Stabbed In The Back Again

Eight years of Obama brought no new gun control at the federal level. Three years of President Trump has brought an unconstitutional ban on bumpstocks, no Hearing Protection Act, no national reciprocity, and now a call for more gun control in the wake of the murders in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

If he thinks that Democrats will trade gun control for funding a “the wall”, he is sadly mistaken. They will do a bait and switch saying they will support “the wall” after passing red flag laws and universal background checks (and other gun control) but then do nothing about funding the wall.

Right now I don’t give a big rat’s ass about a wall along the border that would have marginal effectiveness. I do care about any denigration of the Second Amendment and gun rights.

By the way, all indications are that virtually every mass murderer in the last 10 years has gone through a NICS check. These bills would do nothing to have prevented them from obtaining the firearm in question.

About Those Mail Bombs Sent To Clinton, Obama, CNN, Etc.

First off, while I heartily disagree with most anything Bill or Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama say, I condemn most forcefully whomever sent them – and others – what appear to be mail bombs. This is not how we do things in a republic.

I’m sure whomever sent those will be found quickly and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

A picture of the bomb sent to former CIA Director John Brennan in care of CNN is shown below:

I’m not a bomb expert but it looks to be a pipe bomb using galvanized pipe to hold the explosive.

Given this and assuming it is a six inch piece of one inch pipe, I’d guesstimate it weighs at the minimum 13.5 ounces. Add in the weight of the explosive, detonator, and packaging and you are at about one pound. The postage was paid for with stamps

Why does this matter?

It matters because of USPS postal regulations which state:

If your mailpiece weighs more than 13 oz and you’re using postage stamps, take it to a Post Office retail counter to mail it. If put in your mailbox for pickup service, the carrier will leave it. If dropped in a blue collection box or lobby location, it will be returned to you.

Moreover, if you look at that picture you will notice that the stamps are not cancelled with a postmark. That might be the failure of the post office or it might indicate that this device never was in the USPS mail system to begin with and was someone dropped off at CNN.

I’m not going to get into conspiracy theories and suggest that the perpetrator was actually engaging in a false flag attack. I’ll leave that to Alex Jones. I prefer to wait until we know just who was behind this. Regardless of who they are, I hope they spend many, many years behind bars.

Gun Control Never Sleeps

While President Obama is taking a valedictory tour of Europe, his minions in the Justice Department are still hard at work trying to establish his gun control legacy. The National Institute of Justice released their final baseline specifications that outline the minimums required for a “smart gun” (sic) if it is to be used by law enforcement. Their efforts on this were in response to a Presidential Memorandum that President Obama issued to the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Justice in January 2016 ordering them to promote “smart gun” technology.

The new release from DOJ is below:

November 16, 2016
For more than two decades, the federal government and the private sector have grappled with a basic question of firearm engineering:  Can modern technology make guns safer—or “smarter”—without sacrificing the reliability, durability and accuracy that owners expect from their firearms?
In January 2016, as part of the administration’s ongoing efforts to combat gun violence, President Obama directed the Departments of Justice (DOJ), Homeland Security (DHS) and Defense (DOD) to answer that question.  Three months later, in April 2016, the three agencies submitted a report to the president outlining a multi-pronged strategy to expand and encourage the development of advanced gun safety technology.  Today, the Administration is taking a significant step forward to implement that strategy: by releasing a final version of “baseline specifications” that outlines, for the first time, a detailed description of the minimum technical requirements that law enforcement agencies expect from smart gun technology.  
The baseline specifications were drafted by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) – DOJ’s research, development and evaluation agency – in partnership with a team of firearms experts at DOJ and DHS.  Throughout the development process, NIJ sought input from a wide range of stakeholders, including federal, state and local law enforcement, firearms manufacturers and technology experts.  Among other steps, in July 2016, NIJ published a draft version of the specifications in the Federal Register and invited feedback during a 60-day public comment period.  In addition, in August 2016, NIJ hosted a two-day conference in Washington, D.C., with representatives from law enforcement agencies to discuss smart gun technology and review the draft document.
As the April 2016 report to the president made clear, this project was designed to spur the growth of enhanced gun safety technology—and not to mandate that any particular individual or law enforcement agency adopt the technology once developed.  These voluntary specifications serve several purposes:  they provide clear guidance to potential manufacturers about what government purchasers require in their firearms; they serve as a standard against which existing technology can be measured, making it possible to identify what research and development gaps remains; and they allow federal, state and local governments to demonstrate that demand for smart guns may exist—if certain operational requirements are met.  By engaging law enforcement experts in this process, NIJ has produced a final document that both reflects the exacting demands of law enforcement officers and advances the goal of expediting the real-world deployment of smart gun technology.

The final 25 page report can be found here.

Take this as a reminder that we need to remain hypervigilant in the waning days of the Obama Administration. The only reason that this popped up on my radar is that I got an email from the Brady Campaign applauding this move (and asking for money).

Come the afternoon of January 20, 2017, this is one of the many Executive Orders and Memorandum that needs to be discarded. Let the market forces decide whether or not to proceed with so-called smart gun technology and get government out of it. Moreover, we need to work in the states to repeal those laws that mandate the sale of such firearms.

Commutations And Felons In Possession

It is within the power of the President of the United States to both commute sentences and grant pardons. President Obama used that power on Wednesday to commute the sentences of 214 individuals. This was the greatest number of commutations at a single time.

These commutations are being portrayed as being for mainly “nonviolent drug offenses”. President Obama went on Facebook to argue that our drug laws are too harsh and that Congress needs to institute sentencing reform.

But this is a country that believes in second chances. So we’ve got to make sure that our criminal justice system works for everyone. We’ve got to make sure that it keeps our streets safe while also making sure that an entire class of people like Sherman (Chester) isn’t relegated to a life on the margins.

The impression given is that many of those who had their sentences commuted were convicted of having relatively small amounts of drugs. How the Obama Administration defines “small” is open to debate.

Would you consider five kilograms of cocaine a small amount given the approximate street value per kilo is around $30,000? At least 15 of those convicted had this much or more in their possession when arrested. Of course it would be hard to top Ralph Casas of North Miami Beach who was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute over 9,445 kilograms of cocaine.

What does get me is that not all of these are “non-violent felons”. Jazz Shaw at points out that about a fourth of those who had their sentences commuted were also convicted of crimes involving firearms.

Basically one in four of the commuted sentences were for gun charges. First of all, when you’re packing heat as part of your drug dealing business you’re not exactly projecting the image of the non-violent criminal, but that’s hardly the point here. We’re being lectured on a daily basis by Barack Obama and his Democratic allies about the need to shut down the flow of weapons, end gun violence and every other catch phrase you can imagine which involves limiting the Second Amendment rights of law abiding gun owners. We are also assured of the need to curb the power of “the gun lobby.” In response, conservatives regularly point out that we might want to enforce the gun laws we already have on the books first and deal with the actual criminals who are trafficking in illegal guns. (Which are used in the vast majority of gun crimes in this country.)

Going through the list – and I may have missed some – I found 25 convicted felons in possession of a firearm. For some reason I don’t think these guys went through a NICS check. I know for sure that Kenneth Lee Kelley of Westville, OK didn’t go through a NICS check because he was convicted of not only two counts of being a felon in possession but also for having a stolen firearm. Nor did Ervin Darnell Worthy of Akron, OH who had a firearm with a altered serial number.

Joshua Boyer of Tampa, FL takes the prize for most interesting firearms offense. He was convicted of having possession of a firearm that was not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. If I were to speculate, Mr. Boyer was emulating Jack Miller of US v. Miller fame in that he had a sawed off shotgun. He may, of course, had a full-auto firearm or a silencer.

Frankly, I really am not that sympathetic to junkies who ruin their lives by their choices. I am at the point where legalizing all drugs is starting to make some sense given the militarization of the police, overuse of SWAT teams, etc. However, knowing that junkies will do anything for their next fix including killing you or me for the change in our pockets, I am not that sure that commuting the sentences of those who facilitate drug use is the correct thing to do if we want to “keep our streets safe.” I don’t necessarily know the correct thing to do but commuting the sentences of many of these felons doesn’t quite sit right with me.

Single Issue Voting

I used to be against single issue voting as I thought politicians should be evaluated on the totality of their views and positions. It was one of the reasons that back in the 80s I dropped my yearly membership in the NRA for a while. I think the rise of voters who only voted based upon abortion was part of that decision. I was trying to be somewhat logically consistent.

However, I’ve come to appreciate how a candidate’s position on gun rights is indicative of how he or she may vote on other issues of interest to me. Michael Bane has made this point many a time on his podcast and has argued the efficacy of it in electing like-minded politicians. A candidate who supports gun rights tends to be liberty minded and that is what I want.

Now it seems the President is in agreement with me (and Michael) on this and urging single issue voting on the matter of gun rights. Of course, his position is diametrically opposite of mine.

His Press Secretary Josh Earnest made this clear in a press briefing on Friday.

Q Can I ask about the President’s campaign pledge in his New York Times editorial (on gun control)?

MR. EARNEST: Please do. (Laughter.)

Q Yes. I’m just kind of wondering if you can put some parameters on that — what a candidate would have to do or not do for the President — or I guess what a candidate would have to do or not for the President to say I’m not going to vote for you, I’m not going to campaign for you, I’m not going to fundraise for you. And also how he would kind of extricate his actions with the DNC or the DSCC or whoever else in that.


Q What about somebody like Heidi Heitkamp, who was a big vote for you guys on TPA, and the President made a big point of saying, I’m going to go out and campaign and raise money for these people who put their neck out?

MR. EARNEST: Well, look, there is no denying the fact that I think that when it comes to most issues, the President agrees with Senator Heitkamp on them, particularly when it comes to a whole range of economic issues and national security issues — that there are a lot of reasons for them to be on the same page. But what the President made clear in that op-ed is that when it comes to this issue, he’s prepared to be a single-issue voter. And he hopes that other people will, too.

And he’s hopeful that that will have an impact on the kinds of decisions that Democrats and Republicans make on this issue in the future when they’re serving in the United States Congress and when they’re called to vote on them.

Whether Democrat voters pay attention to his advice is another matter. As rare as it might be, I wonder whether they would vote for an anti-gun, pro-life, pro-fracking, pro-coal, and climate warming denier or some combination of those so long as the candidate in question is anti-gun. For some reason I doubt it. The interest groups supporting abortion, the environment, etc. seem to be much stronger than either the Brady Campaign or Everytown Moms for Illegal Mayors. Moreover, for most Democrat voters, I think abortion, women’s rights, and the environment would be considered more of a core belief than gun control which is more peripheral to these voters.

Overall, I think this works out in our favor especially if we can get Gun Culture 1.0 to get on board with Gun Culture 2.0 in protecting our gun rights. We need to do more outreach to those in Gun Culture 1.0 so we don’t hear “I’m a hunter but no one needs (fill in the blank)” anymore. Unifying both cultures behind candidates who support gun rights will be the key to winning in 2016 and to keeping our rights in the face of the President and “nasty little fascist” billionaires like Mike Bloomberg. Now we just have to do it.

The Empty Chair Makes An Empty Gesture With The Empty Chair

Sometimes the headline just writes itself.

So it is with the announcement that President Barack “Empty Chair” Obama will leave an empty chair in the First Lady’s box at the State of the Union Address. The empty chair is help vacant for the victims of gun violence (sic).

A Vacant Seat for the Victims of Gun Violence

Last week, the President took a series of commonsense steps to help reduce gun violence in America and make our communities safer.

We leave one seat empty in the First Lady’s State of the Union Guest Box for the victims of gun violence who no longer have a voice – because they need the rest of us to speak for them. To tell their stories. To honor their memory. To support the Americans whose lives have been forever changed by the terrible ripple effect of gun violence – survivors who’ve had to learn to live with a disability, or without the love of their life. To remind every single one of our representatives that it’s their responsibility to do something about this.

To see what an empty gesture that this is, let’s drill down through the numbers. The gun prohibitionists at Everytown Moms for Illegal Mayors tell us that 88 people die daily due to “gun violence” (sic). Using their own numbers, this includes a daily average of 55 people who commit suicide using a firearm. This is disingenuous as it blames the instrument for their deaths. We don’t talk about intentional overdose violence or Golden Gate Bridge violence or subway violence but all are a means by which people have killed themselves. Realistically we should be more concerned with the why of suicide than the how but then that wouldn’t fit the narrative.

After you take out the 55 people a day who commit suicide using a gun, you are left with 33 deaths per day. Of these, still using Everytown’s averages, about 2 daily are due to unintentional injuries and undetermined circumstances. That leaves 31 homicides per day and here is where it gets interesting.

During 2013, according to the CDC, there were 11,208 homicides that involved a firearm. Breaking it down by race and ethnicity, you find that non-Hispanic blacks accounted for 56.8% of homicide victims, non-Hispanic whites for 25% of homicide victims, and those of Hispanic ethnicity for 15.6% of homicide victims. Asians, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and “other” only were victims in 2.6% of homicides.

Current census statistics show that non-Hispanic blacks are only 12.4% of the total US population with those of Hispanic ethnicity making up another 17.1%. Non-Hispanic whites account for 62.6% of the population. So while Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks make up only 29.5% of the US population, they account for 72.4% of homicide victims.

Given that non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics make up the great majority of homicide victims, I had to speculate about the age distribution. The CDC 2013 aggregate statistics didn’t give this info but their WONDER database did allow for searches by race and age groups.

Whites showed a fairly even distribution with tails for the young and elderly. The 25-29 age group was the peak age group for homicides among whites at 12% of white homicides. Murder victims between the ages of 15 and 34 account for 38.8% of all white murder victims. Keep that number in mind.

Hispanics and non-Hispanic black murder numbers were skewed younger and less evenly distributed by age. Hispanic murder victims between the ages of 15 and 34 accounted for 68.6% of all Hispanics murdered. The peak age group was between 20 and 24 with 24.1% of all Hispanic murder victims. Non-Hispanic blacks showed similar results. 71.9% of black murder victims were between the ages of 15 and 34 with the peak age group being the same 20 to 24 years of age as Hispanics. That age group accounted for 25.9% of black murder victims.

I am not a criminologist but even common sense (a word beloved by President Obama) would indicate that gang and drug-related crime is behind the significant concentration of deaths among younger blacks and Hispanics. Efforts concentrated on suppressing gangs combined with a more realistic policy on drugs would have a greater impact on reducing so-called gun violence (sic) than any of the gun control efforts that President Obama is seeking. However, given the unholy alliance in cities like Chicago between gangs and the Democrat machine, I doubt anything will be done to suppress the gangs. It is far easier to demonize guns and legal gun owners than it is to attack the root causes of either suicide or homicides.

NSSF Response To Obama’s Executive Actions

Like the NRA, the National Shooting Sports Foundation issued a response to President Obama’s Executive Actions on gun control. Their response is a bit more detailed than the NRA response and they note that they will be issuing more responses as the days go by. They bring up a good point about making the shipper – not the recipient dealer – responsible for reporting guns lost or stolen in transit.

NSSF Statement: “Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence and make Our Communities Safer”
all share the goal of reducing the intentional misuse of guns and
enhancing the safety of our communities. As the trade association for
the firearms and ammunition industry, the National Shooting Sports
Foundation (NSSF) will carefully review all aspects of the executive
actions that President Obama announced today. Much remains to be spelled
out. In the interim we have some initial reactions:
  • We support further resources being allocated to staffing and
    increasing operational hours for the FBI’s National Instant Criminal
    Background Check System (NICS) to make the system more efficient and
  • We represent Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs). The criteria
    for what will constitute being “engaged in the business” going forward
    needs considerable clarification and raises questions about
  • The number of firearms lost or stolen while in transit to or
    from FFLs is less than 0.15 percent of the number manufactured and
    imported in a given year. In these rare occurrences, FFLs already
    actively participate in ATF’s long-standing voluntary reporting program
    and FFLs and common carriers work closely with ATF to investigate them.
    Proposals to make a shipping FFL responsible for tracking and reporting
    firearms no longer in their inventories, after the legal title has been
    transferred to the purchaser, are misdirected, as the receiving FFL is
    in the best position to know if it receives its shipment.
  • We have long called for the effective enforcement of the
    numerous laws already on the books regarding the criminal misuse of
    firearms and would encourage the administration to carry through on this
  • NSSF has been working actively since early 2013 through our
    FixNICS initiative to encourage states to report all appropriate
    adjudicated mental health records to NICS and has succeeded in getting
    legislation passed in more than a dozen states. We welcome the
    administration’s attention to this issue.
  • With regard to the development of “smart-gun” technology, the
    industry has never opposed its development. How additional government
    research into this technology would advance it is unclear. Law
    enforcement agencies and consumers themselves will have to make the
    determination whether acquisition of firearms with this technology
    “would be consistent with operational needs,” as the White House itself
    states. We would continue to oppose mandates for this technology,
    particularly since there are well proven existing methods to secure
    firearms, and firearms accidents are at historic low levels.
will have additional responses in the days, weeks and months ahead,
especially as federal departments and agencies begin the work of
carrying out the executive orders.

NRA Response To Obama’s Executive Actions

While the gun prohibitionists are declaring victory due to President Obama’s Executive Actions – and who knew it would take so little to satisfy their demands – gun rights groups have also responded. They don’t have such sanguine expectations that these “tweaks” will do much to combat either terrorism or crime.

Below is the response of NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox which is followed by a just released video of Wayne LaPierre speaking on background checks.

Fairfax, Va. – The executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, Chris W. Cox, released the following statement on Tuesday regarding President Barack Obama’s Executive Gun Control Order:

Once again, President Obama has chosen to engage in political rhetoric, instead of offering meaningful solutions to our nation’s pressing problems. Today’s event also represents an ongoing attempt to distract attention away from his lack of a coherent strategy to keep the American people safe from terrorist attack.

The American people do not need more emotional, condescending lectures that are completely devoid of facts. The men and women of the National Rifle Association take a back seat to no one when it comes to keeping our communities safe. But the fact is that President Obama’s proposals would not have prevented any of the horrific events he mentioned. The timing of this announcement, in the eighth and final year of his presidency, demonstrates not only political exploitation but a fundamental lack of seriousness.

The proposed executive actions are ripe for abuse by the Obama Administration, which has made no secret of its contempt for the Second Amendment. The NRA will continue to fight to protect the fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms as guaranteed under our Constitution. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be harassed or intimidated for engaging in lawful, constitutionally-protected activity – nor will we allow them to become scapegoats for President Obama’s failed policies.

NRA News released this video of Wayne LaPierre speaking about the deficiencies of the current background checks. As he says, you don’t need to cast a bigger net – just one with smaller holes.

What To Expect Tomorrow From Obama

This afternoon President Obama met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, BATFE Deputy Directory Tom Brandon, and FBI Director James Comey to discuss his plans for more gun control. About an hour ago, the White House released a “Fact Sheet” outlining his Executive Actions. The full document can be read here.

Here are the highlights as I’ve summarized them.

  1.   Expanding the definition of who will be considered a dealer in firearms. Key factors that will be considered is if you advertise on the Internet, have formal business cards, rent tables at gun shows, and the number of firearms sold.

  2.   BATFE will finalize Rule 41-P which will force background checks and chief law enforcement officer checkoffs on trusts and corporations.

  3.   Expanding the NICS operating hours to 24/7, hiring of 230 new personnel, and notification to local law enforcement when a prohibited person attempts to purchase a firearm. 

  4.   Attorney General Lynch will urge the states to submit complete criminal histories.

  5.   Federal prosecutors will be urged to “continue to focus on smart and effective enforcement of our gun laws.”

  6.   BATFE will be budgeted for 200 more Special Agents and Industry Investigators in FY2017.

  7.   BATFE will establish an Internet Investigation Center to track illegal online firearms trafficking.

  8.   BATFE will devote $4 million to enhance the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network. 

  9.   FFLs must notify BATFE if firearms are lost or stolen in shipment.

  10.   US Attorneys will be encouraged to “renew domestic violence outreach efforts”.

  11.   $500 million to increase access to mental health treatment.

  12.   Social Security Administration will begin reporting recipients who have a financial guardian to the NICS system.

  13. Depart of Health and Human Services will instruct states that HIPAA doesn’t apply when reporting mental health issues.

  14. DOD, Justice, and Homeland Security will conduct or sponsor smart gun research.

  15. All other departments are instructed to review the availability of smart gun technology on a regular basis and promote it.

Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned has his take on these Executive Actions. He finds it a less ambitious and bold than he was expecting.

UPDATE: Charles Cooke at National Review has an excellent analysis on these gun control moves by Obama.

Further, he will have set no meaningful precedents whatsoever. In other words: Even if he wins this round, he will have done precisely nothing of merit — except perhaps to have pleased his base and to have convinced the most ignorant parts of the electorate that he has finally stuck his finger into the NRA’s eye. Were these serious measures, I would be squealing. Instead, I’m amused. These are the dampest of squibs.

Read the whole thing. It is worth a few minutes your time.