NY v NRA

The State of New York is playing dirty in an attempt to put the National Rifle Association out of business.   They are going after their insurers.   This ought to be prevented.  I am sure that we do not want a State to decide to kill off a company for political reasons, which is what is going on here.

“Simply put, Defendants made it clear to banks and insurers that it is bad business in New York to do business with the NRA,” the lawsuit says. “As a direct result of this coercion, multiple financial institutions have succumbed to Defendants’ demands and entered into consent orders with DFS that compel them to terminate longstanding, beneficial business relationships with the NRA, both in New York and elsewhere.”  …

“Defendants’ goal, from the outset, was to disrupt any and all business arrangements between the NRA and any insurance administrator, broker, or underwriter—indeed, any financial institution.”

Lockton, the NRA’s long-standing insurance provided, dropped all NRA-related services after receiving threats of extortion by DFS. The lawsuit alleges that Lockton and the NRA were in contract negotiations over a policy renewal. They were set to lock-in the deal when Lockton came back and said they would not provide the NRA with any services moving forward.

This is the assault of the ten thousand lawyers.   It may be a popular move for Governor Cuomo, but it should not be allowed.   NRA is going to need a ton of money for lawyering to fight the State of New York.


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Code Is Speech

Liberator pistol (produced by additive manufacturing)There is a fundamental principle at stake in the current controversy, ignorantly reported and heavily spun, over the recent U.S. State Department settlement with Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation in which Defense Distributed essentially won the case it had been pursuing since 2015, clearing it to distribute design files for the manufacture of firearms and components which can be used to produce them via additive manufacturing (“3D printing”).

This principle is much simpler and more fundamental than the cloud of confusion and ignorance spread like squid ink by the slavers who prefer a disarmed and dependent population at their mercy.  It goes to the heart of free speech, and we’ve been here before.

The information required to produce an object via additive manufacturing is a computer file which gives instructions to the fabrication device to make the object.  This file can be expressed in text and looks something like this:

        solid cube_corner
          facet normal 0.0 -1.0 0.0
            outer loop
              vertex 0.0 0.0 0.0
              vertex 1.0 0.0 0.0
              vertex 0.0 0.0 1.0
            endloop
          endfacet
        endsolid

Now, this is hardly The Federalist Papers or Common Sense, but it is text which you could read on a soapbox on the corner to the bewilderment of everybody except for a few aspies furiously scribbling down the numbers to take back to their workshops, or publish in a newspaper or pamphlet.

A federal judge in the U.S. state of Washington has issued an order to block the distribution of computer files which the settlement permitted to be disseminated on 2018-08-01.  (Lest one confuse these judicial tyrants with those chronicled in the seventh book of the Bible, recall Jerry Pournelle’s reminder to mentally replace “judge” with “lawyer in a dress”.  This one was appointed by Bill Clinton.)

This is a fundamental attack on freedom of speech.  It asserts that computer files and their dissemination via electronic means are not protected speech, and that the design of an object can be restricted in the same way the physical object can.  These are ideas so stupid only an intellectual could believe them.

Now, I spent some years of my life building tools to create electronic designs and models of objects in the physical world.  This technology has become central to almost everything we do, from fabrication of microcircuits to automobiles to the creation of imaginary worlds for entertainment.  I am, as they say, invested in this.

This lawyer in a dress is saying that my speech, and your speech, in electronic form, distributed electronically, is not subject to the protections granted his, spoken in a courtroom or printed on paper.  He is saying that such speech can be regulated based upon its content, which the founders of the republic that pays his generous salary (extracted by implicit threat at gunpoint from hairdressers and cab drivers who only want to be left alone) rejected in the very first amendment to their Constitution.

As I said, we’ve been here before.  In the 1990s, when the fellow who appointed the lawyer in a dress was president and demonstrating by example his moral rectitude to the nation, the U.S. tried to declare that strong encryption, which would allow citizens to communicate without eavesdropping by the organs of U.S. state security, was a crime to disclose.  Once again, they tried to declare computer code, in this case encryption algorithms and applications, “muntions” and subject to export controls.  In the celebrated case of PGP, MIT Press published its source code as a book and challenged the U.S. government to prevent its publication.  The U.S. government backed down (but did not entirely abandon its stance), and encryption is now generally available.  (Want military-grade encryption entirely within your browser?   Here you go!)

We won then.  We must prevail now.  If the slavers win the argument that computer files are not subject to the protection of physical speech or print, then everything you publish here, or send in E-mail, or distribute yourself will be subject to the kind of prior restraint this lawyer in a dress is trying to impose on Defense Distributed.

This is where it all comes together—the most fundamental of freedoms—speech, self defence, and the autonomy of the individual against the coercive collectivist state.  If these things matter to you, consider joining Defense Distributed.

Disclosure:

Cody R. Wilson at Fourmilab, 2013-01-30I provided some of the early developmental-phase funding of Defense Distributed.  To the right is a photo of Cody R. Wilson on his visit to Fourmilab in January of 2013.  I am the “patron” described (in not-so-complimentary terms) in his superb 2016 book Come and Take It).  In our conversation then Cody persuaded me to get into Bitcoin.  That has repaid my support of Defense Distributed many, many times over.

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Closer to a Fracture

In discussing the firing of Kevin Williamson a few days ago, @1967Mustangman closed the post with the observation, “…America inches closer to a fracture.” A District Court in Massachusetts  may have just moved us several feet closer thereto, in ruling that the Second Amendment permits a ban on possession of many categories of the most popular guns in the country. That the Judge, William G. Young, had a political axe to grind is suggested by his gratuitous observation in the opinion that Justice Scalia would have been “proud” of it. Such commentary in district court opinions are, let us say, unusual.

The law bans virtually all semi-automatic weapons, calling them “assault rifles.” As such, the court says (straight out of gun-banners’ talking points) they are useful to the military, therefore not protected  by the Second Amendment. This, itself, is a non sequitur.

As well, the opinions is – like most anti-gun propaganda – all but fact free. If a military force were armed with the civilian version of AR-15’s in question, it would be a laughably (it would be, at minimum, unkind to laugh as soldiers were cut down en masse as they would be, thus armed) ineffective force. Actual assault rifles, you see, have a selector switch which permits fully-automatic firing (the way they are invariably used, except by snipers), so the very name of the category of banned weapons is a fabrication. First, kill language, then kill rights. Civilian versions of AR-15’s and all other rifles mythically called “assault-rifles,” lack the full-auto function.

This law criminalizes at a stroke scores or hundreds of thousands of citizens subjects of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It will set local citizens at each others’ throats and this ruling will embolden anti-gun fanatics throughout the country. Every municipality and some states with anti-gun activists will be passing similar bans. Fractures (and punctures) to follow. Only a prompt Supreme Court ruling (an unlikely event) announcing that such weapons may not be banned under the Second Amendment can prevent what could easily become a violent upheaval. But, I think that may be precisely what the illiberal left is aiming for.

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TOTD 2018-03-11: “Weapons of War”

On Friday, February 23rd, 2018 former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice appeared on the Hugh Hewitt radio program. In a rambling discussion, she said the following about gun violence.

I will say this, Hugh. I think it is time for us to have a conversation about what the right to bear arms means in the modern world. I don’t understand why civilians need to have access to military weapons. We wouldn’t, we wouldn’t say you can go out and buy a tank. So I do think we need to have that conversation.

But then she went on to say,

But I believe that the rights that we have in the Constitution are indivisible. We can’t throw away the 2nd Amendment and keep the 1st.

Hey, I said it was rambling.  If rights are “indivisible”, then what is there to have a conversation about?

Anyway, libertarian science fiction author L. Neil Smith took this as buying into the gun grabbers’ trope of “weapons of war have no place in the hands of civilians” and published a 950 word riposte in The Libertarian Enterprise.  Here’s an excerpt.

People on the wrong side of this issue frequently blather that America’s Founding Fathers—who, for the most part, were aware only of single-shot muzzle-loading rifles and pistols—couldn’t have imagined civilians armed with automatic or semiautomatic weapons. On the contrary, what the Founding Fathers couldn’t have imagined is a time when ordinary citizens are forbidden to own and carry weapons fully as capable as those of the military, defeating the entire purpose of the Second Amendment. They understood what you and others like you pretend not to, that military weapons in civilian hands are for preserving civil rights and civilian lives. As leftists continuously whimper, they are, indeed “weapons of war”: humanity’s 10,000-year-old continuing war against tyranny.

So I’ll repeat: military weapons in civilian hands are for preserving civil rights and civilian lives. They are, indeed “weapons of war”: humanity’s 10,000-year-old continuing war against tyranny. I have lived through the terms of twelve United States Presidents, at least half of whom I did not trust, and who made me extremely glad there’s a Second Amendment to act as a continuous deterrent. The President you worked for had even liberals buying guns and reading the Constitution. Happily, any warm, pleasant dreams that he or any of the others may have cherished about slapping down a recalitrant peasantry would have been dashed by the icy cold water of Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s apocalyptic vision of America consisting of “a rifleman behind every blade of grass”.

Military weapons in civilian hands are for preserving civil rights and civilian lives. I repeat it once again so you can get it through your statist head. They are, indeed “weapons of war”: humanity’s 10,000-year-old continuing war against tyranny. Don’t tell me that it can’t happen here. It already has. When the BATFE and the FBI, both organizations without Constitutional standing, ignored Yamamoto’s warning and illegally imprisoned and murdered 76 innocent individuals in their church near Waco, Texas, in the Spring of 1993, simply because they wouldn’t come outside when ordered to by a gang of jackbooted thugs, the armed citizenry may have lost that particular battle, but the people inside held the feds off for 51 days, and government lost the war in general, as shown clearly by the final resolution of the Bundy Ranch Standoff in Nevada.

Military weapons in civilian hands are for preserving civil rights and civilian lives. They are, indeed “weapons of war”: humanity’s 10,000-year-old continuing war against tyranny. Our Revolutionary ancestors actually had better guns—Pennsylvania rifles—than the British, armed with smoothbore muskets. Imagine a world in which the Armenians had been as well armed as the Turkish military. Imagine a world in which the Jews in Germany had been armed as well as the SS or the Wehrmacht. Imagine a world in which the Cambodian people had been armed as well as Pol Pot’s murderous thugs. According to research published years ago by Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (look it up), every major act of genocide in the last century was preceded by sweeping gun control laws.

Read the whole thing.

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New Leftist attack on the NRA

Brought to us via a George Soros project, of course.   The newspaper that soiled my driveway this morning held a gloating article from the USA Today Network about all sorts of big companies severing ties (loose ones at that) with the NRA.   I had heard NPR gloating over it on Friday:

As a groundswell grows against the National Rifle Association in the aftermath of last week’s school massacre in Parkland, Fla., several businesses say they are ending their partnerships with the gun advocacy group.

The brands — ranging from insurance companies to airlines to rental car agencies — announced their decisions on social media, many apparently in direct response to tweets demanding change under the trending hashtag #boycottNRA.

Activists are seeking to name and shame business affiliates of the group.

This was kicked off by ThinkProgress, a Soros-funded Leftist webzine.   Going after corporations with connections to the target is what Big Gay did to the Boy Scouts of America.

I want everyone who is not a Leftist to know what is going on.   If you have any influence with the companies who are severing ties with the NRA, or even if you are just willing to put a note on their facebook page, it would be good to see some push-back.

This could become serious.  Here is what the Washington Post had to say:

But the boycott inspired by the Florida shooting massacre has stalled at the first stronghold of resistance: None of the video-streaming giants, Apple, Google’s YouTube, or Amazon (the company’s founder, Jeffrey P. Bezos, owns the The Washington Post) have acknowledged a petition and viral demands to take NRA videos offline.

If they do, and the world’s largest tech corporations effectively declare the NRA a pariah, boycotters have proposed plans to advance on the gun rights group’s power centers: its political capital and massive funding, which for decades have made the NRA one of the most feared lobbies in the United States.

 


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Assault rifles age limit helps Christmas shoppers

I saw a bunch of articles in the past few days that mentioned one initiative proposed to help forestall future mass shootings by mentally troubled youths.  The proposal is to raise the age limit required for a youngster to attain before he is allowed to purchase an “assault rifle” on his own.

In their rush to press forward any and all limitations on guns, eager beaver journalists rushed to state capitols all around to get soundbite quotes from politicians.  In red states they tried to buttonhole Republicans, looking for quotes that could be used during electioneering later this year.   In my state, they raced around the Tennessee capitol and got a number of GOP officials to opine on some proposals that they might be willing to consider or at least permit debate on.  I was amused, sort of, by some of the Surrender Caucus saying their usual weaselly things.

I laughed out loud, though, at one passage.  This is from an article in the dead tree pulp edition of the Memphis Commercial Appeal that soiled my driveway this morning.   I did not check, but since it is probably behind their paywall, I transcribed by favorite section below.  The article has a byline by Joel Ebert of the USA Today Network.

House Speaker Beth Harwell said she was unfamiliar with the issue regarding bump stocks and wanted to study it further before reaching a decision.   “I’m certainly, with the President of the United States supporting it, it certainly makes it high profile and gives it credibility.  I’d have to study the issue a little bit more” she said.

Harwell declined to answer a question about raising the age to buy assault weapons, noting that she recently purchased one for her son.   “When that’s the only thing he wants for Christmas, what do you do, right?” she rhetorically asked.

Har har har har, hoo hoo hoo.   Journalists want to raise the age for her son to purchase the weapon she just gave him for Christmas.   Of course; this is a great answer.   It is already really hard to find good Christmas gifts for teenage sons, so, if they cannot buy the assault rifle they want, it simply goes under the Christmas tree.  Win-win!

Representative Harwell is running for governor of Tennessee.  This just makes me even more inclined favorably to her candidacy than before.   I don’t know her sons’ ages, but I have no doubt that Tennessee is a more safe place because they are armed.