Monday, March 28, 2016

Gun Safety: When was the last time you heard about a child catching on fire?

Let’s face it, some parents suck at their jobs. They fail to teach their children some very important topics. In these households, there is no debate about abstinence. There isn’t even an awkward offer to buy condoms or a prescription for birth control pills. About the only education on safety a child might get is a sore bottom when seen doing something dangerous, like using a blow dryer in the bathtub. The lack of widespread gun safety education is threefold:
  1. It is taboo for school to talk about guns in a frank and potentially positive manner;
  2. With the move to an urban lifestyle and population growth, hunting is less common than it was and
  3. Some gun-owing parents are too stupid or lazy to discuss gun safety with their kids. 

I’ll be the first to say it: there are a lot of people who shouldn’t own guns. Donny Dumbass who open carries to make himself look cool can’t keep from muzzle sweeping people in the gun store, and who takes a selfie with his finger on the trigger probably should be banned from owning guns, sharp objects, anything that makes fire, cars, alcohol, and reproducing. Yet when it comes to fundamental freedoms, you can’t limit gun ownership too much, no more than you can regulate who can vote or speak freely.

Growing up, I did a lot of stupid things. I cut the blinds with my new pocketknife (for reasons unknown even to me), which my dad simply laughed at. I learned the hard way why it was a bad idea to touch the lawnmower engine and why I was told to cut away from myself when whittling.

I always knew that the rifles were in my grandparents’ attic, just inside of the trapdoor. The refrigerator usually had beer or wine in it. Occasionally, liquor bottles were elsewhere in the kitchen. I had free access to matches and the fireplace too. Never once did I steal a drink, play with the guns, or start a careless fire.

In my law enforcement career, I saw a hillside catch fire because two Autistic children wanted to see a large plume of smoke. Other boys, who had discipline problems, were playing with matches and started a full-fledged brush fire. Mom and dad probably should have kept the matches and lighters in a locked drawer. Even so, kids can still get their hands on these items fairly easily, or heaven forbid, try making fire with a magnifying glass or rubbing two sticks together.

Many children need closer supervision that they receive. They need parental involvement and education that they simply don’t receive. Parents are too busy with the distractions of modern technology, busy with their work lives, or simply such poor human being that they cannot be bothered to do more than feed, clothe, bathe, and drop their children off at school. Even worse are the parents by accident who regard their children as an inconvenience or as a source of welfare income. These are the children that exasperated teachers cry for. All of us can probably name a family or two that only by the grace of God managed to have all children survive to adulthood.

When it came to fire safety, the biggest lesson I ever took away was when the fire department in my home town put on a safety fair at my grandparents’ church. The even brought a mobile home that they filled with dry ice smoke to teach us what to do if there was a fire. We practiced stop, drop, and roll until we were dizzy. Because of that lesson, even to this day as a grown man, I do not feel comfortable fishing a piece of toast out of the toaster, even with the appliance unplugged and cool. Those are lessons that stick.

Fire safety and drug avoidance (D.A.R.E. and Red Ribbon Week, anyone?) are all the rage in schools, but what about gun safety make it taboo? If there is a supposed epidemic of young children shooting themselves and others, why don’t schools teach gun safety? Instructor Mac says it well: “When was the last time you heard about a child catching on fire?”

Sex education brings out all sorts of parents; some who in the age of instant pornography want to pretend they can ignore their adolescent’s hormonal urges, who spend an entire evening railing at the school board. Mom and dad don’t want the teacher talking about sex, but they won’t have the conversation at home. Okay, not in every case though, and it’s a broad generalization, but where is the damn conversation about gun safety?

Parents have a huge role when it comes to influencing their children. Because of things I was told as a child, I won’t ride a motorcycle, I will never smoke, and I won’t try smoking pot. Why? Because above all my own personal reservations, it would disappoint my parents. Out of respect for them, I won’t go there. Sure, in other areas I will disappoint them, but the point I’m trying to make is parents reaching their children when they are young. Make the right impression early and it will stick for life. There is a reason all those anti-drug/drunk driving commercials keep saying “Talk to your kids.”

Take drug, alcohol, and tobacco education for example. Most of the government spending on it is money that is poured down the drain. Kids will drink, smoke, and try drugs. Those who don’t usually have parents that talked to them about that stuff. Even if the kids try it, the damage is mitigated, for the most part. Once my sister and I were old enough, our parents occasionally let us have a bit of alcohol. We never drove drunk, trashed the house, or developed an alcohol problem. Demystifying alcohol helped.

The same goes for guns. Kids dig through their parents’ things to find those hidden goodies. Children properly educated on the danger of guns don’t end up having charities named after them. Several of the gun owning parents that I know teach their children advanced gun safety—
they go beyond the typical don’t touch it, tell an adult rules. Their children keep their toy guns holstered and when they draw, they keep their finger off the trigger, just like mom and dad do. When their parents are cleaning their guns, they stand respectfully back and don’t grab for them. These kids preach gun safety to their friends.

In another anecdote, this one dating from the 1940s, courtesy of a sweet woman I worked with at the sheriff’s office, her police officer father kept his pistol in drawer in the dining room. Once she wanted to show it to her friends, but she made all of the kids put their hands behind their backs and promise not to touch it. So not exactly up to today’s standards, but she and the other kids showed far more respect than the gangbanger’s kid who shows off his dad’s Saturday Night Special kept under a pillow.

Parents must teach their children about gun safety. Asking other parents about unsecured guns in the home isn’t a bad idea. A frank conversation about not being a dumbass gun owner might lead someone to change their ways. It could be that these parents are so uneducated on guns themselves that the thought may never have occurred to them.

Nevada probably should have a stronger law requiring safe storage with children in the home, but Nevada must avoid the overly stringent laws of California. Adults without children shouldn’t be under the same restrictions and government must never make the mistake that legislation will cure all evil. For instance: 
  • A ‘loaded chamber indicator’ isn’t going to matter to a child who can’t read or doesn’t understand how a gun functions, let alone what the indicator means.
  • A magazine disconnect safety doesn’t work if the magazine is inserted.
  • Requiring a gun be unloaded and locked or in safe doesn’t work if someone doesn’t do it. 

Talk about gun safety with your kids. When they’re old enough, teach them how to school. Invest in a quick-action safe so your gun can be kept out of little hands, yet ready for action. We don’t need ‘safe guns’, we don’t need draconian legislation, we don’t some anti-gun mom telling us that gun ownership is the root of all modern evil. We need good parenting and gun safety education.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Off-Paper: The Importance of Making Private Arms Purchases (

Editor's note: This article is re-posted with permission from James Wesley, Rawles of Original post here.
Firearms sales in the United States, as measured by the number of completed National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background checks, are near an all-time high. In February, 2016, there were a whopping 2.6 million background checks! But those sales numbers only reflect the sales of new guns sold by Federal Firearms License (FFL) holders. The bigger and largely unreported news is of the upswing in the sales of used guns (“secondary sales”) by private parties. At a recent gun show, I observed that the folks who were there selling guns from their private collections were met by very eager buyers. At one private party sales table a gent sold out of every gun that he brought with him, all on a Friday– the first day of a three-day gun show. Everywhere at the show I heard and saw the same thing: Buyers who were primarily looking for battle rifles, scoped long-range rifles, and handguns with double-column magazines, and looking to buy them without any paperwork. Twice, I heard husbands say to their wives: “No, not that table, they have a license.” The tables being run by FFL holders were not nearly as busy as the private party tables. This was the busiest Friday I had ever seen at a show.

Understanding the Federal Gun Laws

Up until 1968, guns could be ordered by mail. With the enactment Gun Control Act of 1968, the sales of all new guns could only be made by FFL holders. Under current law, any FFL holder who brings any new or used gun into their inventory must log it into their Bound Book (or computerized equivalent) by the close of the next business day after the acquisition or purchase, and they must record sales or other dispositions within seven days. When a FFL holder sells any post-1898 manufactured gun, the buyer must fill out a Form 4473. Starting in November of 1998, the NICS phone system went live. So now, a NICS check must be accomplished before the buyer walks away with his purchase from an FFL. The Form 4473 is a permanent record, and any FFL holder who lets his license lapse must turn in his books and forms to the BATFE’s Out-of-Business Records Center. There, the records are digitized for future reference, making them a de facto gun registration database.
In addition to Federal law, America has a patchwork of state and local gun laws. This can be both good and bad. The good side of this is that if you dislike the laws in your state, you can simply “vote with your feet” and move to another state. The bad part is that when you travel, you might unwittingly come under the jurisdiction of some strange gun laws. For example, in Massachusetts, shooting ranges are prohibited from posting up targets that resemble human beings. In Clark County, Nevada, it is illegal to bring a concealable firearm into the county unless it is registered with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. (Editor's note, registration is now defunct in Clark County). In North Carolina one cannot carry a firearm in a funeral procession. And in Illinois, some local governments have enacted magazine capacity limits, including Chicago (15 rounds), Oak Park (10 rounds), Aurora (15 rounds), and Cook County (10 rounds).
Under Federal law, since 1968, it has been illegal to be “engaged in the business” of buying and selling firearms with the principle purpose of earning a living without obtaining an FFL. Oddly, neither Congress nor the BATFE has ever set a threshold of how many gun sales per year constitutes being “engaged in the business”. Thus, it has been largely up to the persuasive power of Federal prosecuting attorneys to convince juries of such status, on a case-by-case basis. The ambiguity has never been resolved. And recently, it got even worse. In January 2016, President BHO announced executive actions that were intended to intimidate private gun collectors, threatening them with prosecution, even if they sold just an ambiguously “few” guns a year with the intent of making a profit. A newspaper account stated: “Obama said that anyone ‘engaged in the business’ of selling firearms would need to obtain a license [or face prosecution]. Attorney General Loretta Lynch further clouded the water by saying this could mean as few as one or two gun sales.” These executive actions are unconstitutional, because they were aimed at intrastate commerce. It will surely eventually be tested in the courts, but for now, Obama’s expansive “redefinition” of the term gun dealer seems to be intended to put fear, uncertainty, and doubt into the minds of private collectors who sell guns from time to time, to upgrade or reduce their personal collections.

The Last Bastions of Firearms Freedom

In most States it is perfectly legal for used guns to be bought and sold by private parties, with no paper trail. Under the protection of the Second Amendment, this is the way it should be! The government has no business restricting private sales of used goods inside of any of the 50 States. (The Interstate Commerce Clause only gives jurisdiction over interstate sales. So, by definition a used gun that stays within the boundaries of a State is no longer in interstate commerce and has no Federal legal nexus. It is just another piece of private household goods. And as long as both the seller and the buyer are adult residents of the same State, then they are conducting legitimately intrastate commerce. No nexus means no jurisdiction.)
A few States now require private party sales of used guns to be conducted through FFL holders with NICS background check and the Federal paperwork. If you live in a state where private party sales have been banned, then you should either move or get busy trying to get those laws changed. If you feel stuck in one of these States because of family or work obligations, then you might have to make do the best you can. One good approach in these States is to acquire cartridge guns that have frames (receivers) that were manufactured in or before 1898. These Pre-1899 Guns thankfully are not classified as “Firearms”, and as Antiques they are exempt from Federal recordkeeping requirements and are also exempt under most State laws. (Be sure to consult the laws in your jurisdiction.)
Another possibility, at least in some States, is to manufacture your own guns. Again, be sure to check on your State and local laws, but even in most of the States where private party sales are banned, there is no paperwork required for gun receivers that you manufacture yourself. Nearly anyone with basic mechanical skills can finish up an 80%-complete receiver and then assemble an AR-15 with the other readily available (unrestricted) parts that make up the rest of the rifle. Even someone who is a klutz at machining can set up a Ghostgunner automated milling machine or get through the many steps in casting an inexpensive “Pour Freedom” polymer receiver, using molds available from
Under current U.S. law it is only the serialized receiver that constitutes the “firearm”. That is the only restricted part and hence the only part that requires the Form 4473 paperwork. All of the rest of the parts required to assemble a gun can be bought via mail order or at gun shows without any paperwork. In many other countries, any gun part that is under pressure when firing (barrels, bolts, and gas pistons) are also restricted, and their purchase comes under the same scrutiny as would the purchase of a complete firearm. This same legal standard might eventually become adopted in the United States, so it is important that you not just acquire your AR receivers but also your complete upper receiver/barrel and bolt assemblies without paperwork, soon.

Their “Loophole” is Your Freedom!

The gun-grabbing Leftist-Statists have recently become fond of the phrase: “Closing the gun show loophole”. This is purely a political phrase with no basis in fact. Their goal is to turn all gun sales into paper-traced transactions with a Federal background check. If they succeed in this, then they may end our firearms ownership privacy in just one generation. Once this system is in place, then there will be no firearms ownership privacy and there will be no free secondary market. The pool of privately-owned arms is presently quite opaque, but they aim to make it all-too transparent and fully accountable to Big Brother. Don’t fall for their rhetoric. Their real goal is to enslave you. They are just doing this under the guise of “commonsense gun regulations.”

Keeping Kosher

Every freedom-loving American gun owner should maintain at least a part of their gun collection that has no paper trail. And this should include at least one battle rifle chambered in 5.56mm NATO or 7.62 NATO. This sans papiere part of a gun collection is what I call my Kosher Collection– the guns that are not traceable to me as an individual. This is important, because the day may come when laws change and Federal agents (or their local minions) will come knocking on doors, collecting papered guns. So you will want to have some guns that are either entirely untraceable, or that have broken paper trails that you’ve bought anonymously with cash from private parties.
Ideally, your Kosher Collection should be stored so well hidden that it cannot be found, if burglars or other miscreants ever seized possession of the rest of your other guns. In essence, your rule should be: Keep your papered guns stored in your gun vault and your paperless guns hidden in your walls or cached underground. Your Kosher Collection must be kept as viable tools for self defense or for the common defense, for the long term. Therefore, it stands to reason that you should also keep stored with them a good supply of ammunition, spare magazines, cleaning equipment, and a few spare parts. These too should be kept well-hidden.

Shortages Are Looming

The current surge in gun buying is not public hysteria. It is just people looking out for themselves and their families, in their rational self-interest. I believe that it is just a precursor of more frantic buying in the next eight months. Don’t be surprised to see significant shortages of battle rifles (with commensurately higher prices), particularly AR-15s and AR-10s, and full capacity magazines, before November. Also in anticipation of the presidential election, I expect to see shortages of gun burial tubes and perhaps even some shortages of 6″ and 8″ diameter PVC pipe threaded end caps.
Remember: We are living in the Age of Deception and Betrayal. Conduct yourself stalwartly, in ways that are fitting for these parlous times. – JWR

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

120 Days to Get a CCW from LVMPD? What Takes So Long?

Clark County residents are in an uproar over the closure of Metro PD’s Cameron St. fingerprint bureau and the resulting massively increased wait times at the headquarters office. For those who have applied for a concealed firearm permit, the Cameron St. location provided a relatively quick process, whereas a two hour wait (or longer) at headquarters is not uncommon.

The headquarters office on Martin Luther King Blvd. was recently remodeled to add more windows to increase the number of citizens served, exasperating citizens during the interim, some waiting over 5 ½ hours to be served. The Cameron St. location was closed to the public to create a home for the traffic bureau, which is leaving what will soon become the new Spring Valley Area Command at 8445 Eldora Ave, near Cimarron and Sahara.

The time it takes LVMPD to issue concealed firearm permits has been an extreme point of frustration for Clark County residents who have routinely been facing waits of 100-120 days for a permit to be issued. NRS 202.366 requires that the sheriff must issue a permit (or deny it) within 120 days. The number of active permits in the county have grown by approximately 6,000 in the past year and almost doubled since 2010. 58,234 permits were active in Clark County as of March 1st.

Numbers skyrocket

It wasn’t until the spring of 2013, following the Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown, CT, that wait times between application and issuance jumped to the three month range. Before then, the average turnaround time was about two months or less. Even with the abolition of the ‘blue card’ handgun registration system and the staff needed to administer the system being freed up in June 2015, the wait times remain in the three-to-fourth month range.

Currently, LVMPD is taking the full four months (120 days) to issue permits. A few instances of temporary permits being issued have been reported after the 120 day mark. Technically, the sheriff could issue the temporary permit on Day 1, but does not. Other states with substantially similar processes, such as Utah, are issued in half the time (Utah’s permits are administered by the state).

In theory, with the staff freed from their ‘blue card’ tasks, the numbers should decline. Except the only decline was the seasonal summer dip. Roughly 500 permits per month, for a total of about 4,000, have been issued since ‘blue cards’ were phased out. It is not known exactly how many employees process permit applications or how the exact process is performed.

One explanation for the long wait times is that more and more Nevadans are waking up to the need to defend themselves. Lt. Randy Sutton of Metro stated that there is a “secret army” of concealed carriers that terrorists and criminals need to be wary of. The surging interest for personal safety creates and obvious bottleneck that the department is ill-prepared to handle. Yet again, some improvement should have been made, at least incrementally, with the burden of ‘blue cards’ removed. Washoe County, the next largest issuer of permits, was last documented issuing at about 70 days.


As the charts indicate, the rate of permits issued does not exactly correlate with the sudden spike of applications post-Sandy Hook (Dec. 2012). The violent spike in volume would logically overwhelm staffers not used to average volume tripling. However, the application volume falls off again to about average levels before rising up to double the pre-Sandy Hook average.

If the high volume of applications burdening the staff were the problem, the wait times and application rates should correlate. Except they don’t. Volume falls way off to a level that past averages don’t justify. Clearly, the CCW detail could handle the volume in the past with a 90-day return rate. It’s not the amount of work.

More data is needed, specifically application/issuance dates to get a more uniform sample.

Wait time numbers are anecdotal, coming from various private forums where wait times are tracked. Issuance/received time is the 'Received' date used; it was impossible to tell apart issuance vs. received date in some cases based on lack of clarification. Issuance date, where explicitly listed, was used. Mailing time and weekends allows for a margin of error of 2-4 days between issuance and receipt. Stats here (spreadsheet). 

What takes so long?

Many applicants, in between fits of tearing their hair out, obsess over what takes so long for the permits to be approved. 500 permits per month would equal 25 permits per workday. What is in contention is how long it takes to work one application.

The FBI uses IAFIS (Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System) to scan and search fingerprints for matches among criminal records. “The average response time for an electronic criminal fingerprint submission is about 27 minutes, while electronic civil submissions are processed within an hour and 12 minutes.” CT Carry has this information on their state’s process, which states the FBI response can be up to 24 hours. Clearly, while a response is pending on one set of fingerprints, other portions of application processing can be done.

Some have pointed out that other licenses, such as a real estate broker license, requires essentially the same background check process, and yet takes less than a month to receive approval. LVMPD also tends to approve National Firearms Act (NFA) forms within about two weeks (fingerprints and application is processed by the ATF), which one would imagine is held to much the same scrutiny as a concealed firearm permit.

Some testimony from the 1995 legislative session when Nevada adopted a ‘shall-issue’ system gives us a little more info, though it is 20 years old. 
“Mr. Cooper said the issuance of those concealed carry weapons permits requires one full-time clerk together with a part-time employee.  He said the process is ‘laborious,’ consisting of a background check and clerical time which could take from 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours for each permit.”
“Lt. Cavagnaro added an FBI fingerprint check could take a minimum of 90 days.  He said a background check could vary from ‘10 minutes for a local person to several days for someone from out of the state.’
“Senator McGinness asked Mr. Cooper if he believed an FBI fingerprint check was always necessary.  Mr. Cooper answered the fingerprints would have to be submitted if the applicant's prints were not already on file.  He admitted if a person moved to Clark County from out of the state, ‘ could take from 60 to 90 days to follow up.’  Mr. Cooper said reviewing an application from a long-time resident of a county would be far more simple and take less time.” 
"Mr. Griiser [NRA-ILA] addressed the subcommittee again, saying: "I have testified in over 30 states...and I have never heard anybody testify that it takes 90 days for an FBI background check to go through."  He said in the state of Arizona the average wait, with a background check, is 10 days.  Mr. Griiser stated he believed setting a 60-day time limit would be sufficient. 
Mr. DeBacco, who testified earlier regarding this aspect of the legislation, said the repository submits approximately 60,000 to 70,000 civil fingerprints cards each year to the FBI, and the average turnaround time on licensing and employment issues is approximately 60 to 90 days.  He said the testimony in that regard is accurate.  Senator Porter indicated Nevada is the fastest growing state in the country, which may account for the lengthy turnaround time.  Mr. DeBacco said the fingerprint check is a 'labor intensive process,' and is a much more inclusive process than a simple background check."  
This was prior to the introduction of the IAFIS system in 1998.

We don’t really know what takes Metro so long. The numbers just don’t make sense. Ultimately, unless LVMPD or another agency is willing to shed light on exactly what they do, we can only make an educated guess. Hopefully, we can win constitutional carry in the 2017 legislative session.

Update: Metro said that the DPS provided stats may be inaccurate and the actual number of permits issued higher.

UPDATED: Westside Armory Responds to the Background Check Controversy

Last month, Bloomberg Business published a story after spending three days in Westside Armory. The owner, Cameron Hopkins, was a former gun journalist and he invited a friend, Paul Barrett, to observe what went on inside a real, Nevada gun store. The whole piece turned out to be nothing more than a thinly veiled push for the universal background check initiative. After the outrage in social media, Hopkins realized that Barrett had used their relationship to promote Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun agenda. Hopkins admitted that he was not pleased with being taken advantage of someone he thought was a friend.

While we are sympathetic to Hopkins for being so blatantly used by a tool of America’s nanny, the apparent innocence that area gun dealers have shown when talking to the media about background checks is concerning. Three gun stores too many have made comments that, they claim, were taken out of context to support background checks. Gun owners and dealers need to be more careful speaking to the media on the topic. The Nevada gun community has demonstrated that it has little tolerance for those that would compromise on gun rights.

This was a big lesson that Hopkins learned firsthand. Several members of a grassroots gun rights group spoke with Hopkins at length and discussed the article and the initiative. 

Update 3/14/2016: Mr. Hopkins, in a relayed email, requested that we retract his article that he shared with some of our associates. Hopkins stated that the article "serves as a reminder that there was a problem. I’d rather let this wither on the vine, so I’d rather not remind people there was a problem." Mr. Hopkins has been invited to comment.

Jury Duty: Your Second Amendment Views on Trial

Submitted by one of our readers from California. 

In January 2016, I spent seven days as a prospective juror in a criminal trial held in Ventura County, California for the murder of Dave Laut, a former Olympian and high school athletic director, who died in 2009 after his wife shot him multiple times with a single action revolver (the wife is alleging it was done in self defense with one of the firearms the family owned).

While we could debate several factors of gun ownership, gun storage, use of a gun against a family member, and domestic violence in this case...that is not what I am discussing here.

What I do want to discuss is my observations of prospective jurors who were questioned by a judge, a defense attorney, and lastly a prosecutor during voir dire which in layman's terms is the process by which jurors are selected for and removed from the final jury selection.  Full disclosure: I possess little knowledge of courtroom procedures and the law in general.

Somehow I wound up on the bottom of a list of almost 100 prospective jurors called up on Day One. I was appalled to see the intrusive questioning of average good citizens before me who happened to be gun owners and who happened to be fulfilling their civic obligation of reporting for jury duty.

To paraphrase, these are the questions they were asked that I found most troubling: 
  • What are your thoughts about firearms/the Second Amendment?
  • Have you ever shot a firearm?
  • What type of firearm? Include make and model.
  • Have you had formal firearm training and if so, who/what entity trained you?
  • Do you own firearms and if so how many, what type, what is the make and model of those firearms?
  • Do you have a concealed carry permit?
  • What do you use your firearms for?
  • How often do you go target shooting and when was the last time you visited the range?
  • And specifically, they wanted to assess the personal knowledge of single action revolvers such as...Have you fired one, do you own one, and can you describe how it functions mechanically? 

Think about answering those questions in front of a judge, a district attorney representative (and in my case, also a DA investigator which most likely means he is a law enforcement officer), two bailiffs (county deputies), a room full of almost 100 strangers, a court reporter diligently recording every word you utter for court transcripts, and members of the press (print, radio, and TV).

Now imagine if one of those strangers (which in some cases includes a defendant who is later found to be guilty of the criminal charge) was not such a good person. I don't know about you but I don't advertise how many firearms I own (especially the make & model of each) and whether I have a CCW or not (unless I need to in self-defense).  Why not? Because I don't want someone breaking into my home to steal them!!!  If I was a collector of rare gems, would I tell strangers the clarity and carat size of all the diamonds I stored at my home right after I said my name, where I worked, and what city I lived in? And as for the CCW part, what's the point of carrying concealed (which by the way I couldn't inside the courthouse) if you tell everyone?

So how did I prepare to deal with the privacy invasion staring at me? Well, my game plan was to refuse to answer the questions in public and to ask to go behind closed doors as many other prospective jurors asked on other private matters. However I knew that I still would have the judge, the attorneys from both sides, the DA  investigator, the court reporter, and a bailiff present. I would then kindly state my opposition to answering the most intrusive ones. Why? Because the court reporter would still be typing away and I knew there would be an inevitable paper trail.  But push come to shove, if ordered by a judge to answer I would answer truthfully. Mainly because my wife, daughter, and employer would not appreciate me spending a night in jail for my principles (that is what I imagine my punishment would be if the movies I have seen are accurate). Fortunately for me the judge kindly dismissed me on a few other factors before we got into the firearm questions.

In conclusion, I would like to remind those in the courtroom engaged in conducting the voir dire process that the jurors are the good folks, they shouldn't be treated as though they are on trial. And for my fellow Second Amendment lovers, be mentally prepared to face this dilemma each time you report for jury duty.

P.S. If anyone has a legal background and a suggestion of how a prospective juror advocates for his/her preference to refuse answering a voir dire question...please let me know!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Red Rock Canyon: Restoring Loaded Carry

For gun owners, Red Rock is a unique carve-out in Nevada because it is the largest swath of land open to the public where carrying loaded firearms is prohibited. The red rocks and sandstone cliffs of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area that dominate the western skyline of Las Vegas is a BLM-administered area, separate from the National Park System, which does allow firearms. Long have local gun owners bemoaned the outmoded regulations without attempting to solve the problem. Congress won’t remedy this right on their own, but we can ourselves.
Readers are aware that state law prohibits local and state agencies from making their own firearm laws, including state parks, except for regulation unsafe discharge of firearms. Some may be familiar with the change to federal law under President Bush’s tenure that permitted firearms in National Parks (including recreation areas like Lake Mead) as long as the weapons are carried in accordance with state law.

Specifically, loaded firearms are prohibited in Red Rock. Ammunition and magazines/clips cannot be on or in the weapon, except for legal hunting as permitted. The excerpt regarding weapons is below, while the full Supplementary Rules are here. The penalty is up to a $1000 fine and/or 12 months in federal prison (43 CFR 8360.0-7).

How stupid is it that you can have a gun, and even carry it on your person, but it has to be unloaded? The rules will not prevent a criminal from carrying illegally or prevent illegal target shooting. There is no benefit of this rule and the few seconds spent loading a gun could be the few seconds that give a bad guy the advantage or allow a cougar to strike. On top of that, it is immoral to effectively disarm the citizens who won’t carry at all because they don’t understand the nuances of the law.

Basic firearm safety dictates a firearm should be handled as infrequently as possible. The best place for it is left alone in its holster. Loading and unloading a firearm introduces unnecessary variables that could lead to a negligent discharge. Creating the potential for an accident negates any alleged gains. Also, in a self-defense scenario when adrenaline is pumping, fine motor reaction is lost, making it more difficult to load and chamber a round before firing. 

Legal basis

These rules were added shortly after Red Rock’s official inception as an NCA. The supplementary rules for Red Rock were published in the May 21st, 1993 edition of the Federal Register, which is the federal government’s journal. Federal law allows the interior secretary (via the BLM’s state director) to make supplementary rules and orders for the national conservation areas under his jurisdiction (43 USC § 1701).

Federal law is broken down into three main segments: The United States Code (USC), roughly analogous to the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS); The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR); and internal federal agency regulations, which are published in the Federal Register. Agencies are authorized by Congress to make regulations in their area of operation, such as the ATF’s various administrative rulings. Now to make specific ‘park’ rules, based on the unique needs of the given area, the BLM’s state administrator can make supplemental rules (43 CFR 8365.1-6), as long as the public is given notice of the proposal and time to make comments.

Other places

No other federal ‘parkland’ in Nevada prohibits legally carried self-defense weapons, loaded or unloaded, including the two other conservation areas, Sloan Canyon (south of Henderson), and the Black Rock Desert. Sloan Canyon is managed by the Southern Nevada BLM office, which manages Red Rock.

Only two other Conservation areas, the Wallace Forest in Idaho and the San Pedro Riparian area in Arizona, have firearm possession prohibitions. Both are outdated as well (2000 and 1989, respectively). Even in California, the ‘Lost Coast’ conservation area allows loaded open carry under that state’s quirky carry laws. As mentioned earlier, National Parks and Wildlife Refuges allow firearms in accordance with state law (§ 512. pg. 31 “Credit CARD Act of 2009”), though guns are still prohibited inside federal facilities (18 USC § 1930).

How to remedy

The public should be allowed to carry firearms loaded for self-defense, not just in light of the Second Amendment, but because of the dangers inherent in today’s world. One should not be forced to be disarmed or carry a ‘neutered’ unloaded gun because of an outdated regulation. Heaven forbid anyone is attacked by a cougar or coyote, not to mention potentially being the victim of a crime at, or to/from, Red Rock. The right to loaded self-defense should not disappear because someone crosses an invisible line into a wild desert park. There is nothing inherent in Red Rock that makes visitors any less susceptible to danger.

Taking into consideration the state laws of Nevada and no prohibition on other federal recreational lands, Red Rock’s loaded gun ban is an anachronism. 1993 was a different time in America. Handgun ownership and self-defense carry was not nearly as popular as today and “shall issue” concealed weapon permit laws had yet to come to Nevada and sweep across the nation. As more and more people recognized the need for self-defense weapons and the attitudes in the country have changed, it is time that unusual, out-of-touch regulation disappear.

The rules are not federal law and do not require legislation to change, which would be a pipe dream with the current president. Rather, a gentle campaign of public pressure through petitioning the state director John Ruhs to amend the Supplemental Rules to allow loaded firearms to be carried for self-defense. Additional support could be sought from Nevada’s republican Congressional delegation (the Democrats probably wouldn’t agree).

Public pressure can change things. It may be as simple as a few nice, well-written letters. Imagine if thousands of Nevadan gun owners, hikers, bikers, and concerned citizens petitioned the BLM to restore their right to effective self-defense?

Notwithstanding the supplementary rules, 43 CFR 8365.1-7 says that state still law applies, meaning that Nevada’s concealed carry laws and lack of an open carry prohibition or ban on loaded handguns in cars would not be illegal. So there is recognition of state law already in place, though not as specific as one would hope.

Temporary closure orders for events such as Burning Man would probably require some sort of federal preemption legislation, but given the highly specific nature, limited duration, and legitimate concerns (hippies+drugs+guns=bad idea) make this a more palatable exception rather than an outdated blanket prohibition on loaded firearms.

We are asking for a small change to the law to bring Red Rock in conformity with other federal areas and the rest of Nevada. We are not asking to allow target shooting with its attendant trash and safety problems.

There will always be the leftists (often involved in environmental and outdoors groups) and anti-gunners who will ill-rationally protest the restoration of gun rights, but rights and truth win over hype and lies any day. On top if it all, guns are already allowed in Red Rock, just unloaded. Many practice ‘California open carry’ where the pistol is on one hip, the magazine on the other, and can be loaded in an emergency with a quick reload and rack of the slide. The unloaded guns haven’t hurt anyone or the wildlife; why would loaded guns make any difference?

So Nevada gun owners; are you on board? Sign the petition here!