Education

An aggressive look at the Second Amendment from Ranger Up, a look at teaching actual gun safety in schools, and a case study armed defense from Pennsylvania. Outside of that, we have an Army Medal of Honor recipient retiring and a new Marine Corps Commandant confirmed.

Thanks as always to Catty Conservative and This is the Line’s Armed Novelist for helping out here.

1.) Ranger Up. If you aren’t familiar with them, Ranger Up is (primarily) a clothing company focused on “military and the patriotic Americans who love the men and women of the Armed Forces.” The company’s aggressive style extends past that into a blog that goes under the name “Unapollogetically American”, which holds an extremely pro-liberty viewpoint.

After a series of incredibly dense Rolling Stone articles regarding firearms, the team decided to take a characteristically strong rebuttal to a lot of anti-gun myths. A personal favorite myth being ““All we are looking for is ‘reasonable’ gun control that any ‘reasonable’ person would see as common sense.” They write:

Consider the following: it was not illegal for a felon to purchase or own a firearm prior to the passage of the 1968 Gun Control Act. Now it is considered “common sense” and “reasonable” for a felon not to be allowed to purchase a firearm. Why? There is absolutely zero evidence suggesting that the 1968 GCA did what it intended to do. Quite the contrary, actually; the crime/murder rate in the United States continued to rise after it was passed, seemingly unaffected by the law.

The point being, modern gun control advocates frame the debate in terminology that is couched in ideas that have no statistical or factual basis. If something is so “reasonable,” then shouldn’t the data back it up?

The bottom line from their perspective (and, frankly, mine) is that rights are inherent. Barring incarceration, there is no reason to strip someone of their rights. Besides which, the “safeguards” banning felons from owning firearms work about as well as every other ban….which is to say not at all.

At best they are ineffective. At worst they prevent people looking to turn their lives around to do so with full rights. If the response is “violent felons shouldn’t have guns”, then a.) they shouldn’t be released and b.) in a well-armed populace, that individual wouldn’t have much power anyway.

2.) Gun education. Billy Johnson’s latest NRA Commentators episode focused on the idea of (re)introducing firearms safety classes in schools. As expected, this has led to a lot of panic from people who claim to support “gun safety”….so long as that is limited to legislating guns out of existence.

It is here where a lot of the older readers have a leg up on me. I’ve spoken to people who talk about how there used to be trucks with gun racks outside of high schools. How, as Charlton Heston noted in a speech, “of course, you didn’t need to lock your door at night because there was a gun in every bedroom.”

Of course, many people have been part of rifle clubs in high school as well. All of which begs the question: What happened here? At what point did guns go from something whose safe operation was taught in schools to something whose mere existence was to be banned and those who did own one demonized?

3.) National reciprocity. An article by Examiner.com’s Ben Marquis has both some good and bad news for advocates of a national CCW reciprocity law. He notes that, if one accepts permits as unconstitutional infringments on one’s rights, he must by definition accept that a national permit reciprocity law is also unconstitutional. He points, also, to the emerging Constitutional carry movement, which aims to negate the permit process altogether. He writes in part:

The ultimate goal for many gun rights advocates is nationwide Constitutional carry, evidenced by a national respect and recognition of the fact that anybody and everybody has the right to carry a firearm for their personal protection, if they so desire. Criminals already enjoy the ability to carry a firearm anywhere and everywhere, for whatever purpose they please, as they ignore the laws that prevent good people from doing the same. Why should law-abiding citizens be placed at a disadvantage to gun-toting criminals, by their own government no less, a government whose sole purpose is to protect and defend the rights of it’s citizens?

4.) Armed Citizen. In defiance of his workplace’s no-guns policy, a doctor in Darby, PA carried his firearm into Mercy Fitzgerald hospital this week. On Thursday, a man came onto the 3rd floor and began shooting. The doctor, Lee Silverman, turned his gun on the shooter, hitting him three times in the chest.

The suspect is currently in critical condition. Dr. Silverman, who was originally looking at losing his job over the incident, will instead be retained by the hospital. Indeed, the hospital said it is reviewing its policies “to ensure a safe work environment.”

5.) DC. Late-breaking news out of DC this week. Alan Gura, famous for his victories in the Heller and McDonald Supreme Court cases, scored another victory when a US District Court struck down DC’s ban on carrying firearms as unconstitutional. Senior Judge Frederick J. Scullin, Jr. wrote:

In light of Heller, McDonald, and their progeny, there is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny,”

DC, of course, may get it’s other gun laws defunded depending on what happens to the Massie Amendment, which passed the House last week.

With that, however, let us move outside of firearms for a bit.

6.) Marines. General Joseph Dunford was confirmed by the Senate as the 36th Commandant of the Marine Corps. The 58-year-old will replace Gen. Jim Amos, who is retiring in the fall.

I’m not going to even try to hide this….virtually every Marine I’ve spoken with and a ton of comments on Facebook seem to give the impression that Amos’ retirement can’t come fast enough. If you are a Marine and disagree with that sentiment, please set me straight on that. From the outside, it looks like Gen. Amos is one of the most despised Generals in the history of the Corps.

Also, for the record, I’d want Gen. Mattis as either Commandant or President.

7.) Army. An Army Master Sergeant and Medal of Honor recipient retired this week. Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry, an Army Ranger, retired after eight deployments spanning 15 years. The sergeant received the MoH for his actions on May 26, 2008. Despite having already been shot through both legs, he lunged towards a live grenade and threw it away from his fellow soldiers.

8.) Voting. Finally this week, the NRA’s re-started “Trigger The Vote” campaign is getting some attention with a provacative new ad this week. USA Today describes the ad as follows:

A suggestive ad by the NRA for its voter registration campaign will likely get tongues wagging.

The spot features a father talking to his son in a somber tone about something that’s not a toy, but is important to protect their family. He unlocks a case to reveal … a voter registration card.

The ad is part of the National Rifle Association’s Trigger the Vote campaign, aimed at increasing the number of registered voters — especially among gun owners. Andrew Arulanandam, public affairs director at the NRA, said the ad will run online and on cable backed by a seven-figure buy.

Bearing Arms takes it further, and it bears mentioning here:

When I instruct at Appleseed, one of my fellow instructors in the North Carolina cadre likes to point out that the Founding Fathers fought a long and brutal war in order to give us the gift of several boxes.

The soap box.
The ballot box.
The cartridge box.
The soap box of course refers to the right to free speech, to debate and disagree. The ballot box enables us to vote for candidates that best represent our views.

It was the sincere hope of the Founders that the citizens of the nation they founded would be able to go many years using just the first two boxes, and I suspect they would be pleasantly surprised to discover that we’ve only gone to the cartridge box just once (1861-65) since we became a nation to settle our differences.

While cynics say otherwise, voting does indeed matter. If you haven’t registered to vote, make sure that you and all your pro-gun friends register to vote, and that they turn out in November to ensure that their opinion matters. Elections are won and policies are decided by voter turnout.

The NRA’s campaign can be found at TriggerTheVote.org.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Expansion

Pulling back a bit from being myopically focused on firearms this week, to focus on the liberty movement in general. Gun rights, gay rights, and stuff on millennials this week. Keeping it brief this week on a count of a ridiculously slow news week barring the Israel/Gaza madness, and a new plane crash for CNN, with help from Catty Conservative and This Is The Line’s Armed Novelist.

1.) Rand Paul. In an op-ed in USA Today, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky lays out his reasoning for the REDEEM Act, a bill slated to reform aspects of our criminal “justice” system and give at least people with non-violent felony convictions a “second chance.” The bill, if passed, would order the criminal records of minors to be sealed, and provide a path for adults to seal their records as well. (Note I said sealed not expunged. The former hides the record, the latter destroys it outright.

2.) Hope for the future. A Reason-Rupe poll suggests that a majority of millennials, at least in some respects, lean libertarian politically. This poll flies in the face of conventional “wisdom” which is that the same generation is more focused on entitlements and “social justice.”

3.) California. The governor of California signed a handgun ban into law this week. The law has nothing to do with the “gun violence restraining order” which has been stuck in the Senate since June because apparently due process still means something. Moving on.

4.) GOP and Gays. There’s been a shift in rhetoric from Republicans relating to the subject of gay marriage. Governors from various states have been slowly backing off their opposition to the topic, but also trying to keep focus on the party’s “major” issues like the economy.

Whether it is an evolution in rhetoric or caving to the “gay lobby” is completely up to you.

5.) Impressive collection. Two men in California were arrested after a search warrant turned up about 300 weapons despite that “prior convictions” legally barred them from owning a single firearm. The men also were said to have “anti-government thoughts and ideals”….because that’s so rare at this point isn’t it?

Just to put a point on it, these men weren’t supposed to have ONE firearm, but managed to get THREE-HUNDRED.

6.) Hobby Lobby Aftermath. I’ve never understood how some people’s first refuge in a debate is the death threat or ad hominem. Pride, apparently, is a much bigger deal than admitting one is wrong. Nobody knows this better right now than Holly Fisher, whose photograph of herself in front of a Hobby Lobby with a Chick-fil-a drink and “pro-life” shirt subjected her to no shortage of bile from critics of those three. A follow-up image of herself in front of an American flag with a gun in one hand and Bible in the other also scored her comparisons to a widower of the 7/7 attacks in London. (Not based on who they are, but on the POSE both women have in their respective photographs. Apparently that’s enough evidence for conviction.)

She seems to be rolling with the punches, though. Twitter handle is @HollyRFisher.

Ignorance is not in short supply on the Internet. But just because it’s in abundance doesn’t mean you have to buy it.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Back to Basics

Alright, Blowback’s out, the celebrations are over, and now we ease the Midnight run back into a normal format. This week, This Is The Line’s Armed Novelist on the language of the gun control debate, the word “Tea Baggers” returns in time for the election, and gun clubs meet country clubs. Keeping it brief and, for the most part, keeping it light.

1.) Armed Novelist. I mentioned a few weeks back that frequent Midnight Run contributor Armed Novelist has launched a blog of his own. Shortly after Independence Day he released a new entry called “The Language of Control.” In the piece, he discusses a recent speech by President Obama in which he said “we should be able to take some basic, common sense steps that are, by the way, supported by most responsible gun owners. Like having background checks so you can’t just walk into a store and buy a semi-automatic.” Leaving aside the rather obvious fact that nobody can do that, the switch from “assault rifle” to “semi-automatic” is both important and concerning to gun rights advocates.

2.) Distrust. While I don’t necessarily think polls should be seen as absolute truths, they are still worth at least paying attention to. A new Quinnipiac suggests that, while everybody (presumably) wants to lower crime to the greatest degree possible, most people don’t trust politicians to implement solutions for it.

It is also becoming clear that Mike Bloomberg’s gun control groups have had next to no influence.

3.) Seizures. That doesn’t mean people aren’t trying to ban guns regardless. The latest trend seems to be to allow guns to be seized purely on accusation. Gun control people love it, anyone with a decent understanding of the Constitution and due process hate it.

It says a lot, though, that we’re willing to torch a person’s right to due process of law if it means we can feel safer.

4.) Tea-Baggers. Shotgun Joe Biden is back. Apparently John Walsh is getting a program on CNN, which he vowed would continue Piers Morgan’s efforts on gun control. Walsh told reporters that he spoke to Joe Biden on the topic of guns once. National Review has the transcript:

“I said to Joe Biden, ‘90 percent of Americans are for a responsible background check for a gun, and you know what this Congress has done? Not voted on it, not brought it to the floor, not introduced a bill,’” he recalled to reporters during an event for his upcoming program, a crime show called The Hunt. “I said, ‘They’re all scared shitless of the NRA, aren’t they?’”

“‘John, every one of them,’” the vice president replied, according to Walsh. “‘Because the NRA will run a tea-bagger against you. . . . They’ll put 5 million bucks against you.’”

It should be noted that a lot of people attribute Morgan’s poor ratings to his gun control crusade. He has basically vowed to follow the path that doomed his predecessor.

5.) Checkpoint. An article over on Truth About Guns makes a simple, and fairly optimistic statement: What a difference a decade makes for gun rights.

Illinois has gone shall issue, of course here in Georgia we have HB60, and a host of other pro-gun legislation came online July 1st. TTAG focuses in particular on Kansas; which in the span of 10 years went from banning most NFA items and concealed carry (and allowing local municipalities to create their own gun laws) to having a state preemption law (giving the State Legislature sole authority on gun regulations) to allowing NFAs and concealed carry.

I would also add that the Colorado gun control laws were followed by the Colorado recalls.

6.) High-class range. “What do you get when you merge a shooting range and a country club? Leaving aside the fact that we’re at that point, apparently the so-called “guntry clubs” are an emerging trend in the shooting sports world. Washington Times has a story out on a massive complex in Gainsville, Virginia that will “house two 25-yard ranges, a 50-yard range and a 100-yard range, a 1,600-square-foot, two-story live-fire shoot house for law enforcement training, a cafe, a lounge and a 5,000-square-foot retail area.”

Range time is going high-class, people. It’s either a sign of the hobby going mainstream or an attempt to mainstream it regardless.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Blowback: Motivation

“Don’t trust anybody.”

It is a phrase barely ever spoken, but almost always intended by those seeking power. You can’t trust anyone around you because of what they might do. Everyone could be a mass murderer. Everyone could be a thief. Everyone could be out to take advantage of you/backstab you.

Everyone except them, of course. If we just give those seeking control of our lives what they want, not only will we be “safer” but all of the aforementioned fears will be taken care of. All we have to do, is surrender virtually everything to them.

In other words, fear your neighbor, but trust your rulers.

It goes without saying that this isn’t something that is widely accepted. In fact, over the last few years, government power grabs have been actively resisted, exposed, and in some cases forced to shut down. From the IRS scandal, to the scrapped plan to put FCC “monitors” in American newsrooms, there has never been a bigger resistance to the Federal government than there is now.

Outside of Federal agencies getting roasted, attempts at gun control have failed spectacularly since we met last year for Blowback: Resurgence. Gun sales continue to have extreme momentum, only recently pulling back from last year’s summer that pro-gun readers would rather not be reminded about.

Most recently, however, this resistance to government control has emerged in the form of fighting against the so-called Common Core public education standards. Many see it as the Federal government trying to directly control local school ciriculum with sub-par standards and convoluted methods. While Lady Liberty has taken to this topic to the point where my coverage is meager, it would be remiss to not discuss it at least to some degree. (Besides which, she basically asked me to do so on Twitter regardless.)

That isn’t to say that the “fear your neighbor” propaganda hasn’t worked. The general reaction to a positive news stories is “there actually are good people.” The trouble being that it’s ridiculously easy to counter that. Blowback has always focused on the larger picture; the survivalist movement, the patriot movement, self-reliance, etc.. This year will continue that, but will also attempt to break through that. In my mind, the ultimate way to do this is to show what happened during Winter Storm Leon.

1.) Baseline. As far as firearms as concerned, virtually everything from Resurgence to the end of 2013 has been covered in Midnight Run: Optimism. Going over all of that seems a bit redundant (especially for those of you who lived through the ammo shortages). This year’s Blowback will cover everything from that point forward. The Bundy fight, the rise of the militia movement, the idea of an armed revolt, and the broader idea of what it means to be a Citizen will all be covered.

I have no problem entertaining the idea of an armed revolt. I’ve been hearing enough about it to jump into it for Blowback.

2.) Education. Honestly, it would be a lot easier to say “go read Lady Liberty’s blog” and then just break for lunch. A.P. Dillon’s coverage has been relentless, and her coverage of the fight against Common Core is second to none. But, both at her request on Twitter AND because it is an important topic, we should at least address the topic. (But seriously, if you are looking for top-notch coverage of this fight, I readily admit that I am not the one to be following. She is.)

Also, I will endeavor to get through this topic without Pink Floyd references.

First off, Common Core is, in theory anyway, a group of educational standards produced by the Federal government. It goes in tandem with the “one-size-fits-all” standardized testing that has been so popular if ineffective lately. The issue is that, in many cases, the methods of teaching Common Core perscribes are outright baffling to most people.

The almost-robotic nature of the standards and methods Common Core used led to one particularly awesome speech by a high school student in Knox County, TN. TheBlaze reports:

“The president essentially bribed states into implementation via ‘Race to the Top,’ offering $4.35 billion taxpayer dollars to participating states, $500 million of which went to Tennessee,” Young said. “And much like No Child Left Behind, the program promises national testing and a one-size-fits-all education, because hey, it worked so well the first time.”

“If nothing else, these standards are a glowing conflict of interest and they lack the research they allegedly received,” he added.

Young also argued that Common Core standards display a “mistrust of teachers,” a line that prompted applause from the audience.

The battle against Common Core exploded when Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced that he intended to get his state out of Common Core, even if the Legislature refused to. This has led to a lawsuit pending between the Governor and the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Meanwhile, back in March Indiana became the first state to completely can using the standards. Georgia adopted the standards back in 2012, although there has been relatively minor attempts at barring it.

Finally, we tap into some of Lady Liberty’s coverage. In Oklahoma a bill to repeal Common Core was signed into law is now facing a lawsuit by the state’s Board of Education. (Similar to the lawsuit against Jindal in Louisiana. Are you still with me?) The lawsuit alleges that repealing the standards gives too much power to the state Legislature.

Also heartening are polls showing a dramatic reduction in support for Common Core. I will say this however, the only poll that will really matter in regards to Common Core aren’t for another five months.

Thanks once again to Lady Liberty for her relentless coverage of Common Core.

2.) Revolt: Overview. The idea of secession has been in the news off and on pretty much since the 2012 midterms. It is an upgrade of the “if he wins I’m leaving the country” stuff we’ve grown used to (or in my case, tired of) since the 2000 elections and probably before that.

I’m not interested in that. I’m interested in the (depending on your viewpoint concerning or motivating) uptick in traffic regarding armed revolt in the United States. There is a lot to cover in this section.

First off, however, I would like to thank a Twitter user for helping out here. Former Marine SSgt. Richard Davis and I have had numerous discussions on this topic both on Twitter and via private messages. He, and many others I have spoken to, seem almost convinced that some kind of armed revolt is on the horizon. One of their main focal points? The Bundy case. So let’s start there, while ignoring the racial freakshow CNN wanted to make of it.

3.) Revolt: Bundy. As discussed back in Midnight Run: Signal, Youtuber TheRealTripppleB has an excellent recap of events on the Bundy case. The reason it is relevant in Blowback is because a lot of people believe the collision between armed Federal agents and armed civilians is a sign of things to come. (The fact that it spawned a meme about a 2nd American Revolution and an more than a few iconic images doesn’t help either.)

The madness came to a head when Nevada’s governor and a Senator slammed the Federal government’s treatment of rancher Cliven Bundy. Governor Brian Sandoval said that “no cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans.”

As is well-known by now, the Feds backed off without a shot being fired. Afterwards, many Western states began efforts to take land back from the Federal government. (Nevada is roughly 84.5% Federal-owned land.)

Many see it as the start of something big. The rise of the militia movement, in many respects.

4.) Militias: Ground Rules. Back in the now world-famous Midnight Run: Debt update, I noted shortly after introducing a piece by Al-Jazeera America that the genetic fallacy has no place in the Midnight Run. The “genetic fallacy” is saying that something is irrelevant not because it isn’t true but because of where it comes from. I did this because I have been criticized in the past for using Al-Jazeera which, while a solid source for information, comes from a largely anti-American viewpoint to hear people (largely conservatives) say it. The fact that it was valid information, well-written, and relevant was apparently not enough to make “because it’s Al-Jazeera” a non-factor.

I’m bringing this up to inform you straight out that I don’t care. The concepts of armed revolt, indeed of citizen militias, is not mainstream by any stretch of the imagination. Therefore, it requires using sources that are regarded as extreme. Zero Hedge will make an appearance in a bit, for example.

5.) Militias: Overview. Let’s get something taken care of straight away. The phrase “well-regulated militia” in the Second Amendment does not indicate that the Founders wanted a Federally-regulated army, nor does it preclude civilian ownership of firearms. That first half of the Amendment is a statement of rationale, a “prefatory clause” that states the purpose of the Amendment without limiting the rights recognized by the Amendment. This was made clear in D.C. v. Heller it has been signified by the words of the Founders themselves (including George Mason’s quote stating that a militia is “the whole of the people”). There is also a fantastic article on Bearing Arms about the meaning of “well-regulated.” Basically, the Founders wanted the citizenry to be well-armed and well-trained in the use of those arms.

I would also like to recommend the book The Founders’ Second Amendment by Stephen P. Hallbrook. (Full disclosure: I am not with any sort of Amazon affiliate program and make no money off of any purchase that you decide to make after clicking that link.)

The first half of the Amendment states that the People should be well-armed and well-trained.
The second half of the Amendment states that the Government should stay out of the People’s way in achieving that objective.

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state”
“the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

That is the definition and the wording of the Second Amendment, and it is that definition we are sticking with for the rest of Blowback.

6.) Militias: Modern Use. Depending on who you ask, the rise of citizen militias either leads to “insurrectionism” (a term generally used by people who are already anti-gun and have decided to stop using the term “fetishist” for a few moments) or a much more orderly and restricted Federal government. A column from March in USA Today (I never said we’d use exclusively fringe websites) suggests that the absence of citizen militias has led to more intrusive law enforcement, arguing that if a well-regulated militia IS needed and we don’t have one, we are either “insecure, unfree, or possibly both.”

Bearing Arms takes this idea a bit further in an article that asks flat-out “can a rebirth of the Militia system head off the threat of government violence.”

7.) Militias: Action. But what, exactly, would militias be fighting against? Milwaulkee County Sheriff David A. Clarke believes that, if gun confiscation laws pass, it could lead to a “Second American Revolution. (Note that meme from the Bundy case, once again.) Some sites have taken it a step further, arguing that a civil war/revolution is, as Zero Hedge put it in June, “now inevitable.”

8.) Fear. Let me close Blowback by returning to the atmosphere of paranoia I discussed in the opening. On both the local and national level, many people believe that gun crime has never been higher. As a recent survey shows, constant reports of violence, fraud, and other crimes have helped feed into a society where people don’t trust each other much anymore. This distrust is dangerous to the country as a whole. The AP elaborates:

A society where it’s easier to compromise or make a deal. Where people are willing to work with those who are different from them for the common good. Where trust appears to promote economic growth.

Distrust, on the other hand, seems to encourage corruption. At the least, it diverts energy to counting change, drawing up 100-page legal contracts and building gated communities.

There’s one issue; almost all of it is based largely on media perception. Nowhere is this clearer than in a recent Pew survey that showed, despite the decrease in gun crime, that people believe it is actually worse.

But even that is breaking. Personally, I hold the non-stop reports of Good Samaritans that came out of Winter Storm Leon. In addition, Leon also gave rise to a crowdsourced map on social media set up to help people in need. The map, part of a project called “SnowedOutAtlanta”, allowed people to offer shelter, assist stranded motorists, and even allowed people to pin their location before their cell phone battery ran out.

While there is probably a survivalism case study in there, my point is this. If the world as depicted day-in and day-out by the media were true….none of that would happen. Sound odd? Let me put it in another way. People posted their GPS locations on a map open to everybody.

Moving northward, there is what Guns Save Lives referred to as the Detroit Revolution. GSL says the name describes an uptick in self-defense stories coming out of the city. The surge in self-defense stories was praised by the the city’s police chief. According to BizPac Review, the Chief say that he thinks the citizens of Detroit arming themselves is a “deterrent” to crime, adding “good Americans with [concealed pistol licenses] translates into crime reduction too.”

The surge in self-defense stories, the increasing distrust of the Federal government, and the rise of the survivalist/voluntarist movements all point to the same thing. Far from being “lost” or “finished”, the country is getting back to basics and rebuilding. People are starting to once again take their safety into their own hands, we’re seeing a revolt against Federal attempts to take control of education away from the local level, and yes, we are starting to see the monopoly on force break apart.

This is not distinctly American in modern times, as Reason Magazine pointed out in February, people around the world have taken to resisting government overreach. The action in Venezuela, Ukraine, and Thailand are all about people feeling like the government they are supposed to control is instead controlling them. With a recent Princeton study declaring our government to be essentially an oligarchy, and with the aforementioned attempts by the government to increase its control, it is only a matter of time before we see something snap back here in the US.

Will it be an armed revolt? Possibly. But we will see a resurgence regardless, and it will be like nothing we’ve seen before.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Blowback: Resurgence (2013)

[The following was posted July 4, 2013. It was an experiment to use footnotes instead of hyperlinks in the Midnight Run in an attempt to formalize the report. It will not be repeated in Motivation.]

How much bad news is too much? Here we are entering Independence Day, and all anyone who runs through the news can think about is the gun control fight, the possibility of yet another distraction of a war, the political intimidation brought onto the Tea Party, and lest we forget, the fact that everything we do on the Internet is being recorded “for our safety.” Recent events have even led to a few discussions with friends of mine about whether the country is “lost.” (Indeed, recent polls suggest Americans are less optimistic about the direction of the country than back when Carter was in office.1) For Blowback this year, I’ve decided not to focus on the events, but rather the reaction to those stories.

The protests in DC are all fine, but that’s not what is going to make any major difference in the long run. As it should have been during the 2012 election, we’re starting to see a lot of resistance from the ground level….and it’s starting to make those in power (in both parties, assuming you still think they are two parties) pretty nervous. Nowhere is this more evident than in the gun control debate which dominated the first half of 2013, and is likely to be restarted over the summer.

The Federal gun rights debate is almost irrelevant, since no gun legislation has any real chance of getting through both chambers. The State battles are far more interesting to watch. Some states are passing limits on the number of rounds in a magazine (though some aren’t quite sure what a magazine actually is, admittedly), others are going a totally different direction, with bills to expand concealed-carry rights and even nullify Federal gun control efforts (rationalized under a mix of the Second and Tenth Amendments). The media is focused on a few highly-publicized victories in Connecticut and Colorado, with the goal of painting a rather hopeless picture for pro-gunners; that gun control is extremely popular, and that those standing in the way of the legislation “side with the criminals.” 2

The working thesis tonight is simple; that narrative of the “inevitable” success of gun control, and everything it entails, is running into something that those carrying the narrative never expected. Despite media reports, there is a noticeable resistance to attempts to restrict gun rights. Tonight we look at the surge in gun sales, reports on gun violence, and even recent polls of Law Enforcement. Blowback has always focused on the grassroots, and this year’s edition will continue that pattern. Far from painting a bleak picture for gun rights (and, frankly, individual liberty in general), this year’s edition aims to prove that the real story is far brighter, and points to a resistance that cannot be stopped.

PART 1: BACKGROUND

Let’s set the stage. Of course (and for reasons both obvious and disgusting) we need to start with the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. 27 people were killed on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary. The gunman then killed himself as police arrived. It was later discovered that the perpetrator shot and killed his own mother, and stole the weapons she had. As with every major school shooting since Columbine, this reignited a debate about gun control (though the debate about mental health went almost nowhere, and neither did the debate about “violent video games,” which hit a massive roadblock when the Supreme Court declared that the medium had First Amendment protection).

With the news came calls for the renewal of the Clinton-era Assault Weapons Ban (from here on, AWB), and more extensive background checks1. The “commonsense” background checks led many to believe that it would lead to a national registry, whether explicitly or through a backdoor measure.2 Being a gun owner, at least in the eyes of the media and many in government, was either something to be attacked or demonized. This was made all the more evident when a New York newspaper published an interactive map of Concealed Carry License holders in the state, complete with names and addresses.3 The paper eventually took it down, but not before one of the people on that list was robbed.4

In Congress, the debate focused on a Senate bill called the “Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013.” A host of amendments ranging from a revival of the AWB (which Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) had proposed) to limits on magazine size (proposed by Sen. Lautenberg (D-NJ). In introducing the Assault Weapons Ban, Senator Feinstien referred to the rifles as “personal pleasures,” and suggested that owners of such weapons should put their enjoyment behind the “general welfare” of the country.5 Supporters pointed to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, claiming that “90% of Americans support expanded background checks.”6 A common theme at press events in support of the bill was to have the families of Newtown victims present behind the podium, which was criticized by opponents as using them as “props” to rally support for the bill.7 Receiving far less attention were people who lost family members in Newtown, but were against gun control. In an appearance on Fox News, Mark Mattioli, who lost as on in the shooting, said that he didn’t see more gun control laws as the right response to the shooting.8 Instead, Mattioli argued for enforcing existing laws, and increasing “mandatory minimum sentences for gun-related crimes.”

The debate in Congress culminated with an amendment introduced by Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) that, they claimed, would make background checks online and at gun shows mandatory, but stressed that it was not a path to a gun registry. Critics of the bill as a whole saw the amendment as the backdoor registry they had claimed the bill was from the beginning.9The amendment failed, as did almost every other amendment for the bill, when brought for a vote on April 17, 2013.10 In a speech at the White House Rose Garden later that evening, President Barack Obama blamed the “gun lobby”, specifically the National Rifle Association, claiming they “willfully lied” about the bill and the Manchin/Toomey amendment in particular.11He stressed that the bill passed despite the poll claiming 90% of Americans had supported it. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would shelve the legislation the next day.12 Sen. Reid, and others like Vice President Joe Biden, have promised that while the Safe Schools Act failed, that they intend to continue pushing for gun control. On July 1st, Examiner.com picked up news of the “Modernized Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act”, which essentially looks to ban virtually all rifle ammo from civilian use.13 Interestingly, news hit the wires the day before Independence Day that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an ardent supporter of gun control would host a fundraiser for Manchin later in July.14

PART 2: SCHOOLS

The Sandy Hook shootings also changed the debate on how to protect elementary and middle schools, as well as the debate on allowing guns on college campuses. The National Rifle Association proposed a plan to put armed guards in schools.1 The proposal was roundly mocked by critics as adding more guns to a situation that clearly didn’t need any more. It was also suggested that the presence of armed guards would make children more fearful. Oddly it was around this point that bulletproof backpacks, which hadn’t really been a thought until then, saw a spike in sales as well.2

In colleges, where many students are old enough to both join the military and own their own firearms, the idea of CCW on Campus was back in the spotlight following the shootings at Sandy Hook. In Georgia and Texas, especially, the prospect of allowing licensed individuals to carry guns on campus has come within inches of being legalized. In both States, it was more a matter of being unable to pass before the close of the Legislature’s session than any lack of support. To demonstrate, we will look at the battle in Georgia as an example. Before we do so, please note that Georgia has one of the shortest legislative sessions in the nation, lasting from January into early April.

The debate over CCW On Campus in Georgia is largely fueled by the crime that occurs around Georgia Tech, located in downtown Atlanta. The bill that came through the State Legislature would have allowed GA Weapons License holders to carry their guns onto campus, save for dorms and stadiums. The State Senate (and Gov. Nathan Deal) pushed to make training mandatory as well. The USG (University System of Georgia) strongly opposed the bill, saying that current law was working, and allowing guns would be disruptive to other students and staff in addition to making the environment less safe. (Although they almost never touched on the crime happening around areas like Georgia Tech.)

The bill for Campus Carry ended up being merged into a much larger pro-gun bill that also opened bars and churches to CCW holders. It should be noted that Ohio has allowed guns in bars for about two years without incident.3 The concept of mandatory training became a huge sticking point between the House and Senate. The bill was brought to the floor of the House about ten minutes too late to do anything, and was shelved until the 2014 session. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an article shortly afterwards, claiming that the bill would likely pass in 2014, owing to the USG Board’s waning influence, election year politics, and the fact that the previous bill is already filed and ready to go long beforehand4. A similar situation is happening in Texas, although right now there are no plans to bring a CCW On Campus bill to a vote during the current special session of the State Legislature.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, where Campus Carry was already legalized, there were efforts to ban it in the wake of the Newtown shooting. (Note that it was not due to any shooting on a Colorado campus, which is largely the criticism used to slow down CCW on Campus in other States.) This led to some fairly interesting solutions from critics of campus carry, specifically their ideas for female students. Most infamous among them was Colorado Democrat Joe Sallazar’s idea of using a “rape whistle”5 (for which he later apologized).Aside from proving the adage of gun control as “seeing a raped woman as morally superior to a dead would-be rapist” correct, the clear ineffectiveness of that idea, and others that were proposed helped defeat the legislation, which was eventually killed by the bill’s sponsor,6 After a slew of gun control laws passed through Colorado’s Legislature, universities also suggested that women should urinate, vomit, or claim to be diseased to deter an attacker.7

PART 3: SURGE

The greatest irony of the last seven months has been that the rush to exploit the Newtown shootings has led to one of the biggest spikes in gun and ammo sales in recent memory. This invariably led to a spike in prices too, in some cases leading to prices twice that of what they were before the spike1 (sometimes more, as shown when Cheaper Than Dirt started getting hit with accusations of price gouging),which wasn’t enough to keep stores from selling out their inventory.2 Ironically, despite the surge in revenue, some stores decided to halt sales of assault rifles, such as Wal-Mart and Dick’s.3 This was seen by pro-gunners as a weak-kneed caving to PR pressure for no solid reason.

With the increase in gun sales comes the increase in background checks. Backlogs reached a point where states like Pennsylvania started looking into ways to upgrade their systems to process the requests from both CCW permits and gun sales faster. In Colorado, the surge was called “unprecedented” by the CO Bureau of Investigation; which told the Denver Post that a process that usually took minutes ended up taking upwards of 68 hours.4 Similar spikes were reported in Alabama5 and elsewhere.6 The surge in gun sales and background checks have only recently started cooled off, and people are now starting to see a reduction in price as supply gets back to normal levels.

Looking at background checks and how law enforcement is responding to the surge also gives us a chance to see how law enforcement is reacting to the gun control debate as a whole. It is often said by anti-gunners that law enforcement has always and will always support “commonsense” gun control laws. (With the definition of “commonsense” seeming to change every other week.)While going virtually unreported by the media (except to invite them on to be browbeaten and guilt-tripped), several individual sheriffs like Milwaukee County’s David Clarke,7 and in some cases entire sheriffsorganizations8 have basically said that they will not enforce what they see as unconstitutional gun control legislation. In addition, a survey of15,000 people in law enforcement by PoliceOne (essentially a trade magazine for LEOs and those in the law enforcement community) found law enforcement to be both skeptical of current gun control legislation and supportive ofconcealed-carry.9 The survey went practically unreported by most major media sources.

PART 4: ENDGAME

So, with all of that in mind, where does it leave us? The reality is that it leaves the pro-gun movement (and, by association, the Liberty Movement as a whole) in a very strong position. The combination of a record-breaking spike in gun sales and background checks, the spectacular failure of gun control legislation at the Federal level, and the emerging pro-gun sentiment among law-enforcement is quite powerful. In addition, the reality is that, despite the constant need to drum up Newtown, gun control simply isn’t seen as the massive threat proponents want it to be.1 In States that have gone decidedly anti-gun, we are also seeing a backlash there and in some cases even civil disobedience. A perfect example of this is in New York. The State’s SAFE Act was a mix of a weapons ban, a magazine ammo limit, and a mandatory gun registration program. There is a movement now to essentially break that law, and refuse to register anything.2 In an echo from 2010 we are starting to see impassioned speeches at town hall meetings against the bill One such individual is Aaron Weiss, an Iraq combat vet who delivered a short speech in Dutchess County, NY on the SAFE Act, focusing on the repeated and hypocritical attempts by supporters of the Act to use “dead babies” as a “battlecry.”3

Perhaps most telling, however, is the reaction coming from gun control proponents and their increasing candor both about their ignorance towards guns, and their hopes for Newtown as a blood-stained springboard for gun legislation. For example, Ohio Representative Marcia Fudge told National Public Radio that “We had hoped the killing of those babies in Newtown would make a difference. I’m not so sure that it has made the difference that we wanted to make.”4 Finally, as mentioned earlier, gun control proponents have begun taking a “with us or against us” tactic, especially with law enforcement. On May 17, Colorado’s Senate Democrats responded to State sheriffs, who had joined a lawsuit to overturn the State’s new gun-control legislation.5 The official Twitter account stated that “2day CO sheriffs stood in opposition of CO’s new gun laws, but not w/law-abiding citizens, but with criminals #coleg#Sheriffs4Criminals.”6

In Colorado, US Rep. Diana DeGette told a Denver Post forum that ammo magazines were essentially one-time-use. She told the forum “these are ammunition. They are bullets. So the people who have those now, they’re going to shoot them. So, if you ban them in the future, the number of the high-capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot and there won’t be any more available.”7 Leaving aside the rather obvious bonus of saying outright that the goal was to deplete supply of the magazines entirely (and perhaps the ammo as well), Rep. DeGette’s comments and others (such as Joe Salazar’s baffling comments on rape whistles as an alternative for shooting an attacker8) showed that some of the people supporting the bans aren’t entirely sure of what it is they are banning, nor the impact of such bans.

EPILOGUE

The argument between the anti- and pro-gun movements is not complicated. It comes down to a difference in mindset. The anti-gun movement is focused, essentially, on fear. It is predicated on the idea that criminals are everywhere, and the only way to prevent events like the tragedy at Newtown is to place more restrictions on firearms regardless of the damage it does to those who have done nothing wrong. The solution, apparently, is that you need someone else to protect you, as civilian ownership of guns is dangerous and will only perpetuate the cycle of violence. In short, it is predicated on a fearful, defeatist, and disempowering mindset. You are expected to rely on someone else for protection unconditionally, regardless of whether other people can actually get to you in time to make any difference.

Pro-gunners go in a far different direction. They accept that there are people who seek to harm others (for numerous reasons) and that they do not pay attention to laws that most people in civil society follow. (Note that the Sandy Hook shooter shot his mother with her own gun.) But rather than react with calls for laws that such people have already proven they won’t follow, pro-gunners offer a skillset, a way to at least have a chance if, God forbid, a person is attacked or put in a situation similar to Sandy Hook. And along with that skillset, many pro-gunners offer training on the tools and the mindset needed to master it. In short, the pro-gun mindset is predicated on accepting that there are “bad people” in the world, and empowering people with the ability to defend themselves from such individuals. It is, by default, a far more optimistic mindset than one predicated on fear both of an inanimate object and the “potential” everyone around a person has to kill.

And that is why Blowback suggests that the expansion of gun rights (and, by association, liberty in general) is inevitable. The efforts to attack firearms as the source of violence, demonize gun owners as being directly responsible for such shootings, and constant Wild West imagery have only amplified people’s interest in firearms. What people are discovering is a world far different than what they have been told. Add to that the Federal government’s admission that gun violence has actually decreased over the last two decades1 and there is simply no longer a logical argument for gun control proponents to stand on (assuming there ever was one to start with). Only an emotional one that is itself becoming tired if not insulting.

As more people get educated on firearms (and, more importantly, how to use them), respecting a firearm will become more widespread, and the ominous mystique around firearms will be diminished. Those who choose to use a firearm either in an activity like range shooting or for their own self-defense become increasingly protective of their right to use the firearm. (Those who do not, for whatever reason, will at the very least walk away with a firm understanding of firearms, and their place in American society.) As those numbers grow, the self-reliance and pro-liberty movements that gun rights are inseparable from will grow with them. The end result, combining all there of those movements, is a massive section of the country that is well-armed, well-trained, self-reliant and extremely protective of their rights. Attempts to infringe on those rights will be seen as insulting, and will be impossible to get through. The people the media wants everyone to believe are destroying the country will instead be the ones who save it.

Happy Independence Day.

Over and out.

– Jordan

PROLOUGE:

1http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/01/23/gallup-poll-republicans-say-country-best-days-are-in-past/

2http://dailycaller.com/2013/05/28/colorado-dems-tweet-that-sheriffs-backing-gun-control-lawsuit-side-with-criminals/

PART 1: FEAR

1http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/01/16/obama-gun-violence-plan-assault-weapons-ban-background-checks/1837793/

2http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/congress/item/15117-background-checks-open-door-to-national-gun-registry

3http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2012/12/foghorn/new-york-newspaper-publishes-list-of-concealed-carry-permit-holders-names-addresses/

4http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/01/13/gun-permit-list-to-blame-for-white-plains-burglary/

5http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/feb/26/sen-dianne-feinstein-ass

6http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/04/03/90-percent-of-americans-want-expanded-background-checks-on-guns-why-isnt-this-a-political-slam-dunk/

7http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/04/17/rand-paul-obama-using-newtown-victims-as-props/

8http://foxnewsinsider.com/2013/04/08/emotional-interview-newtown-parent-mark-mattioli-explains-to-megyn-kelly-his-battle-against-post-sandy-hook-gun-control-laws

9http://dailycaller.com/2013/04/16/manchin-toomey-amendment-orchestrates-gun-registration-read-it-yourself/

10http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/04/17/manchin-toomey-gun-amendment-fails/

11http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/17/obama-gun-control_n_3103963.html

12http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/apr/18/sen-harry-reid-personally-will-continue-fight-back/?page=all

13 http://www.examiner.com/article/new-armor-piercing-ammo-legislation-might-outlaw-nearly-all-rifle-ammunition?cid=rss

14 http://www.buzzfeed.com/rubycramer/michael-bloomberg-will-host-fundraiser-for-joe-manchin

PART 2: SCHOOLS

1http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/nra-announces-national-program-place-armed-personnel-schools-164814742–politics.html

2 http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/bulletproof-backpack-sales-spike-newtown-article-1.1224267

3 http://www.buckeyefirearms.org/node/7870

4 http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/political-insider/2013/apr/06/why-campus-carry-could-become-law-georgia-next-yea/

5 http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/citizen-warrior/2013/feb/20/college-women-need-rape-whistles-not-guns-says-col/

6 http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_22746936/colorado-gun-bills-guns-campus-goes-before-senate

7 http://www.ibtimes.com/colorado-college-advises-vomiting-or-urinating-stop-rapists-after-lawmakers-pass-gun-control-bills

PART 3: SURGE

1http://cnsnews.com/blog/gregory-gwyn-williams-jr/ammo-prices-have-doubled-december-americas-largest-gun-shop

2http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-12-19/guns-out-of-stock-at-wal-mart-as-magazine-prices-surge-on

3http://money.cnn.com/2012/12/18/news/wal-mart-dicks-guns-connecticut/index.html

4http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_22250602/colorado-gun-background-checks-still-surging-called-unprecedented

5http://www.gadsdentimes.com/article/20130110/NEWS/130119993

6http://money.cnn.com/2013/01/28/news/economy/gun-background-checks/index.html

7http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/01/26/i-need-you-in-the-game-wis-sheriff-tells-residents-to-learn-how-to-use-a-gun-to-defend-themselves/

8http://cspoa.org/sheriffs-gun-rights/

9http://www.policeone.com/police/products/press-releases/6188461-PoliceOne-com-Releases-Survey-of-15-000-Law-Enforcement-Professionals-about-U-S-Gun-Control-Policies/

PART 4: REACTION

1http://www.policymic.com/articles/37191/only-4-of-americans-consider-gun-control-a-priority

2http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/item/14322-gun-owners-refuse-to-register-under-new-york-law

3http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44zW84FKd50&feature=player_embedded

4http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=186262922

5http://dailycaller.com/2013/05/28/colorado-dems-tweet-that-sheriffs-backing-gun-control-lawsuit-side-with-criminals/

6https://twitter.com/COSenDem/status/335485266661883904

7http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_22942134/diana-degette-offers-ammo-gun-backers

8http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/watercooler/2013/feb/19/rep-joe-salazars-gun-comments-spark-trending-hasht/

EPILOGUE: RESISTANCE

1http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/07/18108298-gun-violence-in-us-has-fallen-dramatically-over-past-20-years-justice-dept-report-finds?lite

Blowback: Resilience [Part 3] (2012)

[The following was published July 4, 2012]

4.) Epilogue. Allow me to be informal for a moment as Blowback closes for this year. Taken as a whole, the things discussed in Blowback this year can be fairly discouraging. Shortly after the Obamacare decision, I spent some time talking to friends and looking at various social media sites, trying to gauge the reactions. At least to me, it seemed to range from the idea that the ruling was a sort of nail in the coffin to thinking that it merely made the elections more important.

While I agree with the latter view, I think people need to also start thinking beyond the election. For years, we have focused on and placed a lot of authority in the Federal government. Constitutionally, the power was always meant to rest with the states. The Federal government’s powers were not only limited, but specifically laid out in Article 1, Section 8. Furthermore, in the time that the Constitution was first created and ratified, the first question asked in Congress with a bill was NOT who it would (supposedly) benefit or whether it was a good idea to start with. The first question was, and needs to be whether the government is allowed to do something in the first place.

At the state level, we are seeing some resistance to the Federal government, and states are re-asserting their power under the Tenth Amendment. A prime example of this is Arizona’s attempts to secure their own border with Mexico, seeing the Federal government’s efforts as weak and ineffective. This week, Governors in several states have responded to the Healthcare Reform ruling by proclaiming that they will ignore it and continue to fight it.

The local level is where the real changes are. As an example, I will use the 2012 Ron Paul campaign. Ron Paul’s campaign (and indeed Ron Paul’s supporters) were essentially blacked out and/or stigmatized by right-leaning news sources and radio hosts. Straw polls which saw Paul in the top 3 early on were either avoided, or shown with Paul barely being mentioned, to the point where it even became a Daily Show skit. Rather than endure the blackout, however, Ron Paul and his supporters changed tactics, and educated themselves on how the party worked. Using some of the more arcane rules of the GOP against the party, Paul’s campaign supporters managed to send many more delegates to the Tampa convention than most estimates had expected Paul is slated to have a sizeable voice at the Tampa convention. Paul’s campaign was and is largely grassroots, but has given rise to what has been referred to as the “Liberty Movement.” The Liberty Movement can fairly be described as a Libertarian take, and a much more uncompromising one at that, on the Tea Party.

But there’s another element at the local level, and this is what I would like to close on tonight. “Community” is kind of a dirty word among some on the right. This is unfortunate as it’s really the only way anything is going to change for the better in this country. Going back to the Paul example above, the Liberty Movement outstretched itself almost immediately, by going for the Presidency with not much else underpinning that President. This caused a panic in the Movement, a fear that all of the work up to this point was wasted.

All because everything beneath the Presidency had been almost completely ignored.

The same thing needs to happen generally. It’s not enough to talk about Romney vs. Obama. (Especially since there are PLENTY of similarities between the two….something even Romney supporters will admit.) People need to change not just how they vote, but how they think as well. A Libertarian/liberty-minded message isn’t going to be carried on the main news networks (if you can actually call them news networks), nor is it going to be carried on Republican talk radio. Talk radio, especially, has very little interest in carrying a truly libertarian message, or any message that involves taking a sharp look at wars and the bank-owned financial system.

It’s about going around them. Telling someone that you want the government off their backs, that you want them to be able to move without restrictions, and that you want people to be able to think; do; and say as they please is inherently powerful. Anything that offers independence is. It also makes those who would prefer people rely on government, or some sort of external force, very nervous. And that’s where the battle should be; at a local level and on principles, instead of a national one on which barely-different candidate should be in the White House. Once the base is taken care of, everything above it will be fairly straightforward. In short, if I may borrow from survivalist Jack Spriko, the secret to getting the country back on track is simply changing tactics, and trying to change the country from the bottom up, and not from the top down.

Happy Independence Day, and thank you for reading.

Over and out.

– Jordan

Blowback: Resilience [Part 2]

[The following was published July 4, 2013.]

2.) Surveillance. There are two things that are really starting to scare those in power: the surge in firearms sales recent months, and the power of the Internet. There is no better example of the latter than the aftermath of the SOPA/PIPA protests, and no better example of the former than under-the-radar attempts to curb the availability of guns.

SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (PROTECT IP Act, full name Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act) were two proposed cybersecurity bills that started in the House and Senate respectively. Their stated goal was to “protect” intellectual property and copyright. The bills, which saw bipartisan Congressional support, were immensely unpopular outside the beltway. The bills used a form of DNS blocking, which would effectively shut down any sites deemed to have copyrighted material on them by making them inaccessible. The bills, ironically enough, had massive support from various media lobbies like the ESA, RIAA, and MPAA. News of the bills spread like wildfire through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and many other sources. Eventually a movement was started to “black out” entire websites in protest and as a means of drawing attention to the bills.

On January 18th, major hubs for user-created content like Wikipedia, Craigslist, and even Minecraft went down for the entire day. Publications like WIRED magazine were still active, but made blatantly obvious modifications to their website in support of the blackout. The blackout, combined with the almost non-stop calls and emails to Congresspeople, led to both bills being shelved within days of the historic protests.

However, governments are not known for simply giving up on power grabs. By April, a new bill, known as CISPA, emerged. The bill, which as of this writing has only passed the House, ostensibly is designed to improve US efforts to fight cyber-terrorism (notice the pattern of “terrorism” as a universal bogeyman mentioned in the introduction). The bill was passed on a rushed vote, with some hastily added amendments that essentially allow the government to peer into a person’s digital life, if the government only claim that the person committed a “cybersecurity crime.”

Globally, there is a similar law in the pipeline. ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, is a multinational treaty that would ostensibly help curb global piracy. It has slipped largely under the radar, and while not being ratified by the Senate, the US government still backs the Agreement. The bill has been discussed largely in secret. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA, more on him later) has called the bill “worse than SOPA.”

The Agreement has run into major resistance in the European Union.

3.) Guns. In terms of firearms, there are two major anti-gun efforts. The first is the now-dead “Fast and Furious,” an ATF gunrunning op that saw thousands of firearms end up in the hands of drug cartels. The project was blown wide open after Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed over two years ago. CBS News also reports that the project had the explicit goal of making the case for tighter gun regulations. (In other words, one had to be made up, since there was no actual evidence to make that case–certainly not any domestic evidence.)

The case has since exploded into a Congressional investigation headed up by Darrell Issa. Documents relating to F&F have been locked under “executive privilege” shortly before Attorney General Eric Holder was to be held in contempt of Congress. There is far too much information on the case to burn down into a few paragraphs, but examiner.com’s David Codrea has put together a very comprehensive timeline of the scandal for all who are interested. At present, Issa is still trying to get some more of the documents regarding F&F, but the Dept. of Justice has said that, regardless of the investigation, it will not prosecute Holder.

Globally, there is a “Small Arms Treaty” in the pipeline. The treaty is viewed by a lot of people as a backdoor to a gun ban The Treaty is ostensibly a means by which to regulate international weapons trade. This week, there is a major summit for negotiations on the Treaty. The events in Syria are also serving as both a backdrop and political tool. Supporters say that the massacre in Syria is proof that the “secret arms trade” needs to be regulated.