Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Zumbo, backlash, hunting, and rights

Let's all relax about the Zumbo affair a little. A great deal of what Zumbo has said has been represented poorly by both sides, so let's break it down a bit. There are five issues that I think we need to look at within the scope of this issue.

1) Terrorist Rifles:
Zumbo did refer to AR-15 as "terrorist rifles." Now, I know that guns haven't been a popular rights issue for Democrats or the left. However, over the last few years, we have had zero tolerance for the hard-leaning conservatives who have claimed that we're giving aid and comfort to our enemies or terrorists because we question the current administration's policies in Iraq. We backlashed as hard as we could when a senior defense official called for corporations to stop supporting or employing attorneys who do pro bono work for Guantanamo detainees. We (as a group) have upon occasion called for peoples' firing or resignation during these times.

So, I think we have created for ourselves a bit of a double standard here. Many anti-gun Democrats have such a knee jerk reaction to the bad old National Rifle Association, that anything they do is immediately bad. The NRA and the "gun nuts" ruined some poor guy for directly implying that they were terrorists. However, referring to someone as a terrorist for these so-called "assault rifles" is pretty bad. I'm not usually one to cast a big stone, and I don't think Zumbo should have been ruined for this, but when we see someone referring to an American Citizen as a terrorist for using their First Amendment rights, we're appalled. We call for resignations, firings, angst and anger, sound and fury, boycotts and sit-ins, marches on the Mall. But when someone exercises a right that Democrats (myself and many NOT included) don't necessarily agree with, we call the people who do fight back "gun nuts" and certainly worse.

Let's add a premise: Exercising and defending ANY of our Constitutional Rights and Rights enumerated in the Amendments and Bill of Rights should be defended by all. We all support the ACLU when they defend the KKK's right to assemble. Likewise, we should support people who exercise their Second Amendment rights, even when we do not.

Now, I'm usually loathe to discuss in such public forums my own beliefs and actions. This is only my second blog post, and it makes me nervous. I personally, own an AR-15 rifle (for those interested, it's a Colt 6920, pretty much stock except for a Knights RAS). And I do take exception to being labeled a terrorist. I'm one of those who believes that the Second Amendment is an individual right, that self defense is also an important right, and that the very existence of the Second Amendment is an important check against tyranny; even more so with the erosion of rights we've witnessed in our lifetimes (please note, I am not in any way advocating violence). I’ve never been arrested, nor do I hunt, and I don’t want to do either. The hunters among us can chime in. Besides that, I am neither criminal nor terrorist. While we bristle at the thought of people trampling our First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights through legislation or implication of some sort of treason, so too should we bristle when others are painted the same way for their beliefs in rights also codified in our Federal and State Constitutions.


2) Hunting and the Second Amendment: Let's get this straight: Hunting has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. One's right to own a certain type of firearm should not be tied to whether or not you hunt, where you hunt, or what type of animals you hunt. The Second Amendment is about defense of the nation, a check against tyranny, and peoples' rights to own firearms in support of those ideals (Please note that I say in support of, not subject to). It's not a state right, it's not (in my opinion) a collective right, it's a right guaranteed. Further, many states have self defense as part of that right in their own constitutions.

So let us not pretend that limiting the right to own firearms because they are suited to hunting doesn't by definition reduce the rights of the people. Even if you are against guns, it is an unarguable fact that limiting gun ownership reduces a right that exists today. Let's not try oblique ways to limit rights. As Zak J. recently said (along with a lot of others throughout our history), rights should always be interpreted expansively, and the burden of proof for limiting rights should be on those who seek to do so. That proof should be overwhelmingly compelling, and it should make its case without attempts at oblique arguments.

3) The NRA: The NRA is, for better or worse, perceived as a bastion of the far right. That's unfortunate. It does occasionally, do good things in defense of our liberties. The ACLU seems to have forgotten the Second Amendment while it defends the rest, so someone needs to do it. I'm not sure that the NRA has always been well managed, well thought of, or particularly magnanimous in reaching out to all for education. In essence though, it is defending an important right (at least important to some 40-80 million people). Our knee-jerk reactions should not be, "Oh the NRA's in this one? Well then I'm against it." This is equally true for the “right” when it discusses the ACLU. I personally am a member of neither at the moment. I want to be a member of both, but the fact that the ACLU ignores one important right and the fact that the NRA has been mismanaged have kept me out of both. I hope that soon I can be convinced to join both, because in theory, they are important bastions in the check against government's encroachment on our rights.

4) Lessons learned: If there is one thing that this instance can show, it's that guns and the Second Amendment are an incredibly important issue to a lot of people. It's slowly becoming a third rail of politics. While some argue that it's another reason to dismiss gun owners as crazy and irrational, it's not. If anything, it shows that guns should be left off the Democratic legislative agenda (as I stated in a previous post) and that we might even have a little bit of a double standard.

5) What about Zumbo?
I don't think Zumbo should have been ruined for his comment. I think he made a mistake, and even a pretty big one. But I think he's going to learn from it. Pat Rogers, ex-Marine and NYPD Sergeant in the Counter Terrorism business, has invited Zumbo to EAGTactical's Carbine Operators course, and Zumbo has apparently accepted. I think we should offer Zumbo the benefit of the doubt. Let's see what comes of his new education, and maybe, just maybe, we'll have another well-respected advocate in our community.

Friday, February 23, 2007

First Quarterly Gun Owners Caucus Meeting

The Gun Owners, Rural, Faith, and GLBT Caucuses will meet at the next SCC Meeting. Details are as follows:

TIME: 9:30 to 11 AM, March 10, 2007

LOCATION: Chemeketa Community College, Salem, OR

Driving directions: http://www.chemeketa.edu/aboutus/locations/salem/direction.html

The DPO has a number of meeting rooms reserved at Chemeketa Community College on March 10th prior to the SCC meeting. (Credentialing for the SCC begins at noon; the general SCC meeting starts at 12:30 PM.) Here is a tentative list to clarify who has which room and the timing of the room reservations:

  • Bldg. 3, Room 118 – Rural Caucus: 9:30 – 11:00 am
  • Bldg. 3, Room 119 – Gun Owners Caucus: 9:30 – 11:00 am
  • Bldg. 3, Room 120 – Faith Caucus: 9:30 – 11:00 am
  • Bldg. 3, Room 269 – GLBT Caucus: 9:30 – 11:00 am
  • Bldg. 6, Room 125 – 2nd Congressional District: 10:00 am – noon
  • 5th Congressional District – TBD
These rooms & times are subject to change--watch this space for further updates!

AGENDA ITEMS:
  1. Recruiting Gun Owners Caucus members, new and old, to serve as PCPs or in other county-level party positions
  2. Union membership outreach strategies
  3. Post further agenda items in Comments of this post, or forward them to: GunOwnersChair@DPO.org
Thanks. I hope you can plan to attend.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Chaparral "Winchester Model 1873 in .45 Colt-Cowboy Action




***Cross posted from Chuck for ...***


This is a 22 inch octagonal barrel rifle in .45 Colt, Charter Arms and Chaparral Arms joined together in this production. It is an historically accurate reproduction of the Model 1873 Winchester lever action saddle gun with case hardened receiver and butt plate, brass case lifter and brass front blade sight. The rifle being an accurate reproduction does not utilize modern "safes." The hammer down rests on the firing pin and half-cock can be overridden with a blow, therefor it should not be carried with an unspent round in the chamber.

The rifle was designed for the black powder .45 Colt cartridge and is unsuited to higher power smokeless cartridges.The lever incorporates a trigger locking pin which disables the trigger unless the lever is closed to the stock, requiring pressure. When the hammer is in half cock the trigger is also disabled. These safeties are of modest utility in preventing accidental discharge.

The receiver has a dust cover which can be manually closed to keep dust and debris from the receiver, it is opened by either drawing it back with fingers or opening the lever. At the rear of the lever is a toggle for locking the lever against the stock.

It is available in the following calibers: WCF 38-40, WCF 44-40, .45 Colt, .357, and .44 Special. Because this is a tubular magazine rifle only flat nose or soft lead round nose ammunition should be used.The rifle is considered unserviceable by the consumer and there is no exploded drawing with the manual. It is warranted for one year. The rifle is quite pretty, fit and finish is outstanding and it fairly comfortable to shoulder. You can expect to pay close to $900 for this gun. The 1873 Winchester is a popular Cowboy Action Shooting rifle, which is my intended use for it.

Short 2nd Amendment Analysis

To begin, I need to move to the beginning and that would be England and King John and Magna Charta. This was an historic document for a reason seldom mentioned, this forced a King, whose rule was derived from Divine Right to acknowledge rights that preceded and surpassed his. You must take this course if you follow the logic of the proposal that King John could not act outside the Charter despite his claim to rule with God's approval, thusly if there is something that the King is prohibited there must be a countervailing authority. This line of reasoning was minimized in the interests of feudal rule, but still existed.

There followed of course the development of Common Law and restrictions on feudal authority until finally the English Parliamentary form was achieved in nearly its modern form. The American Revolution was built on the foundation of that form but took new directions and further extensions of a neglected reasoning.

You have to look at the Declaration of Independence as the model for what later became the national charter, ie: Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Declaration set out the principles of the Revolt; these were several but for our narrow discussion the existence of Rights outside government, which pre-exist and pre-empt governmental law and the absolute right of the People to change their government, by force.

The Bill of Rights was found to be necessary by the framers not due to shortcomings of the Constitution but the inherent shortcomings of government of any sort; that unless certain Rights were noted as guaranteed not granted by government that they would inevitably be infringed. If you look at the BOR in the light of preeminent rights you will see that the Amendment follow the natural course of human behavior, that people will speak their minds, associate, have gods, arm themselves, wish to be secure in their homes, etc. In the Declaration these Rights are attributed to the Creator's design.

When we talk about the 2nd these concepts are its basis, that the right to arms is natural and irrevocable and that the people have recourse to force regarding their government. The wording of the Second becomes very important, and particularly in regard to its meaning in 18th Century America.

"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

"well regulated" in the terminology applied to the military and militia meant "well turned out" and "fully equipped" it did not have the current "ruled" - "regulatory" meaning typical today.
The militia was any able bodied free male (white in cases) etc, in today's world all citizens. The militia specifically was not the organized military, it was the citizenry.

This moves us to a section frequently misused and improperly defined, "a free state," any understanding of the term that uses it to signify a governmental body is deliberately misusing English. These were highly literate and very careful authors, they said exactly what they meant to say, a free state - an indefinite article and no capitalization during a period of "over capitalization." This is of huge significance when the dependent clause "A well...state," is applied to the independent clause "the right..." because the operative noun in the independent clause is the "people." The entire dependent clause is referential to "the people." It is a "free state" of the people, it is a militia of the people, it is a guarantee that the people will have the ability to secure that free state through an un-infringed right to keep and bear arms. It probably is not necessary for this discussion to go through the definitions of arms applicable at the time, other than to note that they would be carried by a single individual, cannons, etc are precluded.

This is the starting point of ANY discussion of the Second, the beginning and its meaning. As with all rights they are not absolute in their application, famously, shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater. This recognition is one of universal inevitable disastrous outcome with no countervailing value to the individual or people. Fully automatic weapons due to their "spray and pray" characteristics virtually guarantee problems with general availability. Sawed-off shotguns are a fact of law, I believe probably challengeable, but of questionable value to challenge. Their military function is undeniable, their value in self-defense is undeniable, their use in criminal endeavors is minimal. There is little chance of change in that regard and frankly other than as a matter of principle I see little point in pursuing it. Side arms and long guns are of universal military application so we'll stay there.

What about NY,NY? The Fourteenth Amendment clearly imposes the Rights of the Constitution on all jurisdictions. There are no exemptions or exclusions, so the 2nd applies in all cases in all places. (with regard to the "Fire" exceptions-courthouses, etc) NY, NY & DC, et al claim this exception, the problem is that they cannot prove it. They have made the emotional appeal to security and safety without regard to logic or facts. Those laws are blatantly un-Constitutional and unevenly applied - ie: wealth, power, & influence determine the outcome. Concealment of weapons without some sort of permitting process, legitimizing the practice, will have the catastrophic outcomes noted above, law enforcement and the general citizenry should have knowledge of armament in general terms or the security that such carry is approved of by the state. However, such permitting must be evenly applied and restrictive only in regards to lawfulness of usage, not wealth and influence. This applies to "instant background check," the check is that those who have abrogated their rights are not attempting to exercise such. The reason it is IBC is that any other process is an infringement; it is an attempt to unlawfully deny ownership to those lawfully entitled to such.

I'm sure I've left questions unanswered or raised some unaddressed. Huge volumes have been written on this subject, for instance the DOJ's analysis of the 2nd as an individual right vs collective runs over 100 pages with annotations. I've taken a shot at the whole thing in 2pgs.

Comments?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Gun Owners Caucus Gets a Page on the DPO

The Democratic Party of Oregon website has a new look. Check them out over at:

http://www.oregondemocrats.org/

You can read the DPO platform, by-laws, and other documents of interest. And while you're browsing over there, click on the menu for "Communities." One of the communities listed there is Democratic Gun Owners, our caucus:

http://www.oregondemocrats.org/gun_owners

They tell me an automated sign-up is in the works.