords just wrote.
Gabby and Mark wrote a new book that's coming out at the end of this month. It's called Enough, and it's about why they are working to keep America safe from gun violence.

We know that some people might contribute less than the book costs, and that's OK.
 I took them at their word. While I tried to contribute what the book was worth - $0.01 - it wouldn't let me. However, it did let me contribute a mere buck.

The way I figure it the cost of postage using Media Mail is at least $2.69. The book which has a MSRP of $25 and is selling for $18.63 on Amazon must cost them at least $5 a copy.

Thus, for an investment of $1, I'm costing Americans for Responsible Solutions a minimum of  $7.69. That is a net $6.69 that can't be used to take away my civil rights.

Now I'm not suggesting you do this but if you'd like to take them up on their offer, go here. You'll end up costing them some money and you'll be able to keep an eye on what the anti's are up to.

UPDATE: As a commenter below has mentioned, it now takes a $25 or more donation to get the book. At that price, they can keep it.
Thanks for your interest in supporting Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC. This promotion has ended at this time. However, you can still receive a copy of Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly's book Enough with a donation of $25 or more on this page.
Nonetheless, it reads as if those of us who "donated" a buck will still get the book.

Take this as a reminder that our opponents may be misguided, misinformed, and malcontents but they aren't stupid. I'm guessing, though I have no proof, that they woke up to the number of low donations that they started getting.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Potential Good News In The Shaneen Allen Case


The NRA News is reporting on Facebook that Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain has requested a delay in Shaneen Allen's case while he reviews the appropriate resolution of the case.
BREAKING NEWS: The prosecutor in the Shaneen Allen case has requested her upcoming trial be delayed while he reviews the appropriate resolution of her case. Shaneen is the Philadelphia mother of two who became an unwitting victim of New Jersey's gun laws. Stay tuned for the exclusive interview with Ginny Simone and Shaneen's attorney Evan Nappen coming soon.
The interview by Ginny Simone and Cam Edwards with Shaneen Allen and her attorney Evan Nappen is below.



Hopefully, this will turn out well for Ms. Allen. She deserves something good to happen after all that she has lost due to the prosecutor's intransigence and New Jersey's utterly ridiculous laws.

A Question For NJ Prosecutor Jim McClain


Atlantic County, NJ Prosecutor Jim McClain broke his silence on the Ray Rice assault case Wednesday. According to the Press of Atlantic City, McClain said:
“Even if they disagree with why I did what I did, I just want people to know the decision was made after careful consideration of the law, careful consideration of the facts, hearing the voice of the victim and considering all the parameters,” he said. “I want people to have confidence in this agency, even if they don’t agree with everything we do.”

Rice was charged with third-degree aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury. Third-degree charges — especially for someone like Rice with no criminal record — carry a presumption of no incarceration.

To result in a second-degree aggravated assault charge, a crime has to involve “serious,” or permanent, bodily injury. There is no first-degree charge of aggravated assault.

“People need to understand, the choice was not PTI versus five years’ state prison,” McClain said. “The choice was not PTI versus the No Early Release Act on a 10-year sentence. The parameters as they existed were: Is this a PTI case or a probation case?
 Confidence in this agency? Is Mr. McClain making a joke?

Let me see if I have this straight. An NFL player with a multi-million dollar contract punches his wife-to-be in the head so severely that she is knocked unconscious. Reading some of the boxing literature on knockouts, the force of the punch causes the brain "to smash against the inside of the skull, near the base of the skull" from inertia. Being knocked out may also involve a concussion and other brain injuries. 

The Association of Boxing Commissions consider this such a severe injury that boxers are given a minimum 60-day medical suspension from all boxing activity when KO'ed. Remember these are trained athletes who are engaging in a sport that involves hits to the head and body and not a young mother.

So my question for Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain is this:  please explain how Shaneen Allen, a young mother with an unblemished criminal record and certainly no record of violence, who made an honest mistake due to a misunderstanding of the law and which hurt no one, is more of a menace to society than a  coddled star athlete with anger management issues who inflicted serious bodily injury on a woman.  The latter was given pre-trial intervention while the former is facing up to 10 years in prison even though she, as well, could have been given pre-trial intervention save for your intransigence.

To paraphrase Shakespeare, something is rotten in the state of New Jersey.

And lest readers think that Gov. Chris Christie is blameless in this whole affair, it was Christie himself who appointed McClain to be the County Prosecutor two years ago. Christie was criticized at the time over the quality of some of his prosecutorial nominations including McClain. We can see the basis for that criticism now all too well.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dingy Harry Is Right - Billionaires Are Trying To Buy Democracy


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) gave a speech yesterday on the floor of the Senate. It was his first floor speech since the end of the August recess. As The Hill reports it, he said, in part,
“We have had in this country a flood of very, very dark money coming into this nation’s political system,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “Radical billionaires are attempting to buy our democracy.”
Reid is correct in his statement - just not in the billionaires to whom he referred. He, of course, was continuing his jihad against the libertarian Koch brothers.

However, if one were to examine the backers of the universal background check initiative in Washington State, I-594, you would come to the conclusion that a gaggle of billionaires was indeed trying to buy "our democracy."

Examining the public reports from the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, one finds that a full 72% of the funding for the anti-gun Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility has come from five billionaires (including spouses) plus one very wealthy woman from an "old Seattle family". In dollar terms, these six have donated $5,171,600 out of the $7,175,542 donated to the anti-gun organization. Small contributions to this gun control ballot initiative total only $63,009 or less than 1% of the total.

So who are these billionaires (or near billionaires), how much have they given individually, what is their estimated net worth, and where do they stand on the Forbes 400 list of richest people in America. Here is the list in order of contributions:

  1. Nick Hanauer, $1,485,000; net worth $1 billion, venture capitalist, Second Avenue Investing

  2. Bill and Melinda Gates, $1,050,000; net worth $72 billion, No. 1 Forbes 400, co-founder Microsoft

  3. Michael Bloomberg*, $1,030,000; net worth $31 billion, No. 10 Forbes 400, founder Bloomberg LP

  4. Connie and Steve Ballmer, $830,000; net worth $18 billion, No. 21 Forbes 400, former CEO Microsoft, owner LA Clippers

  5. Paul Allen, $500,000; net worth $15.8 billion, No 26 Forbes 400, co-founder Microsoft, owner Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers

  6. Ann Pigott Wyckoff, $276,600; net worth est. multi-millions, heiress and daughter of the late Paccar Corporation president Paul Pigott. Paccar manufactures Peterbilt, Kenworth, and Leyland trucks.
To put these contributions into perspective, let's look at the campaign committee for I-591 which is the other ballot initiative which opposes universal background checks. Protect Our Gun Rights is the campaign committee formed to support I-591. The largest individual (non-organizational) contribution was $1,500 by a Boeing engineer. The primary contributors to Protect Our Gun Rights are the Washington State-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and Washington Arms Collectors. This committee has raised a total of $1,121,535 at last report.

As Dave Workman, the Seattle Gun Rights Examiner, put it, this is a billionaire bombardment and he is correct. So when Dingy Harry speaks of "radical billionaires attempting to buy our democracy", he just has the wrong set of billionaires in mind. It isn't the Koch brothers, it is the Hanauers, the Gates, the Allens, the Ballmers, and the Bloombergs who plan to dominate the TV airwaves with their appeals to low information voters in an effort to impose their will on the people of Washington State.



*Bloomberg's contribution was funneled through MAIG and Everytown for Gun Safety (sic).

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Gun Rights Case From The Fringes Of America


The United States of America includes more than just the 50 states. It also includes three unincorporated organized territories and two commonwealths. The territories are the US Virgin Islands,  Guam, and American Samoa while the commonwealths are Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands. It also includes nine uninhabited territories administered by the Department of the Interior. These includes two islands famous for their battles during WWII: Wake and Midway.

Thus, when a Second Amendment case comes up involving the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, it is of interest. Making it even more interesting is that it is a case jointly supported by the Second Amendment Foundation and the NRA Civil Rights Legal Defense Fund. The case is Radich et al v. Deleon Guerrero and it is being heard in the US District Court for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Before I get into the case, a little reminder as to geography. The Northern Mariana Islands are located in the Pacific Ocean northeast of the Philippines and are much closer to the Asian continental mainland than they are to the continental United States. Students of WWII will recognize the island chain for the important battles fought for two of its more important islands - Saipan and Tinian. Moreover, the Enola Gay took off for Hiroshima from Tinian.


Like Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands enjoys commonwealth status with the United States as a result of the approval in 1976 by Congress of a Covenant to establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States of America. This covenant was fully ratified in 1986 when qualified residents were granted US citizenship. The covenant also applies United States law, in general, to the CNMI and a US District Court was established there by Act of Congress in 1977. The District Court is part of the 9th Circuit.

Radich v. Delon Guerrero is a challenge to the Commonwealth's restriction on handgun possession and carry. It seeks both a preliminary and permanent injunction against the Commonwealth's enforcement of their Weapons Control Act as well as a finding that the Act violates the Second and Fourteenth Amendments on both their face and as applied to the plaintiffs. These laws include:
(a) the prohibitions on virtually all CNMI residents from obtaining handguns for self-defense purposes; (b) the prohibition on obtaining a WIC and possessing a firearm for self-defense purposes; and (c) the good cause requirement for obtaining a WIC,

The plaintiffs are David and Li-Rong Radich who are residents of Saipan, CNMI. Mr. Radich is a US citizen born in California and a Navy veteran working as an environmental consultant. His wife, Li-Rong, is a Chinese citizen with permanent legal resident status. They have been married since 2009. In 2010, while Mr. Radich was out of town on business, Mrs. Radich was the victim of a home invasion and suffered broken ribs, facial contusions, and a suspected orbital fracture.

In 2013, the plaintiffs applied to the CNMI Department of Public Safety for a Weapons Identification Card so as to provide for their self-defense. Despite the requirement that a decision be made within 60 days, the plaintiffs are still waiting for an answer from the Department of Public Safety in violation of the law.

With the Supreme Court's decisions in the Heller and McDonald cases as well as the 9th Circuit's decision in Peruta v. San Diego, it would seem that this case bodes well for the plaintiffs. Guam has already changed their laws to bring themselves into compliance with Peruta.

Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation notes:
“The Second Amendment does not just apply to the continental United States and Hawaii,” noted SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “It also applies to territories under U.S. jurisdiction. The issue is a fundamental civil right, not only to possess a handgun, but also to use firearms for self-defense purposes, which is currently banned in the Northern Marianas.”
It is a fundamental civil right and one that the District Court in the North Mariana Islands ought to recognize. Too bad that the Commonwealth's government didn't recognize this right.


UPDATE: Professor Eugene Volokh of UCLA provides a note on the Volokh Conspiracy blog about this case. He points out that the CNMI Covenant expressly states that Amendments 1 through 9 inclusive are applicable in the Northern Mariana Islands.

That Ain't Moonshine!


Booze marketed as "moonshine" has become popular in the last few years. Maybe Popcorn Sutton* and his legend had something to do with it, maybe not. Perhaps it was was the Discovery Channel series Moonshiners and its stars Tickle, Tim, Josh, etc. Even the History Channel had to get in on it.

A dissenting view on what constitutes "moonshine" comes from a post on The Alcohol Professor blog celebrating September as Bourbon Heritage Month. In a discussion about sourced bourbon - whiskey from new micro-distilleries actually made in a giant factory in Lawrenceburg, Indiana - the author takes exception to calling any unaged whiskey (or white dog) moonshine.
Another product choice is to sell an unaged whiskey while some of the other liquid ages in barrels in its cocoon stage on the way to being a bourbon.

Let’s be clear about what this is. Or rather, what it isn’t.

Here’s a checklist.
  • Are you avoiding the payment of government taxes to release your product?
  • At any time, was a firearm a necessary component for a transaction between yourself and either your customer or purveyor?
  • To the best of your knowledge, have you, or anyone you know, been seriously threatened simply because your product exists to the point where you feel it should have a hiding place, just in case?
  • Are you apprehensive about selling your product during broad daylight when anyone can see?
  • Has anyone ever chased you menacingly, especially at night, in order to steal your product from you on the way to a purveyor?
  • Are you on an FBI most wanted list for producing this product?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, congratulations! You make moonshine!

If not, then your unaged distillate IS NOT NOR EVER WILL BE MOONSHINE!!!

Deep breath.
I tend to agree with this assessment.

The only real moonshine I can remember drinking was over 30 years ago. I remembered it as being very smooth with a strong corn smell when you sniffed it. It was reputed to have been that moonshiner's going out of business batch.

As for my own taste in whiskey, I think I'll stay with the stuff aged for years in oak barrels whether it comes from Kentucky, Canada, or Ireland.



* My dentist went to high school with Popcorn Sutton. His remembrance of Sutton differs from the popular legend. He said Popcorn was "a mean little SOB who looked like he'd as soon kill you as look at you."

Friday, September 5, 2014

It's Time To Win Again


Thanks to the work of Aaron at the Weapon-Blog, there is a new list of guns that you can win.

The handgun category features all the big names: Smith & Wesson, Glock,  Ruger, Sig, Colt, and H&K.

The rifle category starts off with something really special: a SBR made by Noveske in .300 Blackout with a SilencerCo Saker 7.62 suppressor. Sweet!!!! I also count 6 AR-15s, a Tavor, a PTR-91, and a slew of bolt action hunting rifles.

If you come across contests not listed, let Aaron know about them.