Monday, December 28, 2009

Airline Security = Bullshit

"One thing I'd like to point out is that the system worked."

-- Janet Napolitano

Yeah, whatever you say, Janet. The system worked so well that it only failed because the terrorist was too stupid to operate his device correctly. This guy was able to board a plane despite being on a terrorist watch list, despite his family alerting the U.S. that he had become an Islamic radical, despite buying a one-way ticket in cash, just like the 9/11 hijackers.

We've spent billions on security and this mope comes very close to downing an aircraft over Michigan.

You're doing a heckuva job, Janet, you fucking idiot.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Unloaded Open Carry in California - Activism or Asinine?

In San Jose this week, a man, Sherman Fontano, was arrested while carrying an unloaded .357 Magnum revolver on school grounds. When questioned, he said that he believed that he was not breaking any laws based on what he had heard from others:
After his brothers watched a newscast about the national movement to carry guns in public, they told Sherman "Tony" Fontano he could do that himself. Two San Jose police officers also said it would be OK.
The "national movement" mentioned above refers to the practice of individuals carrying their firearms in a holster unconcealed while they go about their daily business. is a web site that explains what this movement is attempting to accomplish, and how people can participate in open carry events.

The intended purpose of the open carry movement is to
"naturalize the presence of guns, which means that guns become ordinary, omnipresent, and expected. Over time, the gun becomes a symbol of ordinary personhood."
This intention flies in the face of more conventional views in California, where gun owners are a minority, making up only 21% of the population. In San Jose, one of the more anti-gun areas in the state, most people feel that guns are the cause of violence, and anyone carrying a gun in public is probably a criminal, resulting in the quick report of Mr. Fontano carrying a gun on school grounds.

Many non-gun owners would be surprised to learn that it is in fact legal to carry an unloaded, unconcealed firearm in many parts of the state. It is illegal to carry a loaded firearm in most places, unless one has a CCW (Carry Concealed Weapon) permit. These permits are almost impossible to obtain in Santa Clara county. In 2007 only 170 permits were in effect in the county, which has a population of 1.7 million, an issue rate of 0.01%.

In other states open carry of loaded firearms is legal without a permit, and concealed weapons permits are issued freely to any citizen that passes a background check and meets other objective criteria, such as firearms training and shooting range qualification with the firearm. Open carry advocates in those states carry openly on a daily basis to further the educational goal of, and for self protection.

Gun rights activists would like to liberalize California gun laws in a similar fashion, and some of these people think that open carry is an effective means to educate the public that they need not fear armed law abiding citizens. But is open carry really the best way to educate and persuade the public to change the gun laws, or is it a short sighted, ineffective tactic of gun activists that will ultimately prove to be counter-productive? Before attempting to give my answer to that question, let's review the law.

Standard disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and everything that follows in not to be construed as legal advice. If you want to participate in unloaded open carry (UOC) events in California, you would be wise to consult an attorney for guidance and advice.

Everything that I am going to mention about California gun law is based on the excellent book by John Machtinger, "How to Own a Gun & Stay Out of Jail - California Edition". In my opinion every California gun owner should read and understand everything in this book. The definitive pace to find out about California gun laws is the actual Penal Code. Don't take my word for anything, read it for yourself!

Loaded guns are covered by PC 12031. Loaded firearms are prohibited in most public places:
12031.  (a) (1) A person is guilty of carrying a loaded
firearm when he or she carries a loaded firearm on his
or her person or in a vehicle while in any public place
or on any public street in an incorporated city or
in any public place or on any public street in a
prohibited area of unincorporated territory.
The sharp reader, however, will have noted that carrying a loaded firearm is permitted in unincorporated territory that is not a prohibited area. Prohibited areas are defined by individual counties, and citizens must check to ensure that they are in the proper areas to carry a loaded weapon. These are almost always rural areas where hunting, fishing, and target shooting is allowed.

Concealed weapons are covered under PC 12025. Concealed firearms are prohibited in most circumstances:
12025.  (a) A person is guilty of carrying a concealed firearm when
he or she does any of the following:
(1) Carries concealed within any vehicle which is under his or her
control or direction any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable
of being concealed upon the person.
(2) Carries concealed upon his or her person any pistol, revolver,
or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.
(3) Causes to be carried concealed within any vehicle in which he
or she is an occupant any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable
of being concealed upon the person.
But there is a very important exception to the above provision:
(f) Firearms carried openly in belt holsters are not concealed
within the meaning of this section.
Hence we get to the full legal reasoning for UOC in the state of California: loaded and concealed weapons are illegal where most people live, while unloaded and unconcealed weapons in a belt holster are not. Police have the right to stop an openly carrying person to verify that the weapon being carried is indeed unloaded. Further case law has established that it is legal to carry loaded magazines or ammunition as long as it is not attached to the gun in any manner. Most UOC advocates carry loaded magazines in case they need to protect themselves. But having to load a weapon first greatly degrades the self defense utility of a firearm.

Given that UOC is legal, is it a good idea? As Mr. Fontano learned, carrying a handgun around San Jose will get you a lot of unwanted attention from the police, and the usefulness of an unloaded gun for self defense is limited, so why would anyone want to do it? Self proclaimed members of the open carry movement in California do it because they believe that "A Right Unexercised is a Right Lost", because they want to educate the public about law abiding citizens carrying firearms, and ultimately liberalize the gun laws of California.

But is UOC effective activism? Examining the California forum on one finds many stories of individual experiences and open carry events. But many postings involve the how to conduct oneself during the inevitable stop by police, or ensuring that the open carrier does not enter a school zone. One thread in which an open carry event is being planned, Santana Row in San Jose is suggested:
If you want to go for a large public place (which gives us the chance to educate) then how about some place inside Santana Row? I believe (Please check for yourself) that it is outside any GFSZ.

Walking up and down the sidewalks would get a lot of attention.
GFSZ stands for Gun Free School Zone in this message.

Santana Row met with some approval, as illustrated in this message:
Great idea. This location should be OUR next meet. I will google map the location and see if I can find any restricted areas. If we're clear of GFSZ, but is alittle out of the 1,000 ft mark, I'll print out directions from our location to the school to show LEO we're in the clear. This weekend should be the meet since it's getting cooler by the day.

we're open for suggestions.
But UOC is a legal minefield in California, as the nest post shows:
I would recommend/strongly urge you not to bring a map of the school zones. The burden of proof that you are in violation of 626.9 is on the courts, bringing a map does the work for them, plus if you were to accidentally violate the GFSZ act, you would have zero defense if the map was found. No good can come from bringing a map with you, just know your routes before you leave.

Santana row is a great idea, 626.9 permitting.
PC 626.9 is the section of the California Penal Code prohibiting guns (loaded or not) within 1000 feet of a school. Mr. Fortano probably wishes he had head of this before open carrying himself. This post describes other tactics to use when open carrying to avoid legal repercussions:
For the benefit of all the new people attending, please sterile-carry.

sterile-carry: The act of having no identifying material on your person. No drivers license, state ID, bank card (carry cash), library card, etc.

Keep it in the glove box.
What was the effect of this open carry meet? Later postings give an indication:
Just got back, we had one carrier and about six non-carriers. I handed out a flyer to a lady who stopped by our group and asked for money for some group. It wasn't as crowded as I thought it would be, parking was pretty easy to find. Still, lots of people but I didn't hear or see anybody react. Two new members showed up. It was a nice day, although everywhere we went there were people singing, making it somewhat hard to chat. I guess worse things could happen.
This event happened on November 28th, 2009, and Santana Row in San Jose, one of the most popular shopping malls in Santa Clara county. There was not one mention of it in the San Jose Mercury News, on local television stations, or on local radio stations.

Great activism, huh? But the proof that these people are dilettantes is provided by the following post:
If we're going to have a meet, we shouldn't tell everyone on open forum when and where until after it happens. Wouldn't want any suprise guests or government funded party crashers showing up.
Real activists would publicize their events to ensure that OC'ers, the press, and the police are all there in as large a number as possible. has numerous postings on open carry events held in other states that had many attendees, carriers and non-carriers alike, with press coverage. Real activists want to confront the police, possibly be arrested, and have the arrest shown on the evening news, along with a sound bite from a press release or from a member.

In my opinion UOC in the context of California gun laws, and the political climate, is stupid. And the way the open carry people on conduct themselves shows that they are not serious about real activism. Frustrated by the "may issue" CCW laws in California and the restrictive issue policies of local sheriffs departments, they are grasping at straws to have a shadow of the same privileges afforded to citizens of other states. UOC is neither an effective form of carry for self defense, nor is it easily taken seriously as civil rights activism.

I think that is is telling that the only mention of the open carry "movement" in the local press was the arrest of Mr. Fortano, whose arrest on school property is NOT going to win any friends for concealed carry law reform (very much needed in California), open carry, or gun rights in general.

California is at a very critical juncture. Incorporation of the 2nd Amendment against the states may happen next year, at which time many California laws will be challenged in the courts. Minorities usually do not fare well at the ballot box, and 2009 shows this to be true with the passage of ever more restrictive guns laws, like AB 962. Open carry advocates should tone it down, and wait for the possibility of real results in courts in 2011 and beyond. If incidents like Mr. Fortano's become more common, I could believe that Sacremento could outlaw UOC as well as current CCW laws rather than reforming the mess that California gun laws have become.

Unloaded Open Carry in California? Asinine.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

San Jose Man Arrested for Unload Open Carry

As reported in the San Jose Mercury News, Sherman Fontano was arrested to carrying an unloaded .357 Magnum revolver.

Fontano, who seems to think that this is all a big misunderstanding, is about to get a lesson in the arcane, convoluted, and sometimes nonsensical gun laws in California. His plight should serve as an object lesson to all people who own or are contemplating purchasing a gun in California: know and follow the gun laws in this state, or you will be sorry.

California gun laws are complex, containing provisions surprising even to long-time gun owners. Many gun owners do not study the laws regulating guns, relying on the advice of friends or relatives, which is often outdated or incorrect. I am not a lawyer, and nothing I write in the post should be considered legal advice, but one can read about California gun laws in the excellent book "How to Own a Gun & Stay Out of Jail - California Edition", by John Machtinger, who is a lawyer. California gun owners, in my opinion, should read and understand everything in this book. My statements below about the substance of California gun laws are based on Machtinger's book.

But nobody should take my word for ANYTHING! Read the book, or better yet, read the Penal Code sections for yourself.

If Fontano had read this book, he would have understood that everything that a gun owner can legally do with a gun, even possess it inside their own home, is a listed exception to the law that states that possession of a concealed firearm is a crime, and to the law that states that possession of a loaded firearm is a crime.

Fontano's gun was not loaded at the time he was arrested, so he did not break that law. But he was in possession of a concealed firearm (i.e. firearm in a waistband is considered concealed). California law defines a concealed weapon to be a weapon carried on one's person or in one's vehicle with any part of the firearm concealed from view. Belt holsters are explicitly exempted from this provision, but other garments are not exempted, including the part of Fontano's pants that covered a portion of his .357 Magnum.

The exception that allows Californians to carry their legally owned firearms outside of their homes states that the firearm must be unloaded, and secured inside a locked container. Firearms transported in this way, either in a car, or by a person on foot, or on any other private conveyance, is not a concealed weapon.

So, why did Fontano think he could carry his pistol legally? Fontano had heard of unloaded open carry from relatives:
After his brothers watched a newscast about the national movement to carry guns in public, they told Sherman "Tony" Fontano he could do that himself. Two San Jose police officers also said it would be OK.
The "national movement" referred to above is the practice of law abiding citizens carrying firearms openly to exercise their Second Amendment rights, and to demonstrate to the non-gunowning public that people with guns are not automatically criminals. The web site explains what this movement intends to accomplish and how members go about their open carry activities.

Fontano's problem was that his information was incomplete. As explained extensively on the web site, it is up to the individual to know and follow the gun laws of the state in which they openly carry weapons. In California, one needs to be especially careful because of all the exceptions that may apply to where a person may possess or carry a weapon. While unloaded open carry (UOC) is legal in many places in California, carrying a firearm into a school zone is not, and Fontano was arrested by police while carrying his gun in a school zone.

School zones comprise the school grounds and encompass the surrounding neighborhood up to 1000 feet from school property. Second, school zones apply to most any school: K-12, public and private, and college campuses. It is up to the person carrying to know the school zone boundaries, and either avoid them, or secure their firearms prior to entry. Fontano, in his ignorance, failed to do so, and was thus arrested.
Fontano can't believe the fuss his morning walk with his never-been-fired Magnum has caused.
I can. Gun owners, at 21%, are a minority in this state. Many people think that anyone who owns a gun is a potential threat to other citizens, and anyone carrying a gun in public, who is not a police officer, must be a criminal. These views are a large part of the reason California gun laws are so complex that even District Attorneys and police officers are often confused by them, and why the gun laws are becoming more, not less, restrictive, as illustrated by the signing of AB 962 into law this year.

Fontano, with his "never-been-fired Magnum" is obviously not a dangerous person, but he is a careless one. While charges have not yet been filed, he may fined himself subject to jail time, be prevented from owning firearms for ten years, or perhaps even for life. His education on the extent of the gun laws in California may well prove to be expensive.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NRA Brief in Support of Chicago Plaintiffs

The NRA has filed a brief in support of the plaintiffs in the Chicago gun ban case, and I have added the link to my sidebar on the case.

In reading both this and the petitioners briefs, I find it fascinating that so much of the arguments in favor of the 14th Amendment protecting the right to bear arms refers to events in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War during Reconstruction. It seems that southerners wanted their newly freed slaves disarmed, but that northerners saw that denial of arms left these people defenseless. From the brief:
Summarizing this history, the status of the
right to keep and bear arms during the drafting and
ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment is
unmistakable. It was viewed as a fundamental right
in the most literal sense: The foundation necessary
to secure all of the other rights of free citizens.

Gun rights were seen as the means for a minority to protect themselves from a hostile majority, and to help secure their civil rights. It seems that the origins of gun control in the United States are indeed racist.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Petitioner's Opening Brief

The opening brief by the petitioners in the Chicago gun case to be argued before the Supreme Court is not available here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Democrats and Guns - Silent Minority Favors Self Protection.

This Gallup poll on gun ownership and usage contains all of the usual data: more Republicans than Democrats own guns. But there is a fascinating split in the reason people own guns that is given at the end of the results: among people who own guns, Democrats cite personal protection as the reason more than do Republicans, and all three categories, Republican, Independent, and Democrat, poll at 64% or greater for personal protection.

So, while the liberal narrative holds that guns are the cause of crime, and restricting access to guns would decrease crime in the United States, there is a significant minority of Democrats who own guns for personal protection. I think anyone you owns a firearm for personal protection would not be sympathetic to increased gun control laws.

That little factoid in this poll just might be a decisive factor explaining why gun control is increasingly unpopular, while laws bolstering the ability of citizens to protect themselves, like liberalized concealed weapon laws, have been passed in almost 40 states.

Democratic Party leadership is mostly composed of the most liberal members, like my own Senator Diane Feinstein. But even they have stopped pushing for more gun control laws simply because they have been slapped down too hard by the voters, and the reality that not every Democrat is against gun ownership.

H.R. 3962 - Refuse to Buy Insurance, You Might Go To Jail

The recently passed health care reform bill, H.R. 3962, requires everyone to enroll in a "qualified" plan. The mechanism to enforce this provision is a tax penalty, which is defined in Section 501 of the bill:

(a) Tax Imposed- In the case of any individual who does not meet the requirements of subsection (d) at any time during the taxable year, there is hereby imposed a tax equal to 2.5 percent of the excess of--
      `(1) the taxpayer's modified adjusted gross income for the taxable year, over
      `(2) the amount of gross income specified in section 6012(a)(1) with respect to the taxpayer.
    There are no direct criminal penalties contained in H.R. 3962, but the effect of imposing a new tax brings both criminal and civil penalties into play via the Internal Revenue Code, also known as Title 26 of the United States Code. These criminal and civil penalties, and how they might affect an individual are explained in this posting of the Ways & Means Republicans website, and in this letter from Joint Committee on Taxation provided to the Ways and Means Committee.

    The sections cited in these letters are sections of Title 26, the Internal Revenue Code, and they may be verified at this website of the Cornell University Law School.

    So, the jail time may be applied if a person refuses to buy insurance, making themselves subject to the tax, and then refuses to pay the tax. In every case, passage of H.R. 3962 increases costs for every American by at least 2.5 percent of their taxable income, and perhaps by as much as five years of their life.

    Saturday, November 14, 2009

    California Roster of Approved Forearms: A Creeping Handgun Ban?

    As readers of this blog probably know, California regulates handguns very strongly, requiring manufacturers to submit handguns for safety testing before they can sell a model in this state. Handguns that are approved for sale are posted on the California Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale.

    This list does not by any means include all of the handgun models introduced by manufacturers in a given year, and it is often characterized as a creeping handgun ban. But do statistics bear this claim out? Are the number of handguns available for sale increasing or decreasing?

    It turns out that it is indeed possible to determine the number of guns approved for sale over time, and this I have done in the chart at the top of this article.

    As can be seen, over the last three years the number of handguns available for sale in California has been steadily increasing, so the Roster is not a creeping handgun ban.

    However, this chart only shows the number of handguns approved for sale at any one time, but not the "churn" in the list. Handguns are dropped from the list when their approval expires. But the reasons for the expiration are varied. Perhaps the manufacturer has ceased production of that model, or perhaps the manufacturer has decided not to pay the renewal fee to continue the listing.

    And nothing on this chart indicates the number of handguns offered for sale in the United States, but that have not been approved by the DOJ, or the number of guns introduced in any given year that are available for sale outside of California that have not yet been approved, or that have never been submitted for approval.

    All that I can conclude is that, lacking further data, the DOJ Roster is not manifestly a creeping handgun ban, working over time to eliminate the handguns from California. But it is a handgun limiter, acting like a water saving device to slow down the introduction of handguns into the California market. When combined with the California assault weapon ban and the magazine capacity limit, the handguns available to a California resident are very much curtailed when compared to many other states.

    Universal Health Care Possible - But There Will Be Losers

    Last week my local PBS station aired a fascinating program comparing different countries health care systems. The program, Sick Around The World, can be viewed online, and I highly recommend that anyone reading this post to watch the program before proceeding.

    I came away with two conclusions:

    First, universal health care that is affordable is indeed possible, but to implement it there will be two economic losers: doctors and and insurance companies.

    Second, the health care bill that recently passed in the House of Representatives, H.R. 3962, will NOT reduce costs, and is in fact a monstrosity that will cost Americans a lost of money without providing better or more affordable care.

    Here is why my claim is true: the economic losers in many countries are doctors, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies.

    It seems simple, even cliche, to say this, but if medical costs are to be reduced, then someone must make less money. In many countries around the world, the two entities making less are doctors and insurance companies.

    It seems a little strange to learn that insurance companies in several of the countries visited by the show host are non-profit corporations, but that is indeed the case. Governments dictate how campanies insure individuals, and they dictate the premiums that they can charge. REmoving the profit reduces the cost of care to the individual.

    Doctors are almost always limited by the government to certain rates that they can charge for procedures, and no doctor can charge more. But since the government is the single payer, the amount of paperwork and administration is mush reduced as compared to a United States practice, saving enormous amounts of money. Further, malpractice tort law has been reformed in every case, reducing the malpractice insurance premiums for doctors must pay, further reducing costs.

    Finally, every single one of the countries presented in the program use government bargaining power to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies bulk pricing on everything from drugs to MRI equipment, reducing costs even further.

    All of these measures, and others, reduce the cost of health care, but the losers are doctors, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies.

    This program exposes H.R. 3962 as the farce that it is: all of the economic losers, doctors, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies, have made their deals with Congress and the Obama Administration to avoid the necessary concessions that would have to be made to accomplish real health care reform.

    Doctors have lobbied long and hard to avoid a reduction in the Medicare payment schedule that has for years been touted as necessary to avoid unsustainable Medicare costs. There is not reason to suppose that payments to doctors will be limited under any new health care plan.

    Insurance companies have eagerly come on board to support the plan because there is an individual mandate that every person in the United States must enroll in a "qualified plan". resulting in millions of new premium-paying customers for the insurance companies.

    The United States government under the "leadership" of President George W. Bush, abandoned any attempt to negotiate volume purchasing discounts with pharmaceutical companies, and there is no indication that such negotiations will be authorized by H.R. 3962.

    And we finally come to another large winner in the health care debate, to which almost every Congress member (Democratic AND Republican) is beholden: trial lawyers. They have successfully prevented any kind of tort reform, meaning that malpractice trial awards will continue to be astronomical, resulting in very high malpractice insurance premiums, which further squeeze doctors.

    H.R. 3962 is not a reform of the health care "system". It is a massive new entitlement program, one that is going to make the middle class pay for the coverage of the poor, under penalty of fine and imprisonment. It is an entitlement program that will NOT reduce the cost of medical care, which will continue to increase faster than inflation, causing the entire issue to be revisited in a few years when people realize that they have been duped. It is an entitlement program that will be impossible to repeal if it is once implemented, throwing and economic anvil to taxpayers drowning in a sea of increased costs.

    The final two indicators of how much this bill stinks can be found in two facts: first, the Congress has exempted itself from being covered under this plan, and second, the effective date of this law is 2013, the year after President Obama will presumably be safely elected to his second term in office.


    Sunday, October 25, 2009

    Control Costs - Then Expand Coverage

    Tyler Cowan's article in The New York Times describes the possible harm that insurance mandates might cause. At the end of the article, however, there is a caution that I totally agree with:

    We’re often told that America should copy the health care institutions of Western Europe. Yet we’re failing to copy the single most important lesson from those systems — namely, to put cost control first. Instead, we’re putting our foot on the gas pedal and ratcheting up the fiscal pressures on the system, in the hope that someday, somehow, it will all work out.

    As it stands, we’re on the verge of enacting a policy that is due to explode, penalizing many of the very people that it was ostensibly designed to help.

    In fact the debate in Congress will be completely dishonest. Medicare has 74 trillion dollars of unfunded mandates, and here we are, about to add another layer of medical entitlement on top of it. Tyler Cowan's prediction about exploding entitlements is more real than Congress would have us believe.

    Discussion on this article can also be read at The Volokh Conspriacy.

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    If You Disagree with Me Then You're A Racist

    Given the very low standard of political debate these days, the above title is really not very far off. Barak Obama is a pretty liberal guy, but his admirers are not very liberal when it comes to political debate. The new liberal tactic to shutdown debate is to accuse anyone who disagrees with the President's policies if to label that person a racist.

    But you know what, that same tactic works for me. I am a white guy, but if you disagree with my views, then, Hell, you're a racist.

    Sauce for the goose.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    2nd Amendment - An Individual Right

    Even in this post-Heller United States, I constantly come across the view that the 2nd Amendment is a collective right, not and individual right. While answering that post I came across one of the best summaries of legal decisions and scholarship establishing that the 2nd Amendment is indeed an individual right, courtesy of The View From North Central Idaho. I encourage everyone to read Joe Huffman's blog.

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    The Health Care Mirage

    Most people do not know what health care costs, because most people do not pay of it: their employers pay, they pay out or their paychecks, but at the doctors office or pharmacy counter, they never see a bill.

    This helps lead people to believe that health care is free, but it is not. One cannot repeal the laws of economics. Health care is a service delivered for a fee, which somebody pays. That sombody is usually an insurance company which collects premiums in exchange for covering the cost of the services. Individuals usually do not even pay all of the premiums, large fractions of which are often covered by the employer as a benefit to the employee.

    So individuals do not often see the true costs of health care, and the belief spreads that health care is, or should be, free.

    That is impossible, of course, because there are costs associated with delivering any service. But the belief that health care is free is behind the popularity of the idea of health reform: in this case the government will pay, but it will still be free, especially the so-called "public option".

    That idea is totally wrong, and I think many American will be shocked to learn who will end up paying for it: the middle class will pay. They will pay either through increased premiums of their employer provided plans, through increased taxes, or they will pay the premiums directly.

    Huh, what?

    That's right. The "public option" is government defined health care, and government mandated health care, but it is not government paid health care, or at least not yet, and not for people with means. Only the very poorest will pay not premium to be covered under the public option. And it does not attempt to reduce health care costs. The primary goal of all proposals currently in Congress is to cover the uninsured, and the services used by the currently uninsured must be paid for by somebody, and that will be the majority of Americans that already have health care, or have the means to pay for it.

    I think that Americans will be disappointed by the fact that post-reform they will be paying more out of pocket for health care and taxes. But there may be a light at the end of the tunnel, that once the first round of reform is in place, a second one addressing growing costs can be passed, and this article in the New York Times describes how this might be done:

    But there’s another path, equally radical, that’s more in keeping with the traditional American approach to government, taxation and free enterprise. This approach would give up on the costly goal of insuring everyone for everything, forever. Instead, it would seek to insure Americans only against costs that exceed a certain percentage of their income, while expecting them to pay for everyday medical expenditures out of their own pockets.

    Such a system would provide universal catastrophic health insurance, in other words, while creating a free market for non-catastrophic care. In the process, it would marry a central conservative insight — that we’ll never control spending so long as Americans are insulated from the true price of their medical care — to the admirable liberal premise that nobody should go bankrupt paying for life-saving treatment.

    The key point to this view of health care is that we begin to treat it just like any other service. We shop around for the best quality versus price for all kind of services, and service providers have an incentive to innovate and run their businesses more efficiently in order to remain profitable and competitive. Once the cost of health care is advertised in an office just like an oil change for your care, Americans can then manage their health care costs themselves, and true reform will have been accomplished.

    Sunday, October 18, 2009

    Amendment to Repeal AB 962.

    As reported by the California Rifle and Pistol Association:

    AB 962 becomes effective on February 1, 2011. But not if Assemblyman Curt Hagman has his way. He has amended his bill, AB 373, to repeal AB 962 before the effective date.

    AB 373 is a bill designed to clarify handgun possession during certain legal activities. This bill went nowhere during the first year of the legislative session, and so it will need all of our support if it to pass in the next year of the session.

    Please read the information at the CRPA link above, and then act to help repeal AB 962. It may be a narrow chance at this point, but it is a chance.

    Also, please thank Assemblyman Hagman for his support:

    Bottom Line:

    I think that this has no chance of succeeding. Why would the legislature support the repeal of a law that it just passed, and that the Governor just signed?

    We must come up with impacts of AB 962 that were unintended, but that are harmful for lawful gun owners. Arguments that were put forward previously for opposing AB 962 will not work a second time around. We mustcome up with something new. See the CRPA page for details.

    Saturday, October 17, 2009

    Global Warming = Bullshit

    This is why I think global warming is a unadulterated bullshit. Most of you twenty-somethings do not remember this, but in the '70's the big climate scare was that we were entering a FUCKING ICE AGE, not that the globe was warming.

    Look here to read a Newsweek article predicting dire fucking consequences if something is not dine like melting the arctic ice by spreading black soot over the sea ice is not immediately, even though in this day melting arctic ice is now seen as a major environmental disaster.

    Oh, no! The polar bear are going to die!

    Climate scientists are dumber than a fucking bag of hammers.

    Fuck all of them!

    Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    Darren, You Got It In One!

    Darren at Right on The Left Coast says that you cannot be pro-jobs and anti-business at the same time and make any sense at all.

    But the stupid Liberals do that all the time. David Cote, you sir are a fool!

    AB 962 - CalGuns will Challenge It in Court

    One of the best web sites I know of to learn about legal issues involving gun rights is David Hardy's Of Arms And The Law. In a post about Governor Schwarzenegger's signing statement for AB 962, Bill Wiese of the CalGuns Foundation posted a statement confirming CalGuns resolve to challenge AB 962 in Federal Court. That post also outlined the legal strategy they intend to pursue.

    This lawsuit will be very interesting to follow.

    While AB 962 was wending its way through the California legislature, I often wondered if it could not be attacked via the Commerce clause of the United States Constitution. But in a reply to a post that brought up just that idea, Bill Wiese replies:

    We'd prefer a winning strategy. Commerce clause attacks may well result in negative outcomes or way more handwaving and time up the appeals chain. Why not go direct with a clean parallel case?
    I am not a lwyer, but I would have thought that a Commerce Clause strategy would be a winning strategy. Who ever heard of the FAAAA '94? I hope that this case does not lose at lower level courts so that The Volokh Conspiracy can weigh in with cogent legal analyses on the case.

    Health Care Bill Debate

    Megan McArdle has another insightful article about the coming debate over the health care bill recently passed out of committee in the Senate. She comments on Michael Cannon's article at Cato explaining wht Cannon thinks that the health care bill may die because of internal conflicts among Democratic interest groups.

    McArdle does not think Cannon is correct, and that health care reform will pass, will fail, and cause a huge hole in the deficit. Democrats will be stuck trying to explain why a national heath bill ballooned in cost just like the one in Massachusetts, causing the Restoration of the Republicans to power in Congress.

    So what if McArdle is right, and Republicans return to power after the Democrats are crucified on the health care cross? Will the health care "reform" enacted by the Congress be rolled back? Or will the Republicans morph into something akin to European "Conservatives" who are winning campaigns based not on ending the social services offered by the government, but on promising to manage them better and deliver them cost effectively.

    I think that this is a real possibility. After all, when has a social program ever been eliminated in the United States?

    Monday, October 12, 2009

    California Governor Race - Get Used to a Democrat

    I was sitting in a bar doing the unthinkable: talking about politics. The guy sitting a few seats down opined that Tom Campbell would be the next Governor. I disagreed, stating my belief that the Democratic Party pretty much owns the state, and that any candidate that could win the Republican nomination would be completely unacceptable to the electorate as a whole.

    My views are supported by a new Field Poll released last week.

    As it now stands, Jerry Brown has a pretty comfortable lead over Gavin Newsom, but either of these could defeat any one of the Republicans now running for the nomination. A real indicator of how far the Republican Party has slid in the state can be seen that all three Republican candidates are so little known that at least 59% of registered voters have no opinion. Both Democratic candidates would beat any of the three Republican candidates in the general election.

    From where we are today, it looks like California will have united Democratic government in Sacramento after the election.

    Governor Brown, anyone?

    AB 962 - Governor Signs the Bill.

    Anthroblogogy is reporting that Governor Schwarzenegger has signed AB 962, meaning that ammunition restrictions will go into effect in 2011.

    They also speculate that there may be a legal challenge to this bill under Federal preemption laws, but that remains to be seen. In any case California shooters are screwed.

    Thanks Sacramento!

    Sunday, October 11, 2009

    The Future Of Health Care - Coming to You Soon!

    The experiences of Massachusetts residents and their state's reformed health care system is a cautionary one for the rest of America. Read here about how "reform" might work for all of us in the future: fines for non-compliant plans, after the Guv'ment changes the rules.

    It's apparent that state health-care policies can change at the whim of politicians in Boston, and we might not be able to adjust to the new rules. The way we figure it, if we sign up for a state-subsidized plan we will be at the mercy of the state.

    This is exactly why so many people are suspicious of the Democratic proposals for health care "reform" currently making the rounds in Congress. And you better believe that it will be the middle class that takes it in the pocketbook to pay for the "reform". Politicians, like Willie Sutton, can be depended on to "go where the money is".

    Oh yes, this is change we can believe in!

    Cabelas Announcement Concerning AB 962

    For all of the attention Cabelas announcement that they will end mail and internet order ammunition sales in California if AB 962 becomes law, it has been hard to find the actual text. Here it is at this link.

    There have also been rumors that Cheaper Than Dirt will also suspend sales of ammunition to California purchasers, but I have been unable to find an official press release to that effect.

    I can say without any doubt that one effect of AB 962 will be to drive up the price of ammunition. I buy ammunition from Cabelas in bulk in order to save money. Once AB 962 becomes law, that source will be closed to me, and I will have to use brick and mortar gun shops. Besides that fact that in the Bay Area there are not a lot of places that sell ammunition (Wal Mart stores don't in San Jose), the overhead of operating a store drives up the cost.

    So, all one can do is stock up prior to the effective date, February 11, 2010, and then arrange to go out of state to get large supplies of ammunition. And does anyone think that criminals will not also get their ammunition smuggled in as well, or steal it from legal owners.

    Right, I thought so.

    Friday, October 9, 2009

    Health Care Reform - Experience of States Not Encouraging

    Albert Einstein once defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." There is a whiff of insanity surrounding the debate over health care reform. Many of the things proposed in various legislation have been tried before, notably in Washington, Tennessee, and Massachusetts.

    But I have not seen it laid out more logically than in this article on the The Atlantic website. After reading this article one could ask their Congressman some really hard questions. One telling point:

    Proponents of reform often say it has to be done at a national level because states can't borrow money in downturns, but this doesn't explain why the spending side is headed through the roof.
    Keep in mind that the United States can only borrow money in a downturn to the extent that the Chinese continue to buy our Treasury bonds. How long will that keep up if the spending for a black hole of an entitlement keeps sucking in more and more of the budget.

    And why is nobody in Washington D.C. discussing the still unfunded mandate for Medicare, which is still expected to be insolvent sometime around 2017!

    Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize for Doing Nothing

    Well, this is a hell of a surprise: President Barack Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize. This now removes all doubt in my mind that the Nobel Prize is a meaningless gesture.

    President Obama, for all of his sincere efforts, has not crafted a hugely successful foreign policy, and that is putting it charitably. Korea still defies the world with their nuclear weapons development, as does Iran. Afghanistan fighting threatens to spill over into Pakistan, with nuclear consequences as well. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians is more remote than ever.

    Oh, well. What can one expect from an organization that would award the prize to Al Gore?

    Thursday, October 8, 2009

    Wow! I'm a Racist! Who knew?

    This from Big Hollywood:

    Comedian Jeff Foxworthy made his name explaining how you could tell if you were a redneck. I trust you understand that fame and fortune such as he achieved aren’t my motivation. But merely as a public service, I thought I’d point out how to recognize if you’re a racist. For instance, if you think that Jesse Jackson is an extortionist; that Al Sharpton is a con man; that Louis Farrakhan, Jeremiah Wright and Van Jones are three of a kind; and that the Black Congressional Caucus, ACORN, the SEIU, the Black Panthers, Eric Holder and Barack Hussein Obama, present a clear and present danger to our Republic, you are what passes for a racist in 2009.
    I guess I must be a racist, because I especially agree with the sentiments expressed about Jackson and Sharpton. I do not think, however, that President Obama is a clear and present danger: he is just a President we will have to endure of one or two terms, before we get another guy we'll have to endure for one or two terms. I swear that after George W. Bush, this country can endure anything.

    Congress, however, is a clear and present danger to the nation. I hope Pelosi and pals get hammered in 2010.

    CCW in Santa Clara County

    I have written before that the CCW law in California is a joke, and that it would be more fair if the state did not issue CCW permits at all. As you can see here, at 170 permits in 2007, Santa Clara county is not the worst, but it is still pretty hard to get a CCW if you are a ordinary person.

    One group that can help is Team Billy Jack. While often not popular at in other CCW forums, his site make interesting reading. CCW permits are obtainable, but you have to be willing to go court if necessary. But this is often not necessary, especially when this team is assisting you. If I wanted to get a CCW in California, these guys would be my first stop.

    And if you read their occasional blog postings, you will find that Team Billy Jack is preparing some sort of action against the Santa Clara Sheriff's Department. This department has historically been an especially disorganized and corrupt. While nothing is certain yet, it is possible a lawsuit will result, in which case the legal drama should be well worth watching.

    Nancy Pelosi - The First Female President

    For the last 10 months, most people in this country have thought that we have been enjoying our first black President, Barack Obama. But that is not true. Given how little the President has accomplished, and how large a role in what has been accomplished the Speaker of the House of Representatives has played, we have really been experiencing our first female President.

    Real Clear Politics has this article today that lays it all out, and it is not pretty.

    And to think we were worried that this guy would actually do something, like ban guns!

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009

    AB 962: Sign or Veto - We'll Know By Sunday

    Governor Schwarzenegger has hundreds of bills on this desk for his signature or his veto, and he has signed only three, according to this article in SFGate.

    It turns out that, in another standoff with the legislature, the Governor is threatening a mass veto of hundreds of bills if he does not get his way in negotiations over the state's water system.

    While I would like AB 962, SB 585, and SB 41 to not become law, based on their lack of merit, I will take what I can get if they are swept up the the Governor's fit of pique.

    What do I think will happen? The parties in the water negotiations will reach a compromise agreement, and the Governor will sign all three bills. While Schwarzenegger is a member of the Republican Party, that is not the same as saying he is a conservative, which may be said of the Republican Party entirely.

    California hates guns, and would like to see them disappear. Get ready to fork over a thumb print for higher priced ammunition.

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009

    I'm Back.

    After a very busy summer in which I simply had no energy to think through additional posts, I have returned to this blog.

    And it seems that the world has changed. Before the tone of the blog was concentrated on gun rights, and these issues are still important, even as AB 962, SB 585, and SB 41 sit on Governor Schwarzenegger's desk for signature or veto.

    But it seems that I really should contribute to the biggest debate of the day: healthcare reform. I will do so in upcomming posts as it now seems that Congress has gotten off the dime and has bills ready for debate.

    I will also be keep posting on the progress of McDonald v. Chicago, now accepted for argument before the Supreme Court, as well as more local gun rights cases here in California.

    I hope those few of you who have been following my blog are still around, and that new readers will find my posts enlightening and informative.

    Sunday, June 7, 2009

    AB 962 - Passed by Assembly, Heads to Senate

    Well, people, we have one more chance to stop this thing. That's right, AB 962 has was approved by the Assembly this week by a vote of 42 to 31, and now goes to the Senate for a vote there. I am sorry to say that my Assembly Member, Jim Beall, voted in favor of this thing.

    So, to reiterate, AB 962 proposes regulations on the purchase of handgun ammunition. All sales of ammunition greater than 50 rounds must take place in a face-to-face transaction, and the amount of ammunition purchased, and the identity of the purchaser (thumbprint, name, address and telephone number, driver's license number, date of birth) must be recorded.

    This means that the purchase of ammunition through the internet will no longer be legal, and will probably stop.

    Do you buy ammunition through the internet? I know that I do, because it is usually cheaper than purchases at gun shops. There are also decreasing numbers of gun shops that I can purchase ammunition from in my area. This law will also undoubtedly make ammunition more expensive.

    Contact your state senator to log your opposition to this bill.

    Friday, June 5, 2009

    Amended Complaint Filed in Pena Case

    In Pena v. Cid, the case challenging the California DOJ Handgun Roster, the plaintiffs have filed an amended complaint. The new complaint may be read here.

    Thursday, June 4, 2009

    Chicago Gun Case - Petition To Appear Before SCOTUS

    Attorneys for the NRA and other plaintiffs in the case challenging the Chicago, Illinois gun ban have filed a petition to have their case heard before the Supreme Court of the United States. Everyone expects this petition to be granted as there is now a circuit court split in 2nd Amendment incorporation, and such splits can onlu be resolved by the Supreme Court.

    The petition may be read here, and comments on the status of the case are posted here.

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009

    Heller II - I'm Way Behind the Curve on This One

    I have added a sidebar section to list events related to the second Heller case, one taking on the new gun registration law that the District of Columbia enacted in the wake of the first Heller decision.

    Although first filed in July of 2008, I have listed an amended complaint because that is what is available on the lead attorney's web site. I will try to keep up with events as they happen.

    This case is important to California residents because much of the D.C. law is based on or similar to California firearms law. Should all or parts of the D.C. law be struck down, then that would indicate what might happen in future and current California cases.

    Update: Hanson v. District of Columbia

    This case has been consolidated with the Heller II case, and explained in the Calguns Foundation wiki. I am going to find out more about the Heller II case, and begin posting more information on that case as well.

    AB 962 - Passed Out of Assembly Appropriations Committee

    AB 962, a bill that would regulate handgun ammunition purchases in the state, and prohibit sales of handgun ammunition over the Internet, has passed an Assembly Appropriations Committee vote and advances to the Assembly floor.

    This bill would certainly accomplish two things. First, ammunition will become more expensive and vendors are forced to be licensed and keep additional records in the course of their business. Second, sales of ammunition over the Internet would be prohibited in California. The net effect will be to make ammunition more scarce for law abiding shooters, without doing much to deter crime.

    Now is the time to contact your Assembly member to urge their opposition to this bill. Find your state Assembly member as this web site, and voice your opposition.

    SB 585 - Bill To Ban Cow Palace Gun Shows Passes Out Senate Appropriations Commitee

    Senate Bill 585 has passed a vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee, and advances now to the Senate floor for a full vote. The time has not come for action by every citizen of California who supports gun rights: contact your state Senator to oppose this bill.

    You can find out how to contact your Senator here.

    Tuesday, June 2, 2009

    Decision in McDonald Case!

    As reported at the Volokh Conspiracy the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has reached a decision which affirms the City of Chicage handgun ban. We now officially have a split amongst the Circuit Courts on 2nd Amendment incorporation, which means that this issue is eventually heading back to the Supreme Court.

    It reamins to be seen if any motions will be made by the appellants in this case, or if they will appeal to the Supreme Court directly. Stay tuned - this one is not over yet.

    UPDATE: The opinion of the court can be found here.

    Wednesday, May 27, 2009

    Arguments in McDonald Case

    Some information is coming out via people who attended the arguments in McDonald v. Chicago. Both Volokh Conspiracy and Of Arms and the Law have posts. The 7th Circuit Court website has an MP3 file of the argument.

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009

    Reasonable Gun Control

    The phrase "reasonable gun control" is widely used by the anti-gun advocates in the media, but there is little agreement of what constitutes "reasonable" in the context of gun regulation. The two extreme positions, a total ban on guns, and complete freedom for anyone to own and carry anything, are usually rejected by most people. Some kind of regulation is needed, and in the wake of the Heller decision I think that compromise between gun control and gun rights advocates may be possible. What follows is my personal thoughts on what laws are needed for balance on this issue.

    Note that the following discussion is founded on the premise that California state law is the starting point, and the proposed changes are changes to state law: some of the provisions would not make sense to people not familiar with California law. Other proposed changes are already in effect in California, and these are ones that I think should apply nationally.

    Background Checks - Private Transfers as well.

    Yep, close the so-called gun show loophole. The fundamental basis of my compromise position is that we, as a society, should do all we reasonable can to prevent prohibited persons from obtaining firearms. While I know that determined criminals will get them anyway, I believe that
    we should not make it easier, and requiring background checks on all transfers is an easy way to start. We do background checks on private transfers in California, and the sky has not fallen.

    Training - even more than that required by the HSC.

    Before a person can buy a handgun in California they have to obtain a Handgun Safety Certificate (HSC). This is demonstration of knowledge of gun safety and firearms laws on a written, multiple-choice test. The test is ridiculously easy, and perhaps not as effective as it should be. I like the idea of training, and I think that even more training would be a good idea. Before buying my first handgun, I took the NRA Basic Pistol class. This was an eight hour session of classroom instruction on handguns, safety, and law, as well as a range session where instructors taught us how to shoot safely in an indoor target range. I found this to be a very helpful class for a new handgun owner, and it made my purchase a much more informed one as well. I would propose that attendance in a similar class would be required prior to purchasing ANY firearm.

    One Handgun Per Month

    I really do not understand the opposition to this proposal. Quality firearms, either new or used, are expensive, so I do not think that most people will buy more that one per month. Straw purchases are a problem, and this restriction is not too onerous if it can hep reduce them.

    CCW Permits

    The CCW permit system in California is a travesty. In this "may issue" state most jurisdictions where a person would need to carry a weapon, urban high-crime areas, won't issue, and in most areas where the authorities will issue, rural low-crime areas, there is much less need to carry a weapon. As a business owner in California, I understand the problem: exercising their discretion to issue a CCW permit makes the issuing authority liable for the acts of the CCW permit holder, so they refuse to issue. Many also refuse to issue because many Sheriffs and Police Chiefs don't want more armed people on the streets.

    I think that there are only two fair options: we need to either make California shall-issue, or make California no-issue. These are the only fair options. Currently, a VIP or a "friend of the Sheriff" can get a CCW permit, but ordinary citizens cannot. The CCW permit circus in Orange County shows how a new Sheriff can arbitrarily change department policy, and begin to revoke or deny renewal of permits. I have come to believe that we should go all one way, or all the other.

    Given the political makeup of the state in general, and the legislature in particular, I think that there is zero chance of a shall-issue system being put in place in any foreseeable future. Sure, AB 357 was recently proposed to make California "shall-issue", but this bill would have changed only a single word in the law: delete "may" and replace it with "shall". The "good cause" requirement was still there, which is antithetical to any real shall-issue system, and no objective criteria were defined by AB 357. AB 357 was a bad law, and it deserved to die in committee.

    DOJ Handgun Roster

    Some explanation of the Department of Justice Handgun Roster is in order for people reading this that are fortunate enough not to live in either California or the District of Columbia. Not evey handgun made is available for purchase in California. Manufacturers must submit their handgun to state-approved testing laboratories to ensure that the handguns meet California safety requirements. After acceptance, the manufacturer must pay a fee annually to maintain the listing of the handgun on the roster. If the manufacturer chooses not to maintain the listing, then the handgun can no longer be offered for sale by dealers. Unlisted handguns may still be transferred by private parties and brought into the state by their owners, however.

    The DOJ roster is in effect a partial handgun ban. Guns that do not meet the safety requirements are banned for sale. If the costs of listing a handgun become prohibitive, the no handguns would be available for sale in California. The maintenance of the listing is what makes this a gun ban. There are many safety laws on the books, and many products are tested to various standards, but the safety laws simply say that the products sold must meet certain requirements, a Underwriter Laboratories standard, for example, to be sold. But once it is tested to be safe, it does not become unsafe simply because it has been taken off some list. The coercive nature of the DOJ roster is further illustrated by the fact that in 2010 all new handguns must have the "safety feature" of micro-stamping the handgun serial number of spent casings. Guns that do not do this are "unsafe" and may not be sold.

    Repeal the whole stupid thing.

    Assault Weapon Ban

    The California Assault Weapon ban is the poster child for feel-good gun legislation. If the true intent of the 2nd Amendment is to be realized in the post-Heller United States, semi-automatic versions of military rifles would be the most protected firearms under the Constitution. Militia members reporting for duty with and AR-15 could be supplied with ammunition and magazines by the U.S. Army without any problems with the military logistics system.

    This is also a law that has pretty much no impact on crime. Most crimes are not committed with rifles because they are not easily concealable. And the law itself is confusing and arbitrary. It bans rifles with certain cosmetic features, but does not ban rifles, equally as capable, that lack those features. A Bushmater Carbon 15 M4AR-15 is illegal, but the Springfield Armory SOCOM II rifle is not.

    This law also bans large capacity magazines, defined as magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Ineffective and confusing, this is a bad law.

    Repeal it.

    Ammunition Registration

    There are no requirement to register ammunition purchases, yet, (See my posts on AB 962), proposals to do this have been raised before, implemented before, and repealed before. They used to exist at the Federal level, but were repealed when the BATFE testified before Congress that the requirements generated massive amounts of paper, that was of questionable value in fighting gun crime.

    What such laws would do is make it harder for law abiding citizens to get ammunition for lawful purposes, and make that ammunition more expensive, due to the record keeping requirements placed upon ammunition vendor. In short this type of law is another feel-good law that would have no real effect on violent crime.


    Well, these are my selections. I some cases I agree with the gun control advocates, and in others I disagree. I like the idea of training, which is the most effective way to increase firearm safety, not loading handguns with questionable features like loaded chamber indicators or magazine disconnects. Training will ensure that any gun can be handled safely by anyone. I also think that more can be done to prevent the flow of guns into the illegal arms market. But in general I think actions of individuals should be punished, not law abiding citizens as a class, to firearm bans are a no-go with me.

    Let the flames begin.

    Double Court Date - Gay Marraige and McDonald

    By coincidence today has two important events in the courts. First, the California State Supreme Court is going to hand down a decision on Prop. 8, the controversial initiative that amended the state constitution to ban gay marriage. While I support gay marriage, if there were no irregularities with the way the proposition was placed on the ballot, or other errors, I hope the court to reject the plaintiffs case. It is more important that the will of the voters are respected by the courts, than the wants of a special group. Even if this happens, I think gay marriage will be recognized at both the state and federal levels much sooner than many people think. When this decision is released, you can find more information here.

    Second, arguments are set to begin in the Chicago gun case, McDonald, et. al. v. Chicago, in which the Chicago gun ban comes under attack. I expect this case to either prevail, or be appealed to the Supreme Court, where it will prevail and incorporate the 2nd Amendment to all the states in the United States. It may take a few years, but I think this is going to happen as well. Any developments in this case will be posted here.

    Monday, May 25, 2009

    Nordyke v. King - Ninth Circuit Court Requests En Banc Review

    I first heard about this here.

    In what appears to be a very unusual development, a justice on the Ninth circuit itself has requested an en banc review of Nordyke v. King. What this means in terms of possible reversal of the 2nd Amendment incorporation decision I am not qualified to say, but there is some discussion on the Calguns posting above.

    Note that this is a request for a review. It must still be approved. If it is approved, it will eventually be posted on this Ninth Circuit web page.

    Sunday, May 24, 2009

    Guns in National Parks - California

    With all of the media coverage of this issue one would think that the bare facts of the legislation would have been published early and often. But as with other issues, the media usually does not include "facts" that might allow one to make their own decisions about the issues.

    The law allowing firearms in National Parks was passed as an amendment to H.R. 627 the Credit Card Act of 2009, and may be found in Section 512 of the law. The relevant section of the law is this:

      (b) Protecting the Right of Individuals To Bear arms in Units of the National Park System and the National Wildlife Refuge System- The Secretary of the Interior shall not promulgate or enforce any regulation that prohibits an individual from possessing a firearm including an assembled or functional firearm in any unit of the National Park System or the National Wildlife Refuge System if--
        (1) the individual is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing the firearm; and
        (2) the possession of the firearm is in compliance with the law of the State in which the unit of the National Park System or the National Wildlife Refuge System is located.

      How does this affect California visitors to National Parks? While I am not a lawyer, every gun owner should be knowledgeable about the gun laws in the state, which are complex. A very good resource for this is "How to Own a Gun & Stay Out of Jail" by John Machtinger, who is a lawyer. Every gun owner in California should own a copy of this book and read it thoroughly.

      My reading of the laws gives me this interpretation:

      Gun owners may now possess their firearms in National Parks. If you are traveling in your vehicle all firearms must be unloaded, and handguns must be stored in a locked container. You may have loaded firearms in your campsite, however, if you are a backpacker, carrying your handgun, whether loaded or unloaded, is a violation of the concealed weapon law, unless you have a California CCW license. Open carry of a handgun may or may not be legal depending, I think, on the county. Open carry of a rifle or shotgun may indeed be legal, but since hunting in a National Park is not allowed, perhaps not. I do not know of a good resource for open carry in California, and would welcome a resource.

      I think that more interpretation of California law will have to be made, and rules published to make this issue clear. At the current time the only things I will attempt with my firearms are traveling through a National Park (Highway 120 anyone?) and camping in a site reachable by motor vehicle.

      In any case, do not try this until the law comes into effect, which in Section 3 is "9 months after the date of enactment of this Act, except as otherwise specifically provided in this Act".

      Saturday, May 9, 2009

      Armed Self Defense - Yes It Happens

      When anti-gun folks ask for an example of a gun being used in self defense, one in which it was not taken away from the defender and used against them, one in which lives were saved, then point them to this link.

      This story has already made the rounds on the blogs, but I wanted to post it here because it is so clearly an illustration that guns in citizens hand do save lives, and that when you are confronted with violence, calling the police may not help, so you must be prepared to meet that violence with a violent response.

      Pretty stark choice, but the animals in this home invasion were pretty clearly going to kill everybody in the house: "He said he had enough". But not before having a bit of fun with the women.

      So, to all you rabid anti-gun people out there, and to all you rabid pro-gun people out there, it is not a black and white issue, but a complex one with many shades of gray. One story in which guns were used for evil, and in which guns were used for good.

      Friday, May 8, 2009

      Gun Facts - An Amazing Resource

      I have been studying guns rights issues for about a year now, and I am astonished with myself that I have not come across this e-book before now: "Gun Facts", written by Guy Smith, is available at the Gun Facts website.

      If you want a quick reference of facts refuting common gun control myths, this book is a great resource. It has extensive footnotes to allow one to trace back the facts cited in their original context. There have been many times when writing a blog article that I remembered a good quote of fact, but could not cite a source. Gun Facts will help remedy this problem, and arm gun rights advocates with knowledge.

      Give it a read, and I guarantee you will learn something you did not know before.

      AB 962 - Not a New Idea

      AB 962, the handgun ammunition licensing and control bill now in the Assembly Appropriations Committee is not a new idea: this has been tried before at a variety of governmental levels.

      It actually used to be Federal law to record handgun ammunition purchases. The Firearms Owners Protection Act, Appendix I, established that requirement, but it was later repealed in 1986 when the BATF testified before Congress that the law was useless for fighting crime.

      The city of Pasadena, California, passed an ordinance in February, 1995, requiring handgun ammunition purchases be recorded by ammunition vendors to much praise and acclaim. But this law too was quietly repealed on August 18, 1997, after massive amounts of paper records were generated without any use to police.

      California handgun owners shoot millions of rounds of handgun ammunition every year. Go into any indoor shooting range on any given day, and it is not unusual to see a couple thousand spent cartridge cases littering the floor. AB 962 would require recording of every handgun ammunition purchase, generate mountains of paper, 99.99% of which will be useless because most will be purchased by legal shooters, and expended by the person that bought the ammunition.

      Besides, does any one think that criminals will not find a way to get ammunition if they really want it? Guns and ammunition are already illegal for felons to possess, and guns cannot be sold to felons, but they find ways of getting them. They will find ways to get ammunition as well.

      I can only see two reasons why people would think this bill is a good idea: first, they think that criminals would be cut off from ammunition if this bill passes, and, second, they think that placing one more hoop for legal gun owners to jump through, with the intent of eradicating gun ownership by sheer exhaustion, is a good idea.

      Neither of these make AB 962 a good law.

      AB 962 - Referred to Appropriations Suspense File

      AB 962, the handgun ammunition licensing and control bill, has been heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, and has been referred to the suspense file. It thus joins a growing batch of bills whose fate will be voted upon at a future session.

      The current status of the bill:


      MEASURE : A.B. No. 962
      AUTHOR(S) : De Leon (Coauthor: Bonnie Lowenthal).
      TOPIC : Ammunition.

      TYPE OF BILL :
      Majority Vote Required
      State-Mandated Local Program
      Non-Tax Levy

      LAST HIST. ACT. DATE: 05/06/2009
      LAST HIST. ACTION : In committee: Set, first hearing. Referred to APPR.
      suspense file.

      TITLE : An act to amend Sections 11106 and 12316 of, to add
      Sections 12317 and 12318 to, to add Article 3.5
      (commencing with Section 12060) to Chapter 1 of, to add
      a heading for Chapter 2.6 (commencing with Section
      12316) to, and to repeal the heading of Chapter 2.6
      (commencing with Section 12320) of, Title 2 of Part 4 of
      the Penal Code, relating to ammunition.

      Tuesday, May 5, 2009

      Court Challenge to California CCW Law

      Alan Gura, lead attorney of last year's landmark Heller case, has been very busy in California. Today he filed a lawsuit (Sykes et al., v. McGuiness et al.) challenging the California CCW law, specifically the "good moral character" and the "good cause" provisions of California PC 12050:

      3. Declaratory relief that the “good moral character” and “good cause” provisions of
      California Penal Code § 12050 are unconstitutional either on their face and/or as applied to bar applicants who are otherwise legally qualified to possess firearms and who assert self-defense as their “good cause” for seeking a handgun carry permit;
      Whatever else one might say about Mr. Gura, he does not lack for courage. I do not know what chances there are for this law to be declared unconstitutional, but these two cases in California will be fascinating to watch over the comming months.

      I am including a special link list on my sidebar to track events in this case.

      AB 962 - Appropriations Committee Hearing May 6, 2009

      The Assembly Appropriations Committee is scheduled to have a hearing on the merits of AB 962, a bill introducing sweeping new regulations on the sale of handgun ammunition. Most importantly it would require all sales to be made in face-to-face transactions, and that records be kept including the identity of the purchaser, the amount of ammunition purchased, and type of ammunition purchased.

      Private transfers of ammunition in amount greater than 50 rounds would be prohibited by all by licensed ammunition vendors.

      The hearing is scheduled for May 6, 2009. It is now time to contact the members of the Assembly Appropriations Committee to lodge opposition to this bill. The following lists the members of the committee.
      De León (Chair) (D-45), 
      Nielsen (Vice Chair) (R-2),
      Ammiano (D-13) ,
      Calderon (D-58),
      Davis (D-48),
      Duvall (R-72),
      Fuentes (D-39),
      Hall (D-52),
      Harkey (R-73),
      Miller (R-71),
      J. Pérez (D-46),
      Price (D-51),
      Skinner (D-14),
      Solorio (D-69),
      Strickland (R-37),
      Torlakson (D-11)

      This bill is of course intended to keep ammunition out of the hands of criminals, but it remains to be proved that the new purchase restrictions would actually have that effect. Felons are already prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition, but they have then anyway. This bill simply makes something that is illegal even more illegal, while mostly impacting law-abiding gun owners. Criminals already have trade networks in place for importation and sale of illegal goods (drugs, guns), and would have no problems adding ammunition to the mix.

      Ammunition purchases over the internet would be prohibited. The increased regulations and required record keeping will increase the price of ammunition. Some ammunition vendors may stop selling ammunition. Many chain stores that sell ammunition in other states, notably Wall-Mart, do not sell ammunition in Santa Clara County, and others that do, like Big 5 Sporting Goods, may stop as a result.

      I think we should demand that lawmakers present a viable proof that this bill would impact violent crime, and if they cannot, then it should be voted down.

      Lovelle Mixon - Not a Hero, nor a Martyr

      I the wake of the killing of four Oakland officers by Lovelle Mixon, there was the usual bleating about police brutality and excess, simultaneous vilification of the Oakland PD while mourning the saintly Mixon.

      It seems to be the standard narrative in the Back community: police are always bad, quick to beat down strong black men, to keep them in their place. Of course the faults of the victims must never be mentioned. You can watch a memorial march in Oakland honoring Lovelle Mixon here.

      It is shocking to me to hear these people characterize Mixon as a "hero" and a "soldier". It is also a load of crap. I knew on they day he was killed, and now, everyone can know it as well.

      This article at describes some results of the continuing investigation of the entire incident. It turns out that Mixon was a rapist. He had raped two women at gunpoint earlier that same day. He is also be investigated for raping as many as five other women in East Oakland, and for a home invasion robbery.

      As quoted in the article:

      "It doesn't change what happened," he said. "All it says is, to his supporters - this is who you're supporting. Congratulations for supporting a monster."
      A monster indeed, not a hero, nor a martyr.

      SB 776 - Large Capacity Magazine Registration

      In the wake of Lovelle Mixon shooting four Oakland police officers to death, gun control advocates were faced with the following conundrum: current gun laws in California are some of the strictest in the nation, but they obviously failed to keep Mixon from obtaining firearms. What to do? How to make something even more illegal than it is already?

      Senator Loni Hancock thinks she has found a way: registration of large capacity magazines. All magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition will have to be registered with the state.
      Large capacity magazines are not illegal to possess, provided you obtained them prior to January 1, 2000, but they cannot be imported into California. This bill changes that and makes possession of unregistered magazines a crime.

      Why this bill makes no sense: possession of the rifle Mixon used to kill the Oakland officers was also illegal. Not only are felons not allowed to have any handgun, ammunition, or magazines (of any capacity), assault weapons are banned in California.

      But Mixon had one anyway.

      But if we ban possession of large capacity magazines, this will somehow prevent guys like Mixon from getting them, protecting our officers.

      Great plan Senator Hancock?

      Monday, May 4, 2009

      California Assembly - What is the "suspense file"?

      This post has been one of the most read of any in my blog, so I have updated it for my readers.

      Update --- May, 2013

      With all of the anti-gun bills wending their way through the legislature, many people winder what the status "placed in suspense file" meant. I did a little searching and found this from the rules of the California State Senate:

      Suspense File

      The committee, by a majority of the members present and voting, shall refer to the Suspense File all bills that would have a fiscal impact in any single fiscal year from the General Fund or from private funds of $50,000 or more.  Bills that establish a pilot project or program shall be referred to the Suspense File if the statewide implementation of the project or program would result in a fiscal impact of $50,000 or more in any single fiscal year from the General Fund or private funds.
       The committee, by a majority of the members present and voting, shall refer to the Suspense File all bills that would have a fiscal impact in any single fiscal year from any account(s) or fund(s) of $150,000 or more.  Bills that establish a pilot project or program shall be referred to the Suspense File if the statewide implementation of the project or program would result in a fiscal impact of $150,000 or more in any single fiscal year from any account(s) or fund(s).
       For purposes of the above paragraphs, “fiscal impact” shall include cost increases, cost pressures, revenue decreases, increases in appropriations subject to limitation that are restricted in their use and result from increases in tax proceeds, and reductions in the State’s appropriations limit.
       This provision shall not apply to deficiency or supplemental appropriations bills authored by the chair of the Senate or the Assembly Budget Committee or claims or judgments and settlements bills authored by the chair of the Senate or the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
      Upon two days’ notice in the Senate File, the chair may place before the committee a bill on the Suspense File.
      A bill placed on the Suspense File may only be moved to Second Reading by an action of the committee.

      The California State Assembly also has a suspense file, for which the rules in the Appropriations Committee are similar:


      All bills with a fiscal impact in any fiscal year of $150,000 or more will, by a majority of members present and voting, a quorum being present, move to the Suspense File. "Fiscal impact" includes all fund sources.
      Authors should present all witnesses and testimony at the time of the bill’s first hearing, even if the bill’s provisions indicate a likely referral to Suspense. Authors may waive their right to presentation.
      Suspense bills will be heard at a hearing that normally follows passage of the budget bill. When the bills are placed on the committee’s agenda as "From Suspense File – For Vote Only," no testimony will be taken and the authors need not be present.

      In each house the suspense file as a collection of bills that would cost the state more than $50,000 from the General Fund, or $150,000 from any source. At a future meeting of the Appropriation Committee, all bills in the suspense file are then voted on by the committee member one after another, quickly going through the possibly hundreds of bills in the file.  typically, the suspense file is revisited after the budget is passed, so the Senate can know which funds are available to implement new programs.

      So the status "suspense file" is real, and it does not mean that the bill is suspended or dead.

      Saturday, May 2, 2009

      AB 585 - What is the bill status?

      Below is the status of SB 585, the bill that would ban firearm sales at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, probably ending gun shows at that venue:


      MEASURE : S.B. No. 585
      AUTHOR(S) : Leno.
      TOPIC : Agricultural District 1-A: firearm sales at
      the Cow Palace.

      TYPE OF BILL :
      Majority Vote Required
      State-Mandated Local Program
      Non-Tax Levy

      LAST HIST. ACT. DATE: 04/27/2009
      LAST HIST. ACTION : Placed on APPR suspense file.

      TITLE : An act to add Section 4132 to the Food and
      Agricultural Code, relating to Agricultural District

      Let direct your attention to the phrase "Placed on APPR suspense file." and ask a question: what is a suspense file? Is that possibly a typographical error, really meant to be "suspend file". Can anyone share with us the status of this bill?

      Side Note: I am going to the Crossroads of the West gun show at the Cow Palace today. It might be one of the last chances to go to a gun show in the Bay Area.

      Behind the Times - D.C. Handgun Lawsuit

      When I created this site I made a conscious decision to focus on issues that effect California, letting other bloggers comment on events in their own states. That is why you will not see me write about gun control legislation proposed in Albany, New York. When the Second Amendment Foundation filed a lawsuit challenging the new D.C. handgun law, I thought that would be a local matter, and declined to pay any attention about it.

      I was wrong to do so.

      I have learned that D.C. has adopted, as part of their handgun regulation, California's Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale. The Second Amendment Foundation, correctly in my view, see the Roster as a handgun ban scheme, and sued, using the recent Heller decision as legal basis for the suit.

      Since the Roster is the heart of the D.C. handgun law, if it is struck down as unconstitutional in that case, that ruling will have an effect on the California case, because both cases have been brought before courts where the 2nd Amendment is recognized as an individual right.

      I have created special areas on my side-bar where I will post links to case documents for both cases.