“Minority Report”: When Movies Come True

From the Bill of Rights:

“Amendment V
No person shall… be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”

“Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

 

In 2002, 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks released the Tom Cruise starrer “Minority Report”, which was based on a novella by Philip K. Dick (who’s turning out to be almost as prescient as Orwell).

The story takes place in the near future, the basic premise being that three mutant humans, known as “precogs”, have the power of precognition (foreseeing the future) when working together in concert, which gives them the ability to see murders take place before they actually happen. Based on their visions, the police have the authority to get to the scenes of the crimes and arrest the murderers before they have the chance to actually kill their victims, thereby not only being able to prosecute and imprison the offenders, but also saving the lives of the victims.

But there’s a fly in the ointment. It turns out that very occasionally a crime is foreseen for which one of the precogs sees a differing vision, that vision being the titular “minority report”, and the administrator (and inventor) of the program has kept this fact secret, as it might endanger the validity of any resulting prosecutions of the “future crimes”, and therefore the existence of his bureau. And, in fact, it turns out that innocent people have been snared by this program.

Substitute “red flag laws” for “precognition program” and we bring the plot elements of a dystopian-future movie to our current political discussions.

Red flag laws would allow the authorities to confiscate the guns owned by a person if that person is accused by someone else – and there’s a pretty broad range of acceptable accusers (real-world “precogs”) depending on the jurisdiction – of possibly being a danger to themselves or others. Based on the accusation a hearing takes place – of which the accused isn’t even notified, let alone allowed to attend and defend themselves – after which the authorities can carry out the confiscation.

This is exactly the process that takes place in the movie.

I see all kinds of problems with these laws. To begin with, the accused is being deprived of his gun rights and property (the guns) without being convicted of any crime, nor being medically diagnosed as being psychologically unsound, in clear violation of the Fifth Amendment requirement for due process.

A hearing or other legal mechanism is taking place, in secret, without the accused even being notified or allowed to attend and defend himself, in clear violation of the Sixth Amendment.

Only after his guns have been confiscated does the accused get an opportunity – at some future date which might be months down the road – to appear before some form of tribunal to make his case in defense of his rights, at which point he has to prove his innocence of the accusation, a very clear violation of the presumption of innocence upon which our criminal justice system is allegedly founded.

That raises the question of how one proves that they’re innocent of a crime they haven’t even committed, and prove that they’ll never do what others have said they “might” do. This is all very Kafkaesque.

Notice that these laws aren’t even aimed at acts that people will surely commit; only acts they might commit. I can’t think of anything that’s more speculative than that. Apparently it’s crystal ball time.

Where does this kind of thing lead? Did you ever drink too much at a party? Well, you might commit a DUI at some point in the future, so maybe we should revoke your drivers license until you can prove you won’t ever drive under the influence. Maybe take your car away just to “be safe”.

Why not? More people are killed in car accidents than are murdered by gunfire.

The reality is that anybody can accuse any other person of anything. That’s the principle reason why our judicial process requires actual proof, and the accused enjoys the presumption of being actually innocent absent that actual proof. Red flag laws turn that premise onto its head.

Further, there’s absolutely nothing that prevents people from maliciously manipulating the system with false accusations, based on a host of reasons: personal or political enmity, divorce disputes, feuding neighbors, or even simple anti-gun hysteria, just to name a few.

This entire red flag bandwagon is leading to some very bad law. It’s a case of a movie – “Minority Report” – coming true.

 

©Brian Baker 2019

(Also published today in The Signal)

Advertisements

Some Actual FACTS on Gun Violence

 

Gary Horton seems to have gone on a rampage recently against private gun ownership, as exemplified by his most recent column on the subject, which ran on 28 August and was entitled “Did America Want to Go This Far Out on Guns?” (Link)

Here’s a sample of his histrionics: “Over a decade, American has lost 360,000 people to gun deaths. By comparison, we’ve lost some 3,100 to terror attacks. Gun deaths are 116 times greater than terror-related deaths. That’s 11,600%!”

Well, it’s undeniable that so many deaths are tragic, but why don’t we take a look at another number, since we’re comparing different manners of people dying?

During that same period of time, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 355,429 traffic accident fatalities (NHTSA Report), making them every bit as dangerous as those e-e-e-e-vil guns, again 116 times greater than terror-related deaths.

Well, what’s to be done about all this mayhem? In this particular column Horton doesn’t say, as it’s pretty much an orgy of hand-wringing. But judging from the totality of his columns on the topic I suppose he’d like to wave a magic wand and make all the privately-owned guns in the country vanish. The only thing standing in his way – other than the lack of that wand – is that pesky and “grossly contorted interpretation of a Second Amendment”.

But there is no Second Amendment equivalent when it comes to cars. Thus they can be regulated to any degree. So, if we want to save a boatload of lives, why don’t we mandate breathalyzer/ignition interlock devices on all cars, as well as speed governors that prevent them from going any faster than, say, 20 MPH? That would probably eliminate at least 90% of traffic fatalities since drunk driving is one major factor, and it’s pretty hard for an accident to be fatal at such low speeds. Maybe even eliminate private car ownership altogether, and mandate that everyone use public transportation! How about that? Everyone has to ride the bus!

We don’t do that because as a society we accept the fact that liberty – freedom of choice and action – sometimes has a cost in human life, a sad and harsh reality.

Horton also tries to peddle the clichéd trope that the Second Amendment only applies to “well-organized state militias”. I will very kindly label that statement as “misguided”. In fact US Code Title 10 § 246 defines the militia as having two components: the “organized militia”, which is the National Guard (Horton’s organized state militias); and the “unorganized militia”, which is all other law-abiding adults in the country who are, or who have applied to be, citizens. (US Code)

Of course, Horton indulges himself in the demonization of the semi-auto AR-15, the most popular rifle in this country, calling them “mass killing machines”. Interestingly enough, in Switzerland, members of their militia – which is all males of military age, as they have universal conscription – are allowed to keep their issued weapons at home, including full-auto guns. You’d think their streets should be awash in blood, wouldn’t you? But no…

I think there’s one more issue to address, and I think it’s pretty important. As I quoted him, Horton claims 360,000 gun deaths over a ten year period, so about 36,000 per year on average. However, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR) for 2017, the last year for which data are available (FBI UCR), there were 10,982 homicides in which firearms were used, and only 403 of those were with rifles of any kind. If you average out the number of gun homicides covered by the five years of that report you get 9,733 per year. Multiply that by 10 and you get 97,333 for ten years, a far cry from that 360,000 Horton so freely bandies about.

In 2017, rifles – of which the AR-15 type is a variant – were used 403 times, and averaged 316 times per year over the five years covered by the UCR, for a ten year averaged total of 3,160. That means that rifles of all kinds, NOT just AR-15s, were used in only three percent of gun-related homicides. Not exactly an epidemic, is it?

I have no idea where Horton got his 360,000 number, and frankly don’t care. No matter how you slice it, that number doesn’t represent gun use in homicides in this country, as the real data clearly show.

Horton’s column is a very clear illustration of the hyperbolic scare tactics used by those who’d deprive law-abiding people of their gun rights, full of blatant misrepresentations and over-the-top rhetoric and demagoguery.

Don’t fall for it.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2019

(Published 4 Sep 2019 on my blog and in The Signal)

 

 

A Conservative Guide to Voting in Santa Clarita (and Commiefornia)

I’ve said it before, right in these pages: we’re in the midst of a civil war in this country every bit as profound and fundamental as the one that took place in the 1860s. So far it’s been pretty bloodless, but make no mistake. We’re in a battle for the very soul of this nation.

In the two years since Donald Trump put an end to Hillary Clinton’s “unstoppable” ascendancy to the Oval Office the Dem/socialists have cranked their outrage meter all the way up to eleven, culminating in the outrageous and despicable attempt at character assassination targeted against Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation process as a Supreme Court justice.

Fortunately, that attack failed and Kavanaugh has been seated. But that battle may well not be over. Many of the Dem/socialists’ leading voices – luminaries such as Nancy “The Red” Pelosi, Cory “Spartacus” Booker, and Maxine “Muddy” Waters, among others – have intimated, if not outright promised, that they will explore the possibility of impeachment, not only of Kavanaugh, but Trump himself, too, if they manage to take over control of the House of Representatives.

It doesn’t matter to the unhinged left that there aren’t any “high crimes and misdemeanors” upon which to hang an impeachment charge, nor that removal from office requires a 2/3 vote in the Senate, a level impossible to attain. This is all political kabuki, theatrical melodrama designed to impede the political process while chomping from a bowl of sour grapes.

We need to put an end to this right now.

The first step is to make sure that Katie Hill doesn’t win election to the House of Representatives. She’s already made her position clear on Kavanaugh, calling him a “serial predator” in a tweet (https://twitter.com/KatieHill4CA/status/1045009222918799361). As I discussed in my September 19th column (“A Lynching in the Senate”) there was no actual evidence to support the outrageous accusations, but that evidently didn’t mean anything to Hill. Is that the mindset we want to see in the person representing us in the US House of Representatives? Guilt and personal destruction by unsupported accusation? Do we want to send her to Washington so she can hop on the impeachment bandwagon?

Throw in the nature of the policies she supports – gun control, government-run healthcare (which will destroy both healthcare and the economy), amnesty – and you have a hard-left activist who I believe doesn’t represent the values of our community.

Let’s re-elect Steve Knight.

We have our work cut out for us at the state level, too. If and when the Sacramento socialists get a super-majority, bad things will happen. You think the gas and car registration tax hike was bad? Well, buckle up if they get even more power!

To that end, it’s a big “NO” on Christy Smith and a “Yes!” for Dante Acosta. For those of us in the north part of the SCV, Tom Lackey gets the nod over Steve Fox.

The race for Governor is pretty much a no-brainer. It’s interesting how, in his media ads, Gavin Newsome tries to come across as reasonable and moderate. All you have to do is look at his tenure as Mayor of San Francisco to see the real face behind the mask. John Cox is the guy to vote for.

Leftist extraordinaire Xavier Becerra is being challenged by Steven Bailey for the post of state Attorney-General. This is an often-overlooked position in people’s election thinking, but it really is quite important. Let’s support Bailey.

At the local level, I’ve previously mentioned that we have a group of radical leftist activists who have “endorsed” certain candidates for some of the offices on the ballot. To me, that’s a list of candidates to avoid. Here they are:

City Council: Haddock, Trautman, and Logan Smith. There are 12 other candidates from which you can choose, including my friend Jason Gibbs.

Saugus Union School District: Barlavi, Arrowsmith, and Chris Trunkey.

Hart Union School District: Donna Robert and Kelly Trunkey.

You may have noticed I didn’t mention the race for US Senate. Feinstein versus De Leon. Well, it reminds me of a movie: “Dumb and Dumber”. I’m sitting that one out.

I’m not a member of any political party, so, as a conservative “independent”, those are my recommendations for the upcoming elections.

Vote as if your kids’ futures depend on it. Because they do.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2018

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

A Race in Commiefornia

 

I often say that when it comes to politics the only person I agree with 100% is… me.

I think that Ronald Reagan was the greatest President this country’s had in at least my lifetime – I’ll be seventy in a few months – and even he did things I didn’t agree with.

The same can be said for Steve Knight, our incumbent congressman for the 25th District, who is facing off against Katie Hill, a local Dem/socialist, in this mid-term election cycle.

To give you an example, I think Knight’s off base on his approach to dealing with our illegal alien issue; he’s a bit mushy. He’s not pro-illegal alien, but he’s also not firm in advocating an approach he endorses to address the broader aspects of the issue.

However, on many other issues, notably Second Amendment rights (an issue near and dear to my heart), he’s a hard charger, a true stalwart. He opposes Common Core in our schools; is a strong “law and order” guy (no surprise given his background as a cop); believes in election integrity and promotes it by supporting Voter ID laws and opposing “all-mail-in” ballots; he supported Trump’s tax plan, which has led to the economic boom we’re currently enjoying; has voted to repeal Obamacare; supports our alliance with Israel; and in general has proven himself to be a Representative who actually represents the values that I believe are held by a majority of the residents of this district and the SCV.

On top of that, Knight brings experience to the table. He’s an Army vet, former cop, and served in both the state Assembly and Senate. He’s completing his second term as our congressional Representative, and currently serves on three committees in the House: Small Business; Science, Space and Technology; and Armed Services.

Hill is a whole different ball of wax. She has no voting record to which I could refer, never having served in elective office at any level, so I had to refer to her web site (https://www.katiehillforcongress.com/home) to get any useful information about her. In other words, she’s an utter tyro.

Here’s what I found there: “Katie resides in Agua Dulcé with her husband and animals on a small farm… She openly identifies as bisexual… a new kind of candidate, who will work on behalf of all members of this community… is a proven leader… running for Congress to give a voice to the people of California’s 25th district… a proven track record as an advocate for progressive policies… She will continue to be an energetic progressive leader… healthcare that puts patients before profits and the 21st century infrastructure for a sustainable equal-opportunity economy. Katie is running to be part of a new generation of leaders in a new House majority…”.

A “proven leader” how? A “new kind of candidate” in what way? Why do I need to know she “openly identifies as bisexual”? In what way will she “work on behalf of all members of this community” that’s any different from any other partisan political candidate? How would that even be possible, when the chasm between the Republican and the Dem/socialist is wider than the Grand Canyon? Whichever one wins will be representing the interests of the people who voted for him or her. It’s called “winning” and “losing”. I can’t imagine any “progressive” representing any interest with which I agree. “Progressive” is Orwellian Newspeak for “socialist”.

This is borne out by her positions on certain key issues. She’s for “Medicare for all”, which means government-run healthcare. If you like your doctor, too bad. An absolutely budget-busting idea that promises to destroy our economy and medical system.

She’s anti-gun, touting her support of useless gun bans. She spouts the usual “Income Inequality” rhetoric of socialism and class warfare. She opposes school “privatization”, AKA vouchers. On a wide range of important topics, such as foreign policy, defense, and the military, she’s silent.

But the most important part of her message is that of being “part of a new generation of leaders in a new House majority”.

Ah, yes… that hoped-for “new House majority”. That’s the “new majority” that wants to impeach Trump, and that has as members Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Bernie Sanders and Keith Ellison, among a host of other radical socialists. That’s poised to welcome the latest self-proclaimed Socialist crackpot in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – a woman whose sheer and unabashed ignorance is worthy of a column of its own, complete with laugh track – into its ranks. That wants to roll back the recent tax reform, and return to socialist wealth redistribution.

That’s the “majority” to which Hill wants to contribute and be a part of. Even if she objected to some of their policies – and there’s absolutely nothing on her site that suggests to me that she would – can a young first-term neophyte, with no previous elective experience, be expected to stand up to the likes of Pelosi, Waters or Sanders?

Are you kidding me? Are you ready to hear the words “Speaker Pelosi” again?

And in what way do any of those policies conform to the values of the majority of people in this district and valley?

When I started this column I wrote that I’ve never agreed 100% with any candidate. But I’m here to tell you that the inverse isn’t true. In Hill I believe there’s a candidate with whom I disagree 100%.

How about you? How will you vote this November? I know that I’m going for Steve Knight.

Please join me.

 

©Brian Baker 2018

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

Evil Termites

 

Because our gasoline is so very expensive (due to gross over-taxation) I usually gas up at the independent station at the intersection of Magic Mountain Parkway and Bouquet. While I was there the other day filling the tank on my happily un-PC gas-guzzling SUV, I noticed a billboard – a sign – on the south side of the intersection. It read:

“CHOOSE CHILDREN OVER GUNS

Our Congressman Steve Knight Has an A from the NRA

Call Him and Ask Why”

Below that was a line naming the sponsors of the sign, a local Dem/socialist activist group.

When I moved here in 1984, like many people one of my main motivations was to escape the leftist swamp of LA city. The Santa Clarita Valley was an oasis of conservatism. Pickup trucks abounded. My wife’s BMW was a rarity. Cows grazed on the grounds next to College of the Canyons, a common sight when one took the Valencia Boulevard off ramp from I-5. Where the mall is now was nothing but vast onion fields from which hot air balloons launched on Sunday mornings if the wind was calm.

If you’ve ever wondered where Cinema Drive got its name, there was a small multiplex theater located on the intersection with Valencia Boulevard, with a little Sutter’s Mill restaurant on the other side of the street, one of the very few eateries in the area.

We were regularly mocked and ridiculed by the nabobs in LA, particularly those in tony enclaves like the Westside and Beverly Hills. “Redneck cowboys” and “hicks” was a pretty common theme.

Meantime, we “hicks” were enjoying a “small town” quality of life that attracted other like-minded people, and so our valley grew in population, which drew further development in the form of businesses relocating to the area, and amenities – such as the mall and restaurants – opening, further enhancing the area’s desirability, and drawing evermore people eager to enjoy the area’s ambience.

Of course, some of those people happened to be some of the same folks who previously scorned and mocked us, and recently included a Westside lawyer who carpetbagged his way here just in time to qualify himself to run for Congress as our local Representative. But I’m sure that was all a big coincidence… right?

It’s always been interesting to me how leftists move to conservative areas to enjoy a better lifestyle than the place they’re leaving behind, but then try to impose the same political agenda that turned their prior home into the very swamp they’re trying to escape.

They’re like evil termites. They wreck the home they live in, then fly off to find some new home to wreck.

Anyway, I decided to check further, and confirmed that the dreaded NRA did, indeed, give Knight a 93% back in 2016, which sounds like an “A” to me. Great! Even more reason to vote for him (as if there was any doubt to begin with)!

I have no idea why our local lefties think this is somehow a negative. Do they think the NRA is some faceless, shadowy, monolithic conspiracy of evil villains scheming to somehow subvert the will of the people while sacrificing little kids to their nefarious agenda? A bunch of solitary old childless misanthropes sitting around in their bathrobes plotting to cache an armory in the dream of overthrowing the government? Illicit gunrunners and covert international weapons dealers swindling their way to vast riches?

What nonsense. Time for a reality check. It’s an organization of millions of like-minded everyday people, some of whom are probably your neighbors, who think that the Second Amendment literally means they have a right to own guns; who have families – including kids – of their own; who actually believe they have the right to have the tools necessary to protect their kids and family; and who want to share the shooting sport experience with those family members, as hard as that might be for leftists to grasp.

And as far as I know, not one single NRA member has ever been involved in any mass shootings anywhere.

The whole meme of “CHOOSE CHILDREN OVER GUNS” creates a false dichotomy that should more believably and accurately be stated as “CHOOSE CHILDREN AND GUNS”.

These election-year anti-gun jihads usually don’t work out too well for the left outside of urban metro areas. Just ask Al Gore and John Kerry. If there’s anything that can motivate those gun owners who are usually pretty lazy about voting, this is it.

As Napoleon Bonaparte reportedly said, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake”. I hope that sign stays right there through November.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2018

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

 

The Kabuki of Gun Control

 

Kabuki… Kabuki theatre is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its performers… Kabuki is a term used by American political pundits as a synonym for political posturing” – Wikipedia

Another day, another anti-gun screed. Or – as was the case on 29 March – two, when The Signal published a letter by Richard Myers entitled “No fear of guns” and a column by Anthony Breznican entitled “Stop saying that Parkland students are fakes, actors”.

Myers’s letter was a reaction to my column of March 15 (“The Second Amendment and the Militia”) in which I outlined the legal and historical context of gun rights. He didn’t even try to dispute any of the facts in my column, he simply indulged in an emotional outburst echoing the standard anti-gun talking points.

“As for your claim that we need a present day unorganized militia in the event our government becomes tyrannical, I can only say—baloney”, he rants. Well, okay. I’m probably not going to get a flat tire, either, but I still keep a spare in my trunk. Better to have a spare tire – or a gun – and not need it, than to need one and not have it.

Breznican’s column is allegedly a rebuttal of one by Ron Bischof that was published on 22 March as “Talking about school safety”. Breznican writes: “…writer Ron Bischof suggests a conspiracy theory…”.

But in reality Ron does no such thing. What he actually says is: “Isn’t it rational to conclude they’re being orchestrated by media producers and other organizations with political objectives?”

After all, if the news media is truly objective, as Breznican suggests when he writes: “When those individuals don’t wish to be interviewed, it’s important and ethical to respect that. When they actually do want to talk, it’s vital to listen”, then why haven’t the major news media been giving any attention at all to the many Parkland survivors who hold views opposing those being expressed by the kids whose faces are plastered all over the place while screeching for gun confiscation?

That’s not a “conspiracy”. It’s political Kabuki. The fact is that according to a USA TODAY/Ipsos poll taken after the shooting (Link) fewer than half of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 think more gun laws would prevent mass shootings. But we don’t hear much of anything about them.

That’s because the worker bees of the major media are, by a very large margin, living their lives in the left-wing echo chamber. Antipathy to gun rights is in their nature and their culture, so their natural inclination is to seek out and publicize those who agree with, and validate, their own prejudices and agenda. It’s so ingrained that it doesn’t need a “conspiracy”; the script is already well-rehearsed.

Political Kabuki.

As to Breznican’s various other claims about the Supreme Court Heller decision and how Congress should act and all of that, it’s interesting to note that retired (thankfully) Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote an op-ed column published in the 27 March edition of the New York Times in which he calls for the repeal of the Second Amendment.

Though I vehemently oppose such a repeal, and think it has absolutely zero chance of actually happening – just look at any map and tell me where enough states would approve such a thing – I do think his column does something important.

It’s one of the very rare instances when an anti-gunner proposes substantive changes to gun laws in a way that actually conforms to the Constitution. And it puts the lie to the constant refrain of “We support your right to own a gun, BUT…”.

Stevens’s column was Kabuki-free.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2018

 

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

The Second Amendment and the Militia

 

 

“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.” – Second Amendment to the United States Constitution

 

When it was written in the late 18th Century the Second Amendment was contemporaneous, clear, and concise; easy to understand by all who read it. It was very short, because it was meant to be all-encompassing in its application.

But language usage evolves with time, and in the intervening two+ centuries the language of that amendment has become archaic, making it vulnerable to misinterpretation. Unfortunately, every time gun control becomes a hot political issue, such as now in light of the recent Parkland school tragedy, we see the hoplophobes (anti-gun faction) attempt to exploit that vulnerability by trying – either through ignorance or cynical manipulation – to advance the claim that the gun rights protected by the Second Amendment only apply to uniformed militia organizations such as the National Guard.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The United States Code is the body of the permanent general federal statutes of the country. According to “10 U.S. Code § 246 – Militia: composition and classes” the militia is defined as:

“(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in Section 313 of Title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are—

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.”

In other words, all law-abiding citizens, and those who have applied for citizenship, are members of either the organized (uniformed, such as the National Guard) or unorganized militia if they’re of military age.

Further, the right isn’t limited just to those of military age. The reference to the “militia” is simply recognition of the fact that a militia might at times be necessary and it would be drawn from the at-large citizenry. That is why the amendment protects “the right of the people”, and not just “the right of militia members”. The right isn’t restricted to only those in one of the militias.

For those extremist hoplophobes who make the absurd claim that the word “militia” refers to the active-duty military: why would the Founders need the Second Amendment at all when the Constitution itself, in Section 8, gives the federal government the power to “raise and support Armies” and “maintain a Navy”. In fact, that same section also states that the government may “provide for calling forth the Militia”, clearly distinguishing the Militia as being a separate entity from the regular armed forces.

I believe that if the exact same amendment were to be written today in modern language, it would go something like this:

“Recognizing that the protection of a free State may require the activation of a civilian militia in addition to the standing military, and that the militia is composed of the citizenry at large, the right of those citizens to keep and carry arms in order to be proficient with their use shall not be infringed.”

The words “free State” are also crucial to understand. The Founders were engaged in a revolution against what was the legitimate government of which they were citizens. As described in the Declaration of Independence, their grievances justified that revolt, and they were very aware that any government has the potential to become tyrannical.

That potential included the government they were forming. They wanted to make sure that the citizenry had the ability to remove that government should it become another tyranny, no longer a “free state”, and the way to do that was to ensure that the citizenry had the means to do so: arms. Guns. The same guns as the rest of the military, which they are expected to provide at their own expense.

Many people today scoff at the idea of average Americans rising up and overthrowing the government, saying that the idea of civilians standing up against American military might is ridiculous. I guess the Taliban haven’t yet gotten that memo.

The ragtag Minutemen started such a revolution against the single most powerful military on the planet… and won.

And what was it that caused that “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”? The Redcoats were marching on Lexington and Concord to confiscate the colonists’ guns.

That’s right. The precipitating event of the American Revolution was an attempt at gun control.

So, as we can see, the real purpose of the Second Amendment is to protect the right of law-abiding civilians to possess and use the same personal weapons as the rest of the military in order to assure a defense against enemies both foreign and domestic.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2018

 

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

Let’s Hear It For Censorship

I know I’m doing something right when I’ve got leftists setting their hair on fire.

A little over a week ago my local newspaper, The Signal, published a column written by me entitled “Some ideas to address school shootings” in which I took local pol Katie Hill to task for immediately trying to politicize the recent school shooting tragedy in a blatant bid for votes: “I’m running for Congress to put an end to these senseless tragedies.”

Anyone following the development of the story knows that since Hill’s and my columns have run more revelations have come to light, including the fact that there was a cop on scene who did precisely nothing while the shooter was gunning down helpless kids and teachers. He was soon backed up by other sheriff’s deputies who joined him in doing nothing. In fact, the shooter apparently left the school grounds and headed out to a fast-food joint before cops even entered the building.

All of which supported my premise that, at least in this case, the only hope those victims could have had would have been if one of their fellow victims had been armed and able to return fire, robbing the killer of complete control of the battle space, and seizing back the initiative.

The response to my column from local leftists was prompt and energetic, both online and in the published letters. Patrick Comey (“Stop the name calling”) and Roselva Ungar (“Consider censorship”) both took offense at my characterization of the “ethically and morally bankrupt Dem/socialist party”, which makes me wonder where their sanctimonious outrage was when local writers such as Gary Horton and Charles Vignola were characterizing the Republicans as “jihadists” and “blackmailers” when those writers didn’t like certain GOP policy proposals.

Got hypocrisy? The rules are for thee, but not for me?

Further, in her letter Ungar asks The Signal “to consider censoring, or at least limiting, any writer whose language does not adhere to a respectful use of language.” I guess that must only apply to writers with whom Ungar doesn’t agree. Otherwise, everything’s just hunky-dory.

Censorship: the go-to device for wannabe tyrants. If there’s any question as to why I characterize the left as “ethically and morally bankrupt”, here’s yet another illustration for you.

 

©Brian Baker 2018

(Published in the print edition [only] of The Signal on 2 March)

 

 

School Shootings? Try This

On February 17 The Signal published a column by Katie Hill, a local Dem/socialist political hopeful, entitled “A call for action”. In it she wrote the following:

“The vast majority of Americans agree that measures like universal background checks, waiting periods, and disqualifying terrorists, domestic abusers and those in mental health crisis from buying weapons are all simple solutions we can take action on — TODAY — that would save lives from being lost tomorrow.”

Yes, well, all of those things are already in place, so what is she really advocating?

Or is this just one more example of a member of the ethically and morally bankrupt Dem/socialist party cynically mining a tragedy for cheap political points?

Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland shooter, bought his guns legally, meaning he was subjected to all the background checks required by law, both by Florida (https://gun.laws.com/state-gun-laws/florida-gun-laws) and by the feds. He passed.

Real life isn’t the movie “Minority Report” wherein the cops can predict who’s going to commit a crime and then swoop in and arrest them ahead of time, before they commit the crime. Further, until someone actually does something that disqualifies them from gun ownership — and there’s a long list of such actions — they can’t be prevented from owning a gun just on the mere speculation that they might do something.

Ms. Hill wants to “take action”? Well how about taking action on some things that might actually help address the problem? The first step is to stop making schools “gun-free zones”. You might as well put up a sign that says “target-rich environment”. You’re actually advertising the fact that a school is what’s known as a “soft target”, meaning it’s defenseless.

Then consider hiring people capable of putting up an on-scene immediate response to a shooter, and let them be armed with concealed weapons. No matter how fast the local cops can react, it still takes them time to get there. When seconds count, they’re only minutes away. Consider hiring retired people with military experience. They work cheap — like the crossing guards at intersections — and they know how to respond to the sound of the guns.

Further, once potential bad guys know that they won’t be hitting a soft target anymore, I suspect this problem will pretty much evaporate. If nothing else, when one of these nut jobs is busy trying to defend himself from someone shooting back at him, he’s not using his time to shoot innocent kids.

Those are some suggestions for how we can “take action” and actually make an impact, rather than just trying to score political points based on emotion and hysteria. How about it, Ms. Hill?

 

 

©Brian Baker 2018

 

(Published 20 Feb 2018 on my blog and in my local newspaper, The Signal)

My Debate On Gun Rights

 

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been debating the issue of legislation pending in Congress that would mandate that concealed gun permits (CCWs) issued in any state be honored by every other state when the license holder is in that state on a temporary basis.

This debate has been taking place in my local newspaper, The Signal, and I’m including below the entire debate for your consideration.

The opening salvo ( Link ), written by a local hardcore leftist named Anthony Breznican, was published on December 14th:

Anthony Breznican: Congressman’s law would endanger law enforcement

I read an article in the Dec. 8 edition of The Signal in which Congressman Steve Knight was boasting about his new bill that will allow concealed carry permits across state lines. Essentially, this law makes the states with the weakest, least restrictive guidelines the law of the land.

That pleases the gun lobby, but it makes our nation more endangered at a time when we have already been horrified by bloodshed from reckless gun proliferation.

Those from other states who might be blocked from carrying a concealed gun in a state like California, which has restrictions on such a license for those with a record of spousal abuse or other criminal behavior, will now be able to enter carrying a loaded weapon with impunity.

Knight’s bill is under heavy criticism from law enforcement. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck calls it a cop-killer, writing in the Los Angeles Times: “In addition to jeopardizing public safety, concealed carry reciprocity would endanger the lives of law enforcement.

“The mere presence of more concealed weapons on California streets would make police work here much more hazardous. What’s more, if LAPD officers stopped someone with a loaded, concealed handgun, that person could claim to live in a state where permits weren’t necessary, and the officers would be unable to confirm whether it was true.”

Beck adds: “Given our intensifying focus on the potential for homegrown terrorism, the last thing we need is to make it easier to carry concealed, loaded firearms across state lines.”

We should heed his words. Beck’s outrage is also shared by the commissioner of the NYPD and by numerous law enforcement groups, including the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and 66 of the largest police and sheriff’s departments in the United States.

The bill from Congressman Knight, R-Palmdale, weakens the public safety laws of individual states at a time when we need stronger gun safety laws. As a former cop himself, Knight should be ashamed of his support of this bill, which so many police organizations say will endanger men and women in blue.

But I’m sure Knight will be offering his “thoughts and prayers” to the eventual victims of his bill.

My first response ( Link ) was published on December 21st:

Brian Baker: Different side of concealed carry permits issue

The Signal published a letter Dec. 15 entitled “Congressman’s law would endanger law enforcement” regarding the legislation pending in Congress that would establish national reciprocity for concealed gun carry permits (CCWs) that are legitimately issued by any state, and that would require that all other states honor such permits.

As is his wont, letter writer Anthony Breznican’s attack on this proposal, and on Steve Knight for supporting it, seems to be relatively free of facts.

Since the liberalization of CCW issuance started about 30 years ago in Florida, and in stark contradiction to all the “Wild West” hysteria of the time and since, wherever CCW issuance requirements have been eased, the rate of violent crime has fallen.

Further, those people who actually have CCWs turn out to be pretty much the most law-abiding people there are. Their participation in criminal activity happens to be far lower than the national average. It’s almost non-existent.

This is no different from drivers’ licenses. When people from other states come here for a visit, they don’t have to get a California license in order to drive a car. Every state recognizes every other state’s licenses for non-residents. I see absolutely no reason why CCW licenses should be treated any differently.

Further, the very issues that would disqualify anyone from being issued a CCW aren’t any different in other states from what they are in this state, since the basic qualifications are based on federal, not state, laws.

Breznican absurdly claims, “Those from other states who might be blocked from carrying a concealed gun in a state like California, which has restrictions on such a license for those with a record of spousal abuse or other criminal behavior, will now be able to enter carrying a loaded weapon with impunity.”

The problem for Breznican is that federal law bars such people from even owning guns, let alone being issued CCWs, so that claim makes no sense except as an inflammatory bit of groundless rhetoric that has no basis in reality.

His claims may be true in the land where unicorns live, but not here in the real world.

My opponent volleyed back on December 22nd ( Link ):

Anthony Breznican: Concealed carry: the debate continues

A fellow reader was flatly wrong about the proposed concealed carry reciprocity bill and the dangers it poses, and he used wordplay to dismiss a serious concern of both police and victims of abuse.

Brian Baker responded in print to my earlier letter, which cited LAPD Chief Charlie Beck’s withering criticism of the bill Congressman Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, has co-sponsored.

The bill allows those with concealed carry permits to cross state lines regardless of whether they would qualify for such a permit in that area.

The proposal has also been denounced by the NYPD commissioner, the Fraternal Order of Police and dozens of the largest police and sheriff’s departments in America.

And for good reason.

I used the example of a spousal abuser, who might be restricted from carrying a hidden weapon in one state, but under this new bill would be allowed to carry one wherever he likes as long as he’s from a state with lax laws.

Mr. Baker correctly notes there is a federal law against spousal abusers getting concealed carry permits. But the fact remains: the federal law is extremely limited and does not cover dating partners, those who abuse family members besides a spouse or child, or even those convicted of stalking.

That’s why many states have passed more stringent restrictions covering these red-flag individuals, but other states have not. The concealed carry reciprocity law Knight supports reduces the national standard to the state with the weakest laws.

For instance, only 35 states specifically ban dating partners who have been convicted of abuse from carrying hidden handguns in public. Only 28 states prohibit convicted stalkers from carrying concealed guns.

There are 12 other states that have absolutely zero restrictions on who carries a hidden gun. There is no concealed carry permit required in those states. No safety training.

No restrictions whatsoever.

The bill Knight co-sponsored would force all states to allow these kinds of permit-free carriers to carry hidden guns across their borders, even to states that have the more stringent rules.

This undermines the individual state laws and the safety of those states’ citizens. It also forces our police to face a tangle of excuses and conflicting laws as they try to enforce California’s permit rules.

Mr. Baker’s exploitation of semantics is a perfect example of this chaos. He zeroed in on the shorthand use of “spousal” to try to dismiss the very real concerns expressed by law enforcement leaders.

That just shows how America’s hodgepodge of lax laws, loopholes, and ultra-narrow restrictions are manipulated by technicalities to empower criminals and exacerbate dangers.

These are facts. These aren’t just opinions. These are the concerns of the police. But they are of no concern to our own congressman, Steve Knight.

Now the latest salvo ( Link ), written by me and published today:

Brian Baker: Still more on concealed carry

The day after my last letter was published regarding Anthony Breznican’s hysterical assertions about reciprocal interstate recognition of CCWs (concealed gun carry licenses) The Signal posted a rebuttal written by him.

The problem for him is that in addition to “misstating” (I’m being kind) the law, as he did in his original letter, in his rebuttal he “misstated” what I had written in my original response.

He wrote: “(Baker) zeroed in on the shorthand use of ‘spousal’ to try to dismiss the very real concerns expressed by law enforcement leaders.”

That’s flat-out false. Actually, I quoted him thusly: “Breznican absurdly claims, ‘Those from other states who might be blocked from carrying a concealed gun in a state like California, which has restrictions on such a license for those with a record of spousal abuse or other criminal behavior, will now be able to enter carrying a loaded weapon with impunity.’”

He’s the one who specifically mentioned “spousal abuse”. That was his argument, not mine. I was quoting his own letter. Everything I wrote was true and correct, and was in direct response to his wild-eyed claims. Just as I wrote, federal law is the superior authority, and those who wouldn’t qualify for basic gun ownership because they’re “prohibited persons” under federal law for having committed some criminal act certainly won’t be qualified to possess CCWs… in any state.

Further, and just as I wrote, the “opinions” of politician/cop “law enforcement leaders” notwithstanding, this is no different from universal reciprocity of drivers’ licenses. Different states also have different licensing requirements for those, too, but every state recognizes every other state’s drivers’ licenses when those residents visit regardless.

Thanks for the opportunity to set the record straight.

I suspect this will be the end of the debate in the pages of The Signal. They’re not going to give us endless ink to go round and round in circles.

More importantly, though, is that this is a great example of what we as conservatives face when arguing issues with American socialists: They blatantly lie about underlying fundamental facts, and when caught out in their lies, continue to refuse to acknowledge facts, to the point of lying about what we ourselves have said, right to our faces.