Good Thing I Skipped Indianapolis

May 6th, 2014


Does the NRA know there are gun owners who aren't chest-beating hard-right conservatives? Seemingly not, because they've done a good job of scaring those people away.

Case in point: Sarah Palin's keynote address at this year's annual meeting.

Her speech was a collection of cliched slogans delivered in a way to best work the crowd, but little of it had anything to do with the 2nd Amendment. Instead, she used the podium as an opportunity to bash various White House policies, bemoan the lack of prayer in schools, and demean "clownish little 'Kumbaya'-humming fairy-tale-inhaling liberals."

Just when the crowd was fawning over her, she delivered the coup de grace, saying "if I was in charge, they would know waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists. [07:15]"

What the ☠☠☠☠? No, really, what the ☠☠☠☠? Who cleared this? I'm sure it sounded witty when she rehearsed it for the Local Tea Party 118 in the dressing room, but it just gives our opponents ammunition to mock us.

This is an embarrassment. This is why potential supporters, some of whom have money and influence, shy away from us. Where was Colion Noir? Tom Selleck? Emily Miller? Nope, the board seems to have preferred someone who rants about "intolerant, anti-freedom leftist liberals."

This is how we insulate ourselves and alienate allies, and it has to stop.

Cert Denied for Drake

May 5th, 2014


The Supreme Court has refused to hear arguments in Drake v. Jerejian. For the third term in a row, they've dodged the issue of bearing arms outside the home while the lower courts continue to defy and eviscerate the Heller and McDonald decisions. Furthermore, we have a fairly clear split since the 9th Circuit's ruling in Peruta.

As it stands, the right to self-defense is unique among civil rights. In many locations, one must demonstrate "good cause" or "justifiable need" to exercise it. Apply that logic to freedom of the press or peaceable assembly, and we would have universal outrage. The right to keep and bear arms should be no different.

The Court has been given motivation and reason to address the issue. The only reason I can imagine for blatantly avoiding resolution is fear of controversy. If that's the case, anyone concerned with civil rights, regardless of their feelings on guns, should be very concerned.


April 30th, 2014


Everytown for Gun Safety is less than two weeks old, and it's already falling apart. Tom Ridge has announced his resignation, and he was supposed to be their star recruit.

I looked forward to a thoughtful and provocative discussion about the toll gun violence takes on Americans. After consultation with Everytown, I have decided that I am uncomfortable with their expected electoral work.

That's nothing new. He's not the first politician to be misled by Michael Bloomberg's recruitment speeches, nor the first to walk away in disgust.

Meanwhile, Everytown associate Shannon Watts has nothing better to do than harass the Lamar billboard company because Todd Kauranen of Slide Fire staged a silly picture with her. Since Slide Fire doesn't show remorse, she's going after a company that rented them billboard space in the past.

Also, since the picture didn't portray her in a positive light, it constitutes violence towards women. I suppose this makes sense to people who confuse Facebook with real life. Coincidentally, those people seem to be the only supporters Bloomberg and his allies can seem to gather.

Even a Stopped Clock…

April 29th, 2014


I'm not a fan of Fox News in the least. Charles Krauthammer and Megyn Kelly are great commentators, but the overall flood of right-wing rhetoric gets grating after awhile. That said, Greg Gutfield has personally taken point on the issue of e-cigarette regulation, and he's well worth hearing.

He's been very vocal on the matter, and he makes some great points. What's more, he's on a nationally-syndicated show in a time slot seen by millions. Please take a moment to voice your support.

Also, somebody get him to upgrade from those awful Blu sticks.

Breakfast with Bloomberg

April 28th, 2014


Quick, somebody tell me when that has ever happened?

Lamb should be better at her job than this. She's the communications director for Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Everytown Big Gulp Guns. She has also worked as press secretary for John Edwards and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I'd think she can handle herself in a debate, but she stumbles and falls back on tired slogans.

If Bloomberg wants to blow $50 million to buy his way into heaven, he's welcome to try. Despite the bullying rhetoric and hubris, money doesn't buy the support or respect of normal people who actually, say, work for a living.

Proposed FDA Rule Changes for E-Cigarettes

April 25th, 2014


The FDA has been making rumblings about regulating e-cigarettes for some time now. Today, they published their proposal [pdf].  It's 241 pages, but this is what I've gathered on first pass:

Expect a ban the sale of e-liquid to minors via the internet, but not to adults. There's no call for ban on those candy-flavored liquids that supposedly reel children into the habit. It doesn't look like they're going after liquid nicotine, either.

There are calls for labeling standards, but the industry never really opposed that. As far as the hardware goes, it looks like it will be exempt:

For purposes of this part, FDA considers any loose tobacco, including pipe tobacco, and the nicotine in e-cigarette cartridges to be within the definition of "covered tobacco product." FDA proposes to treat covered tobacco products in a manner consistent with FDA's treatment of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco throughout part 1140. In current part 1140, FDA imposes restrictions on cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, but not on the components, parts, and accessories of such products. [p. 131]

Now comes the troubling part. They also want to classify e-cigarettes as Modified Risk Tobacco Products under section 911 of the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act. That would require liquid manufacturers to petition the FDA for approval–a process that is neither easy or cheap. There doesn't appear to be a grandfather clause, so manufacturers will have to apply within two years if they wish to continue selling existing products. This could have a chilling effect on smaller manufacturers and retailers.

Most surprising is the fact that they repeatedly admit to ignorance on the harm-reduction potential, the actual risks, and even the content of the products they want to regulate. This whole thing feels like a rush job under the pretext of looking like they're doing something. 

It's not as bad as expected, but we're not out of the woods. There's going to be a comment period, and there's going to be lobbying. CASAA is our advocate, but they need our help. It's far easier to stop a bad regulation than it is to repeal it.

We Need to Choose Better Heroes

April 24th, 2014


So, Cliven Bundy's been running his mouth. For a guy who refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of the federal government, he sure does a good job of draping himself in the American flag. He also has things like this to say:

I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro (…) because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do? They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy?

I have to say, I didn't expect that. He may have been questionable before, but now he's pure poison to his supporters. They're doing their best to backpedal at this point, but the damage is done. Those who would accuse conservatives of being anarchists and racists now have all the ammunition they need.

Shouting the right Niemöller quotes and waving the flag around doesn't make someone a ideal spokesperson. There's certainly no cause for pulling rifles off the wall and crying wolf on his behalf. Let's hope some folks learn from this.

Two Can Play

April 20th, 2014


Michael Bloomberg has started a new initiative called "Everytown for Gun Safety." It's easily the worst gun safety site I've ever seen. There is no information about safe handling, safe storage, safety training, or anything about safety at all. It's just boilerplate for gun-control advocacy.

That just won't do. Someone created a pro-gun "Everytown for Gun Safety" Facebook page, but it has been removed. Bloomberg must be a really poor sport.

For an alternative, check out Anytown for Gun Safety. Yes, I'm being snarky and spiteful. If anyone wants the .com or .org domains for a better purpose, let me know.

I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

April 18th, 2014


The company line from the arch-conservatives is that Cliven Bundy won a battle against tyranny when he called in the militia to repel Big Gubmint from his land.  The truth is quite different.  Bundy broke the law, and when things didn't go his way, he called in a bunch of armed thugs to avoid the consequences.

Here's a memo to the Alex Jones fanclub: you have all been duped.  Using force (or the threat of force) to coerce others is the very antithesis of a free society.  You've been shown all too willing to use the tools of fascism under the guise of fighting it.

Captain Brillo Beard

Take a good look at the patch on Captain Brillo Beard's chest.  In case you've forgotten Roman history, the Praetorian Guard served emperors.  Occasionally, they killed the very emperors they served if it suited them.  You might remember Caligula, but Pertinax, Aurelian, and Caracalla (there's probably a whole list somewhere) all fell to their own guards in the name of political expediency or simply for money.

Emperors and their cronies have no place in a nation built on the principles of democracy.

If this had turned into another Ruby Ridge, it would have been on the heads of the Oathkeepers, the Minutemen, and all the other reprobates who confuse waving a gun with real civic action.   I can tell you I'd be none too happy to have their armchair snipers muzzling me from an overpass.  I'm far less afraid of the BLM than I am of that guy's trigger finger getting too twitchy.

There might come a time when Americans are compelled to take up arms against a tyrannical government.  This isn't it.  The people out there just waiting for the slightest excuse to start shooting aren't a response to a threat; they are the threat.

(Addendum: Anyone who thinks this is a secret conspiracy between Harry Reid and the Red Chinese would be advised to spend less time on Infowars and more time on Snopes.)

About Those AR-15 Pistol Braces

April 5th, 2014


Earlier this year, Sig Sauer started marketing an AR-15 pistol with a "stabilizing brace" that looks a bit like a short stock. As pictured here, it's designed to fit over the forearm.

People are claiming that the ATF, local law enforcement, or Bigfoot have been cruising public ranges and making arrests because some folks are using the brace as a stock. That's not true. They can't do that.

The ATF has classified this weapon as a pistol. Sticking it up to your shoulder does not turn it into a short-barreled rifle. I've already had arguments about this, so here's the response from the ATF themselves:

FTB [Firearms Technology Branch] has previously determined (see FTB #99146) that the firing of a weapon from a particular position, such as placing the receiver extension of an AR-15 type pistol on the user’s shoulder, does not change the classification of a weapon. Further, certain firearm accessories such as the SIG stability brace have not been classified by the FTB as shoulder stocks and, therefore, using the brace improperly does not constitute a design change. Using an accessory improperly would not change the classification of a weapon under Federal law.

The relevant word is designed. As per 26 U.S. Code § 5845(c), a rifle is a weapon that is designed to be fired from the shoulder. This doesn't qualify.

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt

April 2nd, 2014


There's been something of a full-court press to demonize electronic cigarettes in the media lately. The idea is to present them as a public-health menace on the same level as tobacco, thus triggering extensive regulations. Senator Durbin, along with Blumenthal, Markey, Boxer, Heitkamp, and Lautenberg, has called on the FDA to step in.

And why? Because they're not already regulated. It's a grim tautology that implies every aspect of our behavior should be subject to government oversight. It's no coincidence that the politicians who have been the most vocal on this matter are also the biggest supporters of gun control in Washington DC.

It comes down to the same philosophy: meddling.

Continued »

Goodbye, Piers

March 29th, 2014


Piers Morgan signed off on his last CNN broadcast tonight. He didn't skimp on the melodrama.

But that’s where guns belong – on a military battlefield, in the hands of highly trained men and women fighting for democracy and freedom. Not in the hands of civilians. The scourge of gun violence is a disease that now infects every aspect of American life.

At least he finally came out and said it.

The gun lobby in America, led by the NRA, has bullied this nation’s politicians into cowardly, supine silence. Even when 20 young children are blown away in their classrooms.

I'd respond that we did no such thing. We opposed broken and ineffective regulations that, by the admission of the people promoting them, would have done nothing to stop another mass shooting.

Ah, but why bother? He's going back across the Atlantic, and he can be their problem. Let's hope he keeps that cricket bat handy.

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