Does The SCOTUS Decision on Concealed-Carry Mean More Gun Violence?

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              Know how I learned about the Court’s decision to throw out the New York gun law? Because I got an email from one of the gun-control organizations saying something about how the decision would result in more gun violence, less community safety and oh, by the way, send us some dough.

              Was it a coincidence that the Court’s decision was announced at the exact, same time that the Senate got 65 votes to override a possible filibuster by Rand Paul, or Ted Cruz, or one of those other Republican jerkoffs and will now proceed to a vote on the gun bill?

              Either way, I’m going to (as usual) give my Gun-control Nation friends a minority view of yusterday’s ruling because I happen to think that: a) the law deserved to be thrown out, and b) Gun-control Nation is making a mountain out of a molehill and maybe it’s time to stop farting around with such nonsense and do some serious work.

              You should download and read the decision right here, but I’ll save you the trouble as long as you’re willing to trust that what I am going to say is based on an honest reading of what the Court said.

              First of all, if the Court’s decision does not (read: not) obviate New York’s authority to determine whether a law-abiding state resident can purchase and/or own a gun. It simply says that the 2nd Amendment does not distinguish between keeping a gun inside the home versus walking around with a gun outside the home. Since the former is justified for self-defense, the latter should be justified on the same basis as well.

              The Court further notes that this approach, which is referred to as ‘shall issue’ and removes the arbitrary authority of licensing authorities to grant concealed-carry of guns outside the home, is only practiced in 6 states, with New York and California leading the pack. In many of the other 44 states, the process for licensing residents to buy or own a gun is the same regardless of whether the gun is kept inside the home or carried around outside the home.

              Which brings us to the central issue about concealed-carry (CCW) which this decision says is Constitutionally-protected in the same way as the 2008 Heller decision gives Constitutional protection to handguns kept in the home. And the question is as follows: Does the lawful carrying of a handgun outside the home represent a threat to community safety, which is what the fundraising email I received yesterday from a major GVP organization claims to be the case?

              The answer to this question is found in the dissent written by Associate Justice Breyer who cites numerous studies which have found that “the United States suffers a disproportionately high rate of firearm-related deaths and injuries” which is associated with the existence of at least 300 million guns in privately-owned hands. Breyer then goes on to cite the recent increase in mass shootings as a further reason why loosening CCW restrictions creates a danger, stating the fact that “64.4% of firearm homicides and 91.8% of nonfatal firearm assaults [in 2018] were committed with a handgun.”

              There’s only one little problem with the evidence which Breyer uses to support his argument that legal CCW is responsible for our excessive gun violence or that the spread of CCW to states like New York and California will only lead to an increase in violence committed with guns. And the problem is this: Overwhelmingly, gun violence is not committed by individuals who exercise legal access to guns either in their homes or in the street, particularly gun owners who exercise CCW with their guns.

              The Violence Policy Center has compiled a list of all shootings committed by individuals since 2007 who were identified as people who practice concealed-carry. The total to date is 2,203. Know how many gun homicides have been committed since 2007? Somewhere around 200,000. So, if we couldn’t walk around with a handgun outside our homes, what would this mean in terms of the rate of gun violence?  A drop in overall numbers of one percent?

              I’m afraid that Associate Justice Alito, for whom I have no particularly positive feelings, hit the nail on the head in his concurring opinion on CCW when he said: “Our decision, as noted, does not expand the categories of people who may lawfully possess a gun.” Which is exactly what’s really at issue here, namely, do we or don’t we like guns?

              I don’t like full-calorie soft drinks. I don’t like tobacco. I don’t like the guy who just roared past me in his Beemer doing 75mph in a 30mph zone. I think that my friends in Gun-control Nation should stop pretending they have no problem with the 2nd Amendment as long as gun owners use their guns in a responsible and safe way.

              What’s wrong with building a gun-control movement around the idea that guns are simply no good?  I’m ready to donate. How about you?

Want To Know What Katie Left Out Of Her Film? Read It Here (With Some Additional Comments By You-Know-Who.)

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No doubt on the advice of some lawyers or a studio bigshot, Katie Couric has once again felt compelled to apologize for rubbing out some brilliant and incisive comments from a bunch of gun owners that otherwise would have made her Under the Gun documentary and much more balanced, hence valid discussion about guns. But this time, just to make sure we realize the value and intelligence of what ended up on the cutting-room floor, Katie also appended the actual text of what these gun-owning pundits had to say.  So to make sure that everyone believes that I am concerned about truth and honesty on both sides (which I’m not, by the way,) I am going to reproduce the exact text of what the VCDL focus group said to Katie, with a brief response from me.  Here we go.

couric           Katie:   If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from walking into, say a licensed gun dealer and purchasing a gun?

Response #1: “Well, one, if you’re not in jail then you should still have your basic rights and you should go buy a gun.  If you’re a felon and you’ve done your time, you should have your rights.”

Mike the Gun Guy:  So now we have the latest twist on the ‘2nd Amendment gives me the right to own a gun’ nonsense, namely, that we don’t need background checks because, after all, if someone is a felon but has done their time, they should be able to pass a background check and own a gun.

Response #2: “What we’re really asking about is a question of prior restraint. How can we prevent future crime by identifying bad guys before they do anything bad? And, the simple answer is you can’t. And, particularly, under the legal system we have in the United States there are a lot of Supreme Court opinions that say, ‘No, prior restraint is something that the government does not have the authority to do.’ Until there is an overt act that allows us to say, ‘That’s a bad guy,’ then you can’t punish him.”

Mike The Gun Guy: And this windbag, by the way, was identified as an attorney and what he’s saying, of course, is that it doesn’t matter if you tell your ex-wife that she’s getting on your nerves, until you actually threaten to kill her, you can walk around with your gun.

Response #3: “I’ll ask you what crime or what law has ever stopped a crime? Tell me one law that has ever stopped a crime from happening.”

Mike The Gun Guy: Which is why we don’t need a law that compels us to pay our income tax on April 15th.  Because without such a law, we would all voluntarily pay our taxes anyway, right?

So that’s what you missed because Katie and Stephanie edited their film.  And by the way, these are the same folks who will lecture you at the drop of a hat about all their Constitutional ‘rights.’  And just in case you didn’t know it, the 2nd Amendment is what ‘guarantees’ all the other Constitutional rights.

I continue to find myself wholly unable to understand how people can walk around believing that such utterly, nonsensical drivel can be considered as worth even mentioning in a serious discussion about violence caused by guns.  Oops, there I go again, putting forth my own drivel because since when did anyone actually prove a connection between violence and guns?

Remember, it’s not the guns that are violent, it’s the people.  And in case you doubt that for one moment, the NRA has been saying it again and again for the last fifty years so it must be true. And if you don’t believe the NRA, then the least you can do is respect people like the group interviewed by Katie because, for sure, they are committed to a serious and thoughtful exchange of ideas.  And I’m committed to buying another gun.


It’s A Win-Win When The NRA Backs Laws Against Domestic Abuse

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While the NRA continues to fiddle away with its good guys with guns tune, they seem to have missed the boat from the perspective of gender.  The truth is that women are 15% of all gun homicide victims each year, and they are overwhelmingly shot during domestic disputes.  And what the NRA has not been able explain is how all these good guys will protect us from the bad guys when the bad guy happens to be a husband, or an ex-husband, or an angry boyfriend who gets into an argument with his wife or girlfriend and then pulls out a gun.

Until recently, the NRA and its allies usually resisted efforts to tighten laws that made it easier to take guns away from people (overwhelmingly males) who were engaged in domestic disputes, arguing sometimes with good reason that the issuance of a domestic restraining order often had little or nothing to do with whether the guy receiving the order was a danger or not.  Giving the cops wide latitude to make such a determination and arbitrarily seize someone’s guns was not only a violation of the 2nd Amendment, but also ran contrary to Constitutional guarantees protecting us from unlawful search and seizure and due process.

pink gunBut the tide seems to be turning and the NRA in a slow and deliberate way is beginning to show signs that resisting any efforts to mandate government controls over firearms might not be such a good thing.  Working largely the scenes, the NRA quietly helped sponsors in Washington State to change a law that now allows for confiscation of guns if someone is charged with a domestic abuse misdemeanor, whereas previously the NRA only consented to such actions of an individual was charged with a felony.  The NRA is also backing similar laws in at least three other states and seems to be taking its cues from a recent Supreme Court decision that resulted in someone losing his guns because he was convicted of domestic abuse in Tennessee, even though the state’s definition of abuse was not as clear as the federal definition which had previously been applied to instances where abusers lost their guns.

There’s some thought out there that the NRA is modifying its stance on this issue as part of its recent campaign to get women more interesting in buying and owning guns.  But even if this is true, it doesn’t change the fact that gun owners may find themselves supporting an organization which has belligerently campaigned against any changes in gun control laws at all.  And from a symbolic point of view, the biggest change may be shortly coming in Texas, whose recent image as a gun-loving state has been tarnished by the antics of some gun-toting dopes who “invaded” some retail chains openly displaying their AR-15’s.

Texas has a statute that bans domestic abusers from keeping guns, but the law is rarely enforced, which basically means that there’s no law at all.  Recently a Dallas judge who handles domestic cases appointed himself to head an initiative that will oversee and more strongly enforce the gun ban.  The judge, Roberto Cañas, has already taken steps to strengthen the law’s enforcement, including getting other judges on board with the plan and convening a meeting of all county judges who deal with domestics to chart a new course.  A state Representative, Rafael Anchia, has announced plans to introduce new legislation on this issue in next year’s legislative session.

Legislation or procedures that deprive anyone of their access to guns has to be crafted carefully.  But the NRA could take a giant leap forward if they used their devotion to family as a rationale for openly supporting limiting gun access in cases of domestic abuse.  They would make a lot more friends among female voters by coming out of the shadows on this issue rather than letting vendors into the annual show who sell pink holsters and brassieres.  It may be difficult for the NRA to convince some of the members that backing government gun controls is sometimes more right than wrong, but leadership, even leadership of a gun-rights organization, always demands some risks.

SCOTUS Reaffirms The 2nd Amendment – In The Home.

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Even though there are a lot of people lining up for concealed-carry permits in California, Illinois and other places where more lenient guidelines for issuing CCW is no longer the exception but has become the rule, the Supreme Court on Monday let stand a federal appellate decision in New Jersey which upheld the state’s restrictive guidelines for carrying a concealed weapon outside the home.  The case had been brought by the owner of a string of ATM kiosks, who argued that the necessity to carry large amounts of cash to run his business met the state’s requirement that he show an “urgent necessity” for self-protection, even though the New Jersey law doesn’t specifically mention that protection should extend to cover a business rather than a personal need for self defense.

The plaintiff’s case, of course, drew support and briefs from the usual 2nd Amendment suspects, including the Cato Institute, the 2nd Amendment Foundation and, of course, the NRA.  I didn’t notice, incidentally, that the NRA’s website that carries daily stories about laws and legislation of interest to gun owners went out of its way to discuss this case.  In fact, today’s headline on the website was all about the “weakness” of the anti-gun movement, while the failure of the SCOTUS to extend 2nd Amendment protections to CCW was barely mentioned on an inside page.  Frankly, I don’t blame the NRA for doing its best to ignore the Court’s action; if I were in the business of trying to convince America that carrying a gun around outside the home is as patriotic as can be, I’d also try to ignore court rulings to the contrary, particularly rulings that fly directly in the face of an expansive fantasy about what the 2nd Amendment really means.

scaliaThis fantasy is expressed most clearly by a comment about the SCOTUS denial found on the Cato website, which states that: “regarding the right to self defense, the Supreme Court in Heller declared that the Second Amendment protects an individual constitutional right.” But that’s not exactly what the Court said.  What Scalia said was this:  “In sum, we hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment , as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense.”

Now I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that if the Supreme Court states that the 2nd Amendment grants the right of using a gun for self defense within the home, and bases this decision both on legal precedent and historical references, then you may not like it, you may want to see it changed, but the definition of the 2nd Amendment as giving people the right to self-defense with a gun in their home is what the Constitution allows you to do.  There is nothing in the New Jersey law that SCOTUS upheld that makes it difficult for any resident of New Jersey to buy a gun and keep it ready for use in their home. To state that the Constitution gives us the ‘right’ to gun ownership without any strings attached is a cynical and deliberate twisting of what the the Supreme Court and Antonin Scalia actually said.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not against concealed carry and I have trained more than 2,000 residents in my state in the required safety course which allows them to apply (and usually receive) CCW without having to justify it on any special grounds.  But the attempt by the NRA and its friends like Cato to pretend that Americans have a non-existent ‘right’ to walk around with a gun is made up of whole cloth.  But creating a good argument out of nothing more than what you want to believe is hardly a novel exercise on both sides of the gun debate.  After all, why should facts ever get in the way of a strongly-held opinion, right?