Vice interviews a former ATF analyst on bump fire stocks, makes the subtle case to ban semiautomatic firearms.

Vice is usually not known for their unbiased coverage or accurate gun reporting.  Just look at their “Gun Control” section of their site – 11 pages of entries, with few (if any) neutral or objective segments.

Which is why I’m not going to give them the benefit of the doubt with this piece:

The gist is, “Bump stocks are legal because that’s how the law is written.”  The retired ATF analyst even demonstrates how bumpfire can be achieved without a stock, and the VICE reporter quickly is able to replicate this.

The implication is clear: Congress must take action to change the laws.

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Seriously, USA Today? 40mm Grenade Launchers?

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more idiotic, USA Today says “hold my beer!”

Yep, 40mm grenade launchers are somehow a danger, despite their being restricted as Destructive Devices, requiring the usual ATF background check, FBI fingerprinting, $200 tax stamp, and more.  And that’s just for the launcher – if you want a 40mm round, each one of those is considered a destructive device as well, if you can even find someone willing to sell you an explosive 40mm round.  

You know what the penalty is for having an unregistered Destructive Device? Federal Felony charges with up to 10 years in jail & a fine of $250,000.  But USA Today thinks these are just an accessory that is commonly available at any gun store.

This is why journalists covering firearms are mocked & derided relentlessly in the firearms community.   Because memes like this become less satire, and more reality:

If you want to have a serious discussion about a topic, it helps if you have even a layman’s grasp of the subject matter.  USA Today’s graphic is the epitome of fear mongering nonsense.

No one wants to take your guns, right? New York Times: “Repeal the Second Amendment”

In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, the usual suspects have come out in full force.  This showed up on my news feed this morning:

From a law-and-order standpoint, more guns means more murder. “States with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides,” noted one exhaustive 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health.

Nothing like a Post Hoc ergo Propter Hoc fallacy to start things off.

From a personal-safety standpoint, more guns means less safety. The F.B.I. counted a total of 268 “justifiable homicides” by private citizens involving firearms in 2015; that is, felons killed in the course of committing a felony. Yet that same year, there were 489 “unintentional firearms deaths” in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Between 77 and 141 of those killed were children.

And a smooth transition to cherry picking by comparing justifiable homicides to accidents.  As usual, defensive gun uses that do not result in a dead criminal aren’t worthy of being counted, despite estimates of them ranging from 50,000 to 2 million a year.

From a national-security standpoint, the Amendment’s suggestion that a “well-regulated militia” is “necessary to the security of a free State,” is quaint. The Minutemen that will deter Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un are based in missile silos in Minot, N.D., not farmhouses in Lexington, Mass.

The venerable strawman appears!

From a personal liberty standpoint, the idea that an armed citizenry is the ultimate check on the ambitions and encroachments of government power is curious. The Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s, the New York draft riots of 1863, the coal miners’ rebellion of 1921, the Brink’s robbery of 1981 — does any serious conservative think of these as great moments in Second Amendment activism?

Someone’s clearly never heard of the Battle of Athens.

But hey, there’s a moment of self awareness:

Given all of this, why do liberals keep losing the gun control debate?

Maybe it’s because they argue their case badly and — let’s face it — in bad faith. Democratic politicians routinely profess their fidelity to the Second Amendment — or rather, “a nuanced reading” of it — with all the conviction of Barack Obama’s support for traditional marriage, circa 2008. People recognize lip service for what it is.

Then there are the endless liberal errors of fact. There is no “gun-show loophole” per se; it’s a private-sale loophole, in other words the right to sell your own stuff. The civilian AR-15 is not a true “assault rifle,” and banning such rifles would have little effect on the overall murder rate, since most homicides are committed with handguns. It’s not true that 40 percent of gun owners buy without a background check; the real number is closer to one-fifth.

The National Rifle Association does not have Republican “balls in a money clip,” as Jimmy Kimmel put it the other night. The N.R.A. has donated a paltry $3,533,294 to all current members of Congress since 1998, according to The Washington Post, equivalent to about three months of Kimmel’s salary. The N.R.A. doesn’t need to buy influence: It’s powerful because it’s popular.

Nor will it do to follow the “Australian model” of a gun buyback program, which has shown poor results in the United States and makes little sense in a country awash with hundreds of millions of weapons. Keeping guns out of the hands of mentally ill people is a sensible goal, but due process is still owed to the potentially insane. Background checks for private gun sales are another fine idea, though its effects on homicides will be negligible: guns recovered by police are rarely in the hands of their legal owners, a 2016 study found.

In fact, the more closely one looks at what passes for “common sense” gun laws, the more feckless they appear. Americans who claim to be outraged by gun crimes should want to do something more than tinker at the margins of a legal regime that most of the developed world rightly considers nuts. They should want to change it fundamentally and permanently.

Holy shit, this is the most honest assessment of the gun control movement I’ve seen in ages.

Too bad it doesn’t last:

There is only one way to do this: Repeal the Second Amendment.

Repealing the Amendment may seem like political Mission Impossible today, but in the era of same-sex marriage it’s worth recalling that most great causes begin as improbable ones. Gun ownership should never be outlawed, just as it isn’t outlawed in Britain or Australia. But it doesn’t need a blanket Constitutional protection, either. The 46,445 murder victims killed by gunfire in the United States between 2012 and 2016 didn’t need to perish so that gun enthusiasts can go on fantasizing that “Red Dawn” is the fate that soon awaits us.

Oh ok dude.  You just spent paragraphs telling us how the gun control movement argues in bad faith and now you want to repeal the constitutional protection that prevents firearms from being banned from ownership.

Let’s also not pretend that banning & confiscation wouldn’t be immediately put on the menu.  You know how I know this? Because even with the 2nd Amendment protections, gun control zealots frequently propose just that.  Here’s a bill that was put forward for banning firearms in Wisconsin.  Here’s another one in Missouri.  Here’s one in Georgia that called for confiscation.  California & New York both have already passed bills that ban firearms & do not allow for grandfathered possession, with New York using their registration database to require turning them in or destroying them – notice that the firearms referenced are .22lr rifles, deemed illegal because they have a magazine capacity greater than 5 rounds.

Let’s not pretend that allowing people to own a single shot .22LR or over & under shotgun, stored at a hunting club, isn’t effectively banning firearms ownership.

I wonder what Madison would have to say about that today, when more than twice as many Americans perished last year at the hands of their fellows as died in battle during the entire Revolutionary War. My guess: Take the guns—or at least the presumptive right to them—away. The true foundation of American exceptionalism should be our capacity for moral and constitutional renewal, not our instinct for self-destruction.

How would the the Founding Fathers feel about privately owned guns? Dude, they issued Letters of Marque to allow for privately owned warships.  They had personally owned cannons. The Brown Bess rifle commonly owned by citizens was better than what was issued to the Continental Army.

Heck, even your math is bad – the population of the US during the Revolutionary war was roughly 2.5 million.  Regarding casualties during the Revolutionary war:

Throughout the course of the war, an estimated 6,800 Americans were killed in action, 6,100 wounded, and upwards of 20,000 were taken prisoner. Historians believe that at least an additional 17,000 deaths were the result of disease, including about 8,000–12,000 who died while prisoners of war.

America’s population today is 330 million, or 132 times greater than in 1776.  Let’s do some simple math:

6,800 war casualties times 132 = 897,600.  In comparison, we had 11,004 homicides by firearm in 2016.

So what would Madison say? He’d probably tell you to go pound sand, just in less polite terms.

Gun Control is Doomed to Failure: The “Aluminum Can” AR-15 build.

Spotted on The Firearm Blog, a hobbyist machinist fabricated his own AR-15 lower receiver.  Big deal, some people will scoff, “80% lower builds are nothing new.”

Well, this actually is a big deal, because this guy took around 250 aluminum cans, melted them down in a backyard forge, poured them into ingots, and then created his own billet of aluminum stock:

With milling machines & lathes available off Amazon, technology is increasingly available to the end user; there is no longer a giant barrier to entry in the form of hundreds of thousands of dollars of investment in machinery.

Cody Wilson’s Ghost Gunner is merely a simplified version of what the above youtuber did.  You can’t stop the signal.

NY DA doesn’t want CCW reciprocity… because ISIS. For real?

CNN took a break from being complete garbage to allow  New York District Attorney Vance a chance at bat:

Manhattan DA: This bill could turn your city into the Wild West

Blood will RUN in the STREETS!!!!  Where have we heard that before? Oh yeah, every single anti-gun argument since CCW reform began in the late 80s.

I’m proud to say that New York remains the safest big city in the nation, at least according to the Economist’s Safe Cities Index.

But this progress could come to a screeching halt if the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, known as CCRA, passes Congress. Every state has had the right to craft its own firearms licensing laws. In New York, we have crafted our laws to consider unique factors like our state’s population density, culture and history. The CCRA would override our state’s restrictive concealed-weapons permitting system and force New York to honor concealed-carry firearms privileges issued in other states, even though many other states have much looser standards.

Simply put, this means that the gun laws of Arkansas, for example, could be forced upon New York by federal mandate. I can only imagine how angry citizens of Arkansas would be if Washington politicians forced them to follow laws from New York.

Without a hint of irony, he manages to ignore how hated the NY SAFE Act is outside of NYC itself.  Hilarious!

Consider this: Eleven states grant concealed-carry privileges to individuals who have not undergone any safety training. Twenty states grant permits to people who have been convicted of violent crimes. And 12 states do not require any kind of permit or license to carry a concealed firearm. The CCRA would make it legal for someone to carry that concealed, loaded firearm into New York or anyplace else, regardless of local law.

How awful.  Why, the concealed carry holders of those states must be wanton criminals and those states are awash with violence committed by them, right? Strange that the DA couldn’t summon any information supporting that unspoken assumption, probably because as the Texas Department of Public Safety shows, CCW holders are much more law abiding than the general population.

So police officers are against this bill.

Uh, no, they aren’t.   Looking at that letter, it’s signed by the following organizations:

Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association (HAPCOA)
International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA)
International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA)
National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE)
National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE)
Police Executive Research Forum (PERF)
Police Foundation (PF)

Missing from this is an endorsement of the largest police group, the Fraternal Order of Police, not to mention huge numbers of other organizations populated by rank & file officers.  In fact, I notice that this endorsement list is heavy on Command level endorsements, and scant on support from line officers.  This isn’t surprising, since police executives, administrators, and command staff are largely politically appointed & reflect the politics of their mayors.

In fact, when PoliceOne asked their members about their thoughts on armed citizens, the officers uniformly responded that they believed CCW was a good thing and helped reduce crime:

More than 91 percent of respondents support the concealed carry of firearms by civilians who have not been convicted of a felony and/or not been deemed psychologically/medically incapable.

A full 86 percent feel that casualties would have been reduced or avoided in recent tragedies like Newtown and Aurora if a legally-armed citizen was present (casualties reduced: 80 percent; avoided altogether: 60 percent).

Now that the ‘cops support a ban on CCW reciprocity!’ nonsense is debunked, let’s return to Vance’s fearmongering:

Who would actually be for this bill? I can offer one answer: ISIS.

According to George Washington University’s Extremism Tracker, New York is the top ISIS terror target in America. Meanwhile, ISIS is increasingly recruiting radicalized attackers to murder as many people as possible, using any means available.

Let’s not kid ourselves: ISIS is following the gun debate. Look no further than Rumiyah, its official magazine and how-to guide for terror. In its May 2017 issue, under a section titled “Just Terror Tactics,” ISIS specifically told aspiring terrorists how to exploit America’s lax gun laws to commit mass shootings on our soil:

“In most US states, anything from a single-shot shotgun all the way up to a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle can be purchased at showrooms or through online sales — by way of private dealers — with no background checks, and without requiring an ID or a gun license.”

The CCRA is a gift to these terrorists.

What.

Let’s break down how mindbogglingly stupid this argument is.

Right now, Europe is in the midst of a terror crisis, with automobiles being used to murder & wound dozens at a time.  After the latest attack in Barcelona, responding officers shot 5 terrorists who reportedly were wearing suicide vests.  A single van killed 13 and injured at least 120 people.  No word yet if NY DA Vance is going to call for banning motor vehicles within city limits, or banning driver’s licenses from other states.

Despite New York’s draconian firearms laws, somehow crimes are still being committed there.  There’s no magic barrier at the city or state line that prevents a firearm from coming in, so pretending that a ban on CCW reciprocity will prevent ISIS from smuggling in firearms is absurd, especially when a group of jihadists can use credit cards and rent a few moving vans from Budget or U-Haul and plow them through pedestrians.

Or using them as VBIEDs.

Thanks for the laugh, Vance.  I hope you do better prep work on criminals because this was weak.

Pro-click: “The Political Philosophy Of Guns – Would America Really Be A Better Society Without Them?”

Came across this last night:

America’s decades long national argument about gun control is not a normal political debate about addressing policy to problems but about what kind of politics to have. It is fundamentally about how citizens should relate to each other and the state, and that makes it a matter of political philosophy, Politics with a capital P. That in turn explains why the debate has gone on so long without resolution and the division and frustration it inspires.

Of course it is up to Americans to decide what kind of society they should have, not philosophers, and certainly not foreign ones like me. Indeed, part of my argument is that even this most fundamental question must be decided politically, by the people, and not by appeal to the special authority of sacred constitutional principles or social science or even philosophy. Philosophers’ pronouncements of truth and rightness have no special authority over politics, nor should they. What philosophical analysis can do is offer new perspective and argumentative resources by which a political debate such as this one might be improved from its toxic stalemate.

I know what you are thinking.  This is going to be a long winded argument about how guns are bad.  WRONG!

So what does my philosophical perspective come down to? First a diagnosis. Both sides of the gun control debate know they are right. But only one side recognises it as a fundamentally philosophical dispute. The other has systematically evaded the real debate about values in favour of the faux objectivity of a statistical public health argument [See Hunt for a discussion of what the gun control debate is actually about]. Second some positive advice. The advocates of gun control need to take the political philosophy of the gun rights movement seriously and show that a society without guns is a better society not that it is a safer one.

It only gets better from there:

I’m going to have to be blunt. Gun control advocates rely excessively on a public health case that is not only much weaker than they believe it to be but also crowds out the kind of arguments that might actually win over their opponents. Their confidence that they are on the right side of history has blinded them to the fact that they have chosen to fight on the wrong ground. They keep harping on about guns killing people. As if guns were like cigarettes, and as if the numbers were big enough to matter

Guns are an excellent killing technology. They are extremely good at transforming an intention to kill into its achievement. However, that doesn’t mean that they are a particularly significant cause of death; only a particularly exciting one.The idea that forcibly removing guns from citizens would reduce death rates in any appreciable degree is a triumph of moral indignation over statistics. America is not 43rd in the world for life-expectancy because it kills so many people with guns, but, principally, because of the social gradient in health that follows from its shameful levels of socio-economic inequality [1].

Let’s go into this a little more.

We hear a lot about the large number of deaths caused by guns in America, around 33,000 per year. This sounds like a big number. But understanding whether a number is big enough to matter requires considering it in context. 2.6 million Americans die every year [CDC] [2]. Gun deaths represent just over 1% of deaths, and two thirds of those are suicides. From a public health perspective, many other causes of death seem much more deserving of our worry, and also more likely to yield to government intervention.

So happy to see someone else making the same arguments I’ve been using for years.  This one addresses a plethora of typical arguments: Guns vs Cars, Suicide, Mass Shootings, etc.  I have to disagree with the author’s “Your gun isn’t going to stop the military” argument for reasons outlined in previous posts, but you can’t have everything.