The First Amendment vs. Terms and Conditions of Use

The last few days have seen an unprecedented level of blatant censorship targeting the conservative community. Those who dare to speak anything other than the current politically correct propaganda are being systematically silenced. Politicians, companies and users are all being targeted. But of course, your government would never write a law to eliminate your right to free speech, that would be unconstitutional. So how did they eliminate your First Amendment protected rights? Easy, they outsourced it to private companies! Enter the Terms and Conditions of Use. 

When the Founding Fathers crafted the First Amendment to the Constitution, they wanted to ensure the autonomy of the press. I have no doubt the expectation was a free and independent press would be another check and balance against the possibility of a tyrannically government. 

The First Amendment

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

But what happens when the government and the press are working together? There is no dissent, there is no critique, there is no check and balance of what the government says or does. The press becomes nothing more than a tool of the government for distributing officially sanctioned information or preventing access to it. 

Now add in the world of social media, online communities where the individuals and businesses communicate and share information, usually free of charge to the user, and the provider profits by selling access to the user’s information and habits. We don’t consider these private platforms “press” in the traditional sense and, as they argue, they are not publishers since the users are providing the content. 

A quick look at Section 230 (47 U.S. Code § 230) – Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material – shows us the technology providers have NO liability when it comes to their ability to restrict and control content. 

(2) Civil Liability
No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—
(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or
(B) any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph (1). 

With this protection, social media and internet content providers have unlimited and irrevocable discretion of what content they want to allow on their platforms. They can define anything they want as being “otherwise objectionable” and completely ban it and the users who share it. They don’t have to justify it any further than that and they don’t have to apply the standards equally across the board. They get to decide all by themselves what is true, what is false and what is acceptable for YOU to experience on their platform. It’s called Terms and Conditions of Use, or Community Standards or some other concoction that is supposed to make you think they are applying their ideology in a fair manner. They are not. 

Is this censorship? Absolutely! Especially when you look at the fact the rules are applied strictly against some groups and not at all against others. One political party and faction of the government gets their message across while the other does not. You can now see why the current administration was working so hard to eliminate these protections, and why Big Tech and their allies in Congress were working so hard to defend it. 

Which brings us to today. The dominant social media platforms decided to censor and ban the sitting President of the United States based on wild and unsubstantiated allegations from other politicians. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, they are the sole arbitrator of truth in their world. The masters of Big Tech have come right out and said if you don’t like it, go build your own. 

Alternative social media companies have been around for years but have yet to gain widespread usage, until now. With the largest social media platforms cutting off scores of users and eliminating content, they have started to grow. What Big Tech considered nothing more than “ankle biters” are becoming relevant and becoming a threat to their monopoly on speech and thought. We now see other Big Tech companies exerting their influence to ban and eliminate these smaller companies that don’t restrict content they want eliminated. 

If you think it will stop here, think again. A great deal of your world comes through information services and devices controlled by companies protected by Section 230. What happens when they deem certain website content as objectionable and blocking access to it? What happens when certain email content is deemed objectionable and they refuse to deliver it? What happens when certain books, magazines or political content is deemed objectionable and they start preventing you from buying or reading it? What happens when they determine that certain phone numbers belong to objectionable persons or companies and they don’t allow you to call them on their devices? 

The Second Amendment community has been a target of Big Tech social media censorship for years. Legal content has been filtered or removed, distribution strictly limited and access to the tools and programs other content providers enjoy eliminated. The broader conservative movement has only recently begun to feel the rath on a large scale. The exodus from these Big Tech platforms has begun and they are not happy about it. Those who believe as they do are calling for even more censorship and suppression across all social media platforms and the internet. They want all content they find offensive or objectionable to be eliminated. 

Like many others, my days on the major social media platforms are numbered. I’ve been on the alternate platforms for years in some cases and I’ve always maintained my own website. It will take a while for a critical mass of content providers to move to these alternative platforms, but it is happening. As we’ve seen, these platforms will be attacked and harassed, but the more users, the more content, the more communication we do there, the better off we all are. 

What we now are seeing is the United States version of The Great Firewall of China. Censorship of technology, information and speech which is not approved is blocked. Only that which is official and approved will be allowed to reach you. Big Tech may be writing the code, but it is the government who is writing the specs for it.

The First Amendment is rapidly being replaced by private companies’ Terms and Conditions of Use where you have no input, no right to object, no right to appeal. You may only think, speak and act within the ever-changing and restrictive rules and regulations or face expulsion. 

Welcome to the Democratic Socialist States of America. 

Bob

#oddstuffing, #Constitution, #BillOfRights, #FirstAmendment #SecondAmendment, #Censorship, #BigTech, #SocialMedia, #mewe, #medium, #parler, #gab, #oddstuffing.com

Addendum:

Some comments and my reply from the Odd Stuffing Facebook page I wanted to keep with the original post material.

RE: 
Jeffrey W. Hill

No Bob. It’s not censorship. If you don’t like it, buy some servers, connect them to the internet and start hosting.

Jeffrey W. Hill

Nathan Taylor Inciting violence was unacceptable long before the internet. Back then people who had interests in violent acts complained because TV news was controlled by monopolies and Newspapers could control what was distributed by thousands of paper boys across the country every morning. The Associated Press, United Press International and Reuters news services had as much control over the content of the news as Google and Facebook, and people who wanted to present their alternative views of reality complained continuously about the press services blocking them out. Bottom line, it has always taken a ton of money, vision, organization and smarts to build a big communications system, and that doesn’t change the fact that the systems are and should be controlled by the people successful enough to have built them. If “you” want “the press” to cover your alternative views, buy a printing press and get started.

—-

Jeff W. Hill, I’m going to bet the reason why you don’t feel any of this is censorship is because you and your ideology were not impacted. If it has been, you’d be screaming bloody murder like the rest of us. For heaven sakes, even the ACLU – a group who is absolutely no friend of the President or Second Amendment rights – has raised concerns about the social media censorship.

So, I tell you what I’m going to for you. I’m going to make it personal for you and ban you from commenting on my page for no other reason than you have disagreed with me.  

Truth be known, I enjoy having people disagree with me and commenting with their point of view on my posts. This is how I and everyone else gains a greater understanding of the issues we face today. I absolutely abhor blocking or banning people or deleting posts. I think it squelches the free exchange of ideas and only makes matters worse. Of the VERY few people I’ve banned from my page, it was for harassing, threatening or belligerent behavior. But for you, I’m making an exception. 

What do I expect as a reaction? After the obligatory <expletive deleted> you!, you and others with your point of view will report me to Facebook and other platforms, ISP’s, etc., for violating their Terms and Conditions of Use or Community Guidelines or whatever. Of course, nothing I have ever posted has ever violated the ever-shifting landscape of rules and regulations, but that’s not going to stop you or the Big Tech folks from punishing me for disagreeing with you and the cancel culture. After all, it’s okay to censor people who don’t think like you do, right? 

That’s the funny thing about the First Amendment, it was written to protect ALL speech and views, even the ones you disagree with. As is often quoted, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend till death your right to say it.” 

Restricting the ability of individuals or groups to freely and legally communicate, even if done by private companies, for political purposes and on behalf of a portion of the government is still censorship. And at a time when most people communicate through the Internet, it smacks of First Amendment infringement.  

Sorry you won’t be able to respond here in my little corner of the internet Jeffrey W. Hill. You’ll have to make your own opinion page, fire up your own web servers or dust off that printing press to make your thoughts known because you’ve been censored here. My apologies to others whose comments were hidden as a result of banning Jeffrey W. Hill. 

Second Amendment: 2021 – A New Hope

At the risk of a violent response from the Dark Side (Disney), I’m starting off the new year with an optimistic view of the Second Amendment by referring to 2021 as “A New Hope”. In troubling times when their government turned their back on law-abiding citizens, millions of Americans have recognized the need to purchase, own and use firearms to defend their lives and the lives of their families. This is the absolute opposite to the gun control zealots claim that firearms are being shunned in this country. As we look forward to the challenges emerging on the horizon, I for one am comforted knowing there are millions more exercising their Second Amendment protected rights.  

For those who contend more guns equals more violence and death, recall those long-buried CDC (Centers for Disease Control) studies that found civilian defensive use of firearms outnumbered felonious use by a rate of 3 to 1, to the tune of 2.5 to 3 million uses per year. It is critical to note that not all of the events involved the discharge of a firearm by the civilian. Often times, the mere presenting or challenge to the criminal with a firearm was enough to stop the intended crime. It’s also important to realize this number ONLY includes persons who were not performing defensive duties as part of their employment such as law enforcement or security services. 

Let’s not kid ourselves about the challenges 2021 will bring. The incoming Harris/Biden [sic] administration has a significant gun control agenda including a ban and removal of so-called “assault weapons” and “high-capacity magazines”, along with a host of other California inspired draconian and ineffective gun control laws. We’ve already seen the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) coordinating with the yet-to-be administration and making aggressive moves against the 80% market and pistol braces, priorities imported from the west coast. 

The control of the Senate, and quite honestly of all three branches of government, is to be decided tomorrow in Georgia. Winning both seats would place the deciding vote for the Senate in the hands of the Vice President and allow a full, nationwide California style gun control agenda to pass. It would also allow the Senate to reshape the United States Supreme Court by either impeaching a conservative associate justice or packing the Court with liberal appointed justices to “reduce the influence of politics” on the Court. Thus, the final constitutional obstacle for eliminating our Second Amendment protected natural rights would be removed. 

As unchecked violence rages in the extremist left controlled cities and states, mass releases of criminals, including those serving life sentences for murder and rape (to protect them from COVID-19), combined with prosecutors instituting their own versions of social justice reform by not charging those caught breaking the law or essentially eliminating any penalties, life for law-abiding citizens in these areas has become decidedly more dangerous.

So why do I have hope? In response to the violence and destruction caused by the “mostly peaceful” riots around the country, an interesting thing happened. Americans across the country decided to not become victims. As extremist left governors, mayors and city councils turned their cities over to violent mobs, holding back, hindering and defunding the police to give rioters free rein to loot, destroy property and attack innocent bystanders, more people began to realize the importance of the Second Amendment and personally owned firearms in modern society.

Conservative estimates place the number of firearms purchased in 2020 at upwards of 20 million, along with more than a billion rounds of ammunition. At least 40% of these purchases were made by people who have never owned a firearm before, including approximately 40% being purchased by women. The purchases were made by individuals from every walk of life, every level of society, every race, religion and political party. 

The diversity of those purchasing firearms for personal protection in 2020 points out the best part of the Second Amendment. Despite what the gun control fanatics tell you, firearms are not the exclusive tool of a single, stereotypical geographic. The Second Amendment deliberately says, “the right of the people”. Not the government, not any race, gender, political party or location, the people, ALL the people.  

Does millions of new firearm owners automatically equal millions more anti-gun control votes? No, of course not. What it does mean is the party that has for so long stood up and said its supporters are strongly opposed to gun ownership is going to have to come to terms with a lot more of its base recognizing the importance of firearms and the Second Amendment.  

As Second Amendment supporters in 2021, we need to expand our focus from preaching to the choir to welcoming new firearm owners into the community. We need to help them with training, places to shoot, competition, hunting, sports and self-defense information. We need to invite them into our clubs and associations so they can be the best and safest firearm owners they can be. We need to demonstrate to all the new firearm owners that Second Amendment protected rights are as important today as they were when our nation was founded. There are a lot of supporters out there that only need a little encouragement to join in defending our rights. 

This year is going to be a bitch. It’s time for all of us to stand together. 

Bob

#oddstuffing, #Constitution, #BillOfRights, #SecondAmendment, #GunVote, #ANewHope, #GunControlFails, #PleaseDontDeathStarMeDisney, #mewe, #medium, #parler, #oddstuffing.com

UPDATE: BATFE is the new CA DOJ BOF

On December 23, 2020, the ATF withdrew the “Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with “Stabilizing Braces”. The document and call for comments originally published on December 18th gathered more that 60K comments, and according to antidotal evidence, the VAST majority of the responses opposed the proposed regulation. The link to the notice is below. 

While many in the firearms / Second Amendment community are considering this a victory, we all know this will return. Instead of a victory triggered by our comments, it is very likely the posting, comments and withdrawal were part of the original plan to get input on where the proposed regulation would be attacked to help make it stronger. 

Think of it as beta software released into the user community to assess and locate its vulnerabilities. Improvements can then be made based on the feedback to make it better, stronger and more bulletproof. 

If we have learned anything about the gun control zealots prior work at the CA DOJ BOF, it’s that they are persistent. Rejection, be it by governmental regulators, the courts, the firearm industry or the public mean nothing to them. They will be back with a bigger, badder version of the exact same thing, and with a plan to push it through no matter what. 

The fight is not over yet. 

Bob

https://www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/general-notice/sb-criteria-withdrawal-notice-12-23-20pdf/download

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Trauma-Informed, Gender-Affirming, Anti-Racist Praxis, a.k.a. The New Police

As we conclude 2020, the Defund Police movement continues their quest to dismantle law enforcement as we know it in this country. The utopian vision planned to replace police departments includes a “community-led public safety” program where “an unarmed urgent responder trained in behavioral and mental health comes within 5 minutes” or in response to incidents of rising gun violence, “a trauma informed crisis intervention team works with community activists to disarm and deescalate conflicts”. Of course, all of this ignores the skyrocketing increases in violence and crime in these pre-utopian cities. And what’s worse is that the mayors and city councils have no idea they are enabling an authoritarian takeover of their own cities. The future is state control. Welcome to the future. 

In Minneapolis, the epicenter of the movement to eliminate the police, and extremist left cities around the country, city councils are trying to outdo each other coming up with the most outlandish plans to appease the mobs now running their cities. Minneapolis still sets the bar by announcing to gain police department funding, groups must show they are “well-versed in de-escalation skills” along with “trauma-informed, gender-affirming, anti-racist praxis” according to the proposal. 

Not to be outdone, Seattle hired a felon, ex-pimp (convicted of running a prostitution ring which included underage girls) as a $150,000 per year “Street Czar” to provide the city with “expertise and support services in de-escalation, community engagement, and alternatives to policing.” Equally insane and dangerous proposals around the country include sending unarmed social workers and therapists alone on emergency calls involving the mentally ill, drunk and drugged as well as a host of other historically violent situations including unarmed city workers for the enforcement of traffic laws.

Meanwhile, these pre-utopian cities are slashing police budgets to the tune of millions of dollars and restricting the tools and techniques available to the remaining officers. Gone are such things as proactive anti-crime patrols, domestic violence and sexual assault units, community policing, training, overtime and basic patrol and emergency response services. Departments are losing their most senior and experienced officers to agencies who realize the importance of strong law enforcement in public safety and actually train and support their officers. 

But it’s not just the mayors and city councils, it’s the local prosecutors too. By immediately releasing the “mostly peaceful” rioters without charges or simply refusing to pursue charges against them, they’ve started their own personal social justice reform programs. In some areas, lower-level crimes are no longer prosecuted, or police have to take into consideration the suspect’s reason for looting to justify a prosecution. These same prosecutors are also pushing for the release of anyone incarcerated including those serving life sentences for murder and rape, to protect them from the social injustice of COVID-19.

What is happening in these communities is a disgrace. Violent crime, property crime, crime of all kinds is absolutely skyrocketing. In Minneapolis, what is left of the police department actually sent out letters to residents in one district warning them to “be prepared to give up your cell phone and purse or wallet.” The Minneapolis City Council was recently forced to contract with other area agencies just to cover the 911 responses in the city. 

If you’re wondering where all this is leading, look at what is happening in these pre-utopian cities. Police departments are being gutted of the resources and personnel needed to provide even the most basic level of services. Residents and businesses are fleeing in droves and those who remain are begging for protection and justice. EVEN IF the mayors and city councils were to reverse course and try to restore law and order in their communities, it would take years or decades to bring back the level of experience and service they have cut of out of their police departments. 

The answer, the expected savior of the cities, will come from the state level law enforcement agencies. These agencies, who have been spared the media condemnation of their municipal counterparts, will be called in to take over law enforcement in the defunded police communities. And this is a very, very bad thing. 

Law enforcement is and always has been best served by local officers who are locally funded, directed and held accountable by their communities. Local communities can set their own priorities and be responsive to the needs of their residents. 

Minneapolis is already marching down this road by contracting with outside agencies, including the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and Metro Transit. The State of Texas has already introduced legislation to take over the Austin Police department after the city council there defunded the department by $21 million. 

So what’s the problem of having the state or another agency take over local law enforcement services? Quite simply, it’s a matter of accountability. Another agency, state or otherwise, is responsible to someone else. It takes its direction and priorities from someone else. The local community’s needs are determined by someone else. While this may not sound too bad in a (currently red) state like Texas, what kind of local law enforcement would you anticipate from a department that reports directly to the governor of California or New York? 

The mayors and city councils who are now vowing to completely dismantle local law enforcement due to hundreds of years of so-called “systemic racism” and create non-police “community-based public safety programs” seem to be forgetting one thing. THEY are the same ones who have been in control of their cities and police departments all along. Only recently, with the mobs banging on their doors, did they become “woke” and decide everything they’ve always supported was always wrong. And only when their naive utopian vision fails and their citizens have suffered enough, will they realize they were just part of the plan to give control of their city to someone else. 

The only ones who can stop this are the residents of these pre-utopian cities. Hopefully they will come to that realization before too many have left or they become too weak to stop it. 

Bob

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BATFE is the new CA DOJ BOF

Let’s face it, there aren’t a whole lot of people who love the BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or simply ATF). In the world of federal enforcement agencies, they’ve never been high on the ‘warm and fuzzy’ scale. Then along comes their recent moves against companies who make 80% firearms and suppressor kits, and now pistol braces. Let’s not forget their previous administrative actions to ban bump stocks and you have an agency most would now put into the ‘hated’ category. For those of you who think it can’t get any worse, just ask any firearm owner in California how their own DOJ BOF (Department of Justice, Bureau of Firearms) evolved. The same thing, using the same tactics, is now occurring at the ATF. A coincidence? Hardly… 

We all know the incident that caused bump stocks to become illegal in this country. A horrible tragedy with no known motive or individual to take responsibility, so bump stocks were blamed and banned. Not an unprecedented move in the gun control world, but it highlighted the ability of the ATF to reverse previous determinations based on political pressure. What we are seeing now is the same thing. 

The ATF recently served warrants, or raided, depending on how you look at it, an 80% firearms manufacturer. The target was a packaged kit of supplies to manufacture your own firearm, as well as the people who had purchased them. Note that all these individual parts are available from this and numerous other manufacturers and can be purchased separately or even purchased at the same time, but it was the “kit” that caused the ATF to act. The logic is the “kit” can be used to put together a firearm in minutes (which is absolutely not true unless you count your hours in minutes) and as such, should be considered a firearm. Somewhere in the noise it appears a “kit” had been purchased by a prohibited person to build a firearm, which would be illegal for them to possess. 

Among the no surprise things going on here are that a prohibited person is going to acquire a firearm, something ILLEGAL for them to do, or that the ATF might consider a “kit” a firearm. As little as two years ago another manufacturer received a ruling from the ATF that while the 80% frame was not a firearm, “This classification does not apply if the polymer frame-blank is marketed, sold, or distributed as part of a kit.” We can debate the lack of logic behind this, but it is there in black and white. It seems the 80% industry isn’t very good about sharing knowledge.  

Not only was the 80% firearm manufacturer subject to an ATF search and seizure, but also an 80% suppressor manufacturer, and apparently for similar reasons. It also appears the ATF is now visiting customers of these products demanding “voluntary” forfeiture to avoid them securing a search warrant to seize the property. That last part is a whole different argument for another time. 

And now, we have the ATF putting out a notice and request for comment entitled “Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with “Stabilizing Braces””. The link to the notice and where you can make a comment is listed below. It’s only five pages long and I highly recommend you read it for yourself. 

In short, the document fails at the first word, objective. Instead, it is highly subjective and lacks the critical details that would allow a manufacturer or consumer to make an informed decision about the legality of a product they produce or possess. Instead, a firearm is “subject to the NFA (National Firearms Act), on a case-by-case basis.”

It highlights considerations like type and caliber, weight and length, length of pull, aim point and sights and scopes as items to be evaluated, but provides absolutely no details on what is and isn’t acceptable under the proposed rules. The very subjectivity of it could lead the same firearm owned by one person to be considered legal but subject to NFA rules if owned by another person. 

If you’re wondering where this is heading, the document outlines the options you’ll have for a stabilizing brace firearm. They are “registering the firearm in compliance with the NFA” “permanently removing the stabilizing brace from the firearm and disposing of it, replacing the barrel of the firearm (16’’ or greater for a rifle, or 18’’ or greater for a shotgun), surrendering the firearm to ATF, or destroying the firearm.” Note the carrot for registering your firearm under the NFA is a waiver of the $200 / firearm fee. 

So why are Californians having a case of déjà vu? Because the CA DOJ BOF has used very similar tactics in their war on so-called “assault weapons”. This includes the use of “emergency” regulations that dramatically reduce the amount of time comments are taken. In this case, instead of the usual, regulatory mandated 30 days, the ATF has limited the amount of time to just 17 days, over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, another one of CA DOJ BOF’s tactics. 

Some are saying this is a blessing since it will allow people to register their firearms as a SBR (short barreled rifle) without having to pay the $200 tax stamp. This of course ignores the obvious issue of having to register in the first place, as well as having to register a pistol as a SBR. There are also a host of other restrictions that come with NFA firearms. And if you’re going to have to register your stabilizing brace firearm as an SBR, why not put on an actual firearm stock instead of something that doesn’t work well as a stock?

The CA DOJ BOF may provide us with some insight here. During the last round of “assault weapon” laws, Californians could register their so-called “bullet button assault weapons” but were not allowed to remove the bullet buttons to be like the other “registered assault weapons”. Registration also meant they could not sell or pass on their firearm to heirs. 

Looking into the Odd Stuffing crystal ball, I’m seeing many changes coming to the NFA, including a separate category for stabilizing brace firearms that will preclude their ability to be altered, transferred or inherited in the future. I’m also seeing a lot of so-called “semi-automatic assault weapons” being added to the NFA as well. Although that’s not really a crystal ball thing since the probable incoming administration has vowed to place “assault weapons” under the jurisdiction of the NFA. 

What we are seeing is the first steps towards making the ATF like the CA DOJ BOF. This strategy to get more and more firearms registered though through the NFA will only make their eventual outlaw, confiscation and destruction on a nationwide basis easier in the future. Can you guess where this idea came from?

This is just another step to administratively diminish the protections of the Second Amendment into nonexistence, just like they’ve already done in California. 

Bob

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/12/18/2020-27857/objective-factors-for-classifying-weapons-with-stabilizing-braces

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Bill of Rights Day

The Bill of Rights – the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution – was ratified on December 15, 1971. With this, the people’s basic civil rights and liberties were guaranteed.

229 years have passed since then and our rights are under attack like never before. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s proclamation designating December 15th as Bill of Rights Day may help to provide a little context for the importance of the Bill of Rights to our nation. 

A Proclamation

Whereas a Joint Resolution of the Congress, approved August 21, 1941, authorizes and requests the President of the United States “to issue a proclamation designating December 15, 1941, as Bill of Rights Day, calling upon officials of the Government to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on that day, and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and prayer”:

Now, Therefore, I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate December 15, 1941, as Bill of Rights Day. And I call upon the officials of the Government, and upon the people of the United States, to observe the day by displaying the flag of the United States on public buildings and by meeting together for such prayers and such ceremonies as may seem to them appropriate.

The first ten amendments, the great American charter of personal liberty and human dignity, became a part of the Constitution of the United States on the fifteenth day of December, 1791.

It is fitting that the anniversary of its adoption should be remembered by the Nation which, for one hundred and fifty years, has enjoyed the immeasurable privileges which that charter guaranteed: the privileges of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and the free right to petition the Government for redress of grievances.

It is especially fitting that this anniversary should be remembered and observed by those institutions of a democratic people which owe their very existence to the guarantees of the Bill of Rights: the free schools, the free churches, the labor unions, the religious and educational and civic organizations of all kinds which, without the guarantee of the Bill of Rights, could never have existed; which sicken and disappear whenever, in any country, these rights are curtailed or withdrawn.

The fifteenth day of December, 1941, is therefore set apart as a day of mobilization for freedom and for human rights, a day of remembrance of the democratic and peaceful action by which these rights were gained, a day of reassessment of their present meaning and their living worth.

Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them. They come in time to take these rights for granted and to assume their protection is assured. We, however, who have seen these privileges lost in other continents and other countries can now appreciate their meaning to those people who enjoyed them once and now no longer can. We understand in some measure what their loss can mean. And by that realization we have come to a clearer conception of their worth to us, and to a stronger and more unalterable determination that here in our land they shall not be lost or weakened or curtailed.

It is to give public expression and outward form to that understanding and that determination that we are about to commemorate the adoption of the Bill of Rights and rededicate its principles and its practice.

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT

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Semi-Automatic Mechanisms – The New Assault Weapons, Updated

With the possibility of a new administration that has promised to ban the manufacture and sale of so-called “assault weapons” and “high-capacity magazines”, let’s take another look at what a new ban will likely include. While the most commonly mentioned target is the AR-15 & AK-47 pattern rifles – using the completely inaccurate and scary terminology of “weapons of war”, gun control legislation from around the country provides ample evidence that the scope will be much wider. Firearms with so-called “evil features” are commonly included. Now add the latest trend to include the “semi-automatic mechanism” and you can ban many more commonly owned firearms.  And you thought they just wanted your scary black rifles.

Politically defined terms like so-called “assault weapons” have many problems. Among them is the definition tends to evolve over time. It can mean one thing today and grow to include much more tomorrow. These terms also tend to be geographically specific. An “assault weapon” in one state – or even city – isn’t an “assault weapon” in another. Each jurisdiction gets to pick and choose what they think an “assault weapon” is. The new thing is to call for a complete civilian ban on all semi-automatics. 

One of the latest attempts to massively expand the type of firearms law-abiding citizens are restricted from started in Massachusetts. In the wake of the shooting in a gun free zone in Virginia Beach, VA, an unknown group of naysayers came out with the revelation that the .45 caliber handguns used in that shooting shares the same deadly feature as the dreaded AR-15 – the semi-automatic mechanism. Now, “the most severe gun-related problem facing our society is the proliferation of guns containing a semiautomatic mechanism.” 

Their organization “is working to achieve legislation that will ban the semiautomatic mechanism in any gun sold or owned in Massachusetts. These are weapons that were designed for military and law enforcement purposes only and not for the general public. Revolvers, lever-action, pump-action, and bolt-action guns cover the full spectrum of civilian needs, whether they are hunting, personal protection, or home protection. The semiautomatic mechanism for guns has no place in civilian hands.”

Sadly, this absolutely absurd idea was quickly adopted by gun control extremist legislators in numerous states and is now either proposed legislation or has been added onto their list of “assault weapons”. 

Of course, the first successful semi-automatic firearm was designed by Ferdinand Ritter von Mannlicher in 1885.  The iconic Model 1911 pistol has been in service from – you guessed it – 1911, that’s 109 years old!  There’s nothing horribly sinister or deadly about the mechanism, it simply ejects the fired cartridge and loads the next one to be fired the NEXT time the trigger is pulled. The capacity of the magazine determines how many times you can pull the trigger before the firearm is empty. Massachusetts, being one of the nanny gun control states, says that number is 10. Of course, a standard 1911 magazine is only eight. 

If it’s not a magazine capacity thing, is it the shooting speed the antis don’t like? Of course not.  Semi-automatics don’t fire any faster than revolvers. In fact, the world’s fastest shooter used a revolver to put eight rounds on target in one second.  And no, there is no such thing as “fully semi-automatic”, the ludicrous phrase coined by an anti-gun former Army officer in the employ of CNN. 

Why the new fixation on all things semi-automatic?  It’s merely an attempt to put more firearms on the banned list and get them taken out of the hands of law-abiding civilian owners. The tactic has been used for years in the states that have some sort of “assault weapon” definition. What started as a specific list of firearms “too deadly for civilian use” has been systematically expanded to include firearms with purely cosmetic “evil features” such as pistol grips, adjustable stocks, threaded barrels and flash hiders or the ability to utilize a “high-capacity” magazine. The State of Washington now defines ALL semi-automatic rifles as semi-automatic assault rifles. Massachusetts went so far as to outlaw the mechanism used in AR-15’s and AK-47’s and bans any firearm that has interchangeable parts, such as the extractor or extractor assembly, with the AR-15 or AK-47. 

How many firearms in the United States are semi-automatic?  Depending on how you slice the data, you’d be looking at roughly 150 million of the estimated 400 million civilian owned firearms in this country.

Would an all-out ban on semi-automatic firearms survive a Constitutional challenge, especially in light of the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller decision and the “in common use at the time” test?  No, of course not. But that’s ONLY with the current makeup of the United States Supreme Court. An expanded Supreme Court packed with far-left activist justices (you know, to “reduce the influence of politics”), would undoubtedly interpret this differently or reverse Heller all together. 

Will a new ban make all these “semi-automatic assault weapons” just go away? Of course not, that will take time. Using a combination of registration through the NFA (National Firearms Act) and mandatory buybacks for those who can’t afford the $200 per firearm and $200 per magazine NFA fee. Of course, NFA firearms are currently fully transferable, so this will need to be changed to the same design as California’s registered “assault weapons”, which cannot be transferred or inherited. 

“Assault weapons” are not just about AR-15 or AK-47’s, or “high-capacity” magazines. It’s about all the commonly owned, and in the vast, Vast, VAST majority of situations in our country, lawfully used firearms. “Assault weapons” is a bottomless pit that will be used to dump an ever-increasing number of banned firearms until the number you can legally own is zero. 

Do you want to keep the lawfully owned and legally used firearms you have today? Do you want your children and grandchildren to have access to the same modern and effective firearms you have today?  

This is why the Georgia Senate runoffs and the independence of the United States Supreme Court are so important. 

Bob

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A Shot Across The Bow of the USS SCOTUS

In case you missed it, the incoming congress just fired another warning shot across the bow of the United States Supreme Court. This warning specifically targeted the most vulnerable member of the court, at least in the eyes of the hypocrite extremist left. Funneled through a less than unbiased newspaper as a ‘breaking news’ story, it is another blatant attempt to influence litigation before the Court. It also presents a compromise scheme for forcing political control of the Supreme Court to those who are a little squeamish about packing the Court. Either way, this highlights the importance of the Senate runoff elections in Georgia are for the future of an independent Judicial branch. 

This latest attempt to influence the court comes from a New York Times review of a book – by two New York Times staffers – that contains “new” allegations of sexual misconduct by Justice Kavanaugh while he was in college. The “new” allegations, introduced in the 11th paragraph of their story, involves a woman who declined to be interviewed by the Times reporters and has through friends indicated she did not recall the event. It’s important to know that this incident, the supposed witnesses and the woman’s denial of it occurring, were all known to the reporters in 2018, during Justice Kavanaugh’s hearings. The story resurfaced briefly in 2019 during the Democratic Presidential primaries but did not result in any action. Now, in 2020, it surfaces again as a “new” story. 

It’s not as if his Democratic party detractors haven’t done their level best to destroy Justice Kavanaugh’s reputation and life based on the unsubstantiated accusations leveled against him during his confirmation hearings. 

Of his coaching his daughter’s high school basketball team, a Time magazine reporter wrote: “Ford’s charge shattered Kavanaugh’s carefully crafted tableau, calling into doubt the image he projected. The row of young girls, legs bare in their private-school skirts, looked different now.” 

Of his teaching at Harvard, a letter from staff, students and alumni organized by friends and family of Congressional Democrats was sent that said: “We believe that Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment as an HLS lecturer sends a message to law students, and in particular female students, that powerful men are above the law, and that obstructive, inappropriate behavior will be rewarded.”

With this “new” allegation resurfacing yet again, members of the new administration’s transition team are calling for a congressional investigation into the matter. “If accurate, this would represent a big mistake on the part of the FBI. Without the truth, a cloud will hang over Kavanaugh’s head and an asterisk will accompany his decisions. The only way to repair the damage is for Congress to pick up where the FBI left off.” Note that Congressional investigation in this context of course means impeachment proceedings.

Having members of the Democratic party threaten the United States Supreme Court is nothing new. Remember the Senate Democrats who sent the “Heal Thyself” letter threating to pack the Court if it ruled incorrectly in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York. That letter is widely credited with flipping Chief Justice John Roberts to the liberal wing in an attempt to save the structure of the Court. Of course, that threat has now been revived into an action plan should the Democrats retake the Senate. 

In this situation, there does not appear to be one case to be influenced but rather a series of cases now under consideration and likely to be taken up by the Supreme Court regarding the 2020 elections. The not-so-subtle implications are for Justice Kavanaugh to vote ‘correctly’ or face impeachment. But as anyone can see from the “Heal Thyself” letter, voting correctly won’t make this threat go away. 

There’s also another side of this “new” accusation and call for Congressional investigations. It represents an alternative plan to take over the Supreme Court. The well-advertised threat to pack the Court with liberal appointed justices to “reduce the influence of politics” has been unpopular with many non-extremists in the Democratic party. This plan, removing just one originalist Justice, one that has been demonized by the Party, and allowing a liberal appointee would cement a solid 5-4 liberal majority. 

If you’re wondering what the big deal is with the Senate runoff elections in Georgia, this is it. A Democrat win of both seats results in a 50-50 tie in the Senate which would be broken by the (possible) new Vice-President who is the most extremist left politician to ever be elected. This is a grandstanding, elitist politician who has already stated her position on Justice Kavanaugh as being “He must be impeached.”

What else is at stake? Only the ability to have free and fair elections, the Electoral College, the future of the First, Second, Fourth and Fifth Amendment and the independence of the Judiciary branch. 

Simply look at what campaign promises have been made and ask yourself what will happen if the final check and balance of power, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, were no longer a hinderance? What if every law that brazenly infringes on your Constitutionally protected natural rights was deemed fully Constitutional in the name of the new socialist agenda by a Court more interested in social reengineering than Constitutional rights? 

If you have a few bucks to spare, sending it down to support the Republican candidates in Georgia might be in all of our best interests. 

Bob

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My Home, My Heath, My Choice – Interrogating Our Children At School

Last week Vermont’s RINO Governor announced changes to the program that monitors the symptoms of students and teachers in the state’s schools. Following the Thanksgiving break, students will be grilled on if they had Thanksgiving with anyone OTHER THAN their immediate family. Anyone who has will not be admitted for in-person education and must quarantine for two weeks, or one week followed by a negative COVID test. While this sounds like a simple addition to the state’s daily symptom check, it represents another HUGE intrusion into the personal lives of the state’s residents. If we allow this, what will be next the question asked in the name of health? 

Vermont’s daily online Wellness Check Survey, plus a temperature check at the school, is required to be admitted to all schools in the state. Anyone whose symptoms match what the state considers a COVID symptom is given a big red X on their computer screen and will not be allowed to attend that day. A green check mark means you are cleared for the day, pending having your temperature taken and any follow up questions at the school. 

So why does this bother me so much?  Because I wouldn’t appreciate any school questioning my child about what goes on in our home. For the record, I no longer have any children in school in Vermont, but that doesn’t mean I no longer care OR that parents in the state should allow their children to be subjected to this line of questioning. 

Simple questions like “Did you see your grandparents for Thanksgiving” or “Did you go anywhere for Thanksgiving” can lead to a kid being evicted from in-person school for two weeks. This comes as the state says they recognize how vital in-person classes are to educational and emotional development.

Of course, you could tell your child not to answer this question, but do you really think the health screener and principal are going to allow that? No, of course not. They’re going to berate the kid until they get an answer or just kick them out based on their refusal. Do you really think Fifth Amendment protections apply to your children in school? Alternatively, you could tell your child to lie. What a great life lesson that would be for your child to not tell the truth to teachers, principals and health professionals. 

Oh I know, this is only for the pandemic. It’s a public health emergency. But what else has been declared a public health emergency? Alcohol, drugs and of course gun violence have all been given this label. It’s not a stretch at all to believe other questions aren’t going to be included in the “health screening” as kids come into school. 

Do your parents drink adult beverages?  
Have you ever seen any drugs in your house? 
Do your mommy and daddy have guns? 

COVID-19 has given socialist / dictator inclined governors and mayors a once in a lifetime opportunity to intrude into and control our daily lives, all in the name of protecting public health. They have clearly shown your natural, constitutionally protected rights are of no concern to them. 

Among the ridiculous rules we’ve been given this Thanksgiving, we’ve been told who can come into our own homes, if any at all. That we have to eat outside, on single use disposable dishes. That we can’t allow anyone to serve themselves. We can only allow people to use our restroom if we disinfect it often. That we must social distance outside and wear masks except to briefly eat and drink. That we cannot sing or play music. That we can only gather for two hours. That we must report our friends and neighbors if we see them gathering with family and friends.

Across the country, businesses deemed “non-essential” have been closed while big box retailers have been allowed to remain open. With their competition eliminated, “essential” businesses have reaped record profits while their “non-essential” counterparts have been forced out of business, many forever. Families have been thrown into poverty and lives lost. 

Meanwhile, our elected officials scheme and debate over how much social change COMPLETELY UNRELATED to COVID and helping people survive they can cram into relief programs designed to keep you dependent on government handouts forever. 

And just how well have the government restrictions worked so far? Apparently, they’ve done nothing because we’re told our COVID infection rates are now higher than when we started the original “Two Weeks To Flatten The Curve” over six months ago. 

We were told masks and social distancing was the only way to stop the spread. We were told that closing businesses and staying home was the only way to stop the spread. We were told political rallies infected thousands and killed hundreds UNLESS it was a “mostly peaceful” riot or celebration for the right candidate, and then there was no spread. We were told testing is the only way to stop the spread, then told you can’t really rely on tests to say you don’t have COVID. 

As if teachers calling the police based on what is inside children’s rooms during Zoom classroom sessions, and barring parents from observing online classes wasn’t enough, we will now have health professionals, teachers and principals grilling our children about who they spent their holidays with and punishing them for their parents making decisions the government doesn’t like. 

Maybe the government doesn’t actually know what is best for everyone’s health and welfare. Maybe the people know what their own risk factors are and how to best provide and care for their own family. Maybe the government should stop trying to control every aspect of the people’s lives inside and outside their homes. 

And maybe the government should just provide an education to our children and not use them as a means to intrude on people’s Constitutionally protected rights inside their homes. 

Bob

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