Sunday, April 9, 2017

SB 378: Marijuana and CCWs

SB 378 would amend NRS 202.360, the state prohibited person guidelines, to remove medicinal marijuana permittees as state prohibited persons. 
"For the purposes of paragraph (d) of subsection 1, a person who holds a valid registry identification card issued to him or her pursuant to NRS 453A.220 or 453A.250 shall not be deemed to be an unlawful user of, or addicted to, a controlled substance solely because the person engages in the medical use of marijuana pursuant to chapter 453A of NRS."
The bill also amends NRS 202.3657 to change the definition of "habitual users of controlled substances" to not include medicinal marijuana permittees in regards to concealed firearm permits.

"For the purposes of paragraph (d) of subsection 4, a person who holds a valid registry identification card issued to him or her pursuant to NRS 453A.220 or 453A.250 shall not be deemed to have habitually used a controlled substance to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired solely because the person engages in the medical use of marijuana pursuant to chapter 453A of NRS. As used in this subsection, 'medical use of marijuana' has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 453A.120."
Brass tacks on the firearm portion of this bill is that medicinal marijuana permittees would no longer be in violation of Nevada CCW or firearm laws. However, this does not affect federal prohibited persons laws. The jury is out on whether or not the ATF truly cares, but they have definitely stated that under federal law, medicinal marijuana use makes you a prohibited person. The Ninth Circuit court, which covers Nevada, has also confirmed this fact out of a Nevada case, Wilson v. Lynch. Short answer, don’t smoke pot if you want to own/carry a gun. Second short answer, don’t get an MMJ card if you want to own/carry a gun. If marijuana is so precious to you, write your congressman.

Now for the rest of us, would SB 378 make CCW holders Brady exemption to the background check void?

Right now, Nevada residents with a valid concealed firearm permit are exempt from the background check portion of buying a gun from a dealer (but not the Form 4473). This saves us $25 on each gun purchase and valuable time waiting for the gun store clerk to get through to Carson City. Nevada’s requirements satisfies the Brady Act exemption language that requires: 
"the law of the State provides that such a permit is to be issued only after an authorized government official has verified that the information available to such official does not indicate that possession of a handgun by the transferee would be in violation of the law;" 
There was some issue with this several years back because some sheriffs were not going through the entire CCW background process at renewal, which caused us to lose our exemption for a while. At this time, all valid concealed firearm permits qualify for the exemption.

This could go a few ways:
  1. Sheriffs drop any questions or investigation into the medicinal marijuana issue, therefore if they don’t ask, they can’t possibly know if a person is in violation of federal law (don’t ask, don’t tell).
  2. The ATF simply doesn’t care. They haven’t exactly been chasing down medicinal marijuana using gun owners.
  3. The ATF does care and Nevada loses its Brady exemption.

If the ATF does something, it’s most likely going to be Number 3. Even with the debate at the federal level over states and decriminalized marijuana, the exact reaction is unknown. That being said, if the ATF canceled the exemption in the past because sheriff’s were only running CCW holders through the computer and not doing fingerprints, it’s likely the ATF would find the MMJ exemption to be problematic.

The DPS Point-of-Contact section (the background check people) would be hit hardest by losing the Brady exemption. The exemption dramatically reduced their work load, which meant less time for your dealer on the phone while you stood around waiting for government permission to take your purchase home. If DPS couldn’t handle the extra workload Question 1 would have caused, they certainly won’t be able to handle the background check volumes an exemption disqualification would cause.

Metro testified that they will have to side with the ATF and will not be issuing CCWs to MMJ users. If all sheriffs in the state did this, then there probably wouldn’t be an issue with us possibly losing our exemption, but Joe Lombardo doesn’t control all 16 other sheriffs (thank God).

This is a feel-good bill by the liberal marijuana caucus. It only affects the state level and does not address the very real federal concerns and potential reactions. Federal law trumps state law and if the Feds earnestly wanted to keep marijuana users from buying and owning guns, they certainly could do so. Marijuana and guns is a debate that needs to happen at the federal level before potentially harmful decisions are made in the statehouse. Senator Segerblom, a proponent of legal pot, should see to it that this bill is amended to read something like “Should the Congress or ATF determine medicinal marijuana no longer disqualifies a person from possessing a firearm…” That way, the rights of everyone else who doesn’t smoke pot wouldn’t be affected by a rather selfish exemption.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Why Local Elections Matter

Credit: (Fair use)
As our friend and commentator Vern B. pointed out, elections have consequences. One of the consequences of Tuesday’s municipal elections was that anti-gunner Matthew DeFalco lost his bid for a Henderson city council seat for Ward III. John Marz took the top votes. Per his Facebook and other sources, DeFalco was a proud supporter of anti-gun Question 1. Hendertuckians did the right thing and stopped this guy’s political career in its tracks.

DeFalco, who is proud to have served as an intern to the much-maligned Senator Harry Reid. While local races are non-partisan, his internship and heavy support from unions is enough evidence DeFalco sides with the Democrats. Since his ideals are so obviously opposed to the Constitution, it seems wrong that this former soldier, who swore and oath to it, should be a member of a party that seems absolutely dead-set to tear that document to shreds.

Like a dog to its own vomit, this defeat may be seen by DeFalco as only a temporary defeat. He’ll probably be back to try again either in Henderson or some other office. Anti-gun politicians have to start somewhere. City councils, municipal boards, etc. The best way to keep an anti-gun Democrat from a place where he might do real damage is by shutting their career down early. Hopefully, this is defeat convinces DeFalco that no one wants him in office. If not, every opportunity must be used to deny him office and advancement in politics.

This is exactly why municipal elections matter. I will admit my own guilt in ignoring the issue, believing it too insignificant to truly matter. After all, we have preemption, don’t we? But the larger issue is again what people in politics can get up to. Who do they meet? Who do they influence? The rabid Democrats in Carson City that are trying for their own “Year of the Anti-Gun” had to begin somewhere. We must research local candidates and deny them that somewhere.

Another issue about local politics is where members of special boards come from, say the Las Vegas Clark County Library District. Library district appointees come from the city council or county commissioners. The person you elected gets to choose what hack gets to sit on a governmental board and operate with little oversight. Board members don’t really have a mechanism for removal so each appointment is critical, especially in communities or organizations (libraries) filled with liberals who hate your freedoms.

So from this point on, we pledge better coverage of local elections and will help coordinate efforts to shutdown anti-gun candidates before they have a chance to infect the host with their cancer.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Gun-Themed Books to Be Banned in Public Libraries?

Could reading violent, gun themed books and magazines soon be illegal in your library district? A bill (BDR 17-451) proposed by Senator “Max” Praetor (D-Aurora) would put such publications as The Blue Book of Gun Values, Jane’s All the Fighting Ships, and the NRA’s publication America’s First Freedom under lock and key. His bill seeks to prohibit violent gun-themed books from public libraries. Popular fiction books that contain extensive gun violence would also be affected by the bill. Senator Maximus’ fear is that children, whose parents frequently use libraries as unpaid and under-supervised after-school and day care

“Libraries are safe places to learn. We believe that public libraries are public places for children, youth, families and adult learners and as such, deserve public protections against violent reading material and even DVDs,” Praetor said. “Libraries have a duty to make sure that children and the public are only reading safe materials. Libraries are a safe place to learn and we can’t do that if people are reading such shoot ‘em up books by authors like Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy. It’s just not appropriate in a public space.”

The bill’s legislative summary states: “This bill would prohibit a person from reading or possessing certain books or magazines while on the property of a public library unless the person has written permission from the governing board of the public library to read or possess the book or magazine.”

The bill’s sponsor feels that it was an oversight by the state not to prohibit libraries from banning dangerous books. “Do we really want anyone who wants to, to be able to stroll into a library and bring these dangerous, violent books in with them?”

A librarian from the Searchlight Library District had this to say:

“Just the other day, we had a man sitting at a table reading a copy of Guns and Ammo. Anyone could see what he was reading. Pictures of guns that kill people violently openly exposed to children. I mean, this guy walked into the library openly carrying that magazine in his hand. I was so frightened. I didn’t know what to do, but under the law, I had to let him read it. That law needs to change.”  

Other books, the senator said, contain dangerous ideas. “There are several books in the non-fiction section that go into extensive detail about violent attempts to over thrown the government here in America. Particularly large sections dealing with the late 18th century and mid-19th century gun owners run amok. We also have large amounts of written material that espouses the writing and beliefs of early American politicians who owned slaves. Are those the kinds of things that should be accessible to children? “

The bill would grant the library board of trustees permission to give individuals to carry such books into a library or borrow them. “Each library should be allowed to decide for itself what its patrons should and shouldn’t be allowed to read in their libraries. Libraries are like schools, and that means that people who use libraries are like children. Library patrons needs responsible people to tell them what they should and shouldn’t be thinking, excuse me, I mean reading,” Senator Praetor said.

The full text of the bill and information on votes and hearing can be read here, on NELIS.

SB 115 Library Email Dump

Let's take a look at the email document dump from the two largest library districts in the state, Las Vegas Clark County Library District (LVCCLD) and the Washoe County County Library System, obtained via an Open Records Act request.

Washoe County Libraries informed emailed its entire library leadership and management about SB 115. By informing the staff, it implies support. If they didn't want it, they wouldn't have emailed everyone. 

The Las Vegas Clark County Library District (LVCCLD) sent its email to various interested parties, other library districts/board, and external mailing lists.

LVCCLD Chairman trustee Ronald Heezen wrote, "We would like to encourage them [friends, family, and colleagues] to SUPPORT SB115 which would prohibit carrying or possessing certain weapons in a public library IF THAT IS WHAT THE GOVERNING BODY OF THE LIBRARY WANTS TO HAPPEN. All control remains with your board or governing body." (2/27/2017, p. 33)

Heezen is less likely mistaken as he is to be lying. SB 115, in its current form, does not allow for individual libraries to set their policies. What the law, NRS 202.265 does, allows is for schools, colleges, universities, and hypothetically libraries to individually decide who will get permission to carry. One has to apply for written permission individually on a case-by-case basis. LVCCLD, if it went to far to break the law and try to re-write the law, will certainly deny permission. Knowledge of this distinction is hinted at in an email from Betsy Ward, dated 2/21/2017 (p. 4). 

LVCCLD's emails and arguments basically center around "children use the library." Adults use the library too. Parents bring their children to the library. Shame on us gun owners for thinking that parents and other patrons ought to be able to protect themselves, their kids, and their fellow citizens from murderers. 

LVCCLD says that it wants to provide a place that has similar "protection" against "dangerous" weapons. If the LVCCLD and others in the library/education world were truly as open minded as they claim to be, they would know that disarming law abiding citizens is not protection and no weapon is as dangerous as a homicidal human being. 

Take a look for yourself.

Friday, March 31, 2017

First-Degree Murder Charges for Right for This?

A 13 year old was shot by store clerk Raad Sunna while attempting what appears to be a robbery. Police say the assailant was grabbing at marijuana paraphernalia. In the video, he does turn towards the wall and appears to be possibly reaching for items. However, it is a very brief period of time. It took me several reviews of the video to catch that. One would be within reason to perceive the quick dash behind the counter as a robber's charge to the register.

The assailant was not shot running out of the store. He was only just barely turning around, probably once he realized that Sunna had drawn and aimed his firearm. He was shot in the back because Sunna, operating under extreme stress, did not have time to realize what was going on. Self-defense expert Massad Ayoob explains it beautifully.

Ayoob also mentioned that this information, which would have been so crucial for the homicide detectives and prosecutors to understand, is rarely taught to law enforcement. Had the officers and deputy DA's in question known this, they would not have over-charged, or charged at all, Sunna. God willing, a jury will realize that Sunna felt he was facing a robbery.

Looking at the video, I believe that reasonable doubt exists. Certainly, premeditated murder, malice aforethought, does not exist. Metro and the DA appears to have overcharged. At the time that Sunna draws, the assailant is still running towards him. The assailant is running behind the counter dressed like a robber. Sunna had every reason to believe it was a robbery and that the assailant was rushing to attack him. 
“Back in the 1970s, my friend and colleague John Farnam did tests which proved that the average person—not just a shooting champion—can fire four shots in one second from a double action only handgun with a long trigger stroke for each shot, and five shots in one second from a semiautomatic pistol with a short-reset trigger.”
“Now, let’s examine it from the attacker’s side. He is lunging at his victim, probably not the first time he’s done something like that, and now something unexpected happens; the victim comes up with a gun! Instinct tells him to turn away from danger, and what we know now about human reaction time shows he can start that turn in a quarter of one second, or even less. As a rule of thumb, a human being can pivot his torso a quarter turn in, oh, a quarter of a second. That’s 90 degrees, and if his side was angled toward you, the defender—something common in the ‘body language’ of human-on-human assault—the lateral midline of his body has passed your gunsights in 0.25 of one second. The human can do a half-turn, 180 degrees, in half a second. That means that even when the bad guy is square-on when you started shooting, he can his back square to you in 0.50 of one second."
“The third thing we have to factor in is the shooter’s reaction time to the unanticipated change of events when the attacker suddenly turned away. Reaction time to anticipated stimulus runs plus/minus a quarter of a second. But the shooter firing in self-defense does not anticipate a sudden break-off of the assailant’s attack; after all, if he or she thought the attacker was going to suddenly stop attacking, he or she would not have fired at all."
“Reacting to unanticipated stimulus therefore takes far longer, meantime, the original justified action—in this case, firing as fast as one can stop the threat—is still taking place. By the time the finger comes off the trigger, several shots may have been fired.”
Watch the video, what do you see? 

[1] Ayoob, Massad. Deadly Force; Understanding Your Right to Self-Defense. "Chapter 7: Furtive Movement Shootings and Other Widely Misunderstood Events." 2014.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Scanning the Crowd; Clubs and Gun Scanning Tech

Security is a hot topic at the Nightclub and Bar Convention here in Vegas. Nightclubs seem to recognize the danger of mass shootings, particularly after the Islamic terrorist attack at Orlando's Pulse nightclub.

Current security for nightclubs involving wandings and metal detectors. These method can create choke points which slow down entry to the club and create standing lines that make great soft targets for terrorists or murderers. In an earlier post, we looked at the Westgate's integration of microwave radar that can scan a crowd for concealed weapons that can eliminate these check points or scan the waiting partygoers.

The best defense against an armed shooter is another armed individual (a good guy) returning fire. Unfortunately, nightclubs don't really deal with too many true terrorist or mass shooting threats. What they do have to deal with is gang violence and intoxicated individuals getting offended and going for a gun. When this happens, you can have more than the intended victim injures, as happened this weekend at the Cameo nightclub in Cincinnati where at least 15 bystanders were hit.

Shooting in a club is shooting fish in a barrel, even if you don't mean to be a mass shooter. Any well-trained citizen carrier knows (or should know) not to fire unless you background is clear. Take cover if there is an innocent who may be hit. NYPD officers and the unfortunate security guard in Henderson could probably have benefited from keeping this foremost in their mind. A defensive gun in the club, even for the gun owner who only got dragged their against their will by a loved one, is a bad idea for the above reasons. Of course, getting to/from the club is a whole other story and often, it isn't the venue that is dangerous, but what's outside. Just ask the people raped, robbed, and murdered in casino parking garages.

Nightclubs do have a security problem, especially those that cater to criminally inclined elements of society. Alcohol, drugs, lots of people, and men competing for women is a bad mixture. We know the incidents that have happened here in Las Vegas. One can't blame a nightclub operator for banning firearms in their venue and searching for them; they can't very well profile and exclude customers who look like they might be the type to carry illegally or be gangbangers. Most of the gun owners I know would never associate with the nightclub crowd. Many clubs attract gang members and people prone to violence, thus the need for gun bans and searches. Sorry, but it's a reality.

The Cameo seems to be one of these kinds of clubs and has had problems in the past. It would be easy to write off the Cameo for having an apparent gang or cultural problem; as uncomfortable as it seems, time and time again we see these kinds of clubs having these kinds of problems. It's cultural. While we cannot fall into the old, racist trap of disarming minorities, we have to realize that business owners have a right to ban guns and institute firearm searches for their patron's safety. I don't begrudge clubs for doing this.

What should the gun owner do? Well, don't patronize a club. It's a cliché in the self-defense community: the first rule of winning a gunfight is avoiding places you're likely to get into a gun fight. Don't want to be disarmed? Don't go to the club, or if you do go, accept the risk. For the real safety concerns that these places have, it's a trade-off. I will say that it should never be against the law to carry against a business owner's wishes, signs/security or not, unless you have been asked to disarm or leave; then it is trespassing. Clubs also have a duty to provide adequate security to stop or significantly deter violence and ideally have trained, armed security able to respond to stop a shooter.

Most self-defense advocates would probably not have a problem with clubbers being wanded while in line. Where we draw the line is casinos or other venues employing intrusive scanning technology to ID and accost legally armed citizens who are carrying for self-defense. Walking the floor of a casino or out in private pedestrian areas like the Linq are not at all like clubs. In those areas that are open to the public, citizens should be allowed to discreetly carry. To date, there is an unstated understanding that a person minding their own business with no evil intent can carry concealed until they go into a "problem location" like a club or concert.

Private property owners, club/bar operators, and the gaming industry needs to understand that the vast majority of people carrying on their property will never cause a problem. While clubs have specific problems and businesses are within their rights to take reasonable steps to ensure security, they do need to realize that lines are a soft target and customers may be victimized to/from the venue. Again, there has to be a trade off. We're find with clubs having restrictive security, but none of that is necessary or justified (or will matter a damn) in other places.

Ultimately, a responsibility and liability for security of disarmed people should fall to club owners for packing people into such a small place and feeding them what Weaponsman calls Judgement Juice. If you are going to put fish in a barrel, make darn sure no one is carrying and that you can keep people from being shot. As for other businesses, don't try to see through our clothes if we're carrying. Disarming the law-abiding doesn't keep anyone safe, so don't get any ideas about scanning people as they come in through the doors of Target.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Unsafe Strip

News outlets are calling this weekend “chaos on the Strip” in the wake of a burglary where burglars in pig masks terrorized Bellagio in a bizarre incident as they performed a heist at the Tesorini store. The burglary was originally thought to be a shooting as the noise from the glass being broken sounded like gunfire, however, no guns were found. Later that Saturday, a shooting in an RTC bus traveling along the Strip left a person dead and another injured.

One of Las Vegas’ biggest secrets is how fraught with violence the Strip really is. Granted, if you are sober and not engaged in criminal activity (namely pimping and drug dealing) or a gang member, you will probably be fine. However, tourism officials and the gaming industry would like you to think that the Strip is as safe as Disneyland with the addition of booze and skimpy clothing.

Ocean’s Eleven (the Steven Soderbergh version) recounted three supposedly unsuccessful casino robberies. Thieves often hold up casinos’ cages or sportsbooks. It’s no more unusual than a bank robbery. Casinos, downtown Las Vegas, and the resort corridor in Paradise have all fallen victim to these kinds of incidents over the years.

Many in the firearms community discount then need for a firearm while out on the town in Las Vegas. That it is unnecessary and potentially hazardous if you are drinking. Casinos and the other various business generally discourage firearms due to concerns about liability and drunks or a fear of frightening tourists from places where guns are uncommon and thus scaring away gaming dollars.

The reason so few casualties occurred in the bus shooting incident was because the shooter was on the second level of the double-decker bus towards the back. At midday during cool, Spring weather, buses are generally fairly empty. Many passengers were able to evacuate the bus to safety since the shooter was so isolated from other passengers and the exits. Had the shooter chosen the first level and near an exit, the bus passengers would have been trapped and shot like fish in a barrel.

One bus driver complained to KNTV “Who is going to protect the bus drivers?” Many bus drivers carry concealed weapons against policy. RTC and Metro cannot put armed guards or police officers on every bus. Why not empower drivers and passengers to defend themselves? Unfortunately, no one with the ability to affect widespread change will take any such steps. It would not be surprising at all to see the Democrat controlled legislature try to prohibit firearms on public buses. This is not a solution, but instead an expansion of victim disarmament zones.

Nevada law does not prohibit guns in casinos or tourist areas, either openly or concealed. All private property owners can do is trespass a citizen who refuses to disarm or leave. Essentially every casino and major tourist property prohibits firearms, requiring them to be checked with security. Open carriers find themselves bearing the brunt of this ban for obvious reasons. Concealed carriers and off-duty/retired cops are almost never detected or bothered. Most security officers practice a “see no evil” policy creating an environment where concealed carry is de facto permitted in casinos.

What police brass, politicians, and many gaming executives fail to understand is the only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. The Westgate Las Vegas Resort, formerly the Las Vegas Hilton, will be purchasing and evaluating a microwave radar system that will scan guests for concealed firearms. The device, which looks like a small electronic box, can be mounted above entry doors and can see through clothing and people to identify those who are carrying a gun. The system is far more efficient than a metal detection system as it can scan entire crowds without creating a choke point as conventional security checkpoints do.

The Westgate is mum about how they will employ it. It’s hard to see them stopping every guest carrying a concealed pistol, especially if that person plans to lock it up in their room. Security officers intercepting a guest with such intentions would surely be alienating to customers. Unless casinos adopt a monolithic draconian anti-gun policy, individual casinos like the Westgate will likely face severe backlash from the gun community if gun owners who simply don’t want to become victims of Strip violence are accosted and disarmed by casino security.

What’s most likely is that the technology would be installed in specific area, such as the entrance to nightclubs and concert venues, where metal detectors and security are already present. These venues tend to attract certain people who, often aided by alcohol or drugs, are likely to engage in violence. This would create a less intrusive security screening checkpoint and move people in and out more efficiently.

Gamblers, shoppers, restaurant diners, casual drinkers, and tourists strolling the Strip are not a security threat. A Big Brother type system scanning bodies for concealed firearms will do nothing except offend legal citizens who want to spend money or create so many false positives that the system is useless. It does nothing in public areas, such as sidewalks, where no one can prohibit carrying a firearm even openly. Simply knowing someone is armed does no one any benefit. Real security, including allowing citizens to have the tools to react against a threat, will not only deter violence but save lives as well.

Armed casino security is not a panacea. Casino security staff ranges from highly competent officers at near police quality to rent a cops who have their guns stolen. Many security officers take their firearms training seriously and are true assets to the gun community. Generally, when security falls to the hands of individual officers, they operate with discretion. No doubt that these quality officers would, if they were in a position to do so, try to end a mass shooting. Yet just like police, security cannot be everywhere and there is often no security on the Strip itself, on buses, or when going to/coming from a casino.

Citizens and tourists should never be disarmed because a board room succumbs to anti-gun hysteria, conflating everyone who carries a gun with gun violence. Too many businesses post “no guns” signs or setup security theater, such as metal detectors with staff merely going through the motions, for reasons they cannot explain. Perhaps it is a notion of liability that our litigious society encourages or simply a business superstition that signs are some sort of talisman warding off crime. Tourists aren’t scared by armed citizens; many assume that since this is the United States or the West, that it is as common as seeing celebrities in Malibu. At the worst, they see it as boorish and unnecessary.

As this weekend has shown us, despite the 99% of the time everything is copacetic, 1% of the time a gun will be needed in the hands of a good guy to save the day. Casinos need to remember that concealed carry (and open carry as well) is harmless. It is the criminal, terrorist, or psychopath that you cannot deter or detect that is the threat. Make people feel safe on the Strip by letting them take their own defense into their own hands. Let terrorists, criminals, and would-be murderers know that any shooting spree in Las Vegas will be a short one.

The mundane aspects of security focus on drunk patrons behaving badly or the criminally inclined adhering to their criminal nature. At the more common extreme, gang members, drug dealers, and pimps causing violence on the Strip, like the shooting/car crash of several years ago. This weekend’s events were certainly uncommon, but it has happened before and will happen again. Instead of focusing closely on prohibiting guns as a panacea to violence, police and casinos need to focus on multivariate threats such as the car attacks that have become common in Europe. The tourist packed sidewalks are a repeat of the Nice tragedy waiting to happen.

So all tourists and visitors to the Strip are reminded that it isn’t a safe place. It’s not terribly dangerous either, but there is no reason to go there unarmed. Furthermore, the gaming industry should be on notice that disarming customers does not make anyone safety, it just makes it easier for a killer to take lives.