Gun Owners of the San Fernando Valley Posts

At what point does a species go from endangered to extinct? Is it when the last individual dies? Or is it when the last individual of one gender dies leaving a lone survivor? This may not seem to be a gun related topic; but, here in California, it is. The State’s attempts to “save the condor” affect hunters in particular and gun owners in general. Laws on lead ammunition will ultimately determine the ammo choices, and costs, that even non-hunters will have when they seek ammunition for self-defense or other non-hunting applications.

The popular view of extinction is the latter of the two listed above. When the last male or the last female dies, breeding another generation becomes impossible. Or does it? Cloning might offer hope, some would argue. But recent studies suggest that it was all over for a particular species long before the last breeding pair was parted. This study of Woolly Mammoth populations shows how a species can pass the point of no return even while there may be hundreds of individuals still alive. (Here’s something of a Cliff Notes version from the NY Times.) The study documents the dramatic loss of genetic diversity in the last known mammoth population.

The last mammoths of Wrangel Island died out about 4000 years ago. The DNA of one individual that died about 300 years before that point was compared to the DNA of a mammoth from Siberia that lived 45,000 year ago. The genetic diversity was about 20% lower in the younger sample and showed signs of multiple, deleterious mutations that would have hindered the ability of the Wrangel Island population to survive changes to their environment. The estimate of the island’s mammoth population 4300 years ago is 300 breeding individuals. (There may have been more individuals present on the island, but only 300 or so were actively breeding.) This proved to be too small a population to sustain the species. Harmful mutations built up and natural selection couldn’t weed them out of so small a population.

In 1987, when the last wild California Condor was captured at the start of the State’s breeding program, there were 27 individuals left in the world. Out of that group, only 13 were breeding individuals. All California Condors alive today are descendants of those original 13. Making matters worse, there’s a very good possibility that all 13 were closely related. If that’s the case, then the entire population of California Condors in the world today is descended from less than 13 birds.

Current law regarding endangered species focuses on simplistic census numbers; how many animals exist. 300 large animals on a 2900 square mile island would seem, by this measure, to be a healthy population. It wasn’t. But laws such as the Endangered Species Act were written before science could accurately describe a species’ genome. It assumes that having more individuals in a population is automatically good. But, if all of these individuals are closely related, then even a large population isn’t healthy and isn’t sustainable. Merely counting heads won’t save a species from extinction.

The question to be asked about new or existing laws here in California isn’t “Will this save the condors?”, but rather “Is saving the condors even possible anymore?”. Arguably, the answer to that question is “no”. Gymnogyps californianus is already extinct when one considers their genome. But all of this goes further than condors. Recent studies have shown that some “endangered” wolf species aren’t wolves; they’re coyote hybrids. Under current law, this means that they’re not endangered at all.

It’s time for the law to catch up to science. More than nose counting must be done to determine which species need protection, which do not, and which are beyond hope; and thus, where we should spend our finite government resources. Attempting to save an already extinct species or a hybrid population isn’t a good way to spend the People’s money. Worse yet, we hurt species that can be preserved with these quixotic attempts to “save” extinct species and hybrid populations.

Condors Conservation Legal News

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Watch out 9th Circuit! The 4th is a-comin’ fer ya!

San Francisco’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has the dubious distinction of being the most overturned court in the Federal judiciary. Over 80% of 9th Circuit rulings reviewed by the Supreme Court get tossed. Not to be outdone, the 4th Circuit issued this ridiculous ruling in the Kolbe case. The court’s en banc panel held that, and I’m paraphrasing a bit here, since “assault weapons” are icky and scary looking, they’re not protected by the 2nd Amendment. The court contends that the affected semi-automatic firearms are “weapons of war” and thus not protected as per Heller.

This is, of course, an incorrect reading of Heller as well as the facts.

While the Heller ruling was narrowly confined to Washington D.C.’s handgun ban, the Court did caution against reading the ruling as only applying to handguns; that the 2nd Amendment may apply to firearms such as semi-automatic rifles. Justice Scalia writes:

   Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. See, e.g., Sheldon, in 5 Blume 346; Rawle 123; Pomeroy 152–153; Abbott333. For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues. See, e.g., State v. Chandler, 5 La. Ann., at 489–490; Nunn v. State, 1 Ga., at 251; see generally 2 Kent *340, n. 2; The American Students’ Blackstone 84, n. 11 (G. Chase ed. 1884). Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment , nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.26

    We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at 179. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons.” See 4 Blackstone 148–149 (1769); 3 B. Wilson, Works of the Honourable James Wilson 79 (1804); J. Dunlap, The New-York Justice 8 (1815); C. Humphreys, A Compendium of the Common Law in Force in Kentucky 482 (1822); 1 W. Russell, A Treatise on Crimes and Indictable Misdemeanors 271–272 (1831); H. Stephen, Summary of the Criminal Law 48 (1840); E. Lewis, An Abridgment of the Criminal Law of the United States 64 (1847); F. Wharton, A Treatise on the Criminal Law of the United States 726 (1852). See also State v. Langford, 10 N. C. 381, 383–384 (1824); O’Neill v. State, 16Ala. 65, 67 (1849); English v. State, 35Tex. 473, 476 (1871); State v. Lanier, 71 N. C. 288, 289 (1874).

    It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment ’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.

While “dangerous and unusual” weapons are not protected, those “in common use” are. And “Black rifles” certainly are in common use! There’s a reason why the AR-15 is called “America’s Rifle”.

This ruling is doomed to reversal once it reaches the High Court. There it will join similarly goofy rulings from the 9th Circus. It is nothing more than a temper tantrum issued by a pack of black-robed idiots. But the fact that it will be short lived does not undo the damage that it will cause. There are law abiding citizens within the 4th Circuit’s jurisdiction that are now at risk of having their rights violated while the ruling is in force.

The more long lasting damage is to the law’s reputation. We have mentioned before that laws and court rulings that make a mockery of the law erode respect for the rule of law; and this is a very dangerous situation. A civil society cannot exist in the absence of the rule of law. As upsetting as this might be to some special snowflakes, society needs rules that everyone can follow. Rulings like this one upend the rules. Instead of a Constitution that sets firm limits on the power of Government, the 4th Circuit would replace it with judicial whimsy. This reduces the rule of law to a game of Calvinball.

…which is only funny if a boy and his stuffed tiger are involved. It’s not so funny if you’ve been arrested for something that was legal last Tuesday and might be again at the next new moon.

Legal News

The California DOJ recently withdrew a proposed set of regulations to enforce the State’s new “bullet button” ban. This ban redefines an “assault weapon” to mean any detachable magazine centerfire rifle with two or more features from the naughty list; such as an adjustable stock or a pistol grip on the forearm. While the proposed regulation were an overreach of the law’s intent, they were still rules that could be followed.

The firearms manufacturing community has been introducing new products that would allow Californians to comply with the terms of the law without having to register their rifles as “assault weapons”. (Remember: Registration == Confiscation!) But, by delaying their new rules, the CA-DOJ makes it uncertain which of these new products would actually pass the department’s legal tests. Thus we cannot say with certainty that a “featureless” rifle configuration is really featureless under the law. Nor can we say that a particular magazine release system truly satisfies the requirement that the action of the gun be disassembled to remove the magazine.

One does have to wonder: Is this delay deliberate? Is its purpose to prevent manufacturers from introducing legal products for California gun owners ahead of the ban’s January 1, 2018 enforcement date? Without these products, Californians would be forced to register their legally owned firearms with the State to stay compliant. Or…

Legal News

If Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) has her way, shall issue CCW will be coming to California. Melendez has introduced AB 757 to put an end to California’s may issue system; a system that is rife with corruption. Under current California practice, CCW permits are issued at the discretion of local law enforcement. Many authorities who do issue these permits do so only to their more prominent campaign donors or close friends. Others do not issue permits at all by setting requirements that are impossible to meet.

Melendez said of her bill:

“It is our Constitutional right to defend ourselves… Californians should not be subjugated to the personal beliefs of one individual who doesn’t believe in the Second Amendment. If a citizen passes the background check and completes the necessary safety training requirements, there should be no reason to deny them a CCW.”

Of course, there’s little chance that her bill will make it out of whatever committee is assigned to kill it. But Democrat lawmakers really ought to consider it. The alternative is CCW in California where the issuing authority is another State such as Utah. As we’ve mentioned before, nationwide CCW reciprocity is on its way. California can either get out in front of Washington D.C. or get steamrollered.

AB 757 Legislation News Pro-gun Self-defense State

So speaking of confirmation bias, this leaked ATF whitepaper is a fine example of something that needed to be slow-rolled before we shouted it from the rooftops. It’s not that it’s too-good-to-be-true. In fact, it seems to be legit. (Someone at ATF needs to be taught that “reply all” is not your friend.) So now, after a little time to let things settle, it appears that the time is ripe to discuss the leaked memo.

The whitepaper is a call to reevaluate some longstanding rules and policies at the ATF. Among these are an acceptance of “Modern Sporting Rifles” as soundly falling within the scope of the GCA‘s “Sporting purposes” requirements for legal importation. Included is an admission that these firearms are indeed used in sports such as hunting and 3-gun competitions. (Mind you, this doesn’t mean that we’re accepting “sporting purposes” as a legitimate, constitutional restraint on gun ownership. The 2nd Amendment isn’t about sporting goods! However, the GCA is part of the current legal paradigm that we need to work within.) There is also a call to loosen, or eliminate restrictions on silencers (and their parts) as NFA items. Silencers are legal in most States and the ATF’s inboxes are clogged with the  backlog of NFA applications for them.

The big take-away from the whitepaper is that there are reams of ATF regulations that do not advance public safety. Taking silencers as an example, there are almost no prosecutions for the illegal use of these devices in a typical year. (44 per year on average in a nation of 300,000,000 people; 0.0000147%.) These unnecessary, ineffectual rules only serve to erode our freedoms. How? A law or regulation that sits and gathers dust today could be “weaponized” in the future by some clever bureaucrat. Rather than wait for the threat to emerge, it’s better to clear the books of these useless regulations.

Kinda nice seeing the ATF under new management, isn’t it?

Legal News

It’s called Confirmation Bias; the tendency to view statements that agree with our existing beliefs as true. The Left does this frequently (Remember Dan Rather and his misadventures with MSWord?), but sometimes we “gun folk” do it too. There are plenty of dubious memes out there that get passed around on pro-gun websites. The basic rule holds: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The latest faux-fact that’s bedeviled the Left are these bogus “Fred Trump for Mayor” ads. Clintonista Sid “The Squid” Blumenthal fell for them and the London Review of Books has since had to edit a Blumenthal essay they posted. Politico researched the “Fred Trump campaign” and found that there was no such campaign. The ads, which appear to contain several anachronisms, are modern creations. But, they confirmed Blumenthal’s pre-existing beliefs about Donald Trump and his supposed racism. In short, they told him what he wanted to hear.

Then end result is that Blumenthal looks like a partisan hack. (OK… Make that like more of a partisan hack.) Whatever credibility he had before hitting “send”, he has less today. As gun owners, we can’t afford to lose credibility in the public square. Blumenthal has the entire US Media machine behind him, ready to rehabilitate his reputation. We have that same machine poised to pounce on any misstatements we make as proof that “the rabble” shouldn’t be allowed to have firearms. We don’t get a pass the same way Leftists do.

You wouldn’t fall for a painting entitled “George Washington Holding an AR-15”, so why would you fall for a “quotation” from Washington that appears to directly refer to that rifle? Think before you share!

News

Following through on a campaign promise, President Trump has nominated 10th Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch. Trump promised a strict Constitutionalist would fill the seat left by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. Like Justice Scalia, Judge Gorsuch interprets the Constitution and its language as that language was understood at the time of a passage’s adoption. For our proposes here on these pages, that means that “militia” means, as it did in c. 1788, “the whole people, except for a few public officials”, and not the National Guard; a 20th Century invention.

Predictably, the wingnut left has retired to their fainting couches. Gorsuch, who was approved by the Senate in 2006 on a voice vote, is suddenly an outrageous, “extremist” pick for the Supreme Court. (And keep in mind who was part of that Senate which approved Judge Gorsuch that day!)

Leading the howls of outrage is the Old Grey Lady. The NY Times editorial board refers to Judge Gorsuch as the “Nominee for a Stolen Seat“. Let me say from the start that I didn’t read the entire OP-ED piece. There quickly came a point where I just couldn’t stop laughing. It was probably this part…

It’s been almost a year since Senate Republicans took an empty Supreme Court seat hostage, discarding a constitutional duty that both parties have honored throughout American history and hobbling an entire branch of government for partisan gain.

President Trump had a great opportunity to repair some of that damage by nominating a moderate candidate for the vacancy, which was created when Justice Antonin Scalia died last February. Instead, he chose Neil Gorsuch, a very conservative judge from the federal Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit whose jurisprudence and writing style are often compared to those of Justice Scalia.

Those, by the way, were the 1st two paragraphs.

Let’s break that down a bit, shall we? The “constitutional duty” the Times refers to is to provide “advice and consent” to a President’s picks for positions such as Supreme Court justice. This would be Article II, section 2, clause 2 of the US Constitution. This is not, however, an obligation to rubber-stamp whatever picks the President may make. Indeed, the last Senate opted to abide by the Biden Rule and abstained from a vote on Merrick Garland’s nomination.

Some of the “damage” the Times mentions is spelled out later; namely the toxic political environment that the Times and others like them created following President Trump’s election! Apparently, Trump should have nominated a “moderate” (i.e. a barking mad liberal) because Muslims or some such. Maybe it has something to do with vagina hats. I don’t know. It’s hard to read while I’m laughing.

That last line, however, is a ringing endorsement of Judge Gorsuch. Anyone who compares to the late Justice Scalia is a fine pick for the high court.

Legal News

I guess increasing firearms sales to record levels wasn’t enough for the anti-gun, wingnut left. Now they’ve done the same thing for ammo sales in California. One online retailer is reporting that sales in the L.A. metro area (The State’s largest market) are up nearly 400%. To quote one particularly well known individual, that’s YUGE! Sales elsewhere across the state are…

  • Los Angeles Metro Area – 395%
  • San Francisco Metro Area – 417%
  • San Diego Metro Area – 161%
  • Sacramento Metro Area – 449%
  • Anaheim Metro Area – 264%
  • San Jose Metro Area – 233%

Of course, we’ve warned the wingnut left about this sort of thing before. We’ve also joked that perhaps people like the Clintons, the Obamas, or Gavin Newsom have “gone long” on firearms in the market; but, you really do have to wonder if that’s really just a joke. Perhaps they really are heavily invested in the civilian arms market. How else can you explain the way they’ve pumped up sales?

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