Sunday, January 25, 2009

Post SHOT Recovery

Spent the last couple of days sleeping late and trying to reboot after the SHOT Show and assorted dental work. As a result, I feel almost human...emphasis on the "almost." Yesterday I went out and bought a couple of pairs of cowboy boots, a sturdy pair of Ariat work boots and a flashier pair of Tony Lamas for cowboy action shooting. Finally wore out my old Dan Post everyday boots...waded through ankle deep-mud and snow one time too many, I suppose.

Anyhow, I was going to write a word on the temperature of the industry post-SHOT. I'd say the word is "unsettled." Half the industry is convinced there will be an Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) tomorrow afternoon; the other half convinced that the Blessed One will be too preoccupied trying to restart the economy, personally tracking Osama to his lair and, on the side, keeping the Israelis from solving the Middle East problem with a cleansing application of fire.

As most of you know, I come down closer to the "tomorrow afternoon" group than the "preoccupied" guys, in part because I'm baseline paranoid, but also in part because the AWB is what it is...something symbolic to the left, akin to those religious totems always being dug up in Eastern Europe, bones of the saints and such. Even the dimmest liberal — although surely an oxymoron — understands that AWBs don't actually ban "assault weapons," have no effect whatsoever on crime (as the sunsetting of the old AWB proved conclusively), will rally the progun forces at a previously unprecedented level, and send waves of unintended consequences ping-ponging through the culture...which is how bHO became the most successful gun salesmen in history.

But it's the old scorpion and frog joke — the scorpion stings the frog carrying him across the river, even though the scorpion will drown, because, hey, it's what scorpions do. Remember, the belief in the endless panoply of antigun "solutions" is religion, not logic. One of the reasons that debating firearm issues with antigunners is futile is that there is no logic involved on their part; might as well argue the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin (the correct answer is six, including the really hot Eastern European one). 

If I'm wrong, I got a bunch of extra 5.56 and plenty of magazines. So what? I believe buying an AR, extra mags and ammo is an act of patriotism, exercising a fundamental right. Secondly, every new black rifle owner — thank you, President bHO! — brings another voice more profoundly into the fight. If I had it in my power, I'd wave my magic wand and give every gun owner an AR, 10 mags and 1,000 rounds of ammunition...although we seem to be getting there without my magic wand. More is better when it comes to political realities.

I believe that should the Democratic scorpions sting their Blue Dog frogs and go forward with an AWB, there will indeed be a Heller argument made against the new bill, something along the lines that military-styled black rifles are now the most common, most prevalent rifles in America, making it Constitutionally harder to ban them.

Here's a dense, interesting article from the Nicholas Johnson, Professor of Law, Fordham University Law School, on "Imagining Gun Control In America" in the Wake Forest Law Review. You need to read the whole thing, but here is its conclusion: 
Future Supreme Court panels and lower courts might develop all manner of criteria for placing particular guns outside the protection of the Second Amendment. This possibility complicates the defiance decisions of private citizens, and those decisions affect the viability of gun regulation outside the core of protected firearms. One methodology legislatures might use to push categories of guns outside the boundaries of constitutional protection is the bad gun formula. It was used to advance the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. 
The argument was that assault weapons were peculiarly dangerous and removing them from the inventory would not impai
r legitimate interests. The forward risk created by this form of line drawing is that  every type of gun has its peculiarly dangerous characteristics. All  guns are deadly and, ultimately, might be characterized as especially dangerous under the bad gun formula.

Within twenty yards, nothing is more devastating than the shotgun, and it can be easily sawed off for concealability. The long range precision capabilities of the scoped bolt action rifle make it dramatically more deadly than any alternative on distant targets. These rifles are ballistically superior to other portable weapons—characteristics that have prompted some to label these ordinary hunting rifles “sniper rifles,” and to press for laws banning them.

The semi-automatic assault rifle, though typically chambered for a lower-powered, less- deadly cartridge than most deer rifles, can fire multiple rounds  before reloading and can be more portable than standard hunting rifles.
Concealability makes the handgun a weapon of surprise, opportunity, and last-ditch defense.

These distinct utilities might be the foundation for denying constitutional protection as circumstances evolve. They will also fuel defiance decisions in spite of nominal constitutional protection. For people who recognize a danger of confiscation with respect to peculiar categories of firearms, the incentives to defy registration, secondary sales, or other recording statutes should continue. This is especially true for people who judge particular categories of guns to  have no acceptable replacements.


Without a commitment to or capacity for eliminating the existing inventory of private guns, the supply-side ideal and regulations based on it cannot be taken seriously. It is best to acknowledge the blocking power of the remainder and adjust our gun control regulations and goals to that reality. Policymakers who continue to press legislation grounded on the supply-side ideal while disclaiming the goal of prohibition are deluded or pandering
. Here's a second article in Reason Online, asking the question of whether a "nicer" NRA would be more effective, and seems to conclude probably not: 
But as it turned out, the Court’s decision left plenty of things for gun owners to worry about. Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia went out of his way to say “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” He also suggested that the Second Amendment permits bans on carrying concealed guns and on possession of “dangerous and unusual weapons,” in contrast with weapons “in common use.”

The “dangerous and unusual” standard seems to be aimed at saving federal restrictions on civilian possession of machine guns. But all weapons are dangerous, and any weapon that is banned (such as the guns arbitrarily prohibited by the “assault weapon” law) will thereby be rendered unusual, which makes Scalia’s reasoning circular. In any event, the “dangerous and unusual” exception, along with Scalia’s more general statement that “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” will provide gr
ist for gun debates (and fund raising appeals) for many years to come.
BTW, the Richard Feldman mentioned in the Reason article is the very same person who has gone on record on other forums stating that "Michael Bane" is a pseudonym for a famous Washington antigun lobbyist...probably quite a surprise to the people who waited in line for my autograph at SHOT!


clark myers said...

The correct answer to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin is - as many as care too.

I've got my black rifle - 6920 - and Patron membership in the NRA but we need more shooters among the gun owners.

Anonymous said...

I signed up for the NRA on November 4th, the same day i voted for Obama, because I knew the NRA would need all the help they can get to defend the 2nd amendment. If there where more Democrats like Kirsten Gillibrand I wouldn't have to feel so guilty (although I don't share her economic views).

Sometimes I hate myself for being a liberal :)

Laura said...

my partner and i are gun owners, are building our ARs (his will be a carbine, mine a bull barreled varminter), and shoot as often as we can. i'm slowly bringing more women into the fold, as well - women who, previously, couldn't stand firearms...but will shoot with me, provided i teach them what i know.

i suppose you could count us in with the paranoid. i'm leaning toward hunkering down and waiting (while hitting the range as much as finances will allow), but my other half is terrified we won't be able to get our uppers before a ban is in place. i know there's an unspoken rule that one doesn't buy one's partner a gun, but he helped me with buying my lower, and i'm planning on buying his upper. i just hope i can afford the purchase before it's too late.

Anonymous said...

"If I had it in my power, I'd wave my magic wand and give every gun owner an AR, 10 mags and 1,000 rounds of ammunition..."

Michael, I wish we could have had this as the bailout plan instead of the one that was rammed down our throats....

iainmcphersn said...

Given enough supply and a properly sized "stimulus" check, BHO might give every gun owner an AR15, 10 mags and a 1000 rounds of ammo.

If we get "stimulated" again, I'm buying more ammo.

Thanks for all the hard work Michael, love the new shows!


Anonymous said...

The key word is "prohibition" here. As I've written in previous notes, that will be the "end" here. They're going to take our guns away this time. And I agree with you Michael, it will be "tomorrow afternoon"! No "ifs", "ands", or "buts" about it. bHO has the votes and he's surrounded himself with the support. Shame on those that voted for him! If you all can't see the hypocracy of it all. His new nick name should be "The Lying King". He's gone back on every "promise" that he's made regarding NOT being the the "Old Washington", by appointing everyone to his cabinet, from the "Old Washington", including a LOBBYIST now! His economic plans are purely socialist, so that he can get America further addicted and guarantee perpetual power. His economic plans are also more of the "cause", rather than the "fix".
The public has been brain-washed. Wise up!
Life Member

Anonymous said...

Well, if he's successful with a ban, and there's no grandfathering, I predict the next hot commodities will be shovels and large-diameter PVC pipe.

Eric said...

To quote Xavier, "If it's time to bury them, it's time to dig them up."

Anonymous said...

If we've been brainwashed, wouldn't it be too late to "wise up?" From the sounds of Poster VI, we might as well start building barricades and sewing flags, or listing our surrender terms...

Oh, wait, that sounds like defeatism. Nah, I'm not there yet. That's no fun. BHO still has midterms to win. That's the hill we should be fighting on.

Brian E said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian E said...

I agree with you Michael. I expect the AWB ver. 2.0 will be upon us in the near future. My only advice to all my friends is buy an AR an AK and a few dozen mags for each.

Anonymous said...

"Michael Bane" is a pseudonym for Double Happiness.

Anonymous said...

"The argument was that assault weapons were peculiarly dangerous..."

Is that because they kill people more deader than regular guns do?

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