Citizenship, Free Society

(Non-existent) Gun Show Loophole

(c) 2013 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

The dreaded “Gun Show Loophole” must be closed. One problem with that strategy—the GSL does not exist.

The 1934 National Firearms Act did not prohibit or regulate weapons. Read the government briefs in the Miller case. The Act was for revenue and falls under the excise power of Congress. Further, the sawed off shotgun in question was of no military utility and therefore the Second Amendment does not come into play.  If this does not comport to your perception of reality, take it up with FDR’s Solicitor General.

The 1968 Gun Control Act, while it mentions public safety, is grounded in the Commerce Power of Congress. As such dealers operating in the area of “Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States” are subject to regulation. This is the concept which has accompanied the progressive takeover—that is stretching the Commerce Clause to fit the occasion. In the New Deal this was the justification for the second National Recovery Act—it was (improperly) upheld by a chastised Supreme Court after the first act was (properly) struck down. Dealers, weapons and prohibited actions are defined, with the prohibitions limited at first to constitutionally disabled individuals. It has been modified upon occasion and some of the modifications are questionable though they have not been challenged.

Gun shows are not mentioned by the act. Individual transfers that do not involve crossing state lines are neither prohibited nor regulated. That means that I can sell one of my World War I bolt actions to a friend or trade for one of his/her single action cowboy pistols without paperwork. The same would apply for any legal weapon under the Act—this includes semi-automatic weapons of the Stoner and Kalashnikov platforms. At gun shows patrons often bring weapons to sell or trade. Often they “trade up” to weapons from dealers. And they sometimes will get a better price or better trade from another patron. Believe or not, people have been trading and exchanging weapons for longer than I have been alive and I have been so trading for about half a century. I have purchased weapons from both dealers and other patrons. The transactions between patrons of a gun show are no different than transactions between individuals outside the gun show venue.

Now there are individuals who are, in fact, unlicensed dealers who use the gun shows as distribution venues. They will not get tables but will have two or three “personal” items on them as well as letting the patrons know where to contact them. There are also, at major gun shows, ATF agents supposedly looking for violations—they are not as easy to spot as they were in the old days when there were standards for professional attire. The two groups know who each other are and dance the dance. The bureau needs to do the job and nail the unlawful dealers, many of whom are probably their informants.

The use of gun shows by these people is not the fault of the law. The 68 Act follows the Constitution in not regulating private sales. These actual dealers are violating the law and need to be prosecuted. That is pure and simple—to the extent of it.

A law that mandates universal checks is unwise because it is unenforceable and because it sets up a registry. A registry is the mechanism for confiscation the next time public opinion may get manipulated. I mention the UK, Australia and California as examples of where this has happened. In Canada, fortunately, the long gun registry was an expensive joke that was made unenforceable through non-cooperation—I would expect that in this country abetted by juries that nullify the law.

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Citizenship, Economy, Free Society

Immigration — protection or protectionism

(c) 2013 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

If you are committed to populist and progressive myths about protecting jobs through immigration laws you do not need to read further. If, like my wife, you believe that the United States government has “inherent” powers to control immigration, I recommend reading Solburg, Winton L, ed., The Constitutional Convention and the Formation of the Union, second edition.

Let’s start with the Constitution. Article I, Section 8, defines the powers of Congress. Paragraph 4 says, “To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;” This deals with uniformity of laws and deals with the issue of naturalization, not immigration.

The only paragraph that mentions migration is Article 1, Section 9, Paragraph 1 which reads, “The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.” This was a reference to the slave trade and the migration of indentured servants. It expired in 1808 and the slave trade was abolished. This was a compromise to keep Georgia and South Carolina in the Compact—George Mason proposed immediate elimination of the slave trade and elimination of slavery by 1800. In no way does this paragraph provide for regulation of voluntary immigration.

Article XIV of Amendment begins, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

So the Constitution does not give a whole lot of guidance. And the early laws did not deal with immigration. Even John Adams, the founding godfather of the progressive movement, did not get Congress to restrict immigration from France in 1898, but rather to require an extended residency period for naturalization.

During the 1840s a number of nativist groups emerged and advocated controlling immigration and deporting aliens. In the late 1860s it turned out that the aliens—specifically Irish and Chinese turned out to be necessary to the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. Abraham Lincoln and Grenville Dodge had ignored the War Department’s surveys and drawn a line on a map. To execute the Western third of that line required disciplined workers who could be careful with explosives and reliable. These were the Chinese, whom the Anglo-Californians were trying to get rid of.

In 1875 that the first limitation on immigration was passed (the Page Act). Employers were prohibited from importation of “coolie labor” and Chinese sex workers. In 1882 came the Chinese Exclusion Act. It should be noted that both the 1875 and 1882 Acts violated the Burlingame Treaty of 1868 which was renegotiated in 1880.

The current quota based immigration system dates back only to 1921—more than 130 years after ratification of the Constitution. The latest intrusion is the REAL ID Act, a federal mandate on state issuance of identification justified by the so-called “war on terror.”

The progressive movement (and this includes the neo-conservatives and populists currently posing as conservatives) believes in government expansion by crisis. The attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 was not the ultimate attack on the United States. The REAL ID Act was an advance of central control, nothing more nor less.

The anti-immigration movement (including such national figures as Tom Tancredo and Kris Kobach) is nothing more than economic protectionism dressed up as patriotism—see Dr Johnson’s Dictionary. It is not conservative any more than was the Know Nothing party before the conflict of 1861. Economic protectionism, as many know, was the cause of the 1931 recession that was rebranded the Great Depression for political purposes. Ultimately, immigration has generally been positive although the folks who came in through Ellis Island and were socialized in the New York public schools and their descendants have contributed to the dependency culture—we need some hard-working Mexicans to change this.

 

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Citizenship

Michael Bloomberg — gun criminal?

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg presides over one of the largest municipal corporations in the United States and feels this gives him a say in the national scene. He has a gigantic police department and an ego to go with his position. He cannot, however, veto the laws of the United States or of the state of New York. Basically what he can do is use his platform to argue for whatever ideas he espouses and bully a compliant council. Other than that he has less executive power than Matt Mead—someone whose name relatively few people recognize because he is Governor of Wyoming, a state with a mere fraction of the population of NYC.

The term municipal corporation has an important meaning here. Municipal corporations are subdivisions of states with limited powers granted by statute or power. In fact, a portion of New York City is beyond the jurisdiction of the Mayor. The Mayor has also sent private detectives to conduct sting operations outside the state as well as the city of New York.

In USA Today Mr Bloomberg wrote:

Obama should direct the Justice Department to step up its prosecution of gun criminals who try to buy guns. In 2009, 71,000 people who had been convicted of gun crimes tried to buy guns by lying on their background checks. Yet the federal government prosecuted only 77 of those cases. That’s one-tenth of 1%. These are gun criminals trying to buy guns illegally — and the federal government is letting them walk.

The question I have is whether Mr Bloomberg would support the prosecution of his investigators who lied on 4473s in order to make straw purchases—a felony since 1968. And should not all participants in such an enterprise—including Michael Bloomberg—be prosecuted?

 

 

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Citizenship, Free Society

Piers Morgan – the Brit does not understand

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

Piers Morgan, a CNN host whose previous experience was as a BBC presenter, has called for the government to seize “assault weapons” and made pious remarks about civilized countries. On September 12, 1814, Brigadier General William Stricker’s brigade of Maryland Militia stopped General Robert Ross’s “unbeatable” regular force on the road from North Point to Baltimore. That action, plus the failure of a naval bombardment to dislodge Fort McHenry with heavy guns and Congreve rockets effectively ended any necessity for Americans to take suggestions or demands from Brits.

Morgan, not real knowledgeable of American history, stated on national television that the second amendment was about muskets, not assault weapons. He has obviously not read my article on the Well-Regulated Militia https://loboviejo.com/2012/03/09/well-regulated…-of-definition/. Nor does he realize that the anti-federalists were addressing the nature of government rather than the technology of weaponry. The nature of government had not changed since Aristotle’s treaty nor has it changed since 1791.

Any argument is going to have to be settled on American terms by Americans. And draconian measures are not going to work any better than they did in 1775 when the governor of Massachusetts Bay sent regular troops to seize arms.  A statist foreign outlook is not appropriate or welcome in that debate.

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Citizenship, Free Society

Compromise – a slippery slope?

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

“Remember,” my wife said, “that this nation is built on compromise.” To a large extent that is true—we would not have the Department of Defense were it not for compromises made after World War II. We would not have the USAPATRIOT Act, the Transportation Security Administration or the Department of Homeland Security without honorable legislators compromising their principles and their Constitution.

The Department of Defense was supposed to give Congress and the administration a handle on spending—it also creates a Secretary who can resolve disputes between the military (Army and Air Force departments) and naval (the department of the Navy was left intact) forces in time of war. The only time this really was a problem was when planning the route for the invasion of Japan in 1944 when Roosevelt had the problem of mediating between the Nimitz plan (through China) and the Macarthur plan (through the Philippines). The Nimitz plan made more strategic sense, but Macarthur threatened to resign and accept the Republican nomination to run against FDR. The President folded quickly. So after the War, George Catlett Marshall worked at developing a unified defense establishment—he intended to reduce duplication and make procurement more economical, and, by the way, eliminate the Marines.

The Marines are still here—to have a UDF you really need to start without strong traditions. Three of the five largest air forces in the world are in DOD. In 1960 there was a big push for a single belt buckle across services—see above The Marines are still here. I have no idea how many extraneous layers of bureaucracy exist in that five-sided building, but I do know we fought World War II with a lot fewer General Officers and you did not have the requirement of a flag in every nuclear armed B-52. So an audit of function as well as budget—conducted by former enlisted personnel rather than officers might be a guide. Compromises generally enlarge agencies.

What else happened was that the venue for compromise was moved to an Executive Branch “superdepartment” in which the arguments about budget are “fully explored, discussed and winnowed” before being presented to Congress in the executive budget proposal. Back before Hoover, Congress did not receive a unified budget proposal—departments competed for the attention of a Congress that took its responsibility for thrift seriously and would decide whether the Army needed ten new tanks more than the Navy needed a new cruiser. Now the Department of Defense has already vetted the request and anything less than full funding of two littorals, twenty tanks, and 150 drones is unacceptable. And congressional compromise is limit to whose district will benefit.

The Transportation Security Administration is an example of a party agenda forcing a “compromise.” The Democrats told Bush the airport security program was DOA unless it included a federal jobs program. The Administration folded. Ten years out there is scant evidence that the quality of personnel has improved—further, the prohibition on unionization has been lifted and TSA employees are now in the fold. Compromises lead to further compromises. See Understanding Gradualism and the Dialectic (https://loboviejo.com/2012/07/19/understanding-…-the-dialectic/).

Back in 1998, at the request of President Clinton, Gary Hart and Warren Rudman co-chaired a Commission on 21st Century Security. The report, issued in 2001, layed out a proposal for a homeland security program at the federal level. The constitutional authority for such an endeavor is found in Article X of Amendment which reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Through a series of compromises agreed upon by the three branches of government and not seriously challenged by the states as a unified body the Commerce Clause has become sort of a general grant of powers to the Federal Government. The European model for internal security is extremely centralized—note that no western European nation encompasses six time zones (Maine to Hawaii).

The Bush administration wanted an Office of Homeland Security within the White House, a sign that the problem involved coordination between current agencies while Congressional Democrats wanted a Department. The difference is that an Office may be abolished when it is no longer necessary—a Department becomes a permanent fixture and seeks, on its own, to expand by developing its own constituency in the Congress and the press. A Department becomes a default budget item whereas an Office may be in the third or fourth tier of priority.

The result of compromise in order to achieve the Bush agenda on other matters was the Department of Homeland Security.

So where does this leave us. We are faced with a situation where there will be compromises required for the government to operate over the next four years. We need only look at Europe which is devolving to see the consequence of continued spending without the means to spend. We have a “running scared” Republican establishment thinking about the next election and what is needed to “make a comeback” and a “smugly confident” Democratic establishment that knows the way to win elections is to identify constituencies and “deliver the goods” so that the votes and the contributions come in. There is no political advantage to cutting spending—the key is to pretend to be “investing in America.” All compromises will be made in this context.

In the area of individual liberties, they have been compromised away in pursuit of the Security state. Either Ben Franklin or Richard Jackson wrote; “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” In other words there is something that should never be compromised—lest it never be regained.

As an example only, I am going to look at the issue of gun control because it is so much a matter of where the statists have worked through gradualism and compromise to get where they are currently.

Do you know that the National Firearms Act of 1934 had nothing to do with gun prohibition and was only passed as a revenue measure under the excise power of the United States? Who said that? The US Justice Department, in appealing the acquittal of Jack Miller for failing to pay a transfer fee on a five dollar shotgun that had its barrel shortened. Never mind that there was no case in controversy as Mr Miller could not be served—having disappeared into the anonymity of poverty that was most of the rural south in the 30s. Never mind the prohibition on double jeopardy. The government did not argue the fear of “gangster weapons” that dominated the congressional debates. This was a valid exercise of the excise power to raise revenue—and anyway a “sawed-off” shotgun is not a weapon of military utility. The Court made the finding of fact that such weapon had no military utility and therefore it was not a Second Amendment question.

Do you know that the 1968 gun control act was passed by compromises protecting the US firearms industry? Further, it limited prohibition of possession and transfer to individuals whose civil rights in general are infringed—it does not have a prohibition on the mentally ill but rather “(4) has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution…” The major US manufacturers bought off.

Do you know that the McClure-Volkmer Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986 was only passed because of a compromise prohibiting the manufacture and transfer of machine guns in the civilian market after 19 May 1986? The NRA went along with the compromise.

Recall that the anti-federalist movement, once the inevitability of ratification became apparent, made the Bill of Rights a condition precedent to participation in the Compact. There can be no compromise on that portion of the Constitution.

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Citizenship, Free Society

Election over – time to pull up the boots

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

Many “conservatives” will mourn after the election of Statist Obama over Statist Romney. There are those of us with legitimate fears about Obama and gun control, but that is about it and we will have to work harder to prevail. But the truth is, that this was an election about minor tweaks in the progressive agenda, not a “liberal-conservative” matchup. To get a conservative-progressive contest you have to go back to 1964. To get a liberal-progressive contest you go back to 1972.

First of all, no matter what you read in the press or the right alternative media, there is nothing historic or unprecedented in this election. Franklin D Roosevelt was re-elected twice (1936 and 1940) with a worse economic record and unemployment rate—his third reelection came when wartime production skewed the economic reports. Only eighteen Presidents out of forty-four have failed to be reelected—sixteen if you do not count Cleveland. Both Nixon and Clinton were under a cloud of scandal when reelected.

What mistakes did Romney make?

This is the question that will keep pundits busy for about a week at most—a little longer on the alternative media websites—and then it will be limited to the alcohol assisted venues where “conservatives” whine about every election the Republicans did not win. Note: it had nothing to do with Gary Johnson. I do have some observations.

The establishment machine made sure that Ron Paul delegations did not get to the Convention and that Ron Paul delegates were not listed as winning caucuses. People you demonize in August are not real likely to support you in November. I said as much then. Whether it would have made a difference in the electoral college I am not sure, but it could have told voters Romney could be fair.

I have seen Al Gore looser than Romney.

There is a tendency on the part of politicians to share tidbits with key contributors. Unfortunately you should never say anything in any kind of gathering that you do not want known throughout the connected world. (This parallels my advice to high schoolers not to put nude pictures of themselves on facebook or send them to significant parties.) The 47percent remark, regardless of its accuracy or source, hit a nerve in the populace. This is not fair, you say, since Obama seems to be Teflon(tm). Well, the world is what it is. Any politician unaware of the parameters is fair game.

In a debate, Mitt expressed approval of NDAA and the USAPATRIOT Act. This alienated liberty voters. A very considered answer would have addressed the Fourth and Fifth Amendment concerns and been vague enough to make voters think he was considering the issue.

There was no counter to Warren Buffett. Berkshire-Hathaway acquires companies where families are forced by the tax code to divest a profitable company to pay inheritance taxes–this is not that different in strategy from Bain.

Where to from here?

The good news is that the Republican Party is healthier down the ballot than at the top. And there is an opening for liberty minded individuals to influence what is going on. If the Republicans can shift back to the Robert Taft conservatism and pull out of military adventurism, it can start to reduce the size of the federal government.

This is small group by small group process that needs to be implemented now, not at the beginning of a campaign. And it needs to be done without Super PACs.

An agenda.

  1. Decide what to compromise on and what not to. We have much needless gun control legislation because the NRA and other conservative organizations were desperate to compromise rather than look obstructionist. Remember, the anti-federalists forced the Bill of Rights, not as a compromise but as a condition precedent to ratification.
  2. Target legislation for repeal with research. Most of the Homeland Security legislation is “emergency” legislation. The United States was last in a State of War in 1945.
  3. Encourage Tenth Amendment groups in the legislature.
  4. Be ready to force Obama to appoint “vanilla” judges to the Supreme Court. Encourage filibusters if necessary.
  5. Be ready to oppose all UN technical treaties. Support withdrawal from NATO and other organizations which authorize military force contrary to Constitutional constraints.
  6. Support free trade and oppose economic protectionism.

More guidance will come.

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Citizenship, Free Society

The Electoral College – essential and relevant

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

As we look at the polls, the argument over the Electoral College raises its head again. My wife mentioned this to me the other evening and stated the argument succinctly. The Electoral College is a remnant of a time when we did not have an informed democracy. That “our Democracy” has advanced beyond those days and there is no reason to have the EC.

There is the argument, pure and simple. I was informed that just because the founders felt this way is no reason to stick with that system. I replied that there was a reason for my position and I can explain it. It does not matter which candidate wins the popular or electoral vote. And I am not driven by democracy as such—the dictatorship of fifty percent plus one is still a dictatorship.

Benjamin Franklin, who apparently slept through much of the Constitutional Convention occasionally awaking to make a pithy remark, is reported to have had an encounter in which a woman asked whether the Convention had produced a monarchy or a democracy. His reply: “A republic, madame, if you can keep it.”

There were several proposals regarding the selection of the Executive. One was selection by the legislative branch, another by popular vote, another by the Governors. And the compromise was the electoral college. The idea was to balance population with representation of the States, from whom the united States derived its existence and powers. By giving each state a vote in the electoral college equal to its number of Senators and Representatives, the small states were not neglected.

Those favoring the idea of a national democracy rather than a federal constitutional republic see the states as irrelevant—or at best a laboratory for national policy. Those from the District of Columbia complain that their votes count less than those in Wyoming—I did not ever vote on giving electoral votes to DC and would not be upset if they were repealed. The fact is, that with both the popular vote and the electoral vote the current president was elected by those residing in less than ten percent of the landmass of the United States.

It is a token of the Republic that we still have an electoral college, that we still make a distinction of states. As long as we can do this, there is hope that we may recapture the Republic and our basic rights.

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