Primary

An update from Midnight Run: Debt, a Columbine survivor pushes for pro-gun legislation, and whether “the lesser of two evils” mantra still applies in the 2016 Presidential election as we approach Super Tuesday.

1.) Campus Carry. First an update on campus carry. Against the backdrop of numerous robberies on Georgia college campuses, a bill legalized concealed carry on campus passed the Georgia House this week and is now looking at a bit of a tougher battle in the Senate. Interestingly, GeorgiaPacking.org (not affiliated with the lobbyist group GeorgiaCarry.org) found that the biggest threat to the bill, as before, may be Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

In other campus carry news, Patrick Neville, a survivor of the Columbine school shootings-turned-legislator, is pushing a bill to allow teachers to carry on campus in Colorado. In a statement, Neville said that the “only thing that is going to stop murderers intent on doing harm is to give good people the legal authority to carry a gun to protect themselves and our children.”

2.) Debt. A bill in Missouri would allow for convicted felons to apply to have their gun rights restored three years after the completion of their sentence. The bill is said by it’s sponsors to be a “second chance” bill, while critics say people who have committed a violent crime in the past will likely do so again.

Which, of course, begs the question of why a person that violent should be released in the first place.

3.) Lesser of Two Evils. A new piece on National Review warrants a mention here because this election could be a turning point for firearms rights considering the SCOTUS vacancy (among a multitude of other reasons). Put bluntly, neither of the frontrunners have a very good record on firearms, but in the broader picture, the GOP frontrunner’s rhetoric has been anything but conservative. National Review convincingly argues that a President Trump could be extremely damaging to the American Right and how conservative/small-government candidates are defined in the future.

In other words, “the lesser of two evils” (a term Trump’s ardent supporters will almost certainly cling to) may be more damaging in the long run. Just like last time.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Suppression

Taking suppressors off the NFA list becomes a political issue, anti-gun groups want you to think an explosion can be silenced, and a word from the Eagles of Death Metal.

1.) Suppressors. Also known as silencers (despite only being capable of reducing a gunshot by only 30 or so db), suppressors are long tubes designed to be attached to the barrel of a firearm to lower the db level of the gunshot. Buying them requires its own form, a $200 tax stamp, and a signature from the chief law enforcement officer in your area. The reason for all this is the National Firearms Act which was designed to control the sale and transfer of certain weapons and ended up including suppressors.

Probably the only safety gear the government goes through hell to prevent you from getting.

Anyway, there is now a bill to fix this glaring problem. The Hearing Protection Act.

2.) Silence. But apparently it’s possible to silence explosions altogether. At least that is the argument gun control groups are making. They claim that suppressors actually represent a threat to public safety. The Violence Policy Center has a report out basically saying that the deregulation of suppressors “is merely the latest attempt by the gun lobby and gun industry, in the wake of declining household gun ownership, to market yet another military-bred product with little concern for its effect on public safety.” To back up their point, they use a series of incidents where the items were used in crime….alongside other illegal objects.

Gun ownership apparently is declining despite the consistently record breaking number of background check requests.

3.) Paris. Jesse Hughes , the lead singer for Eagles of Death Metal, the band that went through the attacks in Paris at the Bataclan, spoke on the issue of gun control as the band returned to Paris.

“Did your French gun control stop a single person from dying at the Bataclan? If anyone can answer yes, I’d like to hear it, because I don’t think so,” said Hughes.

“I think the only thing that stopped it was some of the bravest men that I’ve ever seen in my life charging head-first into the face of death with their firearms. I know people will disagree with me, but it just seems like God made men and women, and that night guns made them equal. I think the only way my mind has been changed is that maybe that until nobody has guns everybody has to have them.”

Hughes had always been in support of firearms for self-defense. Now it seems, having been through a terror attack, his opinion on the subject has only gotten stronger.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Scalia

Gamers will remember him for the majority opinion in Brown v. EMA, which ruled that video games had the same 1st Amendment protection as all other forms of mass media.

Gun owners will remember him for the majority opinion in DC v. Heller, which struck down the DC gun ban.

But virtually everyone will remember Justice Antonin Scalia as a sharp legal mind with an even sharper wit (some of his dissents have a legendary rep for being equal parts blunt and sarcastic). Today he was found dead at a ranch in Texas, reportedly of “natural causes.”

Tonight, a quick look at the aftermath of his death, and what the possibilities are for the future.

1.) Baseline. The man was called “the intellectual cornerstone of the court’s modern conservative wing” by the Washington Post, Ted Cruz said Scalia was “champion of our liberties and a stalwart defender of the Constitution, he will go down as one of the few Justices who single-handedly changed the course of legal history.”

Scalia was a reliable conservative, first appointed to the Court in 1986 by then-President Ronald Reagan. He built a reputation as an originalist, someone who believes in very strict interpretations of the Constitution. Indeed, during a speech in Atlanta, as early as 2014, Scalia is quoted by FOX News as saying “The Constitution is not a living organism. It’s a legal document, and it says what it says and doesn’t say what it doesn’t say.”

2.) Aftermath. Scalia’s death opened a political battle almost immediately, with Republicans looking to stall replacing him on the Court until the next election, and Democrats slamming the idea as “unprecedented

Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s Majority Leader, has basically promised that he will hold off confirming anybody until 2017. ““The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” he said.

Democrats, of course, swiftly criticized McConnell’s promise. The President, for his part, has said he will nominate a successor “in due time.”

3.) Confirmation. But that nominee has a large hurdle to clear if Republican opposition is what McConnell hopes it is. A “simple majority” is all that is required is a simple majority. A simple majority from a Senate with 55 Republicans.

4.) Direction. We don’t get into speculation around here, so looking at “possible candidates” honestly is not worth our time. We know the kind of candidates the current President will nominate. President Obama is not an originalist, nor does he have a history of appointing conservative Justices.

If, however, McConnell holds to what he said and stalls until November, it could open a number of paths to confirmation. It would be a remarkable story to see a conservative President essentially “preserve” Scalia’s ideological seat.

But the idea of going a full year with an absence on the Court is indeed unprecedented, and it remains to be seen if McConnell will stand by what he said. If he does not, an appointee more in-line with the President’s views is almost certain to become the next Supreme Court Justice.

Considering the President’s views, that should make anyone in favor of the right to self-defense extremely nervous. McConnell almost certainly will pay a political price for not keeping his word.

Stay alert. Stay informed. Stay free.

Grab Bag: Februrary 2016

Campus carry sails through Florida’s House, a new study shows a ton of people think universal background checks actually exist, and a bill to charge people who fail NICS checks (even if it’s a false positive, as most are).

1.) Florida. New bills that would allow concealed carry permit holders to carry on state colleges and also carry openly easily passed the Florida House this week by votes of 80-37 and 80-38, respectively. Of course, the opposition responded by saying that campus carry would make campuses more dangerous (as is the claim with all pro-gun bills, including HB60 here in Georgia, which is two years old this July).

2.) Ignorance. Way too many people believe a federal law requiring universal background checks exist. That’s the takeaway from the work of two researchers from Yale University. The study’s authors say that educating the public about the “limits” of current law could make people more receptive to gun control legislation and prevent deaths.

3.) NICS. As if trying to get people on secret watchlists banned from owning guns wasn’t enough, now we have a proposal to charge people who fail a NICS check, apparently leaving aside the NICS system’s long-held reputation for producing a ton of false positives.

4.) Strict scrutiny. “Strict scrutiny” is a legal standard largely used for laws that restrict rights in some way. It places the burden of proof on the government to show that a law’s restrictions on core rights are still supportive of those rights or, at the very least, that the government has a “compelling interest” in restricting that right.

This is relevant due to a case of a gun control law in Maryland. Legal Insurrection’s Andrew Branca reports that Maryland’s Firearms Safety Act was struck down when the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals applied that standard to the law. Branca notes something that could be huge if self defense advocates press the issue. Branca writes:

It is a true oddity of constitutional law that the rights enumerated in the Constitution are almost invariably privileged to strict scrutiny–except for the rights enumerated in the Second Amendment.

This state of affairs has allowed the implementing of constraints on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms that would never have been tolerated in the context of First Amendment rights to freedom of religion, speech, or assembly, or Fourth Amendment rights against governmental search and seizure, Fifth Amendment rights to due process and against self-incrimination and double jeopardy, and so forth.

Indeed, Second Amendment advocates have long noted this disparity of treatment, and have long fought to eradicate it. We know full well that should strict scrutiny be applied to the Second Amendment, the vast majority of gun laws currently on the books would inescapably be found to be unconstitutional infringements of the Second Amendment, and discarded.

In other words, virtually every gun control law cannot survive strict scrutiny. The oft-repeated line by gun control advocates that “reasonable” restrictions are constitutional is blatantly false. Let us close this week with this excerpt from Branca:

In short, the application of strict scrutiny to the Second Amendment, just as it is applied to the other rights enumerated in the Constitution, would be a complete game changer on gun rights on a national scale.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.