Impressions of California – Bay Area and Central Coast

We are finishing up our trip to California’s Bay Area and Central Coast today. We are in the SFO terminal waiting for our flight back to North Carolina.

My first impression of San Francisco is that it is crowded. Even in the more residential areas, people live, to use a Southern expression, cheek by jowl. However, once you get out of the city, there is a lot of open space.

Driving along the Pacific coast, one can see why surfing is so big on the West Coast. It’s the waves. You just don’t see waves like this at East Coast beaches. The scenery is outstanding and the beaches are everywhere. And in many areas, there is little to no inhabitation.

Another quick impression – and that is all it is – of this part of California is that the high-tech cities and suburbs are heavily Anglo and Asian while the more agricultural or industrial areas are heavily Latino or Hispanic. I haven’t checked any data on this but when comparing the Silicon Valley suburbs to Salinas, this seems very evident.

If I were a wine drinker, I’d be in heaven. We found very good wine available directly from the winery as low as $60 per case. And little vineyards are everywhere both north and south of San Francisco.

Another impression is how vital agriculture is to the California economy. Whether along the coast between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz or inland in the Salinas Valley, agriculture is king. Along the coast we saw tons of Brussels sprouts and artichokes being grown while inland we saw the grapes, lettuce, etc.

Gang violence is a problem in some areas. While we were in Salinas, there was a 17 year old who was gunned down while walking with a friend. The friend ran away and the kid died. It was suspected to be gang related.

Finally, this place is mountainous! Whether inland or driving along the coast, the hills were everywhere. However, unlike my native Smokies, these hills are sparse and brown. I can see why wildfires are a major problem – one spark and you can have a grass fire. Moreover, with so many houses built on steep slopes, firefighters have a hard time just getting to the site.

It was a fun trip. The GRPC conference was great. We ate well, we tasted some nice wines, and we met some nice people. That said, it’ll be nice to get home even if we just had 3-4 inches of rain from a tropical storm. Regular blogging should resume tomorrow and into the weekend. There is a lot to write about and just not enough time!

SF Chronicle’s Non-Endorsement

This past Sunday the San Francisco Chronicle decided not to endorse either Barbara Boxer or Carly Fiorina. Given that newspaper’s reliably liberal leanings, that was quite a surprise. And from subsequent letters to the editor, it has angered their liberal readers.

The reason given for not endorsing Boxer is that she:

has failed to distinguish herself during her 18 years in office. There is no reason to believe that another six-year term would bring anything but more of the same uninspired representation.

Her voting record isn’t a problem for them as she is a reliable liberal and they agree with her voting record.

The Chronicle thinks Fiorina would be much more effective and work well in the Senate. However, they don’t like her positions on the issues. One of the one’s that they don’t like is gun control. They say:

her unwillingness to support even the most commonsense gun-control measures to keep assault weapons off the street or to deny guns to suspected terrorists on the federal “no fly list.”

Repealing ObamaCare and no immigration reform until the border is secure also make their list. In other words, Carly Fiorina represents mainstream positions on the issues according to most Americans but not the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board. One could only hope more Californians decide that Boxer is a hack and needs to be replaced than not.

Gun Permits: OK for Trump But Not For You

I’m sure that People magazine didn’t mean to make the case about the inequities in New York’s “may issue” concealed carry laws – but they did.

Among the big names licensed to pack heat: Marc Anthony, Robert De Niro, Donald Trump, and his son, Donald Jr., Mets third baseman David Wright, and Martha Stewart’s daughter, radio host Alexis Stewart.

Anthony, 42, has a special permit that allows him to carry a loaded weapon in the city, and has a similar permit for Nassau County, where he and Jennifer Lopez have a $2 million home in Brookville.

The article says that celebrities are feeling “vulnerable” due to the ease with which personal information can be found on-line. Excuse me if I don’t feel that sympathetic to these poor celebrities. The ordinary New Yorker doesn’t employ a publicist to push stories about them in the media and on the Internet. If they are feeling “vulnerable” then celebrities should look at their own behavior.

As to the average New Yorker, they can just forget it. So what if they are vulnerable to thugs, rapists, and murderers, they aren’t celebrities so they can just suck it up and deal with their fears.

GRPC – Day 2 – Part 1

Day 2 of the Gun Rights Policy Conference is the big day of the conference. Below are some of my brief impressions of the speakers and what they had to say.

Alan Gottlieb said the gun rights movement should emulate the civil rights movement if we want to achieve success. That is, it should be bottom up with the grass roots guiding the movement instead of top-down like the gun control groups.

Joe Tartaro, President of SAF, said that our goal is the preservation of our rights. He compared our opponents to characters in the classic movie The Wizard of Oz. As we go down the Yellow Brick Road, we first come to the Wicked Witch of the West. No surprise here – it’s Nancy Pelosi. Then there are the Flying Monkies – Eric Holder, Chuck Schumer, Hillary, and Lautenberg. Finally, there are the Munchkins – Michael Bloomberg, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and his “munchkin mayors”.

Alan Gottlieb came back and said that judges are key in the next few years. He said that if the anti’s lose in the legislature, they will seek to impose gun control by using regulations out of the Executive Branch. The judiciary will be the only way to stop them. He noted that we can expect all new judicial appointments to be anti-gun. It will be a litmus test like being pro or anti abortion.

Larry Pratt – “DISCLOSE Act is like a gag. A gag in the throat is not the way to promote freedom under the Bill of Rights – not just gun rights.”

Jeff Knox of the Firearms Coalition – “Our single issue is liberty”. He made a point that we need to lose the word ALLOW. We should not say that we are allowed to exercise our gun rights. They are our rights to begin with.

State Senator Sam Sloam of Hawaii – “Hawaii is to the left of San Francisco and to the right of PyongYang, North Korea”.

Tom Pedersen – lobbyist for the California Rifle and Pistol Association – Litigation has changed the willingness of politicians to push anti-gun bills.

Richard Pearson – Exec. Dir. of Illinois State Rifle Association – “The Chicago tar pit is bigger and stickier than the LeBrea tar pit in California!”

Jim Wallace – Gun Owners Action League (of Massachusetts) – Stopped saying gun rights and started saying civil rights about 5 years ago. Has renamed the proposed one gun a month bill in MA the Lawful Citizen’s Imprisonment and Profiling Act.

Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy said that constitutional rights are not as well protected by the courts as you would expect.

I’ll stop with that and do another report later on more from Day 2.

There’s An App for That

The Civilian Marksmanship Program has recently released an app for use with the iPhone and iPad. The app is for keeping score at CMP sponsored shooting events. In their words:

CMP is the official app for keeping score at Civilian Marksmanship Program sponsored shooting events. It features an easy to use interface that allows for quick recording of your score after each string. The CMP app calculates your shooting percentages automatically to let you know how you are doing throughout the event. You can also enter notes and record conditions so that you have a permanent record of details of each event. This application is sponsored and endorsed by the Civilian Marksmanship Program and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this software are donated to the CMP.

 They have a link to the app store on their page linked above. All I can say – is there anything that doesn’t have an iPhone app anymore?

Great Project in Arizona

As you should know by now, Arizona has constitutional carry. You can carry a handgun openly or discretely without a license. There is no training requirement, no license, and no fee or tax that has to be paid. Some who put on the formerly required concealed carry permit class were upset at this and tried to rally opposition to it. They based their opposition to it on the need for training.

We all need training. That should be a given. The Arizona Citizens Defense League has stepped in with a great project to provide this training. They call it

Interested parties from around the state joined forces to promote gun-safety training, the shooting sports, self-defense awareness and exercise of the fundamental constitutional right of the people, to keep and bear arms for all lawful purposes. The goal is to advance marksmanship, safe gun handling, and a deep appreciation of the valuable role firearms play in a peaceful society, on a statewide scale.

 They maintain a list of all the gun trainers and training classes in Arizona, a list of ranges and other places to shoot, gun shows, and information for people traveling to Arizona.

To publicize their efforts they have, in addition to the website, a series of billboards publicizing the project.

Example of billboard

They also have a special billboard on the border with California welcoming visitors from that state.

Words Matter

Alan Korwin was one of the panelists in the GRPC discussion on the Success and Future of Concealed Carry. Alan is the author and publisher of a number of books on firearms laws in the various states. Alan is a bit of a showman but he uses it effectively to get his message across.

He performed a very effective demonstration on the words we use. He had everyone attending the conference to stand up and  then asked who believed in gun rights. He got a big cheer. Doing the old routine “I can’t hear you” a couple of times, he got louder and louder cheers. Then he had everyone sit down. Alan then said if we keep calling it gun rights instead of civil rights, the anti’s will be able to continually attempt to marginalize us.

However, if we say we are pro-rights, then by definition it makes our opponents anti-rights. It changes the perception in people’s mind of who we are and what we do. Alan is correct. A person’s perception is their reality.

Alan has published a free “politically corrected” glossary on his website. You can read it online or download it as a PDF. It is well worth studying so that the next time you engage in a discussion of your rights with friends or co-workers, you will have more powerful words with which to make your argument.

Gun Rights Policy Conference – Day 1

We got registered for the Gun Rights Policy Conference and got our badges.

Today was essentially registration and an opening reception.

Gene Hoffman of the CalGuns Foundation and John Fields from the California Rifle and Pistol Association welcomed every one. Unlike in some states, it seems that CalGuns and CRPA play well together.

I recognized some of the gun rights celebrities at the reception. Alan Gura was there looking relaxed in jeans and sneakers. Alan Gottlieb, of course, was everywhere. I noticed Tom Gresham and Mas Ayoob.

We shared a table with a really nice guy who was a pilot for United and lived in the region. It was very interesting discussing the differences in gun policies between North Carolina and California. I also finally got a coherent explanation of what a “bullet button” was.

We ended the night early as we were “whupped”.

UPDATE: Derek at the Packing Rat has some pictures from the reception posted to his blog.

Knife Rights Establishes Legal Defense Fund for NYC Litigation

From Doug Ritter of the Knife Rights Foundation:

Knife Rights Establishes Legal Fund for NYC Litigation

The Knife Rights Foundation has successfully launched its Knife Rights Sharper Future Legal Fund with contributions from twelve industry leaders plus other donors, some anonymous. The initial commitments amount to nearly 40% of the fundraising goal.

The Fund will be used to pursue litigation in support of knife owner civil rights, initially aimed at stopping New York County (Manhattan) District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr’s illegitimate assault on one-hand opening and assisted opening knives in New York City.

“This initial backing by leaders of the knife industry recognizes that knife owners do not take their civil rights lightly, that we have the will, and the means, to fight back,” said Knife Rights chairman Doug Ritter.

“I applaud these industry leaders who stepped up, as true leaders will in times of crisis, to jump-start the Fund.”

Platinum-level $30,000 donors include Benchmade Knife Co., Blue Ridge Knives, Buck Knives, Columbia River Knife & Tool, Taylor Brands and United Cutlery/BUDK.

Silver $15,000 donors are and Wenger NA.

Smokey Mountain Knife Works is a Titanium donor at $7,500.

Bronze donors Ethan Becker and KA-BAR Knives each gave $5,000.

Additional money has been donated anonymously, including a $10,000 donation from an Internet knife retailer.

Knife Rights will be launching a full-scale public fundraising effort soon. Ritter said, “this is a great start, but it will take a good deal more than this to get the job done, and I am confident we will do it.”

“We hope every knife owner, every knife retailer, every knife distributor and every knife manufacturer will give their share for the common good, to protect our way of life.”

“We ask knife buyers to urge other industry members to pledge their fair share and make your cause their own.”

Knife Rights’ experienced criminal and civil litigation team is now working hard to implement the strategy that we have developed. You can expect to hear more on that in the near future.

I’ll note that litigation is only one aspect of our efforts to protect your civil rights. With your continued support, you can be sure that Knife Rights will forge ahead with our legislative initiatives to enhance protections for knife owners in New York and throughout the U.S., with efforts to clarify or do away with restrictive knife laws and through our National Knife Law Preemption Campaign.

If you would like to contribute and help the fight, just go here.

Doug will be a speaker along with Todd Rathner of the NRA and Les deAsis of Benchmade Knives at the Gun Rights Policy Conference on Sunday morning. Their policy topic will be “Knife Rights – The Second Front in Defense of the Second Amendment.”