Bleg: Any Social Network Analysis Experts Out There?

I read an article last year about the use of social network analysis to find linkages. The article was by sociologist Kieran Healy of Duke University. It was discussing how the British in 1772 Boston could have used metadata against growing rebel movement. Using membership in various organizations, Healy found that the key person linking all the groups was Paul Revere. The article was written to illustrate just how such metadata as that collected by the NSA could be used.

Healy’s article got me to thinking about how we in the gun rights movement could use social network analysis to map out the gun prohibitionists and their networks. While we all know about Michael Bloomberg and his money, what if there is someone else who actually plays the same role as Paul Revere in linking the various groups. I hesitate to call it a movement as gun control is a top down phenomenon and not one from the grassroots.

As a secondary project, I think this type of research could also be used to map out the legal networks that are supporting the Brady Center and its Legal Action Project among other organizations. Actually, that may be the place to start as the dataset would be smaller.

I know there is tons of software out there that allows social scientists to do the analysis. I have found Gelphi which is free as is UCINET and SocNetV. While I would like free, cheap would also do. Does anyone have suggestions about the software? Along those same lines, are there books or articles you’d suggest to give me a grounding in social network analysis?

Second, what factors would you use in the analysis? Name and current organization are obvious. Would you use education, former organizational members, e.g., Obama for America, or some other factor?

Third, what would you use as a source of information? I’m thinking the gun prohibitionists’ websites, LinkedIn, and Google.

Finally, how would your organize the database and how would you enter the data?

If there is someone already doing such research, do you know of it and could you put me in touch with that person or person?

Any help here would be greatly appreciated. Please leave a comment below or email me at jpr9954 AT gmail DOT com.

UPDATE: Hognose at WeaponsMan blog has begun significant work on mapping out the gun control network. His latest post on it is here. A pdf of the network is here.

Given that, I think I will be restricting my work to the gun controllers’ legal network of big law firms, the Brady Center, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (sic), and personal injury lawyers. There is more than enough there to get a good start.

Going Old School

I came across this comparison of the Colt SP1 and the Colt Sporter Target Model today. Basically, it was a shooting comparison of the A1 versus the A2. This interests me because I am gathering parts to put together a retro semi-auto version of the M16A1 using a combination of new and vintage parts. I also have a Colt A2 upper that I plan to build on later. More on those in a later post.

The video below is from the Military Arms Channel. They were trying to determine which rifle would give tighter groups with 55-grain 5.56 ammo. The SP1 (aka A1) had the 1:12 twist barrel while the Sporter Target Model (aka A2) has the 1:7 twist barrel.  They were using Wolf Gold ammo.

I wonder if he would have gotten better results if he had used something like American Eagle/Federal XM193 5.56 ammo.

More Problems For The King Of The Bad Apple Lawyers

Jonathan Lowy, director of the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project, has run into more problems in Wisconsin. Just last month he and fellow Brady Center attorney Alla Lefkowitz were forced to withdraw from one of their “Bad Apple” lawsuits for violating Wisconsin Supreme Court rules. These rules dealt with attorney conduct with respect to pretrial publicity.

Now it appears that he may have done it again in the other case involving Badger Guns and Badger Outdoors.

Now an attorney for Badger Guns and Badger Outdoors, the West Milwaukee gun-selling operations sued by the officers, wants the Brady attorneys off the second case, citing in a new court filing “zealous and unethical trial publicity.”

A hearing on whether the Brady attorneys will be removed from the case is set for July before Milwaukee County Circuit Judge John DiMotto, who is now presiding over both cases. This second case was filed by Officer Jose Lopez III and former Officer Alejandro Arce, who were injured in a 2007 shooting by weapons sold by the gun dealer.

Brady attorneys Jonathan Lowy and Alla Lefkowitz are not licensed to practice law in Wisconsin, but were allowed to join both cases —as they have in cases across the country litigated by Brady. Milwaukee attorney Patrick Dunphy also represents the officers and former officers.

The permission that allows an out-of-state attorney on a case can be rescinded, and the attorneys for Badger Guns and Badger Outdoors are seeking a court order withdrawing the permission.

“The Brady Center’s conduct is inexcusable,” Brookfield attorney Wendy Gunderson wrote in a brief filed earlier this month. “Attorneys appearing before Wisconsin courts are here as a matter of privilege and charged with knowing the rules. The privilege has been abused, seriously affecting not only these two cases but countless others.”

Ms. Gunderson said the material posted by Lowy on the Brady Campaign website and in fundraising letters about Badger Guns with regard to the earlier case also could serve to prejudice the jury in this case. Gunderson submitted copies of the social media and fund raising letters to the court in a sealed filing.

Jonathan Lowy is one of the attorneys that I plan to feature in my “Bad Apple Lawyers” series. I am still gathering material regarding Lowy. Given his position as head of the Legal Action Project, Lowy must be considered the King of the Bad Apple Lawyers.

District Of Columbia Doesn’t Get Its Stay

This afternoon Judge Frederick Scullin denied the District of Columbia’s request for an immediate administrative stay in Wrenn et al v. District of Columbia et al.

Having reviewed the parties’ submissions and the applicable law, the Court hereby

ORDERS that Defendants’ motion for an immediate administrative stay is DENIED; and
the Court further

ORDERS that Plaintiffs shall file their papers in opposition to Defendants’ motion for a stay
pending appeal on or before June 22, 2015; and the Court further

ORDERS that Defendants shall file any papers in further support of their motion for a stay
pending appeal on or before June 26, 2015; and the Court further

ORDERS that counsel shall appear for oral argument in support of, and in opposition to,
Defendants’ motion for a stay pending appeal on July 7, 2015 at 11:00 a.m.


The Second Amendment Foundation is rightly taking this as a win for them. While they didn’t get the contempt citation that they sought, they were successful in opposition to DC’s request for an immediate administrative stay. DC, as Alan Gura noted, had drug its heels for a week before they requested the stay.

Remington Model 8 – Cool Video

A Remington Model 8 or 81 has been on my collecting wish list for a long time now. It is a John Moses Browning design semi-auto rifle that has long been used for hunting. The game on which the Remington 8 has been used includes both deer and criminals. Famed lawman Frank Hamer used one .35 Remington in his ambush of Bonnie and Clyde.

Ian McCullom of Forgotten Weapons blog has just put out a short video on the Remington 8 showing how its long recoil action works. It is in slow motion. His Remington 8 is in .300 Savage which I think is an ideal caliber.

More Colt News

As I wrote last week, Colt Defense LLC is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. Yesterday, they once again extended their deadline for bondholders to either accept their offer to exchange their notes or Colt goes ahead with a prepackaged bankruptcy filing. The deadline now expires on June 2nd. So far, only 5.7% of bondholders have tendered their old bonds in exchange for the new notes.

WeaponsMan reported a few days ago that Colt has mortgaged some of its patents. According to Daniel Watters, Colt has mortgaged these patents to a number of borrowers with the latest being Cortland Capital as security for a $33 million loan.

Of course, the finance companies do not want to exploit the patents; they just want security for their loans, and winding up holding the patents in lieu of principal and interest is not their preferred outcome. They’re in the money racket, not the gun racket.

But if Colt defaults on its Cortland loan, Cortland winds up holding a bag of patents (and any other security Colt pledged) rather than its money. In such as case, they might be able to charge Colt royalties for using these inventions of its employees and former employees. If Colt production continues. Or resumes. Most likely, they would try to sell the patents.

The patents are one of the true stores of value in Colt Defense LLC, but they have been mortgaged as part of the financial looting monetization of the company that the last several rounds of owners have undertaken. The company’s trademarks are also a highly valuable asset. One wonders if they, too, have been mortgaged.

There is some good news for Colt. They have won a $36 million contract to deliver M4 and M4A1 carbines to a number of foreign countries including Jordan, Panama, and Colombia.

Colt Defense LLC, West Hartford, Connecticut, was awarded a $36,104,812 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity foreign military sales contract (Jordan, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Colombia, Hungary, Oman, Panama, Romania, Senegal, Lebanon, Romania) for M4/M4A1 carbines. Funding and work location will be determined with each order with an estimated completion date of May 21, 2018. Bids were solicited via the Internet with one received. Army Contracting Command, Warren, Michigan, is the contracting activity (W56HZV-15-D-0038).

Punching Back Twice As Hard

Since Judge Frederick Scullin issued his preliminary injunction against the District of Columbia last Monday, the District has been dragging its feet on issuing new carry permits. Indeed they now say they will review the court’s order for the next 90 days. This not only contravenes the court’s order but violates their own law saying that they have 90 days to issue a permit.

Lawrence Powers is an approved firearms instructor for the District of Columbia. Without the now enjoined “good cause/proper cause” critiera, there is no reason that he, of all people, is not issued a permit. He has already met all the background and training requirements to be approved as an instructor.

Fed up with the District’s foot dragging, Alan Gura has filed a Motion to Hold Defendants in Contempt yesterday. After outlining the negotiations on compliance with the injunction and how the District has plainly ignored the court order, he writes:

11. The games continue. Defendants supposedly not understanding the Court’s order,
they will ignore it. Of course, Defendants understand the order perfectly well. They simply dislike it.
On May 26, 2015, counsel met and conferred regarding this motion. Defendants’ attorney declined to
state what is ambiguous about the Court’s May 18 order, and offered only that “soon” there would be
a filing discussing the matter.

12. If Defendants want a 90 day stay of the Court’s injunction, they need to ask for one.
There are requirements and standards—in other words, there is actual law that governs that process.
For parties in this Court, let alone government officials, to unilaterally declare a 90 day “court ignoring”
period upon issuance of a preliminary injunction is simply unacceptable.

Defendants are and should be held in contempt.

 Sometime after Mr. Gura filed his Motion, the District filed a motion asking for an immediate administrative stay while they study their alternatives for an appeal. It seems that this move was anticipated because a Memorandum in Opposition was filed shortly thereafter. Mr. Gura says the District has “already granted themselves a stay” and calls their arguments “disingenuous.” He goes on to say that if they really thought they faced irreparable harm, then they would have requested a stay immediately and not waited a week. As to the harm they face, he says, “Of course the District faces no harm from having to join the vast majority of
the country in respecting Second Amendment rights.”

It will be interesting to see what Judge Scullin does.

The Second Amendment Foundation is the organizational plaintiff in this case. This afternoon they issued a press release on the matter. Alan Gottlieb called their attempts to stall “unconscionable” and an example of “municipal arrogance.”

On This Memorial Day

Memorial Day is set aside to remember those men and women who died while serving our country in the armed services.

A recent family reunion and subsequent visit to my father’s grave got me to thinking about those who didn’t die while on active duty but who had significantly shortened lifespans due to their military service.

My dad was medically retired with 60% disability after 28 years of active duty service in the US Army. According to his DD 214, the effective date of his retirement was April 14, 1972. This was approximately a year after he returned from Vietnam on his second tour of duty there. I should be clear that my dad’s medical retirement was not due to combat-related injuries but rather due to angina, ulcers, and other maladies. These are typical stress-related illnesses.

As you can see from the headstone, my dad died eight years and 364 days after he was retired from the Army. He had turned 62 just days earlier. (The date of birth on the headstone is erroneous – it should be April 3, 1919).

According to studies done by Department of Defense actuaries, active duty retirees have a higher mortality rate than do their reserve component peers. This disparity increases for enlisted retirees as compared to officers. The study was done on non-disabled retirees who were age 60 plus.

Defense officials haven’t done a study to explain death rate differences among military retirees. Speculation centers on stresses of full time service including past wars, frequent moves, constant physical activity to stay in shape, and stress-induced habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption…

Tom Bush, a senior policy official for reserve affairs, suggested to the board last August that more active duty retirees might have used tobacco or alcohol more often than did reservists. Hartnedy suggested post-traumatic stress might be a factor, even controlling for VA-rated disabilities.

“I would think that kind of mental strain” from years on active duty “would have an impact…very long term, after retiring,” he said.

As to the suggestion that active duty retirees might have “used tobacco or alcohol” more often, it was common and it was expected that you drank and smoked. Cheap booze and cheap cigarettes were the rule in the Army of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. It was a part of the culture and I think stress was a contributing factor to overuse.

My dad arrived in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam at the age of 48 in 1967. He returned to Vietnam in 1970 at the age of 51. He was a middle-aged man with white hair. While he never complained of it being stressful, I imagine it had to be especially since it was hard to distinguish friend from foe. Even though he served in what was essentially the rear echelon, it was still a war zone.

I think about all of those more recent veterans who have served in either Iraq or Afghanistan or both. Just like in Vietnam, the front lines are blurred. Even if they weren’t injured in an IED explosion or a suicide bombing, the possibility was there. I think the actuaries and epidemiologists will have their hands full in years to come conducting studies on these vets. I have to wonder how much their life expectancy has been shortened by their military service.

So on this Memorial Day, let’s remember all of those who died while in service to our country. Let us also remember those who, while not dying in active service, died a lot sooner than they should have.

Colt Defense Teeters On The Brink

Colt Defense, LLC is teetering on the brink of bankrupcy. Yesterday, the rating agency Standard & Poors reduced their credit rating from CC to D. This is the lowest level possible.

Standard & Poor’s reduced Colt’s rating two grades to D from CC, according to a statement Tuesday from the credit grader. The new rating means S&P considers the company “in default or in breach of an imputed promise” and that it has ruled out the possibility the manufacturer will make good on a missed interest payment during a 30-day grace period.

The weapons maker didn’t pay the $10.9 million due May 15 to holders of its $249.4 million of 8.75 percent unsecured notes due November 2017, according to S&P. Colt had warned in November it was “probable” it wouldn’t have the cash to make the payment if it didn’t meet internal sales forecasts.

On Monday, Colt issued a press release saying it had extended their tender offer to bondholders. This tender offer is asking bondholders to swap existing bonds for new bonds at a very substantial cut in their face value. If 98% of bondholders don’t accept this swap by May 26th, then Colt Defense is prepared to go into bankruptcy. They say they have a “prepackaged plan of reorganization.” This is the third time Colt has extended their deadline for the tender of bonds for exchange. If they do go into bankruptcy, unsecured creditors will get just pennies on the dollar.

On Friday, Colt announced a new stocking dealer program. What concerns me the most about it is the pricing of their models involved in the program.

Colt has recently refocused its core model lineup to ensure ample opportunity for consumers to acquire the most sought-after models. These same models have been repositioned in the market with more attractive suggested retail price points: the standard 1991 Government Model now has an MSRP of $799, the Combat Commander carries an MSRP of $849, the Defender is now positioned at an MSRP of $899 just to name a few.

This gives the Colt 1991 Government Model a MSRP less than that of Springfield’s Mil-Spec 1911 and Ruger’s SR1911. This reeks of desperation to me.

Another Win For Carry In DC (Updated)

US District Court Judge Frederick Scullin granted a preliminary injunction to the plaintiffs who had challenged the District of Columbia’s “good reason”/”proper reason” requirement for obtaining a carry permit. The case, Wrenn et al v. District of Columbia et al, was a follow-on case to Palmer v. District of Columbia and was filed after the DC City Council adopted their new carry regulations.

The court found that the plaintiffs including the Second Amendment Foundation stood a good chance of winning a permanent injunction based upon the merits of their argument. Under legal precedent, a preliminary injunction is only granted if that can be shown.

Examining the existing DC law using intermediate scrutiny standard as established in the DC Circuit by Heller II, Judge Scullin found:

The District of Columbia’s arbitrary “good
reason”/”proper reason” requirement, however, goes far beyond establishing such reasonable
restrictions. Rather, for all intents and purposes, this requirement makes it impossible for the
overwhelming majority of law-abiding citizens to obtain licenses to carry handguns in public for
self-defense, thereby depriving them of their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The Second Amendment Foundation was very pleased with Judge Scullin’s order. In their release below, they call it a “devastating loss” for DC and its gun control policies. The release points out more about the decision as well.

BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) today won a preliminary injunction against the District of Columbia and Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier’s enforcement of a requirement to provide a “good reason” when applying for a concealed carry permit.

Judge Frederick J. Scullin ordered that the city is “enjoined from denying handgun carry licenses to applicants who meet the requirements of D.C. Code 22-4506(a) and all other current requirements for the possession and carrying of handguns under District of Columbia law.”

Judge Scullin further wrote in his 23-page opinion that the District’s “good reason/proper reason” requirement “has far more than a ‘de minimis’ effect on [their] rights it completely bars the right from being exercised, at all times and places and in any manner, without exception” and that the requirement “impinges on Plaintiff’s Second Amendment right to bear arms.’

“This is a devastating loss for the District and its anti-gun-rights policy,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “We’re delighted with the judge’s ruling, because once again, the court has thwarted the District’s blatantly obvious effort to discourage the exercise of Second Amendment rights by forcing permit applicants to jump through a series of hoops and then frustrate them by requiring an arbitrary ‘good reason’ for the exercise of a constitutionally-protected civil right.”

Gottlieb said that the court ruling essentially says the “good reason” requirement does not pass the smell test.

“It stinks, and always did stink, and now everybody knows it,” Gottlieb said.

The order also says that attorneys for both sides shall appear for a conference with the court on July 7, to “discuss an expedited schedule for the resolution of this case.”

“You can’t ask for more than that,” Gottlieb said. He noted that this is the second time in a row the District has lost on a carry issue in a case involving SAF.

“This is getting to be rather tiring,” he said. “To quote the renowned American folk trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, ‘when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?’”

UPDATE: The Firearms Policy Coalition did a good breakdown on the decision. It can be found here.

Also see this from Brian Doherty at Reason.

It also made the Washington Post. Spencer Hsu took great pains to point out that Judge Scullin’s rulling differed from precedent set in the 3rd and 4th Circuits.

Scullin’s ruling runs counter to decisions by federal judges upholding similar “may-issue” discretionary laws in Maryland and New Jersey, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in March set aside a three-judge panel’s ruling relied upon by Scullin, and the full court will rehear arguments next month.

While that is very true, Judge Scullin is bound by precedents set in the Circuit for the District of Columbia. He pointed to Heller II as being instructive as to the level of scrutiny (intermediate). He also acknowledged the precedents set in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Circuits were “uninstructive” and that those courts either accorded too much deference to the legislature or did not address whether the law or regulation was “no broader than necessary to achieve the government’s substantial objectives.”

The full opinion can be found here.