Archive for August, 2006

August 31, 2006

Flight bleg

What’s the cheapest place to get airline tickets? Trying to get to the Gun Blogger Rendezvous for as little as possible.

Like you and me, only better

Constitutional rights are apparently tricky and complex, if the defendent is a police officer. A while back, I noted a case where some Illinois police officers were charged with illegal possession of machine guns. Here’s the latest:

Charges that an Illinois State Police sergeant illegally possessed a machine gun were dismissed Wednesday by a federal judge, who ruled that the law was “unconstitutionally vague” as applied to him.

In federal court in East St. Louis, U.S. District Judge David R. Herndon dropped the charges against Sgt. James V. Vest of O’Fallon, Ill., who was lead rifle instructor for the department’s District 11 in the Metro East area. Herndon’s 26-page order says the confusion is over the federal law’s exception for police officers, and whether Vest could reasonably be expected to know whether he was breaking the law.

Vest was one of four people, including two other Illinois state troopers, separately accused in January of illegally possessing machine guns. Such fully automatic weapons are banned by federal law except for certain uses, such as by the military and police agencies, or by people with a special license, which the four did not have.

But if this were a civilian, there’d be nothing vague. You’d be in jail for ten years and pay a $250K fine. More:

The case against Vest concerned an M-4 machine gun, essentially a short-barrel form of the standard M-16 military weapon, that he bought in 1998 and used in his state police training classes. The charges allege that he lacked authority from the state to buy or possess the weapon.

Vest argued that he bought and used it under the “law enforcement exception” in the federal law. Some police agencies have machine guns in their arsenals, particularly for their tactical teams.

Herndon noted that the prosecution never claimed that Vest ever used the M-4 for anything but official purposes. The judge said the government argued that a law enforcement agency, not a single police officer, has the authority to permit possession of a machine gun.

But Herndon wrote that the federal law granting that authority was too vague in this instance to support the charges against Vest.

“How would a police officer/lead rifle instructor such as Vest ever know whether his possession of a machine gun or other prohibited weapon was legal, as there is no guidance under the (statute) as to what constitutes proper authority,” the judge wrote. “It does not appear that this statute was designed to criminalize police officers even if they may be guilty of mere technical violations.”

Given that Vest apparently used it only for law enforcement purposes, Herndon said, charging him “seems to go against the purpose” of the federal law.

The law is not vague. There is a legal and lawful manner for police agencies to obtain NFA weapons. And they’re tax exempt.

Some animals are more equal than others.

Update: At subguns, they have more:

Vest, a firearms instructor and former State Police Tactical Response Team or SWAT team leader, is accused of violating a federal law regulating automatic weapons. An indictment states Vest improperly ordered the M-16 in 1998 from a California supplier and then failed to register it with federal authorities. A prosecutor has said Vest used a fake state police letterhead to order the weapon that he paid for with his own money.

So, he forged documents to obtain his illegal weapon. That he bought with his own money.

More Bloomberg bits

KABA:

Statement from Mayor Bloomberg On Guilty Plea by Michael Spallone of Woodhaven Rifle and Pistol Range

“Strict enforcement of our local gun laws is critical in the fight against illegal guns. After undercover investigations revealed violations in sales practices at Woodhaven Rifle and Pistol Range, Inc., the gun dealer, Michael Spallone, today pled guilty to disorderly conduct and as a result will pay $1,000 in fines and restitution. In addition, his dealer’s license remains revoked by the NYPD. His guilty plea sends a strong message: any violation of the law that allows illegal guns to flow onto our streets will be vigorously pursued. If you break the law, you will pay the price. I thank Queens District Attorney Richard Brown … for recognizing that rigid enforcement of gun laws can help prevent the tragic consequences of gun violence.”
——-

KABA Note: This is the gun dealer who initially refused to sell to Mayor Mike’s sting squad. They came back the next day with proper paperwork, but with a serial number transposed, and badgered him to make the sale, which he did, after checking with the Suffolk County Police who said it was okay. See the story here.

NICS Improvement Act of 2005″ (H.R. 1415) – Update

See past coverage here. Gun Owners of America doesn’t like it:

A Second Amendment group is warning gun owners that a “massive gun control bill” is now working its way through Congress — and is surprisingly close to becoming law.

Gun Owners of America also admits that it is the only national pro-gun group to oppose the “NICS Improvement Act of 2005” (H.R. 1415).

Introduced by gun control advocate Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, H.R. 1415 is intended to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which screens would-be gun buyers for mental problems or criminal convictions that would bar them from buying guns.

Most background checks are processed through NICS in seconds, but some are delayed if the FBI lacks complete, updated, and automated information from the states.

The bill notes that approximately 24 million criminal records are not automated or not accessible to NICS; and another 16 million criminal records are not up to date. Some lack information on whether an arrested person was convicted or acquitted, for example.

Many states have failed to computerize the necessary information and make it available to NICS in a “usable format,” and that’s what the McCarthy bill would address.

But Gun Owners of America warns that the bill would give the states hundreds of millions of dollars to “further prop up the unconstitutional Brady Law.” GOA argues that the federal government lacks the authority to conduct background checks on gun buyers under the Second and Tenth Amendments.

Unbelievable

Seen at David Hardy’s, UN report proclaims self-defense is not a right:

“20. Self-defence is a widely recognized, yet legally proscribed, exception to the universal duty to respect the right to life of others. Self-defence is a basis for exemption from criminal responsibility that can be raised by any State agent or non-State actor. Self-defence is sometimes designated as a “right”. There is inadequate legal support for such an interpretation. Self-defence is more properly characterized as a means of protecting the right to life and, as such, a basis for avoiding responsibility for violating the rights of another.

There’s more. Seems to me that protecting the right to life would be, err, a right.

Alphecca

Jeff wanted me to let you folks know that:

Could you let folks know (perhaps a quick post) that Hosting Matters moved Alphecca.com to a new server last night and totally fucked everything up. Files, index pages, archive folders, etc have disappeared. Hopefully they’re working on restoring it but in the meantime, all that comes up is a blank page.

Update: He’s back.

Girly weapons

Can I get that AK in paisley?

Send another secret senator to the senate

If I understand all this correctly, a senator (apparently Ted Stevens, who we by now all know is a total douche) can stop legislation all by his own self by placing a mysterious voodoo known as a secret hold on said piece of legislation.

I’m not up to date on all the hooey that governs senate rules but here’s an idea: Get off our asses and elect one Libertarian senator to the senate. Have him place secret holds on all legislation. We’ll call him Mr. No. He’ll put holds on everything. Stop passing stupid laws. Stop growing the government at a rate that is faster than the economy. Stop the growth of the bureaucracy.

Maybe those free-staters can get on that.

Only the rights I want

I’ve opined in the past that denying felons the right to vote or the right to arms opens up a whole can of worms. We’ll call it can of worms because if I call it slippery slope, someone will say that’s a fallacy. Then I’ll tell them to leave their high school debate team bullshit back in high school (see rule #4). The reason it’s a can of worms is because if we accept that we can deny felons those rights, why not limit others? After all, we may not want them assembling peaceably, because that could be gang activity. We may not want them to be free from self-incrimination because, well, they’ve obviously done something wrong before. We may want them to convert to Christianity because those who find religion are more likely to reform. Yes, those are ridiculous extremes and that is the point. Where do we as a society draw the line?

This brings up Sean Braisted who writes:

I have trouble comprehending people who think just because a person doesn’t have legal status in this country, they should have no legal rights whatsoever. If that were the case, than the Government could easily just strip legal immigrants/citizens of their citizenship, thus making the Government unaccountable to the laws. This notion that illegal immigrants are somehow less than human, and shouldn’t receive medical treatment or have any basic human rights, is just ludicrous.

I like Sean’s blog. He’s a smart guy and reasonable. But I asked a simple question:

So, should illegal immigrants have the right to keep and bear arms? The right to vote?

Illegal immigrants cannot legally own a firearm (of course, they cannot legally be in the country either). In response to the first question, he answered:

As for Guns, unless they are members of a well regulated militia…well…you know the liberal position

Yes, and that position is total bullshit that is unsupported by any documents around at the time of the founding. And there is nothing to support the position without either making stuff up or disregarding the structure of the English language. So, for question two:

As for the right to vote, it is specifically limited to citizens of the United States.

Most matters regarding voting are left up to the states. The constitution doesn’t enumerate a right to vote specifically but mentions the right to vote. Determining those who can vote is generally up to the states:

The Constitution contains many phrases, clauses, and amendments detailing ways people cannot be denied the right to vote. You cannot deny the right to vote because of race or sex. Citizens of Washington DC can vote for President; 18-year-olds can vote; you can vote even if you fail to pay a poll tax. The Constitution also requires that anyone who can vote for the “most numerous branch” of their state legislature can vote for House members and Senate members. Note that in all of this, though, the Constitution never explicitly ensures the right to vote, as it does the right to speech, for example. This is precisely why so many amendments have been needed over time – the qualifications for voters are left to the states. And as long as the qualifications do not conflict with anything in the Constitution, that right can be withheld.

The amendments that do refer to the right to vote contain the phrase The right of citizens of the United States to vote . So, you know, he may have a legitimate out on that one.

Since Mr. Braisted believes in the fictitious collective right model of the second amendment (which says there’s no right at all and that the amendment doesn’t mean what it says) and thinks that the constitution grants the right to vote only to citizens, he’s avoided the question. Mind you, he thinks there is a right to health care and there is a right to being innocent until proven guilty, neither of which I can find guaranteed in my copy of the constitution. I’m not going to take his word for it since he ignores rights specifically enumerated. Getting Mr. Braisted to answer the question is like pulling teeth. Do we acknowledge that illegal immigrants can be denied rights or not? Or do we pick and choose which rights are restricted? Do we, for example, strip them of 5th amendment protections (though Mr. Braisted may or may not think that amendment means what it says it means) and deport them without due process of law?

Conversely, what if a State gave illegal immigrants the vote?

So, let’s try again. Mr. Braisted will not answer the question directly, so, dear reader, what are your thoughts?

Update: Publicola weighs in:

Most people reason that the enumeration of certain rights in the constitution are for the benefit of the citizens of this country. If you’re not a citizen or if you happen to be outside the country then the governmental gloves are off.

My take on things is that this is wrong. The constitution is a document which was designed to limit government as it was created, not grant protection from the almost almighty government to certain classes.

So does J0e:

… my position has long been that if someone has proved themselves so dangerous to society they can’t be trusted with possession of a gun then they can’t be trusted with a can of gasoline and a book of matches either.

Gun control works

Or so they say:

In inner Sydney, robberies with a firearm increased by 111 per cent over the last two years

Good thing he didn’t use a gun

Indeed:

This being San Francisco, and CNN being CNN, what did the link to the story at the CNN.com site say? That’s right: *SUV hits 14 people in 20-minute rampage, 1 dead.

Lawsuit awards not income

Ben says:

Last week, a federal appeals court ruled that certain types of court awards are NOT income…..so what? Well, the implications could be far reaching. The IRS has, like all bureaucracies with broad powers, assumed that they are pretty much in charge of determining what is “income.” The IRS has always pretty much taken the stance that if it shows up in your bank account, they get a piece of it. The court said, in effect, back off.

Specifically:

Murphy argued that just as compensation for physical injuries only makes one whole after a loss, the same is true of awards for emotional distress. In short, it is not income within the meaning of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution. The appeals court agreed, ruling that Murphy’s award for emotional distress is not income and therefore not taxable.

August 30, 2006

Are you a bad person?

I’m not sure what defines “bad” in this brave new world we live in, but the question has importance to me. Do you consider yourself a good person or a bad person?

Don’t answer yet! Otherwise I may have to hurt you.

I was reading an article about concealed carry in South Carolina and one line jumped out and it bothered me.

Over the past 10 years, South Carolina has become a much safer place to live, work and raise a family. Since the General Assembly wisely chose to allow good citizens to carry guns for self-defense, the violent crime rate has sharply declined. And although the mainstream news media largely avoid reporting such facts, the truth is more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens equals less crime.

So are you “good”. Because if you are not. I may just be coming for you. The state government of South Carolina has implied that you cannot protect yourself effectively, or not at all, and that is good for “bad” people.

When the state decides who is good and bad then we are all categorized cattle.

Even “bad” people have the right to protect themselves from others. No matter what the state says

Quote of the day

Seen at Subguns.com:

Q: What rights do you give up with a transferable?

A: Right to tell the wife she buys to much jewelry

For those not in the know, a transferable is a pre-86 machine gun. They are seriously overpriced. For example, this pre-86 M16A1 is listed at $13,750. The military buys new ones for about $700.

Another gun blog carnival

The Second Amendment Carnival. via Mr. C.

More than microstamping

David Hardy:

The bill to microstamp guns has apparently had an amendment added that would require serial numbers on bullets.

Happy Birthday To Me err this blog

Today, this blog is four years old. I’ve enjoyed it. Hope you have. It’s also that time of year where I look at the numbers (I’m an accountant, it’s what I do). Here’s some:

  • Roughly 1,861,000 page views (based on sitemeter, I stopped looking at my internal stat packages months ago but those numbers used to run about 30% higher).
  • Roughly 1,084,000 visits
  • 420,265 spam comments stopped since last year alone.
  • Average of 2,451 page views per day.
  • Average of 1,205 visits per day.
  • 9,309 posts (8,864 are written by me)
  • 27,729 comments
  • 1,285,296 words in all posts
  • 1,768,097 words in comments
  • One opinion piece published in a newspaper.
  • Five different blog software packages.
  • 13 mentions in dead-tree media (that I know of).
  • Cost of blogging $739.85 so far
  • Money made from blogging roughly $3,179.
  • Hacked once.
  • Number of times visited by Federal authorities for internet activity directly related to this blog: once
  • Inbound links from Technorati: 3,245 links from 413 blogs
  • Inbound links from The Truth Laid Bear: 380 blogs.
  • Number of blogs I write for: 6
  • Number of blogs I own: 4
  • Number of authors at SayUncle: 9
  • 24 Categories broken down like this:

    * Blog Matters (1146)
    * Building an AK (10)
    * Civil Liberties (604)
    * Current Events (930)
    * Death Match (4)
    * Eminent Domain (201)
    * Guns (3485)
    * Humor (614)
    * Incumbent Protection Act (5)
    * Knoxville Politics (91)
    * Leviathan (216)
    * Media Watch (690)
    * Notes to Junior (137)
    * Notes to Self (277)
    * Pets (356)
    * Politics (685)
    * Pop Culture (220)
    * Race Relations (81)
    * Recipes (35)
    * Science and Technology (91)
    * Taxes (133)
    * Tennessee News & Politics (842)
    * The Issues (177)
    * Video (5)

  • 37.4% of posts are gun-related.
  • Crashing the party

    Pro Gun Progressive crashes a Brady press conference:

    What struck me most–there was nobody there. Nobody. The NRA person, the Washington Post reporter covering it, and myself were the only non-Brady staffers there. No ABC. No CBS. No NBC. No local affiliates…nobody. Was a time ten years ago when every time Sarah Brady spoke, the cameras lined the room and somebody like me wouldn’t have been able to get a word in edgewise. There weren’t scads of local reporters, Rosapepe volunteers and campaign workers, etc. Just me, the NRA, the Post, Sarah Brady and her assistants, Casey Anderson, and Jim Rosapepe. An unlikely lot, no?

    Heh. And, by the way, the enemy is correct:

    Peter Hamm [the Brady Campaign’s Communications Director – Ed.] agreed with me that the worst thing the gun rights movement can do is allow the stereotype that gun owners and gun rights activists are exclusively rural redneck types with beards and beer bellies chasing deer around the woods with AK47s. You know and I know that’s a silly stereotype, but unfortunately it exists, and he made no bones about the fact that the perpetuation of that stereotype only helps their cause. Newsflash for those High Road, FiringLine, etc. type gun rights communities—if you doubt me when I say the worst thing the gun rights community can do is continue to divide ourselves, bicker, infight, and discriminate against the non-Republican members of the movement, you heard it here straight from the Brady Campaign horse’s mouth. The fact of the matter is simple—they agree that nothing works against the gun rights movement more, and helps them do their job better, than the continuation of the idea that gun rights is exclusively a right wing philosophical domain. The more you disagree with me on this front, the more you’re helping the Brady Campaign. It’s that simple.

    Indeed. I hate when I see the pro-gun boards bashing the Pink Pistols or other pro-gun groups because they disagree with them on other things. You should accept that any pr0-gun demographic is good for you to hold on to. Do not run them off.

    Update: Here’s the presser, that leaves off some details

    9mm performance with barrel length

    Seen at arfcom, a chart that shows how 9mm AR-15 velocity in feet per second changes by barrel length (thanks to Randall Rausch at www.ar15barrels.com):

    Blow against free speech

    Seen at No Silence Here:

    Federal election regulators refused to ease limits on political advertising Tuesday, blocking an effort to let interest groups run radio and television ads mentioning elected officials within weeks of an election.

    The Federal Election Commission voted 3-3 on a proposal that would have allowed such ads as long as they addressed public policy issues and did not promote, support, oppose or attack a sitting member of Congress. Supporters of the change said they wanted to strike a balance between campaign ad restrictions and constitutional free speech guarantees.

    The measure failed on a tie vote with the commission’s three Democrats voting against the proposal and the three Republicans backing it.

    With 70 days left before this year’s general election, the change could have let loose a wave of unrestricted ad spending in the weeks leading up to Election Day. The vote lets stand a provision in the 2002 campaign finance law that requires independent groups to limit the contributions and to disclose the donors of money used to pay for ads that run within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election.

    There’s always a but

    I hate articles like this:

    I like guns. I come from a gun family. I am a 2nd Amendment, pro-gun liberal—which makes me a very lonely creature when the subject comes up in casual conversation around the office. And part of the pleasure of any Michael Mann movie is identifying what the fashionable young man is killing people with this season. Sometimes it’s easy. In “Collateral,” Tom Cruise’s primary weapon is a .45-caliber Heckler & Koch USP fed with 12-round clips. This is a terrific lightweight automatic, and Cruise—as a testament to what must have been weeks of trigger time—handles it like a pro. The HK USP is versatile. Winter, summer, whenever. You can dress it down with a pair of loafers, or dress it up with a jacket and tie for a rampage out on the town.

    The drug cartel guys deploy a variety of very fun assault rifles. Their big gun—and the most overtly political weapon in the film—appears to be a Barrett .50-caliber M107 semiautomatic rifle, a 32-pound, 5-foot-long military sniper rifle that was banned in California starting last year, for the altogether sensible reason that it can bring down airliners

    All this in a movie review? First, it’s not a clip. And it is as likely for a .50Cal to take a plane out of the sky as it is a 300 WinMag, 338 Lapua or, even, a 30-06. Which is to say that it hasn’t happened yet and likely won’t.

    Gun Collections

    Denise talks about how to collect guns.

    August 29, 2006

    It’s a trap

    Heh.

    This just in: Youth can identify propaganda

    USA Today:

    A $1.4 billion anti-drug advertising campaign conducted by the U.S. government since 1998 does not appear to have helped reduce drug use and instead might have convinced some youths that taking illegal drugs is normal, the Government Accountability Office says.

    The GAO report, released Friday, urges Congress to stop the White House’s National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign unless drug czar John Walters can come up with a better strategy. President Bush’s budget for 2007 asks Congress for $120 million for the campaign, a $20 million increase from this year.

    What was the response:

    Walters’ office disputed the study and noted that drug-use rates among youths have declined since 1998. A 2005 survey by the University of Michigan indicated that 30% of 10th-graders reported having used an illicit drug the previous year, down from 35% in 1998.

    The GAO report is “irrelevant to us,” says Tom Riley, spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). “It’s based on ads from 2½ years ago, and they were effective, too. Drug use has been going down dramatically. Cutting the program now would imperil (its) progress.”

    Got that, folks? A government mandated measure of efficiency is irrelevant to them. Criticism and concern about how your dollars are wasted are irrelevant.

    Via commentator D.

    Gun Porn

    Publicola gets a witness.

    Nifty

    I do not encourage its use, but this the remote sniper is damn cool:

    The Remote Sniper. Hah, forget about those pathetic TV-B-Gone things, mad person, and build yourself a Godzilla version which can control a TV or VCR from a quarter of a mile away. Tshaw…take that, sad Idol fans. $30.00 for the plans.

    Bloomberg Bits

    The SAF:

    The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) is calling on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to prosecute New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for obstruction of justice, for failing to turn over evidence of allegedly illegal firearms transactions to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

    In his letter to Gonzales, SAF founder Alan Gottlieb noted reports in a New York newspaper that Mayor Bloomberg has been stonewalling the information his maverick investigation allegedly uncovered during a sting operation earlier this year. That so- called “investigation” was highly criticized by law enforcement when it was first announced more than three months ago.

    “Bloomberg’s vigilante operation may have compromised genuine on-going BATFE investigations,” Gottlieb said. “The city’s refusal to turn over so-called ‘evidence’ in this rogue investigation is very suspicious.

    “Allegations of criminal wrong-doing,” Gottlieb noted in his letter, “do not necessarily mean the retailers victimized by the mayor’s self-generated publicity have actually committed any crime, yet Bloomberg’s grandstanding has literally convicted them on television and in news columns.”

    The NSSF:

    The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms industry, said today that the failure of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to turn over evidence of alleged illegal firearm sales to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is telling.

    “If these firearms dealers violated federal law there needs to be a full investigation,” said Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of NSSF. “The fact that Mr. Bloomberg is so afraid to turn over ‘evidence’ to the ATF speaks volumes as to the veracity of his claims.”

    Or, you know, he has something to hide. More:

    ATF is the appropriate and legally authorized regulatory agency in charge of overseeing enforcement of firearms laws and regulations.

    NSSF called upon the mayor to come clean with the “proof” he and his private investigators accumulated in their attempts to circumvent federal law protecting law- abiding firearms dealers from baseless civil suits.

    Like you and me, only better

    David notes this case:

    Judge Haywood Turner is charged with pointing a pistol. Police say it appears to be a case of road rage . . . Investigators say he turned himself in on Friday, and was charged with two misdemeanor counts of pointing a pistol.

    Wow. Aggravated assault is a misdemeanor? Err, no:

    Aggravated assault, which is a felony:

    “occurs when you assault someone…2) With a deadly weapon…”

    Special classes get special treatment.

    Update: In comments, Alex says:

    FYI, The Great State of Georgia actually has a criminal statute titled “Pointing or aiming gun or pistol at another” and it states that “a person is guilty of a misdemeanor when he intentionally and without legal justification points or aims a gun or pistol at another, whether the gun or pistol is loaded or unloaded.” O.C.G.A. 16-11-102.

    Looks to me like there’s some leeway in which law you charge someone with.

    Shift

    My personal opinion is that the Republicans have basically abandoned every thing they stood for now that they’re in power, except lowering taxes. So AC’s prediction wouldn’t surprise me:

    I can say quite confidentially [err, is it a secret – Ed.] now that the Democrats will take both the US House and the US Senate. I believe it will happen. If Harold Ford doesn’t win, then it will be Webb in Virginia or some other upset.

    I doubt they will this time around. Maybe in 2008. There’s simply not enough time for the Ds to have distanced themselves from some of their recent less-than-stellar moments.

    Well, everyone should get out of New Jersey

    Ben:

    “The quality of life is going down about as fast as taxes are going up,” said Kuendel, 50, of Atlantic Highlands (New Jersey). He and his wife are looking at houses in Delaware, where there is no sales tax, no income tax and property taxes are relatively low.

    Wonder what the correlation between tax rate and U-Haul rentals is?