Thursday, January 28, 2016

Quote(s) of the Day — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (January 20, 2016)

After the recent events near Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, something has been tickling the back of my mind about it, and I finally placed my finger on it.

On January 20, 2016, six days before the deadly "traffic stop", Oregon Governor Kate Brown held a press conference and wrote a couple letters. She had a few things to say.

Via OPR:
"Federal authorities must move quickly to end the occupation and hold all of the wrongdoers accountable," Brown said.

"This spectacle of lawlessness must end."
Also via OPR, in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey [PDF warning]:
[F]or the citizens of Harney County and indeed all Oregonians, I must insist on a swift resolution to this matter. Efforts to negotiate have not been successful, and now it is unclear what steps, if any, federal authorities might take to bring this untenable situation to an end and restore normalcy to this community.

I request on behalf of my fellow Oregonians that you instruct your agencies to end the unlawful occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as safely and quickly as possible.
[emphasis added]
While I won't go so far as to claim that the shooting death of any of the protesters occurred at the behest of Our Honorable Governor, I will point out that the Feds certainly did end the "spectacle of lawlessness", and they certainly are "end[ing] the unlawful occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as safely [for some] and quickly as possible". The claim can be made that they took the request and ran with it.

I hope she's satisfied.

Stay safe.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

BREAKING: Shots Fired Near Malheur County Refuge

One dead, one wounded in "traffic stop" confrontation with FBI and State Police.

I've not reported on the "standoff" at the Malheur County Wildlife Refuge, mostly because there's so much disinformation flying about that it's difficult to tell what's what. For the record, I'm not 100% convinced that the Hammonds are innocent victims of federal overreach (they are victims of overreach, but not totally innocent), nor am I convinced the "militia" — including Ammon and Ryan Bundy — "occupying" a federal facility are completely on the up-and-up. I'm also not convinced the federal agents are acting in good faith to prevent another Ruby Ridge or Waco.

In short, I believe this story is far more complex that anyone realizes, and nobody has all the facts.

So when I report that shots were fired, with one "militia" member killed and one other wounded — and several more arrested — during a "traffic stop" conducted by FBI agents, I urge everyone involved or following along, in the strongest possible terms, not to jump to conclusions until we have actual, verifiable facts. At this point it's not at all clear who fired first — or if the "militia" members even fired at all.

That information will be crucial in the days to come.

Here's what's being reported so far:

Via KATU News: Several of the "militia" leaders — including Ammon Bundy, LaVoy Finicum, Ryan Bundy, Brian Cavalier, Shawna Cox and Ryan W. Payne — were reportedly on their way to a community meeting in John Day (70 miles north of Burns) when they were pulled over on Highway 395 by FBI agents and Oregon State Troopers, shortly before 4:30 pm. During the stop, shots were fired (more on this in a moment), killing LaVoy Finicum. Ryan Bundy was wounded. The men were then placed under arrest (in Ryan Bundy's case, after hospital treatment).

Reports vary on the circumstances precipitating the "shoot-out", and run the gamut from militia members complying with all orders but being shot at anyway to militia members not complying and threatening agents who then took appropriate action.

Via OregonLive:
Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, a vocal supporter of the Bundy family, said that Ammon Bundy told his wife that Finicum had been cooperating with police and had his hands up. Then, Fiore said, Bundy said he watched police shoot Finicum three times.

But sources told The Oregonian/OregonLive that Finicum and Ryan Bundy disobeyed orders to surrender and resisted arrest. Authorities have not detailed what happened.
Again, I can't stress enough that we don't have enough facts to draw conclusions.

In the meantime, let's offer our thoughts and prayers to LaVoy Finicum's friends and family (and he had a very large family). He will, I'm sure, be missed.

For the rest of us, I have the sinking feeling this is just the beginning. Stay aware, stay informed, and above all, stay safe.

Correction: Original post reported the confrontation occurring shortly after 8 pm. That was incorrect, reflecting the time the linked OregonLive article updated. The confrontation actually occurred shortly before 4:30 pm. This post has been updated.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Recent Happenings and Stuff

I tell you, you step out for a while to deal with mundane things like work, family, and holidays (OK, some of those aren't so mundane), and you miss out on sharing some important happenings.

This won't qualify as a "tab-clearing", but I do have a couple things to report and share.

First, there are a couple legislative items in the upcoming "short session" in Oregon. From OFF, we have two anti-gun bills proposed:
  • LC 250 [PDF warning], introduced as a "committee bill" (so nobody's name is on it, though it's suspected perennial anti-gunner Floyd Prozanski wrote it), allows certain persons to call the Oregon State Police Firearms Unit to report a "mental health crisis", causing a 30-day hold on the ability to purchase a firearm. While it's not a full-on "gun violence restraining order", a la California (wherein the police actually seize any guns currently owned), the list of acceptable reporters is pretty long and the conditions pretty loose, with civil immunity for reporters acting "in good faith" and misdemeanor penalties for knowingly making false reports. The identities of such reporters are not released, though, so good luck proving bad faith (or even raising the accusation).
  • LC 263 [now HB 4147 — ed.] [PDF warning], "Prohibits transfer of firearm by dealer or private party if Department of State Police is unable to determine whether recipient is qualified to receive firearm." Translation: No more "default proceeds". If you receive a "delay" during a firearm transfer, there's no transfer until the "delay" is definitively resolved.
Both bills, naturally, invoke the "emergency" clause, so they go into effect immediately. Oregon voters won't be allowed to fix or repeal them for at least two years.

Oregon gun owners, it's time to take action. Call, write, e-mail, visit in person, whatever you can do to help stop these bills.

In other news, Mike Vanderboegh, gun rights and liberty activist, citizen journalist, unofficial founder of the III% movement, and proprietor of the Sipsey Street Irregulars blog, is not long of this earth. His friends are asking that people who receive value from his work over the years (and there has been a lot of work, over a lot of years — among other things, "Operation Fast & Furious" would still be unknown if not for him) make a "gratitude offering" to help him get his final affairs in order and see that his wife, Rosey, is taken care of. More information from David Codrea here. They are also organizing work parties to help get his home and yard in working order, so if you have skills, tools, or even just a good work ethic, and are in the Pinson, Alabama, area, see if you can drop them a line and help out.

This last is not gun-related, or even news, but this particular track has been on my heart quite a bit lately. Maybe our dear readers will find inspiration and/or enjoyment in it as well. I could not for the life of me find an "official" video, but I actually like the imagery in this lyric version:

As always, stay safe.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Philly Brand Terrorism -- and Leadership

            A Philadelphia police officer was ambushed last Thursday night; city official’s reactions were as immediate as they were predictable.
            Officer Jesse Hartnett was sitting in his police cruiser when a young black man in Arab-style clothing walked at him from across the street.  Screaming Allahu Akbar!, the man fired thirteen rounds from a pistol, the last few from within the cruiser’s window. Hartnett was hit three times in his left arm. Bleeding heavily, he was able to chase after his assassin and wound him in the rear, helping make his arrest a certainty. The tenacious officer was admitted to the hospital in critical but stable condition and may have permanent nerve damage in the arm, but he will survive.

            Details started emerging quickly. The failed executioner confessed, saying he acted in the name of Islam. He told detectives "I follow Allah. I pledge my allegiance to the Islamic State, and that's why I did what I did." He shot because he believed the police defend laws that are contrary to the Koran. The attacker had several arrests and a prior felony conviction for assault with a firearm, but was paroled immediately after sentencing. He visited the Middle East several times, without appearing on a watch list. The terrorist turned evasive when asked about any others participating in the crime. Lastly, the weapon used was a police sidearm, stolen from another officer back in 2013.  

Small Man In Big Position
The investigation had barely started when Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney jumped before the news cameras.  With city and police officials staged behind him as props, Kenney stated, “In no way, shape, or form does anyone in this room believe that Islam, or the teaching of Islam, has anything to do with [the shooting of Officer Hartnett]. That claim is absolutely unsupported by what was known then or even now; and it’s likely to be just the opposite. The mayor then further bloviated; “There are too many guns on our streets and I think our national government needs to do something about that.” Even though the gun was actually stolen from the police and used by a terrorist.

          It seems like whatever the problem, the answer is always gun control. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Analysis of Obama's Anti-gun Executive Actions

Tears of a Clown
              As his administration stumbles into its last year, Obama faces a faltering economy, the slow motion train wreck of Obamacare, a growing threat of Jihadi terrorism, his serial failures in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, a resurgent Russia, Chinese hegemony, a nuclear North Korea, and racial tensions at home, to name just a few. Facing all those critical issues, Obama inexplicably chose to focus on his despised bitter-clingers, the nation’s law-abiding gun owners.  

     In Tuesday’s address to the nation, Obama spent 33 minutes in an emotion driven, weepy, deeply narcissistic performance where he mentioned himself 76 times. He proposed a series of anti-gun actions his bureaucracy could take, ignoring the Constitutional process of legislation. It was immediately obvious that NONE of these initiatives could have prevented the mass-killings that drew his crocodile tears. This divisive president once again tried to demonize the gun-lobby, the NRA and the millions of law-abiding gun owners. 

     The White House provided a fact sheet of Obama’s executive actions.  Using that press release along with the transcript of Obama’s address, we’ve analyzed Obama’s thrusts. It should be noted that we are working with Obama’s carefully parsed words. It is a virtual certainty that the administration will twist the words to suit their own ends, and we must opine with that in mind. All of us will have to keep an eye on these initiatives and push back strongly were our Constitutional Rights are threatened. 

1.    Tighten Background Checks

Obama: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is making clear that it doesn’t matter where you conduct your business—from a store, at gun shows, or over the Internet: If you’re in the business of selling firearms, you must get a license and conduct background checks.

Analysis: Obama starts with more than a little bit of feldercarb. If you are in the business of selling guns, as defined by the law, you have a Federal Firearms License (FFL) and every gun you sell, be it offered for sale in a storefront, gun show, or internet, goes through a FBI background check. Period. End of story. There is no gun show loophole. 

    The threat in this executive action is a change of the definition, expanding just who is in the business of selling guns. Is it a guy supplementing his income with a few well considered purchases and sales, a hobbyist buying new guns and selling the old ones, a gun owner liquidating part of his collection to pay the mortgage, or a widow selling her late husband’s extensive collection?  They all could find themselves running afoul of this expanded regulation. In his refusal to provide concrete definition of a gun business, we believe Obama seeks to add even more confusion and uncertainty into the process, demonizing the lawful sale of assets.  We do know the creep selling guns out of the trunk of his car will not be affected in the slightest.

2.    Restrict Trusts and Corporations in the Authorization of Class III purchases.

ATF is finalizing a rule to require background checks for people trying to buy some of the most dangerous weapons and other items through a trust, corporation, or other legal entity.

     In an unproven allegation, Obama stated that violent criminals are trying to buy some of the most the most dangerous firearms by hiding behind trusts and corporations. This cannot be supported by any data. To Obama, the fact that no criminals are queueing up with their 200 dollars to buy short barreled rifles, shotguns or a suppressor is beside the point.  Obama was able to mouth the “most dangerous weapons” description. 

     This change to the regulations has been tried before. Public outrage caused the proposed regulation to be withdrawn.  

3.    Obtain Complete Criminal History From the States

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch has sent a letter to States highlighting the importance of receiving complete criminal history.

If this was an issue, why has it not been addressed in the prior seven years?

4.    Make the Background Check System More Efficient

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is overhauling the background check system to make it more effective and efficient. The envisioned improvements include processing background checks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and improving notification of local authorities when certain prohibited persons unlawfully attempt to buy a gun. The FBI will hire more than 230 additional examiners and other staff to help process these background checks.

     In one of our staff’s experience, almost every one of the electronic background checks is already completed in less than 30 seconds.  It’s difficult to believe that could be significantly improved, especially if you are going to throw more government at it. It already seems to be running 24 hours a day, including government holidays. 

     This may actually make it easier on the smaller FFLs who use the telephone call in method of FBI verification. Especially since the Top Gun Salesman of All Time keeps driving the public to buy more and more guns.

    And congratulations on the notifications to local authorities when there is an unlawful attempt to buy a gun, but why wasn’t this being aggressively pursued already?  Only 44 persons were prosecuted in a prior year. What the hell has your administration been doing Mr. President?

5.    Focus on Smart and Effective Enforcement of Gun Laws

The Attorney General convened a call with U.S. Attorneys around the country to direct federal prosecutors to continue to focus on smart and effective enforcement of our gun laws.

We will soon see the awesome power of the telecom.  Or not.  Under Obama, gun prosecutions have fallen dramatically.

6.    200 More ATF Agents and Investigators

The President’s FY2017 budget will include funding for 200 new ATF agents and investigators to help enforce our gun laws.

    That’s roughly $70 million per year for new agents. In a year that that includes only the last 4 months of the Obama’s administration. We’re going to bet that the House round-files Obama’s suggestion during the budgeting process. 

7.    Already Established Internet Investigation Center and National Integrated Ballist Integrated Information Network (NIBIIN)

ATF has established an Internet Investigation Center to track illegal online firearms trafficking and is dedicating $4 million and additional personnel to enhance the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network.

     IIC and NIBIIN (ick and nibbin’) Those acronyms should say it all. If the bureaucrats don’t have a cool sounding acronym, nobody’s going to pay much attention.  And the few millions authorized won’t even start to fund an effective program in the bloated Federal government. 

8.    Guns Lost and Stolen From FFLs

ATF is finalizing a rule to ensure that dealers who ship firearms notify law enforcement if their guns are lost or stolen.

     The requirement to report firearms lost or stolen in Transit has been an ATF rule for decades. What this order will probably do is create an immediate notification requirement as well as demanding more frequent audits of the FFL’s inventories. These additional burdens will increase costs to the FFLs and their customers, as well as the risks of criminal prosecution for failing the regulations. The BATFE is already infamous for its “Death by a Thousand Cuts” management style. This revision will certainly not help.

9.    Renew Domestic Violence Outreach Efforts

The Attorney General issued a memo encouraging every U.S. Attorney’s Office to renew domestic violence outreach efforts.

     No real way to tell what this means. However, Federal and State governments have been increasing focusing on pre-crime gun rights restrictions. As in trend-setting California, the Feds would like to eliminate gun rights from anyone who could possibly be considered a threat, based on an allegation, without due process or appeal. Welcome to the world of Minority Report.   

10.  Increase Access to Mental Health Care

The Administration is proposing a new $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care.

     This increase is certainly needed and welcome. However, a half a billion won’t make a dent in the mental health needs of Obama, his administration, and the Federal bureaucracy.

     Snark aside, using mental health concerns, which may be biased, overblown or temporary to permanently eliminating 2nd Amendment rights, is an escalating threat.

11. Social Security Issues Eliminating Firearm Rights

The Social Security Administration has indicated that it will begin the rulemaking process to include information in the background check system about beneficiaries who are prohibited from possessing a firearm for mental health reasons.

     This order would allow the Social Security Administration to eliminate firearm rights based on an arbitrary determination of incompetence. A recipient designating another person as having financial responsibility would trigger this notification. Many of our nation’s elderly would be stripped of their firearms just when they are at their most vulnerable. All without due process or the ability to challenge. 

     Obama’s Social Security Administration has already tried this dodge. Public and political outrage forced them to quickly withdraw the proposed rule. This rule should certainly be withdrawn again.  The similar Veteran Administration regulation should also be eliminated. The bureaucratic, unchallengeable, adjudicated elimination of rights should not be allowed to stand.

12. Doctor’s To Report Mental Health Issues to the FBI

The Department of Health and Human Services is finalizing a rule to remove unnecessary legal barriers preventing States from reporting relevant information about people prohibited from possessing a gun for specific mental health reasons.

     This is perhaps the most chilling of all of Obama’s proposals: Doctors would be required to report their suspicions of mental health issues to the FBI. Their patient would then lose his or her 2nd Amendment Rights – forever. With little or no ability to appeal or the right to due process. 

     The executive order has a host of legal, ethical and professional problems. It intrudes on the formally protected Doctor–Patient relationship and confidentially. MDs without the specialized psychiatric training would be forced to make a snap mental health judgements. As doctors under Obamacare are now de-facto employees of the government, they could be coerced to report on the slightest of suspicions, or even be given quotas to meet.  As the doctor’s license, practice, insurance and career could be put in jeopardy if a patient is not reported as mentally ill, they will be incentivized to over-report. Worst of all, because of Big Brother’s presence in the treatment rooms and the draconian gun seizures, some people will hesitate to get the treatment they need.          
     It should be noted that doctors kill 120,000 people each year through errors or malpractice.  That’s more than an order of magnitude more than murders with guns.  Should we actually be banning doctors?  

13.  Conduct or Sponsor Research into Gun Safety Technology

The President has directed the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security to conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology.

The Progressive fantasy of smart-gun technology rears its ugly head again. Obama even compared this fanciful technology to the fingerprint readers on smart phones.  Considering that phones are treated a lot more gently than guns – and the fingerprint readers don’t work all that well – that is a very poor comparison. 

And given that the government will likely require a disabling backdoor to be installed in the software, this is an extremely blatant assault on the 2nd Amendment. This proposal could only come from someone used to being protected by guards with hair triggers.   

14. Regular reviews of Smart Gun technology

The President has also directed the departments to review the availability of smart gun technology on a regular basis, and to explore potential ways to further its use and development to more broadly improve gun safety.

     In his address, Obama also called for tracking devices to be placed in guns.  Hundreds of people, including two American law-enforcement agents, could be alive if those devices only been added to the guns Obama and Eric Holder sold to the Mexican drug cartels. Giving the government the ability to determine where the guns are – well, that couldn’t possibly go wrong… right? 

   Obama also called for child resistant triggers. This laughable goal is one more indication of just how far the man’s thinking differs from average American and the Founding Fathers. He certainly would not want child resistant triggers on the guns that protect him.

15. Congress Called to Support the President’s Demands

Congress should support the President’s request for resources for 200 new ATF agents and investigators to help enforce our gun laws, as well as a new $500 million investment to address mental health issues.

     Hopefully, the Congress will be in no mood to support these dangerous fantasies.

16. Urge manufacturers, retailers, and other private-sector leaders to explore what more they can do.

Because we all must do our part to keep our communities safe, the Administration is also calling on States and local governments to do all they can to keep guns out of the wrong hands and reduce gun violence. It is also calling on private-sector leaders to follow the lead of other businesses that have taken voluntary steps to make it harder for dangerous individuals to get their hands on a gun. In the coming weeks, the Administration will engage with manufacturers, retailers, and other private-sector leaders to explore what more they can do.

     This last pronouncement is a reminder of the power of the government’s iron fist in the velvet glove. The Obama administration has been very active in using the coercive power of the government to affect their goals. Actions like Operation Choke Point have hampered lawful activities that the administration found objectionable. This type of extra-legal coercion should be called out and resisted.   

By our count, that’s 16 anti-gun initiatives. None of them would address the problem of terrorism the homeland soil, none of them would have prevented the mass killings of the past, none of them would actually reduce crime. All of them demonize the law-abiding gun owners who are more of the solution than part of the problem. Obama should be called out for his feckless, divisive assault on the Constitutional rights of America’s citizens.  Mr President, we demand you focus on the issue that actually threatening this nation, and stop trying to eliminate the Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.