Category Archives: Firearms

Millennials More Likely to Oppose Assault Weapon Ban then Older Folks

Huh.

Resistance to a ban on military-style assault weapons is strongest among millennials, according to a new Quinnipiac poll released this week.

[…]

Opposition to an assault weapon ban was strongest among Republicans and among self-identified registered voters 18-34, the poll found. Unlike older Americans, millennials were closely divided on their support for an assault weapon ban, with 49% supporting and 44% opposing a ban.

There was huge support for a return to banning the sale of assault weapons from voters over 50, with 70% support from over-50s and 77% support from over-65s.

[…]

For younger Americans, “these are guns that, as long as they’ve been part of the gun culture, have been very common and fairly typical guns, and that’s less true with somebody who was, say, born in 1930,” said Dave Kopel, a gun rights advocate and firearms law expert at the Independence Institute in Colorado.

People who grew up with the gun culture of the 1950s might be more accustomed to brown wooden hunting-rifles, while younger gun owners may be more used to the black polymer rifles that are often categorized as “assault weapons”, Kopel said.

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Because different Americans may have radically different conceptions of what an assault weapon is, the results of the survey on whether they should be banned should be judged with some skepticism, Yamane cautioned.

Bill Proposed to Protect Kids with Guns at School

This seems utterly reasonable, and in a sane world, unnecessary.

MADISON (WKOW) — Some high school students would no longer have to fear being expelled for having a gun at school, under a limited exemption being considered by state lawmakers.

Under current law, if a student leaves an unloaded gun in their locked car, in the the school parking lot, they would face a mandatory expulsion hearing if anyone reports it to the administration.

But the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) asked Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) to craft legislation that would exempt schools from starting that expulsion process, if law enforcement investigates the incident and doesn’t press charges..

WASB President Steve McCloskey told the Assembly Committee on Education Thursday it is not uncommon for students in rural Wisconsin to hunt before and after school.

And since many of those students live a far distance away from school, McCloskey said it is reasonable for them to keep an unloaded rifle in their locked vehicle.

Bubba Power

Yup.

They ask something like this: “Do you really think Bubba in camo gear hiding in the forest is going to take on the U.S. military? The U.S. military has nuclear weapons!”

Who exactly do you think has stymied the U.S. in Afghanistan for 16 years? The Taliban is made up of Afghan Bubbas. The Taliban doesn’t need to defeat nuclear weapons, though they are humiliating a nuclear power for the second time in history. They use a mix of Kalashnikovs and WWII-era bolt-action rifles. Determined insurgencies are really difficult to fight, even if they are only armed with Enfield rifles and you can target them with a TOW missiles system that can spot a cat in the dark from two miles away. In Iraq, expensive tanks were destroyed with simple improvised explosives.

If the U.S. government (and the American people behind them) doesn’t want to use nuclear weapons on foreign fundamentalists in Afghanistan, why does anyone presume they’d use them against Americans in Idaho?

It is not just our fecklessness. All great powers take into account the moral and manpower costs of implementing their rules and laws on a people. And an armed citizenry, especially if they seem to have a just cause to rally around, will dramatically raise the price of ruling them. The British Empire controlled one quarter of the world’s territory and ruled one quarter of the earth’s population in 1922. In that very year, they were forced to make an effective exit from the main part of their oldest colony, Ireland. Why? Because a determined group of Irish men with guns made the country ungovernable. The British technically could have deployed their entire navy, blockading the restive island, and starving any rebellion into submission. But they were unwilling to pay the moral price, or the price in blood. It was precisely this foreseeable event that had caused the British to ban Irish Catholics from possessing firearms hundreds of years earlier.

Taking Aim in the Gun Control Debate

This.

But what makes the gun debate so unbearably stale isn’t any disagreement over the interpretation of data. Nor is it a dispute over the value of firearms in a free society. If only it were about these questions. What makes the debate so stale, rather, is the disingenuousness of those who claim to want “sensible” and “reasonable” gun regulations but who in fact want an outright ban.

Supporters of stricter gun laws are not stupid. Some are rather prone to moral exhibitionism, for sure—we think of Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who didn’t wait for the blood to dry in Las Vegas before commencing a self-righteous tirade about the “cowardice” of his colleagues on the Hill who disagree with him on gun policy. But Murphy, Hillary Clinton, Piers Morgan—these people are not stupid. They do not actually think that reducing the capacity of magazines on semi-automatic rifles will somehow make it more difficult for deranged men to shoot schoolchildren. They don’t actually believe that closing the “gun show loophole” (the provision in the Brady law of 1998 by which gun purchasers may avoid background checks) will make Americans safer.

Yet gun-control proponents persist in this charade. Why? Because their real aim—an outright ban on all civilian use of handguns and most rifles—would require a repeal of the Second Amendment. They can’t or won’t call for such a repeal because, for all their brandishing of opinion polls and claims to speak for the majority, they stand no chance of accomplishing it. It’s not impossible to repeal an amendment. The Eighteenth Amendment, establishing Prohibition, was repealed by the Twenty-First in 1933. But it’s impossible to repeal a popular amendment, and Americans like guns and value the Second Amendment far too much to consider excising it from the Constitution.

Since they can’t name their desire, anti-gun activists, in a kind of Freudian displacement maneuver, spend their energy fulminating against the “gun lobby.” Hence all those Times editorials about the NRA “bullying” Washington and holding congressional Republicans in thrall. Hence all those talking-head diatribes and crime-show episodes portraying the “gun lobby” as some dark super-mafia, the mere mention of which turns otherwise cocksure politicians into whimpering fools. But do the NRA and related groups really have such great power? You wouldn’t know it from their lobbying expenses. Last year, gun-rights groups spent $10.5 million on lobbying. Environmental-advocacy groups spent $13 million. Labor unions spent $47.2 million. The agricultural services and products sector: $32.7 million.

Gun Control Isn’t the Answer

Yup.

Before I started researching gun deaths, gun-control policy used to frustrate me. I wished the National Rifle Association would stop blocking common-sense gun-control reforms such as banning assault weapons, restricting silencers, shrinking magazine sizes and all the other measures that could make guns less deadly.

Then, my colleagues and I at FiveThirtyEight spent three months analyzing all 33,000 lives ended by guns each year in the United States, and I wound up frustrated in a whole new way. We looked at what interventions might have saved those people, and the case for the policies I’d lobbied for crumbled when I examined the evidence. The best ideas left standing were narrowly tailored interventions to protect subtypes of potential victims, not broad attempts to limit the lethality of guns.

[…]

By the time we published our project, I didn’t believe in many of the interventions I’d heard politicians tout. I was still anti-gun, at least from the point of view of most gun owners, and I don’t want a gun in my home, as I think the risk outweighs the benefits. But I can’t endorse policies whose only selling point is that gun owners hate them. Policies that often seem as if they were drafted by people who have encountered guns only as a figure in a briefing book or an image on the news.

Committee Vote Scheduled for Constitutional Carry

It’s good to see some progress.

A state Senate committee vote has been scheduled for Tuesday (Sept. 19) on a bill — Senate Bill 169 — that, as introduced, would repeal Wisconsin’s state “gun-free school zones” statute.

The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety included the SB 169, also known as the permit-less carry bill, as the final item in its public notice of an executive session (i.e., a committee vote on the bill) for Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 411 South, State Capitol.

Sheriff Won’t Blame Guns for School Shooting

The media is really upset that this Sheriff won’t use a school shooting as an excuse to advocate for gun control.

The day after a Washington state high school student opened fire on his classmates, killing one and injuring three others, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich held a press conference to decry the frequency of such shootings.

“This is a situation that plays out in our society way too often, and we as a society need to make a determination as to what’s causing this,” he said Thursday afternoon. Knezovich then launched into a list of factors he believes were at play when 15-year-old suspect Caleb Sharpe, who has been identified in court documents, brought both a handgun and an AR-15 rifle to Freeman High School on Wednesday.

[…]

But when a reporter asked Knezovich how the shooter had access to the firearms used to kill classmate Sam Strahan and injure three others, the sheriff was reluctant to discuss gun control issues.

“Minors are not supposed to be in possession of a handgun until they’re 21,” he said. “You never know how people get ahold of weapons. Those are things we’ll be digging into in trying to figure out what exactly happened here.”

And, of course, the sheriff is right. It was already illegal for this to possess a handgun – much less carry guns onto school property and start shooting people.

NRA Carry Guard Expo in Milwaukee

The NRA is holding its inaugural Carry Guard Expo in Milwaukee. A couple of things make this interesting.

The show that runs through Sunday was jammed with seminars, workshops and plenty of gear.

There were displays of handguns, rifles and shotguns and firearm accessories like holsters, bags and clothing all aimed at a growing market for those interested in concealed carry weapons and self-defense.

The first thing that’s interesting is that there were the inevitable protesters.

Not everyone was delighted to see the NRA in Milwaukee.

“The NRA has been ratcheting up their rhetoric lately,” said Anneliese Dickman of the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, which was leading a local protest.

“We’re protesting that they have a vision of America that encourages people to treat their fellow Americans as enemies and that they’re arming those people,” she said.

The anti-gun folks are constantly telling us that they don’t want to ban guns. No, they just want people to be “responsible” gun owners, so they say. This is an entire event centered around responsible gun ownership, and yet the anti-gun folks are still protesting. NRA Carry Guard is insurance for people who carry guns. It is actually an initiative of anti-gun folks to mandate that people have such insurance, and yet they are protesting. (Ironically, such a mandate would be a boon for the NRA if people are mandated to buy their product.) The rest of the expo is about safety training, gun safes, locks, safe ways to carry, etc. In short, this is an event for “responsible” gun owners, and yet the protesters are still there. They belie their real purpose.

The second thing that is interesting is that this expo is symptomatic of the NRA’s transition from strictly an advocacy organization to a business.

As I said, NRA Carry Guard is an insurance product for people who carry guns. The NRA has just entered this market. West Bend’s own Delta Defense has been selling similar insurance for years and has been booming. They just built a fabulous new headquarters and have been hiring people left and right. They also just won an award for being one of the best places to work in Wisconsin.

So do you think it is a coincidence that the NRA chose to hold its very first Carry Guard Expo in the backyard of Delta Defense? I think not. Also remember that the NRA unceremoniously disinvited Delta Defense to their convention earlier this year. The NRA is not behaving as an advocacy group that is willing to amplify its message by convening with like-minded groups. They are behaving like a business trying to take out their competitor.

This comment reveals the risk of the NRA moving into a business:

Asked if the NRA would push to mandate insurance for concealed-carry permit holders, Powell said: “We absolutely are not interested whatsoever in having any mandates around this at all. Period.”

So they say now. But the NRA now has a financial interest in just such a mandate. And with their lobbying power, what are the chances that they would make sure the mandates require just the kind of coverage offered by Carry Guard?

I’m all for the NRA and think that they have done marvelous things for the spread of liberty in our nation. But I am wary about scenarios where their financial interests run contrary to that liberty.

Man Legally Carries Weapon at the Zoo

Good for him.

“It was my girlfriend’s birthday, and she likes elephants. That’s why I was there,” Polster said. “We walked into the farm exhibit area, the one officer pulls up, stops me and says we can’t have the firearm in the park,” he said.

Polster recorded the interaction with Milwaukee County sheriff’s deputies. His video runs more than an hour as deputies checked on the law. Ultimately, they determined Polster was right.

The Milwaukee County Zoo told WISN 12 News it does not allow the open or concealed carry of any weapons in any Zoo building or during any posted special event. But state law exempts public grounds.

“You can carry on the grounds. You just can’t carry in the buildings,” Polster said.

It doesn’t look like he meant it as a big statement. He’s not one of those goofs walking around with an AR-15. He was just going about his business. It’s a shame that the deputies took so long to look up the law. Perhaps Sheriff Clarke should conduct a training session.

Appeals Court Strikes Down D.C. Concealed Carry Law

Excellent!

A federal appeals court struck down a District of Columbia law Tuesday that required a “good reason” to carry a concealed firearm, ruling that it essentially bans the Second Amendment right for most D.C. residents.

The decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit conflicts with rulings from other appeals courts on concealed-carry rights, potentially ripening the issue for a Supreme Court that for years has stayed on the sidelines of gun control laws.

The D.C. Circuit, in a 2-1 decision, ruled the Second Amendment’s right of responsible citizens to carry firearms for personal self-defense beyond the home is not subject to bans on carrying in urban areas like the District or carrying absent a special need for self-defense.

“In fact, the Amendment’s core at a minimum shields the typically situated citizen’s ability to carry common arms generally,” the majority wrote. “The District’s good-reason law is necessarily a total ban on exercises of that constitutional right for most D.C. residents.”

Protecting the right to Pokemon Go

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here you go:

The summer of 2016 will be remembered for many things. It was the summer when America came to grips with the fact that Donald Trump was the Republican candidate. It was the summer when terrorism swept across the world from Nice to Dhaka to the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. It was the summer of Brexit when Britain voted to leave the European Union.

It is also the summer of watching hordes of people stumble through public places staring at their smartphones as they tried to capture animated creatures in the augmented reality of Pokemon Go. While the Pokemon Go craze has come and gone, it has left some interesting legal ramifications in its wake.

During the Pokemon Go phenomenon, the leaders of Milwaukee County became frustrated that so many people were wandering through public parks playing the game. The huge influx of people enjoying the public parks damaged landscaping, left trash, and sometimes disrupted other visitors. Rather than just enforce the existing rules against such damaging and disruptive behavior, Milwaukee officials decided to go after the businesses that make games like Pokemon Go. In January, the Milwaukee County Board passed an ordinance that required the companies who created virtual and location-based augmented reality games to get a permit and post a $1 million certificate of insurance in order for people to play their games in the park.

On its face, the ordinance was ridiculous and unenforceable. The fact that the users of a game might damage flowers in a county park hardly makes the producers of that game responsible, nor should a county be able to arbitrarily restrict access to public property for people engaging in legal activities. But the Milwaukee Common Council is not known for its logical dexterity. In response to the ordinance, a company called Candy Lab Inc., which makes a different augmented reality game, sued the county.

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge J.P. Stadtmueller issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting Milwaukee County from enforcing its ordinance saying that it likely violates the First Amendment. This might be the first time in the nation’s jurisprudence that First Amendment protections have been expressly extended to augmented reality games.

In his ruling, Stadtmueller systematically dismantles Milwaukee County’s ordinance and all of its flaws. He says in part, “the Ordinance thus dooms itself in its failure to provide ‘narrowly drawn, reasonable, and definite standards’ to guide the County officials who must apply it,” and that the game in question, “contains the least minimum quantum of expression needed to constitute protectable speech.” In a final slap at Milwaukee County officials, the judge states, “the Ordinance is revealed for its strangeness and lack of sophistication.”

This ruling is a good reminder that while technologies change, constitutionally protected rights do not. In his ruling, Stadtmueller correctly cites and earlier case, Brown v. Entm’t Merchs. Ass’n, in which the Supreme Court clearly stated that, “whatever the challenges of applying the Constitution to everadvancing technology, ‘the basic principles of freedom of speech and the press, like the First Amendment’s command, do not vary’ when a new and different medium for communication appears.”

That statement is a recognition of the fact that rights are endowed upon individuals. Our right to free speech is inherently individual and deserving of protection irrespective of the medium of transmission. The men who wrote our Constitution likely never envisioned telephones, the internet, or Pokemon Go, but they did not need to in order for the protections they wrote to apply. The right is to be protected. The technology is irrelevant.

This same principle applies to other rights as well. We also have a right to keep and bear arms (which is actually a more specific declaration of our broader right to property). And while our founders never envisioned the complexity or sophistication of modern firearms, they did not need to. The right is to be protected. The technology is irrelevant.

Our Constitution is not, nor was it ever intended to be, a living document. It does not need to be. Its brilliance rests in the understanding that human rights live in the bosom of each and every person. We must protect those rights whether they are being exercised with a quill, pen, keyboard, smartphone, musket or AR-15.

Bill Would Allow Schools To Provide Firearm Education

Good.

Wisconsin high school students would learn how to handle a range of guns — from handguns to rifles — as an elective class under a state Assembly bill introduced last week. 

Rep. Ken Skowronski (R-Franklin) is the lead sponsor of the bill, which would allow schools to offer on-site gun education classes. Its purpose is to promote gun safety and to boost participation in trap shooting, he said.

The bill would not change a current law that prohibits live ammunition and its use on school property.

The bill would not require schools to offer a class. If they did, students would not have to take it. However, the bill would require school superintendents to develop curricula.

2.2 Mile Shot

Wow.

“The Canadian Special Operations Command can confirm that a member of the Joint Task Force 2 successfully hit a target from 3,540 meters. For operational security reasons and to preserve the safety of our personnel and our Coalition partners, we will not discuss precise details on when and how this incident took place,” the unit said in a written statement.
Due to the distance of the shot, some voices in the military community expressed skepticism at the Canadian government’s report. The reported shot from 3,540 meters, or about 2.2 miles, would eclipse the previous sniper world record of 2,474 meters or 1.54 miles set by the United Kingdom’s Craig Harrison when he killed two Taliban insurgents in November 2009.
The Globe and Mail first reported the shot’s success and said it disrupted an ISIS attack on Iraqi forces, citing unnamed sources.
“The elite sniper was using a McMillan TAC-50 sniper rifle while firing from a high-rise during an operation that took place within the last month in Iraq. It took under 10 seconds to hit the target,” the paper said.
The Canadian military unit confirmed the distance of shot shortly after the Globe and Mail story was published, but the shot has yet to be formally confirmed a third party agency.

Committee Considers Civil Rights Bill

Pass it!

Any person living or traveling in Wisconsin could carry a concealed weapon without a license under a bill Republican lawmakers on Wednesday urged a legislative committee to advance.

The bill, authored by Rep. Mary Felzkowski, R-Irma, and Sen. David Craig, R-Big Bend, also would eliminate current state-mandated training to carry hidden weapons and allow Wisconsin residents with a license to carry a concealed weapon to bring firearms into schools unless school officials post signs prohibiting them.

The bill repeals the state’s gun-free school zone law and reduces the penalties for violating school rules banning guns from a felony offense to a misdemeanor or fine.

Craig and Felzkowski told the committee before a packed hearing expected to last hours that the legislation strengthens Wisconsin residents’ constitutional right to keep firearms especially for self-defense. Felzkowski emphasized an important aspect of the bill would allow law-abiding citizens who can carry weapons openly to now “throw a sweater on.”

“Right now I can go to Gander Mountain and buy (a handgun) and strap it to my hip — what I cannot legally do is throw a sweater on,” Felzkowski said. “That’s what we change.”

First, this is a pure civil rights issue. Keeping and bearing arms is one of the civil rights actually guaranteed by both our state and federal constitutions. There is no rational argument to continue allowing government to curtail that right in this manner.

Second, this is a practical matter to clean up the state law where it conflicts with federal law – and with other state laws, for that matter.

I’m sure this hearing will go on for far too long and the same old tired arguments that were trotted out against concealed carry will be flogged again. All of those arguments have been discredited by reality. And there are already 14 other states that already have a form of Constitutional Carry. Wisconsin is hardly being a pioneer in this regard. Let’s get this done.

NRA Moves Heavy Into Insurance

This has huge implications for West Bend’s own Delta Defense, which has been selling insurance to concealed carry holders for years and just built a new headquarters.

Enter the National Rifle Association. Stories like Balistreri’s have motivated some gun owners to purchase insurance policies that could cushion their financial burden in the event that they shoot someone. Such policies have been available for years, but last month the NRA announced a new insurance product, Carry Guard, which they marketed to their millions of members online and at their annual meeting in Atlanta. The idea of firearms liability insurance has been previously championed by gun safety advocates on the left, who envisioned insurance as an instrument of public safety that could encourage safer guns and safer behavior. As implemented by the NRA, though, firearms liability insurance has a different function—to insulate gun owners from the expense and other possible consequences of a shooting.

“We live in a litigious society,” explains Josh Powell, chief of staff and executive director of general operations for the NRA. “The bad guys come to your house and you gotta use your gun and then you end up paying a hundred thousand dollars to protect yourself.”

Powell explains that Carry Guard was created to accommodate the needs of a changing culture in the U.S., where more people carry concealed weapons. “There’s just been this incredible carry revolution that’s taken place over the past eight years, and you know, the NRA started it. We started this in Florida 35 or 36 years ago, passing the first concealed carry bill. And so this is really a response to that movement and our members saying ‘Hey, we need you guys to be the gold standard for training, liability insurance— everything concealed carry.’”

With similar language, the marketing campaign for Carry Guard emphasizes the “two pronged program” that offers “America’s most comprehensive coverage and training for those who carry a gun.” The campaign features a studio portrait of NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, staring down the camera with glinting eyes, holding up her Carry Guard insurance card like an officer flashing a badge. “I will never carry a gun without carrying this,” the adjacent text proclaims. In an article for the NRA publication America’s First Freedom, Loesch recounts her memories raising young children in crime-ridden St. Louis. She says her neighbors were grateful that she always carried a gun while supervising the children outside, and often inquired about how they could also legally carry and join her in “standing watch” over the neighborhood. “If only NRA Carry Guard existed back then,” Loesch laments. “There was no one-stop training option I could recommend.” Moreover, “Without proper coverage, my neighbors risked very real financial and legal consequences if they were ever forced to the pull the trigger in self-defense, even if they did everything right.”

Florida Concealed Carry List Hacked

This is why allowing our government to keep lists of what we do and what we own is a bad idea.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam assured concealed weapons permit holders Tuesday they have nothing to fear from alien hackers. The names of some 16,000 concealed weapon permit holders were revealed when the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ computer network was hacked earlier this month.

Some 469 individuals who did some form of e-business with the department had their names and social security numbers stolen. Those individuals have been notified and are being offered a year of free credit protection from the state.

Putnam said the attack came from outside the United States and he has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to assist in the investigation.

Entering the 2nd Amendment World

The beginning of this story lured me in.

Atlanta (CNN)Guns are not a part of the culture of my homeland, except perhaps for the occasional Bollywood movie in which the bad guy meets his demise staring down the wrong end of a barrel.

My childhood in India was steeped in ahimsa, the tenet of nonviolence toward all living things.
The Indians may have succeeded in ousting the British, but we won with Gandhian-style civil disobedience, not a revolutionary war.
I grew up not knowing a single gun owner, and even today India has one of the strictest gun laws on the planet. Few Indians buy and keep firearms at home, and gun violence is nowhere near the problem it is in the United States. An American is 12 times more likely to be killed by a firearm than an Indian, according to a recent study.
I was expecting another lefty rant about how Americans are nuts for defending their right to bear arms. Instead, I read a thoughtful article by a woman who was truly trying to inquire with an open mind. She ended:
I leave the convention trying to reconcile what I’ve gathered on this day with the philosophy of nonviolence with which I was raised. I am not certain that vast cultural differences can be bridged in a few hours, but I am glad I got a glimpse into the world of guns. I have much to consider.

USCCA Disinvited from NRA Annual Meeting

Wow. That stinks.

West Bend, WI – The United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) today announced that the National Rifle Association (NRA) has disinvited the organization from its 2017 Annual Meetings & Exhibits and the 2018 Great American Outdoor Show because of “concerns regarding its programs.”

The move shocked the leadership of the USCCA because they were given less than two weeks notice that they had been banned from the annual show, even though they had attended for the past several years.  This decision also came as a surprise because over the past two months, the leadership from the NRA and the USCCA met twice to discuss the shared goal of the two organizations in support of the Second Amendment.

In a note sent to millions of USCCA supporters, Founder and President Tim Schmidt said that even though the NRA might be fearing the competition, USCCA will still support the NRA’s efforts to protect the Second Amendment.

I suspect that the real reason is that the NRA offers a competing insurance product and the USCCA has been gaining too much market share for the NRA’s liking. What’s unfortunate for 2nd Amendment supporters is that we have two advocacy organizations who won’t work together due to competing business interests.

New Stupid, Useless, Dangerous, TSA Policy

I am lucky (cursed?) in that I travel around our great nation quite a bit. If I am traveling to a state that has Constitutional Carry or concealed carry reciprocity with Wisconsin, which is most of the time, I usually take a gun with me. The process used to be pretty easy…

Under the old process, I simply put my unloaded firearm in a locked case in my luggage. When I checked my bag, I declared it to the agent, signed a waiver form stating that the firearm was unloaded and secured, and checked the bag. When I got to my destination, I got my bag off of the carousel and went on with my day. Easy. Simple. Safe. The firearm was never unlocked or available to me in an secure part of the airport.

In January, a lunatic took his gun out of his checked luggage, loaded it in a bathroom, and killed several people in the Ft. Lauderdale airport. In response, TSA has changed the process for the worse.

Under the new process, when I declare my firearm when I check my bag, the agent must visually inspect my gun to make sure it is unloaded and properly secured. So now, instead of the firearm remaining locked and unobtrusive, I must open my bag, open my locked gun case, and show my firearm to the agent. So now there is an unsecured weapon available at the ticket counter.

Then, when I get to my destination, my bag no longer goes to the carousal. Instead, it is taken to the baggage agent and I am paged over the overhead. If you know the new process, now you know whose bag has a firearm in it. When I go to claim my bag, the agent verifies my ID and gives me my bag. But now my bag has a big annoying zip tie around it. Again… perfectly identifying which bags have firearms in them and creating an annoyance for the owner of the bag. Here’s how my bag came out:

zipbag

Let’s start with why this policy is useless… it would have done nothing to prevent what happened in Ft. Lauderdale. It took me 2 seconds to cut off that zip tie. I didn’t do it until I got out of the airport, but it would have been just as easy for me to take my bag into a restroom, retrieve my firearm, and do bad things with it at the airport – just like the guy in Ft. Lauderdale. Not to mention that the baggage claim area is not a secure area of the airport anywhere in the U.S. So if someone wanted to shoot up the place, they could just as easily bring a gun in from the outside instead of going through the hassle of checking a bag with a gun in it.

Useless.

Now let’s talk about why it is dangerous… during check in, my firearm used to remain secured. Now, I am opening the case and showing it to the agent. My travel weapon is a semi-automatic and the agent just looked at it. She could see that the magazine was removed, but could not have verified that there wasn’t a round in the chamber. Will more vigilant agents ask me to open up the gun and show it? Is it better to have an unobtrusive checked gun or have people opening up their guns at the counter all the time? I think we know.

Also, as I understand it, the zip tie is put on the bag when it is checked and there is a new label that tells the baggage handlers to not put it on the carousel. What this does is clearly identify every bag that contains a firearm throughout the baggage handling process. It is not uncommon for bags and their contents to be stolen( which is why my travel gun is an inexpensive one), and this policy puts a target on the ones with guns. This goes all of the way through to when the passenger picks up his or her bag with the baggage agent. On a recent flight, there were six of us who had to go claim our bags with firearms in them. How hard would it be for bad guys to target us on our way to our hotels? Or even scout the local hotels and look for bags with the telltale zip ties around them?

Finally, it should go without saying, but the reason this policy is stupid is because of the above. Remember that this policy is a reaction to something that happened once. In the decades of air travel and millions upon millions of guns that have been transported in checked baggage, one guy got out his gun and shot up and airport. One. So now we have a new policy. Leave it up to a government agency to create a reactionary policy to a single incident that not only fails to solve the supposed problem, but actually makes the transportation of firearms more of a hassle AND more dangerous.

And people wonder why the TSA gets a bad rep…

Taking back our civil rights

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here you go:

Shortly after the Constitutional Convention of 1787 ended, James Madison, whom John Adams labeled the “father of the Constitution,” began the arduous task of defending the intricate document signed by his fellow conventioneers and advocating for the state Legislatures to ratify it. The birth of a new nation was not to be had without some painful moments.

One of the immediate and most forceful attacks on the new Constitution came from his fellow Virginian, Richard Henry Lee. Lee was a powerful politician, forceful orator and fierce advocate for liberty. It was Lee who had called for the original resolution to break from Britain at the Second Continental Congress in 1776. But Lee turned his political prowess against the fledgling Constitution because he was fearful of the strong central government it created.

In order to retard the power of the new federal government, Lee proposed a declaration of rights that was to include the freedom of religion and the press. Madison was flabbergasted by the proposal because it was, in his mind, utterly unnecessary. The Constitution was firmly secured to the foundation that all power and rights rested in the People except for those few specific powers ceded to the government as enumerated in the Constitution. It was a bedrock enlightenment philosophical concept as articulated by the likes of Thomas Paine and John Locke.

Madison initially saw danger in what became the Bill of Rights because to enumerate specific individual rights to be protected by the Constitution would lead some to think that those rights not specifically enumerated for protection are within the power of government to restrict or rescind. This is why the 10th Amendment became a catch-all for rights not listed.

Madison eventually came around to support and author the Bill of Rights as a practical necessity to assure skittish state legislators and secure their support for ratifying the Constitution, but Madison’s fears were prescient. The natural momentum of government is to expand its power and our federal government has often run roughshod over natural rights not enumerated in the Constitution, as amended. But our government has also not been shy about trampling those rights that are singled out for protection.

That is not to say that all rights are absolute. It is the appropriate function of government to intervene and set boundaries when one right rubs up against another. For example, it is undeniably my right to speak out and protest against my government. But the government can, and should, deny that right to me if I try to do it on another citizen’s private property. The government can, and should, also restrict certain rights in a more systematic way when there is a substantial or pressing government interest to do so. But the standard for what constitutes a “substantial government interest” is, and should be, extraordinarily high.

Since the ratification of our Constitution, the right to keep and bear arms, as enumerated in the Second Amendment, has been steadily eroded thanks to fear, ignorance, and opportunistic politicians. For the first several decades, this right was rarely restricted. People regularly carried firearms either openly or concealed.

During Reconstruction after the Civil War, a wave of restrictions to the Second Amendment swept over the South as a means for the federal government to maintain order and, as white southerners regained

control of their state legislatures, to suppress black Americans. Subsequent waves of government restrictions of the Second Amendment came as politicians took advantage of various opportunities to disarm the public. New York City required its citizens to obtain a license to carry a concealed firearm in 1911 after a brazen murder-suicide in broad daylight. Mayor Daley ordered that all firearms in Chicago be registered in 1968.

All of these restrictions of the Second Amendment grew out of fear, hate, ignorance, and complacency without anything that could rationally be called a “substantial government interest.” A couple of decades ago, Americans began to take back their Second Amendment rights with the steady loosening of gun laws in states and the universal legalization of concealed carry. Despite the lamentations of opponents, the evidence is clear that the public did not suffer any negative consequences of this movement. In fact, the data points to several possible benefits like lower crime. The nation’s most crime-ridden bastions remain those with the strictest remaining gun control laws.

The next progression in reclaiming our Second Amendment rights is the passage of what has been termed “Constitutional Carry,” and it has been introduced in Wisconsin. Constitutional Carry is simply the return to how our Second Amendment was originally conceived and how it was enforced for most of the first century of our nation’s history. Free Americans who have not committed a serious crime and who are mentally competent would be free to own and carry a firearm in any manner they so choose. All of the other restrictions, like respecting private property rights, would remain in place.

Opponents of Constitutional Carry rest their arguments in the same irrational fear and hate as those who opposed concealed carry. “It will be like the Wild West with blood in the streets,” etc. But history and facts disprove their arguments. As of right now, 12 other states already have Constitutional Carry. One of them, Vermont, has had Constitutional Carry since the Constitution was ratified in 1791. Alaska has had it for 23 years. Liberal New Hampshire and Conservative North Dakota both passed Constitutional Carry earlier this year.

None of the states that have Constitutional Carry have experienced any ill effects. The reason is simple and is the same reason why there has been nothing but positive effects since concealed carry was passed six years ago in Wisconsin: concealed carry or Constitutional Carry only really applies to good, law-abiding people. Much to our collective lament, the bad people already practice Constitutional Carry.

We should never allow our government to restrict any of our civil rights without a rigorous debate and an imminently justifiable cause for doing so. And when we have foolishly allowed our government to restrict our civil rights without just cause, we should take every opportunity to take back our rights. Wisconsin should return to Constitutional Carry.