Oh, now THIS aughtta be good!

SAF, SCCC Hosting ‘Supporting Campus Concealed Carry’ Forum Aug. 1

This event will feature a Gun Free Zones debate between Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and John Lott, senior research scientist at the University of Maryland. The debate will be moderated by SCCC President Michael Guzman.

I may just have to take a day off and head up to DC for this.  It doesn’t say whether it’s open to the public or not.   I’ll let you know if I find out any more.

[Update] I just spoke with John Lott.  The event is open to the public.  It will be in the National Press Club Ballroom on the 13th floor of 529 14th street at 1:00pm.  The next step is to try to get the day off work so I can get up there.  Fridays are not good days for traveling to and from DC.  Traffic will be a major issue.  Plus I’ll have to be naked which I really dislike…but sometimes I just have to make sacrifices for my readers.
I’ll keep you up to date.[/Update]

[Update 2] It looks like its a done deal.  I’ve got the day off.  The Spousal Unit is OK with it.  Now all I’ve gotta do is be able to find the place and brave the traffic.  Assuming it’s interesting enough to report on, I should have a report for you NLT Monday.  I will at least have audio and stills.  I may try to take my video camera but I’m not sure if they’ll let me film and the batteries on my 10 year old video camera are dying anyway so they don’t last very long.  That may not be worth the hassle of hauling up there.  Anyway,  I’ll let you know how it goes.[/Update]

I think I need to check out this guy’s book

When it hits the stands.

Some good insight in your column about the problem of violence in the cities. But the solution, if available at all, will not be found in the neo-fascism necessary to start a “war on guns” that would make the “war on drugs” seem highly successful. And the DEA, FBI and SWAT teams of today will seem like ACLU acolytes.

I share everybody’s Nirvana dream, but the real world won’t contain this thing. It’s in our blood. So maybe we better try to deal with it in a realistic way instead of crying out for the government to “save” us. They always jump at the opportunity, of course, and never deliver!

What’s his new book about? “Beyond a courtroom thriller, ‘Keep and Bear Arms’ examines the legal and social passions of post-9/11 America: vanishing civil liberties, vigilante reaction to immigrants, Homeland Security turf wars and the warp in the justice system,” he responds. “Can simple fairness survive? A five-car collision of ideals and realities. A book for thinking people who are not interested in a high body count.”

Sounds like compelling reading.

PA Gun Rights Activists

Including fellow gun blogger, Sebastian, descended on Harrisburg for their own version of lobby day.

Sebastian has a series of posts up about the events:

Back from Harrisburg
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe’s Opening Statement
The Real Gun Guys
Gun Free Zone
Press Coverage of Rally
First Class and No Class

Kudos for Sebastian and his fellow PA activists.

This is just one of the many ways that gun rights supporters can get involved and make a difference. If you aren’t a member of an organization in your state that conducts these types of lobbying efforts, perhaps it’s time to join one and get involved.

Just another anti-gun blog

Called the Carleton Democrats

They argue that we need guns to defend ourselves from all the criminals who want to kill you and that if guns were omnipresent then criminals would never attack because they would be afraid that you have a gun.

Comments are open, however, it took mine although no one has responded as of yet

A small sampling:

You’re projecting. Just because you aren’t emotionally stable enough to have a gun in your house without using it in the event of a disagreement with your wife doesn’t mean that the rest of us are cursed with that same lack of control.

Tens of millions of families in this country own guns. Is your contention that they never fight? If even one tenth of one percent of the approximately 42 million gun owning households were as irresponsible and prone to violence as you suggest, there would be upwards of 42,000 domestic shootings per year.

Be polite, but feel free to join in on the fun. We’ll see how long before they shut down comments.

Via Google alerts

False Alarm

Sebastian notified us of a possible case of true Reasoned DiscourseTM a couple of days ago.

It turns out it was a false alarm. I posted one comment successfully, but then I guess my arguments got too hard for them to rebut so they stopped posting them.

First, in response to this post I successfully got a comment in and “stopgunviolence” replied to it…but my rebuttal has gone ignored for over 24 hours now and another comment was posted, leading me to believe that mine’s not going to be. For posterity’s sake, here’s what I submitted that didn’t make the cut:

97% of DC’s crime guns are trafficked in illegally from outside states

Well, they would have to be, now wouldn’t they? Don’t see many gun shops in DC.

What you fail to explain is if “weak gun laws” are the problem, why is the rate of violent crime so much higher in DC than in the places that actually have those weak gun laws?

According to very statistics cited by the DC city government (ironically, used in support of the handgun ban), the percentage of homicides perpetrated with handguns has actually significantly increased since their handgun ban went into effect. How can this be? I thought tough gun laws would prevent gun crimes. It’s almost like the criminals ignore the laws or something.

So, to summarize your answer: you aren’t doing anything to reduce the violence in DC. You are simply trying very hard to rationalize instituting DC’s spectacularly unsuccessful draconian restrictions everywhere else in the country.

Got it.

Thanks.

Oh…as far as the recent incident in Virginia Beach: based upon my past experiences with the press and even with Police “experts” identifying firearms, I have serious reservations about the accuracy of the firearms reportedly used in that incident (assuming that we’re talking about the same one).

But, since you brought up Virginia Beach: Let’s see…the latest stats I could find in a quick internet search was for 2003.

Virginia Beach
Population: 439,454
Homicides: 24
Rate per 100k: 5.46
Violent Crimes: 928
Rate per 100k: 211.17

Washington DC
Population: 557,620
Homicides: 249
Rate per 100k: 44.65
Violent Crimes: 9061
Rate per 100k: 1624.94

Wow. Relatively comparable populations, but about nine times more likely to be murdered and about eight times more likely to be the victim of a violent crime in DC.

I think I’ll take our lax gun laws and hot and cold running “assault weapons” over your gun free utopia, thank you very much.

I guess doing things like, you know, actually applying logic and providing evidence to support my argument was a bit too much for them to handle.

My initial comment to two other entries never made the cut. Perhaps he’d had enough of me already by then? Luckily, I saved them “just in case” as well.

In reply to this post, I commented:

You are clearly (and intentionally) misconstruing the NRA safety rules in order to score cheap and specious points.

The NRA recommendations are clearly geared towards firearms not in use for self defense or other purposes.

A firearm kept at hand for self defense is being used. Therefore, the recommendation to keep it unloaded is moot.

Clearly, a firearm kept at hand for self defense is not being “stored”

Your contention that a gun is not “in use” when the owner is asleep is “false on its face” relies upon a very strict interpretation of “in use”, of course. Considering that your agenda is quite clear, it is evident that your definition of “in use” and mine are going to necessarily vary.

You also studiously ignore the basic fact that failing to follow NRA recommendations does not and cannot result in criminal penalties. Therefore, there is much less requirement for those recommendations to be couched in legal phraseology and to cover every possible eventuality.

DC law, on the other hand, DOES prescribe criminal penalties for failing to comply. Laws that are unclear or ambiguous have a direct impact on citizen’s lives.

The interesting thing is that DC’s laws are VERY clear and unambiguous.

As I stated before, the NRA recommendations that you meretriciously misconstrue clearly indicate that they pertain to firearms that are not “in use” (for self defense or any other legal purpose) and are being “stored.”

The DC laws make no such distinction and make no allowances for making a firearm ready and loading it, even in the face of imminent death.

In other words, your contention that the “non-functional firearms” argument is a red herring is…well…a red herring.

And, in response to this post, I commented:

But these are pieces of information that law enforcement would certainly want to review and follow up on

In what way?

Should the police interview every romantic interest of everyone who ever attempts to purchase a firearm?

How many unsubstantiated allegations should be the cutoff for disqualification?

One? Five? Twenty?

You yourself admit that the perpetrator of this crime would have passed the background check. Short of making anyone who has ever been accused of “domestic abuse” and being “demented” (as you, yourself admit should “not automatically disqualify someone from owning a gun”) a prohibited person; what, if any, of your proposed legislation would have prevented this crime?

It sure didn’t take long for Mike et. al. to figure out that Reasoned Discourse is a lot harder than it looks. It’s much more difficult to have to support your contentions in the face of facts, logic and evidence than it is to just spout meaningless platitudes and unsupported claims unchallenged.

It’s especially notable that, through the miracle of comment moderation (sometimes known as “censorship”), they can pick and choose which comments they will allow, thus lending the impression that they are engaging in debate while, in point of fact, studiously avoiding it.

Can you say “disingenuous?” Sure you can.

Governor Tim (I caint reed to gud) Kaine

held a “town hall” meeting in the Boyd dining center at the Virginia Wesleyan University in Norfolk this evening.

I didn’t take my video recorder because I wasn’t sure there would be anyone else there to record while I asked my question…I needn’t have worried, there were plenty of gun rights supporters there to back me up. At any rate, I did record audio.

I got there early and there weren’t many people there yet. Ultimately, the showing wasn’t too bad…maybe 100 people.

Although there was no organized VCDL effort to get people there, in addition to me, there were at least 6 overt gun rights supporters there and I saw quite a few heads nodding and supportive looks in the crowd that I assume were on our side, even if that wasn’t the specific issue they attended in order to see addressed.

The question revolves around an issue that I blogged about last week. Here’s what I had jotted down to ask him:

Governor Kaine: During this session, you vetoed SB 476 which would have allowed licensed Concealed Handgun Permit holders to discreetly carry their defensive arms in restaurants, provided that they don’t drink. As justification for that veto, you stated that “guns and alcohol don’t mix.”

Yet you signed into law SB 776 which allows Commonwealth Attorneys and their assistants to carry concealed handguns into those same restaurants with no requirements for training, licensing and with no prohibition against drinking.

How do you justify that apparent hypocrisy?

Well, I never got to ask it because another gun rights supporter beat me to the punch. I couldn’t find the questioner after the meeting because he was on the other side of the room from me and he somehow disappeared before I tracked him down to get his name. If he stumbles across this account I hope he will identify himself in the comments. Well done sir.

Update: The most recent VCDL alert (which kindly linked here…thanks Phillip) revealed the identity of the mystery questioner: VCDL member Bruce Fiinkelstein. Thanks brother, you did an excellent job of presenting the question. [/Update]

At any rate, Governor Kaine’s response?

I explain it by saying you got the bills wrong. Your first statement of my veto was 100% accurate. Virginia does not allow concealed weapons to be carried into restaurants except by sworn law enforcement officers…

Commonwealth Attorneys are not sworn law enforcement…

Well, you know, I have a lot of lawyers and we spent a lot of time on this…

While Commonwealth Attorneys can carry concealed weapons because of the bill I signed, they can’t take them into restaurants that serve alcohol.

Audio Here (right click and “save as” to download…no hotlinks please)

Update: Someone videotaped the first question and response. Here’s your link courtesy of VCDL. [/Update]

Well.

I wonder what the bill actually says.

Let’s find out, shall we?

§ 18.2-308

It seems that he was…um…almost right.

J3. No person shall carry a concealed handgun onto the premises of any restaurant or club as defined in § 4.1-100 for which a license to sell and serve alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption has been granted by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board under Title 4.1 of the Code of Virginia; however, nothing herein shall prohibit any sworn law-enforcement officer from carrying a concealed handgun on the premises of such restaurant or club or any owner or event sponsor or his employees from carrying a concealed handgun while on duty at such restaurant or club if such person has a concealed handgun permit.

However, above that, in paragraph B…Houston, we have a problem:

B. This section shall not apply to any person while in his own place of abode or the curtilage thereof.

Except as provided in subsection J1, this section shall not apply to: [emphasis added]

9. Any attorney for the Commonwealth or assistant attorney for the Commonwealth, wherever such attorney may travel in the Commonwealth. [italics in original: this is the newly added language -ed]

So…The governor would be right…EXCEPT that subsection B exempts Commonwealth Attorneys and assistant Commonwealth Attorneys from ALL provisions of the section except subsection J1. Subsection J1 is the prohibition against carrying while intoxicated.

Therefore, unless there is some new mechanism of the English language or the Virginia legal use thereof of which I’m unaware: Governor Kaine is incapable of comprehending the law and apparently he is is due a refund for the billable hours involved in the “lot of time” that his “lot of lawyers” spent on this issue…he got ripped off.

Back to the meeting:

A little later on, another fellow gun rights supporter (and fellow VCDL member…and fellow Navy vet), Al McClean, who happened to be sitting right behind me, was called upon.

Mr. McClean actually read the problematic text from the bill in question and re-iterated that it would allow Commonwealth Attorneys to carry concealed in restaurants. Governor Kaine stuck to his (erroneous) guns (pun most definitely intended).

He insisted that the Attorney General and his Public Safety Secretary have ASSURED him that this law doesn’t mean what it says. Then he dismissed the argument by saying “I’m not going to debate the wording with you…”

How DARE we question him about it…

Mr. McClean went on to ask why, if he can be trusted to carry openly, he cannot be trusted to carry concealed in a safe manner. Governor Kaine went back to the “I’m too stupid to understand these issues so I just do what the State Police tells me to do” argument.

OK. That’s not EXACTLY what he said.

But I think I captured the spirit of his rationalization excuse reasoning.

Finally, another VCDL member asked the final gun related question. I did not get this person’s name either (like an idiot…I was sitting right next to him, but he left shortly after asking his question and I didn’t think about it until he was gone…if you happen across my humble blog, please let us know who you are in comments).

Basically, he asked why other states that recognize Virginia’s permits allow him to carry concealed in restaurants, but his home state, the state that issued his permit, does not. I thought it was an excellent point, but Governor Kaine retreated to the “if your friends jumped off a cliff would you follow them” argument used by parents and authoritarians everywhere. The gist of his response was “I can’t control what other Governors do.”

Audio Here (same caveats as above)

Had he called on me, I would have followed up with something like:

“When the State Police advised you to deny the will of the people by vetoing SB 476, which was passed by the people’s representatives by a wide margin, what evidence did they cite in support of their recommendation to veto? Which of the many states that currently allow concealed carry in bars and restaurants have experienced problems with this policy? And finally, what provision of the Virginia Constitution empowers an un-elected representative of the State Police to arbitrarily over-ride the will of the people?”

Unfortunately, by this time, he was beginning to get leery of calling on anyone else in our general area so he moved on to another section of the room.

Shame. I’m thinking the “answer” to that one would have been…um…interesting.

At any rate, it was an entertaining evening and we Virginians can take heart in the fact that neither our Harvard Law School graduate Governor, nor the Attorney General, nor the Public Safety Secretary are capable of comprehending some fairly straightforward language in the statutes that the Governor signs.

That’s a relief. I was afraid that they may have been lying about it.

Machine Guns and Heller, Oh My!

Sorry about the title, that was weak.

Update: Mr. Gura responds to the critics. Actually, it sounds like there were some pretty vociferous complaints from some. I’m sure he’s not losing any sleep over my comments, but I want to reiterate that my criticism was not intended to be a condemnation. I think Mr. Gura did an admirable job and I don’t envy him the balancing act he had to perform. I may very well be way off base with my criticism…I’m no lawyer and I’m definitely not versed in the reindeer games associated with the Supreme Court. I believe the point that I addressed could have been handled differently, but that’s just my inexpert opinion and I offer Mr. Gura and the Heller team my thanks for a job well done. [/Update]

I’ve been involved in this discussion on a couple of blogs over the past day or so so I thought it appropriate to just bring it over here and lay out my case for everyone to see.

First of all, I’m not condemning Mr. Gura or the Heller team. I think they did an admirable job of defending the position of their clients. It’s very easy to sit back and criticize from the wings when not the one standing in front of 9 Supreme Court Justices.

With that said, however, doing a good job does not mean that we can’t point out things that we think could have been done better and perhaps learn from them going into the future.

The main gist of my criticism is summed up in comments over at Random Nuclear Strikes:

The problem wasn’t that he tried to downplay the “machine guns” implications of ruling that the Second Amendment protects an individual right, that was completely understandable as it is a question for another day. The problem was the WAY he did it.

He blatantly misinterpreted Miller and embraced circular logic in an effort to dismiss the validity of the “machine guns” argument.

His contention was that Miller limited those “arms” protected by the Second Amendment to those that have a “common civilian application.”

That’s exactly the opposite of what Miller held. Miller determined that a short barreled shotgun was not protected because it had no common MILITARY application. The “in common use at the time” test means in common MILITARY use at the time, not in common CIVILIAN use at the time.

It is a disingenuous…and flat out incorrect…argument that could do harm to our cause long term.

Second Part of his justification was that…because of his flawed interpretation of the Miller test…machine guns aren’t protected by the Second Amendment because they aren’t in common use at this time.

They aren’t in common use at this time because the NFA and the Hughes amendment put them out of reach of common people.

That would be exactly the same as DC arguing that their handgun ban is perfectly OK because no one in DC legally owns any handguns anyway.

Circular logic.

I would have had no problem with him downplaying the machine gun issue because that was not the question before the court…but I DO have a problem with him using disingenuous arguments that may be detrimental to our cause long term.

Sebastian’s latest post challenged those of us voicing criticism of Mr. Gura’s position to describe what we would have had him do:

I’ll leave the comments open for folks who want to outline ideas for how to make the distinction between arms that are protected by the second amendment, and arms that aren’t, that meet the standard laid out by Dave above.

I actually started to do this in comments but decided to go with a post on the subject.

I think Mr. Gura probably brought up the subject of machine guns preemptively and it would have been brought up by the justices had he avoided it, but I don’t believe that he should have offered it up as easily as he did, nor did he need to go there in the way that he did.

The setup was:

JUSTICE BREYER: That brings me back to the question because Blackstone describes it as a right to keep and bear arms “under law.” And since he uses the words “under law,” he clearly foresees reasonable regulation of that right…

MR. GURA: Well, my response is that the government can ban arms that are not appropriate for civilian use. There is no question of that.

JUSTICE KENNEDY: That are not appropriate to –

MR. GURA: That are not appropriate to civilian use.

JUSTICE GINSBURG: For example?

MR. GURA: For example, I think machine guns…

I can think of plenty of examples he could have used other than machine guns…say, anti-aircraft missiles, nuclear weapons, 105mm Howitzers…why did he have to go directly to Machine Guns?

The justices would have, of course, brought up machine guns at some point. That’s fine…but why offer them up sacrificially at the get-go?

After the subject of machine guns was broached by the justices, my response would have been something like:

Our position is that the State can make a very compelling argument for the strict regulation of machine guns based upon an over-riding interest in public safety. Handguns do not fall into the same class as machine guns because, although they are used often in crime, they are also uniquely suited for self defense. Strict regulation of machine guns would most likely survive even a strict scrutiny review because of the compelling state interest in public safety. The Handgun ban does not survive under any level of scrutiny because of their inherent utility for self defense…especially among the small, the weak and the elderly who are the most vulnerable…and the basic fact that crime and murder statistics necessarily ignore the benefits derived from the lawful use of handguns for self defense by private citizens.

Probably not a perfect argument, but I’m not a lawyer and I just whipped it up in a couple of minutes. The bottom line is that I think the response could have been as simple a matter as leaving open the possibility (or probability) that the state has enough of a compelling interest in public safety to meet the criteria of strict scrutiny with regard to the current federal restrictions on machine guns.

Furthermore, I don’t think he needed to go with the “B” word. Why suggest that a BAN of machine guns is appropriate when under current federal law, they are not banned, only very strictly regulated? Justice Breyer, even in asking the question, only referred to “regulation,” Mr. Gura was the one who couched it in terms of a ban.

He could have very easily made almost the identical argument without condoning the banning of anything.

But, with all that said: that doesn’t mean I’m condemning him or saying that he blew it…he didn’t. I think he did an admirable job in all other respects.

A couple of times when the justices asked him questions I cringed because I was afraid that he wouldn’t have an adequate answer ready. He handled each and every one of those instances with alacrity and confidence. I was very impressed with the majority of his performance. His casting of machine guns upon the sacrificial alter was the only part with which I had a problem.

Quote of the Millennium

You tell ’em Mr. Heller.

At that point, a reporter interjected: “the Mayor (DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty) says the handgun ban and his initiatives have significantly lowered violent crime in the District. How do you answer that, Mr. Heller?”

The initial answer certainly wasn’t expected – Dick Heller laughed. Ruefully.

Pointing at the Mayor who was making his way across the plaza, surrounded by at least six DC police officers, Heller said, “the Mayor doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

“He doesn’t walk on the street like an average citizen. Look at him; he travels with an army of police officers as bodyguards – to keep him safe. But he says that I don’t have the right to be a force of one to protect myself. Does he look like he thinks the streets are safe?”

There was no follow-up question.

Jim Shepherd at The Shooting Wire

Just in case

Any of my readers live under a rock…Heller is being argued today in the Supreme Court.

I doubt that I’ll have anything to add to the discussion as it is sure to be dissected, fisked, folded, spindled and mutilated by many much more capable bloggers than I. I just wanted to mention it on the off chance that anyone is unaware that it is happening.

I’ve already got C-Span radio streaming, anxiously awaiting release of the audio of the arguments (should be around 11:30am EDT). SCOTUSBlog will be live blogging the arguments as they are released as well. It should be interesting.

I think I’ll run and grab my lunch now so I can eat while listening and reading in.

Later.

Fun with "Common Sense" arguments

Applying a gun control argument to alcohol

Seeing these numbers and the very real impact their businesses have on the lives of innocent Virginians and knowing how the owners of these restaurants feel about their duty to our communities, I have no doubt that they will be glad to support legislation banning alcohol sales in restaurants. After all, this is not the Wild West. We do not need saloons on every corner.

As a survivor of “alcohol violence,” I ask this of Gov. Kaine and of the owners of Virginia’s many fine restaurants. If only one life can be saved, then will it not be worth it? Do this for Virginia’s families! Do this for the children!

Hat tip to VCDL