Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Usefulness of the ATF

Bob Owens over at has a great write-up on a lawsuit Sig Sauer is bringing against the ATF for classifying their muzzle break as a silencer.

It reminds me of a recent decision in a similar case brought by Innovator Enterprises, in which the ATF made a similarly arbitrary decision. The case was recently decided in IE's favor, probably supporting Sig Sauer's decision to move forward on this rather than just take it in the gut.

My Take: Actually what caught my eye in the BA article was Mr. Owens' call for the ATF to be disbanded, saying,
"It is time to defund and disband this useless relic that hasn’t been needed since Prohibition was repealed, December 5, 1933."
I don't agree with this. While I dislike the ATF as much as the next guy, if they were disbanded their regulatory responsibilities would probably fall under the FBI. I think we're better off having the execution of firearms regulation (if there's to be any) managed by a distinct group, which can be held accountable without fighting the full weight of an organization with much broader and more meaningful responsibilities. In short, I think it's easier to constrain the ATF than it would be to constrain the mammoth FBI. Now if the argument is more pointedly that all firearms regulation should be discarded and the ATF along with it, well, okay.

Correcting the Economist

I was pleased to see a letter from Assoc. Professor Claus Langfred of George Mason published in this week's edition of the Economist. He was responding to this article in an earlier edition talking about the quantity of guns going up but the number of owners going down. Langfred correctly points out that the gun ownership data is reliant upon the accuracy of survey data asking people if they have guns in the home. Given the hostility of the government towards gun owners, its unsurprising that this accuracy level is highly suspect.

What I've Learned About Blogs

They take time! I always find the most useful and enjoyable blogs to read are the ones that have fresh content every day. That's incredibly hard to do. Life events come up, and suddenly the blog becomes less important. I think there are some strategies to this I'll try working on - one is to be more consistent in delivering posts, and the other is to play around with delayed posts - so for things that aren't time sensitive, perhaps having them ready to go in the hopper and or having delayed posts. Anyway, still learning and working on improving.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Iran and the NRA

What? What does Iran have to do with the NRA? Well, ever heard of Press TV?

Press TV "takes revolutionary steps as the first Iranian international news network." And they've got a doozy of an article entitled "The United States of the NRA". This is a very tongue-in-cheek piece and you might draw very different conclusions from it if you imagined it was written by an American news agency. Hell, maybe it's written by an American - the grammar is great.

Like many sites, related articles are linked to the one above, with such gems as "The NRA Has Our Children's Blood On Their Hands", and a fascinating ideological mash-up titled, "US Gun Deaths Rooted in Culture of Hatred" which is actually the most worth reading out of all these.

By reading those headlines you may get an idea of the narrative Press TV is after. The first article is basically advocating, sarcastically, that America dump congress in favor of the NRA. Again, it's a needling piece of work, talking about the large membership base and its influence causing it to be more productive than Congress itself. The one bit I found interesting though was it's advocacy of mandatory training and permitting for gun owners, a level of prior restraint that wouldn't be tolerated for any other enumerated right in this country. If one really wants to increase gun safety and get the government involved in that effort, put tax dollars to use by providing gun safety training classes "free" to the public. I'd wager it would have more impact on safety in the home than a permitting program, which would be more likely ignored by many and "chilling" to the exercise of rights by others.

One last thing - that last article linked above, about the culture of hatred, will clue you into the fact that you're not in Kansas anymore. It will have your head swimming with an unusual mash-up of viewpoints, some of which are actually refreshing. Dr. Randy Short is someone who speaks his mind and has some consistency of opinion, which I can respect. He spends the first third of the interview talking about abortion and the culture of death that's already endemic in the United States. He then mentions the double standard of letting the rich, connected have the protection of guns while ignoring the needs of minorities. He gives credit to the role firearms played for self defense of freedmen after the civil war, which you can read more about here, and the overbearing power of police to selectively enforce laws against those the state disfavors:
"But the question would be that when you look at cases all over the country where say, within every 24 to 36 hours the police mow down another victim of color like what happens in New York all the time, I think some people frankly may need weapons. "
So when I say mash-up, it's a collection of ideas that you don't typically see linked in the American media - abortion, pharmaceuticals, empire, racism, police, guns. That said, Dr. Short's views on guns are a bit in conflict - if he acknowledges the significant role played by the private (unlicensed) ownership of guns in helping minorities defend themselves against overbearing majorities, and sees the police as tool for racist oppression today, it's odd to hear him make statements like "We don't want all guns removed." It implies he's advocating the for the corollary, which is that he wants some guns removed. For someone who recognizes that the state can be and is used as a tool of oppression, and understands the sanctity of individual liberty, it's jarring to hear the cognitive dissonance that comes from his advocacy of gun control. Does he not recognize that the gun rights movement advocates for the protection of the oppressed? Does he not recognize that the gun rights movement is a civil rights movement?

My Take: Those of us who advocate for principled consistency in political thought are often critical of the Republican and Democrat parties for co-opting state force selectively, and railing against it when it's used against their causes. If Press TV becomes some sort of mouthpiece for a religious subculture in America, they will certainly retain some independence from typical leftist talking points, but will be challenged to advocate for liberty rather than co-opting state control for their own pet causes. Behold a foreign state-sponsored 700 Club.

NRA Taking the Battle to the Courts

The Sante Fe New Mexican has a high-level overview of a few court battles going on. The focus is on the "torrent" of litigation around the country post-Heller. It's not an unfriendly article by any means, painting the NRA as active and aggressively championing rights, using examples that I think most can identify with - Peruta, who says he's not a hunter or gun-nut, just wants to defend himself, and Haga, who appears caught up in a case of mistaken identity.

My Take: This article doesn't give credit to the other organizations like SAF that are actively involved in legal cases, and I know some people really take umbrage with that. However, this underscores how NRA is our figurehead to the media, like it or not. It needs your support. All of us on the side of civil rights know there are more organizations in addition to the NRA doing the ground work, many times out in front of the NRA. They get credit from the people who matter. But for the media, it's a real advantage that we have a large grass-roots membership consisting of millions that can be that face.