Sunday Morning Hodge-Podge

I normally don’t watch CBS’s Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer because he drives me nuts. Today, I will make an exception. The topic for discussion will be on Project Gunwalker.

Coming Up on Face the Nation

Topic: “Fast and Furious” gunwalker case
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Chairman, Oversight & Government Reform Committee

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., Ranking Member, Oversight & Government Reform Committee

Sharyl Attkisson, CBS News Investigative Correspondent

It airs at 10:30 am Eastern. As they say, check your local listings for times in your area.

I don’t think I can overstate the importance of this. Face The Nation along with NBC’s Meet the Press, ABC’s This Week, and Fox’s Fox News Sunday is the type of program where major issues are discussed with the aim of influencing policymakers. Usually the topics revolve around taxes, jobs, the economy, and war. To have them discuss Project Gunwalker is evidence that at least CBS News is recognizing that it is a critical scandal for the Obama Administration. Moreover, it also makes it harder for the rest of the mainstream media to keep burying the story.

In gun blogging news, it is time to welcome a new gun blog called Shall Not Be Questioned. It really isn’t so much a new blog as a rebranded blog. It is the old Snowflakes In Hell blog with a new name, new look, and a new feel. That said, it will still be a gun blog run by Sebastian. He has this to say about why he is making the change.

But the biggest change you’ll probably notice, unless I can’t make my idea for it work (I’m a horrible graphic artist), is a name change for the blog. With the exception of the name, and a new look and feel, it’ll be the same blog. Same posts, same archives, and same comments as always. If links worked before, they’ll still work. I am looking at implementing a few requested enhancements people asked for.

I picked the name “Snowflakes in Hell” hastily, never thinking I’d keep this up. Ever since I passed the 1000 visitors a day mark, I’ve hated it. I’ve also hated it when I introduce myself as a blogger, and I get a weird look from the uninitiated when I tell them the name. Rather than talking about the blog, I get to spend the first 10 minutes explaining the name. I’ve also, rather humorously, heard people that did not know I was Sebastian mention they found something on this site “Snowflakes in Hell,” but they didn’t understand what kind of site it was. With my name and theme, who can blame them? I want a theme and a name that draws people in. I think a more relevant name and theme will be necessary to take this blog to the next level, and continue to grow my audience, and improve my brand.

I’ve updated by my gun blog links here to reflect the changeover. Having visited Shall Not Be Questioned, I think Sebastian has done a masterful job with the new look and feel. The typeface and background give it a Colonial period look which says to me the fight for freedom has been going on for over two hundred years.

Good luck to Sebastian and Bitter with the “new” blog.

Finally, over at Sipsey Street Irregulars, Mike Vanderboegh has a post on selective White House document releases. It appears to be an effort to shift blame for gunwalking back to the Bush Administration. However, it looks like it will end up rebounding on them.

You know, the best disinformation is a lie wrapped in a kernel of truth. Recall that early on the DOJ floated the excuse that “gun walking” was all Newell’s idea. We pooh-poohed that at the time, saying that Newell did not have the authority to make this multi-jurisdictional anti-law enforcement cluster coital situation happen.

But the Obama flacks knew what they were talking about, as far as it went.

Gunwalking WAS Bill Newell’s idea, and nobody knew that better than the people he sold the idea to.

And now, thanks to the desperate and incompetent folks at the White House scandal deflection team, we have more details of the early experiences of William “Gunwalker Bill” Newell, the guy who sold the whole idea to the people in the White House — who then began to make things happen to try to make the Ninety Percent Myth come true.

Make sure to read the whole post. It ties a lot of stuff together.

Jennings et al v. BATFE et al Loses In District Court

The NRA challenge to the ban on purchases of handguns from licensed dealers for those over 18 but under 21 was found in the favor of the defendants by U.S. District Court Judge Sam Cummings yesterday. The suit, Jennings et al v. BATFE et al (former D’Cruz v. BATFE), was brought in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

The NRA brought this suit approximately one year ago along with a companion suit against the State of Texas to allow the same age group concealed carry licenses. Texas currently only allows those who are serving or have served in the military to be able to obtain Texas concealed carry permits if they are under the age of 21. These are the suits in which the Brady Campaign took the low road and tried to villify James D’Cruz due to his Halloween costume.

The NRA brought both suits on Second Amendment and Equal Protection grounds.

The first thing Judge Cummings considered was whether the plaintiffs had standing to sue. The DOJ attorneys sought to have the case dismissed under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) saying that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the complaint. Judge Cummings denied their Motion to Dismiss saying:

The ban prevents 18- to 20-year-olds from purchasing handguns and handgun ammunition from FFLs who would likely purchase these items were it legal to do so. The NRA presents evidence from its vendor members that they have lost profits from refusing to sell handguns to 18- to 20-year-olds and would sell handguns to law-abiding citizens in this age range if it were legal to do so. The fact that the ban restricts a would-be buyers’ market demonstrates a judicially cognizable injury directly affecting FFLs. See Craig, 429 U.S. at 194. As such, the NRA also has standing to bring this suit on behalf of its FFL members.

Judge Cummings then examined whether the ban on the sale of handguns by FFLs to the 18 to 20-years olds violated their rights under the Second Amendment. Noting along the way that nothing precluded them from purchasing handguns in private sales, he said that based upon the exceptions noted in Heller and on 5th Circuit precedent which made a distinction between possessing and the dealing of firearms, the rights of this age group were not violated under the Second Amendment. He then suggested that it was up to Congress to make the decision on this.

In essence, it is within the purview of Congress, not the courts, to weigh the relative policy considerations and to make decisions as to the age of the customer to whom those licensed by the federal government may sell handguns and handgun ammunition.

With that he granted the government’s Motion for Summary Judgment and denied the plaintiffs cross-motion for summary judgment as to the Second Amendment grounds. He also denied as moot the defendant’s motion to dismiss on Rule 12(b)(6) grounds (failure to state a complaint).

Finally, Judge Cummings examined whether this ban on the sale of handguns by FFLs to 18 to 20-years olds violated their rights under the Equal Protection Clause. While these rights apply expressly to the states, the Supreme Court has found that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment encompasses the rights provided by the Equal Protection Clause.

Noting that the Supreme Court has held that age is not a suspect classification and that the defendants had presented evidence that Congress in passing the Gun Control Act of 1968 had made the considered decision that this age group was “emotionally immature, or thrill-bent juveniles and minors prone to criminal behavior”, he again found that the government was not violating the plaintiffs’ Equal Protection rights. He applied a Rational Basis scrutiny to this claim and said:

Congress identified a legitimate state interest—public safety—and passed legislation that is rationally related to addressing that issue—the ban; thus, it acted within its constitutional powers and in accordance with the Equal Protection Clause.

With that he granted the defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, denied that of the plaintiffs, and denied the defense motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) on their Equal Protection claim.

I would presume now that the NRA will appeal this case to the 5th Circuit as they needed a judgment at this level before they could move up the appellate chain. I know Alan Gura has said that in the cases he has brought for the Second Amendment Foundation that he has sought a quick decision, whether good or bad, so that the cases can then be brought to the relevant Circuit Court of Appeals.

Sebastian at Snowflakes in Hell is critical of Judge Cummings’ attempt to punt a decision on this back to Congress.

So Congress could say no one who has not yet attained the age of 90 is permitted to own a firearm, and that is completely within Congress’ purview? The Courts should have nothing to say about it? What other right do we treat that way?

It continues to amaze me how little regard lower courts have for Heller and McDonald. Maybe there’s sound legal reasoning involved here. I have not seen the opinion. But punting to Congress strikes me as awfully weak.

While I would agree with Sebastian, I do think Judge Cummings threw the NRA a bone when it said they and the plaintiffs had standing to sue. I don’t think it is reasonable to expect a District Court judge to go against precedent within his own circuit nor what other courts have said post-Heller on this sensitive issue. I think by saying they had standing and by closing this case out in just a little over a year, Judge Cummings may have done as much as he could do. This case was always going to be appealed regardless of how he ruled.

UPDATE: The NRA-ILA has announced plans to file a prompt appeal of Judge Cummings’ ruling in this case.

Yesterday, a federal judge in the Northern District of Texas ruled that the federal ban on dealer sales of handguns to adults from the ages of 18 to 20 does not violate the Second Amendment. The National Rifle Association plans to file a prompt appeal of the court’s ruling to the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

“We strongly disagree with this ruling,” said Chris W. Cox, Executive Director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. “As we said when we filed this case, adults 18 and up have fought and died for American freedom throughout our country’s history. They are adults for virtually every legal purpose under federal and state law, and that should include the ability to buy handguns from licensed dealers to defend themselves, their homes and their families. Our fellow plaintiffs in this case are law-abiding and responsible young adults. We plan to defend their rights to the very end.”

The case is Jennings v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. A related case challenging Texas’ ban on issuance of concealed handgun licenses to adults in the same age group is still pending before the same court.

The NRA, Gun Manufacturers, and GCA ’68

I was alive when the Gun Control Act of 1968 was enacted. However, given I was an 11-year old, I don’t have any memories of its enactment and the debate around it. I do remember Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King being assassinated and the riots after Dr. King’s death. I do remember the war in South Vietnam because my Dad was “in country” at the time. However, policy debates on firearms just were not on my radar at the time.

Fortunately, Sebastian at Snowflakes In Hell has done an excellent job of examining some of the myths around the passage including those that the NRA and major gun manufacturers were complicit in its passage. He also looks at some of the other myths regarding the enactment of  the National Firearms Act of 1934.

Sebastian is correct that much more research using original documents is needed to get a better handle on all the issues surrounding the passage of this legislation. Rather than relying on undersourced modern accounts of the bill’s passage, using the original documents will give a clearer picture of the forces involved in the bill’s passage as well as the forces that opposed it.

Not Above The Rules

If you go the the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s website today, you will see a blue hole where their Twitter feed used to be. The reason is that their Twitter account has been suspended due to a violation of the terms of service. In other words, by using Twitter to “out” bloggers and, more importantly, reveal their personal information including home addresses, Ladd Everitt and CSGV broke the rules and are now paying for it.

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The @CSGV Twitter account was suspended because Linoge of Walls of the City blog requested that three of CSGV’s posts be removed because they constituted harassment. As one might expect from those of their ilk, Ladd Everitt and CSGV are playing the victim and claiming it was removed due to a false report.

Sebastian at Snow Flakes in Hell who has also been a target of their “outing” campaign and harassment posted this regarding their Facebook page and missing posts. It is easy to play the victim to your adoring synchophants when you remove all contradictory information. As it is, Sebastian refused to play their little game of releasing personal information on Ladd Everitt.

I think Linoge’s post, The Dustbin of History, really sums up the desperation shown by CSGV and the other gun prohibitionist groups. The “outing” campaign was just one manifestation of that desperation. It is definitely worth a read including following the embedded links.