Published: Thu, 27 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400
Last Build Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2017 20:21:03 -0400
Thu, 27 Apr 2017 15:15:00 -0400
(image) While on patrol in the parking lot of its manufacturer, a K5 security robot was assaulted by Jason Sylvain. Sylvain, who was apparently drunk, pushed over the 300-pound R2D2-style robot made by the Knightscope company. Alerted by the robot, two Knightscope employees detained Sylvain until the local police showed up. The K5 robots operate autonomously and provide 360 degree video of the areas they patrol. The robots are equipped with two way audio that allows intercom conversations between the security operations center and a person near the robot. In addition, the robots can broadcast pre-recorded and live audio messages in the areas where they are operating. They also monitor environmental conditions, keep track of license plates, and detect wireless activity. The company promises that the robots will soon offer a gun detection feature.
Going beyond mere gun detection, the Russian FEDOR humanoid robot can now shoot guns. As Futurism reports: FEDOR — short for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research — is a humanoid robot developed by Android Technics and the Advanced Research Fund in Russia. "Final" does sound a bit ominous. In any case, the FEDOR bot can drive a car, use various tools (including keys), screw in lightbulbs, and even do pushups. It has now added the ability to hold and fire two pistols at the same time to its skill set.
Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeted, "Robot FEDOR showed the ability to shoot from both hands. Fine motor skills and decision-making algorithms are still being improved." Rogozin further explained, "Shooting exercises is a method of teaching the robot to set priorities and make instant decisions. We are creating AI, not Terminator." Very reassuring.
Enabling mall security robots to protect themselves by, say, administering a mild electric shock to someone Sylvain is OK, but arming them lethal weapons is, well, premature. On the other hand, I am against banning the development of warbots. See FEDOR in action below.
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Tue, 04 Apr 2017 00:01:00 -0400As it turns out, if you want to be a successful subversive, you probably shouldn't take on the moniker "Dr. Death" as you publicly tout your establishment-challenging ways. That's what Daniel Crowninshield did with regard to the unfinished firearm receivers he sold, to be completed on computer numerically controlled (CNC) mills in his North Sacramento, California, machine shop. Theoretically, customers operated the mills themselves, making the finished firearms legal. But an undercover agent insisted that shop employees did the honors, and Crowninshield got three and a half years in prison. What's remarkable about this story isn't just Crowninshield's excessive enthusiasm in marketing his services, however. More important is what this story illustrates about the unenforceable nature of laws that people find oppressive—and the growing vulnerability of such restrictions. Strictly speaking, Crowninshield's act of defiance was old-school; while he apparently used computer-controlled machines, there's no reason trained machinists couldn't have cranked out those receivers using traditional tools and their own skills—except, that is, for the (not so, as it turned out) plausible deniability that they were being operated by untrained customers. There was enough demand for such services that there was sometimes a line outside Crowninshield's shop, according to an undercover agent. AR-15 receivers invisible to government scrutiny, "in the hundreds at a minimum," were supposedly cranked out at that one North Sacramento operation. But enthusiasts actually can and do personally operate Cody Wilson's push-button Ghost Gunner CNC mills—which Wired described as "absurdly easy to use." Again, there's enough demand for such services that hundreds of the high-tech machines have been sold, putting the manufacture of finished firearm receivers within reach of people who don't have machinists' skills. And there's no way of knowing how many finished receivers have been quietly knocked out on the devices after they're delivered. Which was the whole reason Wilson developed the Ghost Gunner, after demonstrating that a working, if simple, pistol could be created on a 3D printer. Of course, this isn't just about things that go bang. Several years ago, Wilson teamed up with fellow crypto-anarchist Amir Taaki to develop DarkWallet, a Bitcoin wallet intended to add an extra layer of anonymity to the virtual currency so that financial transactions could more effectively evade official scrutiny. Development of DarkWallet briefly stalled as Taaki disappeared for a while on a lower-tech mission to shoot at ISIS troops on behalf of the Rojava enclave in northern Syria. But with Taaki back (though under investigation by British authorities over his Syrian adventure), the software is now available in beta form. "I believe in the hacker ethic," Taaki said about not just DarkWallet, but his overall philosophy. "Empower the small guy, privacy and anonymity, mistrust authority, promote decentralized alternatives, freedom of information," he says. "These are good principles. The individual against power." For good reason, Wilson and Taaki play central roles in Adam Bhala Lough's The New Radical, a documentary about activists who push the boundaries of technology that empowers individuals against the state. The film received a mixed reception at the Sundance film festival, the Los Angeles Times noted in January—not because of its quality, but because comfortably liberal attendees who like to think of themselves as the good guys realized they were among the targets of anti-authoritarians who look "to create fundamental political change by pushing for one or more of the following: an eradication of intellectual-property laws, radical free speech, fierce encryption to protect that speech, anonymous money (basically, digital currency not controlled or monitored by any government) and a general disdain for traditional legislative structures." And easily available weapons, of course. Lough's film is a bit of a companion piece to Alex W[...]
Wed, 01 Mar 2017 12:30:00 -0500President Donald Trump signed a measure yesterday striking down a gun control regulation that compromised the rights of a small group of people on the basis of being classified by the Social Security Administration as having a mental illness. The bill has been widely misinterpreted and misunderstood, possibly deliberately so. Brian Doherty in early February noted how media and gun control advocates presented this bill as something that would put weapons in the hands of severely mentally ill people. That's not what the initial regulation did at all, and Trump signing this measure doesn't actually give extremely mentally ill people the federal stamp of approval to go stockpile weapons. This regulation, organized via executive action under President Barack Obama, used lists of people on Social Security who have been diagnosed with mental illnesses and also have others handling their finances as a blanket mechanism to potentially deny them gun purchases. Such a system turns concepts of due process and the right to self-defense on their heads. Those who would have gotten caught up in this list—an estimated 75,000-80,000 of them—would have to fight the federal government to prove that they were not a danger and should be allowed to retain their gun rights. This is the reverse of how it should work. The government is supposed to prove that a particular person's mental illness is a disqualifying factor, not just use inclusion on some government list as shorthand. Thus, this rule was opposed not just by the National Rifle Association, but by more than a dozen groups that represent the interests of people with disabilities and mental health issues. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also opposed it. They all understood this wasn't really a fight about keeping guns out of the hands of dangerously mentally ill; it was about using bureaucratic tools and data to pre-emptively deny people their rights and then making them fight with the government to prove they should have these rights restored. Yet not two weeks after the due process problems of these gun restrictions were explained, the New York Times editorial board completely ignored the background and acted like this effort to rescind the rule was a conspiracy between the Republicans and the National Rifle Association (NRA). The headline, "Congress Says, Let the Mentally Ill Buy Guns," should be perceived at this point as a deliberate choice to mislead the reader. At no point at the editorial does it even reference the due process concerns or acknowledge that the ACLU and NRA (and several groups with no connection to gun ownership controversies) are all on the same side here. Democrats who voted with the GOP are dismissed on the basis of being "up for re-election next year." If these were any other issue other than gun ownership, have no doubt that the brilliant minds of the Times editorial crew would fully grasp the due process concerns. If the feds used such a list to try to deprive people of other types of property, the Times would certainly see the constitutional implications here. But it's guns, and when guns are involved some folks would prefer to ignore not just the Second Amendment, but the Fourth as well. That's what brought us all the awful "No Fly, No Buy" movement, where Democratic leaders attempted to deny people's right to own guns on the basis of their inclusion on the government's extremely secretive terror watch lists and "no fly" lists. The ACLU, who has been fighting the government over the no-fly lists, also opposed using such a system to deny guns because of the lack of due process. Trump, interestingly enough, also declared support during the campaign for using terror watch lists to deny gun rights, so it's relevant that he signed on here to preserve due process rights over fearmongering about violence. He certainly didn't show much interest in due process in his address last night. Nevertheless, he did the right thing here. That terrible Times editorial came to mind when watching this hilariou[...]
Fri, 24 Feb 2017 15:52:00 -0500
(image) Lawyer Kristi McMains was getting into her car after work when the stranger tackled her. "I fought like hell," McMains says. "I was doing all that I could, and I still couldn't get him off of me. .. That's why I grabbed my gun."
McMains was one of five women speaking on a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) panel Friday titled "Armed and Fabulous: The New Normal." Joining her were gun advocate and writer Antonia Okafor, Kimberly Corban of the National Rifle Association (NRA), Ms. Wheelchair USA 2013 Ashlee Lundvall, and Townhall.com's Katie Pavlich, as moderator. Together they extolled the virtues of female firearm ownership as a means for self-protection and slammed liberal feminists who object to their pro-gun stance.
Okafor, who twice cast ballots for Barack Obama before voting Trump in the last election, told the crowd at CPAC that "real female empowerment" must include firearms and the protection of Second Amendment rights.
Education and empowerment are "the crux of the feminist movement, right?" asked Corbin. "Well, we want women to be educated and empowered" about firearms, and yet "we're being shamed for it."
McMains also mentioned another kind of shaming: that she experienced after her assault. "People shamed me after my attack—well, you were wearing heels. You looked like a girl!" The experience left her sympathetic to why women are reluctant to come forward when they experience violence.
Talking about violence against women, McMains sounded much like her liberal counterparts. But where their strategy to stop this violence relies on more government, McMains—and her co-panelists—emphasized personal responsibility, urging women to take self-protection into their own hands by learning to use a firearm properly, and keeping it near.
Violence "can happen anywhere, anytime," said McMains when asked to explain why she supports concealed carry. "I should be able to save my own life anywhere, anytime."
Thu, 26 Jan 2017 04:00:00 -0500
(image) The California Department of Justice gave a Southern California Public Radio reporter the personal information of 3,424 firearms instructors, including their dates of birth and driver's license numbers. The information was supposed to be redacted when the department responded to an open records request from the reporter. The department discovered the error two months later.
Wed, 25 Jan 2017 12:00:00 -0500There's plenty of chin-scratching today about President Donald Trump's tweet last night, "If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible 'carnage' going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!" The feds are already involved in Chicago's crime-fighting efforts. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives have agents there attempting to track and fight illegal arms trafficking in the city. And more recently, the Department of Justice has released a massive report detailing unconstitutional behavior and civil rights violations by the City of Chicago's police department. But of course, that's not what Trump is talking about. Trump has made it abundantly clear that whatever is causing Chicago's crime problems, it has nothing to do with police abuse or violent police behavior. He instead sees a "dangerous anti-police atmosphere" in America and is promising to stop it. There's also an element of Trump's thin-skinned nature coming to the surface here. Sure, Trump has been running as a "law and order" candidate all along and has a page devoted to law enforcement on the White House site. But on Monday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel used a ribbon-cutting to attack Trump's obsession with crowd sizes. Clearly Trump's tweet was a response. From the Chicago Sun Times: "You didn't get elected to debate the crowd size at your inaugural....You got elected to make sure that people have a job, that the economy continues to grow, people have security as it relates to their kids' education. It wasn't about your crowd size. It was about their lives and their jobs," the mayor said after cutting the ribbon at a domestic violence shelter in Uptown. Emanuel advised Trump to do what he did while working as a political operative for former President Bill Clinton and as former President Barack Obama's first White House chief of staff. "The most important thing you can do is create a relationship between the desk in the Oval Office and the issues at the kitchen table," Emanuel said. "And I don't think in the kitchen tables of America — and I definitely can tell you on Saturday at the parade — people were not talking about the crowd size on Friday. They were talking about jobs, education, health care, security." But Emanuel himself was responding defensively to Trump invoking Chicago as a hotbed of crime and violence. There's a political spitting match going on here, which helps explain why we don't really know what Trump means when he talks about sending in the feds. And Chicago isn't even necessarily opposed. They certainly want federal money. The city's finances are a disaster area within a state that is itself a financial disaster area. An infusion of federal cash would pay for more police officers (to satisfy the public) and more "training," which tends to be the urban left's idea of the source of police abuse problems. It's just like public education, where whenever anything goes wrong, the problem is not enough money and training. (See the Department of Justice's plan to fix Baltimore's policing problems.) The rest of us who aren't posturing politicians who have to live in these environments should be concerned that each side is beating the same drum over and over again. Emanuel wants to blame the problem on access to guns, despite Chicago's infamously restrictive regulations. Trump wants to blame it on "anti-police" attitudes, despite the city's deeply entrenched and widely understood abusive and secretive behavior by its law enforcement officers. He's in favor of "stop and frisk" methods that violate citizens' Fourth Amendment rights to be free of unwarranted searches. Neither seem all that interested in these exchanges in exploring how the city's failure to hold bad police officers accountable for misdeeds contributes to "anti-police" attitudes and how the local government officials line their pockets via the economic predations of its poorer citizens (rem[...]
Mon, 16 Jan 2017 00:01:00 -0500In The Godfather, a Mafioso prepping young Michael Corleone to assassinate some rivals gives him a pistol for the job. After firing a bullet into the wall, Michael complains, "Ow! My ears!" His friend says, "Yeah, I left it noisy. That way, it scares any pain-in-the-ass innocent bystanders away." The Corleones would have had little interest in a bill allowing gun owners to obtain silencers without the federal permits required since 1934. Some people like the deafening boom of a gunshot. Most shooters don't, and the National Rifle Association is pressing for enactment of the Hearing Protection Act, which also has the endorsement of Donald Trump Jr., an avid trophy hunter. The proposal horrifies gun control advocates, who see it as a favor to homicidal maniacs. The Violence Policy Center in Washington argues that silencers pose a grave danger to public safety because they "enable mass shooters and other murderers to kill a greater number of victims more efficiently." Some perspective is in order. Right now, getting a federal permit requires a $200 fee, an extensive background check and a wait of several months. Possession of a silencer without a permit is a felony that carries a 10-year prison sentence. Under the proposed change, silencers would be treated like ordinary guns. Criminals would be ineligible, since they can't pass the required federal background check for purchases. Only law-abiding adults would have legal access. The industry prefers the term "suppressor" because the devices don't eliminate the noise; they merely diminish it. The American Suppressor Association attests, "On average, suppressors reduce the noise of a gunshot by 20-35 decibels, roughly the same sound reduction as earplugs or earmuffs." A shot from a 9 mm pistol equipped with a silencer is about as loud as a thunderclap. Recreational shooters and hunters would like to have silencers because they don't want to damage their hearing but dislike using ear protection. If the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had been around in the 1930s, gun rights lawyer Stephen Halbrook quipped to The Washington Post, it probably would have mandated their use. Silencers also reduce the recoil and improve the accuracy of guns. For the average gun owner, there is no downside. There are collateral benefits, too. In rural and unincorporated areas where shooting is allowed, they minimize the disturbance to neighbors and wildlife. It's not hard to imagine how they could be deployed for bad purposes. Yet there are some 900,000 registered silencers in this country, and they are rarely used in crimes. Chicago has a lot of bloodshed, including 762 homicides and more than 3,500 shootings last year, but silencers figure in little or any of it. Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department, told me, "We seldom recover silencers. Sometimes you may get a gun with a makeshift silencer, but even that is rare." A report last year by the VPC cites a handful of shootings in which silencers were used. But the paucity of examples confirms that they are not of great interest to criminals. An earlier study by Paul A. Clark published in the Western Criminology Review found only two federal court cases involving the use of a silencer in a murder between 1995 and 2005. He also unearthed eight cases in which "a silencer was actively used during commission of a crime but not used to physically injure anyone." That works out to one serious silencer-related crime per year, in a country that in 2005 had 16,740 homicides and 417,000 robberies. Supporters of the status quo say this merely proves the effectiveness of strict regulation. But improvised versions can be fashioned out of flashlights, oil filters or metal conduit. YouTube has numerous videos providing guidance for the do-it-yourselfer. If silencers were truly valuable to ordinary criminals, there would undoubtedly be a thriving black market and p[...]
Thu, 05 Jan 2017 23:10:00 -0500
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) has relaunched the Congressional Second Amendment Caucus, as I reported last month. Today he announces the re-introduction of an old Ron Paul bill to further the Caucus' goals, this one to repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 (as amended after aspects of the original bill were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court under the Commerce Clause in U.S. v. Lopez. The usual handwaving about how the guns affected by law must have moved in or just "affected" interstate commerce was added in 1996.).
This Massie bill, H.R. 34, is being called the "Safe Students Act."
From a press release draft emailed from his office today:
"Gun-free school zones are ineffective. They make people less safe by inviting criminals into target-rich, no-risk environments," said Massie. "Gun-free zones prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves, and create vulnerable populations that are targeted by criminals."
The Safe Students Act has garnered the support of three major gun organizations: National Association for Gun Rights, Gun Owners of America, and the National Rifle Association...
Cosponsors include: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Rep. James Comer (R-KY), Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), and Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX).
Gun free zones are clearly not going to prevent anyone with the plan or intent of committing violent mayhem with a gun, and if we assume any rationality on the part of such a would-be spree killer, one can assume on the margin the promise of a zone where the law-abiding have legally been disarmed increases the likelihood of attracting such a killer.
It's conceivable that not having a gun around might prevent some sudden act of momentary anger from turning tragic in some imagined case. But as Jacob Sullum wrote here in 2015, armed self-defense in public against armed killers can and does happen, though thankfully the conditions under which it might ever need to happen are still vanishingly rare.
Sat, 03 Dec 2016 08:00:00 -0500There 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"[...]
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 accu[...]
Mon, 21 Nov 2016 00:01:00 -0500There 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[...]
Wed, 09 Nov 2016 08:35:00 -0500Voters 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.[...]
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.
Wed, 02 Nov 2016 16:05:00 -0400Philadelphia 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 Philly.com, 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="https://www.youtube.com/embed/DaT9p6doRYw" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="340" width="560">[...]
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. B[...]