You Have the Right to… Not Much

Let’s talk a little about rights. Two stories lately – both involving football strangely – have highlighted the idea of “rights”. I wanted to write more about this but realized it would take two or three separate articles and I don’t have time for that right now. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

The first story is probably more familiar – and that would be Colin Kaepernik’s refusal to stand during the National Anthem. Let me say that I don’t necessarily agree with his position, though the current situation involving the black community and law enforcement is by no means cut and dry. But regardless of his opinion, Colin (may I call you Colin?) certainly has a right to express his opinion.

Or does he?

The First Amendment protects five different freedoms (yep, go back and count them), free speech being probably the most important to a free society. But who does it protect us from? The Federal government (and State governments through the 14th Amendment), that’s who. So while Colin’s speech is protected from government infringement, his employer can most certainly restrict his speech.

If you have an employer, you probably have a section in your employment agreement, employee handbook, or other document that lists the types of conduct – including speech – not allowable in your workplace. Before you get mad at Colin and call him unpatriotic, first remember that the whole point of protected speech is to protect unpopular speech – I see nothing unpatriotic about his behavior. Who knows, his opinion may turn out to be more correct in hindsight than my own.

What gets me is many people criticizing him are the same ones still tuning in to the NFL on Sunday, still buying $100 tickets and $10 beers, and wearing $60 NFL-franchised jerseys at home on their couch. Hey, that’s your choice – you’re an American – but realize that both the NFL and the 49ers have the ability to take some kind of action. If you want to be mad at someone, either would be a more appropriate target.

Likewise, some of my pro-gun brethren are up in arms (no pun intended) about University of Missouri’s Coach Barry Odom’s policy of restricting gun ownership for players on his team. I know this policy was later amended (of course illegal gun use should be restricted…did he really need a policy??), but Coach Odom is well within his authority as the team’s coach to restrict the activities of his players. Again, the Second Amendment, like the First, is a protection against infringement by the Federal and State governments. You don’t have a right to play football (otherwise I’m heading for Qualcomm right now). We don’t think anything of players being sanctioned for breaking curfew, drinking, cheating, or any number of activities that might affect athletic performance or reflect poorly on the character of the team. There is nothing in the Constitution that says a football coach can’t restrict his players from carrying or owning guns. Don’t like it? Play for another coach.

The next time someone says “I have a right to…”, apply this test. Could a lone caveman say the same thing? But that’s a subject for another couple of posts.

 

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Seriously?

I have a friend who will likely vote for Hillary. He doesn’t like Trump because he had a TV show. And because Mark Cuban says he’s lying about being a billionaire.

I don’t like him much either, but I’m not sure I’m going to believe that Cuban has any particular insight into Trump’s finances. And I’m not sure why people can’t figure out why a real estate mogul would have a lot of debt. Pretty sure you get rich in real estate with leverage… as Fancy Nancy would say, “that’s a fancy word for debt”.

Now we get the FBI report on Hillary’s email crimes. I call them crimes because anyone with a clearance knows she broke the rules. Seriously, this is a woman who has spent most of her adult life in government with a security clearance, and people actually believe she didn’t know the emails were classified??

Let’s see. I’m Secretary of State. I’m emailing about things other countries shouldn’t know. Pretty sure I could guess they are at least Secret… isn’t that the definition of  a secret? Something you don’t want someone else to know? I can tell you this, having had a much lower security clearance than Hillary for the last three decades – she knows the rules. She knew them then. She knows them now. If she really didn’t know, in her position, after holding a security clearance for decades, than she has no business being a clerk at TSA much less the President of the United States.

And Trump is a liar? Seriously folks?

Bans and Confiscation

It has become quite fashionable in the media, and in the Democrat party, to advocate banning and/or confiscating AR-15 style rifles as a way to solving the problem of mass shootings in the United States. I know someone will say “no one wants to take your guns” or “no one is talking confiscation” but they would be wrong. A simple example is California’s assault weapons registration scheme (which, thanks to a new law signed this month will include millions more lawfully purchased rifles). Once registered, the rifles cannot be sold, transferred, or handed down to your heirs. When you die, they are taken from your estate and destroyed… let’s see… someone is taking our property and you have no recourse or alternative to avoid such taking… wouldn’t that be confiscation? Not to mention Hillary’s oft uttered references to Australia’s gun confiscation plan as something “we should look at”. But I wonder if those advocating such actions have really thought it through?

Although this may be a simple-sounding solution, it is by no means easy. We need to remember we are talking about property that was lawfully purchased and responsibly owned. These laws would be instituted after the fact. This is not generally something you expect under the rule of law; the Constitution prohibits ex post facto laws specifically.

It is also important to remember that there are over nine million AR-pattern rifles in the US already. That doesn’t count millions of AK-family semi-automatic rifles nor the millions more sporting rifles that have been made for decades (the AR-15 is over 50 years old, and semi-automatic rifles have been made since the late 1800’s). These rifles operate identically to the AR and are chambered in calibers of equal or greater lethality. If we could wave a magic wand and eliminate all AR platform rifles, there would still be millions of semi-automatic rifles available. Also remember that only a few states, like California, require registration of long guns (CA only after 2014), and locating those rifles would be problematic at best.

My first question to these individuals is “to what end”? This idea isn’t new; we tried a ban on so-called assault weapons from 1994-2004. The Justice Department found no significant impact on crime. Every year more Americans are killed by hands and feet than by rifles of all types, not just AR’s (FBI). They are not “cop killers”. According to the FBI, about 50 officers were killed each year, an average of 8 by rifles of all types, from 2005-2014. The FBI only lists caliber, not model of rifle. However, with over one million law enforcement officers in the US, it is safe to say it is a very rare event when an officer is killed with any rifle, much less an AR-15. Meanwhile, millions of AR-15 owners continue to use them safely and lawfully every year for sport, competition, and self-defense.

My second question is “at what cost?” It costs money to implement the administrative bureaucracy to track millions of anything, and since there exists no federal registry, one would have to be created. The Canadians abandoned their ineffective long-gun registration after ten years and more than a billion dollars. Since we have nearly ten times the population and many times more firearms in the US, it’s safe to assume something similar would cost much, much more to implement in America.

There’s also a cost to liberty. Note the Second Amendment contains the phrase “shall not be infringed.” Similar language is used throughout the Bill of Rights. If courts can find a way around “shall not” they can find a way around any of the prohibitions in the first ten amendments. Liberty is not ala carte; when lost, it is lost across a wide spectrum of rights.

What about the loss of self-protection to those who choose to defend themselves with an AR-15? The AR is a great platform for self-defense; easy to shoot and easy to adapt to many individuals (think 6’3” husband and 5’4” wife). As part of the twenty-three executive actions signed in January 2013 by President Obama, The Committee on Priorities for a Public Health Research Agenda to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence, under the direction of the CDC, released a report that doesn’t get much attention – mostly because much of it doesn’t fit the President’s agenda. In it, researchers found that while numbers remain disputed, estimates of defensive gun use range from five hundred thousand to more than three million per year. How do we account for the loss of lives, injuries, or security for those families who no longer can rely on the firearm of their choice? Shouldn’t we examine benefits as well as costs in such a contentious political debate?

Then there’s the social cost, which is something we don’t like to talk about in polite company. However, we only need to look to similar efforts in New York and Connecticut, or even LA’s magazine confiscation, to see very high levels of public disobedience. Besides the divisiveness of the issue, there is a very real possibility of violent opposition. This isn’t an excuse not to act, but not reconciling this cost before acting is at the very least irresponsible;  at most, morally reprehensible. We could end up with more blood on our hands, not less.

What are the solutions? First, acknowledge that evil exists and it isn’t cowed by pieces of paper. Although terrorists and deranged killers may have different motives, their goal is the same – gain attention by killing as many people as possible. To think that a sign or a law is going to stop them is to avoid the problem entirely.

Second, enforce existing laws and punish those who use guns criminally rather than making criminals out of those with guns. Our current Justice Department has been woefully inadequate in prosecuting such crimes. Chicago sees double digit murders almost every weekend but the same individuals keep cycling in and out of custody.

Third, instead of using their influence to infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens, maybe the media could stop 24/7 coverage of these murderers every time they act. Hollywood and the entertainment industry point the finger at the NRA for engendering a culture of gun violence; I would ask each Eagle reader to watch the latest action blockbuster or a few minutes of their grandkid’s Call of Duty game – and then watch any NRA-sanctioned shooting event on YouTube – and determine for yourself which one engenders a culture of violence.

Finally, we need to eliminate government-mandated gun free zones. They don’t work. They ignore evil. They have been proven ineffective many times over. There are numerous examples of armed citizens and law enforcement officers stopping mass shootings at malls, bars, and churches. There are exceedingly few instances where an armed citizen has misused a firearm intended for self-defense. We only need to look at Orlando, or the most recent terrorist attacks around the world to see the type of violence that threatens to land on our shores. Do you think that individuals armed with fully automatic weapons (NOT semi-automatic AR-15’s) and explosives are going to be stopped by wishful thinking? In every case they continue to kill until someone with a gun stops them. I’m not saying a gun guarantees success, or that no one will be killed or injured. But I can guarantee these killers will keep on shooting until they run out of ammunition or time. San Bernadino showed the effectiveness of restrictive gun laws – the killers simply ignored them, modifying their firearms and using illegal magazines. And lest we forget, one of our darkest days as Americans was caused by fanatics armed with nothing more than box cutters. Evil will not be easily deterred.

In my hometown paper, a letter to the editor calling for more gun control closed his commentary by saying “Nothing helps the advance of evil men more than good people doing nothing.” I would counter that disarming law-abiding citizens is actually worse than doing nothing; it is precisely the reaction evil men hope to inspire.

Malum Prohibitum

Say what?

What about this malum prohibitum? It refers to conduct that is unlawful because someone decided so. You know, stuff that is legal elsewhere, or was legal yesterday, but because someone didn’t like it, and some other person signed a piece of paper, you can now go to jail for doing it. We have a lot of malum prohibitum going down in the Golden State.

We have some stupid gun laws in California, as I’m reminded nearly every day. I read somewhere we have over 800. But never fear, I received an alert from the NRA that there are ten anti-gun bills being heard on Tuesday (14 Jun – not so appropriately, also Flag Day), just in case the first 800 didn’t do the trick (and at least 9 more still alive this legislative session).

Just how stupid are they? I bought a pistol the other day from another individual. Here in California, we have to do a private party transfer (PPT) at a dealer so that a background check can be performed. More on that in a later post. As part of the transfer, I also needed to have a safety lock provided with the gun at time of purchase. The previous owner thoughtfully brought THE ORIGINAL LOCK still unused and unopened in the bag originally shipped with the gun. Surely that would suffice… right? Oh no, it does not. I had to buy another lock from the dealer. Now, if safety was the actual reason for this law… wouldn’t the original, unused lock – that was good enough to satisfy the requirements for the original sale – be good enough?? You see, it’s not about safety. It’s about making it as hard as possible, one nick at a time, for private ownership of firearms.

Here are a couple of other gems. First of all, we can’t have standard-capacity magazines; ours are limited to 10 rounds. Why the magic number? Who knows. Also, California decided that certain semi-automatic rifles are just too scary. So… if your gun has certain features (like a pistol grip) you have to release the magazine using a tool (or “bullet button”, as they are known here).

Now, a couple of thoughts. Criminals don’t care, and they will use standard-capacity magazines if they want, and they will install standard magazine releases if they want. They are planning to break the law, so breaking a couple more rules is no big deal. But how about the other end of the legal spectrum – law enforcement officers? They don’t have to follow the rules either. They get standard capacity magazines and patrol rifles with standard magazine releases. These weapons are for their protection should they encounter criminals… of course, these are the same criminals that just assaulted you at your home, business, or on the street. Maybe cops lack the marksmanship skills of plain ol’ civilians and need more rounds?

We also have a “safe gun” roster. This has absolutely nothing to do with safety – it’s a blatant ploy to shake down gun manufacturers for money and slowly reduce the number of handguns available for purchase in the state. Think I’m exaggerating? One of the requirements for a new semi-automatic pistol is micro-stamping. Micro-stamping requires the firearm to imprint identification information onto the cartridge at the time of firing. It has been done in a lab, but currently no manufacturer has the technology to pull it off on an operational handgun. There are too many variables, much less the fact that a criminal can defeat this identification in a few minutes with a small file or by simply swapping parts. No matter, it’s required, and we have seen several major manufacturers drop all of their semi-auto pistols from the roster rather than make a futile and expensive attempt to comply. Ruger American? Can’t get it. SIG P320? No way. Gen 4 Glocks? Nope. All “unsafe” in CA.

So yeah, we’ve got a lot of stupid gun laws. But hey, I’ve got two safety locks now. Sleep well, California.

 

Hello Free America

Welcome to Radio Free California. Here you’ll find the random rantings of a Christian, libertarian, gun-rights advocate trapped behind the lines in what’s left of a once-vibrant, successful state. Mostly, you’ll here about all the things I find interesting or unnerving that my wife doesn’t want to hear about….

Starting with Senator Ben Hueso’s SB 899 “Equal Gender Pricing” bill, which purports to rectify the injustices inflicted on women (or anyone wanting a “girly” color of anything, I guess) by companies charging more for “gender-based marketing”. Ok…

First of all, I’m glad we have no other problems in the People’s Republic of Kalifornia. We are finally getting down to the really gritty, important issues of pink scooters and pastel pants. And I was still worried we had crime, budget, and water problems not to mention the constant rumbling of U-Haul trucks heading to Texas with our small businesses.

Maybe Senator Hueso has never purchased anything from Amazon? When I bought children’s mittens this winter, each color variant was priced differently. Men’s jeans are priced differently by color. Take a look around – pretty much any product is priced differently based on color.

Before we get to the core of the matter, think about the practical enforcement of this bill if it becomes law. Who gets to decide if the price difference is based on a gender bias? Who decides which colors are associated with a particular gender? Will certain colors or combinations be specified? Will we need a Gender Bias Color Committee in Sacramento to make final determinations? It’s either completely unenforceable, or it becomes a Katie-bar-the-door free for all, allowing virtually any company to come under attack for following market forces rather than government dictate when setting prices.

Have we become so economically challenged that we no longer understand supply and demand? Did Senator Hueso ever think that some products may sell many more blue than pink items, but it costs the same to market the pink so the cost per unit is higher? Could some colors cost more to manufacture, or require more attention to achieve a quality result during production? And did the good Senator ever consider that, rather than lower the cost of the offending products, companies will simply raise the cost of all products?

I’m not doubting the price difference. But in what’s left of our free market economy, companies can’t get away with price gouging for long. If company A charges more for a pink yo-yo than necessary to cover expenses and a small profit, company B will quickly charge less and take the sales.

If you really want to see some price gouging, hang around for a while after this bill becomes law. All consumers will feel the pain of “equality”.

End Transmission