A Warning For Semi-Free Americans

California defending its unconstitutional gun control laws is nothing new. They write laws intended to strip law-abiding citizens of their Second Amendment rights while simultaneously writing laws to keep criminals from being punished and releasing those who are already in jail. When these laws are challenged, activist judges put in place by extremist politicians rubber stamp them with some of the most outrageous legal rational to ever come out of a court. 

After having their laws against so-called large capacity magazines (LCMs) ruled unconstitutional at the District Court and with a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Duncan v. Becerra, California has requested a hearing by an en banc panel. Nothing new here, it’s the state just prolonging the fight and running up the bills for the opponents. But what might have gone unnoticed is the 18 Attorneys General who sent a friend-of-the-court in support of California’s law. While some of these states already have a form of magazine restrictions in place, others do not. If you live in one of these states, what do you think this means for the future of your standard capacity magazines?

Attorneys General from Washington D.C, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington all signed onto the brief. 

Of the states with magazine restrictions, most limit them to 10 rounds, a couple are 15 or mixed 10 & 15 for rifle & handgun. Others, like New Jersey, were at 15 and recently cut that to 10. A couple of these states have “grandfathered” clauses which allow those who possessed them to keep them after the law change. Of course, we all know that “grandfathered” just means deferred confiscation as California residents found out when the state changed its mind on legally possessed “grandfathered” magazines and decided they were now illegal. 

The other states, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington do NOT have laws against so-called large capacity magazines. BUT… their Attorney General supports them. What do you think this means for the future of magazine capacity laws? It means sooner or later, like it or not, these states WILL restrict magazines to 10 rounds. 

Why 10 rounds? There really isn’t any rhyme or reason to it. 15 was apparently too many and seven as implemented and ruled unconstitutional in New York was too few. There certainly isn’t any science or research to support it. If you read the rational from extremist gun control think tank & quasi law center, you see how careful wording is used to justify it. It explained how few self-defense shootings “needed” more than 10 rounds and how many firearms from unlawful shootings were found with “large capacity magazines”. No mention of the fact that more rounds HAVE in fact saved the lives of law-abiding citizens or the ACTUAL number of shots fired by criminals, just the capacity of their magazines. Facts matter, unless you’re trying to infringe on constitutionally protected natural rights. 

California argues to the Court that the majority of citizens voted for Proposition 63 which, among other gun control measures, outlawed magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds, and as such should be considered valid. Of course, this has ZERO bearing on the legality of this case, and that’s a very good thing. 

Despite the popular misconception, the United States is not a democracy, it is a republic, or better known as a democratic republic. The distinction is critical.  In a democracy, the majority rules on every issue and there are no protections for the minority opinion. If 51% of the population decides there is no right to free speech, then there is no right to free speech, period. 

In a republic, there is a constitution which protects certain inalienable rights that cannot be taken away by the government, even if a majority of the population votes for it. So even if 99% of the population votes there is no right to free speech, then the law is unconstitutional and invalid. 

The Attorneys General friend-of-the-court brief is much the same argument. 18 party loyal extremist prosecutors who don’t believe the Second Amendment right to a standard capacity magazine exists for the average citizen believe their opinion should sway the court.  Guess what, it means DIDDLY SQUAT!! But then again, this is the 9th Circuit, so any extremist view will likely be taken into consideration. 

Where do these Attorneys General opinions matter? In your home state. These are the people who will help draft the anti-standard capacity magazine legislation and give it their stamp of approval. These are people who will lobby the legislature from within to get this law on the books. These are the people who will ensure law-abiding citizens who defy them are prosecuted to the full extent of the law as an example to others. This is YOUR Attorney General. 

Why am I directing this as a warning to semi-free Americans? Because if your state has already started down the gun control path, this is in your future. Gun control starts slowly with the least objectionable, easiest to pass infringements like universal background checks. After all, who could object to something that will keep firearms out of the hands of criminals? It doesn’t matter that the universal background checks have been shown to be completely ineffective means of curbing crime or violence, it’s a toe in the door to more infringements.

While the Duncan v. Becerra directly relates only to California’s magazine ban, it would provide precedent for other western states to appeal their magazine bans, and indirectly those in the rest of the country. While this is important, I’m going to repeat what I’ve said time and time again.

It’s a fool’s errand to believe that once a law has been enacted, it can successfully be drawn back. Of the thousands of gun control laws passed around the country, precious few are successfully appealed and reversed. The best way – the ONLY way to stop them is to prevent them from being enacted in the first place.  And the only one who can do that is you.

If you live in Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia or Washington, your Attorney General has already cast his vote on your Second Amendment rights. It’s time for YOU to cast your vote to stop them. 

Vote wisely.

Bob

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Un-Happy Labor Day

Today is Labor Day in the United States, a time we should be taking to celebrate the American worker. We should be, but this year is a very different. With the twin plagues known as COVID-19 & election politics in full bloom, millions of Americans are out of work, their “non-essential” businesses shut down or only able to open at a small fraction of their capacity.  In my state, today is day 180 of the mandatory Two Weeks to Flatten the Curve of COVID-19 economic shutdown.  Businesses closed, many forever, means workers idled, dependent on emergency government assistance to provide them with enough money to simply survive. Too many businesses are closed, families broken, and lives lost for not being able to endure the anguish.  This is not the way to celebrate Labor Day.

I don’t believe for a moment American workers want to be dependent on the government for their existence. American workers want to work. They want to provide for their families themselves. They want to be independent and make their own choices about the safety of their families, but they are not allowed to. 

A little reminder on what Labor Day is. 

The modern observance of the holiday seems to have forgotten the roots that brought Labor Day into being. Following the Pullman Strike of 1894 where 30 workers died and 57 were injured at the hands of the United States Army and Marshals Service, Congress approved Labor Day as an official holiday. It was an attempt by President Grover Cleveland to gain support among the trade unions following the strike. While it is disputed who first proposed the holiday, Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners or machinist Matthew Maguire, the intent was to create a “workingmen’s holiday”.

Recently the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) revised their numbers to show the number of sick and dead from COVID-19 were never as bad as they had been reported. Also revised has been the guidance for travel indicating the mandatory 14-day quarantines are not necessary. Still further evidence shows the economic shutdowns have been overly broad and unnecessary. Yet extremist governors refuse to revise their shutdown orders and let people go back to work. Those who attempt to defy these orders have been issued shockingly excessive fines for simply opening their businesses. 

The longer this pandemic shutdown goes on, the more we see it has not been a health-related emergency but a political exploitation. The purpose has been crystal clear, to cause as much economic disruption as possible to influence people to vote against an administration THEY blame for the economic turmoil and promise to rebuild the economy THEY themselves are responsible for destroying. 

When the U.S. Congress comes back into session this week, we’ll see if they are willing to work towards helping those who have been shut out of their jobs or holding them hostage until they can pass a full agenda of socialist reform measures. 

Better yet, how about some encouragement to the states to get them to reopen their economies. Perhaps if the politicians who have yet to go without a paycheck from the economic shutdown lost their income too it would prompt them to action. Perhaps a complete shutdown of all federal dollars to any state that hasn’t reopened would get them to take a fresh look at the economic impact vs. their political positioning under the pretext of a health emergency. 

American workers deserve the opportunity to work and celebrate their Labor Day as actual workers. 

Bob

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Not Well-Suited for Self-Defense?

As expected, the State of California filed an appeal of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit three-judge panel that upheld the ruling that the State’s ban on Large Capacity Magazines (LCM) was unconstitutional in the case of Duncan v. Becerra. Nothing about the request for a rehearing by an en banc panel was a surprise, from the arguments being made to the appeal being filed on the final day. California will do anything and everything to protect one of its signature gun control measures and bleed the opposition dry while doing it. And just because you’re not from People’s Republik of Kalifornistan doesn’t mean this case shouldn’t be important to you. 

All of the materials, filings and rulings on this case are available at the link below. It’s worth your time to read and understand what is going on since California likes to export its bad, expensive and unconstitutional policies to the rest of the country. 

There are a few things I found particularly interesting in the State’s Petition for Rehearing En Banc.

First, the State sees no reason or need for any civilian to have so-called large capacity magazines. In fact, the filing indicates “The record here demonstrates that LCMs are not well-suited for self-defense.” It rationalizes that Californian’s can have as many 10 round magazines as they want, and (currently) as much ammunition as they want. 

The photo that accompanies this article is from a home security system in a Fremont, CA home invasion burglary on August 28, 2016. It shows five armed men coming into the house, at least one carrying a handgun with a magazine extending below the pistol grip, a LCM. Fortunately, the residents were not home at the time. Even if the resident was armed with a California 10 round magazine, he would most certainly have been killed in this encounter. In this burglary the homeowner was able to call the police while watching the burglary on his home cameras remotely. Unfortunately, the armed home invaders left before the police arrived and were not caught.

The State has never explained why a so-called LCM is not-well suited for self-defense, but it’s the exact opposite of the training and advise of every reputable self-defense instructor I’ve ever known, including my own. It has also never offered any explanation why 10 rounds is the magic, safe enough for civilians number, but 11 is way too dangerous. 

Let’s also keep in mind that in some places like New York City, firearms that simply have the capability to accept a so-called LCM are banned. So, if even one magazine is made for it with a capacity over 10 rounds, the firearm itself is banned.

The State also references the Fyock v. Sunnyvale, a local California ordinance banning magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds, which was upheld by a three-judge panel, as a binding precedent. 

There are several issues that come from Fyock, not the least of which is that California does not have a preemption law banning local jurisdictions from passing their own more restrictive firearm regulations. As we’ve seen in states without preemption, this results in a patchwork of laws throughout the state that are impossible for any law-abiding citizen to understand or comply with. Virginia recently removed its preemption for firearm regulations and now anti-gun cities are drafting unique and highly confusing laws regulating use and possession within its borders. 

Fyock was also decided under what is known as Intermediate Scrutiny, which is what the State believes is the correct level for Second Amendment cases. Duncan’s ruling utilized Strict Scrutiny. 

A quick note on Rational-Basis, Intermediate Scrutiny, and Strict Scrutiny

Under Rational Basis the government must have a legitimate interest and the law must be “rationally related” to the interest. 

Under Intermediate Scrutiny, the government must have an important interest and the law must be substantially related to the interest. 

Under Strict Scrutiny, the government must have a compelling interest and the law must be narrowly tailored to the interest.

Note that the likelihood of a law being overturned increases as the level of scrutiny increases. Few government laws survive a Strict Scrutiny test since they are generally far broader than need be. 

The argument for the use of Strict Scrutiny review of Second Amendment cases has been going on for years. Government agencies don’t like that because it severely restricts their regulatory powers, something most of us would argue is appropriate in a case involving the Bill of Rights. 

For the next step, the 11-member en banc panel to hear this will be randomly drawn from the Nineth Circuit Court of Appeals. While there has been significant progress in helping to balance the court with justices appointed by the current Presidential administration, it still has a 16 to 13 liberal slant. Of course, that ANY judge should be considered liberal vs. conservative is absolutely asinine. The law, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights should be interpreted by every judge each and every time WITHOUT regard for political party platforms, but that’s a topic for another time. For this case, the outcome will likely be decided by the draw instead of the legal arguments in the case. 

Why is this case important? A successful appeal by the State reverses the initial District Court ruling and magazines with a capacity higher than 10 rounds are once again illegal in California. The only hope for a reversal comes from the United States Supreme Court which has not been willing to hear Second Amendment cases. 

In the unlikely event of Duncan being upheld, the State will have to decide if it wants to risk an unsuccessful appeal to the Supreme Court where it has the potential to impact magazine bans around the country or find another way to restrict them in California. 

However, in my opinion the most important thing this case points out is the importance of our local and state elections. Laws like this are enacted by the people we elect to office. When we elect gun control politicians, we enable them to restrict our Second Amendment protected rights and the only recourse we have is to have them overturned in the courts. 

And guess what, you and I are paying for both sides of this fight. Our taxes pay for the lawyers to defend the laws that take away our rights and our dues and donations pay for the lawyers to try to get them back. The only ones who win regardless of the outcome are the lawyers. 

It’s a fool’s errand to believe that once a law has been enacted, it can successfully be drawn back. Of the thousands of gun control laws passed around the country, precious few are successfully appealed and reversed. The best way – the ONLY way to stop them is to prevent them from being enacted in the first place.  And the only one who can do that is you.

Vote wisely this year. 

Bob

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Gun Buys vs. Gun Votes

It’s election season and everyone is trying to predict how people will vote. Now mix in COVID-19, a near complete national shutdown of the economy, millions of people thrown out of work, business and lives destroyed and lost, violent criminals being released from prison ‘for their safety’, police departments being defunded and services cut, and the ongoing “peaceful protests” a.k.a. riots around the country. It’s no wonder we’ve seen absolutely unprecedented firearms and ammunition sales around the country, many of them by first time buyers. But does this mean more votes for or against gun control politicians as some are predicting? Sadly no, but you know what, that’s not what is important. 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 spread, and the politically motivated shutdown that has lasted MONTHS beyond the initial “two weeks to flatten the curve”, there has been a run on firearms and ammunition unseen in this nation’s history. NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) inquiries, the federal background checks used to estimate firearms sales, have broken records for months with no signs of letting up. 

But there’s something different about this spike vs. previous ones. Most of the time firearm purchases increase after a horrific event and there is fear of political knee-jerk reaction laws to limit access to firearms and ammo. The fears are of course well-founded as gun control extremists and their political allies realize they can cram through otherwise unobtainable laws under the mantra of “never let a crisis go to waste”, even if it means politicizing the victims while they are still bleeding and acting before the cause is actually known. 

This spike has been different. With COVID-19 national shutdown of the economy, convicts being released en masse into the community, law enforcement services being curtailed, daily riots and destruction around the country and random, unchecked violence everywhere, people are genuinely and rightfully concerned for their safety and the safety of their families. In many places, the fear of not being able to get a law enforcement response for hours, if at all, to a plea for help in a crisis has many who have never before owned firearms flocking to gun stores. 

I’ve seen estimates around the country of anywhere between 40% to 70% of purchasers are new to firearms. They come from all walks of life, races, ages, religions and political affiliation. Far more than the normal amount are women. Many of these new purchasers also have no idea what it really takes to purchase a firearm leading to a host of amusing, yet very sad, stories from around the country. 

So, what does this mean politically? Do all of these new firearm owners mean a sweep for Republican or anti-gun control Democrat candidates? No. It means absolutely nothing. And, that’s okay. 

Purchasing or owning a firearm has very little to do with political party affiliation. During my time in the firearms industry, managing a firearm retailer, gunsmithing and operating a small private shooting club and range, I’ve met firearms owners from every point on the political spectrum from off the scale left to the hardest of hard-core right. Just because you own firearms, doesn’t mean you don’t support gun control. I’ve met people you would think to be anti-gun control such as law enforcement, ex-military, a gun range operator and even the owner of a firearm manufacturer who are very pro-gun control. At the same time, one of the biggest anti-gun control advocate I know is a Democrat. 

Modern political party affiliation, especially in urban areas, generally means you have bought onto the full party platform. For Democrats, that means you support gun control. For a politician, if you don’t support the party platform, you’ll very quickly find your Party support and money gone and a new Party supported Democrat running against you.  In rural areas, where there is less focus on the national party platform, politicians from both the major parties are more reflective of their constituents. 

The other thing to remember is very rarely does the citizenry directly vote on gun control measures. There are exceptions, but for the most part we vote for representatives, who then vote for or against gun control. As we’ve seen, many politicians run on a very strong anti-gun platform, at least during the normal campaign season. Then, in the final run up to the elections, gun control is purposefully faded to the background so as not to discourage those who may hold strong firearm rights views.  Sadly, as the State of Virginia found out, once elected, gun control becomes the primary focus with politicians claiming their victory is a mandate for gun control. 

What this all boils down to is firearm purchases are going to mean very little, if anything at all, to the elections. People are going to vote for the party or person they feel best represents their values. Gun rights and gun control is a part of that, but it is very unlikely to switch someone from a blue to red vote. 

My take on this is that’s okay. While I wish more people would place the Second Amendment and firearm rights higher up on their priorities, it is not a requirement for firearm ownership. Second Amendment protected rights apply to EVERYONE equally, no matter their political party affiliation, just as it should be. People owning and using firearms makes them and their families safer, just as it should be. 

So what do we do? We welcome new firearm owners into the community. We help them with training, places to shoot, competition, hunting, sports and self-defense information. We invite them into our clubs and associations so they can be the best and safest firearm owners they can be. If we can also help them to see how important their Second Amendment protected rights are at the same time, then maybe sometime, someday, somewhere, they’ll bump that a little higher up on their priorities. In the meantime, we simply welcome them. 

Bob

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California Freedom Week V2 – NOT!

For a very brief period, law-abiding California residents were free from the draconian ammunition purchase restrictions imposed by Proposition 63. A federal judge ruled the ammunition restrictions were unconstitutional and issued an injunction.  But alas, that freedom was quickly taken away. After being denied a stay from said federal judge, the State appealed to the Ninth Circuit who issued a stay the very next night. Of course, if this was about keeping ammunition from prohibited persons as the State argues, it would be one thing. But California’s motives and design behind their so-called “ammunition background check system” are more far reaching than they admit. And it is all designed to strip more of your rights away from you. 

By the by, for those of you who don’t think this will impact you since you don’t live in California, think again. Ammunition restrictions are the future of gun control and every gun control extremist in every state wants it. 

On Thursday, April 23rd around 3:00 pm, United States District Judge Roger T. Benitez issued a preliminary injunction against the State of California in Rhode v. Becerra prohibiting the enforcement of the ammunition restrictions imposed by Proposition 63. This included the requirement for a background check for the purchase and transfer of ammunition as well as the restriction on the purchase of ammunition from out-of-state vendors delivered to the purchaser’s home. 

It is worth noting this is the same federal judge who ruled against California’s so-called “large capacity” magazine ban in March 2019. For one week before Judge Benitez issued a stay on his own ruling, Californians were free to possess, sell, purchase, trade, give and most importantly, use standard capacity magazines. Conservative estimates place the number of magazines acquired by Californians at between one and two MILLION. While selling and purchasing standard capacity magazines is once again banned while the stay is in place, the possession and use of them is still allowed in the state. 

In this case, Judge Benitez issued another masterfully worded 120 page ruling against the state, essentially picking apart the State’s argument piece-by-piece, calling out “onerous and convoluted” regulations that violate the constitutional right to bear arms. It’s lengthy, but it’s worth reading to understand the reasoning behind the injunction. A link to the document is at the end of this article. 

But the State was ready this time. The following morning, the State filed a motion to stay the preliminary injunction with Judge Benitez. It also set a time limit of 3:00 pm that day, for Judge Benitez to issue a ruling or the State would consider an appeal to the Ninth Circuit. Judge Benitez denied this motion, again with a well-crafted rejection of the State’s argument. Not to be outdone, the State did appeal to the Ninth Circuit and a stay was issued at 9:54 pm on April 24th.  Thus the duration of the stay, and California ammunition buyers freedom, lasted only about 30 hours. 

So why is this NOT about keeping ammunition out of the hands of prohibited persons? If that was the objective as the State insists, they would have adopted a simple check of prohibited persons similar to what most states use with NCIS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System). Instead, California chose to piggyback the existing DROS (Dealer Registration of Sale) system which is tied into a number of sub-systems including the error prone APPS (Armed and Prohibited Persons System).  Other than creating a system with an error rate of 16.4 % and blocking over 101,047 law-abiding citizen purchases over 10 months, it allows the state to register each and every ammunition purchase to the buyer.  Now why in the world would they want to do that? 

To answer that, look no further than previously proposed legislation in California that was unable to be implemented as the system to support it was not in place, until now. 

Limits on the amount of ammunition you can purchase in a given time period

California has long wanted to limit how many rounds you can buy in a day/week/month, etc. Cries of ‘You shouldn’t be able to walk in and buy an arsenal’ have been around for years. The state has successfully implemented limits on how many handguns and semiautomatic centerfire rifles you can purchase thanks to the DROS entries. Ammunition registration enables this. 

Limits on the type of ammunition

California has outlawed the use of lead ammunition for hunting and has proposed that ban be extended for all shooting ranges. They’ve even proposed that only lead-free ammunition, as certified by the State DOJ (Department of Justice) be available for sale. In other words, think handgun roster for ammunition. Without a registration system for all approved ammunition, this would not be possible. 

This also allows bans of other non-desirable ammunition such as so-called “assault bullets”, otherwise known as common defensive hollow point rounds, or ammunition in certain calibers such as 5.56, .223, 7.62×39 or 5.45×39, ammunition commonly used in AR or AK pattern rifles. 

Limit ammunition purchases to calibers matching your registered firearms

Let’s say of all your firearms registered with the state, none shoot 5.56 / .223. So why then would you need to purchase ammunition in that caliber? The logical conclusion from the state is you have an unregistered firearm. Never mind that it’s possible and completely legal to have firearms that were never registered or even required to be registered now, but that means the state doesn’t know about it. By limiting your purchases to firearms registered in DROS, you can either not shoot that firearm, or you have to register it to get ammo for it.  

Ammunition bans and restrictions are the new promised land in the world of gun control since firearms without ammunition are just expensive clubs. They also know this area is currently very lightly regulated and small, incremental steps to restrict and eliminate it, such as licensing ammunition vendors, restricting internet purchases with consumer direct shipments, background checks and registration will dramatically increase the costs and give them more control over how much ammunition you can have and use.  

Of course, you can’t help but appreciate this short-lived ammunition law injunction being a cruel joke on so many levels. Not only did it only last for about 30 hours, but it occurred at a time when a lot of Californians were out of work and didn’t have any money, many of state’s guns stores were closed as non-essential, ammunition was scarce because of the panic buying over the last month and what was available was priced so high it wasn’t affordable.

As with all legal cases, this one will not play out for years to come. During this time, California resident’s Second Amendment rights will continue to erode and the only ones enjoying the ride will be the lawyers. The ONLY way to keep this from happening again in other states is to STOP electing people who will not protect our natural, Constitutionally protected rights. 

Bob

https://michellawyers.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/2020-04-23-Order-Granting-MPI.pdf

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United Socialist States of America

In a little over a month into our nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen our entire economy shut down resulting in 26.5 million Americans, representing 20.6% of our workforce, losing their jobs.  It is currently the highest level of unemployment in our country since 1934 following the Great Depression. With each passing week of our workers being locked in their homes and out of their jobs, it becomes worse. You would think at a time like this our government would be doing everything they can to get us back to the robust economy we had before. Instead, what we have seen is a systematic loss of our rights, our jobs, our freedom and our way of life as opportunistic, power hungry politicians have seized the chance to implement extreme progressive changes they could never have done before without this crisis. The mantra of “never let a crisis go to waste” is quickly turning our nation into the United Socialist States of America. 

At first, the media stoked fear of COVID-19 convinced us that the only way to effectively react to this unknown was to shut down the country except for so-called “essential services”. The first hints of socialist favoritism came when the definitions of essential services varied across the nation. Large and small communities alike granted themselves extraordinary powers to shut down commerce, restrict purchases of goods and services and even permanently seize private property. Statewide restrictions followed and the essentials list grew more restrictive, even to the point of what products could be purchased. Shortages of basic food and other staples spread across the nation. While big box, large chain stores were allowed to remain open, smaller family owned businesses were forced to close. Permitted commerce now only benefits these large stores. 

Health care was limited to essential, COVID-19 relates services. Any other health services are prohibited. Hospitals were cleared out and huge field hospitals were constructed in preparation for the huge influx of patients that never arrived. 

At the same time, shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders were introduced and it became a crime to leave your house except for a strictly defined list of essential needs. Travel outside your immediate neighborhood was outlawed. Travel between some states was restricted. Roadblocks on the highways questioned everyone with out-of-state plates. National Guard troops in one state went door-to-door looking for out-of-state residents who had left their home state.  Those breaking the rules have been fined, arrested or put into mandatory quarantine. 

Traffic and cell phone data have been collected so authorities can determine if people are staying in their homes. Law enforcement agencies have been using drones to monitor the public. Newer drones can now determine if someone has a fever, is coughing and their heart rate from hundreds of feet away. Heavy handed police tactics have been used to deal with mothers, fathers, families and others who dare to break the most minor of state or local rules.  

In the interest of public health, prisoners have been released on mass. Over 17,000 in 21 states, many times as the result of secret, non-public hearings or rulings, with some prisoners even provided with free cell phones and hotel rooms. Keep in mind, this isn’t a temporary furlough where they’ll be coming back when the crisis ends, this is a permanent, get out of jail free card. 

This comes as law enforcement agencies are reducing the type of calls they respond to. The results are what you would expect. Burglary and violent crimes including rape, robbery and murder have increased, many committed by these released convicts. Under the new rules, most who are now arrested must be immediately released. 

“Snitch lines” have been established so you can report non-essential businesses who are open and your neighbors who are defying social distancing rules. One mayor has even proudly proclaimed that ‘snitches get rewards’. 

In different parts of the country, law changes have been administratively altered including such things as extending the time frame for an initial hearing following a red-flag firearms seizure from 10 days to 100 days (California) and eliminating the right to open carry a firearm (Mississippi). 

Perhaps the most egregious rules are those that directly infringe on First and Second Amendment rights. Prohibiting the free exercise of religion, the freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble, the right to petition the government for redress of grievances and the right to keep and bear arms. 

Still waiting in the wings is a proposed follow-up to the one-time stimulus payment, is monthly payments to all residents, legal and illegal, for at least a year – in other words, a universal basic income. 

If you’re wondering how this all equates to socialism, it’s really rather simple. The government is determining who is allowed to work and who is not. The government is determining what goods and services can be offered and by whom. The government is determining who can make a profit and who will be required to live on government payments. The longer the economy is shut down, the more small businesses will close forever and the more people will be forced into poverty and will need to rely on government assistance. 

As with all socialist economies, there is an elite class that thrives. As we’ve already seen, the wealthy and the high-level politicians are not only exempt from the daily restrictions placed on the rest of the population, they are able to profit from it too. The politicians pick and choose what industries and what businesses are allowed to operate and which are not. The restrictions on the population keep them at arm’s length and the elimination of their rights keep the elites safe. 

Is this the future you want for yourself and your country? Are you willing to give up not only your natural, constitutionally protected rights as well as your ability to provide for yourself and your family as you see fit?

Yes, COVID-19 is a serious health issue, but it can be mitigated without the draconian control measures being used in some areas of the country. The most basic level of personal responsibility, social distancing and sanitation, is enough to stop this, without giving up our rights.

Bob

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Liberty Is Essential

While breaking my self-imposed isolation yesterday for a supply run, I saw an older gentleman beside the road in a lawn chair with two flags, an Old Glory and a Gadsden. He was holding a sign that read, “Liberty is Essential”. I couldn’t help but think to myself how appropriate this was right now. Around the country from Maine to California, everyday people are coming together to protest the draconian restrictions, loss of business and the loss of their civil liberties that have become so synonymous with COVID-19.  They are demanding that their states begin to reopen their economies and let people get back to work and take care of their families.  Seeing these loud but peaceful protests springing up, and this one man sitting alone beside the road, makes me proud of what our country can be. 

No doubt you have seen how quickly our rights have been stripped away in the interest of “public health”. Businesses not defined as “essential” by their state or local government have been ordered closed. Of course, there is no standard definition of what essential is. In some areas even those allowed to stay open cannot sell so-called non-essential items such as vegetable seeds or plants. Large retailers are allowed to remain open while small mom & pop shops are ordered closed. Health care has been limited to emergency care only. “Outside is for a brief respite” only. Otherwise, you are expected to remain in your home. 

Yet the worst infringements have attacked our natural, constitutionally protected rights. Religious services banned. The ability of the people to assemble banned. The right to petition our government banned. The right to bear arms banned. 

All of this has been done in the name of public health. Yes, I know. With no effective means to treat or vaccinate against COVID-19, the current best way to prevent the spread of the disease is isolation, social distancing along with protective masks, gloves and good old-fashioned hand washing. Yet all of that can be accomplished without taking away our rights. 

It’s important to keep in mind our constitutionally protected rights don’t have an asterisk next to them. There is no condition, natural or manmade that suspends our rights. In fact, in times of a local, regional or national crisis, I would argue our constitutionally protected rights are even more important. 

Yet our history tells us our governments have done just that. Notably during Hurricane Katrina when personally owned firearms were confiscated from everyone, even those trying to protect their lives and property or attempting to flee the city. Residents were not allowed to congregate and were forcibly removed from their own homes and property seized.  By all accounts, Katrina was a human rights disaster. As a result, laws were passed to prevent abuses like this in the future. Somehow, all this seems to have been forgotten today. 

This crisis has seen the same overzealous enforcement of emergency executive orders as we saw during Katrina. Leaving your home for anything not expressly listed as an essential activity subjects you to arrest. Examples from around the country have shown clearly inappropriate uses of force to enforce social distancing and stay-at-home orders.  

In a protest rally at the capitol in South Carolina, a protestor was arrested, and others dispersed by the State Capitol Police. The Raleigh Police defended the action by putting out a statement “Protesting is a non-essential activity.” 

In Mississippi and Kentucky, among other places, people attending religious services in parking lots, while sitting in their cars, windows rolled up and listening to the services on low-power radio stations, were cited or reported to health departments for mandatory 14-day quarantines. 

Firearms and ammunition retailers have been forced to closed in numerous states and localities as they are not considered “essential”. At the same time, liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries in the same areas have been allowed to operate. 

Probably the most telling comment comes from the Governor of New Jersey when questioned about why he allowed arrests at religious services to be part of coronavirus quarantine enforcement. Asked; “By what authority did you nullify the Bill of Rights in issuing this order? How do you have the power to do that?” The governor responded, “That’s above my pay grade, Tucker, I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this.”

So there you have it. Enacting laws and executive orders without considering the Constitutional implications OR, not giving a damn about the Bill of Rights or just plain figuring they can do anything they want. Either way, our rights are being stripped away. 

If you’re thinking, well… this is just a temporary measure for everyone’s safety and protection, isn’t it better to give up our rights for a while? Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Rights taken away are seldom fully returned. There are always asterisks, conditions and exceptions that come along with it that allow rights to be taken away again and taken further away. This year it’s COVID-19. Next year it could be an earthquake or flood, or a bad year for the seasonal flu, or a small group of protesters marching to the capitol. Are you willing to give up your rights during any time of crisis? 

Our natural rights were so important that our Founding Fathers listed them in the Bill of Rights, a document that doesn’t grant those rights, but rather limits our government’s ability to restrict them. This nation was founded during a time of crisis, when we were fighting for our independence from an oppressive government. Men and women were putting their lives on the line and dying so that we could live free.  Knowing our history, how can anyone believe our Constitution and Bill of Rights do not apply in a time of national emergency?  

I’d like to thank that gentleman sitting beside the road yesterday for reminding me and everyone who went by of what is really important. Unfortunately, I’ll likely never know his name and I was only able to give him a couple of beeps of my horn as I passed, but if he provides a little inspiration for just a few us of, then his time very well spent.  

Liberty is Essential 

Bob

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COVID Part 3: Send Lawyers, Guns and Money

Send Lawyers, Guns and Money

Following the liberal / progressive strategy of “Never let a crisis go to waste”, gun control politicians around the country have been using COVID-19 to make further infringements on your Second Amendment protected natural rights. Calling firearms retailers non-essential, they are ordering these businesses closed.  This comes at a time when hundreds of thousands of Americans are choosing to purchase firearms for the first time to protect themselves and their families. Their justifiable fear comes from their local and state governments’ own actions of limiting the types of calls law enforcement will respond to while simultaneously releasing prisoners from state and local lockups “to protect them from COVID-19”.  Just as they have always done, the gun control politicians are creating public safety problems and not allowing law-abiding citizens to protect themselves. 

There are many facets to this problem. With non-essential businesses closed down, retail property is left unprotected. Downtown shopping districts in cities around the country look like they are preparing for a hurricane with windows and doors boarded up to help protect the property from break-ins. Of course, burglaries have been on the increase despite the pleas from local politicians for criminals to stop their law-breaking activity. Go figure. 

At the same time, many law enforcement agencies are no longer responding to non-priority calls, instead taking reports over the phone. Physical arrests are being replaced by citations in most non-violent misdemeanor and felony cases. These actions are meant to minimize the potential exposure of officers, protect the offenders from COVID-19 and not over burden the emergency systems. 

To make things even worse, state, county and local officials are releasing thousands of convicted prisoners from jails and prisons ‘to protect them from COVID-19’. In some areas like California, they claim they are only releasing “non-violent” offenders. Of course, keep in mind that California considers assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer; battery with serious bodily injury; solicitation to commit murder and rape/sodomy/oral copulation of an unconscious person or by use of a date rape drug all non-violent. New York has even gone to the trouble of providing transportation, hotel rooms and pre-paid cell phones at no cost to the prisoners being released for COVID-19 protection. In some states, the ACLU is petitioning for large scale release of prisoners to “protect them from COVID-19”. The results of this are what you would expect. Violent crimes, including rape, robbery and murder have been committed by these released convicts. 

So now an environment has been created where property is unprotected, officers are not responding to calls and so-called “non-violent” criminals are being released back into the community. This on top of a nationwide shortages of essential consumer goods and millions of people out of work with no source of income. 


Guns

A natural response to this would be the desire to protect yourself and your family. Firearm retailers around the country have been mobbed with people looking to purchase firearms and ammunition. So much so that many stores are selling out on a daily basis and desperately seeking new inventory from distributors. NCIS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) reported running 3,740,688 background checks in March, a number 33 % higher than the previous record of more than 2.8 million set in February. 

But of course, the reaction from the gun control groups has been predictable stating: “As a result of fears stoked by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other gun-industry groups, we saw more federal background checks initiated in March 2020 than any other on record.” 

While the desire to purchase firearms has been an entirely organic response to the decrease in public safety, the most radical anti-gun control states and communities have decided that firearms and ammunition, a natural right protected by the Second Amendment, are not essential and closed firearm and ammunition retailers. 

A few examples from around the country: 

  • The governors of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey (see below) and New Mexico decided firearms retailers were not essential and ordered them closed. Some exemptions were given to those retailers and ranges that service law enforcement or security companies.   
  • New Jersey shut down all firearms sales by simply shutting down the state system used to do background checks. One of 12 “point of contact” states that perform their own background checks, it gives the state instant ability to stop sales statewide with the click of a mouse. (Side note: California’s DROS (Dealer Record of Sales) system has the ability to shut off single retailers, groups, geographic regions or the entire state but surprisingly has not been used in this situation, or at least not yet.) 
  • In North Carolina and Ohio, Sheriffs who were overwhelmed by the influx of pistol and concealed carry permit requests decided to stop processing them until after the COVID-19 crisis, effectively shutting down handgun purchases and new concealed carry permits. 
  • The Los Angeles County Sheriff, and other local authorities, determined firearms retailers were not essential and ordered them to be closed. 

Lawyers

If you’ve read any of my articles before, you already know I’m not a fan of lawyers and filing lawsuits to overturn gun control laws. Even in the absolute best of circumstances, it’s a crapshoot. The chances of getting gun control laws reversed is slim at best and even when they are reversed, new ones are crafted to take their place. 

But I’ll be the first to admit that in this particular crisis, we have seen some success in getting the executive orders closing firearms and ammunition retailers and ranges reversed. It hasn’t been across the board and in places like Los Angeles County, they have flip-flopped back and forth so often it’s difficult to keep track of the current status. 

Highlighting the issue these lawsuits have is that courts are still using “intermediate scrutiny” to determine the merits of the case. Some courts, especially in most liberal circuits are also relying on faulty evidence and ignoring the Constitution and Supreme Court precedence to reach their decisions. The hope is that someday the United States Supreme Court will rule in favor of “strict scrutiny” for all Second Amendment cases. It won’t solve activist judges ignoring the law, but it will be a start. 

One positive thing that has occurred at the federal level is the March 28 guidance from the Department of Homeland Security. In it, the updated list of “essential critical infrastructure workforce” now includes “Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges.”

Money

Protecting our rights isn’t free. It should be, since supporting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights should be what every United States citizen does every day. But we’ve come to realize that there are those who wish to subvert our rights for the enrichment of their own needs. 

Sadly, lawsuits must be filed which means lawyers are involved. So giving to the Second Amendment / firearm rights protection organization of your choice is essential. If you can’t afford to right now, then volunteer a little time to send letters or emails and help get others to contribute. 

But always remember, the ONLY way to keep these kinds of unconstitutional laws from being enacted in the first place is to STOP electing anti-gun politicians. Regardless of how attractive their other platform items are, if they can’t support and defend the most basic elements of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, how are you going to trust them to do anything else? Find and support politicians at the local, county, state and federal levels who will support and defend the Constitution. 

Warren Zevon got it right, the sh*t has really hit the fan during this health crisis. But rather than sitting back and watching our rights erased before your eyes, it’s time to get up off your ass and do something about it. While mass marches and protests at the capitol aren’t the wisest move during a pandemic, if you have a phone or an internet connection, you can make a HUGE difference. Let your elected representatives know how you aren’t willing to give up your rights for COVID-19. And when you get that “Dear Constituent” letter blowing you off back in the (e)mail, you’ll know who you won’t be supporting in the next elections. 

Time to get on the list! 

Bob

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Tyranny – Closer Than You Think

Here in the United States, we often think of ourselves as being immune from tyranny. We sit comfortably knowing our nation freed itself from a tyrannical government and our Constitution and Bill of Rights will protect us. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy. A Ronald Regan quote helps to put it in perspective. “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” Those who would oppress us are actively working to take our rights and freedoms away. And, like before, during the time of our revolution, they are the very same ones in charge of protecting our rights. 

Tyranny doesn’t generally occur overnight. Unless you’ve been conquered by force, it’s going to be a slow yet deliberate process. After all, it’s much easier to subjugate a population a little at a time. And it’s so much easier if you can convince the masses that the slight infringements in their rights are in the best interest of all. Wouldn’t you want to give up a little bit of your own individual rights if it meant society would be safer? Wouldn’t your life be better if you let the government take care of more things? Wouldn’t you want to contribute more so that your community would provide for everyone? 

Take a look at the modernized Communist Rules for Revolution for an example of how this is done. 

1) Healthcare: Control healthcare and you control the people.

2) Poverty: Increase the Poverty level as high as possible, poor people are easier to control and will not fight back if you are providing everything for them to live.

3) Debt:  Increase the debt to an unsustainable level. That way you are able to increase taxes, and this will produce more poverty.

4) Gun Control: Remove the ability to defend themselves from the Government. That way you are able to create a police state.

5) Welfare:  Take control of every aspect of their lives (Food, Housing, and Income).

6) Education: Take control of what people read and listen to — take control of what children learn in school.

7) Religion: Remove the belief in the God from the Government and schools.

8) Class Warfare:  Divide the people into the wealthy and the poor. This will cause more discontent and it will be easier to take (Tax) the wealthy with the support of the poor.

While these steps are pretty clear, I’m going to contend there is a prerequisite in order to accomplish this list, the full control of the government. And control doesn’t just mean having one party in complete control, it means the government has set itself up as a privileged entity with rights, benefits and protections not available to the regular public. 

Take a look at our current federal government. Members of congress enjoy salary, vacation and retirement, weakened insider trading restrictions and many other perks not commonly available to the general public. And, they themselves are in complete control over raises and increase in perks. With no term limits for members of congress, they are free to build their government service into virtual lifetime positions. 

But it’s not just our congress that protects its own interests above that of the people it represents. As examples: California’s primary and general elections have been tweaked to the point where the party in charge is ensured of remaining in charge. Virginia’s legislature responded to the Second Amendment protests and calls to replace their representatives by proposing changing the law governing recalls. Instead of requiring 10% of number who voted in the last election, it would require 25% and must be completed within 60 days. 

Control of the courts is also vital. With our three separate branches of government – executive, legislative and judicial – the courts are supposed to be the independent arbitrator of facts and interpreters of the Constitution. Sadly, this is no longer true. Judicial appointments are made to those who will carry out the will of the politicians who appoint them. These activist politicians-in-robes are in place to approve to any law created by politicians who appointed them, regardless of legal precedent or even Supreme Court rulings. Look no further than the history of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, representing the western United States for vivid examples of judicial activism run amuck. 

This year’s all-out assault on the Second Amendment in places like Virginia, Vermont, New Mexico, California, Hawaii and all points in between have clearly demonstrated our elected officials have no interest in representing our needs, only the agendas set by deep pocketed special interests. We’ve witnessed the hubris of representatives who have used their positions to retaliate against communities and law enforcement officials who have taken a stand against them.  

At the same time, we’ve also seen the results of the pressure brought by masses with representatives voting against draconian gun control laws they once supported. Those results, even if few and far between, are the encouraging news.  We The People still have a measure of control over our own government, if we choose to use it. 

We The People get to decide what kind of government we have and who represents us, IF we stand together and participate.  Tyranny isn’t that far behind us and right now, our best means of defense is our vote.  Make your vote count this year. 

Bob

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New Mexico’s Red Flag Disgrace

New Mexico’s version of the so-called “Red Flag” law (SB5) passed the House last Thursday and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature to become law.  And what a sad, sad spectacle it was.  This law breaks new ground in the nation including never before seen provisions designed to punish law enforcement for noncompliance, expanding the definition of who can petition for an Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order as well as completely giving up any resemblance of being concerned with public safety.  Still, if any version was going to pass and become law in New Mexico, I’m glad it was this one.  Why? That’s simple. This law removes any shadow of a doubt that the purpose behind it is purely about government gun control and nothing else.  Hopefully this will be what unites the New Mexico’s citizens to take back control of their government from the special interest groups. 

The scene that played out in the Roundhouse on Thursday shows how little our current government cares about public safety.  Aside from the live feed inexplicably going out during the final hearings, the Sheriff’s in attendance needed to be “escorted” outside the chamber on bathroom breaks. If that wasn’t enough, they were subsequently ejected from the chamber altogether. What does it say that the government of the people chose to remove the elected sheriffs from the room while this law was being considered? 

Through the multiple revisions that lead to this point, the law strips away law enforcement immunity for failure to enforce these “red flag” orders. This of course is in direct response to 30 of the 33 elected sheriffs signing on to oppose the “red flag” laws and vowing not to enforce them. Also dragged into the loss of immunity are the district attorney’s offices and the office of the attorney general. Potential damages to be awarded were also raised into the millions of dollars. 

Attempts to amend the law to remove the loss of legal immunity for law enforcement and the district attorneys failed. And – bear with me for a minute on this – I’m glad these amendments failed. Keep in mind I’m saying this as a former law enforcement officer who believes this is a slap in the face of everyone who wears a badge. 

Too often in the world of gun control laws, state legislators buy the cooperation and loyalty of the law enforcement community by granting them generous exemptions to the laws impacting the regular citizens of the state. What we’ve seen here is a deliberate legislative smack down of any law enforcement discretion or compliance with Constitutional standards. It clearly states they will blindly obey or pay the price.  The fact that is was purposely introduced and left in a so-called “public safety” law should remove any doubt about the true intent, gun control and gun confiscation.  

Other fascinating additions to this law include the expanded list of who can be the reporting party. It includes the usual relatives plus now “… child, person with whom a respondent has or had a continuing personal relationship, employer or public or private school principal.”  There is no definition of  a child here, so supposedly any child able to speak is old enough, nor is there a definition of continuing personal relationship. Exactly how many dates does it take to equal a “continuing personal relationship”. Your anti-gun employer or principal? No problem!  Keep in mind the reporting party incurs no costs to initiate a complaint – actually a reasonable thing since the ability to pay should not be a limiting factor – but there is also no penalty for false or misleading claims.  

Of course, this courtesy doesn’t extend to the respondent, the person being accused of being a danger to themselves or others. Since this is a civil matter, albeit law enforcement, a city, county or state prosecutor and a criminal court judge are involved in getting the order, the respondent has no right for a public defender in these proceedings. And since this process assumes the respondent is guilty until proven innocent, fees are currently running upwards of $15,000 for legal representation.  In other words, justice and restoration of your Constitutional rights is denied for anyone who can’t afford it. 

Then there is the fact that the respondent, accused of being an imminent threat to themselves or someone else, to the point where their Constitutionally protected rights can be stripped away from them without due process, has 48 hours to surrender their firearms to law enforcement or a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL). 

Set aside the absolute insanity of thinking that a person who is an immediate threat to themselves or others could not utilize some other form of violence (knives, club, car, chemical, hands & feet, etc. etc. etc.) to carry out their plans, giving them 48 hours to voluntarily comply shows this law has nothing at all to do with public or personal safety. 

Every state in this nation has legal mechanisms to deal with individuals who are a threat to themselves or others. The horrific violent incidents that gave rise to these “red flag” laws all have the same thing in common; a complete and utter failure of federal, state, county and local government officials in multiple agencies to act on clear indications of impending violence. Simply put, the government already has all the tools to save lives but has been criminally negligent in enforcing them. 

New Mexico’s Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order law will soon be signed by the Governor in what is expected to be a made for media event designed to demonstrate how this law, and this law alone, could have saved the lives of those lost to previous violence. 

The signing of the law will also be our wake-up call to the fact that our representatives no longer represent our interests. By enacting a law that has ZERO to do with public safety and is only a back-door method of confiscating firearms and stripping away Constitutionally protected rights without due process or evidence of a crime committed, the New Mexico legislature has shown they are only interested in compiling with the national political party platform and gun control special interests. 

Is this the kind of government you want?  Maybe it’s time to vote for someone else. 

Bob

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