Archive for the ‘Second Amendment’ Category

Democrats stayed up all night fighting to expand unconstitutional Bush-era powers

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Originally published at Rare

I’m months from my thirtieth year on this earth, and starting to feel old.

Before you get offended by this, consider that when I was in college, Democrats were the anti-war party. I mean a let’s-reject-Hillary-for-Obama-because-he’s-anti-war kind of party. Code Pink was essentially mainstream on the left a decade ago. George W. Bush-era surveillance was markedly beyond the pale. The Patriot Act? Sedition? The TSA? Absurd.

Enter the left, circa 2016. What do today’s protests look like? A Civil Rights era-style sit-in. This is noteworthy given the historical implications of such an act. For a spectacle this extensive—in which Democrats have been literally sitting on the House floor holding up the works—the objective had to be worthy.

So what’s led Democrats to this extreme behavior? Their goal is to use Bush’s no-fly list as a means to deny you your basic constitutional rights.

It’s true: In the wake of the Orlando mass shooting, Democrats are promoting a vast expansion of war on terror-era powers that strip innocent people of their second, fourth, and fifth amendment rights. They’re pushing the use of a secret government list, in which the people on it, often arbitrarily assigned as a terrorists, have no means to combat the designation.

Essentially, what Democrats spent hours demanding, into the thick of the night and into Thursday morning upending regular legislative order for, is the expansion of broadly defined national security powers not long ago opposed by their party and in most cases, them specifically.

Interestingly, House Democrats have both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on their side. And though they’ve dwindled in numbers, a few vestiges of the principled left remain in opposition to this attempt, in concert with libertarians and conservatives.

The ACLU, for example, opposes using the no fly list as a means to deny gun rights. And not because they’re particularly pro-second amendment, but due to an understanding that secret government lists aren’t a metric citizens should accept as a replacement for our traditional “innocent until proven guilty” standard.

Libertarian-leaning Republican Congressman Justin Amash summed the scene up well by tweeting a relevant family anecdote.

This is a matter our friends on the left ought to consider. Particularly those who crow about how Trump is “literally Hitler.” Do liberals really trust a man like him with the kind of power they’re seeking to expand? A man who suggested that putting Muslims in internment camps might not be such a bad idea since, after all, FDR did the same to the Japanese?

It’s easy to sit on the House floor and create a spectacle, demanding a vote on gun control legislation that wouldn’t have even prevented the terrorist attack they’re politicizing. It’s less easy to admit that the answer isn’t a new law made in haste, but a hard look at our national security and intelligence apparatuses.

After all, Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen was investigated by the FBI twice, reported again to the FBI for suspicious behavior just days prior to his attack, and no follow up was initiated.

There are unfortunately no easy answers to the question of how to prevent lone wolf terror attacks, no matter how understandably desperate many are to find them.

To the Democrats sitting on the House floor so they can feel good about “doing something,” I’d suggest that denying innocent Americans their basic due process rights is no solution.

Gay groups and gun advocates are teaming up across America to promote LGBT self-defense

Friday, June 17th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

While Senate Democrats filibustered in an effort to pass gun control legislation (the specifics of which wouldn’t have stopped the Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen), some LGBT community members are doing the opposite of what so many politicians now demand: Gay men and women are arming themselves.

In Las Vegas, Nevada, several LGBT organizations are working to get their community properly trained and armed.

Derek Washington of Get Equal Nevada said, as reported by KTNV News:

“We’re at risk. We’re under attack. We’re not just under attack from Muslim terrorists. We’re under attack from Christian terrorists. We are under attack from drunk frat boys. We’re always under attack.”

Washington wants LGBT members to get concealed carry permits: “I want those courses packed. After Orlando, it is our responsibility to care for us. We can’t depend on anyone else,” he said.

Leading this Vegas-based effort is Out For Liberty, an organization that is offering gay nightclub workers—who are legally allowed to carry guns while working behind the bar, per Nevada law—free training courses. The group is also offering discounted rates to LGBT locals.

In Houston, Texas, a gun range has decided to offer free concealed carry courses to LGBT individuals.

“We want to make them aware they can come here, they can feel safe here, they can get their concealed handgun license or their license to carry and they can carry a gun and they can feel good about it,” said Jeff Sanford, owner of the Shiloh Indoor Shooting Range, to KPRC News.

This tracks with a broader trend of increased interest in firearms training within the LGBT community. “Gun shops typically see a spike in customers after mass shootings. But this time, many are seeing shoppers they’ve never really seen before: More gays and lesbians,” reported FOX 31 Denver.

Hours after the Orlando shooting Sunday, the Pink Pistols, a national pro-gun LGBT organization, had its membership spike from 1,500 to 3,500. The organization’s website explains their mission, stating, “We teach queers to shoot. Then we teach others that we have done so.”

“Armed queers don’t get bashed.”

The Pink Pistols website continues, “We change the public perception of the sexual minorities, such that those who have in the past perceived them as safe targets for violence and hateful acts — beatings, assaults, rapes, murders — will realize that that now, a segment of the sexual minority population is now armed and effective with those arms.”

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, gay-friendly neighborhoods have been plastered with posters depicting a rainbow adaptation of the iconic “Don’t Tread On Me” Gadsden Flag – typically associated with conservative causes such as the tea party movement – affixed with text that says #ShootBack instead of the traditional “Don’t Tread on Me.”

MSNBC host’s anti-gun policy would leave domestic violence victims defenseless

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry made the argument this week that because “a lot of people shoot their wives with perfectly legal guns,” weapons owned by law abiding citizens should be confiscated. When pressed by former New York City police officer Jon Shane to explain her argument, Harris-Perry suggested that if men who fatally shot their wives hadn’t acquired their guns through legal channels, the domestic violence deaths in question would have been avoided.

This is a questionable argument at best, because a man willing to flout the law to the extent that he murders his wife isn’t likely to shy away from obtaining a weapon through illegal means.

Harris-Perry’s logic embodies the false sense of comfort inherent in statist thinking: If the government only bans bad things, they’ll cease to happen!

Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t work that way.

Signs that say “gun free zone” don’t stop mass shootings, and weapon bans don’t stop violence. While it’s true that the risk of homicide for women increases dramatically in domestic violence situations where a gun is present, the idea that yet another gun control law is what will change that tragic truth doesn’t reflect reality.

Gun control advocates argue that a man can overpower and turn a weapon around on a woman in a domestic violence situation to undermine the idea that an armed woman can prevent herself from becoming a victim.

In some cases, this is accurate, but it isn’t an argument for gun control, which has failed to keep weapons from abusers. What good does legally disarming an abused woman do when her partner is still illegally armed?

Gun control hasn’t done much to curb violence, particularly in urban areas. Chicago, which has some of the strictest anti-gun laws in the country, endured nearly 3,000 gun related deaths in 2015. Nearly all of the weapons utilized were obtained illegally.

While statistics on gun related deaths are staggering, especially as they relate to domestic violence, there’s little reason to conclude that gun control, particularly when it disarms victims in the face of already illegal weapons, is a viable solution.

Nevertheless, President Obama has moved forward with unilateral action on gun control, issuing an executive order on Tuesday that contained four key elements. His first change seeks to enhance background checks, requiring that all gun sellers run one. The president also said that he will work to further enforce gun safety, and increase access to mental health treatment, especially for those who have indicated that they might harm themselves or others. The last portion of the plan includes a focus on increasing gun safety technology.

These provisions aren’t likely to reduce gun violence, but act as a signal to the president’s Melissa Harris-Perry-watching base that he’s willing to “do something.”

Since Congress, upholding the will of a majority that opposes gun control, has in the president’s words “refused to act,” he’s apparently choosing to start the last year of his presidency abusing his executive power.

One wonders how liberals like Harris-Perry who are cheering the president’s actions today would feel if a President Trump availed himself of kingly powers in the same manner.

Perhaps they aren’t considering that possibility today, but it’s a good lesson in the value of respecting constitutional governance – the 2nd Amendment included – regardless of who’s in office.

The Gun Control Debate Reveals the Fundamental Difference Between Liberals and Conservatives

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

Originally published at Every Joe

I’ve long been of the belief that people on both sides of the gun control debate are generally well-meaning. No sane person, regardless of their political beliefs, finds joy in a mass shooting. (There are unfortunately, classless people on both sides of the aisle who want to politicize evil and blame deranged behavior on their ideological opponents, but even they aren’t happy when innocent blood is spilled).

The nature of tragedies is that they often serve as confirmation biases. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this reaction; we all engage in it to some extent. But the ideological parameters of the gun control debate reveal something innate about both liberals and conservatives – or better defined in the context of the gun discussion as statists and individualists. Take for example, the reaction of the New York Times’ editorial board to the recent act of terror in San Bernardino, California:

Opponents of gun control are saying, as they do after every killing, that no law can unfailingly forestall a specific criminal. That is true. They are talking, many with sincerity, about the constitutional challenges to effective gun regulation. Those challenges exist. They point out that determined killers obtained weapons illegally in places like France, England and Norway that have strict gun laws. Yes, they did.

But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not. Worse, politicians abet would-be killers by creating gun markets for them, and voters allow those politicians to keep their jobs. It is past time to stop talking about halting the spread of firearms, and instead to reduce their number drastically — eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition.”

This is perhaps a perfect example of statist thinking – nothing short of enraging to an individualist such as myself – but nevertheless philosophically revealing. The New York Times admits that guns – and not just any, but the type of “assault weapons” that irk them so, are frequently obtained illegally and used to wreak havoc upon the innocent. The Kalashnikov rifles that were deployed in the massacre of 130 innocent Parisians last month were far from legal in a city that has among the strictest gun control measures in the world. “But at least,” shrieks the editorial board, France is “trying.”

By “trying” in this context a statist means, practically speaking, “disarming the innocent in the face of mass shootings.” These are people who foolishly but earnestly believe that with the right amount of bureaucratic tinkering, they can create a gun-free utopia; if only us plebeians would sacrifice our rights on the altar of their Master Plan. Then when their legislative scheming fails to produce its intended results, as is invariably the case, and like in Paris defenseless people are massacred? At least they “did something,” absolving the statist of sins associated with, what in their mind is the greatest transgression of all: Lack of government action. Results are secondary to the morally cathartic ritual of passing yet another law.

To an individualist, this outlook is abhorrent, even when the ideological underpinnings of the statist position are understood to be well-meaning. Nobody wants weapons in the hands of lone wolf shooters and terrorists – but individualists recognize that the government-mandated utopia our statist friends seek is by definition a fantasy. We believe that personal initiative and preparation – which includes carrying a weapon – are the only true measures one can take to enhance their safety in an unpredictable world that, for all of their moral preening, the statists cannot bend to their will. One of the primary reasons that individualists are such strong supporters of the Second Amendment is precisely because we know that to a criminal, a “gun-free zone” is an enticing invitation, not a deterrent.

This clash of ideologies that leads to strongly held and diametrically opposed policy positions largely illustrates why policymaking around guns leads to political stalemates. When one side’s instinct is to force the citizenry into a position where they’re less armed than a would-be mass murderer, the other side’s instinct is to stockpile weapons and conceal-carry them. This dichotomy won’t change any time soon, and frankly, despite their high-minded rhetoric, liberals are losing the gun control debate due to nothing more than practicality.

As the Cato Institute’s Trevor Burrus noted at National Review, there are 300 million guns in America. What then, is a statist to do? Said Burrus, “Perhaps you think all guns should be confiscated. Okay, tell us how you will do that without stormtroopers roaming the country systematically violating our Fourth Amendment rights in a way that makes Donald Trump’s call for the mass deportation of illegal immigrants look like taking a census.”

Burrus makes an important point about the police state that would be required to eliminate guns from the United States. And it’s an argument that sheds light on the vacuous nature of President Obama’s calls for “common sense” regulations, which would do virtually nothing to keep weapons from those bent on acquiring them to break the law anyway. (Interestingly, many liberals seem capable of grasping the black market created by the War on Drugs, but cannot see how a gun ban yields the same – a storied tale of cognitive dissonance to indulge in at later time).

Even if we were to put the practicality of a gun ban, including Obama’s less extreme but ultimately toothless regulatory agenda aside, there’s still the fundamental matter of fealty to the Constitution – another issue that tends to divide statists and individualists – but nowhere more so than when it comes to the Second Amendment. Charles Cooke put it well in the Washington Post when he wrote:

“The Second Amendment is not ‘old’; it is timeless. It is not ‘unclear’; it is obvious. It is not ‘embarrassing’; it is fundamental. And, as much as anything else, it is a vital indicator of the correct relationship between the citizen and the state and a reminder of the unbreakable sovereignty of the individual. Unless those calling for greater restrictions learn to acknowledge this at the outset of any public discussion, they will continue to get nowhere in their deliberations.”

Those who seek to subvert individual liberty to the whims of an administrative state are fundamentally disinclined to support the philosophical underpinnings enshrined in the Bill of Rights – which was penned with the specific intent of protecting people’s inalienable rights from a tyranny of the majority in the form of government-enshrined mob rule. Unfortunately for our statist friends, a strong combination of the rights enshrined in our Constitution and public opinion will continue to thwart their efforts to disarm us in pursuit of “doing something,” a win for liberty that ought to be celebrated and exercised accordingly.