Saturday, March 22, 2008

Gura's response

(Via FreedomSight)

As far as Alan Gura is concerned, those of us who think he threw automatic weapons under the bus in his arguments on Heller are wrong:

If I had suggested in any way -- including, by being evasive and indirect and fudging the answer -- that machine guns are the next case and this is the path to dumping 922(o) -- I'd have instantly lost all 9 justices. Even Scalia. There wasn't any question of that, at all, going in, and it was confirmed in unmistakable fashion when I stood there a few feet from the justices and heard and saw how they related to machine guns. It was not just my opinion, but one uniformly held by ALL the attorneys with whom we bounced ideas off, some of them exceedingly bright people. Ditto for the people who wanted me to declare an absolute right, like I'm there to waive some sort of GOA bumper sticker. That's a good way to lose, too, and look like a moron in the process.

Mr. Gura's right, but he's wrong. Let's have the quote from the transcript again:
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.
MR. GURA: For example, I think machine guns: It's difficult to imagine a construction of Miller, or a construction of the lower court's opinion, that would sanction machine guns or the plastic, undetectable handguns that the Solicitor General spoke of.
Note that the Justice Ginsberg asked for an example, and Mr. Gura offered up machine guns. He could have just stuck with those non-existent plastic guns of the Solicitor General, or he could have offered up RPGs or shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missles or atom bombs. Instead, he offered up machine guns.

Now, it could be that, given what had transpired earlier, he felt he had to do so--that the justices were looking for this one. Being the one on the ground, I'm willing to defer to his judgment on the point. But I'm also pretty damn well versed in tactics, and one thing I've learned is to never underestimate your opponent. Trust me when I tell you that, a few years down the road when he gets his machine gun case he wants to take to SCOTUS, these exact words will come back to haunt him--and us. These people may hate our freedoms, but they aren't stupid.

Mr. Gura, I appreciate your efforts, and I know you've put a lot of your career into this single case. I understand that the thrust of the case was to have the Second Amendment declared an individual right, and anything that diverged from that goal was something that had to be minimized. (You see, I'm not a moron, thanks all the same. I can think and reason quite well. I can even read texts on legal theory, in between picking off fleas and marrying cousins.) But did you have to do it at all costs?

Words matter, and one of these days, those words are going to matter a lot.

If you have high blood pressure, you might want to skip this one

(Via Timebomb 2000)

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms requires the following items, Purchase Description Determined by Line Item, to the following:
LI 001, EXACT MATCH ONLY - Leatherman Micra Color: Blue - Part number 64340101K Engraved with: ATF-Asset Forfeiture AND "always think forfeiture" PLEASE REFER TO THE ATTACHMENT. NOTE: ATF MAY REQUEST A SAMPLE TO DETERMINE IF IT MEETS OUR REQUIREMENT. A picture of the item may be substituted in place of the actual sample. ***Partial Shipments are allowed. Please use the space below to explain your delivery schedule. Preferred Delivery is between November 15th-23rd, NLT November 23rd***, 2000, EA;

Yes folks, this is what our overlords think of us. Think on that one long and hard.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Well, today I've had an unfortunate experience with one of the symptoms of "What's wrong with our economy"--my local John Deere dealer is closing. The trucks pulled up this morning and loaded up all the mowers, tractors and other Deere-branded machinery and left. By the time I got off work and got there, I was able to buy some filters.

To be honest, this isn't a killer for me. Sure, I just bought a riding mower from them a few weeks ago, and I'm more than a bit ticked that the good folks who worked there, who I was counting on for service and sales of various other lawn maintenance goodies, are going to be gone in a very few days. They found out this morning at 8 AM that they were out of work. I feel for them--been there, done that. But I can't blame them--they were as blind-sided as their customers.

Mostly, I blame a certain large company, who due to their overly-litigious nature must remain anonymous. This company, so the story goes, has bought up nearly every John Deere dealer in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Those that they can't buy, like my local dealer, well, they just put enough pressure on Deere that they lose their dealerships. "Hey, we're a big customer, and this little joker over here, he's undercutting list prices, he's destroying the value of the brand, YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS OR WE WALK!"

But I also blame John Deere, who allow themselves to be manipulated into doing the Anonymous Large Company's dirty work for them. I expect better from companies I do business with.

When I arrived, there was a small gathering of local farmers, most of who are "Deere men" from way back. Long-time, loyal Deere customers who own $50,000 tractors and $200,000 combines. They are...displeased. Most of the expect the Anonymous Large Company to have a location open in the area soon. They aren't happy with the prospect of doing business with the them, but they have no choice. They can't afford to replace all that expensive farm equipment just because the Anonymous Large Company plays dirty.

This is the second time in a couple of years I've seen this. The John Deere dealership in the town where I work suffered this exact fate.

This seems to be the fate of the individual who owns a small business these days. The big boys just can't stand it if they have to compete--so the competition must go. And then we have a nice corporate monoculture. The downside of this is if that monoculture ever gets sick and dies, there goes every John Deere dealer in 3 states.

Oh, and John Deere? The sales of those lawn maintenance goodies I was counting my dealer for? Well, I'll still be buying them, but they won't be John Deere Green.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Two views of Heller

From guys who were there--David Hardy and Countertop. David takes exception with those of us who want our machine guns "Right now, thank you very much". Countertop, on the other hand, thinks the machine gun ban is "history".

While I understand Mr. Hardy's point (we got here by incrementalism on the part of gun grabbers, and we'll have to get back to where we were by the same tactics), I can't agree with him. I don't want to wait "ten years down the road" for another court case that might, a few more years down the road, allow me to own a machine gun without God, the ATF and everyone else being involved. Gun owners have been nibbled to death by ducks, since, oh, Nineteen Thirty Freakin' Four, and I'm tired of it. I'm also old enough that the concept of waiting another decade or two to finally scratch that Tommy Gun itch is unattractive--I'd like to be young enough to enjoy it, thanks all the same. I want all the laws that infringe on my Second Amendment rights GONE. (And after that, let's go after the laws that infringe on my other rights.)

So I'm hoping Countertop is right. We'll see.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke dead at 90

(Via the Mountain Man)

Arthur C. Clarke, a visionary science fiction writer who co-wrote "2001: A Space Odyssey and won worldwide acclaim with more than 100 books on space, science and the future, died Wednesday, an aide said. He was 90.

Against the Fall of Night is the first of many of his books I've read. If memory serves, it was one of the first science fiction books I ever read--definately one of the first I have a good solid memory of. I spent many hours with the works of Mr. Clarke on the back porch of the house I grew up in. Many of those books are still on my shelves today.

Rest in peace, sir.

So let's talk Heller

(Nods to Kim du Toit, Michael Bane, the NRA-ILA and others)

So today was one of the biggest days for the future of firearms ownership in our lifetimes--DC vs. Heller was argued before the Supreme Court of the United States. I've read most of the transcript, and on the whole, it appears to have gone relatively well for us. Even justices that I would think would be against a reading of the Second Amendment as an individual right seemed to question the arguments of the District of Columbia and the Attorney General.

However, I'm a disappointed in the arguments of Alan Gura. He made a good case for the individual right interpretation, but he really fell down on one point. In his argument, AG Clement was quite up front as to why the Federal Government is arguing the "reasonable restrictions" business--they're afraid that restrictions on "some guns"--particularly machine guns--will go away if this case is decided "wrongly". And Mr. Gura pretty much seems to have rolled over on that one:
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.
MR. GURA: For example, I think machine guns: It's difficult to imagine a construction of Miller, or a construction of the lower court's opinion, that would sanction machine guns or the plastic, undetectable handguns that the Solicitor General spoke of.
Oh, and those "plastic, undetectable handguns"? Remember the hoopla when the Glock was introduced? Remember the hysterics about how those horrible plastic guns couldn't be detected by metal detectors (even though they can)? I'm not a lawyer and I don't play one on TV, but it seems to me that the attorney for our side is willing to cough those up in addition to machine guns. (And why couldn't he have used a less loaded term, like "automatic weapon"?) Not a disaster, but he seems to have opened a door that the Supremes can waltz right through if they want to write an opinion that is less than earth shaking.

At this point, gazing deeply into my crystal ball, I'm going to predict a decision where we get the individual right affirmed, which is a large victory. However, I'm also expecting that "reasonable restrictions" will also be allowed, which sets the stage for many more years of litigation. I'm also going to hope for a pleasant surprise.

There is much more to read besides the transcript. The NRA-ILA has an excellent page where you can listen to the arguments (next on my agenda) along with links to the amicus briefs and some basic discussion. SCOTUSblog has an index to coverage of the case, along with a collection of post-argument commentary from a number of sources.

I've got a lot of listening and reading to do here, so expect more commentary in the days ahead as I get to it all and digest it. *BURP*

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Roswell, Texas

If you're a SF fan, like alternate histories, have a libertarian bent, enjoy graphic novels or just like escapism, you need to go read Roswell, Texas. For extra bonus fun, try to pin down all the pop cultural references.

Your Sunday Firepower Video

Apaches versus terrorists--it isn't a fair fight.

Sorry for the lack of blogage this week....

But I just suddenly got a case of the "Geeze, this is stupid!"

Not stupid as in "Blogging is stupid," but that the things that usually move me to post have taken a turn for the stupid. For example, the Eliot Spitzer Show. At first, it had possibilities--NY gov/big-time crime crusader and a hooker. This is going to be good, right? Then we get pictures and I have an attack of "What? The guy was paying a grand an hour for that?!" I mean--wow--I've seen better in the grocery store. And there doesn't even seem to be anything kinky to act as an explanation. So the story just devolves into the heart-wrenching "Why powerful men can't seem to keep their freakin' flies zipped" and "Oh his poor wife/children" thing. Outside of the understandable (and IMHO justified) Wall Street glee angle--BORING!

Presidential politics, always fertile ground for blogging, has also turned stupid. We have three nearly undifferentiatable Democrats running for President, so all we have to look forward to is which one's campaign steps on its dick. This week we had a two-fer, with the Hillary's Feraro race oopsie and the Obama campaign's whack-job preacher with a vicious case of oral diarrhea. OK. Nothing new here. Expect McCain to blow his cool at another person on camera this week, just to get even.

We could talk about the economy and the impending apparent doom relating to. Decades of ignorance of basic economic truths, coupled with what seem to be such self-destructive policies that one could posit a deliberate attempt to destroy our economic well-being, leavened with a dose of incipient panic, and we have a good case of...still nothing to blog about. Yeah it's important, but there really is nothing to say except this: People, all that thunder is a storm coming. Get ready. And that too is nothing new--I and others have been preaching that sermon for quite some time now, on and off the Internet.

Perhaps the most blogable thing this week was yesterday, where me and a bunch of other folks went out to our range and spent a day doing--maintenance. We trimmed trees, spread gravel, picked up trash, fixed equipment, ate lunch and talked about guns. On the way home, Old Friend's Older Brother and I stopped by our favorite gun store to look around and help close up. It was a lot of fun, but it still doesn't really move me to blog about it. I mean, how much do you want me to ramble on about raking out gravel?

Perhaps it's just me, and I'm going through a lethargic/burned out by an overload of bad news period. It happens. Maybe I just need something to shock me out of it. The Heller case is being heard by SCOTUS Tuesday--maybe that will do the trick. Jim Shepherd of The Shooting Wire and Michael Bane have both been credentialed to sit in the press section, so we should be getting some good and fast opinions from that front.

I do have a couple of small things for today, and given how blogs work, you'll see them before you see this. I just figured the folks who take the time to stop by here on a regular basis deserved an explanation.

(Edit 3/16/2008 2003: And preferably one that was proofed better than this one was at its initial posting. I've fixed all the gaffes I've found from an evening re-read.)