A Happy Medium on Dealing with Guns and Public Safety

Many people, including a group of Democrats in Congress, are insisting that we include things like No-Fly lists in the decision process before allowing someone to buy a gun.  There is one significant, but not insurmountable, issue with that.  Inclusion on a No-Fly list does not require due process of law.  Owning a personal firearm is a constitutionally granted right.  You cannot take away a constitutional right to life, liberty, or property without due process.  This was initially documented in the Magna Carta and made part of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Nonetheless, we are discovering that if FBI watch lists were referenced during the terrorist’s legal purchase of a Sig Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle and a Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol, he would have been prevented from buying them. (BTW, for those who don’t know about guns, a semi-automatic firearm only can shoot one round per trigger pull whereas an automatic firearm can shoot multiple rounds per trigger pull).  The Republicans are insisting that there are inaccuracies on these watch lists.  There are, but this can be dealt with using existing technology and processes.

The Transportation Security Administration is responsible for the issuance of Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC).  Let’s say that a person needs to get into a federally restricted access area for work.  That person needs a TWIC, which has a picture, a microchip, and counterfeiting countermeasures built in, to enter the restricted access area.  Let’s say that the applicant for a TWIC is on a watch list or has some other potentially disqualifying factor.  The applicant’s application will be denied, but the applicant will also be given instructions on how to proceed with getting that decision overturned (see https://www.tsa.gov/for-industry/twic#quickset-twic_faqs_10).  If the applicant files for redress or requests a waiver, and is still not approved, the applicant can request a formal hearing with an administrative law judge (see https://www.tsa.gov/node/2852).  That is a due process hearing.  Would having to go that far take time and effort?  Yes.  Would a person who was initially prevented from exercising Second Amendment rights possibly be able to have those rights restored? Yes.

I am an NRA Life Member and Certified Instructor.  While I don’t want to run the risk of losing my rights or heading down a slippery slope, I could embrace this approach if the same level of diligence that is applied by the TSA would be applied to present and future firearm owners.

If you like this approach, do something about it.  Write letters to your representatives and senators.  IMHO, we’re focusing too much on firearms and not enough on those who wield them illegally.

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The NY Times Dishonest use of Adverbs

As a paper that believes in making the news instead of reporting it, the N.Y. Times has yet again demonstrated a complete lack of journalistic integrity. In an editorial piece following the San Bernardino mass shooting described the rifles used in the shooting as “slightly modified” and “barely modified” (see http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/12/05/opinion/end-the-gun-epidemic-in-america.html?referer=&_r=0). Converting a semi automatic rifle that fires one round per trigger squeeze to a full automatic rifle that can empty an entire magazine with a single trigger pull in seconds is a MAJOR conversion.  That conversion is neither “slightly” nor “barely” modified. By making that change, the rifle immediately changed classifications and came under a highly restrictive body of laws that the majority of Americans do not qualify for. Making that modification converts a sporting rifle into an assault rifle.

The Times also fails to point out that the rifles were purchased illegally, in spite of the fact the opposite was reported. Because the shooter’s friend bought the gun for hin, that is called a “straw purchase” and straw purchases are illegal. It also failed to point out that California’s gun laws are some of the strictest in the nation. In fact, California laws require rifles with removable magazines to use a tool to remove the magazines.

The editorial calls for Americans owning the sort of rifles used in San Bernardino to turn them in for the good of the nation. So is the Times is calling for Americans with illegally purchased, and illegally converted rifles to turn them in? If it was only calling for that, nearly every law abiding, gun owning American would support that. However, what the Times did was lie about the rifles used by using adverbs to describe them that are not even remotely correct. In Michael Bloomberg form, the Times just wants a massive gun grab from people that would never think of using them illegally. What they are asking for will have a negative impact on public safety because it has the potential of taking legal firearms out of the hands of Americans who used such firearms to foil over two million crimes in 2014.

 

A “Conservatarian” View of the SCOTUS Same Sex Marriage Decision

I’m not a constitutional scholar, but I’ve invested a good amount of time in this issue. I don’t need to reiterate what others have said about the intricacies of the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Simply started, the Equal Protection clause states that all Americans are entitled to equal protection under the law, period.  What bears stating is the legal precedent in referencing the Fourteenth. Prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there were “Jim Crow” laws in the southern states that required the states, under law, to segregate based on race. Facilities were supposed to be “separate but equal.” They rarely were equal. President Woodrow Wilson, an overt racist, practiced gross discrimination. The equally overt racist Democrats of the late 1800s through the mid 1960s did everything possible to undermine the anti-segregationist policies of the Republicans. The southern states felt their state sovereignty allowed them to discriminate within the borders of their states. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth was the constitutional basis for the federal government to overrule state sovereignty because the federal government is responsible for ensuring all citizens get equal protection under the law. Given the preponderance of states that have marital equality laws, it was not, in my mind, a far stretch to apply the same principles that shot down Jim Crow. What the Fourteenth does not touch is the right of people that are not agents of the state from discriminating except in areas such as housing and employment. This ties into the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. By law and practice, churches are not agents of the state. Congress cannot force a non-agent to act. I am an ordained minister. I cannot be compelled to perform any service for anyone. I don’t know the individual laws of every state where marital equality is the law, but I can tell you that Maryland’s law is well-crafted and explicitly protects the clergy. Here is the text of Question 6, the public referendum for marital equality in Maryland,

“Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.”

I am a libertarian. I voted for Question 6 even though I will not personally perform a same-sex ceremony. I am not discounting what I believe to be the biblical truth on the topic. I am standing behind the right of two people to enter into a legally binding contract, which in the eyes of the state, is what marriage is.

The reason we have this mess is that our bloated government stuck its nose into marriage, a thing formerly under the scope of religious bodies. It chose to grant legal privileges to married couples. Once it did that and the individual states began to legalize same sex marriage, it was inevitable that it would have to respond.

Before we are too quick to respond to this ruling, think of where America would be if Jim Crow was still in existence.

The Oligarchy Times, a Reminder that the Obamanation has More Issues than the Ones in the News Today

The Oligarchy Times, Volume 2, Issue 3

In this issue of the Oligarchy Times, we have another look at Obamacare because the President really cannot be allowed to run away from the disaster he created just because has created so many others in addition.

Four months ago, in regard to people losing their health insurance as a result of the inappropriately named “Affordable Care Act,” Harry Reid said that “there are plenty of horror stories being told…all of them are untrue” (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSJOLivL-NU).  I was doing some research on a paper for my doctoral program, and look what I came across…an article that was printed in the Contemporary Pediatrics journal just three weeks before Mr. Reid’s claims.  I know, it must be that the Koch brothers and the Benham brothers chipped in and bought Contemporary Pediatrics and Fox News gathered all of the fake survey respondents.  It’s just one more fake scandal.  Oh good, now I can rest safely in the Obamanation.
aca pediatrics

 

President Obama’s Promise Zones

Promise Zones? Really? The president promised Detroit that he would not let it fail. He promised us that if we liked our doctors and our insurance, we could keep them. He promised us that he would close Gitmo. He promised us that he would lead the most transparent administration in history. I look at his promises like a bad case of gas.  They stink from the moment they are made and eventually they are followed by crap that needs to be cleaned up!

Fox Hunting is Evil and Useless

I am a deer hunter.  Deer hunting, like duck hunting, turkey hunting, and other game has a primary purpose: putting food on the table.  One of the rules you’ll find with game hunting, regardless of the state it is conducted in, is that the kill should be swift and humane.  This mirrors that way farm animals are slaughtered.  If you saw the movie, “No Country for Old Men,” that nasty pneumatic device that Javier Bardem’s character carried around and killed people with, is used to slaughter cattle.  Touch the device to the cow’s head, push a button, cow dies without suffering.

Enter fox hunting.  I was out hunting for deer to donate to a local charity when all of the sudden, the buck I was stalking comes flying by my stand followed by a pack of dogs.  On one end of the field, I hear a man yelling as if he was berserk.  On the other end of the field were men in red coats, white riding breeches, black riding helmets and boots. They were riding pristine white horses.  Trumpets were blaring.  The dogs were running all over the place, urinating on the deer runs, and scaring off every animal from the site to include squirrels.  Even five hours later, not a single animal returned.  My friend that owns the land said that the deer had scampered off into the woods and were huddled together in a most uncharacteristic way, as if they were terrified.  What was the objective of this “hunt” where the “hunters” outnumbered the foxes 20 or 30 to one, not including the dogs?  They simply wanted to chase a fox, an animal with nothing to contribute as far as food is concerned, to the point where its heart was about to burst.  The elitist asses that participate in the “sport” are flaunting their wealth and their self-assumed positions of superiority.  Their pretty white horses and their starched white breeches come back as clean as they left.  They leave for their “sport” in the middle of the day when it is warm and return to their clubs for high tea.  These people have few skills apart from being able to ride horses without getting mud splashed on their knickers.  They pay others to groom their horses and train their dogs.  Their “hunting” gear could easily cost $20,000-$30,000 per “hunter.”  Fox hunting came to the U.S. and other nations from the U.K.  In the U.K., fox hunting is considered to be so cruel and savage that it has been banned since 2005.

Game hunters, on the other hand, rise before dawn in the cold winter weather. We climb into tree stands or sit in duck blinds patiently waiting for hours until our quarry comes along. In the 10 1/2 months where we cannot hunt, we go to archery and rifle ranges, and gun clubs to perfect our art so we can kill our prey swiftly and efficiently. We wear heavy hunting clothes and boots and we come home far dirtier than when we left.  We make sure to leave the hunting grounds in better shape than when we arrived. Our rifles and bows are purchased at sporting goods and department stores.  Most hunters I know have spent no more than $1,000 on everything they need to hunt: weapons, clothing, ammunition, cleaning materials, etc. We succeed by doing hard work, not by paying others to do the work for them. We are instructed on ethical hunting and tested before getting a license.  We work closely with our Departments of Natural Resources to make sure we don’t disturb the natural balance of things and help manage the population in relationship to land for feeding and habitation.  If we are successful in our hunts, we put food on the table, sometimes for ourselves, other times for those less fortunate.  Most of the hunters I know work with an organization called Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (fhfh.org).  In the last year, FHFH has donated almost 47,000 pounds of high-quality, low-fat, GMO-free meat to those in need.

To call fox hunting a sport is like calling deer hunting with HUMVEEs, machine guns, and night vision optics a sport.  A sport is a competition where both parties have a chance of winning.  In my state of Maryland, we practice something called “fair pursuit.”  Fair pursuit is accomplished by limiting armaments and munitions.  In the majority of our counties, hunters may only use arrows, shotguns that fire slugs (think big bullet), and muzzleloading weapons (e.g., a rifle that has gun powder poured down the muzzle of the barrel, followed by a bullet that is rammed in place, which is then ignited by a percussion cap, similar to those used in the Civil War.  While there have been some advances in muzzleloading weapons, they are still limited to one shot per load, at which point they must be completely reloaded.  An expert can reload one or two times in a minute.  Unlike high-powered hunting rifles, muzzleloaders are limited to one or two hundred meters.  Shotgun hunters have similar limits.  Archers have a range of 30 to 50 meters.  In the counties that allow high-powered rifles, restrictions include caliber, muzzle velocity, and the number of rounds that a weapon can hold.  Bullets must be of an expanding type so the kill happens quickly and efficiently.  No automatic weapons are allowed, even if legally owned.

It is important to note that I am not referring to hunting foxes like any of the animals I mentioned.  A hunter that is hunting fox in this way is usually trying to remove a threat to things like poultry farms.  This sort of hunting is analogous to catching mice and rats.  The rules of hunting foxes in such a manner are the same sort of humane rules used for game animals.  In line with this is an important fact from Australia, where they have a huge problem with the fox population as they are well known for the damage they can do to crops and wildlife.  In a year, over 90,000 foxes are killed using firearms whereas about 650 are killed as a result of fox hunts.  Not only is fox hunting cruel, it’s inefficient.

I am a libertarian and a free-market capitalist, so I am not begrudging how people spend their money.  If they want to have polo clubs or hunt pheasant with $8,000 shotguns and have it prepared by their private chefs, more power to them.  However, these sick and perverted people that have the audacity to call themselves hunters and participate in group torture of an animal that scarcely weighs 12 pounds and is smaller than the dogs that pursue it, should be banned from ever doing this again.  Our nation vilified Michael Vick for dog fighting.  He was shamed, lost his job, jailed, and forced to do public service time.  Is fox hunting any less cruel than dog fighting?  How would one of these fox hunting barbarians feel if one of their hounds was chased for miles by a pack of coyotes?  There is no difference.

I am not a big one for petitions,  but I think this inhumane, evil practice needs to be outlawed in the U.S. as it was in the U.K.  I have partnered with Change.org to start a petition.  Please sign it: https://www.change.org/petitions/the-maryland-department-of-natural-resources-ban-the-inhumane-practice-of-fox-hunts