Nov 29, 2011

Gura, brain dump

As mentioned, I went to hear Alan Gura speak at the Federalist Society meeting here tonight. Turnout was sparse, to say the least (liberal university, in a liberal town, hosted in the law school, two weeks before finals) but Alan didn't seem fazed in the least.

Time flew listening to that man speak. I scribbled notes as I could and filled up a full 8.5x11 page with my chicken scratch. I'm mostly transcribing that here and will fill in as best I can. Anything in quotes is as close to a direct quote as I can come.
Many comments have been made that the Heller and McDonald decisions were vague and provided no real interpretation for further 2A cases. Alan (AG) disagrees and believes the decisions were well thought out and provide plenty of guidance and potential for future decisions.

There are several points upon which suits may be based:
1) A ban on functional firearms.
(Which is what was overturned by the Heller decision.) If there is a right to keep and bear arms, the right clearly means *functional* firearms. (Massachusetts, I'm looking at you here.) AG made a point of saying, "Yes, you could own a shotgun, rifle, etc, but it had to be secured or disassembled, so if someone broke into your house you could ... what, club them with it?"

The main purpose of the Second Amendment is self defense. AG did NOT specify defense from whom, however.

Post-McDonald, Chicago implemented a ban on accessing or operating a firing range within the city. This was litigated against and overturned in the 7th Circuit, as Chicago requires firearm training in order to receive a firearms permit, but then made receiving that training effectively illegal.

2) Categorical ban on types of arms.
The Second Amendment specifies "arms", not "firearms", and therefore many types of arms are affected - AG mentions knives, clubs, and nunchuks, specifically. (Apparently there is a case pending in NYC regarding nunchuks.)

Part of the Heller decision noted that handguns were commonly used in crimes as well as for self defense. The court noted that the potential for criminal use was irrelevant to the rights of the public.

AG mentioned the "common use" doctrine along with the possibility for new technology; if a new technology is developed and quickly banned it can't become "commonly used". AG notes that this would be analogous to a 4th Amendment expectation of privacy; an item can't effectively be banned during development [haha, says the ATF - Z.] and thus may enter common use before further restrictions can be written.

California has a case pending along these lines regarding the "approved handgun rosters" (MA, you again!) and the idea that it is not the legislature's place to determine what's acceptable and what isn't. Case in point, the "Assault Weapon" Ban in effect in several states, which bans firearms based on primarily aesthetic features.

Ref AWB - "Heller 2" is still pending, the circuit court upheld the ban based on the fact that there are "other suitable firearms" available that don't violate the ban. AG's argument is that this "balancing act" is pointless and fallacious. [I didn't totally follow at this point, he referenced a few things I'm not familiar with and didn't scribble down. - Z]

(Side note to self - look up Wilson v. Cook County, IL for info.)

3) CCW.
Three (four) methods of handling this so far: constitutional, shall-issue, and may-issue (and IL, no-issue). AG acknowledges that states have the right to place restrictions on carry; e.g. bars, restaurants, schools, etc.
May issue: "This type of law is doomed." AG believes it indicates prior restraint. A right may be licensed but requires consistent objective standards, which may-issue does not have. [In NY it's at the county judge level, and his personal politics enter into it. - Z.]

RKBA means outside the home. Court has confirmed that the Second Amendment (and all the others) must be interpreted using their original common understanding. "Bear" means "carry". Not in your own house, but out and about.

Interestingly, there was no argument in Heller's case (from Heller/Gura) about carrying in public - but DC argued against it, and lost. If DC hadn't argued against it, the court wouldn't have had to express an opinion.

However, if there is carry in public, the laws about "sensitive places" and banning carry therein are presumptively lawful; but there's a corollary to that: if sensitive places are forbidden, then non-sensitive places must be OK.

Historically speaking, a ban on CCW was accepted because it only proscribed one manner of carry: concealed. It was seen as the method of less-savory individuals, and a gentleman wouldn't hide his arm. Modern society has reversed this and the state has the authority to define the method of carry (open/concealed) but may not completely ban carry. Obviously, CCW is the currently-preferred method from that standpoint.

4) "Catch-all"/"Construction Zone"
Suits where constitutional interpretation may not provide a resolution. First and Second Amendment have similarities in this area. Suits with lower standing (e.g., domestic violence and firearms possession, felon-in-possession, etc) will likely receive a lower level of scrutiny but still require the government to prove their case. Better standing leads to stricter scrutiny. AG mentions a case in the 7th Circuit, Azell (sp?).

Alan opened the floor for discussion at this point, after 35-40 minutes of talking.

Q: does the 2A have to play catch-up to modern society as technology improves?
AG: No. 2A (and the rest) are not stagnant. 1A and 4A have kept pace with technology, to cover broadcast, cars, electronic media, etc.

Q: Brown v. EMA (sp?) and government control of ideas - could this have any bearing on 2A issues?
AG: Possibly. Reference range ban in Chicago, which was clearly gratuitous with no study or supporting evidence. "We're not trying to show malice on the part of the government. We're not litigating over the state of mind of the legislators, only that they exercise lawful authority."

Q: Question about choosing plaintiffs and suits to pursue.
AG: Not easy, many things factor in. However, "no one is more arrogant or reckless than a pro se individual, [... and] they are probably the biggest threat we have in the 2A community".

Q: ref Kachalsky v. Westchester.
AG: Appeal brief filed with Circuit court early this month, government brief due in February.

Q: Why/how did you choose 2A law?
AG: I've always had a strong personal belief in the Second Amendment, and while I was in DC I got a call from Bob Levy that they needed a litigator for a case. Went from there.

Aside from AG: Not sure we'd ratify ANY of the Bill of Rights in today's society, but the framers left us an excellent document to work from.
AG: Palmer v. DC still pending decision (manner of carry in DC).

I asked if he had any hopes/desires/plans for the Hughes Amendment and/or GCA68, and the answer was a very blunt, "No." Alan did elaborate then, however: there are bigger fish to fry, and that'd be an uphill battle. He has suits for people that simply want to own a handgun, which is a much easier and clear-cut case to win.  "Why waste time making bad law?" Alan is sorry some of the MG fans feel like they're being ignored or "thrown under the bus", but that's his choice as a litigator - and his job is to win cases.

This is a point of view I agree with: baby steps. Let's get everyone to legal carry first, then we can worry about dismantling GCA, NFA, Hughes, etc.
The whole thing ran just over an hour, and RollsCanardly and I got our picture taken with Alan just because. I'll drop that up here sometime soon. Epic night.

Mr. Gura, I presume?

In a room with Alan Gura and RollsCanardly. No live blogging, but I'll take notes.

Nov 25, 2011

Car Geekery

I'm not a gear-head. Never have been. Someone starts talking about swapping rings and ratios and my eyes glaze over, I start nodding, looking for an exit, or trying to change the topic. That said, I developed more of a taste for cars when I was selling them.

And this little piece from BRM really gets me going...
Starting from cold entails letting the engine spin with the ignition off to get the vital fluids circulating (64 litres of coolant, 57 of lubricant for the engine, 16 for the gearbox). Then flick the twin magneto switches (ex-Lancaster) and push the starter button (ex-Spitfire).

A V-12 aircraft-based motor turning 660bhp, that requires a step-up gearbox to get the power to the wheels in a usable form? Estimated top speed of 160mph - because there's a rev limiter on the motor that keeps it under 2,000rpm? Body work and appointments that scream "mid-1900s luxury"?

Yeah, I dig that.

Nov 19, 2011


It's no secret that I'm a fan of Smith & Wesson guns. I own several of their handguns - both wheelies and bottomfeeders - and they've all been great guns. (Aside from the zit one one of them, but that's cosmetic.)

They consistently do things right.

Case in point:
The M&P 15 "Sport" (SKU 811036 or ban-compliant 811037): a major-manufacturer 16" flat-top AR-pattern rifle in 5.56x45, with a list price of $739. Right now they're still on allocation but street prices I've seen are in the $650-675 range. Much as I like the lego factor and building an AR, if you're not looking for a moderately obscure setup, this is a *smoking* deal for a quality rifle. Seriously.

Price out a build, if you like:
Bare lower $100
Parts kit $50
Stock/buffer tube/buffer $75
DPMS A3 upper $400

By my math that's about $625, plus an hour or two of time to knock it all together.

For my money, I'll take the name brand. With the lifetime service plan.

As an aside, if you go to the S&W site and click into the M&P Rifles section, they have a whole portion set aside with their ban-compliant rifles. Handy thing for those of us behind enemy lines - no poking through all the specs to figure out stocks, muzzle devices, what mags ship, etc.

Nov 16, 2011

M&P 15-22

Tried one at the range the other day. WAY up the "want" list.

Nov 13, 2011

Recoil Therapy

Brief range trip this morning. Lots of .22, a bit of .38, and a few magazines of 10mm. The Kimber looks to be a phenomenally accurate gun but had a few weird lock-ups. Specifically, the slide latch would bump its way up during recoil and lock the slide back with several rounds left in the mag. This happened several times with no apparent pattern, and I did check my thumb positions. Any ideas?

Nov 11, 2011

Pocket 9s

Uncle mentions that he's maybe sorta looking for a pocket 9. I've been using a Kahr PM9 as a nearly-everyday carry gun for quite a while, when I'm not slinging the .40 into the tactical murse instead. (All depends on circumstances.) It's a great little gun and very accurate for what it is. The biggest bitch about it, which didn't directly affect me, is cost: plain-jane it's a $700 (street price) gun. Add another hundred or so for night sights, etc.

Someone mentioned the Kahr CM9 in conversation the other day, and I hadn't heard of it, so I went looking.

Dimensionally and weight-wise it's identical to the PM9. It lists for $230 *less* than the PM9. Down side? It only comes with one magazine, so cough up another $30ish for that. Other than that? It appears to be a mechanical difference: the PM9 is polygon-rifled, the CM9 is traditionally rifled (lands/grooves).

I'm not a gunsmith or an accuracy freak. The only think I know about poly-rifling is that you shouldn't shoot cast lead in it. Aside from that, is there any real ($200-worth of real) advantage to the different rifling?

If not, the CM9 is a HELL of a good price for a pocket 9.

Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

-- John McCrae

Thank a veteran today.

Nov 2, 2011

A Girl and Her Gun

Dragon sent me the link to this one:

I stood there completely helpless and I decided that I would not be in that position again.
Before that I day I was very anti-gun. I didn't want them in my house and I was very afraid of them.
I skimmed through several entries and I like what I read! I need to go back to the beginning, and really read - which I intend to do over the coming days.

In addition to that, she is running a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project. If you can drop a fin or a sawbuck in their jar, you're entering a raffle for not only a training class (provided by FPF Training in Culpeper, VA), but a custom Talon holster from Dragon Leatherworks.

If you're not familiar with DLW, you should be. I have two of his holsters (provided gratis) and the Talon is an absolutely top-notch OWB holster. I had already been planning to order another one for the Kimber when Jay decided to auction off his prizes from Kilted To Kick Cancer, and I was top bidder on the holster... so that's in the works, and I'm already thinking I'm going to want at least one more...

WWP is a VERY worthy place to send some charity, and I'm going to be doing just that on payday.