USAToday reporter has moment of clarity but falls short of the full grasp

Paul Singer of USAToday wrote an intriguing editorial recently with a very provocative title: “That Day I Became a Democratic Stooge.” Singer was speaking of the recent Democrat tantrum on the floor of the House of Representatives where several of them, in violation of the Rules of Conduct in the House, took over the floor of the House to demand that Speaker Ryan allow votes on a pair of “gun control” bills that had already been defeated in the Senate. While I applaud his willingness to address the matter plainly, I can’t say he grasped the full meaning of his moment of clarity well. Singer starts off well:

The House Democrats’ anti-gun sit-in last week included one of the more embarrassing moments of my journalism career.

The Democrats had grabbed the House floor for what amounted to an impromptu 25-hour filibuster to protest the unwillingness of Republican leadership to call a vote on gun control legislation.

This was a new and unusual tactic, and nobody had any idea how it was going to end. The House doesn’t have a filibuster, so it also doesn’t have a way to end one. That makes it newsworthy.

Fair enough so far, but I would point out that it was a “new and unusual tactic” because actions like these are explicitly prohibited under the rules of conduct for the House. Singer speaks as if this is some new kind of football play or the political equivalent of the introduction of the Fosbury Flop. It was not. It was the political equivalent of using Viking drinking traditions at your neighbor’s dinner party. (Apologies to all those of Norse tradition, of course. But you guys do throw a lot of drinking implements around when you get to the bottom of the cup!) And that reality got pretty much overlooked by the press. Singer continues on and gets to the part that brought on this clarity of which I speak:

At around 9 p.m., as they were girding for House Republicans to return and attempt to re-establish control of the floor, the Democrats were pumping up their energy. They congratulated each other and cheered. The partisans who had packed the public visitors’ gallery cheered with them — a no-no when the House is in session. Visitors are supposed to sit quietly, but by this hour many of the rules of the House floor had long since been thrown out the window.

The lawmakers then turned to the galleries and thanked the visitors for their support, and everybody cheered some more. That was another no-no — lawmakers are prohibited from acknowledging the galleries from the floor.

And then, my moment of shame. Someone on the floor called out thanks to the press, saying our reporting had spread the word and fueled their protest. The 100-or-so Members of Congress on the floor and the several hundred partisans in the gallery cheered for us.

My colleagues and I were mortified.

Oh, were you, now? If I may gently point something out: for a group that was “mortified” you seem to be the only person who was actually mortified enough to actually say something about it.

We are not in this business to help anybody, only to report the story. We certainly do not want credit for helping Democrats perpetrate what Republicans correctly labeled a “stunt.”

I think you aren’t looking very closely at the reporting done by a sizeable portion of your profession if you honestly think your fellow journalists are “not in this business to help anybody.”

Make no mistake: This was a stunt. It was a brazen attempt to make headlines and draw attention to an issue, not an attempt to legislate. Democrats then sent fundraising emails citing the sit-in as a reason to donate, which raises some questions about whether they violated House rules against using the chamber for political purposes.

Does it, really, “raise questions?” Would that not be worthy of investigative reporting? Had the Republicans did this during the votes that authorized ObamaCare in the first place, would there be any question in the minds of the press that rules had been violated? Ah, and about that:

But to be fair, when Republicans voted more than 50 times to repeal Obamacare, that was a “stunt,” too. And of course, they were sending fundraising appeals every time. Congress is legislating less and less, and much of what it does nowadays is a stunt. 

There is a significant difference, sir, between undertaking to advance a bill to the floor and then getting a vote on it and what the Democrats did. What the Republicans did is called legislating, which is the job and function of the House and its members. What the Democrats did is most certainly not. You were doing fine right up to here but you just can’t seem to stop yourself from equivalizing things to make this seem like a “both sides do it” moment, and hence justify the actions taken by the Democrats. Actions that led to the moment that “mortified you” as you say. And you wonder why anyone would question your assertion that you and your colleagues aren’t in the business to “help anybody?”

You had a moment of clarity, here, Mr. Singer, and I honestly am appreciative that you chose to write about it at all. That shows that the spark of ethics is, indeed, alive in you. It’s OK, sir, to take that to the next level and be as forthright in calling the actions you witnessed what they are. They are the actions of a group who cares nothing for rules or laws or anything else so long as they get their way.

[N]or shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…

It has been a week since I and the nation awoke to the news that an Islamic terrorist had conducted the most deadly attack against American citizens on American soil since the 9/11 attacks. The shooter, Omar Mateen, entered a gay nightclub in Orlando armed with a rifle and a handgun and proceeded to shoot roughly 100 people, 49 of them fatally. Tragic. Angering. And, as usual, the bodies weren’t even identified before the howling about how it was all the fault of the NRA and Republicans who wouldn’t ban “weapons of war” from civilian hands. Following Rahm Emmanuel’s advice to “never let a crisis go to waste,” the angry Left in this country again sought to react to the news that an evil man had done evil things by demanding that Americans be disarmed.

And spare me the “we’re not trying to take your guns” lies, please. Oh, yes they are. All in good time.

The effort this time is centered on the notion that Mateen (and I’m naming him specifically because he’s a terrorist, not some loser trying to make a name for himself by killing other people) was, at one point in time, on the FBI’s terror watch list. Someone who is on that list, the saying goes, shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns. And again, the Left is seeking to impose by fiat what they have been completely unable to do through democratic means: deny citizens the right to acquire the means to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. The approach this time is to use a tool for the FBI to watch for terrorist activity and suggest that anyone on it be immediately deprived of their civil rights, in this case those that are explicitly protected under the 2nd Amendment. This is a disastrously bad idea and one generally suited to tyranny, not a free nation. It results in the deprivation of a citizen’s rights without due process.

The 14th Amendment is quite clear on the matter that no State – and that includes the US as a whole – may “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” which is generally understood as “fair processes.” This application of the terror watch lists fails this test utterly. Who is put on these lists is a matter left to an unelected, unaccountable, and even unidentified board or committee. There’s no criteria that a citizen is aware of that would see them put on that list and there’s no widely-understood process to get off of it once he’s on. In fact, the citizen has no idea he’s even on there until the moment comes when he tries to do something, such as take a flight somewhere or get a government clearance for a job. That person, once advised, isn’t even told why he’s been put on the list. He then has to go to court to petition to get his rights back. And this is the process we’re supposed to think is fair to be allowed to exercise our rights?

Even the ACLU – who has explicitly stated that they will no longer fight for citizens’ rights under the 2nd Amendment – has come out against the watch lists as being too nebulous and too difficult for a citizen to seek redress for in the case of errors. The watch list has famously tagged a 2-year old for “enhanced screening” at airports and even once delayed Senator Ted Kennedy getting on a flight for being a potential terrorist. It’s error-prone and, with the secrecy and lack of oversight, is ridiculously ripe for abuse. And that’s even before it could be applied as a weapon to keep Americans from arming themselves in defense of self, family, and community.

Democrats such as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) are coming out explicitly saying that this whole due process thing should be set aside, that it’s “killing us.” That idea, and the fact that there are politicians now openly espousing them, is the reason the protection of our rights by due process is explicitly in the Constitution. I would remind Senator Manchin and others saying the same thing openly or not that the good Senator from West Virginia swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. If he’s unable to do that, then he should resign and do so immediately.

The dismissal of due process is not “common sense regulation,” it’s tyranny plain and simple. It’s the act of tyrants and fascist movements. It is a hideously bad idea that should be immediately set aside and those calling for it are no friends of freedom.

Australia foils Islamic State plot to start lopping off heads. But… why there?

First, the good news:

Australian security officials say they stopped a suspected plan by Islamist extremists to capture random citizens and behead them in public and on camera.

More than 800 security personnel raided 25 homes across two cities early yesterday morning in what authorities said was the largest counterterrorism raid ever conducted in Australia.

Authorities said they arrested 15 suspects, one of whom, Omarjan Azari,  22, appeared in a Sydney courtroom later in the day. The raids also resulted in the seizure of computers, documents and a firearm.

To the Australian agents and officers involved: well done. You saved lives because these terrorists would absolutely have done what they were threatening to do.

The report does raise an interesting question, though. You’ll note that they confiscated a firearm. Now, how did that happen? I mean, they’ve banned the private ownership of firearms over there for years. So, there can’t possibly have been a firearm possessed by someone who wasn’t a police officer or some other government agent, right? Or, perhaps, a law that says you can’t own a firearm just wasn’t that compelling to people who have already decided they’re going to pull random Aussies off the street and cut their heads on YouTube. In short – laws don’t stop criminals from acting criminally. It’s the decision to ignore the law that makes them criminals to begin with. The only people these laws keep guns away from are people who abide by the law in the first place.

This incident, frankly, should be making Aussie across their country take a moment to wonder just what they would have done if these people hadn’t been caught. If confronted by a group of men (and women?) armed with swords and, presumably, 1 with a gun who aren’t interested in your valuables or whether or not you even stand against them, politically and religiously, who have decided they’re going to kill you in a very gruesome fashion, what will you do? How will you defend yourself when you’ve legislated away any real means of doing so?

Note that Australia hasn’t been all that active in the Middle East and they aren’t really on the leading edge of actions that these terrorist groups allege to be upset about. So why did these people make the plans to start sawing off heads in Australia? Why not in, say, Dallas? Or, perhaps, Tampa? Parts of Virginia, maybe? Why is it that these people feel like taking to the streets to behead a random person in places like England or, now, Australia? Could it be that they’re choosing those places because they know the citizenry can’t really stop them? Because if they try that in Virginia, they’re seriously taking a risk of discovering that they’ve brought a machete to a gun fight.

These people believe they are at war and they have no issue whatsoever with killing non-combatants. In fact, it’s part of their strategy. I would suggest that unless one wishes to remain at serious risk of being a mourned statistic on some news show somewhere that everyone get a bit more serious about retaining the ability to defend one’s self, family, and community. We are part of the law enforcement in a free nation. I believe we should act like it. And I believe our long-time allies should, too.

MagPul pulling out of Colorado

True to their word, MagPul Industries has announced that they are moving their manufacturing and headquarters facilities out of Colorado in the wake of that state’s legislative actions to effectively outlaw the sales of their products. MagPul’s factory is moving to Wyoming while their HQ is moving to Texas.

Magpul Industries has announced that it will relocate its manufacturing, distribution and shipping operations to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Governor Matt Mead expressed his support in helping with the move, which begins immediately and his appreciation for Magpul recognizing the state’s benefits to a manufacturing company.

The company plans to lease a 58,000 square foot manufacturing and distribution facility while the construction of a new 100,000+ square foot build-to-suit facility is being completed in the Cheyenne Business Parkway. This two-phased approach allows for rapid movement of operations out of Colorado where the company is currently located. Additionally, Magpul is moving its corporate headquarters to Texas.

I mentioned MagPul in 2 previous posts, one in which I also referenced Beretta’s talk of moving out of Maryland and Smith & Wesson considering moving out of New York. Both of those firms cite the exact same reason as MagPul – a steadily worsening business climate driven by nonsense legislative action implementing more demonstrably ineffective “gun control.”

The other post, I’d like to remind all involved, dealt with the voter ramifications of pushing those laws. Colorado saw 2 of their fairly “big deal” Democrats get recalled specifically over their votes to enact those laws. Of course, that didn’t repeal those laws, so, MagPul was still left with the situation where the Colorado government was basically asking them to stay and pay their taxes but not sell their products in the state. I do hope Coloradans are paying attention to the fact that they’re losing a long-time community industry, the hundred of jobs related to that, and a consistent contributor to their tax base. They should act accordingly.

Remington R-51 pistol announced

While I will admit to wanting to fire some guns in the past based solely off their looks, I’m really more of a function-over-form kind of guy in that department. The capabilities of a firearm, more than how it looks in my hands, is what has usually driven my interest. This time, however, I’m firmly in the camp of “to look at this beauty is to want one.” Introducing Remington’s R-51 handgun:

R51-Profile-Left

The R-51 uses the Pederson action but that’s where we depart from the original. As you can see from the photos the entire pistol has been streamlined and dehorned. There’s not one sharp edge anywhere on this pistol. The magazine release is ambidextrous. There is the usual internal drop safety. The primary safety is the grip safety. As you draw the pistol you can feel as well as hear the grip safety click and disengage. Once the grip safety is depressed you’re ready to fire. The R-51 has an internal hammer you would term this a single action.

A good deal of time was also spent on getting the grip circumference and angle as close to perfect as they could manage. They did a good job because the grip not only feels good but it’s a natural pointer. When you draw and bring the pistol on target the sights are pretty much lined up. The shooters hand also sits very high and much closer to the bore axis reducing felt recoil.

remington_r51_2
There’s a lot of good features listed right there and the pictures of the gun are like something out of an art gallery.  The Firearm Blog linked above did a great job of a first look so I recommend hopping over there and reading their whole thing.

The official findings of Sandy Hook released; many initial conclusions and reactions were unfounded

In just a couple of weeks it will be 1 year since a mentally disturbed young man stepped up to his mother’s bedside and shot her to death in her sleep, drove to a local elementary school with guns he had then stolen from her home, and committed murder on a level so disgusting to normal people that it quite literally defies understanding. Six adults – several of them teachers and school officials moving to try to protect their students without any means to do so – and 20 children, all under the age of 8 were simply gunned down before the shooter shot himself just as police arrived at the school. The State of Connecticut released their final report (PDF) of the investigation this week and that report offers details that show many of the initial conclusions and reactions to the shooting were ill-informed and unfounded.

It just as clearly lacks the answer to the one question most people ask when they hear of the murdered: why?

Let’s look at the facts as they are now known and dispense with the most obvious and immediate inaccuracies of the “prevailing wisdom” regarding the attack. The shooter was armed with a rifle, 2 pistols, and a shotgun when he arrived at the school. He left the shotgun in the car and it was not used in the shootings at all. The rifle was a semi-automatic Bushmaster Model XM15-E2S chambered in 5.56 caliber. The 2 pistols were a Glock 20, a gun that fires 10mm rounds, and a Sig Sauer P226 in 9mm. The only time either pistol was used was when the shooter shot himself to death with the Glock 20 and that shot was the only one fired from a pistol during his rampage. The Sig Sauer was not used at all.  The shooter fired 154 rounds from the rifle from start to finish. His decision to shoot himself came just as police entered the building; it is likely that the knowledge of their entry into the building was the cause of that decision.

The first responders were not even finished with their work at the site when the assumptions, accusations, and conclusions started to fly. The questions of how the shooter got into the building, what was his connection to the school, if any, how he had gotten the guns in the first place, all were immediately asked and answers were just as quickly assumed. As with nearly every single incident of this type that has occurred in my lifetime, many – if not most – of the assumptions were incorrect. The school has a locked door that must be buzzed open so the assumption was that the school employees were familiar with him and let him in. He had guns, so the accusations were that either no one had done a background check or that the check was faulty. The first story was that his mother worked in the school, then that the shooter, himself, had been a student in the classrooms where he killed those children. Throughout all of this, the assumption was that he was mentally unbalanced. There was a story running around that his mother was about to have him committed and that’s what set off this lunatic killing spree. That guns were simply laying around his mother’s house was all it took to sent him off. All of these assumptions were wrong.

The shooter used the rifle to shoot out the glass beside the locked door and stepped through, completely avoiding the door and rendering the buzz-in system moot. Once inside, there was no physical impediment to reach any room in the building. His mother hadn’t worked there. He, himself, had been a student at the school, but not in the classrooms where he shot and killed those kids. The guns and ammunition were safely and properly stored. His mother’s only mistake was in allowing the shooter to know how to access the safe with the guns. It should be noted that the shooter entered her room while she was asleep and used a .22 caliber rifle to shoot her to death. She likely never saw it coming. That rifle was not taken to the school.

Investigators found that the shooter had spent a great deal of time planning this attack. He kept a list of previous mass-murders. He made sure to bring earplugs with him to avoid an injury to his ears that would have slowed him down or diverted him, somehow. He deliberately damaged his computer’s hard drive to slow any investigation. He removed the GPS system from his car to make sure he couldn’t be tracked if the police were alerted to his mother’s murder sooner than he anticipated. He was most assuredly mentally ill, but he hadn’t simply snapped and gone off on an unthinking, violent outburst.

Reporter and author Emily Miller wrote an article in the Washington Times that details the findings of the report framed in the question of who or what to blame for this shooting. It’s understandable that we seek something to blame. We want to understand why this happened and we want to fix the problem that caused it so it won’t happen again. It’s understandable and even laudable. But it’s not always possible. As important as finding out what, if anything, could have been done to prevent this tragedy is to not lay the blame incorrectly and take action not warranted.

Family of armed thief upset that armed citizen shot their son

An 18-year old man in Mobile, AL, decided to rob a Family Dollar store on November 12th, bringing a gun with him to threaten the store’s employees. While in the middle of the robbery, standing over an employee he had ordered to their knees and hold his gun to their head, a customer who was carrying a concealed handgun entered the store to do some shopping. Seeing the man with a gun to the employee’s head, the armed citizen drew his own gun and told the thief not to move. The thief responded by attempting to swing his gun around onto the citizen who then opened fire, hitting the thief 5 times. Police and paramedics responded, bringing the thief to the hospital where he is recovering.

Pretty cut-and-dry, here. Arming yourself for defensive purposes is usually phrased as “self-defense” but the laws are pretty clear that you are permitted to engage in order to protect your own life or the life of another if the threat against either is immediate and credible. Anyone who argues that a situation where an assailant has ordered someone to kneel down and is holding a firearm against that person’s head doesn’t qualify as an immediate and credible threat against a person’s life is seriously stuck on stupid.

And on that queue, enter the thief’s family:

A family member who did not want to be identified said White should have never been shot to begin with.

“If his (the customer) life was not in danger, if no one had a gun up to him, if no one pointed a gun at him – what gives him the right to think that it’s okay to just shoot someone?” said the relative. “You should have just left the store and went wherever you had to go in your car or whatever.”

Bob Owens of Bearing Arms is pitch perfect:

The thug’s degenerate family blames the man who shot their son, their son’s friends—everybody but their two-time loser son, who was out on bond for a prior robbery when he was shot by the shopper, an act that perhaps saving the employee’s life.

Indeed. What makes it okay to just shoot someone, they ask? The fact that their son decided to point a gun at someone in the commission of a crime, that’s what. Had the kid not been trying to commit armed robbery none of this would have happened. Suggesting that everyone else should simply ignore when their fellow citizens are having their lives threatened by criminals and go happily along with their day rather than holding their family member accountable for his own actions is disgusting, to say the least. The family should be counting their blessings that their son is still alive and, therefore, able to actually mend his ways. He’s got the chance to correct his course in life and still make something positive of himself. I know a few armed citizens that are sufficiently competent in their marksmanship that it wouldn’t be a situation where the criminal was recovering in a hospital after 5 shots.