Safe Storage Laws – Punishing Crime Victims

One of moldy oldies of the gun control movement is experiencing resurgence these days. Safe storage laws are once again being pushed in communities and states around the country. And as always, it has nothing to do with safety, only control. It is just another way for gun control zealot politicians to intimidate, harass and punish law-abiding firearm owners and minimize their Second Amendment rights, at the expense of the very people who they claim they are trying to keep safer. 

Firearm storage inside the home is a very personal subject. Most people who own firearms for self-defense choose to have them ready in case they are needed. In those situations, seconds really do count. Unlocking a safe, removing a cable lock and then loading your firearm essentially renders it useless as a self-defense tool. 

That of course is the idea behind safe storage laws. Anti-gun politicians don’t want you to be able to defend yourself in an emergency. They want you to be 100% reliant on the government for your safety. Also keep in mind that your local law enforcement agency has no legal responsibility for keeping you safe.  Many lawsuits against law enforcement from victims of violent crimes due to government inaction or negligence have been dismissed, as the police have no duty to protect you, even if they could have and simply decided not to. 

So even though the government knows they can not adequately protect you in public or in your home, they want to make sure you are not able to protect yourself either. By passing so-called safe storage laws, you are required to keep your self-defense firearm unloaded and disabled in your own home. AND… if you do leave your firearm unlocked in your locked home and it is stolen, you have committed a crime. 

Consider the following scenario. You leave your house in the morning for work, give your dog a new chew toy, lock the doors and set the alarm. While you are gone someone breaks into your house. They do this because they know the chances of being caught are low and the chances of any real penalty coming out of it if they are caught are practically non-existent. 

In the quick ransack of your house, burglars find your non-government approved firearm storage spot in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator’s vegetable crisper drawer.* They take this firearm and commit yet another crime and injure or kill someone with it. What happens to you? You are arrested for improper storage of a firearm. 

Now let’s change this scenario a little. Upon breaking into your home, the burglars find your new 10” Wustoff cook’s knife. They take this knife and commit yet another crime and injure or kill someone with it. What happens to you? You are NOT arrested since you were the victim of the crime of burglary and had no involvement in the commission of the crime using your stolen property. 

Let’s change that scenario one more time. Upon breaking into your home, the burglars find your car keys. On the way out the door they go by the liquor cabinet and grab a bottle of Jack Daniels. They take your car and liquor, get drunk and drive the wrong way down the interstate and injure or kill someone. What happens to you? You are NOT arrested since you were the victim of the crime of burglary and had no involvement in the commission of the crime using your stolen property.

I’m not aware of any other situation where the victim of a crime can be criminally charged as a result of being a victim of someone else’s crime. By creating these feel-good but useless public safety laws that criminalize legal behavior inside of your own home, you become both the victim and the criminal with no action necessary on your own part. 

The other side of so-called safe storage laws concerns children gaining access to unsecured firearms. As someone who has been involved in firearm safety for decades, I can honestly tell you there is no excuse for this. There is also no excuse for the bad parenting that lead to it. 

My story: As a child growing up, my family owned firearms, as did most of our relatives. Some were stored unsecured and loaded for home self-defense. I knew where these firearms were in our house and those of our relatives. Did I ever touch them without permission? HELL NO!! Why? Because I was taught the difference between right and wrong, as well as a respect for firearms. 

In my home as an adult, I also kept loaded firearms for self-defense. Did my son ever touch them? HELL NO!! Why? Because he too was taught the difference between right and wrong, as well as respect for firearms. To this day, I wouldn’t even question if my now adult son walked into my house and found a loaded firearm sitting on the dining room table, he would ask before he handled it.  

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has an excellent – and free – program called Project ChildSafe. It combines information, education and gunlocks distributed for free by law enforcement agencies around the country. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has a child firearm safety program available – also free – called the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program. It teaches children what do if they find an unsecured firearm. Both have been successfully educating children and youth about real firearm safety for years. 

Firearm safety and storage is a very personal subject. What works for me in my home may not be appropriate for a home with young children living or visiting in the home. There are solutions for everyone that does not sacrifice safety or security. What doesn’t work for either is a one-size-fits-none government mandate that firearms shouldn’t be available for self-defense. How does being a helpless victim keep anyone except the criminals safe? 

Bob

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*Note to self: Move firearm out of vegetable crisper drawer.  

Farewell To Arms

I’m feeling a little literary today as I look at the impact of all the upcoming gun control laws.  At one point very early on in the world of gun control, there might have been a resemblance of a genuine public safety goal. While it was never the actual intent, at least they feigned the interest. Fast forward to today and it’s clear the intent is to rid our country of as many civilian owned firearms as possible, as quickly as possible.  The Second Amendment is no longer a barrier to every conceivable, irrational and nonsensical gun control scheme our gun-hating politicians can come up with.  The time to say farewell to arms is getting closer by the day. 

If you want to see how close we are to the end game, just take a look at the type of laws and ordinances being pushed around the country this year. Law makers are emboldened by support of political activist judges in the most liberal parts of the country who will rubber stamp anything that restricts law-abiding citizen’s access to firearms, ammunition and accessories. Combine this with a United States Supreme Court who hasn’t had any interest in taking Second Amendment challenges, political hacks around the country are redefining what a so-called “assault weapon” is to the point where – literally – any semiautomatic firearm, rifle or pistol, will be included. 

Of course, the latest and greatest is the attempt to make so-called “assault weapons” subject to National Firearms Act (NFA) registration. HR 1263 introduced in the US House of Representatives would include ANY semi-automatic rifle or shotgun that is capable of accepting a detachable magazine. While the most obvious targets of “assault weapon” bans, the AR or AK pattern firearms would be included, it would also include firearms such as the vintage M1 Carbine, the Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle, the Remington 742 hunting rifle and Ruger 10/22, a .22 caliber plinking and varmint hunting rifle. Caliber or magazine capacity wouldn’t matter, only the fact that the firearm accepts a detachable magazine. NFA registration would bring with it all the same restrictions and fees, including the $200 tax stamp PER firearm now only associated with items such as fully automatic firearms and suppressors. 

But of course, that won’t be the end of it. The follow-up law being pushed by the behind the scenes architects would “Ban the future manufacture and sale of assault weapons to reduce the easy availability of such weapons to civilians.” Patterned after the 1986 ban on new fully automatic firearms, it would put a hard cap on the number of so-called “assault weapons” available in the country. A bill for this has yet to be introduced, and likely won’t be introduced until the NFA Assault Weapons bill is passed.  After all, it’s difficult to convince the people, and those all-important swing votes in Congress, that you’re not after an all out ban when you show all your cards at once. 

If you’re thinking the US Supreme Court’s Heller and McDonald rulings are going to protect your Second Amendment rights, you are sadly mistaken. Gun control states like California, Washington, Oregon, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Illinois and Vermont – along with a long list of municipalities contained therein, have been thumbing their nose at Heller & McDonald since before the ink was dry on the rulings. The reason they can is quite simply, who is going to stop them? 

The gun control lawmakers and their political activist judges know the US Supreme Court only hears arguments on about 80 cases per year, and decides about 50 more without oral arguments. This is out of the roughly 7000 requests to hear cases per year. And that 7000 represents the best of the best cases with the highest likelihood of success before the court, thus worthy of the time, money and effort needed to litigate them. Knowing this, the chances of any particular gun control law getting overturned, to say nothing of setting a national legal precedence, are slim to never. 

So where does this leave your Second Amendment rights? Without an incredibly strong and wide reaching intervention by the US Supreme Court, something they are NOT known for, your rights are going to continue to erode away to nothing. What was legal last year is going to be illegal this year. What you used to be able to freely own will need to be registered or outright banned. What is registered today will be banned tomorrow. 

Today’s article was inspired by a section of George Orwell’s book, Nineteen Eighty-Four. In the book, Newspeak was the controlled language of restricted grammar and limited vocabulary, meant to limit the freedom of thought, personal identity, self-expression and free will. It was under constant revision to eliminate terms, and thus any resemblance of resistance to the ruling party. 

‘The Eleventh Edition is the definitive edition. We’re getting the language into its final shape — the shape it’s going to have when nobody speaks anything else. When we’ve finished with it, people like you will have to learn it all over again. You think, I dare say, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We’re destroying words — scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We’re cutting the language down to the bone. The Eleventh Edition won’t contain a single word that will become obsolete before the year 2050.’

All you need to do is substitute ‘guns’ for ‘word’ and you can see where our laws are headed. In our real life edition of banning the civilian ownership of guns, I don’t see it taking until the year 2050 to happen. However, I can envision the 11thEdition of California Gun Laws looking something like the photo with this article. 

Unless…

Each and every person in this nation who believes in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, whether or not they own firearms, gets up off their ass and says NO MORE! Systematically eroding our rights for the enrichment of the ruling class and their concept of an ideal society is what lead our nation to be formed in the first place. Why would we want to allow that to happen again? 

Bob

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Evidence-Based Solutions?

There’s been a subtle change of late in the rhetoric from the anti-gun zealots. Added to the typical “common sense” and “public safety” gun control message. They’ve added the term of “evidence-based solutions” to their new and improved do-nothing regulations to outlaw guns and get them out of the hands of law-abiding citizens. Where does this come from? It’s from the gun control idea factories they call gun violence research centers, and you are the one making it all possible. 

Federal funding of so-called gun violence research has long been restricted, and for very good reason. Those who set up these restrictions knew that whomever controlled the research funding would control the research results themselves. True, non-biased scientific research is extraordinarily difficult, especially these days since many who are willing to provide the funding also have an agenda they want the research to support.  This is the situation we find ourselves in now here in California with taxpayer funding of the California Firearm Violence Research Center at the University of California Davis. 

California prides itself on being at the forefront of draconian gun control efforts under the self-perpetuating belief that less – leading to zero – guns in the hands of law abiding citizens will make the public safer from thugs, gangs, criminals and terrorists. In fact, the state’s policies are now focusing on turning as many law-abiding firearm owners in to criminals as possible in order to weed their lawful ownership out of their ideal society. 

When California first decided to use our tax dollars to fund gun violence research, I thought it was just another means to justify their ludicrous laws that do nothing to decrease crime or increase public safety. But quite honestly, they’ve never needed anything to back up their ideas. And as for justification, they’ve got their hand-selected activist judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit – who are more interested in advancing social agenda than the rule of law – to rubber stamp their every whim and rule it Constitutional.  What they’ve needed was an idea-generating factory. Under the pretense of research, it’s a way for lawmakers to make more laws to restrict the presence of legal firearms.

Even the charter of California’s new gun control research center reveals the implicit bias. They are only concerned with gun violence instead of the causes and factors of all violence. Gun violence is simply a subset of the overall violence problem in our country, and solving that requires solving a host of other societal issues, including education, employment, criminal justice and mental health. Solving gun violence – at least from their point of view – is easy; just get rid of legally owned guns. 

We’re already starting to see the results of this so-called research sneak into California laws. Penalties for minor non-firearm/non-violence alcohol related offenses are beginning to include bans on firearm ownership. Why? An association between alcohol related offenses and firearm related offense has been ‘discovered’. Most honest researchers understand the fallacy that correlation does not imply causation, otherwise known as cum hoc ergo propter hoc. Yet the California Future Crimes Division is willing to revoke your Second Amendment rights based solely on this dubious body of so-called research. 

Just in case you’re curious about some of the things you won’t see coming out from the California Firearm Violence Research Center: 

  • Law-abiding citizens use legally owned firearms to prevent and stop crimes at a rate of three times more than firearms are used feloniously in this country, to the tune of 2.5 to 3 million times per year. 
  • 98% of all mass shootings in the United States since 1950 have occurred in gun free zones.
  • Concealed carry permit holders are convicted of misdemeanors and felonies at less than a sixth the rate for police. 
  • Crime and violence rates – including gun violence rates – are highest in the states and municipalities with the most restrictive gun control laws. 

So whenever you hear the new gun control mantra of evidence-based solutions to gun violence, understand where their “facts” are coming from. And understand the very same people who want to take your Second Amendment rights have no interest in solving any of the underlying societal problems that cause crime and violence. They just want to take away your firearms and call it a win for “pubic safety”. 

Do you feel safer yet? 

Bob

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Grandfathering – a.k.a. Sticking It To The Next Generation

There are few things less noble than looking out for your own interests at the expense of those who will follow. But that’s exactly what is happening every time a law is put into place that “grandfathers” YOUR continued legal possession of a freshly banned item, while outlawing your DECENDANTS from having it.  After all, nobody is going to take YOUR gun/magazine/part/etc., so why should you have any objections?  Who cares about the next generation; you’re set for life!  

Grandfather clauses are a popular way to get gun control and other controversial legislation to pass. It’s illegal now, but since you already own it, you won’t have to give it up. That makes it easy to sell the line ‘nobody is coming for your guns’ when you don’t have to give up what you already have. But, there’s a lot more to it than you realize. 

Grandfather clauses tend to have a lot of conditions attached to them. Obviously, you have to have legal possession of the item before the deadline. That is almost impossible to determine for items such as firearm magazines, which are not serialized. The exception would be a magazine for a new firearm that wasn’t even invented before the deadline, but that’s not the point. Law enforcement hates this since the burden of proof is on them to show you didn’t own this when you say you did. Of course, that doesn’t stop many agencies from confiscating first and trying to make you prove your item was grandfathered – innocent until proven guilty be dammed. 

Stricter grandfather conditions are those that include registration. Again, nearly impossible for items without serial numbers so this is most commonly used with items such as firearms. The most common example of this is for newly defined so-called “assault weapons”. That common, everyday rifle you have legally owned for years/decades has just been ruled as being too-dangerous-to-be-in-your-civilian-hands, so you must register it to keep it under the grandfather exception.  

In these cases, it is expected that you as the good, law-abiding citizen you are will register it and accept the numerous legal conditions that come along with it including how and where you can transport and use it as well as the fact that you can never sell it or hand it down to your descendants. In other words, the life of your now illegal but grandfathered firearm is tied to your own life. When you die, it must be surrendered and will die with you. But hey… NOBODY came after YOUR firearm! 

Obviously, the biggest problem with the grandfather clause is your property can never be passed along to your family.  How many of us have been bequeathed a firearm from a parent, grandparent or other relative? Other than the actual monetary value, those items represent a passing of heritage from one generation to the next.  Except now, your too-dangerous-to be-in-your-civilian-hands firearm will never see the light of day again. Hopefully your descendants will be satisfied with what they are allowed to own in the future. 

The other, less publicized consequence of a grandfather clause is it is nothing more than words on a piece of paper. At some point, some gun hating politician is going to look at all those grandfathered items out there and simply say – let’s get rid of them.  The grandfathered exemption is taken away and your property, the property they promised you could keep for as long as you lived, is now illegal for YOU to own and you have to turn it in or be criminally charged for possession of illegal items. 

Think it can’t happen? Way back in 2000 California outlawed so-called “high capacity” magazines. Anything over the arbitrary 10 rounds was ruled as too-dangerous-to be-in-your-civilian-hands, unless you already owned them – the grandfather clause. Then in 2016, they changed their minds and removed that exemption. Go ahead and turn them in please. 

If you think registered, grandfathered items are any safer; they are not.  Anti-gun politicians have repeatedly called for firearms registered under the original California Assault Weapons Ban to be redefined as too-dangerous-to be-in-your-civilian-hands EVEN IF registered. The ONLY reason why that hasn’t been done to date is that the definition of “assault weapons” is continuing to evolve and more and more currently legal but NOT too-dangerous-to be-in-your-civilian-hands firearms are being added to the list. ONLY WHEN the most comprehensive list of registered “assault weapons” is compiled will the final hammer drop and all those grandfathered items be illegal for YOU to own. And guess what? They know where you are and what you have. Expect a not-so-polite knock at your door. 

So why do we accept grandfather clauses in these ridiculous gun control laws? Because we are selfish, ignorant bastards who are more concerned about what we have to give up than the next generation of firearm owners. As long as we get to keep our magazines and firearms, what do we care about those who come after us? 

Grandfather clauses are nothing more than deferred confiscation notices. It may not be for a few years or for the rest of your lifetime (HA!), but that grandfathered item is going to be taken and destroyed.

Fighting for YOUR Second Amendment rights isn’t the same as fighting for EVERYONE’S Second Amendment rights.  If you aren’t willing to fight for your descendant’s right to own the type of firearms, magazines or other accessories you own now; then you might as well turn your crap in now. Don’t pretend to be a patriot if you aren’t willing to defend the Constitutional rights of the next generation.  

Bob

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The Price of Quality

I’m taking a little detour today to rant about quality. Most of us demand very high quality in the products and services we purchase. But at the same time we also demand the lowest possible price and the fastest possible turnaround time. We also tend to demand the same from our own work, whatever work we do.  What we forget is one of these things is going to suffer when we try to maximize the others.  If quality is the thing we desire the most, then we need to understand what it takes to get that. 

A friend of mine has had a tag line at the end of his emails for years that reads; “Better, Faster, Cheaper – Pick Any Two”. The message is spot on for most products and services. If you want high quality and quick turnaround, it won’t be inexpensive. If you want quick turnaround and low cost, it won’t be good. If you want inexpensive and high quality, it’s going to take more time. Thus you have to make a choice as to which two of the three you desire. 

How many times have you been trying to do something quickly and made a mistake? While it’s more prevalent when you are doing something relatively new, it can happen when you are rushing something you have been doing for years.  The mistake may be something minor like improper syntax in a line of code or a broken, damaged or lost part. It happens to everyone. 

Recently I was prepping some vegetables with my big kitchen knife, something I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of times in the past with this very same knife.  In my rush to finish, I wound up cutting off a chuck of nail and finger below. It took a whole damn day to get it to stop bleeding. Why did this happen?  I was going too fast for the job with my particular knife skills. 

We’ve all heard the expression that time is money. This is true since the more time it takes to manufacture or work on something, the more it will cost. If you can make or work on something faster, you can make or work on the next piece sooner and make more money. Said another way, faster makes more money. 

But what ‘time is money’ doesn’t take into account is quality. Just because you can do it faster, doesn’t mean it’s going to be up to the level of quality for someone to buy. And… if they do buy it, will the quality last? If you expect repeat customers, will they purchase something again if the quality was low the first time? 

Faster also tends to have more errors, omissions and mistakes. Aside from the quality issue of errors, you have to take into account the time and materials lost to rework. If time is money, wasting time is wasting money. 

Quality itself comes from experience. Very few manufacturers or craftsmen can create a top quality product on the very first try. That’s the whole function of research and development for manufacturers or training and apprenticeships for craftsmen. Quality takes skill and it takes time – experience – to get to that level. 

Speed, without sacrificing quality, also comes from experience. By doing something correctly over and over again, the mental and muscle memory of what needs to be done to get the desired results develops into a repeatable pattern.  Depending on the person or the skill, it may take a dozen iterations or a thousand to get it right.  On the other hand, crappy work can’t be done fast enough.  It’s almost like the light of quality is ashamed to look at it so it’s better to get it over with quickly. 

As consumers, we have to understand what goes into quality products and services.  If you are willing to skimp a bit on quality, and for some things that is appropriate, then by all means low price is king. But for all the other situations where quality is important, then we have to reasonably expect a higher cost or longer time frame. 

As manufacturers, employees or craftsmen, we need to choose the way we do our work. If we want to delivery quality, we ourselves have to understand it takes time and money to accomplish. No amount of hubris or flashy advertising is going to make up for a lack of quality work, or a loss of customers. 

Bob

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Assault Style Weapons

Despite no single definition of what a so-called “assault weapon” is, our elected representatives are wasting no time trying to ban whatever an “assault weapon” is.  Of course the ambiguity of what is and isn’t an “assault weapon” is one of it’s biggest advantages. By leaving the definition open to endless interpretation and addition, it can evolve to include just about every firearm, which is the intended purpose. What is just another legal firearm today is tomorrow’s illegal deadly and too dangerous in the hands of civilians “assault weapon”.  What a wonderful time to be an anti-gun zealot! 

As a little bit of history, the original assault weapon ban came to us from the great (gun hating) State of California. Enacted in 1989, it banned over 50 specific brands and models of rifles, pistols, and shotguns. This list is now referred to as Category One assault weapons. Category Two and Three followed, and the latest version is now the Bullet Button Assault Weapons. Each iteration of the law added more and more firearms to the banned list. Californians who owned them prior to their cut off dates could keep them as long as they were registered. Registration came with significant restrictions including not being able to sell them or pass them down to descendants. 

Since then, other states and the federal government have passed assault weapons bans. The federal ban passed in 1994 sunsetted in 2004 and was not renewed. The same cannot be said for the state laws. 

What is now considered an “assault weapon” varies by state. When banning individual makes and models wasn’t effective, a “features” test was added to the laws. This typically spells out innocuous ‘evil features’ such as a pistol grip, adjustable buttstock, flash suppressor or even a bayonet lug (because drive by bayonetting is apparently a concern). However this too is becoming ineffective in the eyes of the gun controllers and we now find assault weapon laws being written to include ALL semi-automatic rifles, pistols and shotguns of all calibers. 

Even the new Federal Assault Weapon Ban of 2019 introduced by California’s senior Senator, the author of the original Federal Assault Weapon Ban, includes some upgrades to include more firearms. Specifically, it: 

  • Bans firearms containing a detachable magazine and one or more “military characteristics”.
  • Bans stocks that are “otherwise foldable or adjustable in a manner that operates to reduce the length, size or any other dimension, or otherwise enhances the concealability of a firearm.”
  • Bans assault pistols that weigh 50 or more ounces when unloaded.
  • Bans assault pistol stabilizing braces that transform assault pistols into assault rifles by allowing the shooter to shoulder the weapon and fire more accurately.
  • Bans Thordsen-type grips and stocks that are designed to evade a ban on assault weapons.

Of the notable inclusions are so-called “assault pistols”, a definition that now encompasses some large regular pistols and considering a pistol stabilizing brace as something that turns an “assault pistol” into an assault rifle – which is a completely different class of firearm. By calling out Thordsen-type grips and stocks, it’s clear than even firearms converted or originally designed to be free of all evil features – featureless rifles – they too will be considered an “assault weapon”. 

If you can call any part of having your Second Amendment rights slowly but surely infringed amusing, it’s the logic applied to these laws. 

Assault weapons are always referred to as being “high-powered” when in reality they are considered intermediate.  

Assault weapons are not useful for hunting despite being “high-powered” and actually being used widely for smaller game.

Assault weapons are called “weapons of war” when no army in the world fields a semi-automatic version of these rifles. 

Assault weapons are not suitable for home defense when in reality the size, configurability, ease of use and intermediate cartridge size makes them ideal, something millions of Americans have already discovered. 

One politician in making the point that there is no need for “assault weapons” pointed out that many other rifles can do the exact same thing as an “assault weapon”. 

Then of course there is the inconvenient truth that more homicides are committed in this country by knives or cutting instruments OR personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.) OR blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.) than ALL rifles – a category which includes the most widely used definitions of “assault weapon”.  

Law-abiding Americans use firearms of all shapes, sizes and configurations every day to defend themselves and their families at a rate of three to one over the felonious use of firearms. 

It’s time to stop this moronic assault on our Second Amendment rights. 

Bob

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Gun Owner’s Insurance

A new bill in the New York State Senate proposes all firearm owners be required to buy and maintain an insurance policy in an amount not less than one million dollars “to cover any damages resulting from the use of such firearm” prior to obtaining a firearm. Even though no such policy exists or would ever be offered by any insurance company, even it if were, the costs would be beyond the reach of most New Yorkers – which of course, is the main purpose. It is just another attempt to prevent them from owning firearms in the first place. 

Under justification, New York Senate Bill S2857A lists: 

“Injury and death by gun has increasingly become a problem in U.S. and in New York State. In the wake of recent mass shooting incidents in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut; there has been a nationwide attention on gun control and public safety.”

Of course, the acts listed were all intentional crimes committed by those who had no intention of following the law. For someone who intends to commit mass murder, exactly how important does anyone believe it will be for them to carry the statutory level of firearm insurance? Yet all the law abiding firearm owners will be expected to. 

So if there’s no chance in hell a mass murderer is going to carry insurance for his or her illegal acts, what is the real intent of this proposed law? Well, the first part of the bill reveals it rather clearly. 

“Failure to maintain such insurance shall result in the immediate revocation of such owner’s registration, license and any other privilege to own such firearm.”  

You probably noticed that word “privilege” in there.  New York politicians, being the anti-gun/anti-Second Amendment zealots they are, consider owning a firearm a “privilege”. In other words, a restricted benefit enjoyed by a special elite class. By considering firearm ownership and use a “privilege”, the state can regulate, tax, control and ultimately eliminate it for all except the state and the chosen few. 

Like all of the other licenses, permits, taxes and fees placed on the purchase and ownership of firearms and now ammunition, the purpose is two fold: First, to make owning a firearm so expensive that people will be prevented from owning them based on the cost alone.  Second, to set up yet another so-called legal means of stripping firearms away from someone who does not comply with the exact letter of the law.  

But then there is the other side of the coin.  The State of Washington just joined New York in banning the NRA branded insurance product “Carry Guard”.

The NRA Carry Guard website states: “NRA Carry Guard teaches you how to avoid and de-escalate conflict situations. But should you ever have to defend your life, you could face serious criminal or civil liability—even when you are completely innocent. In those devastating circumstances, NRA Carry Guard provides access to important resources.” The program provides up to $1,500,000 of civil protection and $250,000 in criminal defense costs. 

This, according to Washington and New York officials, makes the insurance product illegal because it insures unlawful activity. After all, insurance covers unintended acts, in other words accidents, actions that are not deliberately committed. A simple example: Burn your house down accidently, covered. Burn it down on purpose, not covered. While the rest of the world might consider even an unsuccessful self-defense shooting a non-intentional criminal act, Washington and New York consider this a deliberate criminal act not deserving of insurance coverage.

So let’s go back to the justification for New York Senate Bill S2857A. Because of the deliberate criminal acts of mass murders, the State of New York is going to require all firearm owners carry liability insurance, insurance that does not now and can never exist and is strictly forbidden since the state will not allow any insurance to cover anything it considers a criminal act, even if unintentional. 

As with California’s flawed microstamping law, just because something doesn’t exist or would never work if it did, doesn’t mean your federal, state or local government can’t pass a law requiring it.  New York is working to require something that they themselves forbid, a catch-22 for firearm owners who cannot own a firearm without it, but can’t buy it to own a firearm.  In other words, no insurance = no guns. 

Do you still think it doesn’t matter whom you elect as your local, county, state or federal representatives? 

Bob

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Hope From The Supreme Court?

You’ve probably heard the United States Supreme Court has finally decided to hear a Second Amendment case after refusing to do so in the 11 years since Heller and McDonald. The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York case involves a unique to the nation law severely limiting the ability of New York City residents to transport firearms outside their homes. While 2A advocates around the country are hoping this will be THE case to finally break the gun control zealots back, there is an equally good chance it will not. 

The case is about a New York City law called a “premises license”. With it, the very few New Yorkers who are lucky enough to get it are allowed to posses their registered firearm ONLY at their home or be transported, unloaded, locked and separate from ammunition, to one of seven NYPD approved shooting ranges within the City of New York. The firearm cannot be taken out of the city to any other range or property, even if the owner owns the other property. 

New York City used to issue a “target license” in addition to the nearly impossible to get “carry license”, issued only to retired law enforcement, celebrities and other favored persons.  However the City reported widespread abuses of the target license with licensees traveling out of state, attempting to take their firearms out of the city on airplanes and being in possession of their firearms in areas and at hours when no NYPD approved shooting ranges were open. Thus the more restrictive “premises license” scheme was put into place. 

Even the most skeptical of us can see glaring Constitutional issues with this type of licensing. Only being able to possess your legally owned and registered firearm at your residence – the single premises listed on your license – or back and forth to one of seven shooting ranges within the city is so restrictive that you would not even be able to secure your firearm elsewhere should you leave on vacation, to say nothing of sanctioned shooting events, training or lawful self defense anywhere except the one licensed premises. 

Yet, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled this law was Constitutionally valid under the McDonald precedence that “the Second Amendment protects a personal right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense within the home.” While this is one purpose of the Second Amendment, it is not the only one. 

One of the major issues with rulings like this is the level of scrutiny applied by the courts. In this case, like most others by courts hostile to the Second Amendment, intermediate scrutiny was used as opposed to strict scrutiny. While most of us would probably agree that determining whether something is Constitutional valid is going to be the same no matter how you look at it, that’s not the way the courts see it. 

In the absolutely briefest of terms, under intermediate scrutiny, it must be shown that the law or policy being challenged furthers an important government interest by means that are substantially related to that interest. In this case, that guns on the streets of the city are bad and having less of them makes the city safer. As we’ve seen in any number of other Second Amendment cases, the government doesn’t even have to prove that their logic is valid, only that they are pursuing this interest. 

Strict scrutiny on the other hand requires a narrowly tailored and least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest. Most First Amendment cases are decided under strict scrutiny and very few First Amendment restricting laws have been able to pass this test. 

So where does this leave us? Well, it’s very unlikely the current Supreme Court, with two new Constitutional originalist Justices, was willing to accept this case to uphold it. To do so would essentially relegate the right to keep and bear arms to your own home. However, as with all court challenges, nothing is a sure thing. 

Many gun rights advocates are looking at this case as being the one that finally affirms the right to bear arms outside the home, just as Heller and McDonald did for firearm possession inside the home. However that may be a little bit optimistic. Supreme Court rulings are more often than not very narrowly focused, impacting only the case at hand or ones nearly identical to it. With this being a one of a kind law, even if the appeal is successful, it may not easily translate into extended Second Amendment rights elsewhere. 

Potentially the best-case scenario would be a ruling that all Second Amendment challenges be interpreted using strict scrutiny. While highly unlikely, this would signal that the Supreme Court is finally ready to consider the Second Amendment a first class right. 

While I am cautiously optimistic, it’s worth noting that even with the Heller and McDonald decisions, politically motivated activist judges around the country have been upholding Constitutionally invalid laws that fly in the face of these Supreme Court rulings for years. 

Why? Quite simply it’s a numbers game. The gun control lawmakers and judges know the US Supreme Court only hears arguments on about 80 cases per year, and decides about 50 more without oral arguments. This is out of the roughly 7000 requests to hear cases per year. And that 7000 represents the best of the best cases with the highest likelihood of success before the court, thus worthy of the time, money and effort needed to litigate them. Knowing this, it would take the Supreme Court decades of hearing nothing but Second Amendment cases to reverse all the Second Amendment infringements across the nation. 

With this, I’m going to repeat what I’ve said time and time again. Getting your rights restored through the courts AFTER they have been taken away is a fool’s game. Once your rights are gone, there is no guarantee and only a fair chance AT BEST that you will ever have these rights again. The ONLY way to positively keep your rights is to stop electing the people who write and support the laws designed to strip away your rights in the first place. 

Bob

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Eliminating Firearm Retailers

Following the lead of other gun hating / gun control states, the freshly elected Democratic Governor of Illinois has signed a new Gun Dealer Licensing law. Not content with firearms retailers already being one of the most heavily regulated industries, closely monitored by the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives), the new governor has created a licensing scheme guaranteed to do one thing and one thing only, eliminate firearm retailers in the State of Illinois. 

The purported intent of this law is to enhance “responsible business practices” and uses as justification that the ATF is far too busy to keep a close enough eye on Illinois’s approximately 2400 Federal Firearm Licensees (FFLs). It also claims the ATF lacks the authority to enforce the kind of “responsible business practices” the State of Illinois thinks should be implemented on the state’s firearm retailers. 

Among the many things the $1500 five year state license gets a firearm retailer are increased record keeping requirements including electronic inventory and sales records linked to the State, the need for increased security systems including 90 days storage of video surveillance – reviewable by law enforcement at any time, mandatory training and annual in-service training for the owner and all employees, interviews for approval from the State, the right of denial by the local law enforcement agency, specifically worded legal signage in one inch high letters, state mandated zoning limitations and of course, unannounced inspections and review of all business operations.  All additional cost and administrative burdens firearm retailers must now bear. 

Like most gun control measures, this is being sold as a “public safety” law without any proof that any of the things it requires will actually increase public safety. It all plays into the myth that firearm retailers are the cause of violent crime solely because they legally sell firearms. 

Ignored are numerous statistics proving criminals don’t buy their guns legally. Even the recent study by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has found that the vast majority of criminals armed with firearms obtained their guns from a place other than a gun shop or gun show.  The evidence revealed that only 1.3 percent of prisoners who committed crimes with firearms had obtained them through a retail sale.

The Illinois State Rifle Association and the National Rifle Association have called this unprecedented and have promised a lawsuit.  Unfortunately, it’s a little too little, a little too late.  The precedent has already been set by other states. 

For those of us who work in the firearms industry in California, this is old news. The State has long since licensed firearm retailers and by implementing its electronic DROS (Dealer Record of Sale) system has registered the buyer, seller and firearm information of every transaction for years.  

But wait, there’s more!! The Illinois Gun Dealer Licensing law specifically calls out that there is nothing that prevents local jurisdictions from implementing further restrictions and regulations. Again, this is nothing new to those of us in California. 

Local anti-gun cities have been enacting their own firearm retailer licensing schemes, each with redundant or additional security, record keeping and inspection requirements. All of which require local political approval and additional costs. The justification being used is that the ATF and the State licensing agencies are far too busy to keep an eye on all the FFLs in the area. 

But that’s not all!! The latest trend in the most progressive anti-gun municipalities – my hometown included – is to funnel any new firearm retailers through the local Conditional Use Permit process, a politically based ‘feel good’ process that has no clear definitions of what is needed to be approved and can be denied just because the local NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) crowd doesn’t want a new gun store in town. 

All of this has one purpose and one purpose only. By making it so costly, so complex and so easy to make an administrative mistake in the myriad regulations from so many licensing authorities that firearms retailers will simply be run out of business. 

The City of San Francisco, CA is held up as a model city when it comes to firearm dealers. Its comprehensive package of ordinances, designed to “ensure that local firearms dealers utilize common sense and responsible business practices”, has had the exact impact intended – the last firearm retailer in the city closed in 2015. 

The San Francisco supervisor who wrote the ordinance that finally drove the store to close had this to say: “From my perspective, if the last gun store in San Francisco wants to close its doors because of my legislation, so be it,” he said. “This store sold over 1,000 guns each year. I would much rather have a preschool or coffee store in the neighborhood than a gun shop.”

So there you have it; firearm retailers are being driven out of business one by one, state by state, community by community. Does this impact your Second Amendment rights? So far the courts have said no since you have other buying options in other communities. But what happens when they are gone too? What happens when your entire state has been purged of firearm retailers and the law says you can’t buy firearms out of state? 

If you think it can’t happen, look to our neighbors to the south. Mexico has one, and only one legal firearm retailer. The Directorate of Arms and Munitions Sales is outside Mexico City and run by the Mexican Army. Funny thing is Mexico’s Constitution also guarantees the right to bear arms. But years and years of limitations and regulations – all in the name of “public safety” have restricted firearms so heavily that almost nobody can buy one legally.  And you can see for yourself the type of “public safety” the Mexican people now enjoy. 

How “safe” do you have to feel before you help stop the erosion of your Second Amendment rights?

Bob

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Guns Cause Violence!!

A preposterous claim, isn’t it? To think an inanimate object causes violence is ludicrous. Yet that is the base concept behind the current fad of so-called “Red Flag” laws. Also known by such names as Extreme Violence Protection Orders or Gun Violence Protection Orders, these trendy new laws claim to be the solution to violence by separating owners from their firearms based solely on the word of a family member. Deemed “legal” since it involves a judge stripping you of your Constitutional rights, nothing could be further from the truth. 

I’ve written about these mockeries of justice before, but I’d like to point out something people continue to be missing.  Primarily, that removing firearms from someone does absolutely nothing to prevent violence or increase public safety.  

The intent of these gun grabs is to prevent someone from harming themselves or others. Thanks to these new laws, a family member may petition to have another family member’s firearms, magazines and ammunition confiscated. This secret, ex-parte hearing – which in some places may now be done over the phone with the judge – without the firearm owner’s knowledge or attendance, orders the police to immediate confiscate the firearms. From the point of view of the state, problem solved. 

In reality, it solves absolutely nothing. In the case of a potentially suicidal person, the order only removes firearms and accessories, not any other potential method of suicide. Drugs, poisons, knives, ropes, cars, high buildings, bridges and busy highways are all still within reach.  In the case of a potentially homicidal person, every other method of killing is still available to them – cars, bombs, poison, fire, knives, clubs, hands & feet… you name it, it probably can and has been used as a weapon.  

In other words, what hasn’t been addressed is the PERSON. It’s not the gun that is potentially dangerous; it’s the person.  These orders remove one and only one possible weapon from a person’s control. It does NOTHING to prevent this person from acquiring or using any other type of weapon. It does NOTHING to restrict this person from doing ANYTHING. 

The legal standard to initiate firearm confiscations under these so-called Red Flag laws is set purposefully low. It can be as simple as conversation between two people where one hears what they think is someone contemplating suicide or violence towards others. 

The person accused, the one who had their firearms confiscated now has the burden of proof to show they are innocent and not a threat to others. Legal costs, time and wages lost from work, mental health evaluations, costs related to the return of their property – if the law enforcement agency will even return it after a legal order to do so – are all born by the person accused, even if accused unjustly. The legal recourse for being falsely accused is of course up to the very same people who are advocating for the removal of your firearms in the first place. 

Why should it be easy to strip away someone else’s constitutionally protected rights? Why should anyone have such a low burden of proof to strip you of your Second Amendment rights in secret? Why should the person accused then be responsible for proving their innocence to avoid permanent infringement of their rights? Why should they be financially responsible for the costs incurred by someone else’s accusations? 

The reason why is simple. The Second Amendment is considered a second-class right, not entitled to full protection under the law. 

What is a first-class right? A CNN reporter having his White House press pass revoked for pushing an intern’s arm away. A federal judge ruled the White House’s decision to boot the reporter had violated the Fifth Amendment, which guarantees due process in government actions.  Or a Broward County Election supervisor being suspended for incompetence. Another federal judge ruled the former Florida Governor violated the election official’s constitutional due-process rights when he suspended and “vilified” her without first allowing her to make her own case. 

Yet stripping away your Second Amendment rights, entering your home or businesses and removing your property – by force if necessary – based on hearsay evidence alone in a secret ex-parte hearing is perfectly acceptable. 

Supporters of these confiscations will point to the fact that a judge must grant these orders to provide adequate protection are therefore “legal”. Yet we’ve already seen abuse. Recently in my former home state of Vermont, police learned of an overheard conversation about a planned school shooting with specific time and date details. One of the two youths involved – neither of which had firearms of his own – claimed he could get access to firearms from where they were locked up at the home of a non-involved relative.  The police were able to get an order under Vermont’s new Extreme Risk Protection Order law to confiscate the relative’s firearms. 

Even under Vermont’s very broad law, this overreach was illegal. Yet instead of the judge being removed from the bench and disbarred, the police officer fired and decertified and both of them charged with violating the Constitutional rights of someone who had nothing to do with this alleged planned incident, it is being hailed as a success and shining example of greatness of the new law. 

States and counties are all so proud to report on how many times they have used these so-called Red Flag laws to confiscate someone’s firearm. What they have yet to report is how many were reversed and the person’s property ordered returned during the person’s first hearing. 

Nobody seems to be concerned with the number of reversals or with how much it has cost the individuals involved to retrieve their property and clear their name. Nobody seems to be concerned with false statements made by vindictive or simply misinformed relatives. 

Taking someone into physical police custody, denying them of their freedom, requires probable cause. Why shouldn’t this same level of proof be required when stripping someone of his or her Constitutional rights?  Why have we allowed these so called “Red Flag” laws to proliferate when they do absolutely nothing to address public safety? And finally, what are you doing to put an end to these violations of your rights? 

Bob

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