Affluenza

May 24th, 2014

rodger

By now, you've likely heard of the Elliot Rodger incident. He stabbed three people to death in his apartment, then when on a shooting rampage that killed three other people. It's big news because he's the son of a Hollywood director, he left a juicy manifesto, and his victims were affluent white people.

Poor children are shot in Chicago on a weekly basis, and we treat them like a grim but acceptable statistic. Yet we obsess over the ravings of a spoiled narcissist who decided to punish the world because he couldn't get laid.

Yes, Rodger was sick, but so are we all.

Despite having plenty of clues as to his mental instability, the police did nothing. Sandy Hook was supposed to open a dialogue on our shameful treatment of mental illness in this country, but it was drowned out by calls for gun control because the latter makes for easy politics. We're still making the same mistake.

How sane is that?

We Just Can't Have Nice Things

May 20th, 2014

moms_chipotle

Last year, Starbucks asked customers to stop carrying guns in their locations because people walked in with rifles slung over their shoulders. Last week, Jack in the Box asked customers to stop carrying guns in their locations because people walked in with rifles slung over their shoulders. This week, Chipotle asked customers to stop carrying guns in their locations because people walked in with rifles slung over their shoulders.

Are we seeing a pattern here, folks? Are we really that obtuse? This isn't civil activism; this is a malicious sort attention whoring that hurts the very cause these dinks claim to support.

And they have the audacity to pretend they don't even get it. This isn't happening because of some culture war. It's happening because people can't show simple discretion and manners. They get a picture to show to their friends on social media, and the anti-gun groups get to chalk up a very public victory.

Frankly, if I saw this going on in a restaurant, I wouldn't eat there either.

Carrying for the cause. Not.

This needs to stop. The only "awareness" it raises is that gun owners are disruptive, selfish nut jobs. We need to single these people out, and we need to ostracize them.

C'mon, Dudley…

May 16th, 2014

gingerey

Ah, election season. Today's obnoxious mail comes from our friends at the National Association for Gun Rights.

I think they meant Phil Gingrey. The guy doesn't even have red hair, so it's not accurate to refer to him as "gingery."

Or it could be they're too busy slandering real 2nd Amendment advocates to be bothered with trivialities like spell check.

Probably the latter. I really don't expect much competency from an organization whose sole purpose seems to be nipping at the heels of the NRA. Frankly, Dudley Brown has his hands full making a fool of himself in Colorado. I'd appreciate him not splashing around in our pool.

That said, the primary race to replace Senator Chambliss is already as wretched as can be. While Gingrey has been an unwavering friend to the 2nd Amendment, I'm not fond of his support for CISPA or for FISA expansions. As far as I'm concerned, those are both huge fails on the civil liberties front.

Jack Kingston is also running for the seat. He's a hard-right partisan who voted for last year's government shutdown. He also voted to make the PATRIOT Act permanent, and he supports the usual time-wasting drivel like amending the Constitution to punish flag burning and being gay. No thanks.

Then there's Karen Handel, who ran an infamously vicious and negative campaign against Nathan Deal in her run for governor. She was eager enough to court favor with the Log Cabin Republicans when it helped her earlier in her career, but when it became apparent being nice to gays was bad for Tea Party politics, she tried to deny her membership with them. She's an opportunist who sells out her allies when it suits her. Think carefully before allowing her to represent you.

And what of Paul Broun, for whom the NAGR are so fond? I couldn't come up with a better caricature of the Sean Hannity fan club if I tried. Note to Republicans: if you want any hope of attracting moderates, drop the family-values and anti-science stuff.

That pretty much leaves Derrick Grayson and Michelle Nunn. I really like Grayson's platform, but I don't know if he stands a chance. If Michelle Nunn's name sounds familiar, it's because her father was a long-serving, old-school Georgia Democrat who followed his conscience and knew how to build consensus. She seems to be cut from similar cloth, but I'm leery of her stance on the 2nd Amendment.

So, the issue arises: vote for a terrible candidate who might fight for the right to keep and bear arms, or vote for a good candidate who might not? Sometimes single-issue voting isn't a clear course.

Heller v. DC

May 15th, 2014

US District Court no the Supreme Court of United States of America, see the Pride for LAW

Following the Supreme Court's 2008 decision in DC v. Heller, the District of Columbia was forced to allow handgun ownership. They quickly cobbled together the Firearms Control Emergency Amendment Act of 2008, into which they put as many obstacles as they could. They retained a very intrusive and burdensome registration system that wouldn't pass constitutional muster in most other places.

Dick Heller and the 2nd Amendment Foundation brought another suit challenging several of the District's regulations, and thus far, the courts have been uncooperative. Today's decision in the US District Court [pdf] doesn't leave us with much hope.

Judge Boasberg approached the proceedings with a hostile and dismissive mind. The Supreme Court found that rational basis was off the table when considering laws abridging the right to keep and bear arms, so he simply calls it intermediate scrutiny.

Given that the Supreme Court urges judicial deference to legislative predictions as well as to legislative judgments regarding conflicting evidence,it is plain that Plaintiffs are mistaken about the burden of proof in this case. The District need not prove that the gun-registration laws will actually further its asserted interests in order to prevail. [p. 17]

Yes, they do need to…at least outside Washington DC. He sweeps aside statistical evidence from Gary Kleck in favor of anecdotal evidence from a few folks in law enforcement, and he arrives at some rather alarming conclusions.

Much more persuasive is the District’s second, public-safety, justification for the gun registry.  The registration system ostensibly serves this interest by allowing the city government to screen out dangerous or irresponsible people who try to obtain a firearm, to ensure that gun owners are familiar with gun safety and D.C. firearm regulations, and to inhibit the illegal trafficking of firearms.  In other words, the basic registration requirement allows the District to keep track of who is responsible for which guns,while also acting as a “hook” onto which the District can attach additional public-safety regulations. [p. 23]

The federal background-check system so lauded by proponents of gun control is supposed to screen out ineligible buyers. The last sentence strongly implies that upholding this law will make further restrictions more acceptable down the road.

If there's any doubt as to his hostility towards us, his response to the argument that multiple registration requirements create a burden wipes that out.

In any event, as alluded to earlier, the Second Amendment has so far been read to protect only “a personal right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense within the home.”  While one or two firearms may be necessary for such purposes, a large collection of weapons is not. The Constitution, in short, guarantees the right “to keep and bear arms,” not the right “to keep and bear an armory.” As an individual seeks to acquire more guns, he moves farther and farther away from the right to bear arms and closer toward the constitutionally unprotected goal of assembling a personal arsenal. [p. 59]

So, what constitutes a "personal arsenal," thus removing constitutional protection? Three guns? Ten? Does freedom of the press only apply to two or fewer computers in the house? This makes no sense and sets a very dangerous precedent.

Our next step is to appeal this to the DC Circuit. They sided with us in the original lawsuit, and we can hope they stand with us now.

Senate Hearings on E-cigarettes

May 12th, 2014

s2j6MEX

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will be meeting Thursday to discuss potential regulations on e-cigarettes. The bad news is that they've already been subjected to a great deal of misinformation. The good news is that Senator Isakson is on the committee.

He can be reached via email here. Please keep things positive and polite. More to the point, keep them short and succinct. These communications are read by busy and underpaid staffers, and yours needs to stand out if they're to bring it to his attention.

Focus on the positive aspects. If you've quit smoking tobacco, mention how effective these are. Tell him you aren't inhaling 4,000 toxic chemicals and that you aren't exposing those around you to secondhand smoke. Point out that you will not be a burden on the already-strained health-care system.

Reasonable regulations that reduce access to minors are good law, but overbearing restrictions and taxes on adults will interfere with what may be the greatest public-health invention in decades.

Good Thing I Skipped Indianapolis

May 6th, 2014

palin_scary

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

4529560488_308fbba48a

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.

Backlash

April 30th, 2014

slidefire_watts

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

022714_five_gutfeld_640

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

bloomberg-550x298

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

rda_madrina

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

bundy_militia

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.

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