Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Pretty Even-Handed article on Gun Control

And it was written by a student no less!  Appearing in City on the Hill Press, Locked and Loaded offers a very even handed exposition of the gun control issue.  I particularly liked this quote:

“I’m not anti-gun control,” said SCPD deputy police chief Clark. “Gun control does have its merits — it does stop some people from getting a hold of one. But we haven’t seen gun control stop gun violence.”

So what can stop gun violence?

“The question is deeper than that,” Clark said.

Clark said the solution “isn’t around gun control but community.”

Exactly.  If I could get one message out to all those knee-jerk gun control advocates, and really get them to believe it, this would be the one.  The article goes on to describe community programs in Santa Cruz country that  are attempting to quell gun violence without layering more gun control laws over those that have failed in the past.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

If ObamaCare is so damn good...

...why have 917 organizations, mostly labor unions and health insurance plans,  opted out of the system with waivers?  Democrats said that Americans would come to love ObamaCare, but these 917 Democratic-connected organizations are exempt.  Where is the fairness in that?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Brits Obsess About U.S. Gun Laws

Over the years I have read many articles in The Guardian about or horrible fascination with guns in this country. I confess that I don't understand why the British should be so concerned about an internal issue of U.S. law and politics.  Our guns laws are our private affair, as their gun laws are theirs.

You sure as Hell don't see American commenting on the almost total gun ban that the U.K. has established, and how whacked out it seems to us.

After reading this posting, I have decided to not pay any more attention to U.K. opinion on U.S. gun laws.  I just don't give a shit that the Brits are so freaked out by out horrible, horrible gun laws. 

Fuck 'em.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Some Common Sense on Gun Control

Common sense on gun control?  Impossible?  Not in this article by Gary Becker:

So overall I do not believe that making the legal ownership of guns more difficult is likely to do much good, and could be harmful. I do see more promise in punishing illegal gun possession, and especially punishing severely persons who use guns to commit crimes.
 I don't know of any responsible gun owner that would not agree to punish gun use in crimes severely, instead of placing more obstacles in front of legitimate gun owners.  Studies have shown that no gun control scheme has reduced violent crime.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

AB 144 - Unconstitutional Upon Passage?

A good article on AB 144 from the California Independent Voter Network.  A pretty even-handed article I would say. But what really got my attention was in the comments, one in particular from Charles Nichols, the well-known LA History Examiner:

By the way, we have already had two Federal court cases in the 9th Circuit upholding the right to openly carry a firearm in public. The first was US v Vongxay, which dealt with it indirectly, and Peruta v San Diego where the Chief Federal judge invited a challenge to California's unique requirement that firearms be unloaded until a person is in danger (plus a few other exceptions). She said she could not rule on the constitutionality of that law because neither party in the case challenged it. However, the right to openly carry a firearm, and have matching ammunition with you, was affirmed.

Which means we are just one lawsuit away from Loaded Open Carry being legal in California.

AB 144. the State ban on Open Carry is unconstitutional the moment it is passed. All it will take is a Federal injunction to stop its enforcement. I guess Portantino never took Law 101. The US Supreme Court sets the minimum level of rights when it concerns a Federal question, like the Bill of Rights.
 Does anyone know if this is true?  Is AB 144 unconstitutional on its face?  Is loaded open carry really that close to legality?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

National CCW Reciprocity Bill - H.R. 822

Another attempt a national reciprocity for CCW licenses has emerged in the House.  Thanks to No Lawyers - Only Guns and Money, you can read the bill text here.

What does this mean for California? You can read this discussion thread on Calguns to find out.

I think that this is potentially huge, if it passes and can get signed.  Can you imagine how Mayor Bloomberg or Mayor Daley would react to tourists from Texas and Arizona being able to carry concealed in those cities? It may also put pressure on California legislators to convert California to a shall issue CCW system when it becomes evident that people are carrying in this state in large numbers.

And the wrongful arrest lawsuits that will enrich so many lawyers!

I cannot imagine President Obama would sign such a bill, and I am not sure that a 2/3 vote exists in the Senate to over ride a veto.  The House is much easier.

Stay tuned to this one.  It is going to be big.

An Excellent Example of Enforcing the Laws Already on The Books

This story, reported by my local ABC station, KGO Channel 7, relates how the San Francisco Police Department is using the Armed Prohibited Persons list to attempt to disarm gun owners that conveicted of felonies or judged to be mentally ill.

No responsible gun owner believes that felons or the mentally ill should have the ability to purchase a firearm, and the Armed Prohibited Persons list is a good mechanism to get these guns out of the hands or potentially dangerous people.  So why is it that 37 police departments and 3 county sheriffs offices do not subscribe to APPS?

My guess would be lack of resources during this time of growing budget deficits.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Abthony Portantino on AB 144

Anthony Portantino, (D - La Cañada Flintridge) commenting in the Pasadena Weekly about AB 144, his bill to ban the open carry of firearms:
“It does not take anyone’s rights away for owning a weapon,” he said. “But what it does say is the needless display of automatic firearms on Main Street California does not really have a point other than making a political statement. And should we have weapons be a part of a political discussion?”
So, Mr. Portantino, when you disagree with an opponents political message, you feel that the proper response is to outlaw the message?  The  political conversation here is on the question the rights of citizens to be armed in their daily life, a right that is denied to Californians due to the arbitrary and capricious implementation of the CCW policies in this state. If AB 144 passes, then even Unloaded Open Carry will be denied to us.

And take note his use of "automatic firearms" intended to strike fear in people.  Nobody is open carrying automatic firearms.  They are semi-automatic firearms.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Martha Stewart's Daughter - Liberal Hypocrite

I have never seen it displayed better than the following comment made by Alexis Stewart, Martha Stewart's daughter in this New York Times article:

“I don’t believe people should be allowed to have guns in America,” Ms. Stewart, daughter of Martha, said in an interview, explaining that she bought a .357 Magnum after 9/11 — but would be happy to give it up if handguns were banned. “Having a swimming pool is way more dangerous than having a gun,” she added.
But you have a gun anyway Ms. Stewart, why is that?  Is it because your life is somehow more special, being Martha Stewart's daughter after all, so that you are an exception to your longed for gun prohibition?  Or do you want to shore up your liberal cred with your no-doubt liberal, sophisticated friends that will read this article now that you have been outed as a gun owner?

Hypocrite, either way.  If you "believe people should not be allowed to have guns in America" then you should give it up, even without a handgun ban.  If you don't give it up, then your actions seem to imply that you believe that the gun is potentially useful for personal defense, but you want to deny others that possibility.  At least have the stones to stand for what you believe in, either way, rather than use weasel words.

Alexis Stewart: liberal hypocrite.

Robert J. Samuelson on High Speed Rail

Robert J. Samuelson warns us convincingly about the probable failure of high speed rail systems to operate at a profit:

Passenger rail service inspires wishful thinking. In 1970, when Congress created Amtrak to preserve intercity passenger trains, the idea was that the system would become profitable and self-sustaining after an initial infusion of federal money. This never happened. Amtrak has swallowed $35 billion in subsidies, and they're increasing by more than $1 billion annually.
 Read the article and follow the links for supplemental information.  After reading all of that, we need to ask the California High Speed Rail Authority some very pointed questions.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Citizen Ignorance

The video has been making the rounds of the pro-gun sites, particularly Calguns.  Watching the whole video, I am struck at the level of ignorance the people interviewed have about gun laws.  Unlike gun guys like me, it seems that most people do not think much about the gun issue.  Perhaps this is what makes anti-gun legislation and legislators so common in California: guns are not something that are part of peoples lives.

Until Californians feel like they have a personal stake in gun rights, no ballot box solution will work.  This video double underscores this reality.

Friday, February 18, 2011

"Carry" Not A Core Right, Yet

A recently introduced bill in the California State Assembly, AB 144, once again will attempt to outlaw open carry of unloaded firearms. But this bill is quite different from AB 1934 introduced last year. AB 1934 sought to eliminate holstered handguns as an exception to the concealed weapon law, making open carry of an unload holstered pistol the same as carrying a concealed weapon, requiring a California CCW permit. In retrospect this would have created problems for all kinds of occupations that are armed in public, like armored car guards.

AB 144, in contrast, makes the open carry of an unloaded handgun in a public place a crime, a misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail and a fine that cannot exceed $1000. To get around the problems that AB 1934 might have caused, AB 144 specifies a very long list of occupational exceptions, allowing a large number of people to open carry handguns. Only ordinary citizens and criminals are, theoretically, prohibited.

A reader of Left Coast Conservative, asked me if I knew about AB 144, and if I thought that its passage into law would help the Peruta v. County of San Diego prevail. Chris P wrote:
BTW, did you hear about the new attempt to ban open carry (California AB 144)? I think this is gonna get interesting. I'm not sure how I feel about the open carry movement yet, but it was my understanding that the San Diego lawsuit regarding concealed carry had a lot to do with the open carry law. Anyway, I thought the ruling was that since California law allowed unloaded/open carry, self defense was not "good cause" to concealed carry. You think this will be significant? I'd like to hear your take on it.
This is, I think the part of the decision that gives Chris P his hopes that AB 144 might actually advance carry rights in California:
Accordingly, Defendant argues that concealed carry pursuant to Penal Code section 12050 is not the sole outlet for carrying a handgun for self defense. Defendant highlights other California provisions that permit unloaded open carry and loaded open carry if the individual is in immediate grave danger.
In other words, the Defendant's administration of the CCW policy is not subject to strict scrutiny because persons can avail themselves of other means to carry weapons for self defense. This inspires me to re-read the decision granting summary judgment to the defendant. What I found was this passage, on page 11:
Neither party has cited, and the Court is not aware of, a case in which a court has employed strict scrutiny to regulations that do not touch on the “core” Second Amendment right: possession in the home.9 If it exists, the right to carry a loaded handgun in public cannot be subject to a more rigorous level of judicial scrutiny than the “core right” to possess firearms in the home for self-defense. See Heller, 128 S. Ct. at 2717 (focusing on the home as the place “where the need for defense of self, family, and property is most acute”); McDonald, 130 S. Ct. at 3036 (quoting same). If anything, the opposite is true; unlike possession in the home, carrying a concealed firearm in public presents a “recognized threat to public order” and “poses an imminent threat to public safety.” People v. Yarbrough, 169 Cal. App. 4th 303, 313-14 (Cal. Ct. App. 2010) (quotation marks and citations omitted); see also McDonald, 130 S. Ct. at 3105 (Stevens, J., dissenting) (“firearms kept inside the home generally pose a lesser threat to public welfare as compared to firearms taken outside . . .”). At most, Defendant’s policy is subject to intermediate scrutiny.

So the first problem that Peruta has is that the judge does not recognize “carry” to be the core right protected by the 2nd Amendment, so intermediate scrutiny is appropriate to judge the validity of the Defendant's policy. Once this is established the reasoning to grant the Defendant's motion is swift:
Accordingly, Defendant argues that concealed carry pursuant to Penal Code section 12050 is not the sole outlet for carrying a handgun for self defense. Defendant highlights other California provisions that permit unloaded open carry and loaded open carry if the individual is in immediate grave danger.
So, if AB144 is passed, the alternate means is no longer available, so that should open up the CCW policy for litigation, right? Perhaps not. Even though cases cited in Heller (State v. Chandler, Nunn v. State, Andrews v. State, State v. Reid), allowed concealed weapons bans because open carry was available, so the 2nd Amendment right was not eliminated, passage and adoption of AB 144 will not eliminate the ability of citizens to carry weapons. CCW permits will still be available: apply and you may be issued a CCW permit.
Arbitrary and capricious administration of a CCW policy by a Sheriff will not be cited as unconstitutional until and unless “carry” is ruled to be a “core right” denoted by the 2nd Amendment. Once “carry” is recognized as a core right, then AB 144 may be used to prevent arbitrary and capricious implementation of CCW policies in Califronia.
For more information about current litigation, please refer to the Calguns Foundation Litigation Past and Present page, your one-stop-shop for guns rights litigation information.

UPDATE 2/19/2011:

Maybe I am wrong about what effect passage of AB 144 might have on litigation to liberalize CCW policies.  Take a look at this passage from the Pasadena Weekly:

Here in California, where a bill to prohibit gun owners from publicly carrying unloaded weapons in plain sight is set for debate in the state Assembly, gun rights advocates also doubt that ability. They say the bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, would instead force jurisdictions to issue concealed weapons permits to practically all comers, given recent court rulings affirming the people’s right to bear arms.
“I’m not sure they appreciate the legal can of worms they are opening here,” said Chuck Michel, spokesman for the California Rifle & Pistol Association.
 If Chuck Michel thinks AB 144 might bust things open, I am inclined to take him at his word.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Doubt Cast on High Speed Rail Cost

It is possible that the cost of the California High Speed Rail project will be even higher that has been estimated. Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design, a volunteer watchdog group, has released their own cost estimates for the project. They calculate that $65 billion is a more realistic figure than the $43 billion released by the California High Speed Rail Authority

Once again doubt is cast on the sunny predictions of a government entity. Which is more likely to be correct?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Top Shot Is Back!

Now for something fun: Top Shot is back this week!

And it seems that they have corrected a deficiency from last season: the lack of the Model 1911 pistol in the show.  Their go to semi-automatic pistol was the Baretta 92FS, a good gun, but not the American gun!

Am I prejudiced?  You bet I am!  I love the 1911.  If you love some other gun, set up your own blog and write about it there.

You know, Top Shot has also ignored Glock pistols so far.  Maybe they're saving them for season three?

Friday, February 11, 2011

HighSpeed Rail - Probable money Loser

It seems that it is not only Californians that are drinking the high speed rail Kool Aid, but also President Obama.

I see high speed rail passenger service to be nothing more than a desperate attempt for a 19th Century technology to remain relevant in the 21st Century.  There is already a way to go from San Jose to Los Angeles in about an hour, and the California tax payers don't have to spend billions of dollars to create it: it is called an airline.  

Southwest Airlines offers flights between San Jose and Los Angeles for as low as $74 one way for 1:15 flight time.  California High Speed Rail projects the same trip will take 2:09 and cost as much as $42. So, save $32, but spend an hour more on the trip?

Seems like an okay trade off, but will the fares always be so competitive or cover the costs of the rail system?  This is an open question, and looking at systems around the world only two high speed rail systems break even on operating costs:

“High-speed rail is good for society and it’s good for the environment, but it’s not a profitable business,” said Mr. Barrón of the International Union of Railways. He reckons that only two routes in the world — between Tokyo and Osaka, and between Paris and Lyon, France — have broken even.
The track record in this country for providing conventional rail service does not bode well for high speed rail.  Amtrack, even on densely populated urbane corridors, survives only because of massive subsidies.  What makes us think that California can do any better?  Maybe the California High Speed Rail Authority should get a railroad executive from a private company to come in to manage this project.

Oh, yeah.  There aren't any.

UPDATE: 2/12/2011 12:36 PM
The Wall Street Journal had this story in December, 2010 which described the first section to be built will be 65 miles long at a cost of $4.3 billion.  Do the math: this is $66 million per mile.  Who the fuck cares how much carbon this project saves at that price?

The main 520 mile line has an estimated cost of  $42.6 billion, which works out to $81.9 million per mile of track, so I guess that economies of scale do not apply to railroads.

Our elected officials are on crack.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Green Jobs - Economic Boondoggle

I have been skeptical of the reliance of many politicians on creation of "green jobs" to help save the economy.  Reason has a new article out that adds weight to my suspicions:

Gulen is not alone in his concerns about overblown claims for green jobs. A 2009 report [PDF], by Hillard Huntington, executive director of the Energy Modeling Forum at Stanford University, also found that promoting green energy is not a jobs generator. Huntington calculated the number of jobs per million dollars invested in various types of electricity generation. A million dollars invested in solar power produces three to five jobs; wind 1.6 to 6.5 jobs; biomass 1.8 to 6.5 jobs; coal 3.7 jobs; and natural gas two jobs. It looks like renewables are often winners at job creation until Huntington points out that on average an investment of a million dollars produces about 10 jobs.
Another way to look at it is that in the worst cases, investing in solar power destroys seven jobs, wind eight jobs, biomass eight jobs, coal six jobs, and natural gas eight jobs, each compared to the 10 jobs generally created per million dollars of investment. All subsidies to the electric power sector divert money that would otherwise be invested in higher value wealth and job-creating activities.
 This leads me to understand why energy in California costs so much in comparison with other states.