A July 4 assault on liberty

This is still a developing story, and the veil of lawyer-advised silence is descending, but TJIC has again been targeted by the repressive government of Massachusetts and/or his local government. This time, they’ve dragged his fiance into it, confiscating her legally owned firearms after he applied for a new MA LTC. From Tam, who has been in direct communication with the TJIC household:

Well, TJIC got his Massachusetts FID* reissued, and has reapplied for an MA LTC**.

Now the local po-po*** is surrounding his crib, wanting to inspect the premises. Without a warrant. In the suburbs of Boston. On Independence Day.

More from Tam, in various comments to her original post:

Jenn was like “There’s a cop looking at me through the window with a flashlight and his hand on his holster!”

I’m on the phone with Jenn; she’s walking through the house with the officer. They’re seizing her guns as we speak.

They’re already in contact with counsel.

TJIC himself chipped in a little info:

I had an EXCELLENT gun lawyer on speed dial. It took half an hour to get a callback on a vacation day, but after that, he was with us every step of the way.

I repeatedly refused the cops’ requests for a voluntary walk-through of the house.

I repeatedly refused to answer any questions.

The cops repeatedly told me that if I had nothing to hide, I should just allow a walk-through, and if I was a good guy, I’d have a “conversation” with them.

In the end they illegally seized my FID (just plan CAN NOT do it, but they took it and wouldn’t give it back) and they illegally seized Jennifer’s firearms. My lawyer was appalled but not surprised.

Jennifer and I have been talking about moving out of MA in 3-6 years.

We are officially looking for real estate tomorrow; I will not spend one more day than is necessary in this totalitarian hell hole.

and

At the end, some of the cops who ransacked the house tried to shake hands with me. “No hard feelings”.

I refused and said “Gentlemen, please think about what you’re doing. On the fourth of july, the day we celebrate freedom, you stole legally owned firearms from a women who is engaged to a guy who made a joke you don’t like. You are not the good guys. You are ‘just doing your jobs’. Look in the mirror. You’re the bad guys.”

Response: “I’m sorry you feel that way. Have a good Fourth.”

My lawyer says that there’s a decent chance I may yet be arrested.

And with that, I should probably go radio silent for a while.

Words do not describe how wrong this is. Tam seems to have the direct scoop for now, keep your eyes open there for new information.

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A Second Amendment Epiphany

Linoge linked to a couple of articles last week, and one of them – once I finally got around to reading it – tripped one of those switches in my brain that said “Oh! Now I get it!” regarding the deceptively clumsy phrasing of the Second Amendment.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. – U.S. Constitution, Amendment II

The relationship between the two clauses, and how or even if they cause the Right to relate to militias, has been debated for at least a century. A popular argument among those who favour gun control – whether outright bans on all guns, or bans of “assault weapons” – is that the 2nd Amendment is preconditioned on membership in a militia, and that the National Guard and/or the advent of professional police forces has superseded the founder’s model of local militias. As a result, they argue, the 2nd Amendment does not apply to ordinary citizens, only to police and National Guard members.

While this argument certainly ignores the fact that the unorganized militia is still embodied in US law, it is flawed on a much more basic level – the 2nd Amendment clearly and specifically assigns that right to the people, not to the militia or members of a militia. This is the classic dependent/independent clause argument – that the reference to a “well regulated militia” explains the necessity of protecting the right of the people to keep and bear arms, but does not limit that right to membership in a militia.

But there was a point in reading that article where something else clicked for me, though I can’t point to any one sentence or paragraph and say “this is where I understood”. It’s a surprisingly simple concept.

The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, so that they may quickly and easily form a militia should the need arise.

When the Right for each and every citizen to own, possess, and carry arms is restricted, a militia cannot be formed without those people first going out and obtaining arms. If the government is allowed to restrict how, when, and if a citizen can purchase firearms – yes, even military weapons – then the government can restrict or prevent the formation of any militias.

But why, you ask, in our modern society, would anyone need to form a militia so quickly that they couldn’t wait for the government to approve it if it truly was needed?

Leaving aside the assumption that the government a) would approve it in the first place, and b) would do so quickly enough to do any good, it also ignores the speed in which bad situations can develop. A perfect modern day example of this is the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles in 1992, and the events that took place in Koreatown during those riots.

With the police overwhelmed (and, by all accounts, not terribly motivated to intervene in that neighborhood anyway), it fell to the citizens there to defend their homes, livelihoods, and their lives themselves. They banded together in small groups for their own defense – the very definition of an unorganized militia. Once the riots started, they didn’t have time to go to a store and buy a gun. They didn’t have time to sit through a background check. They were dependent on the guns they had at the time.

Without the protections afforded by the Second Amendment, Koreatown would have been destroyed by the rampaging mobs.

What would have been more effective in Boston last month – unarmed citizens cowering in their homes with the police and National Guard imposing martial law (lite! with only half the jackboots!) while searching house to house, or armed citizens standing watch over their own neighborhoods while directing the police towards any suspicious activity?

I’ll say it again. The Second Amendment Right to keep and bear arms does not depend on membership in a militia, it is what allows us to form militias where and when they are needed.

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Note to self: Avoid the police state of Paragould, Arkansas

They are effectively declaring martial law.*

[Paragould Police Chief] Stovall told the group of almost 40 residents that beginning in 2013, the department would deploy a new street crimes unit to high crime areas on foot to take back the streets.

“[Police are] going to be in SWAT gear and have AR-15s around their neck,” Stovall said. “If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, check for your ID.”

[...]

[Mayor] Gaskill backed Stovall’s proposed actions during Thursday’s town hall.

“They may not be doing anything but walking their dog,” he said. “But they’re going to have to prove it.”

The Constitution, you say? Probable Cause, you say? Don’t worry, the police chief has answers for that nonsense!

“To ask you for your ID, I have to have a reason,” he said. “Well, I’ve got statistical reasons that say I’ve got a lot of crime right now, which gives me probable cause to ask what you’re doing out. Then when I add that people are scared…then that gives us even more [reason] to ask why are you here and what are you doing in this area.”

See? There’s a lot of crime, so the Rights of non-criminals can be set aside! Easy!

The mayor apparently backed down a little on the severity of this police-state plan, but it looks like he still intends to have police in battle gear out patrolling the streets like some Amerikanized Gestapo unit.

I suggest the subjects of Paragould learn the phrase “Papieren, bitte!” It sounds like you’re going to be hearing it a lot. Your police department has become the standing army our nation’s founders were worried about, and your government is perfectly willing to use them to control you.

To paraphrase a great pearl of wisdom from Battlestar Galactica, “There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the police become both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.”

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* Note that the linked article is dated December 15, 2012. The town may have abandoned this plan, but I haven’t found anything to indicated that, so I am assuming that the plan is still moving forward.

[Source: Paragould Daily Press article, retrieved 1/9/13]

Quote of the Day – 2012-11-27

From Terry Pratchett’s Discworld character Commander Samuel Vimes.

It always embarrassed Samuel Vimes when civilians tried to speak to him in what they thought was “policeman.”  If it came to that, he hated thinking of them as civilians.  What was a policeman, if not a civilian with a uniform and a badge?  But they tended to use the term these days as a way of describing people who were not policemen.  It was a dangerous habit: once policemen stopped being civilians the only other thing they could be was soldiers.

- Terry Pratchett, Snuff

Emphasis mine. I don’t have much to add, it’s a pretty plain and straightforward warning.

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(h/t Firehand)

An alternative to the TSA

I have an idea. Rather than molesting and taking naked photos of airline passengers, let’s do this instead:

  1. Abolish the TSA. They’re worse than useless.
  2. Issue every adult passenger on the airliner a Taser, specially made with no “repeat shock” or “drive stun” functions (to prevent emotionally driven abuse if it needs to be used – any needed redundancy will come from other passengers with Tasers).

Sure, if there’s a terrorist on board you’ve just given him a weapon. But he gets to disable just one person with it, on a plane full of passengers (over 400, on a 747, depending on the configuration) who also have Tasers, and who remember what the terrorists did on 9-11. I wish him luck with that.

What’s that you say? With the TSA gone he got a gun onto the plane, so now he’s better armed than the passengers? Well, he still has to get past a couple hundred scared and angry passengers, all armed with Tasers, many of whom are or will eventually be behind him. Again, good luck with that.

What about bombs? Well, it’s not like the TSA has actually stopped any of those so far, is it? It’s only blind luck that the ones that got through were duds. We won’t be losing any security, there, and passengers with Tasers will have a better chance at stopping the triggerman than if they have to wrestle the detonator away from him.

Why not guns with frangible ammunition? Because using Tasers in this way actually has some advantages over firearms. 1) Bad guys using it only get one shot, vs. hundreds of similarly armed passengers, 2) Misses and “friendly” fire in the confined space of an aircraft are very unlikely to kill anyone, and 3) Someone acting oddly due to a medical issue or intoxication is far less likely to be killed by a twitchy passenger (I believe a couple of instances of “dogpile on the crazy guy” have resulted from medical issues), allowing more reasoned authorities to sort things out on the ground.

As a final, redundant measure, give the pilots guns, just in case somebody actually manages to breach the cockpit. If you can’t trust the pilots with guns, then why the heck are you letting them fly the plane?

Simple and effective. This would do more to enhance aviation security than any kind of passenger screening and searches that we could possibly do.

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(Note: This post is a repeat of a comment I posted at Joe Huffman’s blog, The View From North Central Idaho. Since the original post was a few days old by the time I commented, and I like the idea, I thought I’d repost it here.)

What government does

Closes pools for not having equipment that isn’t available.

Hotels may be forced to close their pools this summer. May 21 is the deadline to comply with new regulations that require all public pools to be handicap accessible.

But the equipment they need isn’t available.

[...]

The General Manager ordered the wheelchair lift the first of the year but it’s now on back order.
He’s not sure when it will arrive.  The lift and installation will cost the Quality Inn about $6,000.

Uncle mentioned this back in March when the original deadline hit. That was extended, but that extension runs out just before Memorial Day weekend, when most hotels open their pools for the summer – and get a lot of business from people expecting to be able to use the pool. The Feds are supposedly considering another extension, but “no decision has been made” yet. And, of course, we see this onerous and retroactive requirement (there is apparently no grandfathering) in the middle of a recession.

Good job, FedGov!

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[Source: WDBJ7 News report, retrieved 5/15/12]

Update on Virginia’s GPS tracking bills

It looks like the Senate version of the GPS Tracking bill I posted about previously has passed the Senate with the House’s changes intact. It’s now waiting on the governor to sign before it becomes law. The bill was written as an “emergency” bill, so it will take effect immediately upon signing, rather than waiting until July like most new laws.

They were wrong, you know. Freedom doesn’t die with a bang, or a whimper, or even thunderous applause. It is slowly eaten away by parasites, a little bit at a time, until one day you realize it’s a wasted shell that died in its sleep.

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UPDATED: URGENT! Frightening bills to allow secret GPS tracking in Virgina!

Update 2012-03-07: The Senate bill as been passed out of committee in the House, with a change. The House change does not actually alter the effect of the bill in any noticeable way. If it passes the full House, I believe it will have to go back to the Senate for the change to be approved (very likely to happen). Then it will go to the governor to be signed. Since it was the governor who asked for this, there is little to no chance he won’t sign it.

Like I said before, I think we’re buggered.

—–

Update 4: The senate version has passed, unanimously. It looks like the House version has not but is still in play, but the House has adjourned for the day. Unless the House rejects both versions, it looks like this will become Virginia law within the next day or so.

Considering that the House version passed out of committee on a unanimous vote, I think we’re buggered.

—–

Update 2: I should have done this from the start, but I’d like to ask anyone who reads this and has a blog to help spread the word. If we can get enough Virginians contacting their representatives before these bills come up for a vote, maybe we can kill them by a significant margin. The governor is the one who requested the measure, so if either bill passes both houses there is little doubt that he will sign. There is an “emergency” provision in each bill that specifically states it becomes effective immediately, rather than July 1 like most bills.

I’ve also emailed a few other bloggers to help. SayUncle already has a post up, and Jay G. has said he’ll get one up this afternoon. Thanks!

Update 3: Add Weer’d Beard to the list, too. Thanks!

—–

One of the tools of tyrants is secret warrants.

Two bills recently introduced by Gov. Bob McDonnell would permanently seal search warrants issued to use a tracking device to follow a suspect.

Such warrants would be unsealed only at the request of a prosecutor or defendant. Typically, most search warrants become public record 15 days or less after being granted by a judge.

I can see the necessity, on occasion, of sealing a search warrant during the course of an investigation. As far as I know (though I could be wrong), there is a process in place for doing so that requires the investigators to go in front of a judge and explain why it needs to be sealed, and for how long.

But that is the point: there must be a valid reason, such as the likelihood that public knowledge of the warrant would compromise the investigation or place investigators at great risk. It is not automatic.

There may be times, rare though they would be, that there would be reason to seal a search warrant beyond the end of the trial. But there can be absolutely no valid reason in a free society that any search warrant should be sealed permanently, and a government that pushes for such warrants to be sealed automatically is especially chilling. Search warrants, and the affidavits supporting them, are records that the citizens of a nation can use to monitor the behaviour of their government, and must have access to in order to do so adequately. As just one example, look at the search warrant affidavit in the killing of Jose Guerena. The inadequacies of that affidavit, and the results of the ‘botched’ search, are signs of a legal system out of control – one that the citizens of Arizona must act to bring back under control.

There’s also a disturbing First Amendment issue.

The bills also stipulate that a newspaper reporter or Internet blogger who publishes the existence of a search warrant related to tracking devices could be found guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, and could spend up to a year in jail.

Just as there can sometimes be valid reasons to keep a warrant sealed during an investigation, there can sometimes be valid reasons to keep the very existence of the warrant secret at the same time, and often for the same reasons. But keeping the existence of the warrant secret permanently is even worse than keeping the contents secret – citizens cannot question a warrant when they do not even know it exists. These bills would punish someone who legally obtained knowledge of the warrant – say a roommate or family member who accepts service for the subject, or a neighbor who sees it posted on the subject’s door – if they reveal even its existence to anyone other than the person who was the subject of the warrant.

You can find the Senate version here, and the House version here.

I have already contacted both my Delegate and Senator. If you live in Virginia, I urge you to do the same. If you’re not sure who your representatives are, you can find out here.

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Update: Roanoke Times editorial and discussion can be found here.

[Source: Roanoke Times article, retrieved 3/2/12]

Quote of the Week

From Tam.

I’d rather my neighbors smoked a bong every day than run the risk of a dyslexic SWAT team taking a battering ram to my front door at oh-dark-thirty. We need to stop burning the village to save it.

It stands on its own, without commentary. But you should go read the whole thing anyway, because Tam is just that good.

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Your Security Theatre at work

High quality “security”.

Travelers in Sacramento, Calif., got a surprise when they approached airport security and no one was at the metal detector. Five passengers went on through without any screening. Finally, officials noticed the unattended metal detector and shut down the terminal until the passengers were found and screened.

[NPR summary quoted in full because it is so short that any omissions would lose critical information. Full audio of the story is available here.]

TSA is a sham. They have yet to actually catch a single terrorist, while constantly violating people’s Fourth Amendment Rights against unreasonable searches (even at border checkpoints, agents must have reasonable suspicion to conduct a body search), and while performing actions that would be considered sexual assault if done by anyone else.

Disband TSA yesterday.

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[Source: NPR Morning Edition story, retrieved 2/27/12]

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