Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More anti-gun craziness: gun seizure in natural disaster proposal

Where do some of these cities find these "leaders?"  I guess a little legal research of consultation is beyond them.What these folks are considering is already covered by state law.  Under the 4th Amend. officers can stop and frisk anyone for whom they have reasonable suspicion of being armed and dangerous.  In addition,  the proposed ordinance may be too vague to pass constitutional muster.  Finally, the law is probably void as being inconsistent with a federal statute on this very topic, 42 U.S.C. sec. 5207.

Guilty Pleas to illegally avoiding campaign finance laws

Campaign finance laws, like many similar laws (e.g. gun purchases) can be avoided by using straw men.  This appears to be a rare case where folks got caught.  The only reason these two got caught was because the campaign unwittingly reported who the real donors were.  Anyone who thinks that  campaing finance law can come anywhere close to  making a real dent in political corruption  by determined, smart individuals,is whistling in the dark.  Of course, it's always fun for the public and politicians to pretend that it can be cleaned up.  Most politicians really don't want it cleaned up.  Let's waste our time and effort on make-believe solutions.

Another ethically challenged public official--Repub. this time

Former Repub Senator Pete Domenici's revelation.  Thanks to Ridgway for the link.  This type of behavior may not be that unusual in the general population, but we expect more of U.S. Senators.  Further, it makes them susceptible to blackmail with regard to their official decisions

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Republicans for Gay Marriage

Always good to see some Republicans with some libertarian ideas. S.Ct.'s gay marriage case coming up.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Another Democratic politician from Chicago goes down

Chicago is one of the nation's most corrupt cities and Illinois one of its most corrupt states.  Here's the latest:
Jesse Jackson, Jr.  (Chicago Democrat,  politician and former  U.S. congressman, son of black leader Jesse Jackson), and his wife pleaded guilty to federal charges.  His wife was a former Chicago alderman.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

S.Ct. clarifies detention pursuant to Search Warrant Execution

The case is Bailey v. U.S.  Seems like the right result.  We don't need to encourage fishing expeditions.

Supreme Court upholds probable cause from drug dog alert.

The U.S. Supreme unanimouslly Court refused to adopt a new, tougher 4th Amend. standards for finding probable cause from a drug dog alert. The other case on drug dogs (Florida v. Jardines) has not been decided yet.





No. 11–817. Argued October 31, 2012—Decided February 19, 2013

Officer Wheetley pulled over respondent Harris for a routine traffic stop. Observing Harris’s nervousness and an open beer can, Wheetley sought consent to search Harris’s truck. When Harris refused, Wheetley executed a sniff test with his trained narcotics dog, Aldo.The dog alerted at the driver’s-side door handle, leading Wheetley to conclude that he had probable cause for a search. That search turned up nothing Aldo was trained to detect, but did reveal pseudoephedrine and other ingredients for manufacturing methamphetamine. Harris was arrested and charged with illegal possession of those ingredients. In a subsequent stop while Harris was out on bail, Aldo again alerted on Harris’s truck but nothing of interest was found. At a suppression hearing, Wheetley testified about his and Aldo’s extensive training in drug detection. Harris’s attorney did not contest the quality of that training, focusing instead on Aldo’s certification and performance in the field, particularly in the two stops of Harris’s truck. The trial court denied the motion to suppress, but the FloridaSupreme Court reversed. It held that a wide array of evidence was always necessary to establish probable cause, including fieldperformance records showing how many times the dog has falsely alerted. If an officer like Wheetley failed to keep such records, he could never have probable cause to think the dog a reliable indicatorof drugs.

Held: Because training and testing records supported Aldo’s reliability in detecting drugs and Harris failed to undermine that evidence, Wheetley had probable cause to search Harris’s truck. Pp. 5–11.

(a) In testing whether an officer has probable cause to conduct a search, all that is required is the kind of “fair probability” on which “reasonable and prudent [people] act.” Illinois v. Gates, 462 U. S. 213, 235. To evaluate whether the State has met this practical and common-sensical standard, this Court has consistently looked to the totality of the circumstances and rejected rigid rules, bright-linetests, and mechanistic inquiries. Ibid.The Florida Supreme Court flouted this established approach by creating a strict evidentiary checklist to assess a drug-detection dog’sreliability. Requiring the State to introduce comprehensive documentation of the dog’s prior hits and misses in the field, and holding that absent field records will preclude a finding of probable cause nomatter how much other proof the State offers, is the antithesis of atotality-of-the-circumstances approach."

Friday, February 15, 2013 on gun control debate

Lots of problems with many of the arguments on both sides of the debate. See this from

Anti-gun hysteria hits elementary school kids

Anti-gun hysteria hits 10-year old for obvious toy gun.  The article says it had a pink tip on the muzzle.   I hate to say it, but parents, you'd better start checking your kids' backpacks, book  bags, jakcets, etc. before sending them off to school.

This 6 year-old didn't even have a toy gun. He had a "finger-gun" and said "Pow."  There are other examples.  t    This is just an example of the kind of exaggerated fear and hysteria that leads to weakening of civil liberties (e.g., internment of Japanese-American citizens on the West Coast during WWII)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Stop and Frisk in NYC: racial profiling, effectiveness?

Aggressive anti-gun stop and frisk tactics by NYPD may be on their way out.

Thoughtful article on guns, crime, etc. by a forensic psychiatrist.

Insightful article by a forensic psychiatrist, that is another way of looking at this controversy. Part of article is below:

"People, especially those who are suffering, often do not want to wait, to study, to think about what interventions should be implemented based on a full understanding of a problem.

This is my response to the urgency in the wake of Newtown.

Sure, it was a hugely tragic event. So many young lives taken so suddenly, heroic teachers trying to protect their young charges, even the apparent suicidal despair of Adam Lanza. Just horrible, all of it.

But as our mayors and police chiefs point out, we have many Newtowns every day in this country: children (and adults) killed in drug disputes, in gang violence, in rage acted out within homes. Where is the outrage?

Like my relative, we want a quick fix. We wrongly perceive Newtown to be an acute problem, when in fact it is a blip against a background of chronic violence pervading our society—a scourge to which we are so inured that we do not even see it.

As with my relative’s shingles, the virus of violence is harbored within our society, and occasionally it breaks the surface so dramatically that we cannot ignore it, at least for a few news cycles.

We are unable to accept that perhaps the best thing to do is to wait—to study the problem, to try to understand the cause or causes, to develop rational interventions for those causes.

This takes time.

Instead, we craft urgent laws . . . "

Book Review: Halbrook on 2nd Amend

My latest book review (on one of Halbrook's Second Amendment books) is available.  I recommend this book for history and Second Amend. buffs.

Speak of the Devil: Proposal to Repeal 22nd Amend

Ominously, after some research, there is a bill  (H.J. Res. 15) in Congress to start the Amendment process to repeal the 22nd Amdendment and allow Obama more terms.  Hugo Chavez got rid of term limits so he could stay in power in Venezuela.  Stay tuned! This could get interesting. I really doubt there is enough time to get this ratified in time to benefit Obama.  And, as suggested below, there will be opposition, en sotto voce, from other Dems. See post below!
P.S. I apologize for the Italian phrase.  But, as one who is primarily an educator, (and only secondarily a boat-rocker) I can't resist.

Obama's re-election: The Second Coming!

The Newsweek cover touting Obama's re-election as the "Second Coming" largely missed media coverage, as you might expect.  I'm not sure what to make of it.  This could be nothing or perhaps it indicates that some sense a building national mood.  However, let's hope Obama the idologue does not become Obama the secular Saviour.  The way much of the media fawns over Obama and covers up for his administration could create such an atmosphere. Some of this situation seems eerily similar to at least two other left-wing pols in the Western Hemisphere--Juan Peron of Argentina and Hugh Chavez of Venezuela.  Let's hope there is no sweeping cult of personality in this country.  One key will be if there are proposals to amend the Constituion to allow Obama additional terms. Hopefully, we can depend on Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and other democratic Presidential hopefuls to quietly oppose this.  However, national hysteria is always a good environment for such shenanigans.  A clever politician, with a generally favora ble media, can always manipulate things to create such hysteria.  Unfortunately, don't expect most of the media, which leans left, to try to objectively deal with this potential  issue.  Thanks to 44 for the lead.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Free, condensed version of Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom"

I keep touting this book (Hayek's, "The Road to Serfdom"), but I know many don't have the time and or $ to invest on the full book. Here is a link to a free, condensed version from (of all places) Reader's Digest.  It appears to me to be an excellent, reliable condensed verison. ( around 90 pages).  What is the book about?
"The Road to Serfdom is a book written by the Austrian-born economist and philosopher Friedrich von Hayek (1899–1992) between 1940–1943, in which he "warned of the danger of tyranny that inevitably results from government control of economic decision-making through central planning,"[1] and in which he argues that the abandonment of individualism and classical liberalism inevitably leads to a loss of freedom, the creation of an oppressive society, the tyranny of a dictator and the serfdom of the individual. Significantly, Hayek challenged the general view among British academics that fascism was a capitalist reaction against socialism, instead arguing that fascism and socialism had common roots in central economic planning and the power of the state over the individual." Source: Wikipedia

  Print it out; and if you don't want to read it, all you've lost is some printer paper (Better yet, print it on the back of something that already has printing on the other side.)

Saturday, February 09, 2013

State & Local resistance to enforcing laws which violate the Second Amendment

Many state and local law enforcement officials, and even some state legislators are threatening not to enforce or cooperate in enforcing any new federal gun laws they deem inconsistent with the Second Amendment.  This too, has historical precedent.  Prior to the Civil War, many nothern officals refused to enforce or assist in enforcing, the 1850 Federal Fugitive Slave Act. (video at link)

Many will argue that there are no lessons in these historical analogies because it is easy for them to pick out the "good guys" and the "bad guys," dependng upon their ideological slant.  The real key is too look at who is standing up for the fundamental rights of individuals against government and for court decisions which support fundamental individual rights.

Heller & McDonald: Analogy to Brown v. Bd. of Education

Will D.C. v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago  become the next Brown v. Bd. of Education?  There probably hasn't been as much resistance to constitutional rights since the 50's and 60's when there was much legislation in the South to try to get around 14th Amend. Equal Protection and Brown v. Bd. of Education.  However, opposition was not limited to the South.
For instance, there were riots in Boston against busing.  Of course the difference is now that the attacks on consitutional rights is coming from the Left.  You can be sure few on the left will speak out in defense of the Second Amendment.     Attacks on consitutional rights from the left will be tolerated by those leaning in that direction. This hypocrisy is disgusting in a society that claims to be free. I am not arguing that the Second Amendment is absolute or that all the proposed legislation is unconstitutional.  I can support expanding background checks to weed out convicted felons, the mentally ill, etc. and new tools to combat staw-man sales. However, banning the standard high-capacity magazines in current handguns, or telling gun owners how much ammo they can have in these clips is probably unconsitutional.  "Assault wepons" bans may or may not be constitutional.  I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt to the law-abiding citizen.
Many will argue that there are no lessons in these historical analogies because it is easy for them to pick out the "good guys" and the "bad guys," and the "good" rights and "bad" rights in the Bill of Rights.  IMHO there is no such thing as a 'bad' right in the Bill of Rights.  Their conclusons vary dependng upon their ideological slant.

  Historically, both the left and right have regulary been attacking consitutional rights.  The effects of both attacks pose serious threats to a free society.  .

Calif Dems roll out massive gun control plan

Hopefully this wave of left-wing politically correct and  largely delusional gun control advocacy hysteria will eventually abate.  Not to be outdone by NY Calif.  Sen Dems roll out their proposals.  I wonder who will win the contest for most draconian and unconstitutional new gun laws?

Thursday, February 07, 2013

(Former) College Pres. Liable for $50,000 for violating student's rights

Too often college adminsitrators are given qualified immunity and can avoid personal money damage liability.  Even though a student's rights were violated, the official gets off. There is little deterrent effect from the threat of  civil suits and thus little respect among many college administrators.  This case was a very refreshing change.  Hopefully this case will draw the attention of some of those who need to be paying attention.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Obama's DOJ on drone killings of U.S. Citizens?

This DOJ doument lays out the legal framework for the use of "killer drones" against American citizens in foreign countries but in areas outside an area of ative hostilities.  In addition to consitutional issues, one of the concerns is the slim amount of evidence that seems to be needed to tie the person to Al-Qaeda leadership.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Dr. Gary Kleck on Gun control (video)

Florida State University Criminology Professor Dr. Gary Kleck is the nation's leading expert on gun control and gun crime.  His recent comments on the topic are at this site.  Note that he supports licensed concealed carry on college campuses.

What is gun control advocacy really about? Part I.

As I have said, there is no credible evidence that guns cause crime or that any kind of gun control aimed at law-abiding citizens will reduce crime.  Further, the idea that the criminal segment and the dangerous mentally ill will obey gun laws is ludicrous. The law abiding will suffer diumunition  of ability to defend themselves. There is much data suggesting thousands of defensive uses of guns every year.  There are already millions of guns in this country.   Guns will flow in just like like illegal drugs flow in from around the world.  There are thousands and thousands of AK-47's available on the international black market. AK-47s can be fired in fully automatic.  The awful "asssault rifles" in this country cannot legally do so, and are being targeted.  Will we somehow get ahead when the criminals and wackos substitiute AK-47's for "assault rifiles?  The whole gun control thing is largely irrational in terms of crime control.  Thus,  what is gun control really about? Here's one theory which makes sense to me and a lot of others.

Much of the propaganda from both sides on the gun control issue can be visualized in terms of the concept of “symbolic politics” Much of propaganda is an appeal to symbolism rather than reason or substance. Oliver and Marion (2008) write:

“Political language—and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists—is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

(George Orwell, 1946/1981)

Past research has shown that the issue of crime is often used by different political actors as a way to increase their public support (Cronin, Cronin, & Milakovich, 1981;Finckenauer, 1978; Gusfield, 1963, 1967; Scheingold, 1984, 1995). In this way, the issue of crime becomes a symbolic issue for these political actors, including presidents,candidates, and members of Congress. Murray Edelman (1964, 1971, 1988), in his pioneering work, was the first to acknowledge the importance of symbolism in politics. Edelman explained that “every symbol stands for something other than itself, and it also evokes an attitude, a set of impressions, or a pattern of events associated through time, through space, through logic, or through imagination with the symbol”(Edelman, 1964, p. 6). In a later writing, he explained, “Symbols become that facet of experiencing the material world that gives it a specific meaning” (Edelman, 1988,p. 8). In other words, symbols derive their meaning not from content, but from the value people attach to them.

It also reassures the public that something is being done about a particular problem, as well as minimizing thecomplexity of the issue and government’s limited resources with which to address the situation."

For some guns symbolize a free society and constitutional rights. For others guns symbolize violence. I’m sure there are other symbols for other folks (e.g. macho, “wild west.” etc.) Unfortunately symbols evoke emotions and not reason. Policy needs to be make on the basic of reason, not emotion.  For some people, guns are, for better or worse, not just symbols, they are seen as a real tool for defense in high crime neighborhoods.  In some neighborhooks in this country, gunfire is a nightly occurrence.  Of course for some symbols are more important than the ability of people to defend themselves.

The American public wants “fast, fast, pain relief,” and politicians want to appear to have a solution. That’s why we elected them, or course. To fix everything. Politicians, however, rarely have any significant understanding of crime, guns, etc. and certainly don’t let research results or data get in the way of a good symbol. However, many of the “fixes,” have little chance of working, may be counter-productive and endanger constitutional rights. This is.of course, of little important to politicians who only care about getting re-elected.

As I have said before, let’s get real,let’s get rational.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

New NY gun law:

The first wave of hysteria- and progaganda-driven gun laws was recently passed in New York state.  The law  bans "possession of any high-capacity magazines regardless of when they were made or sold. Only clips able to hold up to seven rounds can be sold in the state. Clips able to hold seven to 10 rounds can be possessed, but cannot be loaded with more than seven rounds. If an owner is found to have eight or more bullets in a magazine, he or she could face a misdemeanor charge."  The arrests have already started.  I'm sure the dangerous mentally-ill and criminals are already shaking in their shoes and starting to comply.  The Left-wing political correctness hysteria is already starting to cause legislators to have delusions.  thanks to Art Eatman for the link.

DHS recommends scissors if being attacked by active shooter

Most of this video makes sense, except where they urge people being attacked by an active shooter to grab some scissors.   Of course, we wouldn't want any civilian legally carrying a gun to consider intervening.  As long as there are scissors available, who needs a gun?  I seem to remember an old adage about: "never take scissors to ta gun fight."  The film forgot to suggest that the potential victim be sure to grab one of the rounded-point safety scissors.  We wouldn't want anyone to get hurt.  Thanks to Art Eatman for the link.

Friday, February 01, 2013

TIH: various

On this date in:

1861 Texas voted to secede from the Union. (Texas hero Gov. Sam Houston opposed the move, refused to take an oath of loyalty to the Confederacy, and was removed.)

1862 "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," a poem by Julia Ward Howe, was published in the Atlantic Monthly.

1896 Puccini's opera "La Boheme" premiered in Turin, Italy.

1920 The Royal Canadian Mounted Police was established.

1960 Four black college students began a sit-in protest at a lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., where they'd been refused service.

1968 During the Vietnam War, Saigon's police chief, Nguyen Ngoc Loan, executed a Viet Cong officer with a pistol shot to the head.  The photo was published and cause public outrage. 

Sources: Dallas Morning News and Wikipedia

Second Amendment supporters Worried

Many gun owners and Second Amendment supporters are concerned about the current anti-gun hysteria sweeping the nation. It has been labeled “paranoia” by some. Let’s look at some statements out there by some of the labelers.

1. “No one wants to repeal the Second Amendment.” Gong! There are bills introduced each session of Congress to start the process to do just that. Google “repeal Second Amendment” and you’ll see lots of hits on people advocating just that.

2. “The Second Amendment will not be repealed (de jure)”. This one is accurate if it is limited to a de jure repeal. Amending the Constitution is a difficult process and when push comes to shove, gun controllers who care about freedoms important to them would probably not want to take the risk of setting a precedent.

What the folks in 2., above, miss is the fact that the Constitution can be amended de facto. Basically, 5 Supreme Court Justices can overrule, gut or limit any precedent. There are a number of ways for the U.S. Supreme Court to do this to the Second Amendment. This is where the real concerns lie.

(1) Overrule Heller and McDonald and hold that the word “people” in the Second Amendment does not mean “individuals.” It means official militia members who are not given arms by the government or state governments. Those two decisions were 5-4. One Obama appointee replacing one of the Heller/McDonald majority could do this.  (Lots of people in the blogosphere  and elsewhere  have recently become experts on constitutional law and history, and are still making this ludicrous argument)

(2) The Court in Heller and McDonald did not specify a “test,” or “standard of review” to be used by courts in 2nd amend. cases. If a Supreme Court majority were to adopt a “rational basis” test, this would gut the amendment. Just about any gun control law could pass this test. All is requires is that the Court be able to think up some reason to justify the law. No data required. The Court will come up with the reason, even if the government can’t.

Partial guttings of Heller and McDonald could be accomplished by a number of means.

A. The word “bear” in the amendment doesn’t mean “carry.” It refers only to carrying in militia service. This would limit the amendment to guns in the home.

B. The Court was unclear in Heller whether the right applies to all lawful uses of firearms of just self-defense. If the right is held to apply only to self-defense, not any other lawful use (e.g. target shooting, hunting) this could be the vehicle for un-protecting long guns (e.g. “assault weapons.”) which are deemed less safe and efficient than handguns for home defense. They could also hold that a person asserting a defensive need for a gun prove that there is a real danger or threat.

C. Another theory being floated by Obama (to deflect criticism and send a suggestion  to the Supreme Court) is that Second Amendment rights have to be limited because they threaten freedom of speech, freedom to peaceably assemble, worship, etc., and other constitutional rights (which are seen as more valuable). The legal landscape is leaning too far in favor of the Second Amendment. This theory looks logical but isn’t. Using a gun or threatening to use a gun on a speaker, worshipper or protestor is a crime. The person’s fear that someone in the audience may be lawfully carrying a gun and may shoot them because they don’t like what the speaker is saying or protesting about is overdrawn. (I am reminded of college profs who fear that students who get bad grades will kill them if concealed carry on campus is allowed.) These types of gun crimes are extremely rare. Assume person A is exercising a constitutional right. Person A is afraid that person B, also exercising a constitutional right, will hurt him/her by committing a crime. This justification for limiting the rights of B, is unprecedented. Arguably, concealed carriers in the audience might be able to deter or stop the intended killer. Speakers and protestors are entitled to police protection just like anyone else. (Of course, no one can sue if they aren’t protected). In spite of what some people seem to think, the Second Amendment doesn’t authorize anyone to commit a crime with a gun. The second problem is that guns don’t cause crime, no matter what type of gun crime it is. Gun control will not work to deal with the problem.

There are examples of this process. Over the years, the Supreme Court, by giving expansive justifications to federal powers, has gutted the 10th Amendment. The Court is slowly gutting the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule. The Equal protection clause was severely limited by Plessy v. Ferguson.

Propaganda fed fears are powerful motivators. Fear of Japanese-Americans led to their internment during the war. Just because we are a democracy is no guarantee that constitutional rights will be valued and respected.