Donald Trump’s Second Amendment Comments Are Bad

“Hillary wants to abolish — essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know. But I tell you what, that will be a horrible day, if Hillary gets to put her judges in, right now we’re tied.” – Donald Trump, August 9, 2016

This is bad.

Yes, it was a joke.

That’s why it’s bad. Not just because it was a bad joke (it was), but because Donald Trump sees nothing as sacred. This was a calculated comment made like so many others he has made since announcing his campaign – something to manufacture controversy and keep himself in the headlines.

At what cost, though? It’s not like gun owners really need more heat from the left or implications that we’re crazy people who will react with violence at the slightest provocation.

In making this comment, Donald Trump chose to advance his personal brand at the expense of “Second Amendment people.” Does he really care about the individual rights of gun owners? I’m not convinced he does. He doesn’t care about individual property rights and he doesn’t care about free speech. In the recent past he hasn’t cared about gun ownership, going so far as to oppose hunting safety classes in schools (Marines: He also thinks the tattoo ban was a good idea).

Now that he’s running for President as a Republican, he’s all about “saving the Second Amendment.” Call me a cynic, but I could easily see a President Trump “making a deal” that would involve restrictions on gun ownership.

And if he doesn’t win (I am certain he won’t, and we all know the only other person who has a chance of winning this year will be a terrible president)?

Look at his own words from this morning – 

“If at the end of 90 days I fall in short because I’m somewhat politically correct even though I’m supposed to be the smart one and even though I’m supposed to have a lot of good ideas, it’s okay.  I go back to a very good way of life. It’s not what I’m looking to do. I think we’re going to have a victory, but we’ll see.”

He gets to go back to his comfortable life, but we have to deal with the consequences of his disastrous campaign. And those consequences, which will also most likely involve the Democrats picking up Senate seats, will be impactful for America in many ways, not the least of which will be overturning recent Supreme Court decisions by amending the Constitution.

Trump supporters: Do you really think it’s going to be “okay” if Hillary Clinton becomes President?

Fireclean v. Tuohy Dismissed

This morning, United States District Court Judge James C. Cacheris issued an order dismissing Fireclean v. Tuohy on jurisdictional grounds. This means that Fireclean could appeal this ruling or attempt to refile the case in Arizona (and, presumably, a separate filing against Everett Baker in New Hampshire) before the statute of limitations expires.

However, this is the third loss in a row for Fireclean relating to this case – denial of their motion for jurisdictional discovery, denial of their appeal of that denial, and the dismissal of the case – with no victories to show on their side over the last four months.

Continuing to tilt at windmills would seem ill-advised in light of this statement on page 25 of Judge Cacheris’ ruling:

“Plaintiff’s theory is that Baker and Tuohy conspired to publish a test that would show FIREClean is the same as Crisco or canola oil, even though they knew the test was inadequate to reach that conclusion, so as to attract more viewers to their blogs. Although such a conspiracy is logically possible, it is not plausible based on the facts in this record. The foundation of Plaintiff’s theory is that a critical review of FIREClean would attract more readers to the blogs. Criticisms of FIREClean being Crisco, however, were already commonplace online due to earlier published statements in the Vuurwapen blog, the Firearm blog, and George Fennell’s publications, among others. The Court finds no reason to conclude that an article affirming the prior tests would attract more readers than results disputing the prior test results. 

Furthermore, the record is replete with facts providing non-conspiratorial explanations for why Baker chose the Infrared Spectroscopy and NMR Spectroscopy to analyze FIREClean, including the advice of his professors, his personal research on the best testing methods, his available equipment, and the methods that two individuals with doctorates in chemistry used to test FIREClean. In sum, it does not plausibly or fairly follow from the facts alleged that Baker and Tuohy had a preconceived plan to conduct a fraudulent test so as attract more readers to their blogs by declaring FIREclean to be Crisco.”

Without the support of those who donated to the legal fund – large and small – and the truly excellent work of the legal team at LSKS, this victory would not have been possible. Thank you.

Final Arguments Regarding Motion To Dismiss Fireclean v. Tuohy

As reported a few weeks back, Magistrate Judge Nachmanoff of the Eastern District of Virginia denied all of Fireclean’s jurisdictional discovery requests on June 14, 2016.

Fireclean is appealing the Magistrate Judge’s opinion under what’s called a Rule 72 objection, and you should read what they have to say. 

Our objection to their objection is here.

The next major event in the case is scheduled for July 14, 2016, when a hearing will be held on our motion to dismiss the case. Here is our brief in support of said motion. This link, and the one immediately prior, are the two most recent filings on our side of the case. You also might wish to brush up on our initial motion to dismiss.

Fireclean’s brief opposing our motion to dismiss the case may be found here. 

It’s my understanding that in the lawsuit filed by Fireclean against their competitor, George Fennell of Steel Shield, Mr. Fennell’s motions to dismiss or transfer venue were denied by the judge in that case. These cases are completely separate and the denial of Mr. Fennell’s motion to dismiss does not concern me, legally or emotionally.

Why I Own AR15s

In the last week, a lot of people have been asking “Why do you need an assault rifle?” or “Why does anyone need an AR15?” or more plainly saying “No one needs a semi auto rifle that is just designed to kill people.”

The firearm industry responds with “they’re not assault rifles, they’re modern sporting rifles!” I have previously stated that I don’t really care what they’re called but also that the whole “modern sporting rifle” thing is stupid.

Perhaps I’m biased on the whole sporting thing. I don’t hunt. I used to hunt when I was little. I would shoot birds and varmints with a .22, although I later killed bigger things. I prided myself on hitting what I shot at the first time and not causing unnecessary suffering.

On a hunting trip not too long after I left the military, though, I had an easy shot lined up at a distance (30 yards) that would have been a guaranteed hit with a rifle that would have guaranteed an instant and humane kill (.270 WSM).  But sometime in between bringing the rifle up to my shoulder and putting almost enough pressure on the trigger to fire, I realized I couldn’t pull the trigger. I didn’t need to kill that animal and thus I didn’t want to kill it and thus I couldn’t kill it. So ended my hunting days – nearly ten years ago now. Since then I’ve gone out of my way to save as many animals as I can.

Maybe this is why I’m against the “modern sporting rifle” line, but even the NSSF’s own data shows that hunting is a very small part of why people buy ARs – in fact it’s the last reason they listed.

I'm using a photo of me with an MPi-74-whatever in an article called "Why I Own AR15s" just so someone will say "That's not an AR15!!"
I’m using a photo of me with a full auto MPi-74-whatever in an article called “Why I Own AR15s” just so someone will say “That’s not an AR15!!”

No, I own ARs because they’re the most effective weapon I can carry into a fight by myself. I don’t want to get into a fight, but I do want to get out of a fight. That means bringing a weapon that keeps bad guys away from me and lets me shoot back at as many bad guys as are choosing to shoot at me. As was constantly drilled into my head in Field Medical Service School, fire superiority is the best medicine on the battlefield.

The idea of “not needing anything more than” X, Y, or Z firearm is stupid. A gunfight is not a jousting match – there is no chivalry involved, no obligation to carry a lance of equal size and weight as my opponent. While I can certainly defend myself with a pistol or a shotgun, I cannot really project power with either of those. With a semi auto rifle, I have the ability to put bullets in very specific places at any distance – from the end of the muzzle to almost any yardage at which I could conceivably justify the use of lethal force.

Moreover, these bullets have less chance of doing damage to things I don’t want to shoot (such as innocent people) for a variety of reasons, most notably from the inherent precision afforded to the shooter by a rifle.

In a fight between a guy with a pistol and a guy with a rifle, the guy with the rifle has massive advantages. Just ask the off-duty police officer who engaged the Orlando terrorist with, I am told by a law enforcement officer in the Orlando area, over fifty rounds from his service pistol before retreating because he was out of ammo (The “only good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns” mantra only works for some of the garden variety mass shooters, mostly the ones who aren’t motivated by religious ideology, and is another cutesy saying we need to do away with quickly).

Put simply, the same things that make semi auto rifles desirable to terrorists make them desirable for use as defensive weapons. Take semi auto rifles away and bad guys will search for different and even more effective ways to kill. We can never assume that the doctrine of individual irrational actors will remain constant, nor should we believe that this all started after the (toothless) 1994 AWB went away in 2004. Take away the bad guys’ dynamite and they will use hunting rifles. When they meet in groups and we take away their rental trucks and fertilizer, they’ll use airliners.

I would rather people ask how the terrorist who murdered nine people in a church managed to pass a background check he clearly shouldn’t have than ask why we need semi auto rifles – a category of weapon that is involved in less than three percent of firearm homicides each year and isn’t the weapon of choice for even a plurality of mass shooters since 1982, despite the fact that the AR15 has been available to civilians for about fifty years.

I would rather people ask how we can prevent bad guys from isolating a group of innocent people from protection long enough to cause them great harm. That’s the real problem here – terrorists are like radiation in that the duration and proximity of your exposure to each determines your chances of survival.

Of course I don’t think that owning a scary semi auto rifle is the only reason why I wasn’t murdered today. I’m under no illusion of having to use an AR (or any other firearm) to defend myself at any point in the future. Were I to think that I was actually going to need an AR at any specific time or place, I would most likely make immediate lifestyle changes, such as moving to a remote island or maybe buying a Hind.

Then again, I don’t think I’ll need two first aid kits with everything from motrin to tweezers to a dozen tourniquets tomorrow, but they’re still going to be in the trunk of my car.

Let’s Stop Being Pedantic About Assault Weapons

A few days ago, 49 people were killed at a gay club. They were targeted for no other reason than they were gay or they chose to hang out with the gays. I regularly associate with gays, consider them among my closest friends, and do not believe homosexuality is a sin, much less one punishable by death. While hanging out with them in years past, I have seen homophobic individuals make specific threats against their lives for no other reason than they were, by appearance or inference, homosexual – and because I was hanging out with them, against my life too.

I think this is a real problem which can only be solved by a change in attitude towards gay people. I see a glimmer of hope for the future in that none of the boys in the Scout troop I work with seem to care one whit about sexual orientation and how it pertains to a person’s character, even if they come from very conservative families with parents who openly express different viewpoints.

I do not think this is a problem which can be solved by an assault weapons ban, magazine capacity restrictions, or other proposed legislation currently being discussed in the national media and by those on the left side of the political spectrum. Therefore I believe efforts must be put into not only stopping such legislation but into passing legislation that might have a real effect on reducing the frequency and impact of spree killings.

It is my firm belief that squabbling over the definition of an assault weapon not only does nothing to prevent the passage of an assault weapons ban, but is slowly becoming beneficial to the other side in this debate. If all we can do is point out that a long time ago someone in the gun world decided to define an assault weapon as a machine gun, acting as if that magically renders moot any calls for an assault weapons ban because the rifles in my safe are only semi automatic, not full automatic, those pushing for a ban can easily – and rightfully – say that we’re only arguing semantics.

One of these is an "assault weapon," and two are not. Or two are, and one is not. I can't remember and I don't care.
One of these is an “assault weapon,” and two are not. Or two are, and one is not. I can’t remember and I don’t care.

I have argued against similar word re-definitions in the past – most notably the “Modern Sporting Rifle” silliness and the magazine vs. clip debacle. Now I come to you, gun owner, with my hat in my hand, begging you to respond to calls for gun control with logic and facts instead of huffing and puffing about an incredibly silly and shortsighted pedantic argument.

Voters who support these types of legislation don’t care what they’re called, they just want them gone. We aren’t going to convince them they shouldn’t be gone by telling them they’re stupid and don’t know what they’re talking about. All they know is a dozen people here, four dozen people there, and “why do you need an assault rifle?”

We can answer that question effectively and we can prevent an assault weapons ban. However, you will only have someone’s attention for a brief period of time, and if you squander that time reciting the technical definition of an assault rifle you will have accomplished nothing.

First Major Development in Fireclean v. Tuohy

Yesterday, Magistrate Judge Nachmanoff of the Eastern District of Virginia handed down the first substantive ruling in the lawsuit filed by Fireclean. In order to support their lawsuit, Fireclean had asked the court to force me to turn over all kinds of financial and other information, including about my subscribers. They also sought information as to any servers that might host my blog in Virginia as well as communications with Virginia residents relating to the blog.

Their most confusing discovery request was for copies of communications with Fireclean. On this matter the judge stated, “One would expect Plaintiff to have knowledge of its own communications with Defendants.”

In denying all of Fireclean’s demands, the judge called their motion a “fishing expedition.” Fireclean must now proceed to respond to my pending motion to dismiss their case with only the information they already have.  My motion to dismiss the case will be heard by the court next month.

You may read the judge’s decision here.


My Experiences With Campus Sexual Assault

I realize that articles regarding sexual assault on campus are not normally found on my blog. Nor is this a topic which my readers, if they were aware of the specific case to be discussed, were likely to be sitting by their computers waiting for my opinion on the matter. However, as you will see, I have strongly held personal beliefs regarding this topic and feel it is an appropriate time to discuss them.

This weekend I have been reading about a guy named Brock Turner, a former swimmer at Stanford who was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman outside a fraternity party – more specifically, in a field behind a dumpster. The woman wrote and read in court a very powerful impact statement which you should take time out of your day to read. There is currently a lot of discussion about how Brock’s six month jail sentence – reportedly given because prison would be too hard on him – is ludicrous. And it is. But that’s avoiding the real problem here.

A candlelight vigil for sexual assault survivors at the University of Arizona in 2015.
A candlelight vigil for sexual assault survivors at the University of Arizona in 2015.

Before I delve into what I believe, based on personal experience, to be the real problem, I’d like to pause for a moment and head off a few comments I can envision being posted soon after I publish this article. While I personally would not drink until I passed out simply for health reasons, an adult’s choice to do so should not be punishable by rape. I’d also like to say that while in the gun world we focus on guns as a solution for violent crime including rape and sexual assault, guns are not the answer to every crime, and I don’t think carrying a gun would have helped the young lady at the Stanford party, or even the majority of sexual assaults in the United States.

With that said – reading the details of her attack brought back memories of my time in college, and something that happened, or almost happened, while I was at a party in the fraternity house at which I lived for a semester or so.

As some of you may know, I started college early. I certainly focused on academics part of the time, but I’d seen Animal House and wanted to experience some of the fun and camaraderie and history lessons seen in that classic of American cinema.

However, not many fraternities would take a 16 year old pledge, either by choice or according to their bylaws. I found one that would take me (by chance a national fraternity that was about to set up a chapter on campus) and began participating in meetings, activities,  and after we took over a house vacated by a fraternity on a five year suspension, plenty of parties involving the generous consumption of alcohol. While I wasn’t everyone’s best friend in the fraternity, some of my “brothers” and I became pretty close.

At one such party, a girl passed out after drinking too much. Some of the guys took her into the vice president’s room and put her on the bed so she could sleep it off. A short while later, the treasurer beckoned me down a hallway away from the main party, where I had been trying and failing to impress girls, and into the doorway of the president’s room. I was a little slow on the uptake, but soon realized that he either wanted me to join him in raping the unconscious girl or to just go ahead and do so on my own. She was at the time fully clothed, so I don’t think anything had happened to that point, but I refused whatever his exact request was and went to make something of a fuss about it with the fraternity vice president, then stood outside the room for a while. After that, I was persona non grata in the fraternity – not that I was the coolest kid to begin with.

I’m not telling this story to impress anyone – really all I did was decline to participate in a rape, which is about the minimum level of acceptable behavior for a human being.

I am telling this story because I don’t think Brock Turner got the idea to take this girl behind a dumpster, partially disrobe her, and shove his fingers inside her limp form all on his own.

In my opinion, the real problem is that he didn’t get to a point in his life where he thought it was acceptable to do all of that (lacking consent) without a clear lack of moral guidance at home and an example of how to behave at school.

His father wrote the judge a letter asking for probation, and I think all or nearly all of the answers I was seeking as to how this happened may be found within the father’s despicably self-centered pleadings. As with the impact statement above, I would recommend you read it in its entirety.

Most telling to me is that while it claims Brock is sorry for having hurt those involved, the only specific people he mentions as having been hurt are members of his own family. It’s as if he’s willing the woman involved to not exist. And while he talks about spelling tests and academics and athletics, he seems to confuse achievement in those areas with character. Character is not what drives you when everyone is watching, but reading that letter, it’s clear to me that Brock was raised only to care about what happened when everyone was watching. “How fast can you swim? How many words can you spell? How high is your GPA?” There’s nothing about “What are you going to do when you’re alone with someone who is vulnerable?”

To be clear, my dad never sat me down and said “Son, don’t rape people.” He simply set the example that my mom, his wife, was an equal. He gave me books in which men were men and didn’t have to subjugate women in order to feel manly. He did a million other things, but of course he wasn’t alone in making me who I was that night at a party, a teenage boy desperately trying to fit in with the older, cooler kids. Without his guidance, though, I don’t know who I would have been that night.

Shortly before that party I had participated, along with members of my fraternity, in a fundraiser for Take Back The Night, which is an event dedicated to ending sexual and relationship violence. The guy who tried to get me to rape that unconscious girl was there too, smiling at all the girls, paying lip service to an idea he clearly didn’t believe in. When we were done with the fundraiser we left and that was that. Other than wanting to put a check mark in the volunteer box in a visible way, we had no more interest or motivation to attend that event than we would have had in picking up trash along the road. Several years after I dropped out to join the military (which was soon after that party), that fraternity was kicked off campus for unrelated and repeated allegations of rape.

Last year, I took part in the planning committee for Take Back The Night at U of A. This basically consisted of going to meetings and speaking up only when I felt it was appropriate, which wasn’t very often because the other members knew what they were doing. When the event came around, some fraternities showed their faces for the opening walk around campus but didn’t stick around to listen to women (and men) who’d been sexually assaulted tell their stories. It was unsurprising but still disappointing to see that nothing had changed in a dozen years.

I am also telling this story because I’m tired of feeling like I’m the only straight guy with a vested interest in this conversation. There were gay guys at the booth we had at the center of campus trying to get people involved, but let’s face it, no 20 year old straight male athlete or fraternity bro is going to listen to what a gay college student has to say about sex with women. I don’t quite know how I can reach those kids with my message that you are not more of a man if you have sex with an unconscious woman who cannot give consent, but I’m going to try, and I think you should too.

Motion to Dismiss Fireclean v. Tuohy

Today my super awesome legal team at LSKS filed a response to the Fireclean v. Tuohy lawsuit. You may read the Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss here.

To condense the positions:

– Fireclean filed in Virginia, but cannot establish a reasonable justification for a Virginia court to have jurisdiction over me;
– Most of my statements were either not defamatory or opinions protected by the First Amendment;
– Despite saying the word “malice” a lot, they are unable to allege or prove any actual malice – that is, that I published anything either knowing it was false or seriously doubting that it was true, and without actual malice (which is a specific legal term defined by the landmark Supreme Court case New York Times Co. v. Sullivan) they have no case. This may be due to the fact that I absolutely believed, and still believe, everything I published on this matter to be true.
– They claim there was a concerted action between Everett Baker and myself to injure their business, but have no facts to show that any such plan ever existed.

Donations to the GoFundMe account have been exceptionally helpful in a number of ways. Your continued donations will help ensure full victory in this great and noble undertaking.

FireClean Sues Over VuurwapenBlog Articles

Recently I discovered that myself and Everett Baker were being sued by FireClean for publishing the results of scientific testing of their product along with, among other things, canola oil. 

I have set up a GoFundMe page for a legal defense fund here.

A major thrust of their suit is that I claimed or implied their product was Crisco. If you will recall from the first article, I clearly stated “I did not – and still do not – believe that FireClean is Crisco…”

When TFB posted an article titled in part “FireClean is Crisco,” I urged the author to change his title and commented publicly on the article that, again, I did not think FireClean was Crisco.

There are obviously issues with their other claims in the complaint, but that is one I felt needed to be addressed immediately.

Furthermore, the series of articles published here contained tests from three different laboratories, and I published every bit of available data and every relevant quote from those who reviewed the data. FireClean’s legal complaint contains a redacted (missing the full spectra) NMR test from a single laboratory.

More to come.

Further Ruminations On Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Last year, in early August to be specific, I wrote an article about why Americans shouldn’t be shamed into feeling bad about our country’s use of nuclear weapons against Japan at the end of World War II.

This article was in specific response to the inundation of media articles I saw at the time discussing how, I perceived, the US was so horrible for using nuclear weapons – but their use was written about in a vacuum, without proper, or in most cases, any context regarding why we decided to use nuclear weapons against Japan. I also wished to call attention to the fact that other mass deaths of civilians at the hand of the Allies were not given such special recognition, or in fact any recognition at all, even if their death tolls exceeded that of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Hiroshima as seen in September 1945. Stanley Troutman/AP
Hiroshima as seen in September 1945. Stanley Troutman/AP

There were many comments on the article, including some overtly racist ones which I quickly sent to the trash bin, but also some very thoughtful comments criticizing and/or disagreeing with my conclusions.

Many, many articles and books and papers have been written about whether or not the bombings constituted the right thing to do, with many saying that Japan was on the verge of surrender and a blockade of a few months would have pushed them over the edge, while the other side says an invasion would have been necessary and would have ended up costing more lives. I do not really wish to rehash all of these arguments, but as today is the 71st anniversary of the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, I felt it necessary to say a few things.

Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, by Joe Rosenthal / The Associated Press
Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, by Joe Rosenthal / The Associated Press

I have in the interim read (truth be told, listened to) the book The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945. I think it is a fantastic work, and would encourage anyone with the time to pick up a copy. The author, John Toland, told the story from as much of a Japanese perspective as possible, including many interviews with primary sources – essentially making the reader a fly on the wall of many important meetings on both sides throughout the war. I felt that I was fairly well educated on the topic of the Pacific war prior to reading this book, but learned numerous important facts over the last few weeks.

Still, it should not surprise anyone that the writer of an article called “We Shouldn’t Feel Bad About Nuking Imperial Japan” went into the reading of such a book with a few preconceived notions and came out of it with those notions strengthened and reinforced.

Japan was not united on the concept of continuing the war to its bitter end, but those with the real power – the military – were almost to a man absolutely committed to fighting no longer to win, but to preserve what we can loosely translate as the “national essence” of Japan. To this end a number of last-ditch efforts were underway in the expectation of an invasion including arming civilians with spears and bows.

Many of the primary Japanese actors were not viewing the situation in a manner I as an American would consider rational. Despite the fact that the Japanese military and political leadership knew since 1943 that they were losing the war and by no means had the industry to win, they continued fighting “for the Emperor.” Their decisions led to mind-boggling losses on both sides.

In mid-August, when the Emperor decided to use his influence to force his government into (more or less) accepting the terms of surrender set forth by the Allies, a coup was attempted by very “loyal” Japanese troops who believed that the Emperor had been misled and that his surrender declaration must not reach outside ears.

In other words, “for the Emperor” to them no longer meant fighting for the actual Emperor but for the idea of an Empire. From 1931 to 1945, in fact, the military of Japan essentially did whatever it wanted and said it was “for the Emperor.” This thought process was derived from the, again, loosely translated concept of “insubordination.”

As stated previously, today is the 71st anniversary of the flag raising on Mount Suribachi. I find today to be an especially poignant time to argue that the use of atomic weapons against Japan was more than justified, both at the time and in hindsight. Although American troops captured the highest point on the island on the fifth day of the battle, fighting continued for another month as virtually every Japanese fighting man on the island fought to the death or hid out in the complex network of caves and tunnels that had been prepared for the defense of the island.

This for a tiny bit of rock that held little strategic significance other than that it was one step closer to the Home Islands. I find it hard to believe that the Japanese would fight so tenaciously for little gain in February and March of 1945 and yet be on the verge of surrendering their homeland in August of that same year – without the psychological shock of the use of atomic weapons.

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