Just In Time For Halloween

If you are a fan of the YouTube videos of Greg Hickok aka Hickok45, then you know in addition to his marvelous gun reviews he has a thing about pumpkins. He shoots them, he blows them up, he knives them, he mows over them, he bashes them with a baseball bat, etc. You get the picture.

Now someone has taken four years of Hickok45 killing pumpkins and done a mashup of it. I didn’t know there were that many ways to kill a pumpkin!

As to my favorite way to kill a pumpkin, it will always remain eating it as in a pumpkin pie with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Comment Of The Day

Secretary of Health and Human Resources Kathleen Sebelius might be “as frustrated and angry as anyone” over the badly run launch of ObamaCare. That’s all nice and well except it doesn’t go to the heart of the problem.

Ask SayUncle who is being forced to switch primary care physicians or the Complementary Spouse whose job at our local hospital was eliminated as the hospital tries to deal with the revenue shortfall they anticipate due to the Affordable Care Act about whether they care that the launch of the ObamaCare website went poorly. It still doesn’t change the fact that it is a law that sucks.

The Mad Ogre, George Hill, may have said it best in a Facebook post yesterday.

The website working or not is the least of my issues with the ACA.
Complaining that the Web Site is not working is like French Aristocrats complaining that the Guillotine isn’t working.

 I think that about sums it up.

Dick Durbin’s Dog And Pony Show On Stand Your Ground

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, finally held his delayed hearing on so-called Stand Your Ground laws. The hearing entitled, “‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws: Civil Rights and Public Safety Implications of the Expanded Use of Deadly Force”, was originally scheduled to be held on September 17th.

The witness list changed somewhat from the earlier scheduled hearing. It added three US Representatives as witnesses in one panel and substituted the president of a prosecutor’s association for a Florida state’s attorney. The list is below:

Panel I

The Honorable Marcia L. Fudge
United States Representative (D-OH-11)
Washington, DC

The Honorable Luis V. Gutierrez
United States Representative (D-IL-4)
Washington, DC

The Honorable Louie Gohmert
United States Representative (R-TX-1)
Washington, DC

Panel II

Sybrina Fulton
Miami, FL

David LaBahn
President and CEO
Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
Washington, DC

Lucia McBath
Atlanta, GA

Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr.
Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Criminal Justice Institute
Harvard Law School
Cambridge, MA

John R. Lott, Jr., Ph.D.
Crime Prevention Research Center
Swarthmore, PA

Ilya Shapiro
Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies
Cato Institute
Washington, DC

The webcast of the 2 hour hearing can be seen here.

Fortunately, you don’t have to wade through all 2 hours of testimony to get the gist of what was said. Attorney Andrew Branca, author of The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Ed. has done it for us over at the Legal Insurrection blog. In addition to summarizing the testimony of each witness as well as that of the senators on the panel, he gives his take on the whole charade.

My first general observation is that the anti-SYG folks were, as experience would suggest, big on emotion and small on actual facts, law, or data.

One of the anti-SYG witnesses, Professor Sullivan from Harvard Law School, did raise some actual data–but when these were utterly destroyed by the later testimony of Dr. John Lott and Elliot Shapiro of CATA (sic), Professor Sullivan was swift to discount the use of data (which he himself had introduced into the testimony) and instead focus on the “real people” behind the data. In sharp contrast, the testimony of the pro-SYG speakers was focused and direct.

Second, the anti-SYG folks persistently conflated the legal concept of Stand Your Ground with utterly discrete legal concepts, such as presumptions of reasonableness and civil/criminal immunity.

When this is done by people without legal training or experience, such as Sabrina Fulton, one can of course accept it as an unknowing error. When it is persistently done by a Harvard Law Professor and a head of an (allegedly) leading association of State Prosecutors, one can only wonder at either their actual intent or their underlying intelligence.

Indeed, their misstatements of the law were so egregious that at one point Dr. Lott was obliged to read aloud from the actual Florida statute they had badly mischaracterized, to which they naturally had no substantive response. In that case they were claiming that even criminal aggressors could claim Stand Your Ground privilege under Florida law, a claim that the plain language of the statute read by Dr. Lott clearly destroys.

In any case, it is clear that their effort is intended to be a broad attack on all three fronts — likely with immunity being the true target, as it represents the largest pot of gold for their supporters — rather than any focused concern on Stand Your Ground, per se.

Finally, the bottom line is I expect this hearing, and any similar subsequent efforts, to be little more than political theater, with no substantive changes resulting to the law of self-defense.

I certainly hope Mr. Branca is correct that there will be no substantive changes and that this is nothing more than political theater. One explanation that I’ve heard for these hearings is that they are an effort by Sen. Durbin to keep alive a polarizing issue so as to promote higher turnout by African-Americans in the 2014 mid-term elections. Given that Durbin has shown time and again that he is a shameless opportunist, I wouldn’t put this past him.

UPDATE: Kurt Hofmann, the St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner, gives his take on Durbin and these hearings. I agree with Kurt that having Durbin chair any committee with the word “Constitution” in its name is “a grim joke.”

The Outdoor Wire’s Concealed Carry Special Edition

The Outdoor Wire network of newsletters released their annual Concealed Carry Special Edition this morning. It features articles on training for concealed carry from Mike Seeklander, Michael Bane, Claude Werner, Tiger McKee, Rich Grassi, and Paul Erhardt. 

Dave Spaulding, whom I consider one of the best trainers out there, said it contains “good, useable information” on his Facebook page.

If you have a concealed carry permit or are thinking of finally getting one, I’d highly recommend this. We can all use more training.

You can open it from this link.

Nothing Like Walking The Dog To Get A Bill Signed

While there may be other meanings to walking the dog, taken literally it might just have been the deciding factor in California Gov. Jerry Brown’s decision to sign the ban on lead ammunition.

The biggest proponent of the lead ammo ban was the anti-hunting Humane Society of the US. And who just happens to walk Jerry Brown’s dog Sutter on a regular basis? None other than Jennifer Fearing who is the state director for HSUS in California.

Does the hand that holds the leash of California’s “first dog,” cuddly corgi Sutter Brown, also have a hand in guiding policy with the dog’s master, Gov. Jerry Brown?

That’s the question being raised about Jennifer Fearing, the senior state director for the Humane Society of the United States, who critics suggest has turned her role as regular walker of the governor’s dog into a cannily effective way to lobby the state’s chief executive on animal rights issues.

Fearing scored a perfect 6-for-6 record this legislative season in getting bills signed by Brown, placing her in the ranks of Sacramento’s most effective lobbyists.

Among the coups for the Humane Society was legislation banning lead ammunition that Fearing said endangered as many as 130 species in California. It was one of 11 bills signed by Brown out of the 18 that the Legislature passed to restrict guns or ammunition.

Fearing denies any impropriety and says she hasn’t talked to Gov. Brown or his wife personally about the bill in question.

Others are not so sure. The gun-rights group Free California has filed a complaint with California’s Fair Political Practices Commission saying the dog-walking is an in-kind payment to the governor. Ethics experts are also unsure about this.

Fearing is “a powerful person who wants something from the government,” said Jessica Levinson, an expert on law and governance issues and associate professor of law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

With her role in the dog’s life, “she has access to Gov. Brown,” Levinson said. “There are a variety of ways to exercise influence.”

California taxpayers, for instance, would have a right to know if “Brown had a kid, and his tutor was head of the California Teachers Association,” Levinson said.

I know I, for one, would be more favorably disposed towards someone my dog liked. Conversely, if my dog didn’t like you, then there is something about you that might be suspect. Regardless of the intent, Fearing’s regular walks with Sutter who seems to like her has to have made Brown more receptive to her arguments. It would be hard for Brown to dismiss Fearing and her group’s agenda out of hand given the personal relationship in question. I don’t know if Fearing started walking Sutter in order to get Brown’s attention but it seems to have worked anyways.

UPDATE: The Washington Times is wondering if this should be called “Corgigate”. Attorney Chuck Michel who handles much of the NRA’s legal work in California had this to say of Fearing.

“For someone who did not hesitate to take the moral high ground in denigrating the ethical standards of hunters during the campaign to ban lead ammunition, it is disappointing to see that Jennifer Fearing does not hold herself to those same ethical standards in properly disclosing her relationship with the governor,” said Chuck Michel, California attorney for the National Rifle Association, in a statement.

BATFE – We Aren’t Saying It Is Illegal Or Wrong But…

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives released a new “informational” YouTube video this past Thursday on private and Internet sales. The video was narrated by Rich Marianos, Assistant Director for Professional and Governmental Affairs.

The ostensible purpose of the video is to provide “guidance” regarding private and Internet sales. While noting that firearms are a legal commodity and that private sales without a background check are perfectly legal between residents of a state under the Gun Control Act of 1968 (note – state laws may vary), he then alludes to criminals obtaining firearms without going through a background check. He then makes the strong suggestion that private sellers “protect” themselves by having the transaction handled by a FFL who must perform a NICS check.

I almost laughed out loud when Marianos said that AFT respects the Second Amendment rights of “our citizens who own firearms” and that they are only concerned with “traffickers”. I’m sure that explains the visit that gun blogger Andrew Tuohy of the Vuurwapen Blog received from ATF agents last year asking about his firearms purchases.

After listening to the deadpan delivery of Marianos which makes Sgt. Joe Friday of Dragnet seem animated and his announcement that ATF has established an Internet Firearms Trafficking Unit, I am left to wonder who is jerking ATF’s chain about private and/or Internet sales. Is it new Director B. Todd Jones, the White House, or Mayor Bloomberg and his Illegal Mayors? Someone surely is doing it because getting a new unit approved is not an everyday occurrence.

A Manly Picture!

As many people already know, JayG of the blog MA-rooned has been appointed the Associate Editor of the NRA’s publication Shooting Illustrated. It was reported first on The Squirrel Report and then on his blog.

The NRA has now issued a press release announcing that Jay will be the new Associate Editor. As SayUncle notes, “JayG has gone from blogger to one of those guys that sends out emails of his press releases to bloggers.”And I might note, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

What caught my eye was the picture of Jay accompanying the article. Jay is shown holding what appears to be a Mossberg 590A1 with a bayonet.

The only thing that could have made the picture better would have been if Jay had been holding the shotgun over his head a’la Red Dawn and shouting “Freedom!”. It would have been an appropriate way to celebrate his departure from the Volksrepublik. However, it might have scared the suits in NRA Headquarters a bit too much.

North Carolina Is No. 27. Why Not No. 1?

The title to this post is reminiscent of the debates in North Carolina politics about teacher pay or student achievement. However, in this case it refers to where the state of North Carolina ranked in Guns and Ammo’s ranking of the states for concealed carry. North Carolina came in at the 27th position virtually tied with Minnesota. This ranked North Carolina behind all of our neighboring states except for Virginia which was ranked 32nd. (correction: VA ranks 11th and it is West Virginia that ranks 32nd)

The rankings were based upon such criteria as cost, training hours, method of permit issuance, reciprocity, the existence of a castle doctrine, and how gun friendly the state was. This was used to create an aggregate score. The scoring criteria is below. The editors of G&A are quick to point out that no state is perfect but some states (and the District of Columbia) are pretty bad. DC, by the way, ranked as a zero which shouldn’t surprise anyone who has ever read the work of Emily Miller.

To determine the best concealed carry states in 2013, we examined the following criteria and assigned numerical values to each category for a maximum of 100 points.

Permit Issuance: States were awarded up to 25 points based on their method of issuance.
Permitless/Unrestricted = 25 Points
Shall-Issue = 20 points
May-Issue = 5 points
No-Issue/Restricted = 0 points.

Reciprocity: The number of states honored in the issuing state were counted and assigned a maximum of 10 points. Next, the number of states where the issuing state’s permit is honored were counted and assigned a maximum of 10 points. The two totals were then added together for a maximum of 20 points.

Number of Permits Honored in the Issuing State
0 States = 0 Points
1-10 States = 2 Points
11-20 States = 4 Points
21-30 States = 6 Points
31-40 States = 8 Points
41-50 States = 10 Points

Number of States Where the Issuing State’s Permit is Honored
0 States = 0 Points
1-10 States = 2 Points
11-20 States = 4 Points
21-30 States = 6 Points
31-40 States = 8 Points
41-50 States = 10 Points

Training Time: Training time was scored based on the minimum number of statutory training hours required, for a maximum of 10 points. States with unrestricted carry automatically earned the maximum number of points.

0 Hours = 10 Points
1-3 Hours = 9 points
4-6 Hours = 8 points
7-9 Hours = 7 points
10-12 Hours = 6 points
13-15 Hours = 5 points
16+ Hours = 0 points

Application Fee: Application fees were scored with a maximum of 10 points based on the statutory cost paid by civilians to their state of residence in order to obtain the permit. Fees were not scored based on renewal or out-of-state permit costs, military/law enforcement/veteran rates or senior citizen discounts. Fees also do not include the cost of any necessary training course(s). States with unrestricted carry automatically earned the maximum number of points.
$0-$25 = 10 points
$26-50 = 8 points
$51-75 = 6 points
$76-100 = 4 points
$101-150 = 2 points
$150+ = 0 points

Stand Your Ground/Castle Doctrine: States’ scores were determined based on how strong their law is regarding self-defense in and out of the home, and whether you’re immune from civil prosecution in a self-defense situation. Maximum of 10 points.

Best States for Gun Owners in 2013: To Best determine how generally gun friendly the state is, each was awarded up to 10 points based on their overall rank in the Best States for Gun Owners in 2013.
Ranks 1-10 = 10 points
Ranks 11-20 = 8 points
Ranks 21-30 = 6 points
Ranks 31-40 = 4 points
Ranks 41-50 = 2 points

Duty to Inform: States were awarded points based on whether or not individuals who are legally carrying are required to immediately inform a law enforcement/peace officers they are carrying a gun upon initial contact
5 Points = Not required to immediately inform a law enforcement officer.
0 Points = Required to immediately inform a law enforcement officer.

Pre-Emption of Home-Rule: States were awarded points if state laws pre-empt local governing bodies from crafting their own legislation regarding concealed carry. In most states, pre-emption does not include local laws regarding the discharge of firearms within city limits.
5 Points = State laws pre-empt local governing bodies from crafting their own laws.
0 Points = Local governing bodies can make their own laws and are not subject to state pre-emption.

Permit Issued to Non-Residents: States earned points based on their method of issuance to non-residents.
5 Points = Permits are issued on a Shall-Issue basis to non-residents.
2 Points = Permits are issued on a May-Issue basis to non-residents.
0 Points = Permits are not issued to non-residents.

Where North Carolina fell down in the eyes of the G&A editors was on duty to inform and the issuance of non-resident permits. The Tar Heel State actually ranked behind Illinois (No. 42) on those criteria.

Read the whole story and find out where your state ranks on the list. If you ever have to relocate, lists such as this could be helpful in deciding where you want to live.

What Do The ObamaCare Website And Canada’s Gun Registry Have In Common?

The answer to the question posed in the headline, that is the commonalities between the ObamaCare website and Canada’s failed gun registry, is software company CGI. The Conservatives under Canadian PM Stephen Harper dumped the gun registry last year deeming it ineffective and too costly. The Firearms Registry had been plagued by cost overruns from day one.

Sun News has more on other failures by CGI with regard to healthcare related databases in their report below.

Breitbart has more on these failures by CGI.

The failed gun registry was only one of CGI’s many Canadian failures, which included canceled contracts to build health care databases in the provinces of Ontario and New Brunswick. Despite CGI’s checkered record, the Obama administration awarded its U.S. subsidiary, CGI Federal, the $93.7 million contract to build healthcare.gov, part of $678 million in health care services contracts awarded to the company.

The Washington Post has more on how CGI Federal, a wholly owned subsidiary of Canada’s CGI Group, went about winning the contract for the ObamaCare website. In a significant omission, the Washington Post fails to mention the role of CGI in the failed Firearms Registry.

It is obvious to me that no one in the Department of Health and Human Services did any sort of due diligence on CGI or CGI Federal. It could be just a coincidence that CGI was involved in a gun registration scheme and was the firm selected by the most anti-gun administration in recent memory to handle their healthcare exchanges website. I know correlation is not causation but one does have to wonder.

A Now That I’m Home Tab Clearing

There are a more than a few stories that have accumulated since the middle of last week when I went to New Orleans for a business conference. I’m still getting caught up here at home with my regular work and teaching. Anyway, here goes…

Reports on the open carry protest in San Antonio at the Alamo here, here, and here.  A guy I know spoke at the event. It looks like it went off without a hitch and without anyone being arrested.

DC Metro Police Chief helps gun prohibitionists break DC gun laws. Why am I not surprised? Chief Cathy Lanier has been consistently anti-Second Amendment from the get-go.

About that shooting requirement for a pistol purchase permit in Maryland? Private ranges might not cooperate by opening themselves up to all comers. The end result is that gun ownership in the so-called Free State will suffer.

Army licenses Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern (OCP) from Crye Precision. This is also known as MultiCam. The Army is still evaluating new camouflage patterns to replace their Universal Camo Pattern and is, I believe, down to the four finalists.

JayG announced on Friday that his new gig in Virginia is going to be as the Associate Editor for the NRA’s Shooting Illustrated. So not only is he leaving the anti-gun Volksrepublik for Virginia, he will have completely gone over to the “Dark Side”. In celebration of that, I think he should invite our dear friend Ladd Everitt to a day of shooting at the NRA’s range in Fairfax to see if Ladd’s head really would explode being around all those guns and ammo.

And speaking of JayG’s new commonwealth, it looks like Mayor Bloomberg and Mr. Gabby Giffords are sinking a lot of money into the gubernatorial election in an effort to get the Clinton’s best bud Terry McAuliffe elected governor of Virginia. Unfortunately, McAuliffe is in the lead over Republican VA Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. McAuliffe has already announced his support for Colorado style gun control. If there is a saving grace in all of this it is that the governor of Virginia is limited to one term.

Finally, the judges on the California Court of Appeals, Four Appellate District, Division One don’t believe the Second Amendment extends to the AK-47. They think it is “dangerous and unusual” and equate it to the sawed off shotgun. The opinon of the court is here. Dave Hardy comments on the case here and Sebastian weighs in on the case here. It is a crappy decision that I hope will be appealed.