File this one under “This is why we need standard capacity magazines”…
In the wake of the Las Vegas shootings people are asking “what could have been done?”. The answer might be unsettling.
The solution to a problem, of course, depends on the root cause of that problem. If your transmission is having a problem, fixing the brakes won’t help. To find a potential solution in this case, we need to understand the root causes of the event.
Some people are suggesting that background checks on gun purchases are the answer. But, the shooter passed background check after background check. So that’s not the solution.
Perhaps he was, as ISIS claims, a radicalized Muslim. If that’s the case, then better surveillance of fringe Muslim groups might be the answer. But there’s no evidence that he converted to Islam, so that’s not the answer.
He had a lot of guns. Could limiting purchases to one per month have stopped this? He seems to have purchased the guns over a long period of time. So that’s not the answer either.
Magazine size limits? He had dozens of guns. He could have, and did, switched guns as easily as magazines. No answer there.
Better monitoring of the mentally ill? There’s nothing to suggest that he was diagnosed with mental illness. Was he a member of an extremist group like Antifa? Nope. Past episodes of suicidal behavior? None. Anything in his online presence? Not a thing.
In short, there was nothing in the guy’s background that provided a clue as to what he was very carefully planning. No law, either currently on the books or proposed, could have stopped him. So says California Senator Dianne Feinstein. Even she says that there is no legislative solution that would have prevented this killer from doing what he wanted. (But don’t think that’s stopping her from proposing more gun laws!)
The unsettling answer is that there are no right answers here.
Federal district court Judge Roger Benitez has issued a preliminary injunction stopping enforcement of Prop. 63‘s ban on the possession of standard capacity magazines. The judge found that irreparable will be done to law abiding California gun owners should the ban be allowed to go into effect pending litigation.
The Court does not lightly enjoin a state statute, even on a preliminary basis. However, just as the Court is mindful that a majority of California voters approved Proposition 63 and that the government has a legitimate interest in protecting the public from gun violence, it is equally mindful that the Constitution is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. Plaintiffs’ entitlements to enjoy Second Amendment rights and just compensation are not eliminated simply because they possess “unpopular” magazines holding more than 10 rounds. If this injunction does not issue, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of otherwise law-abiding citizens will have an untenable choice: become an outlaw or dispossess one’s self of lawfully acquired property. That is a choice they should not have to make. Not on this record. Accordingly, with good cause appearing for the reasons stated in this opinion, Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction is GRANTED.
Judge Benitez found that while the new law arguably fails the simple 2nd Amendment tests suggested by the Supreme Court in the Heller case, the law also likely fails the more lenient tests favored by the Ninth Circuit. The judge, who is based in San Diego, is bound to use the Ninth’s screwball tests; tests that seem like they were concocted to uphold whatever gun law comes before that court! But even under that low bar, the judge thinks that the State would fail to make its case.
The judge extensively examines the arguments presented by Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office. The DOJ presented over 3100 pages of “evidence” supporting the law, but most of it can be summed up by the Dothraki phrase Me nem nesa; “It is known”. The “evidence”, which the court was apparently supposed to accept without question, is mostly anecdote, news clippings, and position papers. There’s also a curious reliance upon Mother Jones as an authority. (Some of you will recall that I’ve cited Mother Jones in these pages. But, I did it in the sense of “Look, if even Mother Jones says that (Fill in the blank) isn’t true, then it isn’t true.”) We were all just supposed to “know” that Prop. 63 is vital to public safety and that an injunction was thus unjustified. (For you GoT fans, the judge was expected to play the part of the Dothraki girls telling Daenerys Targaryen that “it is known” that dragons don’t exist anymore while there were all in the same tent with three dragon embryos!)
One a side note for those of you keeping score: Prop. 63 was also intended to be one of the jewels in Gavin Newsom’s gubernatorial crown. The whole thing wasn’t so much about keeping Californians safe as it was about getting the slimey, used car salesman into the Governor’s mansion.
Readers of these pages don’t need to be told that California recently passed new “assault weapon” regulations into law. (Why the quotes? Because, as the new laws themselves demonstrate, the term “assault weapon” has no fixed meaning. It’s a legal chimera.) Those laws are the subject of legal action, but, pending lawsuits do not relieve the Department of Justice from from its obligation to issue the regulations that will actually guide enforcement of the laws. Care to take a guess at what Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been doing? If you guessed “dragging his feet“, then you got it in one.
Gun owners have four options for dealing with the new law:
- Surrender or otherwise dispose of their very expensive property
- Register their firearms with the State
- Remove the features that cause the guns to be called “assault weapons”
- Or just ignore the law entirely
(Yes, that last one is an option.)
Option 1 was the intended result. The anti-gun Left thought that passing a law would make all of the naughty, evil, wicked, naughty guns just go away. But as mentioned above, these guns cost money. Some are less expensive than others, but they’re not free either. Expecting people to just give up their property isn’t realistic. Option 2, even if most gun owners view it with suspicion, isn’t possible. Thanks to the glacial pace at which AG Becerra is working, there is no mechanism to register these guns as “assault weapons”. So option 2 is also a non-starter. Option 3 is where things start to get interesting.
The law defines an “assault weapon” mostly by a series of cosmetic features. These do not affect the way the gun functions. The one functional feature is the presence of a detachable magazine in combination with those cosmetic features. Removing the detachable magazine means that it can no longer be called an “assault weapon”. The intended result was that one would have to at least partially disassemble the gun to reload. But thanks to the new market that these laws created, products like this now exist…
This is just one of many reloading systems that now exist that allow a fixed magazine to be reloaded quickly.
The flip side to removing the detachable magazine is removing the cosmetic features. These are generally called “featureless builds”. Why would someone do this? Because a “featureless” gun can have a detachable magazine! If the entire point of the law was to get rid of detachable magazine guns, then it’s failed miserably. These guns and those with fixed magazines need not be registered.
Now back to option 4: do nothing and ignore the law. As long as there’s no way to register an “assault weapon” under the new law, one is by default ignoring the law. But once Becerra finally gets off his lazy backside and establishes a registration system, there is no obvious way to tell a registered gun from an unregistered gun. We’ve mentioned this problem before.
No, this isn’t the same sort of paradox as the bootstrap paradox. I’m talking about the weird, nearly simultaneous arguments that anti-gun types make claiming that we pro-gun types are either stuck in the past or not stuck in the past.
We’re told, on the one hand, that the 2nd Amendment is an outmoded document. We’re told that it’s a relic of a bygone era when most of the country was lawless frontier. We’re told that we need to get with the times, be like Europe, and all but ban firearms from civilian ownership. If there’s trouble, the argument goes, just call 911.
And in the next breath, we’re told that our view of the 2nd Amendment is far too modern. “The Founders could never imagined fearsome weapons of war like the AR-15!” And then, after stating that the 2nd Amendment only protects Brown Bess muskets, these same anti-gun leftists will hop back into their TARDIS and proclaim that the Constitution is a “living document” that evolves with the times.
…but not when we’re talking about guns.
Both arguments are ridiculous. The 2nd Amendment did not create a new right out of thin air. It recognized a preexisting freedom that flows from a right that all Humans have: The right to self defense. If one has the right to self defense, then one has a right to the means of self defense. It doesn’t matter whether that means is a sharp stick or a semiautomatic rifle. Not one of the Founders would have argued that a version of the 2nd Amendment written in the Bronze age wouldn’t have applied to steel weapons. And not one of these anti-gun leftists would argue that the 4th Amendment applies only to documents written on parchment. (Unless, of course, if that level of doublethink were necessary to argue against private gun ownership!) Just as the 4th Amendment applies to electronic files on your computer, so too the 2nd Amendment applies to the modern firearms in your gun safe.
As to their first claim that firearms are now “unneeded” in a modern, civil society, I suggest that they skim a few headlines from media outlets in Chicago. The Wild West was far more peaceful than is “civilized” Chicago.
Like Ned Stark memes appearing around the winter solstice, there are some things that just aren’t surprising. They appear like clockwork; as predictable as the tides. One of these regular, cyclical events is the run on firearms that precedes a new gun law taking effect. And yet, there are some people who are shocked and amazed every time it happens again.
The last 8 years of the Obama regime have seen otherworldly increases in firearms sales. The Bamster’s every anti-gun utterance, no matter how vaguely worded, saw a fresh run on gun stores. Ultimately, the man’s term in office was an unqualified failure. Other than a few executive orders that were intended to harass law abiding gun owners, he was unable to pass a single piece of anti-gun legislation. He swung for the fences with his nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, but struck out. Now President Donald Trump will appoint the successor to Antonin Scalia.
Which brings us to Neverland-by-the-Sea.
The California Democrat Party, for reasons that I actually can’t guess, passed a wagon load of new gun regulations this year. I say that I cannot understand their reasoning because it wasn’t necessary as a political device. The extreme, anti-gun left wasn’t threatening to bolt for another party, nor was there any other reason to placate this one, small wing of their coalition. A bunch of us, myself included, expected Governor Pan to be the adult in the room and say no. But alas, he got into the pixie dust and flew off with the rest of his Party to chase pirates while Californians flew off to their local gun stores.
In light of the election of President Trump, one might think that a temper tantrum was involved, but that forgets recent history. The Lost Boys and Lost Girls in Sacramento passed their laws when it looked to everyone like Hillary Clinton would be appointing Scalia’s replacement. They quite unnecessarily blew off a very large bomb from their political arsenal. Even if they somehow knew that Hillary was toast, they’d also have to have known that President Trump will be in a position to bring California back into line with the US Constitution. Which would mean…
And with that, I’m gonna stop writing. I just realized that I’m shocked and amazed that the anti-gun left did something balmy for no apparent reason. I shoulda seen that coming.
Today is your last day to register to vote in California. You can register online here. You’ve been reading about how awful Prop 63 is here and elsewhere for months now. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Even if Prop 63 wins at the polls, the NRA and other groups will fight it in the courts. They will do so on solid legal footing, but there is an undeniable influence that polls have on judges. A resounding victory for Gavin Newsom’s vanity proposition could provide a weak-kneed judge the cover he or she needs to ignore the Constitution and approve the law. If it squeaks by, that’s another story. Your vote matters whatever the outcome!
Don’t let the party elites (in either party!) demoralize you and keep you away from the polls. Register today and vote on November 8.
When even police chiefs oppose a gun control measure, there’s something wrong with it.
Police chiefs and sheriffs are, by necessity, political animals. It goes with the job if they want to keep that job. Sheriffs are elected and answer to the People. If the voters of their counties support or oppose gun control, sheriffs can be counted on to reflect the views of their constituents. Police chiefs are another matter. They’re not elected; they’re appointed by mayors and approved by city councils. In much of California, that means that they’re serving at the pleasure of Democrat politicians. And that, in turn, means that they had better develop a healthy appetite for more and more gun laws. Thus, it says something when they push their plates away as they have with Prop 63.
The chiefs are narrowly focused on how Prop 63 will affect their officers, so if you were hoping that they had somehow gained even a minimal level of respect for the 2nd Amendment, you’ll be disappointed. But, their fears as to how Prop 63 will hurt law enforcement are mirrored by how it will hurt all Californians.
The effort to qualify ballot initiatives to overturn the “gunmageddon” bills appears to have fallen short. However, our gun-hating betters in Sacramento shouldn’t pop those corks just yet. NRA, CRPA, and other groups are moving forward with legal actions to overturn these unconstitutional laws in the courts.
Thank you to all of those who put in the sweat equity (And I mean that literally. Do you know how freakin’ hot it gets in places like Reseda?!?) to gather signatures. Your efforts are greatly appreciated by the rest of us. Please don’t let this news dishearten you. The fight isn’t over yet and you’re still needed.