Category Archives: Jeff’s Blog

Jeff's Blog

Hello Gun Lobby!

Much of what you see here you might later see as a the core of a full column in The Knox Report which is a regular feature of Shotgun News and many club and organization newsletters, or featured in our own newsletter, The Hard Corps Report. This area will serve as my notes and brain-storming zone for other writing so you'll see it here first.

Please let me know what you think of the information you find here and the work that we are doing.

Yours for the Second Amendment,

Jeff Knox


Heller Note

       I have to apologize for not posting a more thorough analysis of the Heller decision.  I was holding space for the story in the next Hard Corps Report which I delayed publishing waiting for the decision to come down.  I have been focused on getting the newsletter put together – and overcoming some technical disasters – and failed to be thorough here on the site.

        I'm afraid that's going to continue for another day or two as I finish up the news letter and get it in the mail.  I did take a minute to put some clarification notes in the original story and will do my best to have more information soon.

         In the mean time, let me just say that in the current climate I think that the decision that was rendered is absolutely as good as we could have hoped for and there are some subtle nuances in the language Justice Scalia used that I believe purposely leave certain doors open wider than my first quick reading indicated.  I believe that some of the bothersome thoughts in the opinion were necessitated by one or more "squeamish" members of the majority – possibly the Chief Justice – who wanted to provide some cover for some existing laws.  Most of that was phrased in such a way as to leave a hole though.

        The bottom line is that according to the syllabus there were three main points that the Court "Held":

            1. The Second Amendment protects an Individual Right for self-defense and other lawful purposes and without a requirement of some sort of militia connection beyond, the militia is us.

            2. Like most other Rights, some limits can be placed on it (and they offer examples of what they are not saying are unconstitutional, which does not make those things, by default, constitutional – one of the cracks in the door.  I also don't see how this – or at least most of it – could be considered part of the "Holding" since it doesn't address any specific question in the case.  The question was basically, "Do these two laws in the District of Columbia violate the Second Amendment?"  Answering that by saying Yes, because the 2A protects an individual right to arms such as these laws deny.  Everything else – including this section – is just explaination of their thinking to reach their conclusion.)

            3. DC laws banning handguns and requiring all guns to be unavailable for defense violate the Second Amendment. 

        The suggestion that the Court's order; " the District must permit Heller to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home," is a defacto stamp of approval on licensing and registration (an early assumption of my own,) is not true.  The Court specifically declined to consider the constitutionality of such laws in the context of this case and practically invited a future challenge of those laws.  Such a challenge will, of course, have to wait until people are actually issued or denied licenses so they can have standing.

        This ruling is a good solid foundation and now the bricks that can restore the Second Amendment can be laid on this foundation one tier at a time with each level setting up the next.  It is a slow and tedious process and there will be setbacks, but it can be done and is being done.

        We need to look at this ruling in the best possible light and interpret every word of it to our best advantage, conceding nothing.  We must stick our collective foot into every crack in every door that the opinion left available and not let the opposition slam any of them shut without a bloody battle.

 

        Now back to the Hard Corps Report.  If you don't subscribe, I would encourage you to do so.  It is our primary source of revenue and I think you'll find it very worthwhile.  No hype, just facts and well reasoned analysis – if I do say so myself.

Drop us a note if you'd like to receive a review copy or just send us the cost of a box of ammo (or the ammo itself – pretty much any gauge or caliber will do) and we'll put you on the list.

Yours for the Second Amendment,

Jeff Knox 

Cops Shooting Straight

    For decades the public has been inundated with bogus, anti-gun, anti-rights propaganda spouted from the offices of Police Chiefs and other high-profile police political appointees and their vassals who hope to someday become political appointees themselves.  The gun rights movement has countered this propaganda by insisting that these anti-rights opinions do not apply to rank-and-file officers on the streets.  Organizations like the Law Enforcement Alliance of America (LEAA) help to bolster that position, but their close association with the NRA hurts their credibility. 

    Now a new force in the argument is emerging and it is proving what pro-rights advocates have been saying all along.  The internet, with its Blogs, forums, and other web sites is proving that line cops by-and-large understand that the Constitution means what it says and that they recognize armed citizens as allies, not threats.  Clearly there are many officers who need more education regarding the rights of citizens and the limits of police powers, but the internet is helping there too.

    A good case in point is a recent Blog entry by Frank Borelli, Editor in Chief of Officer.com , discussing the current situation in our nation's capitol.  Borelli contends that the District of Columbia should be the shining example of Constitutional integrity.  That the DC gun ban should never have even been considered and should have been dumped as soon as it was seen that it didn't work.  He goes on to criticize recent DC police activities where they cordoned off a certain section of town and stopped people entering and leaving, demanding identification and a "valid" reason for being in the area.  In past entries Borelli has espoused the value of officers spending personal time on the range and the importance of the "Constitution vs. Convenience."

    We in the gun rights community need to make extra efforts to reach out to members of law enforcement through these web sites and in person.  We need to help educate the undereducated and encourage those who put forward strong clear thinking on Constitutional matters.

    Recent incidents in Virginia and Pennsylvania where officers overreacted to citizens lawfully carrying firearms openly, point up the need for continuing education, and web sites like Officer.com can be a useful venue for such education.  All police powers are derived – on loan – from "we the people" and are retained by us even while they are on loan to the government.  When police and government forget this simple fact, tyranny has gained a foothold.

     

Court Says No to Olofson.

Court denies Olofson’s bid to stay out of jail pending appeal.

David Olofson was convicted in January of illegally transferring a machinegun after a 20-year old AR-15 he had loaned to a friend fired two short multi-round bursts.  Last month he was sentenced to 30 months in prison, but his attorney immediately filed an appeal in the Federal Appeals Court for the 7th Circuit.  Along with the appeal, they filed a motion to allow the Army reservist and father of three to remain free until the appeal is settled.  While Olofson’s appeal could drag out for quite some time, early in June, a three-judge panel of the court said they would not keep Olfson out of jail in the interim. 

It is likely that Olofson will remain free for several more weeks due to backlogs in the system, but as soon as the government incarcerators catch up a little David Olofson will have to begin serving his sentence.

Continue reading Court Says No to Olofson.

Shooting for The Future

Last year I wrote an article for Handguns magazine titled Shooting for the Future about the basics of introducing new folks to the fun of shooting.  That article is now available on the internet at the magazine's web stie and can be viewed by clicking here.

I would invite everyone to take a look at it and let me – and the editors – know what you think about it.  Unless you happen to dislike the article for some reason in which case I would encourage you to keep that opinion to yourself. Laughing

African Safari for Sale

African Safari for Sale

        Several months ago, we purchased an African Safari for 4 people – 2 hunters and 2 tourists – at a Friends of NRA Banquet.  The trip is all-inclusive – food, accomodations, guides, permits, tags, and trophy fees for several types of game, almost everything except airfare.  Now it is apparent that the trip is simply not going to be possible for any of us, so we’ve decided to auction it off to the highest bidder.  All proceeds will go directly to The Firearms Coalition.  The trip is valued at $11,000, but we’re accepting reserve bids starting at $4195.  We encourage you to make an offer, as we’d rather have it go to one of our regular supporters.  So, who’ll start the bidding?  Learn more about the trip by clicking here and then clicking on the image to make it larger.  It might take a moment for the images to load.

Olofson Sentenced

Olofson Sentenced to Thirty Months

 

David Olofson, the Army Reservist who loaned a twenty-year old AR15 rifle to a prospective buyer and was charged with illegally transferring a machinegun, was sentenced to thirty months in prison by a Federal Judge in Wisconsin.  Olofson, his attorneys, and many legal observers were surprised by the sentence.  The long delay in sentencing was interpreted as an indication that the judge was uncomfortable with certain irregularities in the prosecution.  They speculated that he was delaying sentencing with the intention of quietly setting the conviction aside, or at least ordering a new trial.  Instead he went right in line with the prosecution’s requests and dismissed defense complaints about improperly suppressed evidence.

The case, aside from being a travesty of justice and senselessly destroying David Olofson’s life, has dire implications for anyone who owns any semi-automatic firearm.  Under the standards of this case, any gun that malfunctions and fires a multiple round burst is a machinegun and the owner is at risk of prosecution.

At this point Olofson is appealing the conviction based on suppression of evidence. There were two documents that Olofson asked for in discovery and which the ATF refused to provide. They claimed that the documents contained privileged tax information and could not be released; this even though Olofson had copies of both documents from public sources. Since those sources were not "official" the copies Olofson had were inadmissible and since ATF claimed their copies were protected, the judge accepted their word on that and refused to demand the documents be produced.

The first document was a letter sent by ATF to manufacturers of AR-15's back in the mid'80's warning them that the parts they were using were prone to hammer-follow malfunctions and suggesting that they should institute a recall to replace the offending parts. The makers of Olofson's rifle were included in that letter and Olofson's rifles was manufactured during that time period.

The second document was a letter from the ATF to the owner of a rifle that was legally registered as a machinegun. It informed him that his gun was being removed from the National Firearms Transfer Registry because ATF testing showed that it was not really a machinegun, but just an AR-15 with some M-16 parts in it (just like Olofson's) that were causing it to malfunction with hammer-follow (just like Olofson's.)  They basically told him that his $20,000 M-16 was really a malfunctioning $1,500 AR-15 and that he should get it fixed. The test and evaluation was signed by the same ATF firearms expert who concluded that Olofson's rifle was not a machinegun and then retested and concluded that the gun was a machinegun.  Both of these rifles were tested by the same examiner within a matter of just a few weeks of each other.

Olofson has found an ATF memo which specifically declares that the warning letter from ATF to manufacturers did not contain privileged information and is not subject to any disclosure restrictions.  He has also connected with the guy whose rifle was reclassified and gotten certified copies of those letters and test results.

It seems pretty clear that the judge was misled by ATF and the Federal Prosecutor and that all of the information relating to these letters should have been provided to the court, entered into evidence, and shown to the jury.  Based on this fact, the Court of Appeals should, at a minimum, grant Olofson a new trial and actually should simply vacate the whole case.  There is just no telling what a court will do though.  The more I study some of these court cases, the more I am convinced that our “Justice” System is seriously broken.  I am hopeful that NRA or someone else with some experience and money to pay good lawyers will jump into this case now that it is becoming more prominent.

            Several months ago, while Olofson’s trial was just getting started, I provided him with information on how to formally request assistance from the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund.  I don’t know if his lawyers ever followed through with such a request.  I also brought the case directly to the attention of members of the NRA Board of Directors and NRA staff, encouraging them to take a closer look at the case and provide some assistance or support.  Just a short article in NRA magazines might have been very helpful.  When a reporter from CNN’s “Lou Dobbs” show contacted NRA after Olofson’s sentencing, he reported that they said they had been watching the case closely and were considering offering assistance.

I should also point out my own failure to help as much as I could have.  When a major national magazine asked me to write a comprehensive article on the case, I agreed, but due to my regular workload and some other mitigating circumstances, I never was able to fulfill that agreement.  Perhaps a bit more publicity earlier on could have forced ATF’s hand.  We’ll never know.  What we do know is that if the Appeals Court functions with the same skill and professionalism displayed by the original trial judge, David Olofson, husband, father, and Army veteran, is going to spend years in prison with murderers and rapists simply because he loaned a 20-year old rifle to a kid who managed to cause it to fire a couple of short multiple shot bursts.

If the ATF can succeed at putting David Olofson away, none of us are safe.  I attended a friendly side-by-side shotgun shoot recently where guys described occasions when their Parker, Purdy, or Fox had fired both barrels with a single trigger pull.  Under the standard demonstrated in the Olofson case, those 100+ year old shotguns are machineguns and their owners are dangerous felons.

This needs to be fixed in the courts and fixed in the congress.  There is no excuse for this type of vindictive prosecution.

Read my original story here. 

Bloomberg Shoots McCain

Anti-gun Mayor (and potential presidential candidate) Mike Bloomberg and his group “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” have created a television commercial purportedly intended to generate momentum for closing the so called “gun show loophole.” What the ad will do more than anything else is highlight Sen. John McCains betrayal of gunowners when he made a commercial on behalf of Citizens for Gun Safety supporting legislation to close the imaginary loophole several years ago. From a political standpoint, only McCain is damaged with this new ad which is scheduled to air in candidates home states and in Pennsylvania prior to their April 22 Primary. It is a safe bet that GunVoters will respond negatively to the spot and it will make it even harder for McCain in his efforts to woo this important voting block. The timing of the Bloomberg spot suggests that it is intended to damage John McCain and remove GunVoters from the election equation in November. Could this be a proverbial artillery barrage to soften up the beach before Bloomberg launches his own campaign for president? Maybe, or perhaps it is a payback for some perceived wrong of the past. Whatever the reason, McCain is going to discover that it is painful to shoot yourself in the foot – especially when that foot is firmly planted in your own mouth. McCain supplied the gun and ammo and put his own foot in his mouth and now Bloomberg is pulling the trigger.

Armed Pilots “Security” Video

You’ve probably heard that a pilot accidentally shot a hole in his airplane recently. A pilots’ group blames dangerous security rules and equipment, but others say that the pilot in question had to violate several of the most basic security procedures for this to happen. Most importantly, Only handle the gun when the plane is parked. Here is a video explaining and demonstrating the "security" procedures Federal Flight Deck Officers (armed pilots) must go through. Specifics about all of the FFDO firearm procedures are not available to the public, but the suggestion in this video that the gun must be removed and locked every time the cabin door is opened is apparently not accurate.

    Notice that the gun is often pointed directly at the demonstrator during the process.  I don’t want to go shooting with this guy.

What ATF Stands For

ATF – Always Think Forfeiture

 

A very dangerous mindset was revealed recently when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) filed an Invitation for Bids to purchase 2000 Leatherman multi-tools engraved with the words “ATF – Asset Forfeiture” and “Always Think Forfeiture.” (emphasis added)

Imagine you had a job picking up defective widgets and the definition of exactly what constitutes a defect is rather subjective.  You have the authority to simply dust off a widget that some might call defective and put it back, or you can pick up a widget that seems to be perfectly good and, by poking and prodding a bit, find some minor discrepancy that you can call a defect and drop that one in your bag.  Now imagine that you get paid a bonus and get brownie points based on the value of the widgets you collect and some of the widgets are made of lead while others are made of gold.  You’re supposed to be focused on finding and removing the widgets with the worst defects, but do you think you might be tempted to instead focus on the gold widgets?  Might you pass over seriously flawed lead widgets in favor of questionably flawed gold widgets? 

That’s basically the position the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives puts their agents in when they send them out to enforce firearms laws.  While the agency claims that they do not set quotas for their agents’ prosecutions, the agency uses successful prosecutions as the primary measure of their field agents’ performance.  Add to that the temptation of asset forfeiture – where the agency gets to keep seized assets and prosecuting agents get bonuses and “atta-boys” based on the value of assets seized – and there is clear potential for conflict of interest and abuse.

Is it possible that government enforcers would target a business or individual specifically because that entity had valuable assets that would be forfeited in a successful prosecution?  (And actually a prosecution can be unsuccessful and still result in forfeiture.)  If the agency gets to keep forfeited assets, use them to bolster their budget, and reward agents who successfully instigate actions that result in these windfalls, isn’t this creating conflict of interest and literally inviting abuse? 

Of course the ATF, like all other government agencies, is only interested in seeing that laws are obeyed and justice is done.  They would never seek to grow their agency just for the sake of growth and institutional ego or intentionally look for ways to pad their budget.  No doubt their focus in every investigation is always on finding criminal activity, stopping that activity, and bringing the perpetrators to justice.  If in that process, it turns out that the criminals have some ill-gotten gains that should be forfeited, it is only right that the agency and agents that successfully brought an end to the criminal enterprise should be rewarded…  They’re from the government and they’re here to help.

Update:  The original link disappered.  You can read the archived bid request and award announcement here.  

The contract was awarded to Freedom (sic) Enterprises of Spokane, Washington in the amount of $37,460.00.

Supremely Frustrating

           I'm not as thrilled as some with the oral arguments in the Heller case.  I was very bothered by some of the statements made and some of the things left unsaid.  Of course, this was just the oral arguments – 30 minutes per side with the Solicitor General getting 15 minutes of his own – and there were many, very thorough briefs submitted in the case.  I didn't like the way our side threw machineguns away (in an attempt to head off the Solicitor General's plan for lowered scrutiny) and I wasn't happy with the suggestion that the word "unreasonable" could reasonably be inserted in front of "infringed" in the Second Amendment.  I understand that some of this was gamesmanship, but I dislike it none the less.  As a matter of fact, I dislike the whole system that places so much weight on what prior courts have said and done.  I said before the arguments and I say it now, it is not a question of whether the Court recognizes an individual right, but how much weasel-room they allow to usurp that right.

            Based on their questions and comments during oral arguments and on prior statements regarding the right to bear arms, it is pretty clear that at least 5 and probably six or more Justices will agree that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right of the people of the United States.

            Chief Justice Roberts, Justices Scalia, Alito, and Kennedy all made it pretty clear that they were convinced that the Second amendment references an individual right.  Justice Thomas was silent during the arguments, but past comments make it almost certain that he will join those 4 to seal a majority of the Court.  Justices Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Stevens all asked questions trying to either support a position that the militia clause held some supremacy over the rest of the Amendment, or that some “reasonable” restrictions were permissible even under an individual rights interpretation, but even with their comments, it is quite possible that any or even all of them could come down on the side of an individual right.  Stevens and Breyer were the most openly hostile.  Souter was reaching, but not really arguing against the individual rights position, and Ginsburg was very focused on the question of reasonable restrictions.  Souter and Ginsburg could both end up going the right way on the individual versus collective question and if they do, it is possible that Stevens and Breyer will follow suit.  Any Justice that does stick with the   Continued…

Continue reading Supremely Frustrating