Thursday, September 30, 2010

Impressions of California - Bay Area and Central Coast

We are finishing up our trip to California's Bay Area and Central Coast today. We are in the SFO terminal waiting for our flight back to North Carolina.

My first impression of San Francisco is that it is crowded. Even in the more residential areas, people live, to use a Southern expression, cheek by jowl. However, once you get out of the city, there is a lot of open space.

Driving along the Pacific coast, one can see why surfing is so big on the West Coast. It's the waves. You just don't see waves like this at East Coast beaches. The scenery is outstanding and the beaches are everywhere. And in many areas, there is little to no inhabitation.

Another quick impression - and that is all it is - of this part of California is that the high-tech cities and suburbs are heavily Anglo and Asian while the more agricultural or industrial areas are heavily Latino or Hispanic. I haven't checked any data on this but when comparing the Silicon Valley suburbs to Salinas, this seems very evident.

If I were a wine drinker, I'd be in heaven. We found very good wine available directly from the winery as low as $60 per case. And little vineyards are everywhere both north and south of San Francisco.

Another impression is how vital agriculture is to the California economy. Whether along the coast between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz or inland in the Salinas Valley, agriculture is king. Along the coast we saw tons of Brussels sprouts and artichokes being grown while inland we saw the grapes, lettuce, etc.

Gang violence is a problem in some areas. While we were in Salinas, there was a 17 year old who was gunned down while walking with a friend. The friend ran away and the kid died. It was suspected to be gang related.

Finally, this place is mountainous! Whether inland or driving along the coast, the hills were everywhere. However, unlike my native Smokies, these hills are sparse and brown. I can see why wildfires are a major problem - one spark and you can have a grass fire. Moreover, with so many houses built on steep slopes, firefighters have a hard time just getting to the site.

It was a fun trip. The GRPC conference was great. We ate well, we tasted some nice wines, and we met some nice people. That said, it'll be nice to get home even if we just had 3-4 inches of rain from a tropical storm. Regular blogging should resume tomorrow and into the weekend. There is a lot to write about and just not enough time!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

SF Chronicle's Non-Endorsement

This past Sunday the San Francisco Chronicle decided not to endorse either Barbara Boxer or Carly Fiorina. Given that newspaper's reliably liberal leanings, that was quite a surprise. And from subsequent letters to the editor, it has angered their liberal readers.

The reason given for not endorsing Boxer is that she:
has failed to distinguish herself during her 18 years in office. There is no reason to believe that another six-year term would bring anything but more of the same uninspired representation.
Her voting record isn't a problem for them as she is a reliable liberal and they agree with her voting record.

The Chronicle thinks Fiorina would be much more effective and work well in the Senate. However, they don't like her positions on the issues. One of the one's that they don't like is gun control. They say:
her unwillingness to support even the most commonsense gun-control measures to keep assault weapons off the street or to deny guns to suspected terrorists on the federal "no fly list."
Repealing ObamaCare and no immigration reform until the border is secure also make their list. In other words, Carly Fiorina represents mainstream positions on the issues according to most Americans but not the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board. One could only hope more Californians decide that Boxer is a hack and needs to be replaced than not.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gun Permits: OK for Trump But Not For You

I'm sure that People magazine didn't mean to make the case about the inequities in New York's "may issue" concealed carry laws - but they did.
Among the big names licensed to pack heat: Marc Anthony, Robert De Niro, Donald Trump, and his son, Donald Jr., Mets third baseman David Wright, and Martha Stewart's daughter, radio host Alexis Stewart.

Anthony, 42, has a special permit that allows him to carry a loaded weapon in the city, and has a similar permit for Nassau County, where he and Jennifer Lopez have a $2 million home in Brookville.
The article says that celebrities are feeling "vulnerable" due to the ease with which personal information can be found on-line. Excuse me if I don't feel that sympathetic to these poor celebrities. The ordinary New Yorker doesn't employ a publicist to push stories about them in the media and on the Internet. If they are feeling "vulnerable" then celebrities should look at their own behavior.

As to the average New Yorker, they can just forget it. So what if they are vulnerable to thugs, rapists, and murderers, they aren't celebrities so they can just suck it up and deal with their fears.

Monday, September 27, 2010

GRPC - Day 2 - Part 1

Day 2 of the Gun Rights Policy Conference is the big day of the conference. Below are some of my brief impressions of the speakers and what they had to say.

Alan Gottlieb said the gun rights movement should emulate the civil rights movement if we want to achieve success. That is, it should be bottom up with the grass roots guiding the movement instead of top-down like the gun control groups.

Joe Tartaro, President of SAF, said that our goal is the preservation of our rights. He compared our opponents to characters in the classic movie The Wizard of Oz. As we go down the Yellow Brick Road, we first come to the Wicked Witch of the West. No surprise here - it's Nancy Pelosi. Then there are the Flying Monkies - Eric Holder, Chuck Schumer, Hillary, and Lautenberg. Finally, there are the Munchkins - Michael Bloomberg, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and his "munchkin mayors".

Alan Gottlieb came back and said that judges are key in the next few years. He said that if the anti's lose in the legislature, they will seek to impose gun control by using regulations out of the Executive Branch. The judiciary will be the only way to stop them. He noted that we can expect all new judicial appointments to be anti-gun. It will be a litmus test like being pro or anti abortion.

Larry Pratt - "DISCLOSE Act is like a gag. A gag in the throat is not the way to promote freedom under the Bill of Rights - not just gun rights."

Jeff Knox of the Firearms Coalition - "Our single issue is liberty". He made a point that we need to lose the word ALLOW. We should not say that we are allowed to exercise our gun rights. They are our rights to begin with.

State Senator Sam Sloam of Hawaii - "Hawaii is to the left of San Francisco and to the right of PyongYang, North Korea".

Tom Pedersen - lobbyist for the California Rifle and Pistol Association - Litigation has changed the willingness of politicians to push anti-gun bills.

Richard Pearson - Exec. Dir. of Illinois State Rifle Association - "The Chicago tar pit is bigger and stickier than the LeBrea tar pit in California!"

Jim Wallace - Gun Owners Action League (of Massachusetts) - Stopped saying gun rights and started saying civil rights about 5 years ago. Has renamed the proposed one gun a month bill in MA the Lawful Citizen's Imprisonment and Profiling Act.

Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy said that constitutional rights are not as well protected by the courts as you would expect.

I'll stop with that and do another report later on more from Day 2.

There's An App for That

The Civilian Marksmanship Program has recently released an app for use with the iPhone and iPad. The app is for keeping score at CMP sponsored shooting events. In their words:
CMP is the official app for keeping score at Civilian Marksmanship Program sponsored shooting events. It features an easy to use interface that allows for quick recording of your score after each string. The CMP app calculates your shooting percentages automatically to let you know how you are doing throughout the event. You can also enter notes and record conditions so that you have a permanent record of details of each event. This application is sponsored and endorsed by the Civilian Marksmanship Program and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this software are donated to the CMP.
 They have a link to the app store on their page linked above. All I can say - is there anything that doesn't have an iPhone app anymore?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Alan Gura at the Gun Rights Policy Conference

Thanks to a member of CalGuns Forum, we have video of Alan Gura presentation at the Gun Rights Policy Conference. The audio is a little weak but you should be able to hear it. The video is in 3 parts.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Great Project in Arizona

As you should know by now, Arizona has constitutional carry. You can carry a handgun openly or discretely without a license. There is no training requirement, no license, and no fee or tax that has to be paid. Some who put on the formerly required concealed carry permit class were upset at this and tried to rally opposition to it. They based their opposition to it on the need for training.

We all need training. That should be a given. The Arizona Citizens Defense League has stepped in with a great project to provide this training. They call it
Interested parties from around the state joined forces to promote gun-safety training, the shooting sports, self-defense awareness and exercise of the fundamental constitutional right of the people, to keep and bear arms for all lawful purposes. The goal is to advance marksmanship, safe gun handling, and a deep appreciation of the valuable role firearms play in a peaceful society, on a statewide scale.
 They maintain a list of all the gun trainers and training classes in Arizona, a list of ranges and other places to shoot, gun shows, and information for people traveling to Arizona.

To publicize their efforts they have, in addition to the website, a series of billboards publicizing the project.

Example of billboard

They also have a special billboard on the border with California welcoming visitors from that state.

Words Matter

Alan Korwin was one of the panelists in the GRPC discussion on the Success and Future of Concealed Carry. Alan is the author and publisher of a number of books on firearms laws in the various states. Alan is a bit of a showman but he uses it effectively to get his message across.

He performed a very effective demonstration on the words we use. He had everyone attending the conference to stand up and  then asked who believed in gun rights. He got a big cheer. Doing the old routine "I can't hear you" a couple of times, he got louder and louder cheers. Then he had everyone sit down. Alan then said if we keep calling it gun rights instead of civil rights, the anti's will be able to continually attempt to marginalize us.

However, if we say we are pro-rights, then by definition it makes our opponents anti-rights. It changes the perception in people's mind of who we are and what we do. Alan is correct. A person's perception is their reality.

Alan has published a free "politically corrected" glossary on his website. You can read it online or download it as a PDF. It is well worth studying so that the next time you engage in a discussion of your rights with friends or co-workers, you will have more powerful words with which to make your argument.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Gun Rights Policy Conference - Day 1

We got registered for the Gun Rights Policy Conference and got our badges.

Today was essentially registration and an opening reception.

Gene Hoffman of the CalGuns Foundation and John Fields from the California Rifle and Pistol Association welcomed every one. Unlike in some states, it seems that CalGuns and CRPA play well together.

I recognized some of the gun rights celebrities at the reception. Alan Gura was there looking relaxed in jeans and sneakers. Alan Gottlieb, of course, was everywhere. I noticed Tom Gresham and Mas Ayoob.

We shared a table with a really nice guy who was a pilot for United and lived in the region. It was very interesting discussing the differences in gun policies between North Carolina and California. I also finally got a coherent explanation of what a "bullet button" was.

We ended the night early as we were "whupped".

UPDATE: Derek at the Packing Rat has some pictures from the reception posted to his blog.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Knife Rights Establishes Legal Defense Fund for NYC Litigation

From Doug Ritter of the Knife Rights Foundation:

Knife Rights Establishes Legal Fund for NYC Litigation

The Knife Rights Foundation has successfully launched its Knife Rights Sharper Future Legal Fund with contributions from twelve industry leaders plus other donors, some anonymous. The initial commitments amount to nearly 40% of the fundraising goal.

The Fund will be used to pursue litigation in support of knife owner civil rights, initially aimed at stopping New York County (Manhattan) District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr's illegitimate assault on one-hand opening and assisted opening knives in New York City.

"This initial backing by leaders of the knife industry recognizes that knife owners do not take their civil rights lightly, that we have the will, and the means, to fight back," said Knife Rights chairman Doug Ritter.

"I applaud these industry leaders who stepped up, as true leaders will in times of crisis, to jump-start the Fund."

Platinum-level $30,000 donors include Benchmade Knife Co., Blue Ridge Knives, Buck Knives, Columbia River Knife & Tool, Taylor Brands and United Cutlery/BUDK.

Silver $15,000 donors are and Wenger NA.

Smokey Mountain Knife Works is a Titanium donor at $7,500.

Bronze donors Ethan Becker and KA-BAR Knives each gave $5,000.

Additional money has been donated anonymously, including a $10,000 donation from an Internet knife retailer.

Knife Rights will be launching a full-scale public fundraising effort soon. Ritter said, "this is a great start, but it will take a good deal more than this to get the job done, and I am confident we will do it."

"We hope every knife owner, every knife retailer, every knife distributor and every knife manufacturer will give their share for the common good, to protect our way of life."

"We ask knife buyers to urge other industry members to pledge their fair share and make your cause their own."

Knife Rights' experienced criminal and civil litigation team is now working hard to implement the strategy that we have developed. You can expect to hear more on that in the near future.

I'll note that litigation is only one aspect of our efforts to protect your civil rights. With your continued support, you can be sure that Knife Rights will forge ahead with our legislative initiatives to enhance protections for knife owners in New York and throughout the U.S., with efforts to clarify or do away with restrictive knife laws and through our National Knife Law Preemption Campaign.

If you would like to contribute and help the fight, just go here.

Doug will be a speaker along with Todd Rathner of the NRA and Les deAsis of Benchmade Knives at the Gun Rights Policy Conference on Sunday morning. Their policy topic will be "Knife Rights - The Second Front in Defense of the Second Amendment."

Light Blogging For the Next Week

We are up and getting ready for our flight to San Francisco for the Gun Rights Policy Conference. I must be excited because I've been awake since about 5am. I hope to have stuff up as the conference progresses.

A lot of the gun rights biggies will be there - though not the NRA this year - including Alan Gura. It should be very interesting. There is even speculation that there will be Zombies or is it anarchists protesting! I promise pictures if there are protesters.

It will probably be light blogging after that as we are taking a few days to drive along the California coast after the conference.

I do have one observation - have you ever noticed that the most luxurious and expensive hotels will nickle and dime you to death but the Day's Inns and Holiday Inn Expresses give you a free breakfast and free WiFi? The Hyatt-Regency San Francisco Airport actually charges guests to park there. WTF?

An Update on The Gun Rules

I don't know what the good Colonel would say after reading the GunMinion's update on the gun rules, but some of the additions actually makes sense.

The whole list:
The Gun Rules

All guns are always loaded.

Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

Keep your booger finger off the bang switch.

When in doubt, empty the magazine.

Identify your target, and know your backstop.

Be in control of your firearms at all times.

If they are within range, so are you.

Every bullet has a lawyer attached.

H/T The GunDudes

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Another Cool Vuurwapenblog Video

Andrew at the Vuurwapenblog has just posted a preview video of an AR-15 bolt carrier in action. He was given several cutaway parts from Noveske including a cutaway upper receiver. If you have ever wanted to see the process of an AR-15 firing, extracting, and going back into battery, you'll appreciate this.

All Politics Are Local

To paraphrase the late Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, all politics are local. When looking at gun politics that is the first place one should look. I say this because both the Heller and McDonald cases stemmed from actions by municipal governments.

And so it was in California two days ago when the Santa Clara City Council had planned to vote on an ordinance that would have prohibited firearms from city parks except for "peace officers". The ordinance would have deemed city parks "sensitive places" because children, their families, and others gather there. More importantly, this ordinance would have banned both unloaded open carry (it's a California thing) and licensed concealed carry.

It is not known if this ordinance was proposed by the Legal Community Against Violence (LCAV) but the text of it is very similar to their pamphlet "Address Gun Violence Through Local Ordinances". LCAV has been very active over the years throughout California pushing local ordinances as a means of gun control. In this case, by a finding that city parks were "sensitive places", it may have given them some cover in the face of lawsuits.

On Monday, September 20th, attorney Chuck Michel sent a letter to the City Council on behalf of the NRA and the California Rifle and Pistol Association.The letter made two major points: the proposed ordinance was unconstitutional under Heller and McDonald and the proposed ordinance would violate California's preemption doctrine.

Mr. Michel also discussed three case that are pending in California. The first is Nordyke v. King which is slated for rehearing before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal. That case deals with a ban of firearms on county property that had been declared "sensitive". Even that the Alameda County fairgrounds ban made allowances for concealed carry permit holders unlike the proposed ordinance. The other two cases are Sykes v. McGinnis and Peruta v. County of San Diego. The issue in both of those cases is whether a municipality can prohibit the lawful carrying of firearms in public by generally denying concealed carry permits.

In the face of this letter which did contain an indirect threat of "costly litigation", City Manager Jennifer Sparacino raised legal concerns about the ordinance and the Santa Clara City Council voted unanimously to withdraw the proposed ordinance from consideration. The City Attorney of Santa Clara will need more time to study the case law cited in the NRA/CRPA letter. While this issue may be brought up again, for the time being it is a win for gun rights at the local level.

Chuck Michel has more on the NRA/CRPA Local Ordinance Project in a post on the CalGuns Forum here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How To Avoid Another Las Vegas Costco Shooting

The coroner's inquest into the shooting of Erik Scott outside the Summerlin Costco by Las Vegas Metro Police is today. I don't know how it will turn out and that isn't the subject of this blog post. There has been a lot of speculation about the case and a Google News search will turn up hundreds of stories.

Michael Bane has just devoted a full episode of his Downrange Radio podcast to this shooting and how one can take steps to avoid something like this happening to you if you are carrying concealed.

As Michael says in the podcast, if you are accosted by staff in a Big Box store about carrying concealed, you have just entered Condition Red. Your goal is to do what is needed to get out of the situation unhurt and in one piece. You need to de-escalate the situation and get out of the store. The podcast gives some good advice on how to do this.

The next major bit of advice that he gives is to be the first one to call the police. Do it if you have been accosted by store employees or store security, do it if you suspect that they have called the police, and especially do it if they are trying to prevent you from exiting the store. All 9-1-1 calls are recorded. Use this to your advantage to get your story on tape - leave the cell phone on to establish a record of your behavior.

Finally, if you leave the store and police are waiting for you outside, do what they say. You can work out the legalities, the rightness of it, etc. later. Your goal is to survive. Put your hands in the air and announce you are going to your knees. Tell them you are a CCW holder and where the gun is located on your body. But for God's sake, do not reach to show them the gun - let them take it off of you.

We may never know the full story out of Las Vegas as videos have disappeared and there are conflicting stories. What we can do is make sure it doesn't happen to us.

The podcast is available on iTunes as well as on the Downrange Radio website.  It is well worth listening to however you do it.

PS: As Sailorcurt on Captain of a Crew of One has noted, Costco Wholesale Clubs have a restrictive policy that only allows law enforcement to carry in their stores. I posted on it here. Whether I am carrying or not, I do not plan to give them my business.

Larry Vickers and Friends on the Socom II Battle Rifle

Larry Vickers and his compatriots on Tactical Arms review the Socom II battle rifle from Springfield Armory. It probably is best described as shortened M14/M1A with a rail system.

While it is interesting, I think I'll stick with my FN-FAL - the Free World's right arm.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Welcome to Florida!

The Brady Campaign thinks this billboard will scare all the tourists coming down to Florida. I prefer to think of it as a reminder to crooks, thieves, and other lowlifes that an armed society is a polite society.

I wonder if we can convince the Brady Campaign to put one on the North Carolina borders as well.

H/T Second Amendment Foundation

NRA Files Suits Challenging Handgun Bans on 18-20 Year Olds (updated)

On Wednesday, September 8th, the NRA filed two suits in US District Court for the Northern District of Texas challenging laws that impact 18 to 20 year olds who wish to purchase a handgun or carry a handgun concealed.

The first suit, D'Cruz v. BATFE et al, is the one that has garnered all the attention in the media and on blogs. Even the NRA Institute for Legislative Affairs in their release only mentions the suit against BATFE. However, in addition to this lawsuit, the NRA filed a second lawsuit simultaneously that names the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Public Safety Commission as the plaintiffs. That case is D'Cruz v. McCraw et al.

These are not the NRA's first lawsuits that challenge the age-based requirements that discriminate against 18 to 20 year olds with regard to handguns. The original complaint in Benson et al v. Chicago et al challenged that part of the new Chicago handgun law that required 18 to 20 years olds to obtain the written permission of a parent or guardian to apply for a Chicago Firearm Permit. See Section 19 of the original complaint here. This was dropped from the amended complaint along with a few other things as I detailed in this comparison.

So what are the new suits challenging and who is the plaintiff. The plaintiff is 18-year old James D'Cruz of Lubbock, Texas. He was a member of his high school Navy Jr. ROTC program for four years where he participated in the unit's firearms training. In his junior and senior year of high school, he was an award-winning member of the NJROTC shooting team and competed in regional and national competitions. As to what the suits are challenging, I think it is better to discuss each suit individually.

D'Cruz v. BATFE et al

This suit challenges both laws and regulations that prohibit 18 to 20 year olds from purchasing a handgun from a Federally licensed firearms dealer (FFL) on the grounds that these laws and regulations violate both the Second Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The suit asks the court to declare these laws unconstitutional and to permanently enjoin the government from enforcing them.

 In its introduction, this suit makes note that at the age of 18, law-abiding citizens are generally considered adults. They are eligible to serve in the military, male 18-year olds are eligible to be drafted for military service under Selective Service laws, and male 18-year olds are designated members of the unorganized militia.
Yet, Section 922(b)(1) of the federal criminal code prohibits law-abiding adults in this age group from lawfully purchasing—from the most prevalent and readily available source—what the Supreme Court has called “the quintessential self-defense weapon” and “the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home.”Heller, 128 S. Ct. at 2818.
A stated purpose of the Gun Control Act of 1968 was to aid law enforcement in their fight against crime and violence.The intent was not to place "any undue or unnecessary Federal restrictions or burdens on law-abiding citizens with respect to the acquisition, possession, or use of firearms appropriate to the purpose of hunting, trapshooting, target shooting, personal protection, or any other lawful activity.”

However, Title 18, Section 922(b)(1) forbade the sale of handguns and handgun ammunition to those under the age of 21. Likewise, the derivative Federal regulations forbade a Federally licensed firearm dealer from selling a handgun to someone under age 21. Additionally, these same Federal regulations mandate the use of a Federally licensed dealer for transactions and transfers involving residents of different states.
20. The combined effect of these provisions is a significant, unequal, and impermissible burden on the right to keep and bear arms of a class of millions of law-abiding 18-to-20 year-old adult citizens. Section 922(b)(1) flatly bans the sale of handguns and handgun ammunition, by any person who engages in the regular business of selling guns, to anyone eighteen to twenty years of age. These law-abiding adults are thus relegated to the irregular secondary market for face-to-face intrastate sales of used handguns. And because Section 922(a)(5) bars interstate face-to-face sales, these law-abiding adults cannot even access larger used-gun markets that the Internet and other mediums might otherwise provide.
Count 1 of this lawsuit asks the court to declare that Title 18, Sections 922(b)(1) and 922(c) and relevant Federal regulations infringe and "impose an impermissible burden upon, the Plaintiff’s right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment."

In Count 2, the court is asked to declare that because these laws and regulations treat law-abiding citizens between the ages of 18 and 20 differently than those age 21 or over, they violate the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

D'Cruz v. McCraw et al

This suit takes aim at the State of Texas's concealed carry law which requires a holder to be either at least age 21 or, if an 18 to 20 year old, to be a member or honorably discharged member of the military (active duty, reserve, or national guard). While Texas law does allow a non-military 18 to 20 year old to possess a handgun in either his or her home or car, they are not allowed to carry concealed.

Texas law does permit anyone over the age of 18 to purchase a handgun. However, as the case above makes clear, this purchase must be a private sale and not one handled by a Federally licensed dealer. It also allows those over 18 but under 21 to "supervise a minor’s use of a firearm for purposes of hunting, sporting, or other lawful purposes." Texas law also permits Mr. D'Cruz to carry a rifle (or shotgun) just like any other adult.

Mr. D'Cruz wants to carry a handgun concealed for self-defense just like his parents. He and his parents sometimes shop in the less desirable parts of town. On September 3rd, he visited the Department of Public Safety website to fill out an electronic application for a concealed carry permit.
The website stated that to apply, Mr. D’Cruz “must be at least 21 years of age or at least 18 years of age if currently serving in or honorably discharged from the military.” Mr. D’Cruz was thus unable to lawfully proceed further with his application for a carriage permit.

Aside from the age and military requirements, Mr. D’Cruz already meets—or stands
ready, willing, and able to meet—all requirements for obtaining a Texas concealed-carry permit.
In discussing the impact of the ban on the plaintiff, the complaint does make the following allegation which, to be honest, sounds pretty lame:
Mr. D’Cruz also has a 29-year-old brother and military friends who share his interest in firearms safety and collecting. He would like to transport to, and carry a handgun in, their homes so that they might jointly discuss and demonstrate proper cleaning and safety practices with the handgun.
To jointly discuss and demonstrate proper cleaning? I wonder what the heck the lawyers were thinking when they put that "impact" in the complaint.

This lawsuit challenges the Texas Penal Code Sec. 46.02 and Texas Government Code Sec. 411.172(a)(2), (A)(9), (g) on the grounds that it violates the right to keep and bear arms as secured by the Second and Fourteenth Amendments by denying the right to carry a handgun for self-defense to those adults who are between 18 and 20 years of age. The lawsuit further charges that the above codes violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because they deny equal protection of the laws to those 18 to 20 year olds who have not or are not serving the United States military, reserve, or national guard.

UPDATE: Tom Gresham made a very pertinent observation on this case. The judge in these cases, Sam Cummings, is the same judge who presided over the Emerson case. His opinion in that case was one of the first to hold that the Second Amendment is an individual right. That decision is available here.

Not only are these cases being heard in the friendly confines of Texas but you couldn't ask for a better judge to hear the case than Judge Sam Cummings.

North Carolina Isn't As Enlightened As Tennessee

As a native North Carolinian, it galls me to have to say that the folks in Tennessee are more enlightened about anything. However, when it comes to where you can carry concealed legally, Tennessee has it all over North Carolina. They approved a bill in the last year or so allowing concealed carry in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. Of course, if you are carrying concealed you can't drink - nor should you - but you can still eat in the restaurant or socialize with your friends.

This change in the law has the gun puritans in a tizzy. They have formed a group called GunFree Dining Tennessee. This group seeks to "educate" restaurant owners about concealed carry in restaurants and bars. They send out "street teams" to meet with owners and encourage them to post their premises against concealed carry. Now if a private property owner wishes to ban concealed carry on his or her property, that is their right and I have no objection to it.

Part of the requirements to prohibit concealed carry in your restaurant includes posting a visiable and recognized sign on all entrances. WizardPC of Walls of the City blog did some legwork around Nashville to see if they were following this requirement. As you may have guessed, it was sporadic at best. My guess is that a lot of owners just wanted to placate the "street teams" from Gun Free Dining Tennessee and told them what they wanted to hear. Read the whole story on Walls of the City to get a better feel for the law and posting requirements. The bottom line is that if it isn't correctly posted, then you aren't breaking any laws.

H/T Sebastian

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bollywood Meets the Wild Bunch Meets James Bond Meets Dancing with the Stars

The best part is the boomerang pistol. It's Bollywood so it is cheesy but really entertaining.

H/T Everyday, No Days Off

Gun Rights Policy Conference

The Second Amendment Foundation's Gun Rights Policy Conference starts this coming Friday evening in San Francisco. You can register for the event here if you are going to be in area.

I'd love to meet up with any bloggers who are going to be there. We are flying in from North Carolina on Friday afternoon and will be there for the entire conference. If you are going to be there, leave a message here or pop me an email at

I think this is going to be a great event. I know Otis McDonald and Alan Gura will be there along with a number of others from the gun rights community.

UPDATE:  The agenda and speakers have been set for the Gun Rights Policy Conference. Follow this link to see the whole list.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Four Rules of Gun Safety

Il Ling New of the Gunsite Academy presents the four rules of gun safety in this video produced by Ruger. It is fitting that someone from Gunsite present these rules as they were developed by the late Col. Jeff Cooper who founded Gunsite.

What I particularly like about this presentation of the rules is that Il Ling gives the rationale behind the rules.

So Proud

A few weeks ago the Complementary Spouse came home from work and announced that a friend's church was sponsoring a North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permit class for women. The work friend was going to take the class and wondered if the Complementary Spouse was interested in the class because the friend knew that I did a gun blog.

She asked what I thought and I said it was up to her. I did say it would be a good way to get a proper introduction to handgun shooting and safety. I also thought it would be much better if I wasn't the one doing it. I had heard too many horror stories of boyfriends teaching girlfriends to shoot and really botching it.

The Complementary Spouse decided she wanted to do it mostly because it was her constitutional right as an American and because she thought it would be smart to know more about my guns in case of an emergency. Moreover, since the class was going to held on her birthday, it would make it very memorable.

We spent a good deal of Friday night going over some of the information that is presented in the North Carolina course. She found a few websites that detailed the information and she studied them closely. I showed her the differences between a revolver and a semi-automatic pistol. We went over how each were loaded, reviewed safety rules, and how to properly grip a pistol. We also found out she was cross dominant - left eyed, right handed. She really didn't want to go into the class unprepared and she didn't.

Saturday morning came early as she was meeting her friend at 7:15 for breakfast. I sent her off with a cup of coffee and a kiss.

When she got home at around 6pm, she was just bubbling. She had a great time, learned a lot, and shot straight. In her shooting test, she had 29 center of mass with only one flyer which hit in the belly button region. She plans to go ahead and apply for her Concealed Handgun Permit. She isn't sure if she will carry but she believes it is important to go on record so as to secure her rights to do it. I am really, really proud of her.

She said she wants to continue shooting as she had a great time. Isn't that the way it should be? As Tom Gresham always says on GunTalk, take someone shooting this week. When a new person is introduced to shooting, they quickly realize that what the media and the Bradys say about gun owners is an outright lie.

PS: I always refer to the wonderful woman in my life on the blog as the Complementary Spouse. She wants to preserve her anonymity and I respect that. The term Complementary Spouse is a joke with us. Years ago when I was renewing my membership at Sam's Club I was asked if I wanted a Complementary Spouse card.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Post-McDonald Cases - Calendar of Events

The latter part of this month into October will be quite busy in terms of hearings and responses in the post-McDonald gun rights cases. Many of the complaints will have their first official response from the defendants so interesting things will be happening. To provide a bit of perspective on this, I've made up a "calendar of events".

September 17th  - Response received from State of California in Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association et al v. Lindley. Case challenges California AB962 which requires face-to-face sales of handgun ammunition. More on the case here.

September 20th - State Ammunition et al v. Lindley - Response due from the State of California to original complaint. Case challenges California AB962 which requires face-to-face sales of handgun ammunition. More on the case here.

September 20th - Woollard v. Sheridan et al - Response due from the State of Maryland to original complaint. Case challenges Maryland's requirement to show "apprehended danger" in order to qualify for concealed carry permit. More on the case here.

September 23rd - Second Amendment Arms et al v. City of Chicago et al - Status hearing. Case challenges the City of Chicago's New Gun Law. Seeks restitution for confiscated firearms and class action status. More on the case here.

September 23rd - Ezell et al v. City of Chicago et al - Status hearing. Case challenges the City of Chicago's ban on gun ranges. More on the case here and here.

September 24th - Bateman et al v. Perdue et al - Response due from plaintiffs to defendant's motions to dismiss. Case was first post-McDonald suit brought. It challenges North Carolina's emergency powers ban on possession of firearms outside a person's residence during a declared state of emergency. More on the case here and here.

October 8th - Mishaga v. Monken - Response due from State of Illinois to original complaint. Case challenges requirements of Illinois' FOID card. More on the case here.

October 12th - Benson et al v. City of Chicago et al - Extension granted to defendant's to answer or plead case for Local Rule 40.4 case reassignment motion. Case challenges the City of Chicago's New Gun Law. More on the case here, here,

October 22nd - Kachalsky et al v. Cacace et al -  Motions due from all parties. Case challenges New York's requirement to show "good cause" in order to receive a handgun carry permit. More on the case here, here, and here.

The Nevada Example

All parties in the case challenging the possession and discharge of firearms for self-defense in Nevada State Parks, Baker v. Drozdoff et al (former Baker v. Biaggi et al), have agreed to a preliminary injunction in the case. This injunction prevents the enforcement of Nevada Administrative Code Sec. 407.105(1)(b) - (c) which prohibits the possession of a loaded firearm unless one had a recognized concealed carry permit as well as the discharge of any weapon. Nevada has 60 days in which to start an administrative rule-making procedure to amend this code to remove language that abridges the right to keep and bear arms.

Sec. 407.105 currently states, in part:
Possession or use of weapons. (NRS 407.0475, 407.065)

1. In any park, a person shall not:
(a) Use a bow and arrow, slingshot or paint ball launcher;
(b) Possess a firearm, unless:
(1) The firearm is unloaded and inside a vehicle; or
(2) The person in possession of the firearm has a permit to carry a concealed firearm issued pursuant to the provisions of NRS 202.3653 to 202.369, inclusive, and is carrying the firearm in conformity with the terms of the permit;
(c) Discharge a weapon, including, without limitation, an air rifle, spring gun or air pistol; or
(d) Throw a knife, hatchet, spear, stone or projectile,
except as authorized by the Administrator.
 As I described in this post, the case was brought by the Mountain States Legal Foundation on behalf of Al Baker, an University of Idaho law student, who had sought a special use camping permit for a group campsite near Elko, NV. In his permit application, he specifically stated that he intended to have a firearm in his tent for protection whereupon he was informed that would violate the law. Baker is a NRA-certified firearms instructor and holds concealed carry permits for the states of Idaho, Oregon, and Utah. However, Nevada does not have reciprocity with any of these states. While Nevada concealed carry permit holders are allowed to carry in Nevada State Parks, no one is allowed to discharge a firearm even in self-defense (outside of specified hunting areas and target ranges).

Congratulations are due to attorney Jim Manley of the Mountain States Legal Foundation and to the Nevada Attorney General's Office for being able to forge an agreement that works to preserve the Second Amendment rights of visitors to the Nevada State Parks. I guess it is too much to hope for to think that we might see similar moves in places like Chicago, New York, or California.

UPDATE: I received an email from Jim Manley this afternoon (Sept 21). The court order granting a preliminary injunction and stay on proceedings has been signed and filed. I have uploaded it here.

Not That Kind of AK

If you stumble across a website called the "AK Press", let me warn you in advance - it isn't about AK-47's or other Kalashnikov variants. It isn't some helpful site discussing the differences between an AK-47 and an AK-74 or suggesting which mixture of wood stains to use to get the perfect plum color on your stocks. It isn't a forum like AK-47 Net or the AK Files or the AK Forum.

Now that I've said what it isn't, I'll let them tell you what they are:
AK Press is a worker-run collective that publishes and distributes radical books, visual and audio media, and other mind-altering material. We're small: a dozen people who work long hours for short money, because we believe in what we do. We're anarchists, which is reflected both in the books we provide and in the way we organize our business. Decisions at AK Press are made collectively, from what we publish, to what we distribute and how we structure our labor. All the work, from sweeping floors to answering phones, is shared. When the telemarketers call and ask, "who's in charge?" the answer is: everyone. Our goal isn't profit (although we do have to pay the rent). Our goal is supplying radical words and images to as many people as possible.
Ah, jeez, where do these people come from? Unfortunately, having seen what passes for scholarship in some of the nation's colleges and universities, I think I know the answer to this.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thrust and Parry - Gura and the Chicago Attorneys in the Ezell case (updated)

Watching Alan Gura and the attorneys for the City of Chicago go at it in the Ezell case is like watching a fencing competition. It is attack and counter-attack, thrust and parry, lunge and counter-lunge. No foils or epees for these lawyers. Instead it is sabers and no protective headgear all the way.

Right about now (Sept 16th at 5pm EDT) Alan Gura and David Sigale are going into court in Chicago for a hearing on their motion for a temporary restraining order against the City of Chicago. They are seeking this TRO so that the Action Target, the Second Amendment Foundation, and the Illinois State Rifle Association can open a portable firing range in Chicago. The firing range is built on a trailer which has bullet traps, bullet-proof walls, sound dampening, and room for three shooting lanes. These types of ranges are often used in law enforcement training and for weapons demonstrations. They want to open up this range so that people can meet the live-fire requirements of the Chicago Firearms Permit (CFP).

Unlike the NRA's case, Benson et al v. Chicago et al, this case has featured frontal legal assaults by the City of Chicago's Legal Department from almost Day One. These assaults have been met with fierce counter-attacks by Gura and Sigale along with some surprises of their own. To use an analogy, Benson is like the war on the Western Front during WWII while Ezell is like the war on the Eastern Front. The latter was vicious and brutal with no quarter asked nor given.

And so it is with these cases. I don't know if it is because the City of Chicago is still fuming mad that they lost the McDonald case or because they respect the legal acumen of Alan Gura and don't want to be caught short again. Nonetheless, the war started four days after the original filing in this case.

On August 20th, the City of Chicago filed a Local Rule 40.4 Motion to have Ezell reassigned to Judge Ronald Guzman on the ground of relatedness. The amended complaint in Benson gave Chicago the needed entry point as it also challenged the ban on gun ranges in Chicago. Numerous websites that rank judges have put Judge Guzman near or at the bottom of all the judges in the North District of Illinois.

In response to this move, the plaintiffs filed for a temporary restraining order on August 22nd. This ended up being denied without prejudice which meant that it could be brought again later. At that same time, Judge Virginia Kendall set the schedule for discovery, responses, and counter-responses. Discovery was due to end on September 13th, responses due by September 20th, replies to these due a week later, and hearings set for October 1st. Chicago made an oral motion for a slower schedule and were denied.

Now it starts to get really messy. The City of Chicago started taking their depositions of the plaintiffs and related third parties. In the process of taking these depositions, they forgot to give notice to the plaintiff's attorneys which was required. Alan Gura filed a motion for an emergency motion on September 10th to quash these unserved subpoenas. He also asked for sanctions against the City of Chicago for their actions. Chicago claimed it was a clerical oversight and the court let them off the hook.

This Monday, September 13th, Alan Gura and David Sigale again filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against Chicago so that the range could be opened. The range would open on September 24th if allowed.

Chicago retaliated with a motion to "vacate briefing schedule and preliminary injunction hearing" which was set for October 1st. They are really pushing hard to have this case sent to Judge Guzman and out of Judge Kendall's court.

Alan Gura responded with an especially harsh attack on the City of Chicago calling this motion frivolous and only meant to delay the proceedings. He also accused Chicago of being abusive during discovery. Gura went on to say that none of their arguments were correct.

I plan to do a more in-depth analysis of the case this weekend. I have appended the docket report for this case to illustrate all the attack and counter-attacks.

Ezell - Docket Report as of Sept 16

UPDATE: Damn! The Temporary Restraining Order was denied. However, so was the motion by the City of Chicago that sought to delay long enough for Judge Guzman to rule on the Local Rule 40.4 motion. There is a status hearing set for Thursday, Sept 23rd.

On a side note, I checked out the American Bar Association ratings from when Judges Guzman and Kendall were nominated. The ratings are well qualified, qualified, and not qualified. Guzman was rated Qsm/NQmin. This meant that a strong majority thought he was qualified but a minority thought he was not qualified. Kendall, by contrast, was rated WQsm/Qmin which meant that everyone thought she was qualified and a strong majority thought she was well qualified.

9 Classic Firearms Myths

Rsktkr at the ITSTactical blog has an excellent article debunking nine classic firearms myths and whoppers.

The 9 Classic Myths

  1. Caliber Matters
  2. Firearms Experts
  3. Dryfiring Damages Weapons
  4. "I'm a Great Shot"
  5. "A (insert gun here) isn't very accurate"
  6. "I know how to shoot I'm a Police officer, Marine...(Fill in the Blank)" 
  7. "Kneeling/Modern Isosceles/Monica/(insert technique here) isn't comfortable"
  8. "I can't shoot a (insert gun here) because of the grip angle"
  9. "Guns need to be cleaned every time they are fired"
Read his responses to these myths here. Some of them are quite funny and really quite true.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Don't Go Looking for a Fight

Dave Spaulding is a retired law enforcement officer and firearms trainer. Recently, he has been doing a series of videos for Ruger which can be seen on YouTube. He has also been collaborating with Rob Robideau in a series of podcasts on combative training on the Personal Armament Podcast.

In one of his first combative's podcasts entitled Combative Willingness, Dave addresses the issue of the self-defense with a firearm versus the combative application of the firearm. He holds that if you are always on the defensive, you are destined to lose. He says this because at its root meaning, defense means to lose slowly. Whereas combative means to be ready and willing to fight. After the initial attack, you have transitioned from a defensive posture both mentally and physically into one where you are taking the fight to the attacker.

To be combative does not mean you are looking for a fight. Far from it. In the Combative Willingness episode, Dave begins to cover this at around the 8:30 mark. As he notes, no matter how well trained you are or how well prepared you are, you will always run the risk of losing. Dave doesn't sugarcoat it - losing in a fight, especially a fight involving any sort of weapon, can mean losing your life.

John Farnam of Defense Training International has a column he calls "Quips, Quotes, and Lessons Learned From the Field". His September 5th column contained comments from Dave on this very issue:
"I remain amazed at the number of students who seem enamored (albeit discreetly) with the thought of becoming involved in some type of deadly combat. Most are pitiably naive and have scant concept of what a real fight entails, and that, no matter the odds, they'll still have a good chance of losing!

Even the best training falls short with regard to one critical aspect: there is never genuine expectation of injury, nor death!

Few of us receive anywhere near the training of our Special Operations Forces, yet they are killed regularly by less-trained, less-motivated, less-hale conscripts, with ageing, poorly-maintained AKs, who haphazardly stick them over walls and yank on the trigger. You can kill most of them, but there is ever the issue of the 'lucky shot!'

Physical fighting should only be undertaken when you have no choice. When threats can be avoided, they should be. When disengagement can be accomplished at low risk, it should be.

However, when forced to take a stand, a stand worth fighting, and dying, for, then we should counter with great skill, surprise, speed, potency, advantage, and enthusiasm! When you must strike, put him to sleep!"
I highly recommend the whole series of podcasts on combatives on the Personal Armament Podcast. You can download them for the site or on iTunes. If you carry concealed or you have a firearm at home with which to protect your family, you owe to yourself and your loved ones to listen to these podcasts. Training to protect yourself or those you love is as much mental training as it is time at the range.

On a related note, Dave Spaulding's book Handgun Combatives, 2nd. Ed., is reviewed by Rich Grassi in today's The Tactical Wire. He calls it one of the few books he always wants close by for immediate reference.

A Governor That Shoots

Warning - The end of this video is an ad for Governor Rick Perry of Texas.

After seeing this video all I can say is why can't I have a governor that shoots AR's instead of golfing and has both a black Lab and a Dachshund.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Senate Hearing on BATF Reform Postponed

I received this notice from the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning:

NOTICE OF FULL COMMITTEE HEARING POSTPONEMENT - The Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing on “Firearms in Commerce: Assessing the Need for Reform in the Federal Regulatory Process” scheduled for Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 10:00 a.m., in Room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building has been postponed.

According to the note from Erica Chabot that accompanied it, there was a conflict with a Defense Appropriations Subcommittee meeting along with a cloture vote both of which were scheduled for the same time as the BATF reform hearings. No date or time has been set yet for the rescheduled hearings.

The Grey Lady Speaks on the Lead Ammo Ban

On Friday, I warned that the environmental groups, American Bird Conservancy and the Center for Biological Diversity, were not giving up on their attempts to ban lead based ammunition. With predictable timing and their usual logic, the New York Times editorial page has weighed in on the issue. As SayUncle correctly refers to it, an idiotorial.

They buy the arguments of the environmental lobby without question:
The N.R.A. should consult the hunters among its members. They know that getting lead out of the environment is essential. Lead is as toxic in nature as it is in the form of lead paint in houses. Scientists have established a clear link between lead from ammunition and the poisoning of some 75 species of birds — especially waterfowl and scavengers like condors, eagles and ravens.
As to consulting hunters, I suggest that the NY Times consult hunters instead. They would find that most feel that lead shot and lead bullets let them kill game more cleanly. Moreover, I doubt that many target shooters could afford to shoot Barnes copper-based bullets on a regular basis. It is a great bullet but with the world price of copper so high, it isn't cheap.

The Times concludes with this:
We urge the E.P.A. to reconsider this hasty decision. The agency has the authority it needs to regulate the lead in ammunition as a toxic substance, even though it isn’t authorized to regulate the manufacture of ammunition itself. (It has said it will consider a ban on lead fishing sinkers, which would be welcome, but that is not going nearly far enough.) A bullet fired from a hunter’s gun should kill only once, not go on killing again and again.
The EPA may or may not have the authority to regulate the lead in ammo. It is borderline legally and I predict that regardless of which side ultimately wins, it will end up in court. Frankly, it is time for Congress to clarify that ammunition and its components are outside of the EPA's oversight.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Halo Reach

The newest version of Halo - Halo Reach - appears in stores on Tuesday. The Complementary Spouse's nephew Kyle aka ElamiteWarrior got to try it out competitively in this video taken at Pax 2010. ElamiteWarrior is currently the number 2 ranked pro in Halo 3.

The second video goes into detail about some of the changes from Halo 3 to Halo Reach. To be honest, I wouldn't have a clue unless I asked the nephews.

Glock Gen 3 Versus Gen 4 - What's the Difference

Steve Koski, IDPA champion, engineer, and occasional visitor to the GunDudes podcast, has published a report on the differences between a Gen 3 Glock 17 and a Gen 4 Glock 17.

His report tears down the two generations of Gloc 17's as only an engineer could do. It delves into the minutiae of the differences. Steve also present his perceptions of the differences in terms of shooting.

If you have been wondering whether to stick with the Gen 3 or move up to the Gen 4, this report is well worth a read.

Friday, September 10, 2010

They Just Won't Go Away

The Shooting Wire reported this morning the Center for Biogical Diversity, the American Bird Conservancy, and other groups that brought the petition to the EPA seeking to ban lead in firearms ammunition are not giving up. The groups plan to challenge the ruling by the EPA that lead in ammunition is beyond their authority. They have submitted a Freedom of Information Act Request requesting all documents related to the decision.

In a press release sent out by CBD , they say:
“The Environmental Protection Agency’s denial was based on false assumptions and an inexplicable misreading of so-called exemptions in the Act,” said Adam Keats, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Given the EPA’s clear authority and duty under the Toxic Substances Control Act to regulate toxic lead in ammunition to end unnecessary lead poisoning of wildlife and reduce human health risk, it appears that their decision to dodge the issue was politically motivated.”
Later in the press release, they add:
“We are going to get to the bottom of the politics behind the EPA decision — we are not going to let the agency simply walk away from the preventable poisoning of birds and other wildlife,” said Jeff Miller, conservation advocate with the Center. “We remain committed to making sure toxic lead is removed from the environment, and we’re continuing our campaign to see that through.”
The American Bird Conservancy is similarly upset. In their press release, they say the EPA made a wrong decision and that electoral politics were involved. According to Darin Schroeder, their VP for "conservation advocacy":
The EPA erred, either purposely or by not reading the applicable laws we cited in our extensive, well-researched petition, in their rush to dismiss the hunting ammunition portion of our complaint before the November elections.
They want a meeting with Steve Owens, the EPA Assistant Administrator, to get answers. So far he has blown them off and they are mad.
it is the obligation of the Administration to accept its legal responsibility and affirmatively act on this issue within 90 days time. Without question, we are looking at all options for recourse
The late political scientist Harold Lasswell long ago defined politics as who gets what, when, and how. These so-called environmental groups knew they couldn't ban hunting or lead ammunition if they went the legislative route. When their backdoor attempt to do the same was ultimately stopped (so far), then, and only then, did they begin to cry "politics".

It was politics from the moment they filed their petition and they know it. If some Obama political appointee at EPA stopped this because he knew it would make a bad November even worse for the Democrats, tough. If your erstwhile allies are telling you to knock it off, you might want to listen. However, when it comes to true believers, you just can't tell them no and have them listen.

Trigger the Vote

I think the NRA has a winner with this ad. It mixes humor with a serious message - we need to vote. And to vote you need to be registered to vote. If aren't registered to vote and you are over 18 and a citizen, then what the hell is wrong with you?

Frankly, I hate some of the Federal laws that have made it so easy to be registered and so hard to check if someone is registered illegally. I registered to vote on my 18th birthday. I went down to the Guilford County Courthouse and did it. It meant something to me doing it that way and I haven't missed an election or primary in 35 years. That said, it is so easy to register to vote that there are no good excuses for not being registered.

Finance Friday

There is an old saying that the only thing certain in life is death and taxes. For this Finance Friday, I will be talking about making tax decisions in a period of uncertainty and what can happen if you do a DIY (do it yourself) will.

Tax Decisions in Limbo

If Congress does nothing, the Bush tax cuts will expire at the end of the year. Officially, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 sunsets at the end of 2010. What does this mean for you?

First, the 10% tax bracket goes away and 15% becomes the lowest tax bracket. With all the talk about the EGGTRA giving the rich and wealthy tax breaks, we tend to forget about this part. Thus, tax payers in the lowest bracket could be facing a 50% increase in taxes.

Second, the maximum capital gains rate will rise from 15% to 20%. If you have been sitting on unrealized capital gains - that is appreciated stock or property that hasn't been sold yet - you have to make a decision about whether it is better to keep holding it or sell before the end of the year.

Third, many dividends are only taxed at 15%. These are called qualified dividends. Next year, if EGGTRA is allowed to expire, all dividends will again be taxed as ordinary income. For some, this means dividends will be taxed at up to 39.6%.

With all the competing proposals about either letting the tax cuts expire or to extend them for various amounts of time, what should you do?

Tax lawyer Robert Wood has some suggestions in this article in Forbes. One thing I'd say for sure is that you want to discuss this with your tax adviser if you are sitting on capital gains.

Do It Yourself Wills or Why You Really Want an Attorney

If the late Chief Justice Warren Burger can screw up a will - and he did - what makes you think something you copied out of a book at the library will pass muster. Burger left an estate of approximately $1.8 million. Due to the way he wrote the will, he ended up costing his heirs $450,000 in estate taxes. A moderately competent estate lawyer would have cut this bill to virtually nothing.

Everyone has a will whether they know it or not. If you don't make your wishes known by drawing up a will, the state will do it for you. This is what is known as dying in testate or without a valid will. Your assets will be divided according to the provisions of state law. The bottom line is that your wishes while alive have no impact unless you draw up a will.

And this leads to the best argument for having an attorney draw up your will. A will assures that what you want to have happen in terms of the distribution of your assets at your death, will. Every state has differing laws when it comes to wills and inheritances. The software you buy at Target or BestBuy rarely takes this into account. The DIY Wills book you checked out from the library might be OK for California but not work in North Carolina. In terms of marital assets, California is a community property state and North Carolina is a common law state. They have differing methods of dividing an estate.

What kind of attorney do you need? A general practice attorney might do a good job but your odds increase to near 100% if you get a board-certified estates and trusts attorney.

If you need more convincing, then read this article by Deborah Jacobs. It contains some good advice and some real horror stories.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

FN SCAR Shooting Impressions - Video

Andrew of the Vuurwapen Blog gives his impressions about shooting the FN Mk 16 SCAR-L in the video below.

If you haven't visited the Vuurwapen Blog, you need to. It has to be one of the best sources of reliable, tested info on the AR and related platforms out there. Andrew thoroughly tests weapons, provides great videos which illustrate his points, and is a "been there, done that" kind of guy without being obnoxious about it.

Kachalsky v. Cacace Pre-Motion Conference Today (bumped)

Judge Kathy Seibel's pre-motion conference on the proposed motions to dismiss from Westchester County and the State of New York as well as the proposed counter-motion by the plaintifs is scheduled for 2:15pm this afternoon (Sept. 7th) in White Plains, NY. Judge Seibel requires an informal pre-motion conference before she allows formal motions to be introduced in her court.

The letters from all parties are discussed in detail here.

As soon as any details emerge, I'll be posting them.

UPDATE:  After checking for any word on the hearing, I finally emailed Alan Gura about it. In his email response, he notes that the hearing was mostly "ordinary housekeeping"and setting the briefing schedule - the normal stuff that goes on in any case. There will be cross-motions produced and filed. These will appear in in time.

San Francisco's High Bridge Arms Can Reopen

Despite hundreds of e-mails and letters opposing the re-opening of San Francisco's only gun store, High Bridge Arms, the Police Department granted them a conditional permit to reopen. The 3-member panel that heard High Bridge's request said that the opponents "had failed to offer evidence backing their assertion that the store brought crime to the neighborhood."

In a post I did on this in August, I noted one of the suggestions for the space was a wine and cheese store or a laundry. In virtually any other city in the world, I'd have said the person making that suggestion was being sarcastic. In San Francisco, they mean it.

The permit does impose some conditions upon High Bridge Arms. They must update their security including increased video surveillance and waist-high crash barriers outside to prevent cars from smashing throught the store's front. High Bridge is also being required to lock up all firearms in a safe outside of business hours as well as require a parent or guardian to accompany those under 18 entering the store. In a bone tossed to the neighborhood on appearance, they can't have any advertising on their display windows.

The owners had no problem with the requirement to update their security. Steve Alcairo, the store's manager, said "It's a fair request. It's about following the letter of the law, and that's what we do."

Despite all the e-mails and letters opposing the re-opening, only 4 people bothered to speak against it at the hearing while 10 spoke for it.

This is pretty typical in my opinion given how easy it is to pop out an email opposing something. However, when it comes down to actually going to a hearing and testifying, it becomes too much trouble. Fortunately, the good guys won this round.


Yesterday, a short notice appeared on the Senate Judiciary Committe website. It read in its entirety:
September 7, 2010

The Senate Committee on the Judiciary has scheduled a hearing entitled "Firearms in Commerce: Assessing the Need for Reform in the Federal Regulatory Process" for Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

By order of the Chairman.
This notice was picked up by everyone from the Drudge Report to Gateway Pundit and assorted gun blogs. Unlike the general blogs, gun blogs didn't fly into hysteria. Most assumed, correctly, that it was about the BATF Reform Act. SayUncle, David Codrea's National Gun Rights Examiner, and others made the connection almost immediately.

Part of the problem is that the notice appeared near lunch time and people were away from their desks. Moreover, Erica Chabot, the Committee's press secretary was out of the office on jury duty and couldn't respond quickly.

With most everyone having free nationwide long distance with their cell plans, you would have thought that people would have just picked up the phone and called the Committee. That is what I did and what David Codrea did.

I ended up speaking with Stephen Miller, press secretary for the Republicans on the Committee. He said that the primary focus of the hearings would be on S. 941, the BATFE Reform and Firearms Modernization Act of 2009. He noted the Committee Chairman, Sen. Pat Leahy, was one of the 36 co-sponsors of the bill. Mr. Miller said he didn't have a witness list yet so he could not be sure that the hearings wouldn't take off on tangents into other areas. He did suggest that I speak with Erica Chabot. I ended up emailing her and got a response this morning.

The Judiciary Committee notices hearings one week in advance, and often times, witness lists are noticed a few days later. We are still working to finalize the witness list for this hearing, and once that is finalized, we will notice it on our website.

This hearing is intended to examine the BATFE's practices for enforcing Federal laws against federally licensed firearms sellers and proposed legislation to make reforms and improvements to that system.

The hearing will look at S.941, legislation proposed by Senator Mike Crapo, of which Senator Leahy is a cosponsor along with a bipartisan group of 34 other Senators. The legislation is intended to improve the regulatory process for federally licensed dealers by, among other provisions, instituting a graduated penalty system, providing expanded administrative and judicial review of agency sanctions and revocations, and directing the Attorney General to produce investigative guidelines for the BATFE.
Sometimes the most obvious explanation is the correct explanation. That was the case here.

As an aside, the National Shooting Sports Foundation supports this bill and has asked people to contact their Senators to support it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Are You Sure This is Texas?

The Dallas Morning News ran a story today about a proposal in Carrollton, TX to prohibit gun stores from opening near liquor and certain other stores. Carrollton is a suburb of Dallas.

The Carrollton City Council heard from residents who were upset when Big Slim's Guns opened for business in a mini-mall that also contains a liquor store. The controversy was started by an email sent to residents of the Highland Neighborhood Association by its president, Steve Babick. Mr. Babick said the opposition to Big Slim's was "fear of the unknown" and suggested that the owner, Jack Kendall, speak at a future neighborhood association.

In response to the "concern" shown by residents, Councilman Terry Simons proposed a new ordinance "that would restrict future gun shops from opening near liquor stores and certain other retail establishments." The ordinance will be discussed at a future Council meeting.

The co-owner of Big Slim's, Jack Kendall, is none too happy about being treated "like strip clubs." Kendall vowed to fight the ordinance and predicted it wouldn't go anywhere. If it is approved, the Texas State Rifle Association has said they will fight it.

In defense of his proposed ordinance, Councilman Simons said:
During a break in the meeting, Simons defended his proposal. Big Slim's posed a potential threat to public safety, he said, pointing to numerous burglaries and a deadly shooting that took place near the mini mall in recent years.
A threat to public safety? Who is he trying to kid? Gun stores have some of the stoutest security of any retail establishment with CCTV systems, iron bars over the windows, security gates, and vaults for the firearms when closed.

At this same meeting, the Council passed laws against herbs used as intoxicants such as K2 and salvia. This passed without any discussion. Given that, you'd expect more concern about a liquor store than a gun store.

H/T Alphecca

Costco and Guns

Sailorcurt of the Captain of a Crew of One blog has an interesting post about the wholesale club Costco and their policy on guns in the store.

Their policy is that guns are not allowed in the store except for law enforcement personnel. As a membership store, this is, of course, their right to do so. But as Sailorcurt points out, you have to dig to find out this information. It is not in the FAQ's on their website nor in their brochure outlining the terms and conditions of your membership.

Not that long ago, a West Point graduate who was carrying concealed was shot and killed by police outside a Costco store in Las Vegas. It is still not clear exactly what happened and, while I hate to be a cynic, I expect the outcome to exonerate the Metro Las Vegas police. What is clear is that a Costco employee called 911 and reported a man with a gun in their store.

It is up to you whether you want to deal with Costco or not. For me, it is a non-issue as we don't have any Costco's in western North Carolina. We only have Sam's Clubs and their policy is to abide by the laws of each state and locality with regard to guns. I suggest you read Sailorcurt's post above and then make up your own mind after reading it.

UPDATE: "nealatkins" below suggests that I've been punked. By extension, then Sailorcurt has been punked. The suggestion that this is not really Costco policy is because of the header which leads to Costco's in-store firearms policy. It reads:
If I just looked at the header I might have agreed. Since I was challenged to "prove" it I will. If you go to and then click on the menu header for Customer Service you will get this:
Once there click on the link to "Membership Information". You will then get a header that looks like this:
On that page is a section called "How Do I Join?" The fourth item reads:
Membership cards will be issued immediately when you apply in person, or mailed within 7-10 days after receiving the application in the mail. If you desire additional information, please contact our call center at 1-800-774-2678, or e-mail us at customer comments and suggestions.
The part that reads "customer comments and suggestions" is a hyperlink. Clicking on that you will get:
The link to the firearms policy quoted by Sailorcurt begins "" just as the hyperlink to customer comments and suggestions reads "". I am presuming that they have outsourced either parts of their customer service or IT infrastructure. Checking using whois, is registered to Savvis, Inc. provides data centers and other IT professional services.

Why did I just go to such lengths just to show that the information presented on this blog is correct? Because I strive to do my best to provide honest, verifiable information on guns, gun laws, legal issues dealing with firearms, and gun policy.

Win Free Guns!

The Guns and Ammo Blog has their September listing of contests where you can win a firearm, accessory, or other gun related stuff up.

Free always wins in my book!

The Mexican Gun Story ...Again

As SayUncle notes, we haven't heard about guns in Mexico in a while. We have ABCNews to thank for pushing the story again.

In a story breathlessly headlined, "Mexican Crime, American Guns", they talk about a "shocking new report" that has been obtained by ABC News. They "obtained" the report from Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns. You can "obtain" it, too on the MAIG website here.
The study, based on Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) data and prepared by the advocacy group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, shows that three out of four guns used in crimes in Mexico and submitted for tracing were sold in the four U.S. states that border Mexico. (emphasis mine)
The key in all of this data is just which guns are submitted for tracing. The Mexican government is not going to submit the M-16s stolen or sold to drug cartels by the Mexican Army for tracing. This would show that the weapons were originally sold to Mexico under the Foreign Military Sales program. They are not going to submit the AK-47s that the cartels obtain from countries such as Venezuela as that would obscure the story that they are trying to promote. So while the average American is led to believe it is AR-15s and AK-47s submitted for tracing, it is more likely an old H&R Topper single shot 12 gauge that has been cut down.

When you use as the basis of your story a report that is entitled by the gun control organization's authors as an "issue brief", you are just as complicit in pushing an agenda as the gun control organization.

A couple of notes on the report itself. First, by using export rates, MAIG can skew the data to make it look like California with their restrictive gun laws is less of a problem than other border states with more relaxed laws. In reality, in 2009, more guns were traced to California than to Arizona, New Mexico, and Florida combined. Using "export rates", they list Arizona as the "worst" state and California comes in at number five instead of number two.

Second, the efforts by Bloomberg and his allies to weaken the Tiarht Amendment are what allowed ATF to provide this information to MAIG.
The data analyzed in this report was provided by ATF to Mayors Against Illegal Guns on March 4, 2010. Until 2007, this data was not available because Congress had implemented restrictions, known as the “Tiahrt Amendments,” which prohibited ATF from releasing crime gun trace data. However, in 2007 and 2009, after national campaigns by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and over 30 police organizations, Congress relaxed these restrictions on sharing crime gun trace data. Although there are still significant restrictions on the use of ATF crime gun trace data, the recent reforms allowed ATF to provide the data set that is the basis for this report to Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Providing aggregate level data is one thing. However, this reports shows that individual level data still needs protection from fishing expeditions by Bloomberg and his allies. With Todd Tiarht leaving Congress at the end of this term, we will need to be wary of attempts to weaken the Tiarht Amendment further.