A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Gun Rights’ tag

Mixed Signals

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I came across a rather amusing combination of signs when I was at Lake Monster Brewing yesterday:

Written by Christopher Burg

August 7th, 2017 at 10:30 am

When Smart Guns Aren’t Very Smart

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Many gun control advocates believe that access control technology should be mandatory on every firearm. The fact that reliable access control technology doesn’t exist is actually part of their strategy since it would act as a de facto gun prohibition. However, the technology does current exist in an unreliable form, which I would argue is as useless as not having access control technology at all:

At the Defcon hacker conference later this week, a hacker who goes by the pseudonym Plore plans to show off a series of critical vulnerabilities he found in the Armatix IP1, a smart gun whose German manufacturer Armatix has claimed its electronic security measures will “usher in a new era of gun safety.” Plore discovered, and demonstrated to WIRED at a remote Colorado firing range, that he could hack the gun with a disturbing variety of techniques, all captured in the video above.

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But Plore showed that he can extend the range of the watch’s radio signal, allowing anyone to fire the gun when it’s more than ten feet away. He can jam the gun’s radio signals to prevent its owner from firing it—even when the watch is inches away and connected. And most disturbingly, he can mechanically disable the gun’s locking mechanism by placing some cheap magnets alongside its barrel, firing the gun at will even when the watch is completely absent.

What good is access control technology if it can be easily used to prevent authorized users from using it and fail to prevent unauthorized users from using it?

As I said above, supporters of mandatory firearm access control technology know that the technology currently doesn’t exist in a reliable form and likely won’t for a very long time. To them it’s just a way to prohibit gun ownership. But there is also legitimate interest in the technology and, unfortunately, it will likely go unfulfilled because of several factors.

The first factor is size. A firearm, especially a handgun, doesn’t offer a lot of room to add reliable access control mechanisms. The second factor is how a firearm operates. A firearm has to contain a small explosion to propel a piece of lead out of a barrel. On modern firearms the firearm then has to have a way to reliably remove the brass casing that held the explosive material and bullet. Reliably removing the brass casing on a semi-automatic firearm usually requires a pretty violent mechanism. So you have a device that is designed around contained explosions and often violent operating mechanisms. It’s not an environment that’s conducive to finicky and fragile parts, which mechanical access control technology, especially of the form that can fit into a firearm, generally involves. The third factor is legal. New Jersey, for example, has a law that will mandate access control technology on all firearms as soon as one firearm is released to market with it. Firearm manufacturers aren’t in a hurry to kick that requirement into play because it would upset their customer base (while access control technology may be desirable by some it’s not desirable by all).

I’m glad Plore demonstrated how ineffective the Armatix gun’s access control mechanism is. There are few things I hate more than unreliable or falsely advertised features on devices. If a gun advertises itself as having access control technology then I want it to work reliably. The Armatix solution obviously doesn’t work reliably and buyers should be aware of that so they can give their money to somebody else.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 28th, 2017 at 10:30 am

The Changing Gun Owner Demographic

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I, unlike some gun owners, actually believe that gun ownership is a right that should be exercisable by everybody, which is why I was happy to read this story:

Up to 59 percent of African-American households now view owning a gun as a “necessity,” according to a recent study from the Pew Research Center released this month, and African-American women have outpaced all other races and genders in terms of securing concealed carry permits in Texas between 2000 and 2016, according to demographic information released by the state. It wasn’t always this way — as recently as 2012, Pew had found that less than a third of black families saw gun ownership as a positive. Philip Smith, the founder of the National African American Gun Association, says that politics — and police shootings such as the recent slaying of Philando Castile — have caused the sudden upswing in gun ownership. And, in his opinion, owning a gun is perhaps the only way that African-American men and women can truly protect themselves.

Unless one is willing to ignore a lot of data, it’s difficult to claim that law enforcers here in the United States aren’t disproportionately targeting blacks (both for arrests and summary executions). Likewise, it’s difficult to argue that racists aren’t acting more boldly. Those two points should make any black individual consider owning a firearm.

Laws are an ineffective way of dealing with violent crime. But the cost of committing violent crime, by both governmental and non-governmental criminals, can be increased, which is a far more effective deterrent than words on a piece of paper. Minority groups are generally targeted because they’re at a significant disadvantage compared to their aggressors. Blacks in the United States are a minority population and therefore are seen as an easy target by some. The Black Panthers knew this and armed themselves to make themselves a costlier target to aggress against. Anybody who is in a minority population today; whether it be due to their skin color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or sexual identity; should consider making themselves harder targets by arming themselves to dissuade aggressors. While a law won’t protect you and a police officer may kill you, a firearm will do what you will it to do and is therefore the best defense one can have against aggression.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 28th, 2017 at 10:00 am

The Dark Web’s Fight Against Gun Control

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The Dark Web, which is a sinister sounding label given to hidden services usually available through Tor or I2P, has become a major thorn in the side of the State. By combining technologies that allow users to interact anonymously with cryptocurrencies that allow transactions to be complete anonymously, the Dark Web has established a peaceful marketplace for goods and services declared illegal by the State. For example, a recent study, which is likely bullshit but I digress, found that the Dark Web has allowed people in repressive countries to acquire firearms:

Another revelation is that the weapons available are far newer, and are of a far higher quality, than would have been available on the analog black market. As New Scientist points out, “lax gun laws in the US are undermining stricter rules elsewhere,” especially in Europe. In addition to guns and ammunition, people can buy tutorials explaining how to make bombs or convert or reactivate replica and deactivated firearms.

What they really should have said is that lax gun laws in the US are undermining efforts to more thoroughly disarm serfs elsewhere. And, of course, the article should point out that those tutorials explaining how to make bombs can be found in even basic chemistry books (fun fact, making bombs is little more than combining chemistry with a small amount of mechanical or electronic engineering).

Of course, the article tries to drum up fear of the Dark Web by saying that, queue the sinister music, terrorists are using it to acquire weapons. They can only point to a single incident of this happening but facts are unimportant when writing propaganda. The point is that you’re supposed to be scared of the Dark Web and be thankful to your government for defending you against it even though, at least if you live in the United States, your government is one of the biggest arms dealers to terrorist organizations in the world. Moreover, the effectiveness of terrorist attacks is reduced if the population they’re targeted at is able to defend itself. Since the Dark Web enables people living in repressive regimes, such as many of the countries in Europe, to arm themselves in spite of the law it is actually offers to increase the cost of perpetrating terrorist attacks against civilian populations.

We should all take a moment to thank the Dark Web for its effectiveness against gun control and for offering a mechanism to make it costlier for terrorists to perpetrate attacks against civilian populations.

Backdoor Gun Confiscation

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Yesterday I was involved in a rather lengthy debate on gun rights. The debate started, as many debates surrounding gun rights currently start, with the shooting of Philando Castile and the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) almost complete lack of comment on the matter until very recently (which was, to put it generously, a very lukewarm comment).

As the debate went on the fact that Castile had tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in his system, which indicates that he had used cannabis prior to being pulled over, came up. A few individuals were saying that Castile’s permit was invalid because he was illegally using cannabis while the other side was pointing out that the NRA should have been raising Cain over the fact that a carry permit can be revoked over using cannabis. That sparked a debate over whether or not the NRA should stick strictly to guns or venture into areas that intersect with guns as well.

This probably won’t surprise anybody but I’m of the opinion that the battle for gun rights cannot be won by focusing strictly on gun issues alone. Whenever the gun issue intersects with another issue gun rights advocates should get involved. I believe this because the issues that intersect with gun rights but are necessarily strictly related to gun rights are currently being used to expand an already massive backdoor confiscation system.

Outside of a few states like California and New York there isn’t a lot of push for legal firearm confiscation programs. There are pushes for prohibitions against purchasing firearms with certain features but, with the exception of California, these pushes have all grandfathered in currently owned firearms. However, there is a mechanism already in place that allows the State to both confiscate currently owned firearms and prohibit individuals from owning firearms again. That mechanism is expanding the number of laws otherwise unrelated to guns that prohibit gun ownership.

For example, users of prohibited drugs cannot own firearms. Felons, including nonviolent felons, cannot own firearms. The latter is especially concerning when you consider that the average working professional commits three felonies a day. If you’re a working professional you’re likely committing a few felony crimes unknowingly. Confiscating your firearms would only require a prosecutor to bring charges against you and prove your guilt in a court. On the surface most of those felony crimes are entirely unrelated to guns yet they can be used as a backdoor confiscation mechanism.

Therein lies the problem with sticking strictly to the gun issue. So long as gun rights advocates and organizations are unwilling to involve themselves in issues that intersect with firearm ownership they will leave the biggest gun confiscation mechanism untouched and gun control advocates will continue to expand the number of crimes that revoke gun ownership privileges.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 14th, 2017 at 11:00 am

The NRA’s Fetish for Men in Uniform

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Pop quiz. Who said, “I love a man in uniform?” The answer is… the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA makes no secret about having a fetish for cops. However, its worship of law enforcers puts it at odds with guns rights:

This is about par for the course for the NRA. This is the group that claims to be the only thing preventing the government from obliterating the Second Amendment, yet they’re noticeably quiet about the people doing the most violence to the Second Amendment — the armed, badge-wearing government employees we call law enforcement officers. For all the NRA’s dire warnings about government gun confiscation, the real, tangible threat to gun-owning Americans today comes not from gun-grabbing bureaucrats but from door-bashing law enforcement officers who think they’re at war — who are too often trained to view the people they serve not as citizens with rights but as potential threats. Here, the NRA just doesn’t want to get involved.

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In short, the NRA seems to think we’re at risk of creeping tyranny and abuse of power from all sectors of government except from the men and women armed, badged and entrusted with the power to kill. That’s a problem, because if armed agents who enforce the laws on the ground aren’t required to respect our rights, our rights don’t really exist.

Gun rights activists often forget that politicians are only a minor part of the problem. Politicians write words on paper and declare those words law but law enforcers are the ones who actually enforce those words. If law enforcers refused to enforce laws then it wouldn’t matter what the politicians declared to be law because there would be no consequences for ignoring their declarations. Any gun rights organization should be just as critical of law enforcers who enforce bad laws as they are of politicians who write and pass bad laws.

No organization that claims to fight for individual rights of any sort that is also worshipful of law enforcers can be effective. Law enforcers, at the end of the day, are the ones who are directly violating the rights of individuals.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 12th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

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Many people like to divide science into hard and soft. Hard sciences are the ones where you can directly apply the scientific method whereas soft sciences don’t lend themselves well to the scientific method. For example, physics is generally considered a hard science since you can replicate the results of previous experiments with new experiments. Sociology, on the other hand, doesn’t lend itself well to the scientific method because the results of previous experiments often can’t be replicated by new experiments. As if to acknowledge that fact sociologists tend to rely heavily on statistics.

In our modern world where science is the new god you can’t make an argument without somebody demanding to see your scientific evidence. While such demands make perfect sense in debates about, say, physics, they don’t make much sense when it comes to social issues because you can create statistics that prove whatever you want. Case in point, a research project found that one in every 24 kids in the United States has witnessed a shooting. However, the statistic was created through a survey with a question worded in such a way to guarantee a predetermined result:

It all started in 2015, when University of New Hampshire sociology professor David Finkelhor and two colleagues published a study called “Prevalence of Childhood Exposure to Violence, Crime, and Abuse.” They gathered data by conducting phone interviews with parents and kids around the country.

The Finkelhor study included a table showing the percentage of kids “witnessing or having indirect exposure” to different kinds of violence in the past year. The figure under “exposure to shooting” was 4 percent.

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According to Finkelhor, the actual question the researchers asked was, “At any time in (your child’s/your) life, (was your child/were you) in any place in real life where (he/she/you) could see or hear people being shot, bombs going off, or street riots?”

So the question was about much more than just shootings. But you never would have known from looking at the table.

That survey was then picked up by the Center for Disease Control (CDC( and the University of Texas (UT) who further twisted the research:

Earlier this month, researchers from the CDC and the University of Texas published a nationwide study of gun violence in the journal Pediatrics. They reported that, on average, 7,100 children under 18 were shot each year from 2012 to 2014, and that about 1,300 a year died. No one has questioned those stats.

This is how statistics is often used to create a predetermined result. First a statistic is created, oftentimes via a survey. The first problem with this methodology is that surveys rely on answers given from individuals and there is no way to know whether or not the people being surveyed are being truthful. The second problem is that survey questions can be worded in such a way as to all but guarantee a desired result. Once the results from the survey have been published then other researchers often take them and use them inappropriately to make whatever point they want, which is what happened in the case of the CDC and UT. Finally, you have a bunch of people making arguments based on those questionable statistics used erroneously by organizations that share their agenda.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 5th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Federal Judge Slaps Down California’s Prohibition Against Possessing Standard Capacity Magazines

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I’ll end this week in a high note. California passed a law that would prohibit the mere possession of standard capacity magazines. That law was set to take effect tomorrow but a federal judge slapped it down for obvious reasons:

A federal judge on Thursday blocked a California law set to take effect Saturday that would have barred gun owners from possessing high-capacity ammunition magazines.

The judge ruled that the ban approved by the Legislature and voters last year takes away gun owners’ Second Amendment rights and amounts to the government taking people’s private property without compensation.

California law has prohibited buying or selling the magazines since 2000, but until now allowed those who had them to keep them.

“Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of otherwise law-abiding citizens will have an untenable choice: become an outlaw or dispossess one’s self of lawfully acquired property,” San Diego-based U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez wrote.

Granted, the State seizing property without compensating its rightful owner isn’t new. Civil asset forfeiture has allow the State to get away with doing so for decades now. However, this prohibition didn’t even have the pretext of a law, other than itself, being broken, which is a new step in legal depravity and apparently one that went too far for one federal judge.

I also find myself laughing at the fact that the judge noted that this law would turn “hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of otherwise law-abiding citizens” into criminals. If that criteria was always applied then no laws would get passed since all of them turn otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals. Although I believe it was unintentional, that judge was a man after my own heart when he issued that statement.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 30th, 2017 at 11:30 am

Background Checks are Legalized Harassment

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Gun control advocates have been clamoring for universal background checks. In their fantasy world a background check is a simple and sensible tools to prevent prohibited individuals from obtaining a firearm. But background checks aren’t simple or sensible if you find yourself on the prohibited persons list.

Unlike the fantasy world gun control advocates live in, here in the real world the government can and do add people to the prohibited list without cause. Whether an incident is due to an honest clerical mistake or purposeful harassment will always remain unknown because the process is opaque. But if your name is wrongly added to the list the only recourse available to you is to sue the federal government, which can drag out the court case to increase your expenses and then finally take your name off of the list voluntarily so that you’re stuck with those expenses:

Recently, Stamboulieh Law, PLLC, posted up on one of their latest cases, Ledet v. USA, where their client Mr. Ledet was forced to sue the United States to get his NICS checks records corrected. Despite having NICS “roll over” and correct the records, Mr. Ledet is not the “prevailing party” in his own lawsuit, as no judgment was rendered as the point of the suit was moot – NICS corrected its records.

Basically, the Court did not issue a ruling as the claimant received “relief” through the successful resolution of the NICS check allowing him to purchase a firearm. Therefore, he was not a “prevailing party”. Per the Court’s judgement:

“[A] plaintiff does not prevail even though its action has caused the defendant to change is primary conduct, because the plaintiff does not thereby obtain a ‘judicially sanctioned change in the legal relationship of the parties.’”

So, in short, unless a court orders the FBI to change its records, the FBI and its NICS division can drag out a case and increase the costs of the plaintiff and so long as they change voluntarily without a court order, NICS is off the hook for costs.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has create yet another avenue for the State to harass gun owners and people who are interested in becoming gun owners. People who have been wrongly placed on the prohibited persons list are looking at massive legal expenses if they want to exercise their so-called right to keep and bear arms.

If gun control advocates were sincere they would be working to fix glaring issues with NICS, such as this one, before demanding the system be made mandatory for all firearm transfers. However, their support of universal background checks doesn’t stem from a desire to keep weapons out of the hands of bad individuals, it stems from a desire to prohibit gun ownership. Under the current laws of the United States an outright ban is difficult to pass into law. But an de facto ban can be established by artificially raising the cost of buying a gun by introducing license and legal fees. Mr. Ledet just got to experience how NICS is a perfect tool for greatly increasing the cost of gun ownership.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 27th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Your Vote Really Doesn’t Matter

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I often pointed out that statistically your vote doesn’t matter. Moreover, your vote literally doesn’t matter:

Watching the ongoing clown show in Washington, Americans can be forgiven for asking themselves, “Why did we give this bunch of clowns so very much power over our nation and our lives?”

Well, don’t feel so bad, voters. Because you didn’t actually give them that much power. They just took it. That’s the thesis of Columbia Law Professor Philip Hamburger’s new book, The Administrative Threat, a short, punchy followup to his magisterial Is Administrative Law Unlawful? Both deal with the extraordinary — and illegitimate — power that administrative agencies have assumed in American life.

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But today, the laws that actually affect people and businesses are seldom written by Congress; instead they are created by administrative agencies through a process of “informal rulemaking,” a process whose chief virtue is that it’s easy for the rulers to engage in, and hard for the ruled to observe or influence. Non-judicial administrative courts decide cases, and impose penalties, without a jury or an actual judge. And the protections in the Constitution and Bill of Rights (like the requirement for a judge-issued search warrant before a search) are often inapplicable.

If you received a public school education, your civics teacher probably taught you that laws are written by Congress and signed or vetoed by the president. That’s a gross simplification of the actual process. While laws must be written by Congress and signed by the president, rules can be made by any government agency. Those agencies aren’t headed by elected officials yet they have the power to create rules that directly impact your life.

Gun owners are intimately aware of this since the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has the power to make rules based on its interpretation of the law. What is an Any Other Weapon (AOW)? According to the ATF you can turn your regular pistol into an AOW by attaching a vertical foregrip to its front rail. Likewise, according to the ATF an arm brace on an AR-15 pistol isn’t a short-barreled rifle… unless you hold it incorrectly. While the National Firearms Act (NFA) created these categories of weapons the ATF was given the power to decide exactly what those categories entail.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 21st, 2017 at 10:30 am