Guns and Gun Rights
The follow-up Supreme Court decision to Heller that was handed down yesterday marked a significant point in Second Amendment history. And that has not just gun-rights advocates jumping for joy, but also Democrats:
For them, the court’s groundbreaking decision couldn’t have been more beneficial to the cause in November. Now, Democratic candidates across the map figure they have one less issue to worry about on the campaign trail. And they won’t have to defend against Republican attacks over gun rights and an angry, energized base of gun owners.
“It removes guns as a political issue because everyone now agrees that the Second Amendment is an individual right and everybody agrees that it’s subject to regulation,” said Lanae Erickson, deputy director of the culture program at the centrist think tank Third Way.
A House Democratic aide agreed that the court’s decision removed a potentially combustible element from the mix.
“The Supreme Court ruled here that you have a fundamental right to own and bear arms, and that means at the national level it’s harder – whether it’s Republicans or whether it’s the [National Rifle Association] – to throw that claim out: if Democrats are in charge they’re going to come get your guns,” said the aide. “It pretty much took that off the table.”
Despite the fact that there are a fair number of pro-gun Democrats in Congress, members of the Donkey Party are typically slammed as “gun-grabbers” in close elections. With the decision in McDonald, that issue is basically moot for Democrats running red or purple districts.
The likely removal—or at least neutralization—of the gun issue this fall is of no small matter in the battle for the House and Senate. The Democratic majorities in both chambers were built, in part, on victories in pro-gun states and districts that had until recently been difficult terrain for Democratic candidates as a result of the national party’s position on gun control.
For congressional Democrats—especially those in seats outside major metropolitan areas where support for gun rights runs high—the ruling offered a chance to assert their pro-gun bona fides.
John Anzalone, a prominent Alabama-based pollster with a roster of Southern Democratic clients, called it a “win, win, win, win” situation for everyone—and above all, “for conservative Democrats who will be able to use it as a credential that they’re conservative. This is a tough political environment; you’re going to see Southern, Western Democrats use it and stand up for gun rights.”
Unfortunately for the Democrats, gun rights issues weren’t likely to be very high on the list of grievances redressed at the ballot box this Fall. Mired in the middle of the Great Recession, economic issues will be paramount in November, especially on jobs and tax policy.
In fact, although Democrats are cheering the absence of Second Amendment posturing thanks to McDonald, to the extent such issue would have been raised, it would have served as a distraction from the core concerns of voters. Now, with that issue off the table, the Democratic spending policies are cast in stark relief. While out on the hustings, they will be forced to answer for their support of ObamaCare, Stimulus, Cap and Trade, Finreg and the rest of the Democratic agenda that’s done nothing to help the economy, and sure looks like it may have done much to hinder it.
In political time, November 2nd is an eternity away. There is really no telling what might happen between now and then that might influence various elections, whether on a national or local level. Even so, I wouldn’t be surprised if Democrats were wishing they had the distraction of gun-rights issues this Fall instead of being forced to face the economic policy music. It will be a baleful tune.
In a rather interesting ruling which, unsurprisingly, split along ideological lines, the Supreme Court today made it clear that all Americans enjoy the full right and benefit of self-defense guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment. Mary Katharine Ham notes part of the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito:
Alito writes in part, “Self-defense is a basic right, recognized by many legal systems from ancient times to the present day, and in Heller, we held that individual self-defense is “the central component” of the Second Amendment right,” while allowing, as in Heller, for sensible gun ownership restrictions.
Alito went on to write:
We repeat those assurances here. Despite municipal respondents’ doomsday proclamations, incorporation does not imperil every law regulating firearms.
Of course, the crack left by that sentence will be fully exploited by municipalities and states, calling whatever they try to do "sensible gun ownership restrictions". But Alito makes it clear that the Bill of Rights, as incorporated under the Constitution, doesn’t mean that states have the right or authority to radically change the intent of the constitutional guarantees they provide citizens:
"The relationship between the Bill of Rights’ guarantees and the States must be governed by a single, neutral principle. It is far too late to exhume what Justice Brennan, writing for the Court 46 years ago, derided as “the notion that the Fourteenth Amendment applies to the States only a watered-down, subjective version of the individual guarantees of the Bill of Rights.”
Or, screw with this ruling at your own peril.
As mentioned, the court split 5-4. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the dissent:
He disagreed with the majority that it is a fundamental right, and said the court was restricting state and local efforts from designing gun control laws that fit their particular circumstances, and turning over all decisions to federal judges.
"Given the empirical and local value-laden nature of the questions that lie at the heart of the issue, why, in a nation whose constitution foresees democratic decision-making, is it so fundamental a matter as to require taking that power from the people?" Breyer wrote. "What is it here that the people did not know? What is it that a judge knows better?"
Well that’s a simple one, Justice Breyer – because rights aren’t something one votes on. A right is something one either has or doesn’t. What Breyer is suggesting is it should be up to a majority to “vote” to take away the rights guaranteed to all Americans by the Constitution. In my ideological neck of the woods, that dog won’t hunt.
For those of you who understand and can appreciate this – two phenomenal sniper shots (from the same guy at the same target) from a British sniper in Afghanistan:
A BRITISH Army sniper has set a new sharpshooting distance record by killing two Taliban machinegunners in Afghanistan from more than 1 miles away.
Craig Harrison, a member of the Household Cavalry, killed the insurgents with consecutive shots — even though they were 3,000ft beyond the most effective range of his rifle.
“The first round hit a machinegunner in the stomach and killed him outright,” said Harrison, a Corporal of Horse. “He went straight down and didn’t move.
“The second insurgent grabbed the weapon and turned as my second shot hit him in the side. He went down, too. They were both dead.”
The shooting — which took place while Harrison’s colleagues came under attack — was at such extreme range that the 8.59mm bullets took almost three seconds to reach their target after leaving the barrel of the rifle at almost three times the speed of sound.
The distance to Harrison’s two targets was measured by a GPS system at 8,120ft, or 1.54 miles. The previous record for a sniper kill is 7,972ft, set by a Canadian soldier who shot dead an Al-Qaeda gunman in March 2002.
Now I don’t care how good a shot you think you are, that’s incredible. As someone said, with the drop at that distance, those bullets must have almost been at a 45 degree angle. And I can only assume “Kentucky windage” as his method since these shots are so off the charts.
You may remember me writing some time back about my disappointment in the horribly made and extremely jam-prone M1 Carbines that I purchased for Chris and I last year. Horrible rifles. Shoddily made. I’ll never buy anything from Kahr again.
But, I did need replacements for them, and those replacements have arrived, and are all kitted out–while still being California-legal.
The rifles are Czechoslovalkian Sa Vz 58 civilian rifles. The handguards, grips, and buttstock are aftermarket accessories from Israeli Arms, who make a complete tactical package–several of them, actually, for the VZ 58. The accessories are all polymer, and are made to what seems to be a very high level of quality and craftsmanship. When it comes to stuff for guns, you gotta hand it to those Israelis, boy.
Unlike most other states, unfortunately, California has very restrictive–and quite stupid–firearms laws regarding rifles. According to the California Penal Code:
12276.1 (a) Notwithstanding Section 12276 [which contains a list of specifically prohibited models of rifle, such as the AK-series rifles], “assault weapon” shall also mean any of the following:
(1) A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any one of the following:
(A) A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon.
(B) A thumbhole stock.
(C) A folding or telescoping stock.
(D) A grenade launcher or flare launcher.
(E) A flash suppressor.
(F) A forward pistol grip.
(2) A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
(3) A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has an overall length of less than 30 inches.
Alas, the California version of the VZ 58 has a fixed, 10-round magazine (any rifle or pistol magazines, fixed or removable, with a capacity greater than 10 rounds are strictly prohibited in California), and the overall length, with the stock fully collapsed, is 32.5″.
The “foregrip” is actually a bipod, as you can see. And the magazine accepts loading from the same stripper clips that the SKS uses.
You may notice that the rifle has a very AK-like look, but that’s entirely coincidental. When the Soviets demanded that all Warsaw Pact countries standardize around the 7.62x39mm intermediate rifle cartridge, the Czechs were unamused, since they had an inordinate fondness for the 7.62x51mm round. Apparently, the Czechs believe that when they shoot you, you should know you’ve been shot. Or, maybe, never know at all.
The Czechs were also unamused by the idea that the demand to switch to the AK round also came with the Soviet expectation that their client states would also buy the rifle that chambered it, the AK-47. The Czechs have had a world-class reputation as gunmakers for centuries, and they were unimpressed by the AK. So, they accepted the ammo requirement, then let the world-famous Brno arms factory produce a rifle to fire it, the Sa Vz 58. Other than the cartridge, and a similar gas piston/op rod mechanism, the rifles are completely different. No parts are interchangeable with the AK. The parts are all CNC-machined, instead of stamped. It fires from the closed-bolt position.
Unlike the AK, it is not a side-ejecting rifle. Instead, the bolt carrier exposes a huge, honkin’ “ejection port”, which is actually about half of the upper receiver. I can’t even imagine how you’d get a stovepipe or ejection jam.
The gas piston is in a separate chamber from the short operating rod, very similar to the SKS gas system, so the receiver is isolated from gas system. The chamber and barrel, by the way, are also chrome-lined.
Another nice feature is the design of the safety, which pokes down below the receiver. This means that, even in total darkness, you can feel that the safety is engaged as soon as you grasp the pistol grip. Flock it up with your trigger finger, and you’re ready to rock and roll. In a safe and approved manner.
The sling is also from Israeli Arms. It’s the tactical sling the Israeli Army uses so you hang the weapon across your chest, and bring it up to firing position, if needed, in about a second.
It’s about as accurate as any rifle firing the 7.62×39 round can be, with low recoil, and decently fast target aquisition, especially with a reflex sight mounted on the picatinny rails on the top of the forward handguard. It’s really a hoot to shoot.
It’s reasonably priced, built like a tank, and is still about 1.5 pounds lighter than the AK.
It’s really a very nice rifle, and I highly recommend it, especially for those of you who don’t like the AK, but who despise the lightweight round and nasty direct-impingement gas system of the AR15-series rifles.
It appears that may be the case as the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the Chicago gun ban case (McDonald v. Chicago). Great write up at the SCOTUSblog if you haven’t read it. Per Lyle Denniston, the court appears to be leaning toward incorporating the individual right to keep and bear arms interpretation of the amendment nationally:
The Supreme Court on Tuesday seemed poised to require state and local governments to obey the Second Amendment guarantee of a personal right to a gun, but with perhaps considerable authority to regulate that right. The dominant sentiment on the Court was to extend the Amendment beyond the federal level, based on the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of “due process,” since doing so through another part of the 14th Amendment would raise too many questions about what other rights might emerge.
Make sure you read the whole thing as there’s lots of interesting discussion about why most feel that will be the final decision of the court. Also note that while it is believed the court will incorporate the 2nd Amendment as an individual right, it will leave state and local governments with, as Denniston says “considerable authority to regulate that right”. That part of it, I’m sure, will continue to be fought in the courts over the years. But if this turns out as it appears it might, it will be an almost fatal blow to the “2nd Amendment is a collective right” crowd.
One of the running battles concerning the 2nd Amendment is whether or not it is an individual right or a collective right – i.e. one for the state to limit/restrict. I think a fair reading of the amendment and the history of the era and those who penned the Bill of Rights clearly puts it (as with most of the other amendments dealing with our freedoms) in the “individual rights” category.
The Washington State Supreme Court weighed in on the question and while I recognize the fact that this is only valid in that state, it is a precedent that moves the argument a little further along – and not in a way the collective rights crew is going to like.
It occurred in a ruling about a recent case involving a 17 year old in possession of a hand-gun who was arrested by police for having it.
The trial court found Sieyes guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm under RCW 9.41.040(2)(a)(iii),1 which limits circumstances in which children under age 18 can lawfully possess firearms. We must decide whether the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution applies to the states and, if so, determine whether RCW
“A person, whether an adult or juvenile, is guilty of the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree, if the person does not qualify under subsection (1) of this section for the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree and the person owns, has in his or her possession, or has in his or her control any firearm: . . . [i]f the person is under eighteen years of age, except as provided in RCW 9.41.042.” RCW 9.41.042 enumerates nine exceptions which allow children under age 18 to possess firearms.
What the police contend, of course, is these circumstances didn’t involve one of the 9 exceptions. Washington state had claimed it had the legislative right to restrict who may or may not possess a firearm.
The court disagreed:
41.040(2)(a)(iii) unconstitutionally infringes on the right to bear arms protected by either the United States or Washington Constitutions. We hold the Second Amendment applies to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause; however, Sieyes fails to demonstrate on this record that RCW 9.41.040(2)(a)(iii) infringes on his right to bear arms under either constitution.
The courts justification is quite interesting and I encourage you to read it. Essentially they cite the Heller case and note that the Supreme Court “unquestionably recognized an individual right to bear arms and, in the process, rejected a collective right conditioned militia service.” What the SCOTUS didn’t do is determine whether or not that amendment applies to the states via the 14th Amendment and “incorporation”.
Incorporation is “[t]he process of applying the provisions of the Bill of Rights to the states by interpreting the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause as encompassing those provisions.” Black’s Law Dictionary 834 (9th ed. 2009). The Fourteenth Amendment bars “any state [from] depriv[ing] any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1. Under the original constitutional architecture the federal Bill of Rights protected only enumerated rights from federal interference.
The 14th Amendment changed that “original constitutional architecture” and establshed that those constitutional rights “incorporated” under the 14th applied to the states as well.
What the Washington State Supreme Court found is that it does as indicated by the highlighted line cited above and in their conclusion:
The Second Amendment right to bear arms applies to the states through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
An interesting win for those who believe the right to be an individual right. 5 of the 6 justices on the Washington State Supreme Court concurred with the ruling. The dissenting justice essentially dissented because the court didn’t go far enough in its protection of the right. I would guess this will eventually wend its way toward SCOTUS which, as this ruling notes, explicitly avoided this question in Heller.
California Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger did not sign, but did not veto, AB962, the Mail Order Ammo Ban. Since California has no pocket veto, that means the bill becomes law without his signature.
This means that, as of 1 Feb 2011, all handgun ammunition sales in California will require a face-to-face transaction between buyer and seller, and sellers will have to obtain a thumbprint and other data from the buyer.
For Chris’ last birthday, I purchased her a brand new Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine. And, for good measure, bought one for myself. Auto-Ordnance is a brand of Kahr Firearms, and their M1 Carbine is an exact reproduction of the first-gen M1 Carbines produced in World War II.
Well, almost an exact replica. The only difference between the Auto-Ordnance product and the original GI M1 Carbines is that the original rifles worked.
I ordered the rifles brand new through Turner’s Outdoorsman. On my initial look at the rifles when I picked them up, they looked fine. When I got them home, however, I noticed that one of the rifles had been improperly stained, with the cutout in the stock for the sling completely unstained, except for a big drip line of stain that had bled down.
This was a disappointment in terms of quality control, but not as big as the disappointment that followed.
When I ordered the rifles, I also ordered 1,000 rounds of .30 carbine FMJ milspec ammo from Georgia Arms. When I had both ammo and rifle in hand, Chris and I took them to the local shooting club where we are members. Along with the ammo, we also had both the factory 10-round magazines from Auto-Ordnance, as well as several surplus GI magazines.
The first problem we noticed that on one of the rifles, none of the magazines would seat properly, without slamming the bottom of the magazine with a lot of effort. The magazine release catch was slightly improperly placed, another quality control glitch, and one that was more serious than improperly staining the stock.
Once we began shooting, we quickly learned that neither rifle could be depended upon to shoot a single 10-round magazine without jamming, stovepiping, or other feeding problems. The GI magazines were hopeless, and the factory Auto-Ordnance were only slightly less so. The main difference seemed to be that both rifles would jam every two or three rounds with the GI magazines, while the factory mags jammed every 4 or 5 rounds.
In short, from the example of both brand-new rifles and factory mags, I concluded that the Auto-Ordance M1 Carbine is the most shoddily produced, unreliable rip-off of a firearm that it has ever been my misfortune to shoot.
I called Auto-Ordance to complain about the rifles, which were still under warranty, and telling them that I thought their products were completely useless. They offered to ship me two new factory magazines to see if that would fix the feed problems. And they told me not to use any GI magazines in them. I didn’t want the new magazines, I wanted to get rid of the rifles, which is not something they were interested in helping me with.
In view of my experience, the Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine is a complete waste of money, and I strongly urge anyone interested to avoid them like the plague. They are utterly worthless for any purpose I can imagine. Kahr should be ashamed to produce these useless hunks of crap, and I will never, ever buy any product from Kahr again.
Now, I’m out 1400 bucks, and I’m stuck with two rifles that I despise utterly, and 750 remaining rounds that I don’t want to shoot through these non-feeding excretions from Auto-Ordnance.
By the way, apparently I’m not alone in complaining about the disgustingly poor quality and hideous feed problems of the Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine. I ran across this thread at the Firearms Blog, where nearly every commenter has similarly bad opinions of the rifle’s quality, and Kahr’s poor customer service.
This really reinforces my opinion to steer clear of any Kahr product in the future.
You may have seen it by now, but this simply can’t pass without comment. MSNBC has carefully used footage of a man at a Obama townhall who is carrying an AR-15 and a sidearm to charge racism and imply threats of violence against Obama (HT: Hot Air).
The weapons are legal to carry. But that’s not really the story. As you will be unable to tell in the following clip, the man carrying the guns is black.
That’s just outrageous. Watch this to see why:
Calm. Articulate. Exercising his rights. Black. And, according to the newscaster, one of a half-dozen openly carrying.
But back to the point, and you can hear it in the “analysis” after the very carefully cropped clip is shown, MSNBC and the left want so badly to make this discontent with government in general and the Democratic agenda specifically about race that they’re reduced to manufacturing “evidence” and making implications based on it.
That is just pitiful. And you know full well that all three of those drones pushing the racism line knew full well their example didn’t conform to their racist story line. However, it did give the one commentator the opportunity to bring up the “rise” in right-wing militias and the possibility that someone will try to “hurt” Obama.
When you are reduced to manipulating images to make a false point, you’re no longer a news organization, you’re a propaganda outlet. There’s a reason that MSNBC is the least watched of the cable networks.
Important safety tip: When entering the secured terminal area of an airport, ensure you do not have a pistol round in your possession when the TSA personnel conduct the entry search. This will cause a…delay.