Most people don’t realize the power that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) wields. The agency can make an arbitrary decision and it effectively becomes law. What makes this matter worse is that the agency isn’t bound by previous decisions. It can (and frequently had) change its mind whenever it wants.
Case in point, the ATF previously decided that using an arm brace to shoulder a pistol was a felony. It later changed its mind. Now…
It sounds like the ATF is secretly (another problem with its ability to arbitrarily change its mind is that the process can happen behind closed doors) changing its mind about arm braces again:
Congressman Matt Gaetz announced today on his podcast the ATF is crafting secret rules restricting the possession of certain pistol braces by American citizens, and that he has sent them a letter demanding they stop.
“We understand that ATF is currently considering restricting one arm brace model owned by over 700,000 Americans,” Congressman Gaetz writes along with six other members of Congress. “We strongly urge ATF to cease taking any actions and reconsider or rescind any secret determinations which call into question the legality of firearms owned by millions of law-abiding Americans.”
If the ATF decides that possessing some or all arm braces is a felony, then possessing them becomes a felony. No bills have to be written, no laws have to be passed or signed. One day you own a perfectly legal firearm and the next you’re a felon because you possess of a short barreled rifle. The only difference between the day that you became a felon and the day prior is that somebody in a government agency changed their mind.
A law enforcer killed a black man in Atlanta and is being charged. This has ruffled the feathers of many other law enforcers in the city and now they’re coming down with the blue flu:
Hours after the Fulton County district attorney announced felony murder and other charges against the former Atlanta police officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old black man, in the back, a number of Atlanta police officers called in sick just before a shift change Wednesday evening.
A lot of people argue that nobody needs tools to protect themselves because if they’re in danger, they can call the police. I along with many (probably most) other advocates for gun ownership have argued that you can’t rely on other people to protect you. This argument often falls on deaf eras. Even when you point out that law enforcers have no duty to protect you, gun control advocates will argue that a cop isn’t going to just stand by and let something bad happen to an innocent person.
The recent civil unrest that started in Minneapolis has done a wonderful job of illustrating that law enforcement departments can easily become overwhelmed and when they’re overwhelmed they don’t send resources to protect you or your business. Atlanta is now illustrating the fact that there are circumstances where law enforcers will refuse to show up for work. As with Minneapolis just a short while ago, it appears that the people of Atlanta are on their own.
This is why defense in depth is such an important concept. You want redundant self-defense plans in case any single plan fails. This is especially true if any of your plans rely on anybody but yourself to execute (the only person you can 100 percent rely on is yourself because that’s the only person whose actions you can control).
Gun restriction advocates haven’t enjoyed much recent success in their political efforts so they’ve switched gears. They’ve been leaning on corporations to lean on gun retailers. This has resulted in banks refusing to do business with gun retailers and other such nonsense. Now Salesforce has decided to cave to the unwashed masses and is telling gun retailers to either stop selling modern firearms or abandon its platform:
SAN FRANCISCO — On its website, Salesforce.com touts retailer Camping World as a leading customer of its business software, highlighting its use of products to help sales staff move product. A Camping World executive is even quoted calling Salesforce’s software “magic.”
But behind the scenes in recent weeks, the Silicon Valley tech giant has delivered a different message to gun-selling retailers such as Camping World: Stop selling military-style rifles, or stop using our software.
The pressure Salesforce is exerting on those retailers — barring them from using its technology to market products, manage customer service operations and fulfill orders — puts them in a difficult position. Camping World, for example, spends more than $1 million a year on Salesforce’s e-commerce software, according to one analyst estimate. Switching to another provider now could cost the company double that to migrate data, reconfigure systems and retrain employees.
Not many better examples of corporate mutually assured destruction exist than this one. One the one hand Camp World could fold and decide to stop selling modern firearms. If it did, it would almost certainly incite the wrath of gun owners and, as Dick’s Sporting Goods can tell you, pissing off gun owners can hurt your bottom line. On the other hand Camp World could tell Salesforce to go pound sand, which would cost the company both money and public relations, since it spent so much time touting Camp World as one of its success stores. Either way this move could cost Salesforce many other accounts since I’m willing to bet that Camp World isn’t the only gun retailer using Salesforce.
There is a lesson to be learned here. Becoming dependent on a third-party platform is a liability. If you make your business dependent on a third-party platform, your business is suddenly at its mercy. The third-party might come to you some day and tell you that you need to change your business model or it will pull the rug out from under you. If you’re a business owner that values your independence, then it’s in your best interest to avoid becoming dependent on any single third-party.
I frequently bitch about the People’s Republic of Minnesota but at least we have decent overall gun laws (although the politicians, not surprisingly, at constantly at work to change that). The denizens of California don’t even have that. However, a federal court tossed those poor saps a few scraps from the freedom table:
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — High-capacity gun magazines will remain legal in California under a ruling Friday by a federal judge who cited home invasions where a woman used the extra bullets in her weapon to kill an attacker while in two other cases women without additional ammunition ran out of bullets.
“Individual liberty and freedom are not outmoded concepts,” San Diego-based U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez wrote as he declared unconstitutional the law that would have banned possessing any magazines holding more than 10 bullets.
This case stems not from California’s original ban on standard capacity magazines, which allowed gun owners to continue possessing magazines they acquired before the ban, but from a 2016 change that demanded Californians surrender their pre-ban magazines. But that 2016 attempt may end up costing California its earlier magazine ban as well:
Chuck Michel, an attorney for the NRA and the California Rifle & Pistol Association, said the judge’s latest ruling may go much farther by striking down the entire ban, allowing individuals to legally acquire high-capacity magazines for the first time in nearly two decades.
This ruling is potentially good news for gun owners across the entire country. It could be used to invalidate magazines bans in other states that have them and prevent states like the one in which I suffer from implementing them.
In other related news, several California gun owners have miraculously discovered their boats full of standard capacity magazines that went under in 2016. This is great news for both those gun owners and the environment since those lost magazines can now be removed from those marine environments.
In the wake of New Zealand’s announced gun ban I’ve seen a lot of pro-gun people stating that this is the beginning of tyranny in New Zealand. However, tyranny in New Zealand isn’t beginning, it’s already well established. Yesterday I posted not just about the new gun ban but about New Zealand’s law that grants the government permission to lock somebody up for up to 14 years for publishing objectionable material. It shouldn’t surprise anybody that the government not only gets to jail people for posting objectionable material but it also gets to define what is objectionable.
None of this is new either. There is a long tradition of censorship in New Zealand, including filtering Internet traffic. As an amusing aside, New Zealand’s Internet filtering came almost immediately after its government promised not to implement Internet filtering:
In March 2009, the Minister for Communications and IT, Steven Joyce, stated that the government had been following the controversy surrounding Internet censorship in Australia, and had no plans to introduce something similar in New Zealand. He acknowledged that filtering can cause delays for all Internet users, and that those who are determined to get around any filter will find a way to do so. Later in July of the same year, it was reported that the Department of Internal Affairs had plans to introduce Internet filtering in New Zealand. The project, using Swedish software, cost $150,000. February 2010 saw the first meeting of the Independent Reference Group, who are tasked with overseeing the responsible implementation of the DCEFS. In March 2010, a year after Joyce stated that there were no plans to do so, the Department of Internal Affairs stated that the filter was operational and in use. Tech Liberty NZ objected to the launch of the filter, but DIA defended the system and noted that trials over two years showed that the filter did not affect the speed or stability of the internet.
Free speech, which is usually considered a cornerstone of a free society, hasn’t existed in New Zealand for a very long time. Banning firearms is just another step in the direction New Zealand has been traveling for a long time now.
Once again proving that the concept of due process isn’t acknowledged even in so-called liberal democracies, the overlords in New Zealand have announced that in the aftermath of the Christchurch attacks they’re not just punishing the shooter, but they’re also punishing every gun owner in the nation:
New Zealand will ban all types of semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles following the Christchurch attacks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said.
The announcement comes less than a week after 50 people were killed at two mosques, allegedly by a lone gunman.
Ms Ardern said she expected new legislation to be in place by 11 April, saying: “Our history changed forever. Now, our laws will too.”
Just because you had no hand in the commission of a crime doesn’t mean you can’t be punished. Now the slaves in New Zealand will join their counterparts in most of the other Commonwealth nations in being all but entirely disarmed.
I’m a huge fan of the Hardcore History and History on Fire podcasts so I was excited when I saw that the hosts, Dan Carlin and Danielle Bolelli respectively, posted a conversation they recently had. The two discussed several things including modern political discourse.
One thing Dan said really resonated with me. He noted that he remembers a time when certain concepts, such as support for freedom of speech, were so close to universal in the United States that you could take them for granted in a political discussion and how he has a difficult time operating in an environment where that is no longer the case. I’m not a very old man but even in my relatively short life I’ve seen some dramatic shifts in political discourse. When I was in college certain near universals still existed including support for freedom of speech (although that was dying) and due process (which was also beginning to die). While an individual may not actually have believed in those concepts, they almost always, especially if they were a politician, paid lip service to them. Today’s world is a different one. Consider this fiasco that just went down here in Minnesota:
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A Minnesota House committee has passed a proposed “red flag” law that would allow families and police to get court orders to temporarily remove guns from people judged to be an imminent danger to themselves or others.
Due process, at one time, meant that an individual was only punished after a trial. Today due process isn’t even paid lip service. Rather legislation, of which this is just the latest example (civil forfeiture probably remains the most overt example), blatantly violates the concept of due process. What’s fascinating though is that these violation of due process aren’t met with widespread opposition. Gun owners are opposing this instance for obvious reasons but most people seem to either not care or, worse yet, enthusiastically support it.
I’ve even seen comments from professors who have reported surprise that students have expressed disagreement with the idea that authoritarianism is bad. Even my short life witnessed a time when the concept of authoritarianism was almost universally reviled (if not necessarily in practice, at least in words) here in the United States. Now support for authoritarianism is growing on both sides of the political spectrum.
I make no effort to hide my disgust with politics. Part of my disgust stems from the fact that many previously near universally supported concepts such as freedom of speech are no longer near universal. Expressing support for such concepts in today’s political environment oftentimes leads not just to disagreement but to a complete breakdown of civility (for example, depending on the other person’s political views, you might find yourself being labeled a fascist or a communist). Trying to have a reasoned debate in an environment where no ground rules exist most people appear disinterested in either being civility or establishing ground rules is, frankly, impossible.
I’m not sure what exact train of thought has convinced Trump that building a completely worthless fixed fortification is the hill on which he is willing to die but in his pursuit of building, as George S. Patton once said, “a monument to the stupidity of man,” he has decided to declare a state of emergency. In of itself, this declaration would be forgotten in a short period of time due to the irrelevance of any border wall built between the United States and Mexico. However, it would establish a precedence that could be used by future presidents for other pet projects.
Nancy Pelosi is already making noise about how a future Democrat president could use this precedence to enforce gun restrictions:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned Republicans on Thursday that a future Democratic president could declare gun violence a national emergency.
“If the president can declare an emergency on something he has created as an emergency, an illusion that he wants to convey, just think about what a president with different values can present to the American people,” Pelosi said.
“You want to talk about a national emergency? Let’s talk about today,” Pelosi said, referring to the first anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead on Feb. 14, 2018.
She said the shooting was “another manifestation of the epidemic of gun violence in America.”
“That’s a national emergency. Why don’t you declare that an emergency, Mr. President? I wish you would,” she said. “But a Democratic president can do that. A Democratic president can declare emergencies as well.”
What’s noteworthy here is that Pelosi isn’t making any real effort to prevent the current president from declaring a state of emergency to push his pet project forward. Instead she’s chomping at the bit to use the same power in the future to push her pet project forward.
It’s almost as if every politicians has a list of things they want to do that aren’t “legal” (as if that means anything when they’re the ones who define what is and isn’t legal) and are just waiting for one of their cohorts to establish the precedence that will allow them to go through with it.
One of the worst arguments that gun control advocates make is that individuals should rely on “professionals” (by which they mean police) for protection. The reason this is one of the worst arguments is because it makes a lot of assumptions that don’t play out in reality. One of those assumptions is that the police can respond immediately. Jayme Closs’s case has been making headlines for a couple of days now in part because it had a happier outcome than most people were expecting. She was found alive after she escaped her capture. However, there was a 15 to 20 minute period where everybody was likely on pins and needles:
Douglas County sheriff’s deputies arrived roughly 15 to 20 minutes later.
15 to 20 minutes is a long time to wait when a kidnapper who has already murdered two people may be looking for his escaped victim. Unfortunately, 15 to 20 minute response times are pretty typical in rural areas due to the distances between places. Fortunately, the people who were protecting Jayme were armed:
“So, they got in the house, and I loaded a gun and got ready and was standing at the door waiting until the police showed up, because (Jayme) said she didn’t know when he was coming back. When she was sitting on my couch, I couldn’t believe it. I just said to her: ‘I am so happy to see you,’ because I thought she was dead.”
Had her kidnapper found her and had the people protecting her not been armed, there would have been very little that they could have done to stop him from taking his victim back. That kind of bureaucratically enforced helplessness is not a future I find appealing especially when the proponents of said future can’t offer a realistic alternative for personal protection.
Gun buybacks are not only improperly named (you can’t buy back something you never owned in the first place) but they’re also pointless. However, they’re often good for a few laughs. Take this wonderful woman for example:
I love it when people blatantly mock government nonsense.