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Published: Sun, 11 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500

Last Build Date: Sun, 11 Dec 2016 07:15:03 -0500


My Kid Packs Heat

Sat, 03 Dec 2016 08:00:00 -0500

There is no greater joy than seeing the wide-eyed look of wonder in a child's face the first time he's successfully shredded a target with a full magazine of hot lead death from a rifle. My wife and I always intended to teach our son Anthony to shoot. It's a good skill for anybody to add to his personal quiver. If you can shoot, you have a means for putting food on the table in tough times. If you can shoot, you can defend yourself against dangerous animals (javelina and coyote wander our rural Arizona neighborhood, while mountain lion and bear frequent some of our favorite hiking trails) and malicious assailants (if he runs into a gang of tax collectors, is he supposed to beat them with his shoe?). Shooting encourages concentration and develops hand-eye coordination—and enables bonding with friends who have similar interests. Those friends might include other kids his age in our boomstick-friendly region—but they could also include the nonagenarian rancher and former cop who took a shine to Anthony at a gun show. He'd flown his private plane to town to man his table, but was a bit downcast that his doctor was no longer willing to perform the medical assessment required for him to maintain a pilot's license. "Maybe I'll just fly anyway," he said. "At my age, what are they going to do to me?" We saw value in the self-confidence and personal responsibility Anthony would gain from learning to engage in the sport safely. We'd seen him grow and mature through five years (and counting) of Tae Kwon Do and were certain he'd benefit just as much from discovering how to properly handle guns. But I had told him we'd wait until he wanted to learn, and for years he'd shown little interest. Then in June 2015 I had a fairly serious health scare. Suddenly, it seemed that I might have a limited window of opportunity to transmit my hard-acquired knowledge and skillset—such as it is—to my pre-adolescent kid. So I started pushing to get him ready for life. In between seemingly endless bouts of medical tests, I taught him to bore holes in wood with an eggbeater drill and to drive screws and nails. I shared with him my wisdom (or lack thereof) and insights into the world. I showed him how to do some basic repairs and passed along the secrets of making a campfire. "I know what you're doing," Wendy, my wife, said to me one day when she had me cornered. "You think you're going to die." "Maybe," I responded. As it turned out, I was fine after a period of recovery, and even better after the end of all that damned poking and prodding. But my come-alongs had had an effect. Of his own accord, 10-year-old Anthony announced that he was ready. "Dad, if it's OK, I'd really like to go out shooting some time." We made a family outing of it. We loaded the car up with a .22 rifle, reactive targets, a cardboard box for affixing the same, and plenty of ammo. Then we headed for an old sandpit in the desert that's commonly used for exactly this activity. Anthony already knew the four basic safety rules, which we'd run through with his Nerf revolver: The gun is always loaded (that is, you assume so). Never point the gun at something you are not prepared to destroy. Always be sure of your target and what's behind it. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target. Admittedly, not everybody thinks children should learn to shoot. The usual control freaks not only oppose gun ownership but think that, despite the spectacular failure of Prohibition and the war on drugs, they've hit on the one activity that enthusiasts will happily surrender when threatened with sufficiently gruesome legal penalties. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) insists, "The absence of guns from children's homes and communities is the most reliable and effective measure to prevent firearm-related injuries in children and adolescents"—as if risks exist unbalanced by benefits. The AAP habitually prods physicians to badger patients' families with unsolicited advice about bicycles, car seats, cribs, eating habits, pools, tobacco use, and, of course, [...]

An AR-15 in Every Home: 3D Gun Printer Cody Wilson on the Right to Resistance, Hacking the Media, and Trump

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 12:15:00 -0500

"It doesn't matter what the origins of the Second Amendment were," says Cody Wilson, creator of the first 3D-printed gun and author of the new book, Come and Take It: The Gun Printer's Guide to Thinking Free. "With the internet, we can transform this thing into right to resistance on a global scale. If it's just a fact that the government serves guns now, this is just a point of political life." Reason TV visited Wilson at an Austin, Texas-based manufacturing facility of his company Defense Distributed to discuss his new memoir about the creation of first 3D-printed firearm, which he dubbed "The Liberator." Wilson told Reason TV he plans to push his lawsuit against State Department, which has prohibited him from making the Liberator printing freely available for download on his website, as far as he possibly can. Defense Distributed lost in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in September after the court ruled that national security trumps free speech in this case: Ordinarily, of course, the protection of constitutional rights would be the highest public interest at issue in a case. That is not necessarily true here, however, because the State Department has asserted a very strong public interest in national defense and national security. "The government, in certain cases, especially gun cases, gets to just wave around the words 'national security' without making a specific claim," says Wilson. He rejects the State Department's argument that this technology empowers enemies of the nation such as ISIS, pointing out that domestic terrorists have a stock of more than 300 million U.S. guns to pull from and that overseas militants are much more likely to get their hands on arms supplied by the CIA and other government agencies than they are to print off weapons. Wilson is also pushing ahead with a new project: the Ghost Gunner, a do-it-yourself milling machine that allows anyone to construct an unregistered AR-15 rifle in less than four hours. The machine mills holes in an 80 percent completed metal lower receiver, and then users can attach the other components—easily available for purchase online—using common tools, nuts, and bolts to create a fully functional, unregistered military-grade weapon. The price tag on the Ghost Gunner is $1500, and Wilson says he's already moved thousands of units. "There's a certain political realism here. If you have the implements, outside of federal observation, for military-grade hardware... you have certain political capabilities that, perhaps, your neighbor does not," says Wilson. "I'm not even sure I'm an anarchist anymore. I feel like I'm almost just, like, the accidental node in something else... something deeper and not at all concerned with the affairs of men." This interview taped before the 2016 presidential election took place, but Wilson confessed that he's in "complete awe" of Donald Trump, whom he describes as "a genius," "almost completely childish in his complete innocence," and propelled by a "huge, unconscious force." Wilson sees parallels with Trump's rise and the creation of the Liberator. In both cases, says Wilson, a fearful media helped push the phenomenon into existence. "[The media] don't wait for the actual terror of the event to happen," says Wilson. "They jump into the situation and complete it themselves in this nervous anticipation... The media cannot help themselves. If I can get something 80 percent of the way, they will take it to its completion and then a bit further than that." Watch the full interview above. Interview by Zach Weissmueller. Edited by Weissmueller. Camera by Alex Manning and Alexis Garcia. Music by Kai Engel. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes. INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT: This is a rush transcript. Check against video for accuracy. reason: Cody Wilson grabbed the nation's attention in 2013 when he posted a video of himself firing the Liberator, the first fully 3D printed firearm. He's now embroiled in an ongoing lawsuit with the State Depar[...]

Gun Paranoia in the Age of Trump

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 00:01:00 -0500

There were plenty of agitated and even hysterical reactions to Donald Trump's election victory, but none more surprising than the one expressed in a direct mail letter I got a couple of days afterward. "Our worst nightmare is staring us right in the face," it declared. "The attacks will be hitting everywhere, every day." It invited me to fill out a survey. "By answering this survey today, you're drawing a line in the sand—making it clear to politicians across America that you're not going to stand by while extremists trample our individual liberties." Planned Parenthood? The American Civil Liberties Union? The Council on American-Islamic Relations? No, this shriek of terror came from the National Rifle Association. Apparently, CEO Wayne LaPierre was among the smug, tone-deaf East Coast elitists who confidently anticipated a Hillary Clinton presidency. Otherwise, it's hard to explain why he would make such a point of proclaiming that the organization is "fighting gun-hating politicians" and "fighting to deny confirmation of judicial nominees who refuse to affirm that the Second Amendment guarantees your individual right to own and use a firearm." The NRA endorsed Trump. The letter inviting me to join was obviously written and sent before his victory materialized. But it illuminates a problem that the organization and its allies will have over the next four years: how to sustain the fear and anxiety that have been so useful to them over the past eight. As a gun owner, recreational shooter, former NRA member and longtime advocate of Second Amendment rights, I like to see cogent criticism of gun control proposals and anti-gun propaganda. But under President Barack Obama, the NRA has occupied itself sowing groundless panic and fighting imaginary villains. Obama made it plain in his first presidential campaign that gun control was not a hill he was willing to die on. He assured gun owners, "I believe in the Second Amendment. I believe in people's lawful right to bear arms. I will not take your shotgun away. I will not take your rifle away. I won't take your handgun away." He has repeated that position over and over. He has spent more time trying to assuage the concerns of gun owners than he spent wooing Michelle, with far less success. But in an era in which facts don't matter, the president should have saved his breath. In 2008, LaPierre dismissed Obama's promises: "Never in NRA's history have we faced a presidential candidate ... with such a deep-rooted hatred of firearm freedoms." The NRA insisted he planned to ban all handguns, ban "use of firearms for home defense," increase federal taxes on guns and ammunition by 500 percent, and require a federal license to buy a gun. Obama has had eight years to pursue these sinister goals. We're still waiting. He did sign bills allowing people to carry concealed handguns in national parks and check guns on Amtrak, expanding the gun rights of troops on U.S. military bases, and preventing the Environmental Protection Agency from banning lead ammunition. His "anti-gun" proposals amount to ending the manufacture and sale (though not possession) of "assault" weapons, limiting magazines to 10 rounds and requiring background checks for all firearm purchases, not just those from licensed dealers. These changes would have a minimal impact on law-abiding gun owners. Faced with this record, LaPierre has done the only thing he could do: lie about it. "When I said Barack Obama would come for our guns and do everything in his power to sabotage the Second Amendment, they savaged me," he said recently. "But every one of those predictions came true." Sure they did. And Adam Sandler won an Oscar. The strategy has clearly served to frighten some gun owners and stimulate them to buy more firearms—you know, before Obama could outlaw them. Gun sales have set records under him, and gun companies have prospered. The NRA has found that it can only gain by stoking chronic fear of draconian gun laws. But how will it be able to do that with President Tru[...]

Voters in Washington State Give Judges Power to Violate Gun Owners' Due Process

Wed, 09 Nov 2016 08:35:00 -0500

Voters in Washington State approved a ballot measure to let state courts strip individuals of their guns of they are determined to be an "extreme risk" to the safety of others and California voters approved a new licensing law for individuals who wish to buy ammunition for firearms. More than 70 percent of voters in Washington had approved Measure 1491 with 64 percent reporting. The initiative gives broad power to courts to regulate who can possess firearms and draw rebukes from the ACLU for being a violation of due process because it puts the burden of proof on the accused to show why a court order should be lifted. The measure allows anyone—from family and friends to law enforcement—to request a court order removing an individual's right to own guns. That comes on the heels of a 2014 initiative in Washington State that imposed gun control laws similar to this year's measures in Maine and Nevada. California's initiative builds upon a state law passed in July requiring business that sell ammunition to obtain a special state license. With the passage of the initiative, individuals who want to buy ammunition will also have to obtain a state permit before doing so. By early Wednesday morning, more than 63 percent of California voters had supported the measure. In both places, the new laws will make it harder for law-abiding gun owners to purchase firearms and ammunition, but it's hard to tell how the additional rules will prevent criminals from accessing guns on the black market. In Nevada and Maine, initiatives to require a FBI background check before a sale or transfer of guns can take place were too close to call on Wednesday morning. Both initiatives would require gun purchases to happen through a state licensed firearms dealer. (Update: the Nevada initiative appears to have squeaked by, winning by about 10,000 votes) One of the top contributors to the "yes" campaigns in all four states was Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization founded by then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2006, when it was known as Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The group changed its name after the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and now pushes for both state and federal governments to expand background checks for gun purchases. Everytown for Gun Safety spent more than $5.2 million in Maine and over $13 million in Nevada pushing the initiative, according to campaign finance data tracked by Ballotpedia. In California, groups in favor of Proposition 63 spent more than $4.5 million—with more than $1.1 million coming from the California Democratic Party—on the campaign, compared to less than $1 million spent by opponents. While gun control groups like Bloomberg's have spent big bucks this year pushing these four initiatives, the National Rifle Association has largely sat out the election. That may be because the NRA believes it will be able to overturn these new laws in court. "That may be the strategy, to beat this thing in court, rather than try to fight what seems like a quote-unquote 'common-sense measure' at the ballot box," Dave Workman, a senior editor at the Second Amendment Foundation, told NPR last week.[...]

Philadelphia Eagles Cut Josh Huff After He Defends His Right to Bear Arms

Thu, 03 Nov 2016 13:15:00 -0400

(image) Earlier this week, Eagles wide receiver Josh Huff was reportedly pulled over on the Walt Whitman bridge for speeding and having windows that were too tinted, and then arrested for allegedly having a gun with hollow point bullets (illegal in New Jersey, where authorities claim he was) as well as a small amount of marijuana.

Until yesterday, it appeared the Philadelphia Eagles were committed to keeping Huff, who joined the team for practice and who the head coach was expected to play this weekend. But then Huff spoke up about just how silly the brouhaha over his gun possession was.

Huff apologized to teammates for the "distraction" of his arrest, but defended to reporters his right to bear arms. "I'm a professional athlete, what professional athlete doesn't have a gun?" Huff asked reporters. "I have a wife and I have a son at home. My job is to protect them at all costs, and my job is to protect myself as well even though I know I have security here, but I have to protect myself as well."

Huff's argument applies not just to professional athletes but to all law-abiding citizens, whose right to self-defense is supposed to be protected by the Constitution despite the concerted effort to whittle away those rights, especially for minorities and other marginalized communities.

Huff also expressed that he believed everybody else in the Eagles and around the National Football League also carried guns for protection.

"I'm from Houston. You can't trust a lot of people in Houston. There's always somebody out to get you. You've got to protect yourself," Huff explained. "Even when I'm back in Houston, I always have a gun on me, because there's been several instances in Houston where I've lost a friend to gun violence, and he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, so why would I let that happen to me?"

The Eagles cut Huff this morning.

Just last month, Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham was arrested at Miami International Airport after TSA agents allegedly found a loaded handgun in his backpack.

The NFL bans fans from carrying weapons in their stadiums, and last year the Fraternal Order of Police tried to get the NFL to exempt off-duty and retired law enforcement officers from the ban, citing incidents of terrorism at high-volume venues and the security having responsible gun users in the stadium can provide.

Eagles’ Josh Huff Latest NFL Player with Marijuana Problem

Wed, 02 Nov 2016 16:05:00 -0400

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Josh Huff was reportedly pulled over while speeding across the Walt Whitman Bridge into New Jersey, with police citing him for possession of a small amount of marijuana (under 50 grams) and unlawful possession of a handgun and hollow-point bullets. He was issued two warrants for the weapons offenses and a criminal summons for the marijuana, and received traffic tickets. Despite calls in local sports media for Huff to be benched or even cut, Eagles coach Doug Pedersen expects Huff to play in this weekend's game. Huff's alleged speeding (and tinted windows) are traffic offenses. While the marijuana and gun charges are more serious, they are no more inherently violent or harmful to others than the traffic charges. Hollow-point bullets are even legal in Pennsylvania and every other state except New Jersey, which has specific laws prohibiting the bullets. It appears authorities claim Huff was already in New Jersey when he was pulled over. That didn't stop one local columnist who called for Huff to be cut from treating hollow point bullets like a war crime. They were "bullets banned for use in warfare by most major powers," Marcus Hayes wrote breathlessly at, and Huff should be cut for acting like a "dumbass." Hollow point bullets can also be described as among the most popular bullets in the U.S. for law enforcement and civilians. Even the Social Security Administration orders hundreds of thousands of them. While legal attitudes about marijuana are shifting toward acceptance, when it comes to the National Football League, Huff may be in more trouble for the possession of marijuana than anything else. While marijuana has been mostly decriminalized in Philadelphia, where the Eagles play, and legalized in a number of jurisdictions where the NFL plays, the NFL has the toughest rules against marijuana of any of the major American sports leagues, as Tom Junod noted in ESPN Magazine in a profile on Eugene Monroe, a former NFL player who has become a medical marijuana advocate. Monroe was actually the first active NFL player to speak out against the NFL's restrictive marijuana rules but retired shortly after, citing health concerns. Among them was Monroe's concern about the effect of painkillers, often prescribed by NFL doctors for the various injuries sustained by players as well as recovery from surgeries. Given how much more strenuous and physically demanding and damaging football can be than, say, the NHL (where only a third of players are tested for marijuana every year), the NFL should have been on the cutting edge of marijuana reform advocacy and research into medical marijuana. Instead, it took players like Monroe, who has funded research into medical marijuana, for the NFL to even look at the possibility of marijuana as a pain management tool. A growing number of NFL veterans, including two-time Super Bowl champion Jim McMahon, have been pushing for the NFL to allow players to explore marijuana for medical and other reasons. Watch Reason TV's "The NFL Should Let Players Use Marijuana": src="" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="340" width="560">[...]

Gun Control Is Tax-Subsidized Marketing for Illegal Submachine Guns

Tue, 01 Nov 2016 00:01:00 -0400

"DIY submachine guns are popping up across the West Bank," the Washington Post reported recently in a piece about a weapon that has repeatedly played a role in Palestinian attacks upon Israelis. The guns are of a common type referred to as the "Carlo," based on the Swedish Carl Gustav M/45, which dates to the World War 2 era. The article added that hundreds of the submachine guns have been confiscated over the past year, and raids staged on 35 mechanics' shops that were cranking them out. "The Carlo has remained so popular because of how little machinery and technical know-how is required to produce it," a Times of Israel story noted earlier this year. "A drill press, some welding equipment and blueprints from the internet are all that's needed to create one of these potentially devastating weapons." The story lamented that "it's nearly impossible to prevent its production." Ironically, Israelis themselves relied on homemade submachine guns during their War of Independence. In their case, they knocked off copies of the British-designed Sten gun and fed them with ammunition manufactured in a clandestine factory beneath a laundry. Similarly to the weapon copied by West Bank mechanics, "the Sten used simple stamped metal components and minor welding, which required minimal machining and manufacturing," according to Wikipedia. That simplicity is a feature of many simple, sheet-metal submachine guns dating to the war era. Desperate to satisfy the need to produce massive numbers of guns in short order, designers crafted weapons that could be made in any number of existing shops using general-purpose machinery. Long before 3D printers and CNC milling machines drove headlines about DIY firearms, those characteristics made such weapons natural choices for various insurgencies battling governments in regions across the world. Because they're so easy to produce, submachine guns also became a natural go-to for non-political manufacture in countries that have strict gun control regimes. Brazil seems to be an especially fertile source for homemade automatic weapons. There's an online cottage industry in tracking Brazilian police announcements of gun confiscations and posting photos of the creative copies of commercially produced weapons—as well as weirdly innovative original designs. Unsurprisingly, Brazil has a thriving market for Sten guns and the like made in car repair shops because it has a severely constrained legal market for firearms. Brazilians have to jump through hoops to get government permission to purchase guns, and even if they satisfy all requirements, police can say "no" on a whim. That leaves many residents of the country without a legal means to protect themselves from the country's extremely busy criminal class (60,000 murders every year, according to some estimates). Those criminals are, of course, well-armed courtesy of that black market described above. Some of the country's lawmakers want to make it less-daunting to legally own the means of self-defense. But for now guns remain easily available only to those willing to break the law, which leaves opportunity for DIY manufacturers. Australia also has famously restrictive gun laws of such exquisite legislative perfection that they bear emulation, according to leading presidential contender Hillary Clinton. Well, except that the Australian government is a tad upset about gun smuggling by outlaw gangs and the hundreds of thousands of illegal firearms in circulation. Officials plan yet another amnesty for owners to surrender the illegal weapons, although Sydney University gun policy analyst Philip Alpers told ABC News that he expects it to produce only "rubbish guns" that nobody values. Because, honestly, if you've gone through the trouble and expense of purchasing one of the "perfectly constructed MAC 10 machine guns" manufactured by a jeweler turned underground arms dealer, why would you surrender it?[...]

How To Print a Gun at Home: Ronald Bailey Reviews 'Come and Take It' at WSJ

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 11:35:00 -0400

(image) In the Wall Street Journal today, I review Cody Wilson's new book, Come and Take It: The Gun Printer's Guide to Thinking Free. Wilson became notorious when he launched the effort by his non-profit Defense Distributed to create and then supply online the digital files for using a 3-D printer to make guns at home. His new book almost diaristically details that saga and the opposition and relentless fearmongering that his project has faced from government agencies and progressive pundits and politicians.

Wilson takes his title from the Gonzales Flag used by American colonists when they fought the first battle for Texas independence from Mexico. Featuring an image of the cannon the colonists refused to hand over to Mexican troops the flag is emblazoned with the slogan "Come and Take It." On his website, Wilson replaced the cannon with an image of a RepRap printer.

Excerpts from the WSJ review:

Do you have a right to download and use the digital instructions to print out a gun? In September, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled, 2 to 1, that you don't. The author of "Come and Take It," Cody Wilson, runs the nonprofit Defense Distributed, which was the losing plaintiff in that case. Mr. Wilson asserts that the printing instructions are protected by the First Amendment as free speech. In a sense, the court ruling is an answer to the author's challenge to "come and take it."

The Feds want to ban the guns and the digital instructions for making them.

Just how could the federal agencies actually enforce such a ban? Put firmware locks on the printers? Ban digital file sharing? Require that manufacturers of 3-D printers install some kind of feature that prevents gun-part printing? As digital-rights activist Cory Doctorow, who is no fan of Mr. Wilson's, has observed: "Every one of those measures is a nonsense and worse: unworkable combinations of authoritarianism, censorship, and wishful thinking. Importantly, none of these would prevent people from manufacturing plastic guns. And all of these measures would grossly interfere with the lawful operation of 3D printers."...

Judge Edith Jones, in her powerful [Fifth Circuit] dissent, observed that "the denial of a temporary injunction in this case will encourage the State Department to threaten and harass publishers of similar non-classified information." She further declared that "interference with First Amendment rights for any period of time, even for short periods, constitutes irreparable injury." During a talk in 2013, Mr. Wilson declared that his digital gun-design project "is working so well because it confuses the stakes for free-speech liberals and command-and-control liberals. The files themselves are a powerful species of political speech. And how do we know they are political speech? Because the're being fought so strongly." Sadly, free-speech liberals seem mostly absent in this fight.

Go here to read the whole WSJ review.

For more background see below my Reason TV colleague Todd Krainin's documentary, "Cody Wilson: Happiness Is A 3-D Printed Gun."

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Clinton Is a Threat to the 2nd Amendment—and the 1st

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 00:01:00 -0400

Donald Trump is a clear menace to our democratic form of government, the rule of law and my James Madison bobblehead. The teenage Ted Cruz could recite the entire Constitution from memory. Trump wouldn't know it from Two Corinthians. But it's not exactly safe to entrust your copy of the Constitution to Hillary Clinton, either. You might get it back with some parts missing or mutilated—like the First Amendment and the Second. When it comes to gun rights, Clinton has taken a position appreciably to the left of Barack Obama's. From his first presidential campaign, he has assured gun owners he respects their cherished prerogatives and would never take away their weapons. When the Supreme Court issued its landmark 2008 decision in D.C. v. Heller, he applauded it. "I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms," Obama said. Not Clinton. When asked in June whether she endorses that interpretation, she conspicuously declined to do so. "For most of our history, there was a nuanced reading of the Second Amendment, until the decision by the late Justice Scalia," she groused. Asked whether she agrees "that an individual's right to bear arms is a constitutional right," Clinton replied, "If it is a constitutional right, then it, like every other constitutional right, is subject to reasonable regulations." If? In her final debate with Trump, Clinton was asked again about the Heller decision. She reiterated her opposition, insisting that "what the District of Columbia was trying to do was to protect toddlers from guns, and so they wanted people with guns to safely store them." She eventually said, "I also believe there's an individual right to bear arms." So Clinton rejects the Supreme Court decision that established constitutional protection for that right—but now agrees the right has constitutional protection? As former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan once said, "If I seem unduly clear to you, you must have misunderstood what I said." She and Obama both favor universal background checks for gun purchases, a ban on "assault weapons" and denying guns to anyone on the federal no-fly list. But her cramped view of the Second Amendment suggests she would favor additional curbs that she knows the Supreme Court would not abide. Clinton seems to think that a new justice or two might set the Second Amendment right. On the First Amendment, however, she sees the Supreme Court as a lost cause. Her target is the 2010 Citizens United decision, which established the right of corporations and labor unions to participate in electioneering. In the debate, she said it "has undermined the election system in our country because of the way it permits dark, unaccountable money to come into our electoral system." But all the decision did was to prevent the government from suppressing speech about political matters. The justices noted that under the law it struck down, it would be a felony for the Sierra Club, within 60 days of a general election, to run an ad urging "the public to disapprove of a Congressman who favors logging in national forests." The court ruled that speech doesn't lose protection merely because it comes from corporations—a category that includes many advocacy groups. Such expression would be censored if Clinton had her way. She proposes a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision—which would alter the Bill of Rights to restrict our freedoms. The idea has drawn opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union, which says, "Our system of free expression is built on the premise that the people get to decide what speech they want to hear; it is not the role of the government to make that decision for them." Her alarms about "dark money"—contributions to politically active groups that don't have to reveal their donors—are misplaced. In the 2014 campai[...]

New York Times Examines Mass Shootings and Gun Laws; Their Findings "Dispiriting to Anyone Hoping for Simple Legislative Fixes to Gun Violence"

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 21:10:00 -0400

Every time a horrific crime committed with a gun gets national attention, politicians will usually recommend more stringent gun laws as a response. (With the phrase "gun control" out of vogue, you usually hear these days about "common sense gun safety laws.") The New York Times, who last year ran a nearly unprecedented front-page editorial calling for the banning and confiscation of a commonly used and rarely abused class of civilian firearms, investigated today how and whether laws, either existing or proposed, would have impacted "all 130 shootings last year in which four or more people were shot, at least one fatally, and investigators identified at least one attacker." The overarching conclusion from reporters Sharon LaFraniere and Emily Palmer? They learned "not only how porous existing firearms regulations are, but also how difficult tightening them in a meaningful way may be." "The findings are dispiriting to anyone hoping for simple legislative fixes to gun violence," they admit upfront: In more than half the 130 cases, at least one assailant was already barred by federal law from having a weapon, usually because of a felony conviction, but nonetheless acquired a gun. Including those who lacked the required state or local permits, 64 percent of the shootings involved at least one attacker who violated an existing gun law. Of the remaining assailants, 40 percent had never had a serious run-in with the law and probably could have bought a gun even in states with the strictest firearm controls. Typically those were men who killed their families and then themselves. Slightly over 10 percent of these mass shootings involved an "assault rifle," the rest involved handguns. (Of overall homicides in America, rifles as an entire category are involved in about 2 percent as of 2014 data, fewer than murders committed via bare hands or feet.) The Times looks at those "more than half" where a perfectly enforced law should have prevented a killer from getting a gun. This gets at the question of whether expanding background check requirements beyond licensed dealers, per current federal law, would indeed save lives by making it illegal for anyone to sell a gun to anyone without conducting a background check into legally disqualifying factors. Unfortunately as far as the information gathered by the Times's reporters go: It was virtually impossible to determine whether expanded background checks would have deterred the illegally armed attackers involved in the shootings examined for this article. In many cases, police officers never recovered the weapons, and even when they did, they did not always investigate where the firearm came from. A trace by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives generally shows only the original seller and buyer, while the typical gun used in a crime is 11 years old. The Times tells a story of one man with 12 years in prison who killed 8 people, including 6 children, with a gun they think he bought online. (The reporters admit they aren't absolutely sure of that.) That would have already been illegal. It isn't always true that laws that are easy to break are pointless laws. But laws that are far more likely to merely end up fining or imprisoning people performing an action that would not actually harm anyone (that is, selling a gun that would never be used to harm anyone else to someone without informing the state or running a background check) than they would be to prevent harm to others should be reasonably questioned. The story wonders whether public safety demands that our standards for barring people from gun ownership for mental health issues be more stringent, noting that current federal law "denies guns only to people who have been involuntarily committed for inpatient treatment" and lamenting that since that law was passed in [...]

Mike Rowe Wears Trump’s Robe, Fights a Drone, and Solves the Labor Shortage

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 10:00:00 -0400

What's life like for Mike Rowe without a network television show? Since Somebody's Gotta Do It is no longer on CNN Rowe has had his privacy violated by a drone, the former host of Dirty Jobs survived the rumors of his own death swirling about the internet, and in the home stretch of an ugly presidential election, he worries more than ever about unemployment, the skills gap, and a widespread loss of meaning in American life. Yet Rowe himself remains more popular than ever. Days after Rowe read a letter from his mother detailing how she lost her purse at Wal-Mart, the post went hyperviral. It was seen by over 100 million people – "a third of the country!" he exclaims. "I've never seen anything like it," Rowe tells Reason TV, "I've talked to people at Facebook who said they've never seen anything like it." Rowe has also found a way to turn C.R.A.P – that's Collectibles, Rare and Precious – into philanthropy. His auction of a swanky Trump Tower bathrobe, signed by The Donald himself, fetched a cool $16,000 on eBay. The money then trickled down from the alleged billionaire to The Mike Rowe Works Foundation, which funds "work ethic scholarships" that provide out-of-luck workers with valuable skills for the modern economy. Nick Gillespie caught up with Mike Rowe in Nashville, Tennessee to chat about his affection for the Second Amendment, his adventures in podcasting, the 2016 election, the secret to extracting semen from a prize racehorse, and more. Produced by Todd Krainin. Hosted by Nick Gillespie. Cameras by Paul Detrick and Krainin. INTERVIEW CONTENTS 0:00 - Teaser. 0:45 - Intro. 1:05 - Naked Mike Rowe and a Mossberg 500 vs. a drone. 7:39 - What happened to Somebody's Gotta Do It? 11:34 - Have we lost touch with the important things in life? 15:50 - Work ethic scholarships. 18:56 - How to extract semen from a prize racehorse. 21:45 - Donald Trump's robe 23:33 - Thoughts on free trade. 31:02 - Thoughts on occupational licensure. 34:50 - The false choices of American life. 36:30 - The secret to a successful career: Love the hard work. 40:05 - The Way I Heard It and a massively popular letter from Rowe's mother. INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT: This is a rush transcript. Check against video for accuracy. Nick Gillespie Hi, I'm Nick Gillespie with Reason TV and we are sitting down with Mike Rowe of the Mike Rowe Works Foundation and of recently of Somebody's Gotta Do It and Dirty Jobs. Mike Rowe, thanks for talking to Reason TV. Mike Rowe Last time I saw you, you were wearing that same jacket and I was wearing this same hat. Gillespie Well there you go. What goes around comes around. Now, the two headlines that you are most famous for most recently are 'Naked Mike Rowe' and 'Mike Rowe Dead' What uh why were you naked and how did that lead to you being dead? Rowe Well it's a big week. I was uh in the midst of what I thought was some bizarre gardening dream and in the dream uh a bumblebee was in my ear. And when I awakened I realized A: It wasn't a dream and B: It wasn't a bee. But there was a buzzing sound and it was coming from the other side of my bedroom window and I leapt from the bed in what I described as my favorite pair of imaginary pajamas. And I pulled the drapes aside and there was a camera hovering, not in mid air, but from the belly of a drone and the drone was making this horrible buzzing sound. And I was standing there in my horrible nakedness not fully awake but sentient enough to know that something had to be done. So I retreated to the uh bed, pulled the Mossberg 500 from underneath. Gillespie And, by the way, do you get a uh is that a product placement? Rowe It's not. I just like the way I feel when I say Mossberg 500. It's a great shotgun. I keep it locked and loaded and the familiar chunk-chunk is very gratifying. Gillespie Now, this is in San[...]

Brickbat: Coming for Your Guns

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 04:00:00 -0400

(image) Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has been working with local law enforcement agencies to scan the tags on cars of people attending gun shows in Southern California. ICE then compared those tags to those on cars crossing the Mexican border in an effort to catch gun smugglers.

AR-15: Have It Your Way

Sat, 01 Oct 2016 06:00:00 -0400


Oregon Judge Says He Would 'Eliminate All' Guns

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 17:15:00 -0400

(image) An Oregon magistrate had a few choice words when sentencing defendant Marcell Lee Daniel Jr. for the 2014 shooting of a Portland man. Judge Kenneth Walker took several moments during a hearing Wednesday to condemn not just the perpetrator, but also the type of weapon he used to kill his victim.

After briefly conceding that the law allows Americans to own firearms, Walker proceeded to deliver a scathing indictment of gun ownership, according to The Oregonian. "If I could," he said to the courtroom, "I would take all the guns in America, put them on big barges, and dump them in the ocean."

But he didn't really mean that all guns should be eliminated, right? In fact, he quickly qualified his remarks by adding that "no one would have guns—not police, not security. We should eliminate all of them." Oh.

Walker went on to say that the 11,000 homicides and 20,000 suicides that that involve guns in America could be prevented if gun ownership were abolished, noting that in Australia, where authorities "rounded up all the guns ... they don't have nearly the death that we do here in this country."

Similar arguments in favor of gun control have been advanced before, and Reason has responded to them here, here, and here.

The judge wasn't simply interested in pointing out the negative effects of guns on society, however. Instead, he denied there was any possible rationale for owning firearms, period. "There's no defense to guns." he said. "There is no reason to have them."

Walker is certainly entitled to his opinion; the First Amendment guarantees the individual right to freedom of speech, after all. Of course, the Second Amendment protects the individual right to gun ownership.

As a judge tasked with upholding the Constitution, it seems ill-advised to openly call for the elimination of rights protected by the Constitution while acting in his official capacity. It's hard not to wonder how Walker would react if people started calling for the elimination of the Sixth Amendment—you know, the one ensuring people's right to a trial by jury.

Tennessee Department of Health Admits It Was Wrong About Reported Huge Rise in Accidental Gun Deaths

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 21:20:00 -0400

Accidental gun deaths in Tennessee, it was reported in various places a couple of weeks back, had zoomed horrifically from 19 in 2013 to 105 in 2014.

A representative report from TV station WTOC:

Tennessee leads the country in accidental shooting deaths.

The Volunteer State ranked ninth in 2013 for deadly accidental shootings. Officials say 19 people died that year.

In 2014, the number jumped to 105.

"This idea of shooting first and asking questions later unfortunately sometimes has fatal consequences," said Beth Joslin Roth with Safe Tennessee Project, a grassroots organization dedicated to addressing the epidemic of gun-related injuries and gun violence in Tennessee.

The numbers have fluctuated some over the years, but Joslin Roth said the jump between 2013 and 2014 is unprecedented.


Unprecedented indeed, and totally not true as it turns out.

Tennessee now admits they made a mistake in counting, and a very big one. 2014's accidental gun death numbers were in fact the lowest, by far, the state has seen this century, at 5. The next lowest was 2008's 17.

From the Tennessee Department of Health, posted last Thursday:

After manually reviewing death certificates, TDH reports five people died from accidental gunshot wounds in the state in 2014. In an additional eight cases, the manner of death was left blank or marked as pending on the death certificate but no follow-up death certificate was sent to the department; however, a review of the autopsies for those cases indicated none of those eight were accidental deaths. Incorrect data provided earlier indicated the number of accidental gunshot deaths had dramatically escalated from 19 in 2013 to 105 in 2014.

"We regret any confusion that may have arisen when data errors affected the number of deaths attributed to the accidental discharge of firearms in our state," said TDH Deputy Commissioner for Population Health Michael Warren, MD, MPH.

Three of the four stories I linked to above with the original frightening report, including the one quoted from, have not yet been corrected as of time of this posting.

As I've written before when it comes to crummy gun data or analysis, generally once a lot of people have read the original headline making a frightening claim regarding guns, the "public policy" work important to those who want to gin up anxiety about guns or optimism about gun laws has already been done, no matter later revelations, adjustments, critiques, or re-evaluations.

Hat tip: Matt Schonert