The “Big Money” Behind Silencers?

Chicago’s ABC 7 I-Team is going to let us know tonight about the “big money” who is behind a move to legalize suppressors in the state of Illinois.

Big money? Bwa-hah-hah. The suppressor industry – with perhaps the exceptions of Remington Outdoors and SigSauer – is made up of a number of small businesses. Some are mom and pop operations while others may have 2-300 employees.

Silencers are a safety item. They do not totally cut out the sound; they merely muffle it to a safer decibel level. Anyone who says differently is just restating myth and legend.

I just had my annual hearing checkup on Monday. I shot some in my younger days without hearing protection, attended some auto and boat races with no hearing protection, and, of course, a few rock concerts. I now suffer constant tinnitis (ringing in the ears) and some hearing loss.

About the only “big money” who would benefit from keeping suppressors banned are the hearing aid manufacturers and I doubt even they would want to build business that way.

Stuff You Do If Your Law School’s Placement Rank Is 197 Out Of 201

The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law is not, how shall I say it, the best law school in the world. In terms of ranking, they fell below the US News and World Report cut-off to be ranked. Their 2013 placement rank for full-time, long-term jobs for their graduates was ranked at 197th out of 201. So when you are down here you have to do something.

In an effort to entice their students into getting some pro bono legal experience, they are allowing them to postpone one exam if … they provide legal assistance to the rioters protesters in Baltimore. Because, you know, cops are bad and burning stores expressing your First Amendment violent outrage concerns is good.

From Dean Shelley Broderick:

Dear Students,

We have been watching the news from Baltimore and know that it is having a profound effect on many in the Law School community. As John Lewis said earlier this week, community/police relations is the civil rights issue of this time. Across this Nation, for nearly a year, the concerns of communities of color about persistent and long standing police abuse, have been reflected in demonstrations and public debate. The energy and commitment of those involved in the movement is inspiring and we want the Law School to be part of it.

The situation in Baltimore is of particular concern. Not only is Baltimore just 30 miles up the road, but many members of our community have roots in the City. It is important that we not ignore what is happening to our neighbors. Several students have come to the Deans with a request that they be permitted to defer an exam so that they can provide legal observer and other assistance to those who have taken to the streets to exercise their First Amendment rights and to address these serious issues.

We would like to support this activism. To that end, if any student wishes to participate in legal support for the demonstrations, we will defer one exam until May 11. To do so, you need to connect with one of the legal assistance organizations, develop a plan for the assistance you intend to provide and get this information to Dean Steward before your exam. If you are having difficulty in identifying a group to work with, please let me know and we can assist you. In addition, because these issues affect everyone at the Law School, we would be pleased to support a student organized teach-in. A community event that brings us together around these issues and promotes mutual support is important during these challenging times.

The police accountability movement needs and will continue to need the best lawyers that we can train. It is our aspiration that you become the future of the legal support for the most important cases of the next generation. It is critical that, while we pay attention to what is going on today, that we not lose sight of the essential role you will play once you pass the bar. We need to invest in you to be prepared to play that role. That is our shared commitment.

Shelley Broderick

Who needs to make up satire when you have self-righteous progressives doing it for you.

The Ultimate Curio And Relic – If You Have The Cash

What might be considered the ultimate curio and relic will be auctioned off by Christie’s on July 9th. This curio and relic is a restored Vickers Supermarine Spitfire Mk1. It was shot down during the evacuation of Dunkirk and it lay buried in the beach mud of France until 1980.

The legendary fighter aircraft, dubbed the ballerina because of its grace in the skies, was originally piloted by Old Etonian Peter Cazenove during the evacuation of Dunkirk.

He was shot down by a single bullet on May 24 1940, and despite radioing in to say “Tell mother I’ll be home for tea!” he crashed down on the Calais coast and was captured.

As he was marched off to a German prisoner of war camp his plane remained buried in the sandy beach for decades.

The proceeds from the auction of this Spitfire will be split between the RAF Benevolent Fund and Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit. It is expected to fetch in the neighborhood of  £2.5 million.

You can hear more about the restoration and see this beautiful plane in flight in the second video.

There is no word on whether is still has its .303 Browning machine guns or where you could even get non-working replicas.

Well, This Sheds A New Light On Things

At the end of March, US District Judge Richard Matsch dismissed the lawsuit brought by the Brady Center on behalf of Lonnie and Sandy Phillips who had lost a daughter in the Aurora theater shootings. Judge Matsch also awarded attorneys’ fees to the defendants in the case including Lucky Gunner and Sportsman’s Guide.

A story at looking at the court filings by aka Lucky Gunner and Sportsman’s Guide said the fees being requested totaled approximately $224,000. There has been much speculation on just who will have to pay these attorneys’ fees – the grieving family or the Brady Center. Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned said the Brady Center had reached a new low in exploiting victims especially if they left the family holding the bag for the fees.

We discussed this last night on The Polite Society Podcast. I think the consensus was that we felt for the family especially if they were the ones who had to pay the fees on top of the loss of their daughter Jessica Ghawi.

Thanks to an observant reader, my sympathy for the Phillips has ratcheted down several levels. I, of course, will always feel sympathy for them over the loss of their daughter. It is something that no parent should have to go through. That said, take a look at the following screen captures.

The Phillips were not just grieving parents when they brought suit against Lucky Gunner, Sportsman’s Guide, and the other defendants. They were paid employees of the Brady Campaign!

You can find the link to Lonnie’s LinkedIn page here and the link to the Facebook page announcing Sandy’s appearance on Meet The Press here.

While the amended complaint did not seek outright monetary damages, it did ask for “equitable relief”, court costs, and “for such other and further relief that this Court might deem appropriate.” They also sought an injunction that would have put the defendants out of business until they adopted the Brady Center’s business practices. I do wonder if monetary damages had been awarded would they have gone to the Phillips or gone to their employer due to some pre-trial agreement.

H/T Josh

Two Gun Rights Alienage Wins In North Carolina

The Second Amendment Foundation brought suit on behalf of Felicity Veasey, an Australian citizen, for being denied the right to apply for a North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permit. She is a permanent legal resident married to a US citizen living in Granville County. The suit sought to enjoin the enforcement of the state requirement that one must be a US citizen to obtain a CHP. The case was started in June 2014.

The ACLU and the Second Amendment Foundation have won a number of lawsuits challenging the denial of gun rights based on alienage. Between the two, they have won cases in Kentucky, South Dakota, New Mexico, Nebraska, and Massachusetts on behalf of permanent legal residents. Discrimination based upon alienage is considered constitutionally suspect and an regulation or law must be examined under strict scrutiny.

Another case was filed in March 2015 on behalf of Kristen Messmer of Wake County, a German citizen who is a permanent legal resident and who also sought a North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permit. Her attorney was Camden Webb who also served as co-counsel in the Veasey case.

The cases, though not officially joined, were both heard by US District Court Judge Terrence Boyle of the Eastern District of NC. He granted a preliminary injunction in both cases on Thursday and the opinions were released on Friday afternoon. With the exception of the background of the plaintiffs, the wording in the opinions is virtually word for word the same.

After noting that permanent residents have many of the same constitutional rights as US citizens including their Second Amendment rights, Judge Boyle wrote:

No defendant has proffered a strong argument in support of limiting the concealed carry
statute to citizens. No defendant objected to plaintiffs’ characterization in court that resident
aliens are allowed to possess firearms on their premises and are even allowed to carry firearms
openly in North Carolina. In fact, the Sheriff stated in court that he agreed with plaintiffs that the
law at issue in this case was unconstitutional. In light of other court rulings, the law in North
Carolina, and defendants’ postures in this case, plaintiffs have demonstrated that they are likely
to succeed on the merits.

The Court further finds that in the absence of preliminary injunctive relief, plaintiffs will
suffer irreparable harm. The deprivation of a constitutional right, even if only briefly, constitutes
irreparable harm

Professor Eugene Volokh has also covered the Messmer case at the Volokh Conspiracy.

The North Carolina General Assembly, if it were smart, would save the state some money and make the necessary corrections to state law. Judge Boyle issued a preliminary injunction and further hearings and filings would be needed for the permanent injunction.

Can You Shoot Better Than A Cop?

With apologies to the TV show “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader” but can you shoot better than a cop?

The answer, in general, is yes. While there are of course exceptions like a Massad Ayoob or a Bruce Piatt the anecdotal evidence such as the shooting of West African immigrant Amadou Diallo says otherwise. In that case, four NYPD officers shot a total of 41 rounds but hit him with less than half.

Police get some firearms training in the police academy and then a minimal amount after that. From what I’ve read, the national average in 2008 was between 4 and 16 hours annually. That has probably decreased with the rise in the cost of ammo and the tightness of training budgets.

My university email this morning contained a report on a study that takes this from the anecdotal to the scientific. It was in Force Science News No. 280.

The Force Science Institute did a study which will be published in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Police Science and Management. The study entitled “The Naive Shooter from a Law Enforcement Perspective: Hit Probability” was based upon testing 247 police academy students and recruits at two police academies and one college with a law enforcement training program. The study broke down the shooters into three classifications: expert, intermediate, and novice. Experts had either finished the academy shooting course or had been trained in the military while intermediates had no formal academy training but had shot before in either recreational settings or had military rifle training. Finally, the novices were just that. Many of them had never even held a gun in their lives.

The volunteers were allowed to pick between Glock 9mm/.40 S&W pistols and Beretta 9mm pistols. They then were told to take three shots on each of nine targets. These targets were staggered at distance ranging from 3 feet to 75 feet (1-25 yards). They were not told where to shoot on the target.

So how did it turn out?

SURPRISING HIT RATES. Generally, the Experts scored the most hits. But the edge they enjoyed often proved, at best, surprisingly narrow. Notably:

  • At most distances, there was “no significant difference” in percentage of hits between Expert and Intermediate groups.
  • Against targets 18 to 45 feet away, Intermediates actually registered a higher hit ratio than academy trained shooters–about 41% vs. 38%.
  • At three to 15 feet, where most officer fatalities occur, Expert shooters hit one of the major-damage zones on the target “with eight out of nine bullets they fired,” the researchers found, while Novices hit “with seven of the nine bullets they fired”–a scant advantage for the trained recruits of just a single round.

Considering the high volume of shootings that occur “at such close ranges, officers need to have a better advantage over threatening suspects,” Lewinski writes.

  • It was not unusual for Novices to cycle through rounds at a cadence of one quarter to one third of a second per shot.
  • At longer distances, Novice accuracy fell off significantly. But Intermediate shooters, apparently able to adapt their long-gun experience to handgun firing, continued to be “nearly identical” to the fully trained Experts.

In summary, Lewinski writes, “[I]ndividuals who had completed standard law enforcement academy firearms training were not more accurate in their shooting” than those with Intermediate skills and “were only moderately more accurate than individuals who…had little to no handgun experience… It was unexpected that the Novices would be so accurate in comparison….

“These findings underscore that critical importance of officers taking every step necessary to maintain control of their weapon,” he continues. “Officers will often shoot at a suspect in an attempt to end their efforts to gain control of the officer’s gun and these findings highlight why this is understandable and necessary. The result of a suspect gaining control of an officer’s gun–even someone who has little or no experience firing a gun–can be catastrophic.”

The authors of the study had two conclusions regarding training that we in the self-defense community will also find useful. First, concentrating firearms training into a short block of time (4-8 hour class) as opposed to over a longer period of time induces a quicker decay of skills in the long term. Training and practice in each of the essential aspects – stance, sight alignment, trigger control, etc – one at a time over a period of 2-4 weeks results in better skill retention. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any month long training schools for the average shooter.

The second conclusion, however, has greater relevance and applicability to the self-defense community. Inadequate practice led these students to revert to an “internal attitudinal focus”. In other words, they were focused on their grip or their trigger control and not on the target (or external threat). More (good) practice leads to these skills becoming automatic and the shooter will then be able to focus on the target and threat recognition. To me this suggests a lot more dry fire and drawing from concealment practice would be useful.

When the study is published, I will link to the finished article. In the meantime, with some training and more practice I think we can shoot better than cops.

Happy Tax Freedom Day

Today is Tax Freedom Day. This is the day of the day of the year in which we in the United States have earned enough money to pay our collective tax bill. It will vary year to year depending on tax rates across the nation. According to Wikipedia, back in the year 2000 it was May 1st which, when you think about it, was fittingly appropriate. However, in 1900, it was a mere January 22nd.

The Tax Foundation notes that we will spend more on Federal, state, and local taxes that what we will spend on food, clothing, and shelter. They also had these key findings about the 2015 Tax Freedom Day.

  • This year, Tax Freedom Day falls on April 24, or 114 days into the year.
  • Americans will pay $3.3 trillion in federal taxes and $1.5 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total bill of more than $4.8 trillion, or 31 percent of the nation’s income.
  • Tax Freedom Day is one day later than last year due mainly to the country’s continued steady economic growth, which is expected to boost tax revenue especially from the corporate, payroll, and individual income tax.
  • Americans will collectively spend more on taxes in 2015 than they will on food, clothing, and housing combined.
  • If you include annual federal borrowing, which represents future taxes owed, Tax Freedom Day would occur 14 days later on May 8.
  • Tax Freedom Day is a significant date for taxpayers and lawmakers because it represents how long Americans as a whole have to work in order to pay the nation’s tax burden.

The Tax Foundation has also calculated Tax Freedom Days by state. For example, here in North Carolina our Tax Freedom Day actually occurred on April 16th which puts us 19th in the nation. Our neighbors to the west and south, however, did much better. Tennessee was fourth (April 9), South Carolina was eighth (April 12), and Georgia was 15th (April 15). Virginia, by contrast, was 40th and won’t celebrate their Tax Freedom Day until April 27th.

As this is also a gun blog, it is interesting to note that many of the worst states for gun rights – Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, California, Massachusetts, and Maryland – are respectively states 50 through 45 in the tax rankings. I know correlation isn’t causation but it does appear to be a bit of a trend.

So as you go about the workday remember this as the day in which you finally get to keep the fruits of your labors. It is also the birthday of people who are as polar opposite as Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson (69) and Hillary and Bill’s friend Barbra Streisand (73).

Bad Apple Dealers? What About Bad Apple Lawyers

The Brady Center To Prevent Gun Violence (sic) has an ongoing project called “Stop Bad Apple Gun Dealers”. Ostensibly this project is meant to go after gun dealers who knowingly allow firearms to go into the hands of criminals, the mentally ill, and straw purchasers. In reality, the goal is to bankrupt mom and pop firearms dealers through extended legal action.

This project was the topic of a presentation by Florida attorney Cord Byrd at 18th Annual Firearms Law Seminar. Byrd discussed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, the statutory exceptions to the qualified civil liability immunity that it provides, and how the Brady Center is seeking to use state courts to pierce the veil of PLCAA’s immunity protection. Byrd then discussed the case of Allen v. Lock N Load where he is the defense counsel to the owners of Lock N Load.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was passed to stop the many civil cases aimed at gun makers by anti-gun mayors. Congress explicitly called the use of the courts to attack the firearms industry “an abuse of the legal system.”  The act provided qualified civil liability protection to gun makers and dealer in both state and Federal courts from the criminal or unlawful misuse of guns and ammo. The law does provide specific exceptions to this qualified immunity.

(i) an action brought against a transferor convicted under section 924(h) of title 18, United States Code, or a comparable or identical State felony law, by a party directly harmed by the conduct of which the transferee is so convicted;

(ii) an action brought against a seller for negligent entrustment or negligence per se;

(iii) an action in which a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product knowingly violated a State or Federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing of the product, and the violation was a proximate cause of the harm for which relief is sought, including–

(I) any case in which the manufacturer or seller knowingly made any false entry in, or failed to make appropriate entry in, any record required to be kept under Federal or State law with respect to the qualified product, or aided, abetted, or conspired with any person in making any false or fictitious oral or written statement with respect to any fact material to the lawfulness of the sale or other disposition of a qualified product; or

(II) any case in which the manufacturer or seller aided, abetted, or conspired with any other person to sell or otherwise dispose of a qualified product, knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that the actual buyer of the qualified product was prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm or ammunition under subsection (g) or (n) of section 922 of title 18, United States Code;

(iv) an action for breach of contract or warranty in connection with the purchase of the product;

(v) an action for death, physical injuries or property damage resulting directly from a defect in design or manufacture of the product, when used as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner, except that where the discharge of the product was caused by a volitional act that constituted a criminal offense, then such act shall be considered the sole proximate cause of any resulting death, personal injuries or property damage; or

(vi) an action or proceeding commenced by the Attorney General to enforce the provisions of chapter 44 of title 18 or chapter 53 of title 26, United States Code.

It is the second and third exceptions that the Brady Center is using to try and pierce the veil of qualified immunity. They are trying to use state statutes on negligence and negligence per se to attack the gun dealers. Moreover, they are trying to use the third exception by claiming the dealer knew it was a straw purchase and then made a false entry into his or her bound book.

In the Lock N Load case, Benjamin Bishop used a shotgun to kill his mother and her boyfriend while they slept. The Brady Center alleges that Lock N Load had denied the sale of a shotgun to Bishop after he failed a NICS check whereupon Bishop came back with his friend Gerald Schwab who bought the shotgun. They then allege that Schwab sold the shotgun to Bishop. Because Schwab allegedly bought the shotgun while accompanied by Bishop, Brady lawyers contend that Lock N Load should have known this was a straw purchase.

It should be noted that BATFE found that Lock N Load did nothing wrong in this case. Moreover, the State’s Attorney for Pinellas County made the same finding.

In bringing these cases, the Brady Center attorneys are assisted pro bono by lawyers with large law firms. In this case, it is attorneys from the international law firm of White and Case which has 38 offices in 26 countries. It has US offices in LA, New York, Silicon Valley, Washington, and Miami. They have approximately 1,900 attorneys. By contrast, Cord Byrd is a solo practitioner in Jacksonville Beach, FL concentrating on civil litigation.

This use of pro bono attorneys from major law firms to attack the PLCAA has given me the idea for a series of blog posts. I will be profiling what I call “Bad Apple Lawyers”. These are the attorneys who either work for the Brady Center or for these major law firms who are, to be blunt, conspiring to steal our Second Amendment rights. It is past time to shine the light of day on these anti-civil rights attorneys. Fortunately, LinkedIn, Google, and the law firm’s own web pages give plenty of info about these attorneys.

I will be starting this series with Jonathan Lowy who heads the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and who was just forced to withdraw from one of their cases in Wisconsin for violating Wisconsin’s rules of professional conduct concerning trial publicity

On April 19th…

April 19th commemorates a number of things.

The Battles of Lexington and Concord was fought on this day in 1775 and thus began the Revolutionary War. It is the day in which farmers, shopkeepers, and Minutemen united as a citizen militia to battle Gen. Thomas Gage’s British regulars when the latter came for the former’s guns and ammo. It is an official holiday in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts where officials have long forgotten what the spark was that ignited the war.

76 men, women, and children died a fiery death in Waco, Texas when the FBI launched their attack on the Branch Davidian compound on this day in 1993. Regardless of who actually started the gun battle between the Branch Davidians and the ATF in February, no one can deny that many innocents died in the fire.

Two years later in 1995 (corrected), Timothy McVeigh “commemorated” Waco by blowing up the Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. 168 men, women, and children died in the bombing and scores more were injured.

Dave Hardy at Of Arms and the Law notes that the Washington Post only remembers one of these events.

Frankly, we should remember all three as each event imparts a lesson we should learn. I’ll leave it to you and to history to figure out those lessons.

Mainiacs With Switchblades? Ayuh!

Congratulations to Knife Rights and thanks to those in Maine legislature who voted to repeal the ban on automatic knives aka switchblades. Knife Rights reports that Gov. Paul LePage (R-ME) signed LD 264, “An Act To Restore the Right To Possess Certain Knives That Are Used by Many Citizens as Tools”, which repealed the state’s ban on switchblade knives. Gov. LePage signed the bill on Thursday and it will go into effect 90 days from the end of the legislative session.

The bill’s text is about as simple as can be:

1 Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:
2 Sec. 1. 17-A MRSA §1055, as amended by PL 2011, c. 464, §18, is repealed.
4 This bill repeals the provision of law making possession or distribution of dangerous
5 knives a Class D crime.

The vote on the bill in the House was 120 yea, 24 nay, and 7 absent. The Senate had a voice vote in concurrence.

 From Knife Rights (in part):

Knife Rights would like to thank and congratulate LD 264 sponsor Representative Joel Stetkis for his leadership in passing LD 264. As a freshman legislator it means a lot to us that Knife Rights’ victories in repealing bans in seven states previously gave Rep. Stetkis the inspiration and confidence to take on Maine’s ban as one of his first legislative efforts.

The new law takes effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns, so we can’t really give you a date at this point.

Automatic knives are now legal for civilians without restriction in 27 states, and legal with various restrictions in 10 more. Eight of those 27 states have been added by Knife Rights since 2010. Knife Rights passed the nation’s first repeal of a automatic knife ban in 2010 in New Hampshire and has since passed repeal of automatic knife bans (and repealed other knife restrictions) in Alaska, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas.

Rep. Stetkis is a self-employed building contractor from Canaan, ME. I imagine as a builder he has used a knife a time or two as a tool.