Bell Icon - White EdgesIn July, at a midnight showing of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, James Holmes, a former Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado, snuck into a crowded theatre armed with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, a shotgun, and two Glock 22 pistols.

Twelve people were left dead with 57 injured [1].

In the aftermath of the shooting, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, in a rather candid moment, responded to the cries for increased gun control by responding that firearms were not necessarily the problem [2]:

If there were no assault weapons available and no this or no that, this guy is going find something, right?  He’s going to know how to create a bomb... And, you know, if it wasn't one weapon, it would have been another.

Hickenlooper was proven correct - after Holmes was arrested, local Police spent most of the next day disarming the numerous bombs he had planted throughout his apartment [3].

Today, however, Hickenlooper may have changed his tune - the legislature, set to go into session on January 7, 2013, is now controlled by Democrats elected in the November cycle.  Hickenlooper, apparently emboldened by the legislative majority, has seemingly cast his previous belief in semiautomatic rifles simply being one of many tools of killers to suggesting that semiautomatic rifles are a tool used exclusively by killers [4]:

When you look at what happened in Aurora, a great deal of that damage was from the large magazine on the AR-15 (rifle). I think we need to have that discussion and say, ‘Where is this appropriate?

[Hickenlooper said the issues that merit discussion include] things like, do we all need assault weapons [which are] designed for warfare and designed to pierce bulletproof vests and body armor?

Once again, the question of whether or not the gun is the problem are brought straight to the forefront, leaving the blame of the individual at the door to the Capital.  The AR-15 in the theatre that awful night committed a serious and heinous felony - James Holmes was simply a dumbfounded and hapless byproduct of America's gun culture who happened to be holding it when the cops arrived.

Such shortsightedness on the root of the problem is inexcusable for local elected officials.  There are millions of AR-15's in the United States, none of which have ever been used in the commission of a crime, and none of which will ever be used in the commission of one.  To boot, there are thousands of AR-15's just in the state of Colorado which have been used to lawfully hunt this past season [5] [6].

AR-15's are not "designed for warfare" as the Governor claims.  They are designed for semiautomatic fire in lawful circumstances.  The military has its own firearm which is "designed for warfare" - it's known as the M16 service rifle and is not in widespread ownership or use by civilians.

The problem, once again, is that so-called "assault weapons" and their lawful owners are unfairly targeted by those who believe that firearms have no place in American culture.  Certainly not firearms which look scary at least.

Unfortunately for those looking to ban "assault weapons," which may well happen in this state, the Supreme Court took this issue up quite clearly in the D.C. v Heller decision in 2008 (which was incorporated to the states via McDonald v Chicago in 2010), when the Court said [7] (emphasis mine):

We are aware of the problem of handgun violence in this country, and we take seriously the concerns raised by the many amici who believe that prohibition of handgun ownership is a solution. The Constitution leaves the District of Columbia a variety of tools for combating that problem, including some measures regulating handguns, see supra, at 54–55, and n. 26. But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home. Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.

The Court also clarified whether or not public safety was a lawful reason to restrict rights enjoyed by Americans under the Second Amendment, stating (and stick with me here, this is important so read the whole quote - emphasis mine):

[Justice Breyer] criticizes us for declining to establish a level of scrutiny for evaluating Second Amendment restrictions. He proposes, explicitly at least, none of the traditionally expressed levels (strict scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny,rational basis), but rather a judge-empowering “interest balancing inquiry” that “asks whether the statute burdens a protected interest in a way or to an extent that is out of proportion to the statute’s salutary effects upon other important governmental interests.” After an exhaustive discussion of the arguments for and against gun control, JUSTICE BREYER arrives at his interest-balanced answer:

Because handgun violence is a problem,because the law is limited to an urban area, and because there were somewhat similar restrictions in the founding period (a false proposition that we have already discussed), the interest-balancing inquiry results in the constitutionality of the handgun ban.

We know of no other enumerated constitutional right whose core protection has been subjected to a freestanding “interest-balancing” approach. The very enumeration of the right takes out of the hands of government—even the Third Branch of Government—the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting upon. A constitutional guarantee subject to future judges’ assessments of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all. Constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them, whether or not future legislatures or (yes) even future judges think that scope too broad. We would not apply an “interest-balancing” approach to the prohibition of a peaceful neo-Nazi march through Skokie. The First Amendment contains the freedom-of-speech guarantee that the people ratified,which included exceptions for obscenity, libel, and disclosure of state secrets, but not for the expression of extremely unpopular and wrong-headed views. The Second Amendment is no different. Like the First, it is the very product of an interest-balancing by the people—which JUSTICE BREYER would now conduct for them anew. And whatever else it leaves to future evaluation, it surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding,responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.

The point the Court was making was that even if a law intends to affect a positive social change, such as reducing the number of gun deaths and improve the public safety, it is not appropriate or lawful for a legislature or the Courts to restrict a constitutional right to any degree in order to affect such change.  Therefore, a ban on handguns is unconstitutional, as the right is explicitly protected, regardless of whether such a ban would protect the public.

Gun control advocates might ask, at this juncture, whether or not tanks, rocket launchers, and explosives should be restricted if such a constitutional right is so absolute.  The Court addressed this as well - the primary reasoning behind what can and cannot be restricted lies in what is in common use at the time [DC v Heller, pg. 55]:

We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those 'in common use at the time.' We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of 'dangerous and unusual weapons.'

Being that semiautomatic rifles are in common use for any number of lawful purposes and are not, by the Court's definition, "dangerous and unusual weapons," any ban on the possession or use of so-called "assault weapons" is similarly an illegal suppression of a right explicitly protected by the Second Amendment and enjoyed by millions of law abiding Americans, regardless of whether or not the ban might improve public safety.

The Colorado legislature would be wise to avoid the issue of gun bans and focus instead on the root of the problem - the killers who are obtaining such weapons and the lawful, preventative measures that can be taken to prevent such individuals from obtaining a firearm which tens of thousands of Coloradans lawfully possess.

In love of liberty,

The Bulletproof Patriot


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Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

- Abraham Lincoln

In my original post yesterday [1] regarding the shooting at an Aurora, Colorado movie theatre that left 12 dead and 59 injured, some critically, including the point blank shooting of a three month old baby [2], I noted that while the country should be using this opportunity to mourn and pray for the family and friends of those who were lost, the radical gun control nut jobs would be falling all over themselves to blame the firearm for the massacre rather than James Holmes, the man solely responsible for this heinous act of cowardice [3].

I normally would have taken the blame-placement piece published by the Editorial Board in yesterday's NY Daily News in stride, writing it off as the usual distraction and politicization of a national tragedy that really highlights not a firearms problem, but a problem with a willful and ongoing separation of man from God in this country.  While we should be spending this time praying and holding our own families closer, the NY Daily News has been busily engaged in a late night pretzel and Mountain Dew binge in their collective mothers' basements, concocting a massive and poorly executed sleight-of-hand hit piece that would have made the Kremlin proud [4] [local pdf available here for when the article mysteriously disappears].  Unfortunately for the Daily, in Lincoln's words, they have officially "removed all doubt."

The Daily's article, in short, is a brief collection of mental diarrhea which can only be honestly described as a childish, disjointed diatribe seeking to place blame for the actions of one James Holmes on anyone else but the shooter for the express purpose of furthering the argument of gun control - nowhere in the article is any emotion expressed for the victims or their families, only blame placed on gun owners as "zealots who would sooner see blood flow and lives end than have to check a box on a gun registration form."  The Daily also manages to make their entire case without citing a single source to back up their claims - not surprising, considering there aren't any.  That's the telltale sign of a gaggle of dangerously ignorant blowhards - meet the NY Daily News Editorial Board.

The Daily's piece begins [4],

The police chief in Aurora, Colo., said he is confident that massacre gunman James Holmes acted alone. The police chief was dead wrong.

Standing at Holmes’ side as he unleashed an AR-15 assault rifle and a shotgun and a handgun was Wayne LaPierre, political enforcer of the National Rifle Association.

... and continues,

Standing at Holmes’ side as he murdered 12 and wounded 59 were the millions of zealots who would sooner see blood flow and lives end than have to check a box on a gun registration form.

In a vain claim of innocence, the fanatics will say Holmes is a monster and a maniac, that he fired and fired and fired as a man possessed. Each protestation clamps their fingers with his around the trigger.

Let me make sure I'm perfectly clear on this matter - not only do I, a lawful gun owner, supposedly want to see blood flow in the streets and lives taken by firearms, but the only thing necessary to stop this from happening is to check a box on a gun registration form after the firearm purchase has already been made?  Evidently I missed the memo that we're all now living in Candy Land, a world where checking a box prevents mass murder.

If a simple check mark on a piece of paper is all that is necessary to prevent these sorts of occurrences, a sign prohibiting the presence of firearms on the theatre's property would surely be even more successful, right [5]?  Of course - all law abiding gun owners made sure that their firearms were not present in the theatre that night.  James Holmes, however, must have not seen the sign.

According to the Daily, gun owners and mass murderers are exactly the same ("each protestation [of gun owners] clamps their fingers with his around the trigger").  As of 2011, the population of the United States was approximately 309 million.  According to the annual manufacturer survey published by the ATF [6], the number of firearms lawfully owned in the United States was roughly 305 million.  These 305 million firearms are owned by 50 million households and by one in three adults [7], or about 80 million.

The number of mass murders on record since 1982 is 36, and this is according to the leftist Mother Jones [8].  So, according to the Daily, all 80 million individual gun owners are responsible for the actions of 36 people.  In other words, the 99.999955 % are responsible for the mass murders of the 0.000045 %.  This gives a whole new meaning to the term "one percent."

What if we count not only mass murders, but also all murders committed with firearms?  According to the FBI's most recent complete Uniform Crime Report (UCR) for 2010, the number of murders committed with any type of firearm for the year was 8,734 [9].  Once again, the 99.9891 % are responsible for the murders of the 0.0109 % (and this figure assumes that all murders were carried out by lawful gun owners, which is absurd).

Further, a Gallop poll in 2005 found that the top three reasons for gun ownership by Americans were protection against crime (67%), target shooting (66%), and hunting (58%) [10].  The Daily may be surprised to find that of the gun owners surveyed, none noted that their ownership was primarily for "mass murder" or "clamping their fingers with those of a mass murderer around the trigger."

The article continues,

Because they made sure that virtually everyone, Holmes included, has unfettered legal access to heavy weaponry. And they made sure he was permitted by law to drive to the kill scene with a fully loaded arsenal.

Such is the conscienceless extremism of America’s gun lovers that they accept wholesale slaughter as akin to a fatal highway pileup. Accidents happen, in their grotesque view, and so do mass killings by firearms.

This may be the biggest load of horse shit I've ever read, and that's saying something, because I've read a lot of it.  "Conscienceless extremism of America's gun lovers?"  Excuse me, Mr. High and Mighty, but would you mind saying that to the faces of the 990,000 Americans [10a] who use a firearm in defense of themselves or their families every single year?

The loss of 12 lives is far more than tragic enough, but to claim the .223 to be "heavy weaponry" is uninformed, political bullshit, bandied about by a bunch blinded gun control automatons and cheapens the values of the lives lost in order to score political points.

The Daily also claims that gun owners "made sure that virtually everyone, Holmes included, has unfettered legal access to heavy weaponry."  Since when have gun owners been able to purchase firearms without criminal background checks?  It doesn't happen in Colorado (nor anywhere else in the country).  Colorado restricts gun purchases and ownership in a way that makes sense to most people [13]:

It is unlawful for any person convicted of a felony or conspiracy or attempt to commit a felony, or misdemeanor domestic violence or adjudicated delinquent for a felony to possess a firearm.

Most gun owners won't argue that preventing felons, domestic violence 'convictees,' or mental delinquents from owning firearms is bad, because rights to gun ownership absolutely can be withdrawn Constitutionally so long as due process has occurred (i.e. a Court action has occurred) in accordance with the Fifth Amendment, which states [14],

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Also, since when are required criminal background investigations akin to "unfettered legal access?"  The paperwork required to purchase a firearm (ATF Form 4773 [14a])requires the purchaser to check several boxes, which according to the Daily, should prevent nearly all murders.  The paperwork, after completion of the background investigation, is required to be kept on file by the firearms dealer as long as they are in business.  If the business closes, the paperwork is surrendered to the ATF.  Further, dealers are required by law to produce the sale records upon request by law enforcement.

The Daily's juvenile screed continues,

Every Aurora-like spasm provokes the question: How did the killer get his guns? Overwhelmingly, the answer is that he acquired them legally from a licensed dealer under the permissive laws of the local jurisdiction and the deliberately porous oversight of the federal government.

If we exclude thousands of firearm crimes in favor of looking only at mass murder, the Daily may be correct.  The federal government cannot prevent anyone from purchasing a firearm unless due process has occurred.  That's why felons can't purchase firearms legally - due process has withdrawn that right for the security of the American People.  What the Daily misses, predictably, is that the federal government does not grant rights to its citizens, it simply guarantees existing rights which have been granted by our Creator.  The right to self defense is on the list - the right to murder your neighbor is not.  This is, unfortunately, the consequence of a free society and one in which one's own security is in their own hands, despite what politicians have been screaming at us for generations, that they can somehow guarantee your safety.  They can't - only we can.

In Aurora, the authorities say someone lawfully bought the weapons used by Holmes and that he carried them lawfully until the moment he pulled a trigger. Even the purchase of the AR-15, a rapid-fire, military-style semi-automatic fit for nothing but combat, was by the books.

If an "AR-15, rapid-fire, military-style semi-automatic" is "fit for nothing but combat," there are about 3 million lawful gun owners who might be surprised.  The AR-15 is prized in the gun community not for its lethality, but for its modularity.  Everybody and their brother make a part for the AR-15, including the thousands upon thousands of match-grade barrels and other components that are used in competition every year.  An AR-15 is no more lethal than any other firearm, even if it can be fired more rapidly.  A bolt action .308 hunting rifle could have very likely done much more damage in this latest tragedy - after all, there's a reason the .308 is the most popular rifle caliber for hunting deer (and the AR-15 is not).  In fact, in some states the use of an AR-15 chambered in .223 is illegal for hunting use, as the bullet is too small to cause sufficient damage to routinely take down game.

A better comparison would be to the explosives that James Holmes wired his apartment with [15].  Why did Holmes choose the comparatively weak AR-15 when he could have used the exact same explosives he had set up at his apartment (which were intended to kill the Police who entered).  Surely Holmes could have hidden explosives in the theatre and detonated them as the movie began, potentially killing every single viewer in the theatre.  This would be far closer to the "heavy weaponry" the Daily describes, and yet, it appears nowhere in his article.  I have heard no calls for the banning of fertilizer or whatever else was used to produce the explosives.  Why not?

Once, federal law would have kept Holmes’ hands off a superdeadly weapon like the AR-15. In 1994, under President Bill Clinton, Congress outlawed the manufacture and possession of assault weapons, but the statute had a 10-year expiration date.

IN 2004, it went off the books to cheers from the NRA, led by LaPierre, who keeps Washington in line and who went to ground Friday, declining comment “until all the facts are known.” As if they aren’t already.

Again, the Daily intentionally mischaracterizes and sensationalizes the AR-15 as a "superdeadly weapon."  Since when?  The military doesn't seem to think so, which explains why they've spent years trying to find a more effective caliber that can be carried with as much ease as the .223 (5.56 NATO) [16].

Additionally, Congress did not outlaw the manufacture and possession of assault weapons - possession was absolutely lawful, so long as the firearm was manufactured before the date of the ban.  Congress, in their usual stupidity, outlawed the manufacture of "scary looking" guns in the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, not guns which were commonly used to commit crimes.  In addition, the effect of the ban was virtually zero, particularly because so-called "assault weapons" weren't commonly used in crime to begin with.  If that were the case, why ban them?  Simple - curtailment of gun rights out of irrational fear, exactly as the NY Daily News is so shamelessly advocating.

Even the National Institute of Justice concluded that the ban had little to no effect on crime [17]:

We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence. And, indeed, there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.

If it had caused "no discernible reduction" in gun violence, what could the point possibly be in calling for its reinstatement other than blinded political demagoguery?

The Daily concludes their pitiful diatribe,

Through their inaction and their silence, Obama and Romney have fallen into line with all those who enabled Holmes to take hold of that AR-15 and will enable others to do so in the future unless America’s political leaders develop the courage to fight to save lives.

Thank you, NY Daily News, for demonstrating so clearly the root of the problem in America - shameless political hackery under the guise of "courage to fight to save lives."

In love of liberty,

The Bulletproof Patriot


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TBP supports the Convention of States project to call an Article V convention for the purpose of amending the Constitution to limit the powers of the federal government.

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