NRA Again Dividing Gun Owners

I used to be a proud NRA member. Now I’m just a member. A Patron Life member, but just a member nonetheless. They won’t be getting another penny of mine any time in the near future.

My frustration with the NRA began in 2013 and was initially personal in nature. After my arrest in Temple for lawfully carrying my AR15 while on a hike through rural Texas (surrounded by my family’s pastures) with my son, the NRA refused to help. I was told that if my case went to appeal, they would be interested in helping with that. Well, the case went to appeal and again the NRA did nothing to assist with the case.

Not only did they passively ignore my open carry case, they actively opposed open carry in Texas. They actually created a blog post that called open carry in public “not only is it rare, it’s downright weird.” But, the NRA didn’t stop there. They attacked law abiding gun rights activists that were fighting to further 2nd amendment rights in Texas by calling the open carry rallies a “dubious practice” that is “downright scary!” Dubious?! Scary?! To be fair, the NRA retracted its ignorant ramblings, but only after gun owners revolted and began sending in their shredded membership cards. Unfortunately, anyone paying attention would have recognized that the NRA slipped when it admitted that “using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners. That’s not the Texas way. And that’s certainly not the NRA way.

I only rehash the past to draw attention to the present. Despite supposedly opening their eyes to the plight of gun owners, the NRA has recently exposed it’s lack of spine in defending the 2nd amendment by pushing for bump stock and “red flag” legislation. They’ve already accomplished the bump stock ban and many states are instituting their red flag bills.

Just when I thought they had learned their lesson about open carry, they go and publish yet another article critical of open carry using worn out, baseless, unsubstantiated, and ignorant claims. Author Karen Hunter begins her piece hoping to convince us that her “objective is not to sway you from one side to other.” Then, after going through the pro/con arguments between open and concealed carry, concludes her screed with “Personally, I lean more toward the concealed-carry-always viewpoint” and launches a full-throated offense against open carry.

Before I tear into her points, let me make something clear: I don’t care HOW you carry. JUST CARRY!! How and whether you carry is your preference and everyone has their own. While I and Open Carry Texas have pushed for open carry as an option, we don’t tell people that one is better than the other because, as Ms. Hunter TRIED to do, there are pros and cons to each method. My main point of contention is that once again the NRA is trying to stigmatize open carry for all the wrong reasons.

My biggest objection to this hit piece is that she insinuates that our rights and carry preferences should be adjusted because “there are many people who aren’t anti-gun but are not educated on gun facts or laws whatsoever.” I thought the entire purpose of the NRA was to educate?! I know that’s the point of Open Carry Texas. You don’t educate people on something by restricting their access to it. You can’t teach people that driving is fun if you tell people why they shouldn’t drive or keep cars hidden.

Hunter then goes on to say she doesn’t prefer open carry because “I really don’t want to cause unneeded alarm to anyone or induce any amount of gun-related anxiety.” I’ve been open carrying for years (before open carry was legal in Texas, I OC’d in other states) and I’ve never had to worry about “inducing gun-related anxiety.” This is NOT how you fix this problem anyway. The best way to handle anxiety is to confront anxiety by exposing them to the elements that cause it.

For example, after a major motorcycle crash, many people are scared to get back on one. There is a lot of anxiety and fear involved just seeing one. However, the way to overcome that is not to hole yourself up inside your home, but to expose yourself to motorcycles. If you don’t get back on that motorcyle, you’ll always live in fear of it. Same with combat veterans. One of the ways that we overcome much of our combat anxiety is to expose ourselves to the sights and sounds of combat. When I returned from Iraq, I couldn’t watch Saving Private Ryan or other combat movies with realistic sound effects. However, I learned that if simply fight my anxiety by confronting it I could overcome it.

Instead of retreating to remote places on the 4th of July, I forced myself to go and watch fireworks displays so that I could overcome my reactions to explosions. I generally don’t have problems now because I expect loud noises during certain occasions throughout the year. Now, I do still have reactions to the unexpected, but I have learned how to deal with those anxieties and control them instead of allowing them to control me.

I usually open carry because I can’t stand inside the waistband holsters. I find them uncomfortable especially considering that my EDC is a full-sized 1911. However, as an activist, I mainly OC because I want to expose the public to the sight of a law abiding citizen with a firearm so they don’t fear them as much. Ms. Hunter may want to perpetuate the irrational fear of firearms, but I don’t. The NRA may be okay with it, but OCT is not.

I’m going to be 100% honest here: open carry is not really fear-inducing to the vast majority of Americans. Those that claim it is are lying. OC is not what causes fear; ignorance and a lack of education is. You don’t fix ignorance by placating it. You don’t educate people by withholding educational materials from them. When OC in Texas was being debated, all the libtard gun grabbers whined about this exact claim: open carry will induce fear! Hundreds of OCT members have OC’d in thousands of places throughout Texas (and others in others states, I might add) and no one has every experienced someone running away in fear. There have been complaints, but these have come from the gun haters anyway. Who cares what they think? My rights aren’t dependent on the irrational or manufactured fears of others.

Finally, Ms. Hunter conjures up the worn out myth about the “element of surprise.” Why any gun owner wants the “element of surprise” instead of the element of prevention is beyond me. When you need to “surprise” an attacker, you’re already being attacked. One can argue that appearing disarmed through concealed carry makes you just as much of a target as open carrying and making your firearm a target. I would argue the former is more likely than the latter. The overwhelming majority of criminals prefer a soft target and will be deterred by a visibly armed person. On the other hand, nearly all criminals are likely to target someone they believe isn’t armed. This is especially easy to understanding considering that, at least here in Texas, only about 4-5% of the public is licensed to carry and surely the criminals realize their odds are good.

The only thing that Ms. Hunter and the NRA accomplished with this article is once again splitting gun owners into two camps: open carriers and conceal carriers. I wish the establishment gun rights “defenders” would simply shut up about open or concealed carry and simply encourage people to carry. The article was great in presenting some reasoned pros and cons about each mode, but then defeated its entire purpose through its advocacy of one over the other.

Perhaps this wouldn’t be such a big deal to me if the NRA didn’t have such a history of attacking open carriers in the first place.

The Courts Have Turned Away from Their Constitutional Purpose

If you think that we have a wonderful criminal justice system, you’re kidding yourself. We no longer have an independent judiciary whose power is limited “to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority.” The key words here are “under the Constitution.” The Constitution dictates which laws can be passed, so that section isn’t as important. However, the Constitution doesn’t seem to be a care of a U.S. appeals court that just upheld a New Jersey law that limits the number of rounds a magazine can hold.

To summarize the opinion of the court: if bad people do bad things, you’re rights can be legislated away. Let’s break down what the judges said. There are many issues here that confirm our courts have lost their way and in many cases should be ignored. The 2-1 divided court came to several conclusions: the law does not burden the 2A’s right to self-defense “in the home”; it does not violate the 5A’s takings clause because there are hoops owners can jump through to keep their magazines; and it is not a violation of the 14A’s equal protection clause that the law recognizes that law enforcement officers are just better people than the rest of us and should therefore have more rights. Let’s break these down individually.

“New Jersey’s law reasonably fits the State’s interest in public safety and does not unconstitutionally burden the Second Amendment’s right to self-defense in the home.”

First of all, the court relied on unspecified “statistics” that point to a “160% increase in mass shootings over the prior decade.” This is a bogus way to determine the constitutionality of an unconstitutional law. The court never identified its source, nor did it define exactly what constitutes a “mass shooting.” The reason for this is because there is no accepted, legal definition of a mass shooting. As such, the meaning and definition has changed depending on the source. For example, the idiots at the Gun Violence Archive, a leftist, anti-gun website founded by a rich, leftist, anti-gun lawyer.

See, the problem is that the GVA defines a “mass shooting” so broadly that just about every shooting with multiple victims is categorized as one. This includes gang and drug violence or even shootouts between rivals. However, in 2013, a federal law identified a “mass shooting” as “3 or more killings in a single incident.” Even this definition is problematic because it makes the assumption that a gang shootout at midnight over a turf war or a drug deal gone bad is the same as a deranged sociopath who enters an office and slaughters a bunch of people. Anyone that isn’t reliant upon pushing an agenda can easily see these aren’t connected. The only thing that is consistent is the type of weapon used.

Even uber-leftist website Mother Jones disputes the numbers frequently quoted from the GVA. While the GVA claims that there are more mass shootings than there are days in a year, MJ has that number at around a dozen per year. The only 160% increase in mass shootings has been a 160% increase in redefining the definition. This is hardly a way to determine – as the courts should be doing – whether something is constitutional. The courts findings are nothing more than regurgitated, anti-gun talking points using flawed and discredited sources.

The court is also attempting to convey the idea that the 2A only protects your right to keep and bear arms “in the home.” By including those three words, the court is pushing the narrative that there is no right outside the home to keep and bear arms. Nowhere in the 2A do the words “in the home” appear. It says a right to keep and bear arms and the fact that the founders didn’t just keep firearms in the home for home defense is proof that this was never their intent. The law certainly does burden the 2A right – in the home or otherwise – because it limits me as to the extent of my self-defense. Assuming I am a “one shot, one killer” gun owner, the law limits me to defending against a group of ten thugs. What if I’m attacked by 11? What if I miss once or more often, which is natural under duress, especially to those that aren’t as well trained as I am?

Here’s what the court is saying here: you only have a right to self-defense in your own home up to a certain arbitrary amount. Beyond that amount, the court essentially went mute. Either I have a right to self-defense or I don’t. What difference does it make if I choose to defend myself with a 10-round magazine or a 100-round magazine if I’m defending myself? This is another hypocritical factor the court missed. They use criminal activity to determine the limits of lawful self-defense. I understand laws to prohibit or prosecute criminal activity, but that should never have a bearing on lawful self-defense. This is no difference than a state limiting me to the type of car I can drive because a particular model is used more in bank robberies. I’m not a bank robber, so my choice of car shouldn’t be limited despite the fact that I COULD use it to rob a bank if I were predisposed to do so. Likewise, since I’m not a mass shooter, I shouldn’t be limited to what I can “lawfully” possess as a gun owner.

From Politico:

Since the mid-2000s, the incidence of mass public shootings on a per capita basis has been a bit higher than it was in the preceding 10 years. But the rates over the past 10 years are no higher than in the late 1980s and early ’90s, when the frequency of mass public shootings led to the creation of policies designed to address violence in schools and workplaces. Most notably, the growing number of high-profile mass public shootings in that era helped bring about the 1994 enactment of the federal assault weapons ban, which was allowed to expire in 2004.

They also wisely note that when the court relies upon statistics that rely upon rates, the conclusions can be misleading. A single murder in a state like Alaska with 739,795 people will produce a profoundly larger rate than a single murder in a state like California with 39.54 million people. The raw numbers are not much different today when it comes to gun violence than they were in the late sixties, but today there are over 326 million Americans versus just 202.7 million in 1969. The rates haven’t changed much at all.

The court determined that the 2A is protected because it only “places a minimal burden on lawful gun owners.” In other words, “it’s okay to violate the constitution as long as it’s just a little.” So, state could easily ban some religions, as long as there are other options for people to attend to church…somewhere. A press can be free, as long as it reports what the state determines is okay. It’s okay to quarter a minimal number of troops in our homes and not offend the 3A. You have a right to due process…as long as you are only accused of certain crimes or you’re at least 5’6″ tall. I know it sounds crazy, but logically this is the path it leads to.

“The law also does not violate the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause because it does not require gun owners to surrender their magazines but instead allows them to retain modified magazines or register firearms that have magazines that cannot be modified.”

There are several ways the law provides for owners of magazines with a capacity to hold more than ten round to become “compliant” with the law. Owners can either modify their magazines to accept ten rounds or less, destroy firearms or magazines that can’t be modified, register the firearms or magazines that cannot be modified, or transfer them to an “individual or entity entitled to own or possess it,” likely in a state that actually values freedom. They can also surrender the items to law enforcement as a last resort.

The 5A says that government shall not allow “private property [to] be taken for public use, without just compensation,” but the law in question in this case does not provide for a single penny to owners who are being required to modify, destroy, or surrender their property. In fact, the court completely ignored the “just compensation” clause. Additionally, the 5A only allows for such takings “for public use,” another clause the court ignored. Simply forcing once law-abiding citizens to turn in their private property because a bunch of politicians put words together on a piece of paper demanding it does not mesh with the constitution.

The court relied on testimony from researcher Gary Kleck and Everytown for Gun Safety (EGS), but only quoted EGS refutation of Kleck’s self-defense gun use (SDGU) figures in which he found that most SDGU involved fewer than ten rounds. It completely ignored that they also found there were many SDGU involving more than ten rounds. Despite this fact, the court simply found that those that needed more than ten rounds for self-defense were somehow less worthy of protection than those only needing fewer than ten rounds. By its own admission, the court “concluded that the testimony of certain experts (the ones, of course, that were on the side of the 2A) was “of little help in its analysis….[because] their testimony failed to clearly convey the effect this law will have on reducing mass shootings in New Jersey or the extent to which the law will impede gun owners from defending themselves.”

The court found that “while a ban on LCMs (large capacity magazines) does not restrict the amount of ammunition or number of magazines an individual may purchase…without access to LCMs, a shooter must reload more frequently.