Thursday, December 14, 2006

"How Liberal or Conservative are You?"

The link in the title refers to a weird test that supposedly measures your place on the political spectrum with 10 questions. I thought several questions were false dichotomies that really missed the point of the issue they were referencing (like abortion).

Anyway, here is where I came out, not surprisingly, except for the "ethics" category. What are "conservative" or "liberal" ethics?

Your Political Profile:
Overall: 40% Conservative, 60% Liberal
Social Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Ethics: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Outstanding analysis of the Parker transcript has a great analysis of the Parker transcript that I posted. Anyone interested in the case should check it out.

Monday, December 11, 2006

They printed it!

My letter made it into the paper!

NOTED anti-gun-owner researcher Daniel Webster wrote in his Nov. 30 letter that he believes the "licensing" of Pennsylvania handgun owners will assist prosecutors and police in combating crimes involving illegal handguns.

Webster undoubtedly refers to a system of mandatory background checks on the license holder since the only rational purpose of licensing is to ensure the pre-screening of prospective gun owners for disqualifying factors. So he should be happy to note that in Pennsylvania since the 1940s, anyone who wants to buy a handgun from a gun store, or from anyone other than an immediate family member, must submit to a state police background check before taking possession of the gun.

After 1993, this process was expanded to include an additional FBI background check. If both of these checks come back clean, information on the buyer and his gun is then recorded in a database that state law enforcement may peruse whenever needed. I'm sure Webster will be relieved to learn that Pennsylvania already has a system of "licensing and registration" of its handgun owners.

Karan Singh, Cochranville, Pa.

Since my earlier letters got c-filed, most likely because of my Maryland home address, I used the PA address for the in-laws' second home. I guess it worked . . . . Webster needed to hear it, I'm glad I got to say it.

Another letter was in the same paper:

Daniel Webster of the Center for Gun Policy and Research cleverly sandwiches his agenda between two commonsense ideas.

Most gun owners do support laws designed to keep guns from criminals, one of the reasons we already have so many laws on the books! I join with Mr. Webster, columnist John Baer and many others in applauding the plan to bolster the police presence in areas with high rates of shootings.

But Mr. Webster's anti-gun agenda becomes obvious when he inserts the usual rhetoric. Requiring licenses, having purchase restrictions and handing control of firearms regulation to the city would do nothing to stem the tide of bloodshed here. A large percentage of this year's murders are apparently drug-related. Drugs are already illegal. It's already against the law to carry a firearm without a permit. And I think I remember reading that, in most circumstances, it's illegal to shoot people.

Tom McCourt, Philadelphia

Thanks, Tom, wherever you are . . . .

"Relatively Simple Process"

Coming soon to a jurisdiction near you (if the anti-gun-owner crowd as their way) is this pistol-purchasing licensing process, which an "authorized journalist" described thusly:

Obtaining a pistol permit in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties is relatively simple, assuming you have a clean criminal record and solid references.

Here is the "relatively simple" process:

Applying for a permit
(Original Publication: December 10, 2006)

- Applications are filed with the county clerk. The standard fee is $10, with extra fingerprinting charges and possibly other costs.

- County law enforcement does background checks, including a review of FBI and state Criminal Justice Services databases. A mental health check is also done.

- A personal interview is required. Westchester conducts home visits for five or more handguns.

- (FOUR) References are required. Some counties ask for someone else to be responsible for weapons if a permit becomes inactive. Rockland requires other adults in the home to sign off.

- If police are satisfied, they recommend approval.

- The application then goes to a county court judge, who has final say. The judge can require more investigation or an interview, or deny the application despite police approval.

This is the not-unduly-burdened "Second Amendment right" that New York state folks get to exercise.

Oh, and don't EVER believe the anti-gun-owner crowd's claims that they only want "reasonable restrictions." New York's BS gun laws are in no way "reasonable." Even if you make it through the police home invasion and "outing" through interrogation of your references, a judge can turn around and tell you to pound sand:

from a High Road member suffering in NY State:

As I understand it, it's more specifically the new judge which in a very short frame of time has made not only permits, but also purchases far more difficult for all local law abiding citizens.

Firstly, she has made it a requirement as part of the process of acquiring a pistol permit, that all applicants must be personally interviewed by appointment with the issuing judge. This of course makes the already long and expensive process, that much longer and more inconvenient. Not only that, New York being a "may issue" state, that leaves the judge, and a very anti-gun judge at that, a huge potential for discrimination. It seems highly likely that she may stop issuing new permits altogether to those not requiring them for professional use.

Secondly, and more applicable to me personally as a current permit holder, is that this judge has also already changed our county specific purchase process with no intention other than to make it more annoying. We Ulster County permit holders, until about 2 weeks ago, were able to get our pick-up slip ( as mentioned in the first paragraph ) right then and there at the licensing office upon bringing them a sales receipt from an FFL. This Judge though, has seen fit to make each individual handgun purchase require an issuing Judge's signature.

The anti-gun-owner crowd reminds me of the alien POW in Independence Day. You remember that one, right? When asked what they want us to do, the alien just says "DIE."

Look no further than what the horse's mouth says about this "reasonable" system in New York state (from the first link):

"In general, New York has been very willing to take an honest look at how to combat gun violence and to not worry about the ideological attack that some lobbying groups will level," said (Brady) center spokesman Zach Ragbourn.

That's right. If you think these BS New York handgun laws are, well, BS, you my friend are simply engaging in "an ideological attack." Never mind that New Jersey's laws are just as stupid, and New Jersey has the same homicide rate as Florida, a state with actual common-sense gun laws and a higher urbanized population.

You know what? I think a person should provide personal references before (1) voting, (2) getting reproductive health services, or (3) asserting some sort of right not to answer police questions. After all, it is all about balancing the "rights" of the majority against the rights of the individual.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Parker v. DC oral argument transcript

I managed to make it to this appellate argument and took enough notes to write a rough transript of how it went down. Here it is:

Before Judges Griffith, Henderson, and Silberman

“JGR” = J. Griffith
“JSI” = J. Silberman
(Henderson never asked any questions)
Gu = Alan Gura (Plaintiff’s lawyer)
Kim = Todd Kim (DC lawyer)

Appellant/Plaintiff :

Gu: 2Amt means ordinary handguns are allowed to be kept in the home, this is a narrow cast that will not be groundbreaking; the case is against prohibition, not against regulation

JGR: standing? How is this different from the Seegars and Navegar cases? Isn’t the plaintiff Heller in this case the only one who tried applying for a handgun permit?

Gu: actual denial of permit in this case, not like those other cases

JSI: if one plaintiff has standing, does it matter about the others?

Gu: should not matter as long as one has actual standing

JSI: what do you mean by “function” firearms are prohibited?

Gu: trigger locks are not safe storage; plaintiff would not challenge a safety rule with exceptions, but only wants ability to have operational self-defense firearm

JSI: are you challenging the handgun prohibition or the no-loaded law?

Gu: both; challenging fact there is no allowance of either

JSI: have standing to challenge no-loaded law?

Gu: have standing because would run afoul of the law

JGR: what is the militia TODAY?

Gu: the people of the U.S.

JGR: what about “well regulated?”

Gu: that meant training

JGR: 200 years ago, it meant “state control”; “well regulated” is not the same as “militia”

Gu: back then, regulated meant trained; Harvard law journal article explained the concept, citation is 9 Harv. J. Pub. Pol. 559; read quotes from Oxford Eng. Dict.; we use the original meaning to interpret the Amendment as written; the Constitution protects the concept, not the term

JSI: Regulated = supplied?

Gu: cited the Militia Clause regarding government suppling private citizens

JGR: “security of a free state?” DC isn’t a state, right?

Gu: DC= Fed Govt; cases say Constitution was intended to constrain Fed govt; dictionary at the time said it meant “free society”

JGR: isn’t this a Federalism issue with the 2d Amt?

Gu: Constitution only limited the Fed govt at the founding

JGR: what about “security of a free state?”

Gu: if disarmed, people would not be able to check government, repel invaders; mentions Judge Kozinski (9th Cir) and his “doomsday provision” comment; states at the signing of Constitution demanded RKBA clause as a last-ditch remedy for the people

JSI: assuming individual right; p.16 of brief says court does not have to find it is a “fundamental” right; p.31 of brief says law should be “narrowly tailored”; isn’t that same as strict scrutiny?

Gu: trigger lock law = ban on functional firearms in home; prohibition is more broad than mere regulation

JSI: rational basis argument? DC’s basis for the handgun ban isn’t rational because of crime?

Gu: we don’t ban all contracts, only the illegal ones

JSI: Miller says can ban shotguns?

Gu: Miller said only some firearms were outside Constitutional protection, like bazookas

JSI: why not bazookas?

Gu: Miller put out 2-part test: 1) type of ordinary and common use, and 2) military or common defense usefulness; bazookas fail first part of test

JSI: DC’s unloaded law illegal for handguns if they were allowed to be owned?

Gu: if the safe storage law had exceptions, it would be permissable; not what DC has now

(*end PL arg*)

DC Govt's Oral Argument:

Kim: Seegars standing controls, so PL’s should lose; injury here is not prosecution, only inability to register handgun; need a real injury to bring a case, should seek administrative process to get permit

JSI: what if DC said no black person could get a handgun license? No standing then?

Kim: (long, I mean LONG pause) not likely to have such a statute

JSI: what if Asian couldn’t get license because DC said too many Korean storeowners were shooting Blacks? (Kim is apparently Korean)

Kim: standing, yes

JSI: Why? What difference from this case?

Kim: this is not a licensing case; not in plaintiff’s request for relief

JSI: relief isn’t relevant to standing

Kim: plaintiff’s need to go through administrative appeals process for denied license

JSI: why is that?

Kim: appeals court said so in past cases

JSI: question here is about unconstitutional action, so we get jurisdiction

Kim: 2Amt doesn’t say anything about registration; court can only order process for registration

JSI: denial of license fits in other cases for standing

Kim: disagree; plaintiffs didn’t ask for license as remedy, only injunction against law

JSI: so they need to fix their remedy to get standing?

Kim: still would not have standing

JSI: all the circuit and district court cases on standing were wrong?

Kim: no, 2Amt not at issue here, only administrative matter of denial of license

JSI: what about the no guns for Blacks/Koreans hypothetical?

Kim: still no standing because the administrative appeals process needs to run; Seegars court said that statute could be challenged through the administrative process

JSI: assume they have standing and right; what about the pistol ban?

Kim: all rights subject to regulation; question here is on reasonable basis for regulation; DC legislative history shows reason for ban; police power is OK basis; 7th Cir case said that handguns were not military weapons

JSI: what about Plaintiff’s Miller test assertion?

Kim: that’s not what Miller said

JSI: what about the “common use” part? Are you saying pistols are not commonly used because they were banned? (JSI guffaws) 50% of DC gun cases get jury nullification; plenty of shootings

Kim: Miller said the test was militia use

JSI: what does that mean for pistols?

Kim: DC Council sais pistols were used by criminals

JSI: but they are also useful for non-criminals

Kim: at the time of the Framers, pistols were not “common”

JSI: what about as officers’ weapons? You need officers to run a militia (JSI guffaws)

Kim: DC Council says pistols are reasonable militia weapons; PL says they want pistol for self defense, not for militia use, anyway

JSI: weren’t militia arms those in common use? Rifles, pistols, muskets, swords?

Kim: at the time, but not relevant to case; Miller said 2AMT was about militia service

JSI: didn’t Miller go on to describe militia as all able-bodied people?

Kim: Miller did not say that was a militia

JGR: what is “the people?”

Kim: the collective

JGR: where else in the Bill of Rights does it say that “people = collective?”

Kim: the 1st Amendment talks about “assembly,” so must mean more than one person

JGR: one person protesting certainly does get 1st Amt protection, so it’s individual

JSI: are you saying there is no individual 1st Amt right?

Kim: no, but the 8th Cir. Said that if no militia at issue, then the plaintiff’s case ends

JGR: the preamble doesn’t limit the right in the amendments?

Kim: not limiting; the plain meaning is solely military because of the term “keep and bear”; the 2dAmt is about militias, so need a tie to a militia; for example, the Mass. Constitution used “keep” in relation to civic common usage

JGR: Does the DC reading of the 2dAmt allow the banning of all guns?

Kim: yes, but DC is not a state, and the 2dAmt is only for states; DC still allows guns now; 2dAmt text and debates never said individual right; only for military matters; the “religious scruples” exemption debate(?) Shows that the Framers only meant military service

JSI: Wasn’t the DC position unknown in the 19th Century? Isn’t this something from the past 50 years? Dredd Scott said that Blacks could not be citizens under the Constitution because they would enjoy the privileges and immunities of US Citizenship including bearing arms where they went; the collective position is not in Miller

Kim: (starts to talk)

JSI: are you going to say something about an “evolving constitution?” (JSI guffaws)

Kim: the militia had more relevance back then

JSI: WWII, were you old enough to remember? No? (Kim is mid-30's) WWII saw communities in the US all up and down the east coast handing out rifles to people who didn’t have their own; isn’t that the militia?

Kim: if a state or the Fed govt did that, then they were a well regulated militia; the 2d Amt only spoke to military affairs

JGR: was the military meaning clear back then?

Kim: it’s the best reading of the Amendment

JSI: Miller’s discussion of the militia says different

Kim: “enrolled” meant enlisted in Miller per the Militia Act

JSI: the Militia Act excluded certain people; arms used back then were primarily for hunting and self defense

Kim: there is no evidence that the 2dAmt protects hunting or self-defense

JSI: govt wanted hunting and self-defense guns brought up in an emergency

Kim: but they were not protected by the 2dAmt; “bear” = military use; Mass. Const. uses “bear” in a military context

JSI: do we really want to rely on Massachusetts for this? (JSI guffaws)

Kim: “keep and bear” = military usage

*end DC argument*

PL’s Rebuttal:

Gu : (starts to talk)

JGR: what about this “well regulated militia?” If the preamble limits, is your case in trouble? Isn’t there a different meaning today?

Gu: preamble can inform, but cannot negate the operative clause

JGR: does the operative clause help the preamble? What about having police around now, making militia moot?

Gu: we can’t read out parts of the Constitution; we have all sorts of special offence drug/gun/etc. courts now, but we don’t read out the 4th amendment as not needed

JSI: what if preamble said “so long as militia is necessary?”

Gu: who makes the determination that a right is unnecessary? If that was the case, any right could be argued away

JGR: if the text is reasonably read to not be absolute, then what?

Gu: only way to read the amendment is to look at the Framers’ belief that militias were necessary; we can’t ignore the Constitution, we would have to amend the Constitution; ten states at the time of the founding had constitutions that recognized self defense RKBA; this was something that the Framers expected; handguns are used militarily, and are of common use; the threat of prosecution has been understated by DC; the circuit does not need actual threat of prosecution to get standing to challenge the law

*end rebuttal*

It was very lively, and had a packed house (~64 people sitting) with a few people standing. The poor DC guy really got hammered (though no side escaped unscathed).

Friday, December 01, 2006

"Even the mildest restrictions on ______"

As a "civil rights nut," nothing gets me unhinged faster than hearing some blowhard piously claiming that some "mild restriction" on our rights will somehow cause the milk and honey to start flowing, or help bring about the Second Coming, or some other alleged nonsense.

I'm not talking about restricting reckless behavior (yelling fire in the theater, speeding through traffic, brandishing loaded firearms at the paperboy, etc.), but restricting behavior that either does no one else any harm or that is no one else's business (i.e, banning smoking in a bar with other adults, banning smoking a joint in your own house, banning "Village People bondage games," banning concealed handgun permit holders from National Parks . . . you get the point).

Here from the DC Examiner is but the latest example in the anti-choice wars:
Ohio case not a minor abortion decision
Quin Hillyer, The Examiner
Dec 1, 2006 3:00 AM (10 hrs ago)

WASHINGTON - While much of the nation’s legal attention is focused on the Supreme Court’s pending partial-birth abortion case, lower courts continue to use any excuse at hand, no matter how far-fetched, to strike down even the mildest restrictions on abortion.

These courts act as if sophistry in support of abortion is no vice.

The latest example occurred earlier this month, when a panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Cincinnati Women’s Services v. Taft that the state of Ohio had no right to limit the number of petitions a minor can file to ask for judicial approval for an abortion without informing her parents.

That's a "mild" restriction? If a young girl can't go talk to her parents about her medical concerns, THAT IS THE PROBLEM, not what that medical concern may be. The fact that she may petition the courts until she is blue in the face is a GOOD thing since it is HER health that is at stake. How many death row inmates get that chance?

These parental consent laws are all BS, anyway.

Here is a link to an excellent article on the issue(no unbiased opinion from me, no sir)

Professional anti-gun-owner in Philly Paper

Daniel Webster, noted anti-gun-owner researcher, has had one of his LTE's published in the Philly Daily News:
Letters | Dear John: Gun laws can help, too

IN A RECENT column, John Baer quoted me in reporting that Philadelphia will be using new state funding to step up enforcement of laws against illegal possession and sales of guns.

I share his support for it. Deploying police in areas with high rates of shootings to look for illegal guns has led to dramatic reductions in shootings in other cities. Research has shown that efforts focused on gun traffickers can reduce the flow of new guns to criminals.

While praising this initiative, Baer argues that attempts to reform the state's gun laws to make it difficult to traffic guns to criminals are a "waste of time and political capital" because the state legislature has historically been pro-gun. But Pennsylvanians do not have to choose between rational reforms in its gun laws and better enforcement of current laws. Both are needed.

Police and prosecutors will be better equipped to combat illegal guns if the state adopts commonsense laws like licensing handgun owners and one-gun-a-month purchase restrictions. Most gun owners support laws designed to keep guns from criminals, and efforts that make citizens safer from gun violence are usually political winners.

Daniel Webster, Co-Director

Center for Gun Policy and Research

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Baltimore, Md.

Webster seems to be a fairly competent professor, but from what I have seen over the years he is really a mediocre authority on existing gun laws and what is needed to combat criminal misuse of firearms.

Here is a response I sent to the Philly Daily News:
Re: Daniel Webster letter of Nov. 30
Noted anti-gun-owner researcher Daniel Webster wrote that he believes the "licensing" of Pennsylvania handgun owners will assist prosecutors and police in combating crimes involving illegal handguns. Webster's "licensing" undoubtedly refers to a system of mandatory background checks on the license holder, since, logically, the only rational purpose of licensing is to ensure the pre-screening of prospective gun owners for disqualifying factors.

Webster should therefore be happy to note that in Pennsylvania since the 1940's, every person who wants to buy a handgun from a gun store, or from anyone other than an immediate family member, must first submit to state police background
check before they may take possession of the handgun. After 1993, this process was expanded to include an additional FBI background check.

If both of these background checks come back clean, information on the buyer and his or her handgun is then recorded in a handgun owner database that Pennsylvania law enforcement may peruse whenever it is needed.

I am sure Webster will now be relieved to learn that Pennsylvania already has a system of "licensing and registration" of its handgun owners.

A staffer called me this AM and said they may run it . . .we shall see . . .
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