Gun Grabbing Fails

The Democrats filibustered the Senate until they got a vote on four gun control measures yesterday. All four failed:

Senators couldn’t muster enough bipartisan support to pass a series of gun control measures Monday, the latest in a long string of failed attempts at enacting tighter curbs on firearms in the United States.

Spurred by the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, senators from each party introduced the measures they said would have strengthened background checks and prevented suspected terrorists from obtaining weapons.

But tough election year politics, paired with disputes over the effectiveness of each party’s ideas, proved too powerful to break the longstanding partisan gridlock that’s surrounded gun issues for years.

The result was expected. A fifth option, set to be introduced and voted upon as early as Tuesday by moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins, has generated more optimism, but still faces long odds at passage.

Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat who sponsored one of the failed measures expanding background checks, reacted angrily after his provision was defeated.

“I’m mortified by today’s vote but I’m not surprised by it,” Murphy said Monday evening. “The NRA has a vice-like grip on this place.”

No, it really doesn’t. What has a grip on Congress is a fleeting minimal respect for due process of law. It wasn’t just the NRA that opposed this. The ACLU vehemently opposed it because the ACLU, unlike the Democrats, sees the danger in restricting basic civil liberties for “potential terrorists” through secret and nebulous FBI criteria.

The Collins bill is a little better in that it would only use the “no-fly” list. But even that list is secretive, vague and almost impossible to challenge. The Democrats know this because they’ve been complaining about that list for years. What’s more, they exposed those years of complaining as political opportunism, not genuine concern about civil liberties. Provisions were offered to reform the terror watch list, to make the process more transparent and to make it easier for people to challenge their placement on the list. The Democrats refused because they really don’t want a gun control law as much as they want a gun control issue for the election.

Remember when not compromising to get legislation passed was a sign of evil Republican unreasonableness and partisanship? Good times.

And just in case you thought the Democrats were the voice of reason here:

If I said opposing the Patriot Act empowered terrorists or opposing torture empowered terrorists or closing Gitmo empowered terrorists or ending mass surveillance empowered terrorists, Democrats would have a fit. But apparently it’s OK to say your opponents are terrorists when it’s gun control.

It’s kind of amazing the philosophical flim-flam the Democrats have pulled off here. As Lucy Steigerwald pointed on Twitter, passing gun laws is now considered an apolitical act, just “common sense”. The only people who “play politics” are those who oppose such laws.

The Anti-Gun Arguments Get Stupider

I’ve been pro-second amendment as long as I can remember. My dad owned guns. Most of the people I knew growing up either owned a gun or hunted. I try to engage the anti-gun arguments but I know I come at it from a bias: it didn’t occur to me until a relatively late age that there were people who wanted to rid our society of guns.

But as Americans continues to stock up on guns and gun violence continues to fall, the arguments of the anti-gun crowd are getting weaker and weaker. Samanatha Bee ran a bit on her show, demonstrating — to our supposed horror — that it’s easier to get a gun than to obtain a NRA mascot costume (although they didn’t actually buy any guns). Charles Cooke:

There are disagreements in politics. And then there is willful stupidity. This, alas, is an example of the latter. “Eddie the Eagle” is a private, trademarked, fictional character owned by an organization that is able to restrict his replication as much as it wishes. Firearms, by contrast, are constitutionally protected goods that cannot be denied to free people without good cause. Of course it is easier to get hold of one than the other. To buy a gun one needs to be of a certain age and to be without a criminal record; to obtain an “Eddie the Eagle” costume one needs to meet whatever conditions the character’s owners have imposed. One might as well ask why it is easier for a person to buy a machete than to take Jennifer Lawrence out for dinner. “But one is nicer than the other; surely that counts for something?!”

You can imagine, of course, how the Left Wing idiots praising Bee’s skit would react if Glenn Beck showed it was easier to get an abortion than to adopt a child. Some things are harder to do than others. This does not convey any kind of social commentary.

It is notable that when Bee finally compares like with like — that is, when both of the products within her comparison are available on the open market — she has to resort to debunked lies. “It turned out the organization that makes it easier to get a gun than Sudafed . . .” Bee claims at one point. This is false. In truth, both guns and Sudafed are regulated in all 50 states when they are purchased from a professional dealer. Moreover, as anybody who has bought both knows, it is infinitely easier to buy Sudafed from a pharmacy than to buy a gun from a dealer, and easier, too, to buy Sudafed from a secondary seller than it is to buy a gun privately.

I haven’t watched Bee’s show because I don’t watch much TV. I liked her on The Daily Show but the clips that show up in my social media are of a piece with this: condescending, incorrect and more smarmy than they are insightful. And liberals seem to love it. She had a recent bit responding to Rubio’s comment that some Democrats support abortion up until birth, saying, “Removing the baby on the due date isn’t an abortion, it’s a cesarean.” No, it isn’t.

The diaspora of Daily Show correspondents has been a mixed bag. John Oliver’s show is pretty good (and tackles issues that are in the libertarian wheelhouse, like asset forfeiture). Colbert’s show is OK. Whitmore’s show is OK at times. Bee’s show, from what little I’ve seen, mainly appeals to liberals who want more sass than fact. The Daily Show itself is struggling. Trevor Noah isn’t a bad host but he lacks Stuarts’ skill in making both sides laugh.

Well … it could be worse. We could be seeing this bullshit from a “real” news organization.

Update: A lot of the anti-gun foolishness these days is a result of desperation. The gun grabbers have lost the argument and keep losing it. Every time someone is hot, they try to milk the tragedy for more gun laws and it simply doesn’t happen.

How desperate are they? Well, the Brady Campaign has gotten shooting Alice in Wonderland in the face desperate.

Update: Oh. Guns are now racist as well.

SCOTUS Second Amendment Smackdown

One of the more ridiculous argument used by anti-Second-Amendment types goeth thusly: “OK, the second amendment gives you the right to bear arms … as defined in 1789. So you can have a musket.”

The idiocy of this argument scarcely needs commenting on. No one would claim the First and Fourth Amendments didn’t apply to computers since computers didn’t exist in 1789. No one would claim Mormons can’t have religious freedom because the LDS church didn’t exist in 1789. And yet this argument has been dragged out from time to time. And a Massachusetts Court gave some credence to that argument:

Enter Jaime Caetano, a Massachusetts woman who had obtained a restraining order against an abusive ex-partner and carried a stun gun for self-protection. When police discovered the weapon in her purse, she was convicted of violating the state’s ban on stun guns. She appealed, contending that the ban violated the Constitution’s right to bear arms. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled against her, declaring that stuns guns were not in existence when the Second Amendment was written.

So how did the Court take to this argument? Very poorly. They rejected it per curiam in scathing terms with Alito and Thomas issuing a concurring opinion. To be clear: they didn’t decide that the stun gun ban is unconstitutional; they simply sent it back to the Supreme Judicial Court with a note saying, “Think harder, Massholes.”

Again, per curiam, which means the “musket gambit” is so silly, even the liberals on the Court who voted against Heller thought it was a ridiculous argument.

Because … you know … it is a ridiculous argument. It might make for good cheer lines on The Daily Show/Full Frontal/SNL/Real Time. But it won’t hold a thimble of water in a Court.

Clearing out the Tabs

A few things I don’t have time for a full post on:

Talking Turkey

Query: am I the only person in American who doesn’t have shouting political discussions at Thanksgiving? Passover, sure. When I was a kid, it wasn’t a real Passover until my Reagan Republican dad and his Roosevelt Democrat parents started talking about whether Walter Mondale was an idiot, a kook or a kooky idiot. But Thanksgiving?

The reason I ask this is that every liberal outlet on the planet is putting up some thinkpiece about “how to argue with your conservative relatives at Thanksgiving”. I’ve got news for liberals. If you’re constantly arguing politics over turkey, the problem is not them; it’s you.

Talking Turkeyshit

As you know, I’m in favor of admitting Syrian refugees, given proper vetting. But my own side is beginning to annoy the crap out of me with ever more ridiculous arguments. Viz:

Guns, Guns, Guns:

The Democrats have proposed that we ban gun sales to people who are on the terror watch list. Charles CW Cooke responds, pointing out that the terror list is an ad-hoc conglomeration of data, rumor and myth. No less than the ACLU oppose using it for … anything. There are hundreds of thousands of people on it for arbitrary or unknown reasons. And it’s hard to get off of it. And now the Democrats want to deprive citizens of a constitutional right based one it.

In times past, officials advocating the simultaneous undermining of a range of constitutional rights would have been tarred, feathered, and dumped into the sea, along with their staff, their press agents, and anyone else who saw fit to acquiesce in the scheme. A little of that spirit might be welcome here.

However the press might cast it, there are not in fact “two sides” to this issue. It is not a “tricky question.” It is not a “thorny one” or a “gray area” or a “difficult choice.” It is tyranny. Somewhere, deep down, its advocates must know this. Presumably, Chuck Schumer would not submit that those on a terror watch list should be deprived of their right to speak? Presumably, Harry Reid would not contend that they must be kept away from their mosques? Presumably, Diane Feinstein would not argue that they should be subjected to warrantless searches and seizures? Such proposals would properly be considered disgraceful — perhaps, even, as an overture to American fascism. Alas, there is something about guns that causes otherwise reasonable people to lose their minds.

As Cooke points out, people would go ape if we talked about suspending first Amendment rights for a million people because their name is on a list. The problem is that Democrats don’t see the Second Amendment as a fundamental civil liberty.

You should read the whole thing. It’a an awesome rant.

(And I’m working on Turkeys and Drumsticks post. A lot of Turkeys this year. Hard to sort them out.)

Carson, Weapons and Jews

Ben Carson in talking about gun control, claimed that Hitler disarmed the Jews and that this made their extermination easier. The Left promptly lost its shit. The Anti-Defamation League, usually a bit more circumspect, also criticized him for the comments.

A few things. First, Carson is wrong on some of the substance. Germany, and many other countries, were largely disarmed well before the Nazis took power. While it’s true that Jews were specifically forbidden from having any weapons, I don’t think this was the deciding factor in their destruction (as attested by the Germans ruthlessly crushing armed rebellions — Jewish and non-Jewish — during the war). Furthermore, with genocides in general — and with the Holocaust in particular — there is a tendency for people to not believe what’s happening. The Jews of Europe had been through many centuries of oppression and firmly believed that being compliant would keep them from getting killed. Acts of armed resistance were met with immediate and massive reprisals and they thought that compliance would prevent those reprisals. They underestimated the evil of the man they were dealing with.

That having been said … I really don’t understand why Carson’s comments have drawn so much fire. Are we really going to debate whether an armed populace is easier to oppress than an unarmed one? Charles Cooke:

Whether Carson is right or wrong in his central claim is entirely irrelevant to the more important question here, which is not “can armed people always overthrow a tyrannical government” but “does the government get to deny them the chance to try?” The right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, not a collective privilege, and individual rights do not need to be justified on practical grounds. Just as we would not deny free speech to a man simply because he seemed unlikely to win a given argument, we must not abandon our auxiliary self-defense rights on the basis that the odds might be stacked against the little guy. I’m a staunch defender of the right to keep and bear arms because I have an untouchable Lockean right to protect myself, not because I can prove definitively that I will never be outgunned. Would I necessarily win in a fight against a home intruder? No, I would not. Would I necessarily survive if the government or the police wanted me dead? No, I would not. But I will assert my unalienable right to try against any man at any time in any place, and those who hope to strip me of that chance can man up, head to my front door, and come and damn well take it.

The Jews in Europe eventually did resist, of course. And with a handful of weapons, a few hundred fighters and some makeshift explosives, they made things very difficult for the Nazis. Might things have turned out differently had there been a gun culture in Eastern Europe and maybe a few more weapons available? David Kopel thinks it’s at least worth considering:

In 1967, the International Society for the Prevention of Crime held a Congress in Paris on the prevention of genocide. The Congress concluded that “defensive measures are the most effective means for the prevention of genocide. Not all aggression is criminal. A defense reaction is for the human race what the wind is for navigation — the result depends on the direction. The most moral violence is that used in legitimate self-defense, the most sacred judicial institution.” [V.V. Stanciu, “Reflections on the Congress for the Prevention of Genocide,” in Yad Vashem Studies on the European Jewish Catastrophe and Resistance, vol. 7, ed., Livia Rothkirchen (Jerusalem, Israel: Yad Vashem, 1968), p. 187.]

I think Carson is arguably wrong on this specific point. But he is right on the general point. An armed populace is far more difficult for a tyrant to control, to oppress, to ethnically cleanse and ultimately to murder. Maybe you can argue that we don’t have to worry about that anymore. Maybe you can argue we’re already armed enough to resist tyranny. Maybe you can argue we wouldn’t have a chance. The anti-gun Left has a tendency to argue all three simultaneously.

But I really don’t see the larger argument. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising ultimately failed. Many resistance movements do. But wasn’t that better than no resistance at all? Wouldn’t a few more weapons in a few more hands have been even better than that? What is the point here? I’m honestly confounded.