The Elmer Gantries

When it comes to Second Amendment rights groups, I’ve always said “let a thousand flowers bloom”.

You prefer to fight the national fight by proxy?  Send your $35 to the NRA.  Want to get more into the thick of things nationally?  Contribute to the Second Amendment Foundation.

Wanna affect what happens in the Minnesota legislature?  Support GOCRA.  Wanna affect who gets elected to the Legislature?  Support MNGOPAC.  Feel like taking it to the streets?  The Twin Cities Carry Forum is the place to go.

If you want to donate money to an organization that seems to have little tie to Minnesota, that is closely linked to a network of similar organizations that seem to do more harm than good in the legislature in other states (Iowa, Colorado and Mississippi), which probably means it’s a good thing all that Minnesota fundraising has no visible impact in the Legislature itself?

A bipartisan group of pro-Second-Amendment legislators would like to have a word with you about that:

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This bipartisan group of legislators, most of whom have been key leaders in pushing back the Bloomberg-financed gun grab bills, are urging you not to be fooled.

Now, I’ve written a bit about “Minnesota Gun Rights”, as well as “Iowa Gun Owners” and the “National Association of Gun Rights” in the past year and a half.  And I get two questions about the subject:

  • “Berg, aren’t you connected with GOCRA?  Isn’t this just trying to thin out the competition?”:  I’m “connected” with just about everyone in the Second Amendment movement.  I network like a madman.  Hello – I’m a blogger and talk show host; I go where the info is. And no – “competition” is good, where the goal is “who can be the first to drag Governor Flint-Smith kicking and screaming to the table to sign the legislation we want”.  As I believe I and the sixteen oversigned legislators have established, MGR isn’t really competing on that front.
  • “MGR stands for Constitutional Carry – GOCRA, the NRA and MNGOPAC don’t.  If we pass Constitutional Carry, we won’t need any of the other legislation.  Why waste time?”:  That’s a little like saying I’m swearing off dating until Morena Baccarin returns my calls.  I mean, if I get into a position where Morena Baccarin returns my calls, great – but until I do (and I’m not), what then?    Saying “We’ll accept nothing but Constitutional Carry, and any lesser legislation merely accedes to government’s power to regulate  your God-given right to self-defense”.  Which is true – in a philosophical sense.  The law is not philosophy.  If the Minnesota gun movement had adopted that idea in 1994, we’d still be begging our police chiefs for carry permits, mostly in vain.  And the simple fact is, until we get a pro-Second Amendment governor, and legislatures that are not just mostly pro-Second Amendment (as they are today) but very strongly so, we’re not going to get Constitutional Carry.  Minnesota is not Arizona or Wyoming or Alaska.  By the way, passing Constitutional Carry won’t solve many of the other gun related issues – like reciprocity, the Capitol felony trap, or the right to purchase in non-contiguous states.  It just won’t.
  • “Isn’t ‘Shall Issue’ just a moneymaker for the carry permit instructors that run GOCRA?”:  No more so than fund-raising over a pie-in-the-sky proposal that is years away from passage, assuming everything goes perfectly from an electoral perspective (which Minnesota Gun  Rights is doing absolutely nothing to assure).

More later.

Let’s Make Michael Bloomberg Crap A Cactus

Up there with Easter, Christmas, the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, this coming Saturday is one of the most wonderful times of the year.

It’s the Shooter Show at Bill’s Gun Shop and Range in Robbinsdale.

Shopping for a new gun?  Dozens of manufacturers will be there, showing their wares.  Bring a driver’s license, buy a box of ammo, and you can test fire any of the hundreds of pieces for free.  Prices are coming down from the panic-buying highs of a couple years ago, so it’s a great time to buy!

Plus – door prizes and giveaways (accessories, goodies, and even firearms), charity raffles (ditto), and…

…ahem…

…full-automatic machine gun rentals.  Buy a box of ammo, take your pick, pony up, suit up, and poke more holes in more paper faster than you ever knew possible.  Last year I shot the M1928 Thompson and the KRISS.   This year?  I’m focusing on the Bren, and/or the BAR.

Oh, yeah – I’ll be doing the show from Bill’s, live from 1-3PM on Saturday.  Stop out and say hi.

Why yes – I’ve been looking forward to this all year long.

It’s Back

“Stand Your Ground” is back.

The bill – which would do nothing but remove the “duty to retreat” from self-defense on your property and in your car – was slandered as a “Shoot First” bill three years ago when it was passed by a bipartisan majority in both chambers (which, as an aside, is positive proof that the opposition was looking for the stupid vote; does anyone knows what happens to the person who shoots second?).  Governor Messinger Dayton issued a veto that was bought and paid for by big anti-gun interests; the metrocrats that controlled the Legislature at the time didn’t override him.

This year’s edition has a bipartisan slate of authors, a decisive majority of support in the House, and enough support in the Senate to make it interesting…

…and a governor – Tina Flint Smith – who will veto it forthwith (by pulling wires attached to Mark Dayton’s writing hand).

Of course, the point with this bill – and Senator Branden Petersen’s “Constitutional Carry” bill – is to do what the Second Amendment movement did over the previous two DFL-controlled sessions; rack up anti-gun votes by DFLers in greater Minnesota.  The DFL got trounced outstate in the 2014 elections in large part on the strength of gun votes; it can happen in the Senate in 2016.

Which is exactly how we got “Shall Issue” carry permits 12 years ago.

I worry at times that the lessons from the Carry Permit battle have been lost to a generation of pro-gun activists.  Shall Issue took from 1995 to 2003 (and again in 2005) to pass.  Eight years (with another year of maneuvering around a pet DFL judge).  It involved playing political chess, not checkers.

So suit up, people.  Winning your freedom isn’t for the faint of heart.

Break Out Your Maroon Shirts

Tonight, and Thursday morning, the legislature is going to be debating a bill – HF722, sponsored by representative Jim Newburger – which would prevent government from confiscating civilian firearms during states of emergency.

This is no idle worry; after Hurricane Katrina, the police went door to door through the storm ravaged neighborhoods, confiscating peoples firearms, leaving them helpless in the face of looters and thugs.

There are going to be two rounds of hearings:

  • Tonight at 6 PM, in the Civil Law committee. This will be in room 500, at the State office building. You can park for free in lot AAA, at Aurora and rice, after 4 PM – and meters are generally open along John Ireland Boulevard after business hours, too.
  • Thursday morning at 10:15 AM in the Public Safety committee. This will be in room 10 at the state office building.

Second Amendment humans rights advocates are on the offensive, this session – but that doesn’t mean anything is a shoe in. Showing up at hearings, or calling your legislators, is still essential.  Maybe moreso than ever.

Any DFLer who votes against this bill is essentially tipping their hand; they won’t “waste a crisis”, and if offered the chance will use that crisis as an excuse to extort firearms from the law abiding citizen. They need to be held accountable for this 2016

Word’s Getting Around

Heather Martens has never once made a substantial, true statement about firearms or the Second Amendment.

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Her testimony at the Minnesota House was more of the same: Martens claimed that silencers were “designed” to allow people to commit murder and get away with it.

Sure – in the same way that car mufflers were designed to allow hit-and-run drivers to sneak up on victims.

If you want real facts about suppressors, GOCRA as usual has the answers.

 

Long Overdue

To: The entire Minnesota state legislature
From: Many hypothetical, westbound Minnesotans who may have had to stop at gas stations on the east bank of the Red River every time they go back to visit their parents to transfer something that is perfectly legal on the east bank but is a felony on the west, and vice versa into the trunk.
Re: Reciprocity

You have a bill in the hopper that would do a job that the Public Safety commissioner was supposed to do over 10 years ago; make carry permits reciprocal between Minnesota and states whose permits are “substantially similar” to ours.

The Public Safety Commissioner 10 years ago took the most anal retentive possible view of “substantial similarity”, and made Minnesota permits reciprocal with an almost useless assortment of other states; Minnesota permits are no good in any of our neighbor states, and vice versa.  And the state of North Dakota created a special class of carry permit, expressly designed to conform to Minnesota law, to get Public Safety to honor NoDak permits (and vice versa).  Governor Flint-Smith’s Public Safety commissioner has ignored the legal imperative to change the rules accordingly.

You have a chance to fix that this session.

Please do.

A Miracle Of Physics

This form email has been making the rounds at the capitol in Saint Paul.  The person who sent it to me is under the impression that it shows the gun-grabbers are running out of good ideas and smart people.

Au contraire, said I.  This letter is a miracle, bordering on the first radio signal and the first nuclear fissile pile.

Because so much stupid is jammed into this email, it violates what were once thought to be inviolate laws of physics.

The woman – she’s a suburban matron from Mound – comes out swinging:

I oppose legalizing silencers in Minnesota (HF 1434). Silencers are designed to let people commit murder and get away with it.

Only in the movies.

They do the same thing for guns that mufflers do for cars; forestall hearing loss.  They take 30 decibels off the “bang” of a gun firing. What does this mean?

This:  “…for most commercially available fire arms and cartridges, this ends up only reducing the noise level to somewhere in the range of 130-150-ish dB for a supersonic cartridge and 117-130-ish dB for a subsonic cartridge. For reference on just how loud that is, an ambulance or police siren is typically between 100-140 dB. So this isn’t exactly the “whoosh” sound Hollywood depicts.”

Someone’s been watching too many movies:

In addition, silencers would compromise Minneapolis’ crime-fighting “shot-spotter” technology.

About as much as things like buildings and cars and anything else that gets between a shot and a shot-spotter microphone.  In other words, not really.

I also oppose HF 305, a bill to let North Dakota legislators decide who can carry guns in Minnesota. Under current law, state law enforcement reviews other states’ laws to determine if the other states’ permits should be recognized in MInnesota. That is as it should be. We should not let North Dakota legislators decide what is best for public safety in Minnesota.

This is mad ignorance.

The law allows the Commissioner of Public Safety decides whether other states’ carry permitting laws are “subsantially similar” to Minnesota’s.  North Dakota implemented a two-tier system – one permit for residents, and another for non-residents, specifically to cater to that absurd restriction in Minnesota law, to help avoid creating a felony trap for law-abiding citizens from both states.  Knowing, as I do, er, “friends” who have to stop in Moorhead or East Grand Forks when travelling west to move, er, payloads to the trunk, this change is long overdue.  Not that author of this post knows the difference.

Two other bills, HF 830 and HF 372, are unnecessary. In particular, weakening our laws around carrying guns at the Capitol is a step in the wrong direction.

But she doesn’t favor us with a reason why.

That’s simple; she’s parroting something someone else told her.  There is no downside to the proposal; Capitol Security has real-time access to the database of carry permittees; the current notification statute is a throwback to the days when permits weren’t computerized.

Please join me in opposing these bills.

["Writer's" name redacted]
Mound, MN 5536

She must be on the “Minnesota Progressive Project” farm club.

Orwell Would Puke…

,,,at this proposal, from the usual assortment of Metrocrat hamsters.  It may be the worst anti-gun bill, and the most toxic attack on civil liberty, in recent years.

It would essentially allow any cop or domestic violence victim to claim you brandished a firearm and have the authorities remove all firearms from your house and person.

Without even a hint of due process.

I say again; without even a plaintive whiff of due process.

Now, this bill is DOA in the House; Tony Cornish, a legislator who makes Ted Nugent look like Oprah Winfrey on Second Amendment issues, is chair of the Public Safety Committee; the DFL may as well deliver the bill directly to the paper shredder.

So why do it at all?

Politics:  Because Ron “Did You Know I Went To Harvard?” Latz is running the show in the Senate public safety committee, so it’s pretty much guaranteed a floor vote.  Which means a bunch of GOP senators will be on the record with “no” votes, which will be dutifully relayed during the 2016 campaign as “Senator X voted to give firearms to domestic abusers and people who threatened cops!” by the Alliance for a “Better” Minnesota.

That’s my two cents worth, of course; I have no doubt that Ron Latz would love to send SWAT teams to the home of every law-abiding gun owner on principle, but the political realities don’t support it right now.

We’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE: GOCRA is taking this bill very seriously, and so should you:

Everyone has moments in life where things seem hopeless. A death in the family, a job loss, PTSD from military service, a divorce… Responsible gun owners know that a doctor or psychologist can help. But this bill would encourage doctors to trick you into signing away your rights!

Imagine: there you are. You’re hurting. You go see a professional. He listens, then says he can help. He gives you a pile of forms to sign. Buried among them is a form created by this bill — one that puts you on the NICS no-buy list. “Voluntarily.”

Call your legislator. Tell them this bill needs to be killed with fire.

Carry On, My Straight-Laced Son

There’s not much happening on Second Amendment issues – that the mainstream media wants to report on, anyway; I never expected they’d cover the local Real American Second Amendment Human Rights movement going on the offensive, especially.

But there were a few half-hearted attempts to roil the pot this past week.

Channel 9 noted last week that carry permit issuances are off by 1/3 in the past year – while leaving it to the reader to figure out for themselves that they’re still running 2.5 times ahead of 2010, before the Obama Panic started.

Regional lefties tried to make a little hay over these numbers:

Individuals with permits to carry committed 1,320 crimes in 2014, according to reports from law enforcement. Only 20 of those crimes involved the use of a pistol to commit the crime, while more than half of these crimes were DWIs or other traffic offenses that had nothing to do with firearms.

In other words, a group making up 3% of the population commits a tiny fraction of 3% of the state’s “gun crimes” (and let’s ignore for a moment that “gun crimes” means everything from murder – there were none – to inadvertently carrying a gun in a post-office).

Simple fact; law-abiding gun owners are better citizens, on the average, than the typical Minnesotan.

More context?  There are now about 180,000 Minnesotans with carry permits.  Ten years ago, the House Research office figured that a maximum of 90,000 would get their cards; I figured it’d peak around 55-60,000, since most “shall-issue” states tended to level off around 1% of the population.  We’re around triple that now. And while the numbers will likely drop (and could drop to zero, if we pass “Constitutional Carry“, which won’t happen until 2017 at best), they have completely blown away even supporters’ most optimistic predictions…

…in every way but literally, as MPR’s Bob Collins noted in a story earlier this week that pointed out that…:

“They thought the streets were going to be running with blood, but statistically, it hasn’t shown itself as a problem in terms of an increase in the amount of gun crimes,” Cmdr. Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office told the Star Tribune.

He’s right. More than 10 years after the pitched battle over the law, it’s clear the hyperbole from both sides was overwrought. We’re not ducking road-rage shootouts, but we’re not fending off criminals, either, the Pioneer Press said.

Well, Collins is half right.  The opponents’ hyperbole – as was predicted in this space – turned out to be the same onanistic fantasy that it’s been in every other state that’s adopted “shall-issue” permitting.

But what was the “hyperbole” among the supporters?

There was none.  No credible supporter predicted that we’d see groups of law-abiding citizens with carry permits holding off crooks like a beleaguered Vietnam-era firebase, up to their knees in enemy bodies and spent cartridges.   We predicted at the time, in fact, nothing spectacular; just a slow, quiet diminution in crime.

Although I’d love to ask Bob Collins “why so bloodthirsty?”  There haven’t been many self-defense shootings by permittees – we’ve reported on several in this space over the years – although each of them involves an innocent person who is alive that likely would not have been without a gun.  And the stats don’t reliably count the number of deterrences that don’t involve anyone getting killed (like this one) much less without shots being fired.

It’s not much ado about nothing.

Trial Balloon

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Obama Administration wants to ban popular rifle ammunition on the grounds it could be used in handguns.

We saw this under Clinton, too, with the “cop killer” bullet craze and fear of Thompson Center pistols. Then, as now, it was all cover for a ban they wanted all along.

I saw this ammo at Cabellas a while back and thought “I should stock up, for when case they ban it.” But of course, I didn’t own a .223 so I didn’t buy any. Crap, another million dollar investment opportunity, wasted.

Joe Doakes

On the other hand, if you are, or know, a lawyer, litigating the inevitable test cases will no doubt put some peoples kids through Ivy League schools…

It’s Go Week

This is going to be a big week at the legislature for Second Amendment bills; five vitally important gun rights bills are going to be hitting the legislature in the next week.

End The Trap: Currently, you have to notify the head of capitol security if you are a carry permittee who wishes to carry at any building in the Capitol complex – the Capitol, the office buildings, and even the Minnesota history center, across the freeway. This is what’s called a “felony trap” – an obscure law which happens to be a felony. It’s also obsolete; it made sense, back when carry permits were cardboard chits carried in the wallet, and police didn’t have instant access to computers. But today they do; police can validate a carry permit as fast as they can validate a drivers license these days. This law serves only to trip up people who aren’t clairvoyant about the law, and it needs to go away. Representative Jim Nash Will be introducing a capitol carry bill today,

End The Other Trap: Did you know that it was illegal to buy a gun in a state not directly bordering Minnesota? I’m pretty up on the law, and I didn’t know this. But it’s true – if you buy a firearm from a state other than Minnesota, the Dakotas, Iowa or Wisconsin, you have to transfer it through a federally-licensed firearms dealer. It’s a stupid law, and another felony trap, and it needs to go. And go it shall, if the bill be introduced by Representative Lucero passes into law. Lucero is introducing the bill tomorrow.

Secure In Your Homes A lot of urban legends sprang up in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. One that was all too real? On government orders, the police went door-to-door, confiscating firearms and leaving the remaining citizens disarmed and helpless in the face of looters and gangs. And the fact is, Gov. Dayton could order the same confiscation after any sort of disaster, here in Minnesota, today. Heck, he could order firearms confiscated if he sees the walls pulsing in his office. Representative Newberger is introducing a bill on Thursday that will restrict governments emergency power to confiscate guns from the law-abiding citizen.

A Right of the People – The vast majority of states have a state constitutional provision echoing and reinforcing the US Constitution’s Second Smendment guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms to the people. It’s not redundant; states have Powers reserved to them by the constitution, and it’s good to make sure that they are enumerated. Representative Hackbarth will hopefully be introducing an amendment to the Minnesota state constitution this week.

Noise – if you drive your car without a muffler, you get a ticket. But if you try to put a muffler on your gun – to forestall the hearing loss that can accompany the noise involved in shooting – it’s a state felony.

Minnesota is one of very, very few states that bands civilian ownership of firearm suppressors. They’re called “silencers” by people who know nothing about firearms; they don’t “silence” anything. In fact, a suppressed firearm is still fully detectable I shot spotter, which is the police’s Big beef with the proposal to allow suppressors. They are governed by federal law – it requires a federal license to own a suppressor, so it’s not like this bill will open them up to criminals. Indeed, there has never been a confirmed crime committed using a suppressor of any kind, much less he legally owned one. Ever. Outside the movies, anyway. Hopefully, there will be a bill legalizing federally licensed suppressors in Minnesota next week.

All of you Second Amendment supporters, need to get your dialing finger is Limbird up. We’re going to have all sorts of work to do.

By the way – after this last two sessions, it’s nice to be on the offensive again, isn’t it?

Pay Up For Your Rights

Up until 1974, Minnesotans didn’t need a permit, or a sheriff’s permission, or a card costing $100, to exercise their Second Amendment right to carry a firearm. Minnesotans could carry anything they wanted, subject to their criminal record; they could do it anywhere they wanted to subject to their senses of etiquette.

From 1974 to 2005, Minnesotans had to beg, convince, or suck up to their local police chief to exercise their Second Amendment rights. And since 2004, Minnesotans have had to pay for the privilege of having Minnesota law-enforcement try to prove they weren’t legally entitled to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

So over the context of the past 40 years, things are moving generally in the right direction.

But there is a proposal of footage, floating around somewhere in the legislature, to adopt “Constitutional Carry” – as several other states around the union have. Constitutional Carry means that any law-abiding citizen can carry a firearm, openly or concealed, as long as they don’t have a criminal record that would deny that ride.

Not only is that exactly the way Minnesota law stood before 1974 – it is, in effect, exactly the way it is today; The law abiding jump through hoops to exercise their right to carry, and criminals carry anyway. Just as they did before 1974.

The actual record is clear and unequivocal; law-abiding citizens in Minnesota are phenomenally unlikely, statistically, to commit any kind of crime of all:

I think the proposal is a good one; Gov. Dayton will veto it, of course, but before that we will get some votes on the table before 2016.

But after 40 years of having to pay, and submit to scrutiny, to exercise our God given constitutional rights, I think we need to have a proposal with more teeth to it.

I think we need a Mandatory Carry law.

Under my law, all law-abiding citizens over the age of 21 will be required to have a firearm on their person.

Now, anyone who doesn’t want to have a firearm will be able to exercise that right – by getting a “Permit to Not Carry”. This permit can be gotten one of two ways:

  • Pay $100 to your local county sheriff to obtain a Permit Not to Carry,
  • Applying to your county sheriff, with proof you have reason not to carry a firearm.

I think that would be perfectly fair. Or, at least, bring a form of Justice after this past 40 years.

Sitting Sheep

As the Twin Cities mulls over the news that Al Shabaab – the Somali terrorist group – has called for jihadists to attack the Mall of America and other large symbols of commerce, it’s worth noting that virtually every single mass shooting that’s happened at a mall has been at one that is, like the MOA…

…posted “No Guns” for law-abiding people.

Because the more dead civilians there are, the more chances for Pulitzers for local media?

Ron Latz: Big Brother

Last week, Senator Ron “I went to Harvard – I bet you didn’t go to Harvard, did you?” Latz tabled Senator Petersen’s digital privacy bill, likely killing it for the rest of the session.

And yesterday?

For the third consecutive session, lawmakers have sparred over whether LPR “hits” on innocent people should be deleted immediately—what privacy advocates want, or kept for 90 days– what law enforcement wants.

This session, a 90-day retention bill sponsored by Sen Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, over protests from Sen. Branden Petersen, R-Andover, who authored a competing bill arguing for zero retention. While the committee opted not to move forward with Petersen’s bill, Latz’s bill headed to the Senate floor for a vote.

In other words, Sen. Ron “we are all created equal, but some of us are more equal than others” Latz, who also led last sessions push to create a paper trail on all firearms purchases, wants to keep a 90 day record of everywhere everyone has been in a car.

Let’s let that sink in for a little bit; the DFL jammed down legislation that puts the state in charge of all of your personal and health data; they tried their darndest to register the movement of every firearm in the state; they successfully defended one was electronic surveillance; and now, thanks to Sen. Latz, they will have a 90 day record of your travels.

NOD TO POLITICAL REALITY:  It’s entirely possible that Latz has submitted the “90 day retention” bill as  a sop to his police and prosecutor organization benefactors; that he referred it to the Transportation committee to so it gets tabled without Latz’s fingerprints on it; that he’s playing both sides.

I don’t care.

If Senator X submitted a bill calling for the sterilization of black males to fight crime, even at the behest of a big contributor, even knowing that his political maneuvering was going to see that it went nowhere, it’d still be a loathsome bill.

And so is this one.

The Logical Conclusion

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Former New York Mayor Bloomberg suggests we take guns away from Black males aged 15-25 because that’s the group that commits most of the murders.  He’s partly right.

Nobody aged 15-20 – Black or White, Male or Female – should be carrying a pistol since it’s against the law for anybody under 21 to buy, possess or carry a pistol.  Yes, take those guns away.

And nobody aged 21-25 – Black or White, Male or Female – should be carrying a pistol in public without a Permit to Carry since that’s also against the law.  Yes, take those guns away, too.

If we could enforce those two sets of existing laws, we’d take illegally carried pistols out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them in the first place and that should take a bite out of gun crime.  It’s a wonderful idea but, as always, the devil is in the details:  how do you pick those people – and ONLY those people – out of a crowd?

Maybe if we limit the focus to illegally carried pistols?  Gun murders are mostly committed with pistols and pistols contain a big chunk of metal.  Metal detectors set at reasonable sensitivity could find concealed pistols without singling out every single person for frisking.

Anybody who sets off the metal detector gets waved aside for further processing.  Show me your Permit to Carry and Driver’s License and you’re on your way.  Minimal intrusion.

Set off the metal detector and no Permit to Carry?  Voluntarily show me the leg brace that set it off or wait here for police to frisk you.  Slightly more intrusive, might be ways to mitigate it (state-issued “metal plate in head” card gets you through without frisk).

Probably only install them at large gathering places like Vikings stadium, shopping malls, Super Target and nightclubs in downtown Minneapolis . . . but if society wants to get serious, the Mayor has at least given us food for thought.  We have the technology.  Do we have the willpower?

Joe Doakes

Joe errs a bit – in most states, 18 year olds can own guns, and in many they can get permits (although not Minnesota, where a 20 year old military veteran can come home from a year in Afghanistan, or from driving a nuclear submarine, and not get a permit). For better or worse.

Shrieking For Relevence

It’s been a rough year or so for Heather Martens.

It seems like just yesterday that she was not only serving as the chairperson (and almost solitary member) of “ProtectMN”, an astroturf checkbook advocacy antigun group, but de facto Minnesota State Representative for House District 66A, doing both her own job and that of Representative Alice Hausman (notwithstanding being a paid lobbyist, which is supposedly against House rules).  But it was in fact two years ago.

Last year, the worm turned for Heather Martens.  Flush with Michael Bloomberg’s money, the regional anti-gun movement hired a slew of PR professionals to carry the victim-disarmament movement’s legislative water.

And nobody has ever accused Martens of being a PR professional.  Inept? Sure.  Incapable of making a substantial true statement on the gun issue?  Utterly.

And so during the 2014 session, Martens was largely sidelined.

Oh, she still had her ace in the hole; for the past decade and change, no editor anywhere in the Twin Cities media would consider a story about firearms complete without a (false, laughable) quote from Martens.  She was to gun issues what Larry Jacobs is to every other political topic.

But then, a few weeks, back, the unthinkable happened; the Strib published a story on a gun policy issue that passed on quoting Martens.

Does this mean the Twin Cities media has finally realized what every other sentient person in the universe on both sides of the gun issue has known for over a decade – that Heather Martens is to competence and knowledge on Second Amendment issues what Mark Dayton is to hip hop?

Let’s not get carried away, here.

But let nobody think that Ms. Martens is going to fade too gently into obscurity, no matter how objectively richly deserved.  She sent out an email blast to her “supporters” this past week, including a little bird.  Bits of emphasis are scattered throughout by me:

Dear Mr. D’Artagnan,

The gun extremists have pulled out all the stops. They’ve introduced a bill to repeal all permitting and background check requirements to buy and carry firearms. The gun extremists tried to repeal our life-saving Minnesota law before, and we stopped them — but we couldn’t have done it without you.

Can you help us stop this dangerous bill?

Two questions, here:

  • What bill are they talking about?
  • If, as Martens claims, “we stopped them”, then why do they need everyone’s help to stop it again?
Seriously – nobody actually knows what bill Heather Martens is talking about.  Constitutional Carry – the notion that the law-abiding citizen shouldn’t have to apply or register or pay a fee to exercise their Second-Amendment rights any more than their First or Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights – hasn’t been introduced.  It might be, of course; it’ll get vetoed, but it’ll be good to see what Senators vote against it, for 2016.
But, again, “Protect Minnesota” had nothing to do with stopping a bill that hasn’t been introduced yet.

Join us on Monday, Feb. 23 at 10:30 in Saint Paul to stand up for your values — for the right of every child, from every neighborhood, to live free of the fear of gun violence. Click here to RSVP. A program from 11-1 with testimonials and a legislative issue training will be followed by visits to legislators for those who sign up.

If you can’t be there in person, please make a donation today to help cover the costs of the event.

Thank you for all you do,

Heather Martens

I’m tempted to show up.

Media Quiz Time: The Answers!

Last week, David Chanen of the Strib wrote a piece – a decent one, actually – about the straw-purchase flim-flam that put a gun in the hand of Ray Kmetz, the New Hope shooter who was legally barred from owning guns at all.

And the story omitted something that almost no story about guns in the Twin Cities media has, in recent or even distant memory.

There was no obligatory, supercilious, and utterly wrong quote from Heather Martens!

Of course, several commenters, starting with Mr. D, got it within minutes of my posting this morning.  Y’all know me too well.

Still, this is a virtual rupture of the space-time continuum.

What next?  A Strib piece about politics that doesn’t quote Larry Jacobs?

I feel like anything is possible!

Why Did Mike Freeman Let A Straw Gun Buyer Walk?

The Strib ran a relatively decent story about the background of the New Hope shooting incident, where 68 year old Ray Kmetz, using an illegally-obtained 12 gauge shotgun, shot and wounded two New Hope police officers before being killed.

The officers are recovering, Kmetz is dead, and the issue is mostly closed…

…except for the matter of Michael Garant.

All Straw, Nothing But Straw:  Garant purchased several shotguns from an online gun auction.  According to the Strib story:

Kmetz was the highest bidder for three shotguns from K-Bid Auction in Maple Plain, which were actually bought by Garant in August at Full Metal Gun Shop in Princeton, authorities have said. Garant informed gun shop owner Troy Buchholz that he used the alias “Ray Kmetz” during the online auction because he didn’t want people contacting him from K-Bid’s site, according to court documents.

Show me a law-abiding gun owner who doesn’t look at that story and ask “who does Garant think he is?  The BATFE?”

As the story notes, the gun shop screwed up bad; the Strib writer (one David Chanen) talked with John Monson of Bill’s Gun Shop, who spelled out how it’s supposed to work.  Long story short: not like that.

Longer story shorter; Garant allegedly used an illegal purchasing tactic to put a gun in the hands of Ray Kmetz.

And Garant is being charged.  End of story.  Right?

Not My Job, Man:  Back in the 1990s, after some high profile shootings, the legislature and some city councils worked to give county prosecutors some tools to use against gun criminals, including straw buyers.   These were laws that had the combined, bipartisan approval of anti-gun zealots and pro-Second Amendment Real Americans, by the way – because they went after criminals, rather than the law-abiding gun owner.

And the county prosecutors used those to tear into criminals who used guns with a vengeance.

No, not really.  The laws largely languished.  Sources tell me that former Ramsey County attorney Susan Gaertner pled the charges from the laws away as parts of plea bargain deals every single time, sticking zero gun criminals with charges stemming from the anti-gun-crime laws.

And yes, prosecutors have some discretion in their charges, and plea bargains are a useful tool for unclogging the courts.  But it’s also no surprise that an extreme gun-grabber prosecutor would avoid the use of a law that might provide objective evidence that gun violence is a matter of violent people, not availability of firearms.

Susan Gaertner was that anti-Second-Amendment extremist.  And some say Henco prosecutor Mike Freeman is, too (although he’s made a few good calls in his career)

Gun shop screws up bigtime.

Bored To Tears:  When the police traced Ray Kmetz’s shotgun, the trail led to Garant.

You don’t need an expert to know what happened; Kmetz, who had been civilly committed several times, was utterly unable to buy a firearm.  Garant allegedly bought the gun, using Kmetz’s name but his own background – and then showed up at the gun shop in Princeton and bought the gun under his own name.

How illegal is it?  John Monson of Bill’s Gun Range calls it:

“This was a classic straw purchase,” Monson said. “If this guy couldn’t get arrested and charged, who could?”Monson says “internal process woulda stopped this cold”.

After the New Hope shooting, police traced the gun to Garant, and arrested him; it was the Thursday afternoon after the shooting took place.

And on Friday, notwithstanding the fact that the prosecutors have 36 hours to investigate and come up with evidence, Henco attorney Mike Freeman cut Garant loose – according to sources with knowledge of the situation, Garant was released as the Henco Sheriff’s office was still investigating.

Sheriff Stanek was not amused:

Sheriff Rich Stanek said he was befuddled by that decision. “We absolutely had state law supporting us,” he said. “We just need enforcement of current law.”

The state statute on straw buyers reads that “whoever recklessly furnishes a person with a dangerous weapon in conscious disregard of a known substantial risk that the object will be possessed or used in furtherance of a felony crime of violence is guilty of a felony.”

Stanek said he understands that the county attorney has prosecutorial discretion, but he believes the Legislature’s intent in creating the law supported charges against Garant.

According to Henco prosector Freeman (as related in the Strib), it was just too much a stretch (echoing Dakota County attorney and anti-gun zealot Jim Backstrom,who seems to think his attorneys are too incompetent to tell the difference between a murder and self-defense).

Here’s the applicable statute:  MN 609.66.1c:

Subd. 1c.Felony; furnishing dangerous weapon. Whoever recklessly furnishes a person with a dangerous weapon in conscious disregard of a known substantial risk that the object will be possessed or used in furtherance of a felony crime of violence is guilty of a felony and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than ten years or to payment of a fine of not more than $20,000, or both.

Garant admitted to furnishing the weapon.  The Strib story indicates there’s evidence that Garant knew Kmetz’s record made him ineligible to buy it himself.  Proving Garant knew there was “substantial risk” – well, isn’t that why all those attorneys make the big taxpayer bucks?   Admitting he knew Kmetz was unqualified is the very definition of “knowing and reckless!”

This should have been a no-brainer for Freeman’s office.

So why would Mike Freeman let a case like this slide, only for the Feds to pick it up?

Because he doesn’t want to give any, er, ammo to the Second Amendment movement by using a law we support to put an obvious criminal in jail?

Road Not Taken:  But that last graf of mine is conjecture.

And it’s about the best I can manage right now – because I’m a mere blogger.  A guy who writes polemics in his spare time, works a full time day job, yadda yadda.

You know what would help, though?

If there were an institution – perhaps one that owned things like printing presses and transmitters and, nowadays, websites.  And maybe staffed by people whose job it is to look into stories like “why doesn’t the county attorney in the state’s most violent county use the straw buyer law to pin local charges on a guy who put a gun in the hands of a man who shot two cops?”   People who, perhaps, consider themselves part of a near-monastic order of people who consider “the peoples’ right to know” a sacred calling, above reproach by mere lay people, but which exist to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”…

…even if “the comfortable” is a former gubernatorial candidate from a party whose asses their various publications kiss with full tongue?

Absolute Moral Authority

Remember Cindy Sheehan?

The woman whose soldier son was killed in action in Iraq, and became an anti-war crusader, and a hero of the left (until she started attacking Barack Obama, when she became an untouchable).  Before she parted ways with the left, the left said her ordeal gave her “absolute moral authority”.

And indeed it’s not unusual for people to grant a little extra credence and tolerance to people who’ve directly suffered because of something they’re protesting against.

So I expect lefties with integrity to belly up behind a Colorado bill drafted by a Columbine survivor, which would allow law-abiding citizens with carry permits to carry at schools:

Colorado Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, was a student at Columbine High School in 1999 when two seniors went on a massacre that killed 13. Now he has introduced legislation that would allow anyone with a concealed weapons permit to be able to conceal and carry in public schools, according to The Denver Post.

“This bill will allow honest law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed firearm for protection if they choose to,” Neville said in a statement. “But most importantly, it will give them the right to be equipped to defend our children from the most dangerous situations.”

Can you hear that?  That’s moral authority talking.

Going On The Offensive

It’s been a busy couple of years for Real Minnesotans (and Real Americans) [1].

We’ve had an anti-gun president for six years, and we spent two years with a completely DFL government – and the DFL platform calls for restricting guns in the hands of the law-abiding (“Reasonable gun control that promotes public safety and crime prevention”).  They were energized by the Sandy Hook massacre and, moreso, hundreds of thousands of dollars of Michael Bloomberg’s money.

And it all came to nought, due to the efforts of Minnesota’s pro-Second-Amendment grass roots, especially the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance and the Minnesota Gun Owners PAC.

Now, we have a GOP majority in the State House – including several members elected with direct support of Real Minnesota – and a Senate DFL majority that has many significant pro-gun members.

It’s time to go on the offensive.

And that’s precisely the agenda that GOCRA announced on Monday.  Here are the highlights:

  •  Right to Keep and Bear Arms Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution – I wasn’t aware that the human right of self-defense wasn’t in the Minnesota Constitution.  Notwithstanding the fact that McDonald v. Chicago incorporated the Second Amendment onto the states, it’s high time our constitution said so too.
  •  Ban “Emergency” Orders for Gun Confiscation – Minnesotans are expected to trust to the integrity of the cops.  But New Orleans residents found that that trust was misplaced in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, as cops went door to door confiscating firearms from law-abiding citizens.  This needs to be explicitly banned under Minnesota law.
  •  Legalize Firearm Suppressors – Forget what you see in the movies; they don’t “silence” firearms, and they’re not a tool of assassins.  They’re like a muffler for your firearm, just like the one you’re legally required to put on your car, preventing harmful levels of noise from damaging peoples’ hearing.
  •  Constitutional Carry – The law-abiding citizen doesn’t have to jump through hoops to exercise their right to speak, worship, publish or assemble or, theoretically, be secure in their homes and possessions (we’ll need to work on that, too).  Why should guns logically be different?
  •  Stop Police Departments from Delaying Purchase Permits – Some police departments exercise passive-aggressive liberties in issuing “permits to purchase” firearms.  This needs to be addressed.
  •  Remove Redundant Capitol Complex Carry Notification – Back in the 1990s, when the state didnt’ have computers for most of its record-keeping, and carry permits were typed out on Selectrics at your local police station, the current law – you must notify the head of Capitol Security to carry in the Capitol complex, including the History Center – made sense, sort of.  Today, when Capitol Security has access to permit information in real time, it does not – except as a felony trap.  Time to fix it.
  •  Self Defense Law Reform – Minnesota self-defense law is fairly simple in statute – but quite complex in its case law.  There are a lot of hidden “gotchas” in self-defense, that can put a law-abiding citizen in jail even though they behaved objectively correctly.  Law with “gotchas” is bad law.  It’s time to fix it.  This is actually the most important one, in my book.
If you’re not a GOCRA member, you should be.  Every activist in a maroon shirt makes the impression on our legislature – already huge and impressive -that much bigger.

 

[1] Minnesotans/Americans who believe all ten amendments of the Bill of Rights are rights of the people.

Women And Guns, Take III

OK.  Deep breath.  It’s game time.

I tried twice yesterday to get through a piece by Rochester TV reporter Devin Bartilotta of WTTC television in Rochester.  There were two references to “Packing Heat” in the first ten seconds of the report; I just couldn’t go on.

But with that out of the way, it wasn’t a complete lost cause:

Bartilotta:

BCA data indicates a 312 percent increase in the number of permits issued to women from 2011 to 2013 in the zip code zones that are mostly in Olmsted County. In 2011, 122 permits were issued to women in that area. In 2012, the number jumped to 134. Then in 2013 it nearly doubled to 381 permits. 36 percent of those permits issued to women in 2013 were issued to women who were younger than 40-years-old. Those numbers are still dwarfed by the more than 1,200 men who got permits in 2013 in the same area.

Lisa Polowski, who processes the gun permits in Olmsted County, says the national 2013 firearm bump could be prompted by the 2012 shootings in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut.

“Things like that in society were really feeding into this, that people really feel the need to protect themselves” Polowski said. “Our numbers went up by probably 60 percent for a permit to purchase.”

But in generally safe and quiet Southeast Minnesota, women might still feel threatened.

“Self defense is what it boils down to,” said Marquette.

“Many times it’s an equalizer. Because many times their attackers are bigger, stronger, and this may help them,” Bierly said.

OK, after a couple of false starts, that’s not bad.  And incredibly, we actually saw a news report about a Minnesota that doesn’t bring in an obligatory comment from the useless Heather Martens – perhaps an advantage to getting news from a Greater Minnesota outlet.

So that’s all to the good.

We almost made it to the end without another cliché.

I said almost:

But in an increasingly violent world, the need for personal protection is putting more women on target.

Ms. Bartillota – does that sentence actually mean anything?

To the extent it does, it’s wrong; the idea that the world is getting more violent is, like “packing heat”, another media cliché – and unlike “packing heat”, it actually does some harm.   The world is not “increasingly violent”.  Violent crime is plummeting – in the parts of the country where guns are least “controlled”, anyway, where violent crime is off by half in the past twenty years.

But hey, at least we got to the end!

Women And Guns, Take II

Let’s try this again.

This morning, I started trying to dissect a report by Devin Bartolotta at Rochster’s KTTC-TV on the number of women with carry permits in southeastern Minnesota (numbers which are reflected statewide and are not limited to Rochester).

In my first attempt to write about the story this morning, Bartolotta’s report jumped into groaning cliché so early I had to abort my report this morning, and decided to take another run at it now, over the noon hour.

So let’s try it again.  Bartolotta’s report focuses on the number of women who are getting carry permits in the greater Rochester area:

Chris Marquette is a permit to carry instructor. His weekly classes are packed with women who want to learn more about packing heat…

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

ARE YOU ****ING KIDDING ME?

“Packing heat?”

HOLY MARY MOTHER OF JESUS H. CHRIST ON A HARLEY DAVIDSON!  That’s TWICE IN THE FIRST TEN SECONDS OF THE REPORT!

Good Lord.

OK.  I’ll try again tomorrow morning.  If I have to kick off the day with a shot of bourbon to mellow out, I’ll do it.  But I’ll get through it.

Honest.  I will.