Category Archives: NRA

REVIEW: MantisX: The Little Training Gizmo That Could

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This new training aid is worth well more than its cost in ammo. Find out what it is…

MantisX

by Frank Winn, Guns & Gear Editor
NRA America’s 1st Freedom

How enthusiastic would you be about a device that could turn you into a better pistol (or rifle) shooter in a hurry; weighed essentially nothing; worked on a huge variety of firearms; played no favorites by gender, stature, handedness (or hat-size, for that matter); worked in both dry- and live-fire modes; and could be had for a few week’s worth of pocket change?

Yeah — us too. So we present the MantisX Firearms Training System.

Physically, it’s an underwhelming sort of kit: A bland-looking Picatinny-attachable component (packed in the smallest Pelican case we’ve ever seen) comprises a compact sensor, and is accompanied by a single sheet of instructions and a USB-to-mini-USB charging cable. But unfold that sheet of paper, and you’ll start to cheer up, we promise. Eight steps that would fit legibly on both sides of a business card may be all you’ll ever read about the MantisX.

While we have suspicions about the need behind the complexity of the nuts and bolts, the concept behind the device is simple. Step One of those instructions is to get the brains to your phone — a free App Store or Google Play download — and Step Two puts the device on your rail. Next come prompted and self-terminating connection and calibration steps, and now you’re ready to train. Just push “start,” and you’re rolling. (Unless you’re at the range, remember to make sure a dry-fire session is truly dry: NO LIVE AMMO IN THE SAME ROOM AS YOU ARE.)

The sensor and your smart device are now monitoring the movements of your pistol in near real time. The data stream that the sensor sends is stripped of the crucial milliseconds around the hammer or striker fall, and the segment compared to the “still” calibration position. Large-amplitude movements like cycling and actual shots are filtered out. The result is shot-by-shot analysis of your movements in generating the trigger press. Individual shots are scored, and the string as a whole is averaged on a 0-to-100 scale (100 demonstrates you’ve introduced no extraneous movement).

A lot of what you’ll see on your smart device in “Train” mode will remind you of a “Common Errors and Corrections” target that’s been around for years and years — one of those teaching aids that we love and hate at the same time. Pretty much everybody has seen these. They’re a spider-web-looking sort of target with a very pronounced center aim point, and labels that really give them away. They’re intended to help you identify and correct many gripping-architecture/mechanics problems that, if repeated, cause shots to stray in predictable ways. So far, so good. Their shortcomings are more difficult to apprehend, and the biggest are inseparably tandem: They have handedness (different for righties and lefties) built in, and this means they’re truly helpful only when you shoot on them with the named, single hand. As this is a huge departure from modern technique — both hands pressed together around the pistol grip just for starters — it’s no wonder their utility begins to fade. Certainly, their cues to remedy misdirected shots become less useful.

MantisX screeen

You can use your MantisX system in this way. In fact, knock yourself out: You will develop a fine trigger press with either hand. But don’t think for a second that the MantisX software shares the limitations of paper predecessors. Take a look at the “Learn” screens, and you’ll see that two-handed technique has been accounted for in the software. Whether the training suggestions are utterly perfect or not will soon be an afterthought. The real power is in revealing those tiny corrupting movements you had no idea you were making.

Two additional “Train” mode displays are where this becomes clear. The first is a line graph that looks a little bland on first inspection: Your string gets plotted left to right on the zero-to-100 scale as shots are made. Overlaid on this is a running average, recomputed and displayed as a line across the inevitable zig-zag of the successive, individual shots.

With an efficiency matched by nothing else we know, the MantisX gets you closer to repeatability in that all-important press.

This isn’t as ho-hum as it may sound, though it’s a little hard to describe why. We think the graphical presentation of the relative stillness of each shot is simply more obvious in the line plot: Shots that feel very similar will measure quite differently and — sometimes glaringly — illustrate the disastrous compounding of flaws that routinely spoils what feels like a technically sound shot. Nothing makes this clearer than an ugly, obvious 20- or even 40-point bounce from one press to the next. But stick with it, and this is where the near-magic happens. Between the MantisX sensor, software and your brain, a feedback loop is built, and we think you’ll be as astonished and impressed as we were how rapidly those infuriating swings begin to moderate. With an efficiency matched by nothing else we know, the MantisX gets you closer to repeatability in that all-important press.

MantisX

The third Train-mode screen gives even better detail on variations in one crucial sense. While it goes back to the “bucket” display mode where shots are grouped by error type, it shows the degree of error, rather than a simple count. Reading this is therefore a bit more subtle: If you have small, concentric slivers all around the center, your technique is likely very sound. The mistakes you’re making are causing very small angular deviations, and are approaching irreducible levels that reflect biologic immutables (pulse, respiration, etc.), not technique blunders.

If your pattern is more spoke-like — with larger/deeper arcs more scattered — then your score will be lower, too. You may have fewer errors, but their magnitude is such that they’ll have big(ger) impacts on downrange results.

While it’s easy to get excited about the actual shooting benefits of the MantisX system, it’d be an injustice to overlook some other fine attributes. A favorite is the charging method: The supplied cable lets you charge your sensor in any handy USB. We have no idea why there isn’t more of this in small devices of every type.

Next is that charging port itself. If you plan to do mostly dryfire work and have a pistol to which you’ll leave the sensor mounted (don’t forget — it works with CO2 and Airsoft too), such a mount can be made with the port accessible; that is, pointing forward to make plug-in dead easy. If you are using the sensor in live fire, you’ll be well-advised to turn the charging connection rearward so that carbon and other detritus don’t find their way into the connector. Just remember, this is parameter for the sensor, and creates push/pull assessment errors if not set on the “Settings” screen.

We can hear some of you thinking, by the way. “Gee, what would it be like on my rifle?” That is easily answered in two ways. First, we tried it, and it works just fine, though obviously the technique tips are mostly meaningless because grip is so different. But in terms of telling you how “quiet” you are physically at the moment you break the shot, it’s grand. Second, and not coincidentally, MantisX tells us that a rifle version of the software is already well along and due this summer.

A “History” mode is built into the MantisX software, too, and it’s about as self-explanatory as it could be. It stores each string as a bar graph in 0-to-100 scale, and contains the individual “Train” mode results (all three plots). It divvies them up by “live,” “dry” and “all,” as well as presenting some summary statistics. All are shareable as well.

We expect it’s clear that the more we fiddle with the MantisX, the more we like it. It’s clever, reliable and affordable, and will allow disproportionately rapid improvement for modest investments along several axes. But make no mistake: Its genius is not merely in forging some new paradigm, but also in refocusing and capitalizing on a time-tested one. It will put the fun back in dry fire. And if we’re honest, the more seasoned you get, the more boring this becomes. Heck, the MantisX even allows this to become a mildly competitive pursuit, if you like.

As to a new paradigm, we’d suggest it does this too. Nothing in (LOUD) shouting distance allows a reconnection between dry and live practice like the MantisX system. Making one pay dividends for the other has never been frankly transparent, and we think that’s about to change.

If you’ll take our advice, don’t be on the tail end of finding out.

MantisX unit

Visit MantisX site HERE
MSRP of the MantisX Firearms Training Systems is $149.99

D.C. Appeals Court Strikes Down ‘Good Reason’ Licensing Scheme

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“Unconstitutional” is what a federal appeals court has ruled on the D.C. gun law that says people must show “good reason” to have concealed handgun permits.

The Second Amendment is sufficient reason itself to issue permits, according to the 2-1 ruling released Tuesday July 25, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

“In fact, the Amendment’s core at a minimum shields the typically situated citizen’s ability to carry common arms generally,” wrote Judge Thomas B. Griffith in the ruling on the case Wrenn v. District of Columbia.

Subsequently, the appeals court instructed lower courts to block the D.C. law with permanent injunctions. City officials indicated they’re exploring an appeal, while gun-control groups claim the ruling shrinks public safety in the nation’s capital.

D.C. gun laws are among the strictest in the U.S., but they’ve also faced several legal challenges in the last few years, said Kirk Evans, President of U.S. & Texas LawShield.

Evans noted that one landmark pro-gun victory was District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 in which the U.S. Supreme Court—voting 5 to 4—struck down D.C.’s ban on handguns. Then, in 2014, another federal court prevented a proposed ban on carrying guns in public.

The D.C. Council—the enclave’s municipal government—responded by creating the “good reason” rule, which only issued permits to citizens who could prove they faced legitimate threats, Evans said.

“Simply residing in one of the District’s high-crime neighborhoods was not considered ‘good reason,’” Evans said. “This was not unnoticed by at least one member of Congress who complained colleagues were unarmed when a gunman shot up their ball practice in June.”

But, according to the appeals court’s decision, the “good reason” rule negated what the Supreme Court decided in Heller.

“The District’s good-reason law is necessarily a total ban on exercises of that constitutional right for most D.C. residents,” Judge Griffith wrote. “That’s enough to sink this law under (Heller).

Second Amendment advocates praised the latest ruling, including Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF).

He said the ruling “contains some powerful language that affirms what we’ve argued for many years, that requiring a so-called ‘good-cause’ to exercise a constitutionally-protected right does not pass the legal smell test.”

Gottlieb added, “We are particularly pleased that the opinion makes it clear that the Second Amendment’s core generally covers carrying in public for self-defense.”

In the days after the ruling it was too early to tell how far the case would rise through the appeals process. The Supreme Court in June declined to consider another Second Amendment case, Peruta v. California, in which the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a San Diego County law requiring gun owners to prove they have “good cause” to apply for concealed carry permits.

But Gottlieb said the latest victory in D.C. spurs confidence among Second Amendment advocates.

“To say we are delighted with the ruling would be an understatement,” Gottlieb said. “We are simply more encouraged to keep fighting, winning firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time.” — Bill Miller, Contributor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield blog

 

 

Check out these other great articles from U.S. Law Shield and click here to become a member:

 

The “purple paint law” became official in Texas on September 1, 1997. The law doesn’t appear to be common knowledge for every hunter in the Lone Star State, even though Texas hunting regulations describe it.
Can your employer restrict your ability to carry firearms at the workplace? Click to watch Emily Taylor, Independent Program Attorney with Walker & Byington, explain that in Texas, employers call the shots regarding workplace self-defense.
In this excerpt from a U.S. Law Shield News live report, watch Emily Taylor, independent program attorney with Walker & Byington, discuss the ground rules for carrying firearms into restaurants and bars. Click the video below to find out the significant differences between blue signs and red signs in Texas establishments, and how getting those colors crossed up could lead to some orange jumpsuit time.   If you would like to see these reports live on Facebook, click here to join the Texas Law Shield Facebook page and sign up for live notifications.

Campus Carry Part II Kicks Off at Texas Community and Junior Colleges

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The application of the state’s Campus Carry Law at community and junior colleges across Texas kicked off with a whimper—not a bang—on Tuesday (Aug. 1), to no surprise of TSRA Legislative Director Alice Tripp.

Texas LawShield Independent Program Attorney Edwin Walker visited with TSRA Legislative Director Alice Tripp in Austin earlier this year. 

“This effort started in 2007 and we’ve gone through four sessions of the Legislature and 10 public hearings,” said Tripp, who works closely with legislators as a representative of the Texas State Rifle Association.

“It has required a lot of work and effort.

“Now we will focus on making sure the state colleges follow the letter of the law,” she added, noting that every regular session of the Legislature colleges must send a report about their specific rules and regulations pertaining to the law and why they created them.

She said dire predictions of problems by the anti-gun crowd have proven to be groundless, just as when the law took effect at four-year public colleges on Aug. 1, 2016.

 

History

“There have been firearms on campuses since 1996—in the parking lots, on the grounds, in the dorms—this just opens up carrying firearms into buildings and classrooms.

“I am sure that students have been sitting next to someone carrying a handgun into a classroom all along. They were just doing it without permission—now they have permission,” she said.

Tripp pointed out that the negative attention on the issue has been focused mainly on students carrying firearms, while the driving force behind the effort to allow licensed carry on campus has come from faculty and staff members at the institutions of higher learning.

“What the faculty and staff members have told us is that they wanted to feel safe walking to their car in the parking lot after dark or in other areas where they might face a threat,” she said.

With the backing and support of the TSRA, state Senator Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, filled SB 11, also known as the Campus Carry Law. It passed during the 2015 Legislative session.

 

Incidents

Tripp noted that incidents related to the implementation of the law last year at four-year public colleges have been limited to one accidental discharge where no one was injured and a couple of cases where licensed concealed-carry holders inadvertently entered restricted areas.

 

Campus Carry Legal Issues

On the legal side of the issue, three University of Texas at Austin professors sued the state and the university after enactment of the Campus Carry Law, claiming that the potential presence of guns in classrooms has a chilling effect on class discussion.

A federal judge rejected their claims, ruling that the professors failed to present any “concrete evidence to substantiate their fears.”

Colleges may ban or restrict firearms from certain areas of the campuses. The Legislature must review these restrictions every other year.

There was at least one demonstration opposing the implementation of the state law at community and junior colleges on Tuesday. It was a one-man protest by a San Antonio College geography instructor.

 

Minor Pushback

According to the San Antonio Express-News, the 60-year-old instructor conducted classes on Tuesday while wearing a Kevlar helmet and a flak jacket in his protest of the law.

Reaction on the comments page of the paper was mostly negative. One reader wrote that the instructor’s action was a “melodramatic and buffoonish spectacle in protest of the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves.” —by Ralph Winingham, Contributor, U.S. and Texas LawShield blog

 

 

Check out these other great articles from U.S. Law Shield and click here to become a member:

 

The “purple paint law” became official in Texas on September 1, 1997. The law doesn’t appear to be common knowledge for every hunter in the Lone Star State, even though Texas hunting regulations describe it.
Can your employer restrict your ability to carry firearms at the workplace? Click to watch Emily Taylor, Independent Program Attorney with Walker & Byington, explain that in Texas, employers call the shots regarding workplace self-defense.
In this excerpt from a U.S. Law Shield News live report, watch Emily Taylor, independent program attorney with Walker & Byington, discuss the ground rules for carrying firearms into restaurants and bars. Click the video below to find out the significant differences between blue signs and red signs in Texas establishments, and how getting those colors crossed up could lead to some orange jumpsuit time.   If you would like to see these reports live on Facebook, click here to join the Texas Law Shield Facebook page and sign up for live notifications.

NRA Statement on Trump Administration’s Aggressive Enforcement of Federal Firearm Laws

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NRA applauds Trump administration and its loyal Pro-Second-Amendment record to help American citizens take a stand in the face of rising crime. Read more…

trump

Source: NRA-ILA

Fairfax, Va. — Three months after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to crack down on illegal firearm possession, prosecutions of these crimes have risen by 23 percent. Violent criminals are now facing consequences for their illegal actions. At the same time, the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners are being respected under the Trump administration.

“The National Rifle Association applauds President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions for understanding that prosecuting violent criminals and protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners are not mutually exclusive ideas,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action. “The Department of Justice report released today shows the administration’s commitment to getting violent criminals and gang members off our streets. After suffering an all-time low during the Obama administration, federal prosecutions of illegal firearm possession are now being taken seriously.”
The facts:
Charges of unlawful possession of a gun — mostly by convicted felons — are up 23 percent in the second quarter of 2017 from the same time period in 2016.

The number of defendants charged with the crime of using a firearm in a crime of violence or drug trafficking has increased by 10 percent.

The DOJ is on pace to prosecute the highest number of federal firearms cases since 2005.
During the Obama administration, federal prosecutions against individuals attempting to illegally buy a firearm dropped 40 percent.

During the Obama administration, prosecutions of unlawful possession of a firearm by a person subject to a court order dropped a whopping 66 percent.

“This report demonstrates that President Trump and Attorney General Sessions are making America safe again,” Cox concluded. “This is a complete reversal from the eight long years of the Obama administration, which ignored violent criminals while trying to destroy the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group. More than five million members strong, NRA continues to uphold the Second Amendment and advocates enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation’s leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the armed services. Be sure to follow the NRA on Facebook at NRA on Facebook and Twitter @NRA.

SKILLS: Riflescopes: Lens Coatings

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Lens coatings provide superior optical clarlty and utility. Here’s how and why…

coated lenses

Source: NRAFamily.org

In any optical system, some light is lost through reflection each time the light passes through a glass-to-air surface. The light loss can be significant in multi-element riflescopes; as much as 50 percent of the light may be lost to reflection as it passes through an uncoated lens system.

In the 1940s, it was discovered that magnesium flouride coatings on lenses would increase light transmission, color fidelity and image brightness considerably. Today, nearly all modern scopes have coated lenses that transmit from 95 to 99 percent of the light that enters the objective lens.

Coatings such as zinc sulfide and zirconium oxide are used, often in combination with magnesium flouride. A coated lens will appear tinted when viewed from the side. The exact color may vary from blue, green, purple, red or gold. Abrasion-resistant coatings have been developed for the exterior lens surfaces of modern riflescopes. Water-shedding coatings have also been developed.

Various levels of coating can be applied to lenses ranging from a single layer of magnesium flouride on the exterior objective and ocular surfaces, to as many as 15 layers or more on every surface of every lens. Typically, coating layers are only a few ten-thousandths of an inch thick.

The term “fully coated” when applied to a riflescope usually means that all lens-to-air surfaces have at least one coating layer. This includes the interior lens systems as well as the exterior.
The term “multi-coated” or “multiple-layer coated” signifies that multiple coating layers have been applied to some, but not all, lens surfaces. Normally, this means that only the outer lens surfaces have been multi-coated. “Fully multi-coated” signifies multiple coatings on all lens-to-air surfaces.

Lower-priced scopes may have from one to five lens-coating layers while more expensive scopes may have as many as 15 or even more. In lower-priced scopes, only the outside surface of the objective (front) and ocular (rear) lenses are coated. Higher-quality scopes have all internal and external lens surfaces multi-coated.

How many layers are enough? That depends on the quality of the lens system and the intended purpose of the scope. Adding more layers of coating rapidly reaches the point of diminishing returns, but on a high-quality scope where maximum light transmission and image fidelity are necessary, 15 layers of coating can be easily justified.

As Temperatures Go Up in Texas, So Does Road Rage

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A recent national television report asserted that road-rage incidents are becoming more common and more deadly, with the latest incident taking place in Pennsylvania, in which a man is alleged to have shot and killed a teenage girl during a traffic merge.  Click to watch level-headed advice from your Independent Program Attorney about what to do—and what not to do—in these situations.

Hello, my name is Edwin Walker. I’m an Independent Program Attorney with Texas Law Shield.

I want to talk to you today about an issue that we see on a daily basis. In fact, you will encounter it on a daily basis — the subject of road rage. I am sure that you have all seen road rage. You may have actually been involved in a road rage incident.

Now, if you’re a responsible gun owner, I’m going to give you a few words of advice on how to react when you find yourself in one of these unfortunate road-rage incidents. While on the roadways, we all observe something that makes us upset, whether it’s poor driving, unsafe driving, or just simply somebody being very discourteous.

By all means, you should restrain yourself from engaging that person and telling them how bad their actions were because this can be perceived as an act of road rage. If you’re a lawful gun owner and you have a firearm in your vehicle, you do not want to be viewed as the aggressor in a road-rage situation.

Now, about a situation where an individual has chosen to rage against you, and you are the actual victim of road rage, if you and the other individuals are still in their automobiles, do not use your firearm to respond to any of the rager’s activities. This is because law enforcement views the fact that you’re both still safely in your metal boxes as removing any threat of immediacy that you may be harmed.

So please, if you have a gun, and somebody is raging against you, forget that you have a gun, don’t display it, don’t brandish it, don’t show it, don’t point it, and for God’s sake, don’t fire it. This could result in a lot of trouble for you. Now let’s look at a situation where a road rage incident has escalated to the point where one of the participants has actually gotten out of their vehicle. We recommend that you stay in your vehicle at all times. Do not exit your vehicle because the person who left their vehicle is going to be looked at as the aggressor.

If the other individual has exited his or her vehicle and the person is not in contact with your vehicle, and they do not have a weapon, then do not feel that you can display your weapon in the act of self-defense. People are allowed to just simply stand there and scream at you—scream whatever they want—until they make a demonstrative effort to try to harm you. There is no immediate threat that would justify displaying or shooting or brandishing your firearm.

Now, if the person shows a weapon, in particular, a firearm, the existence of a weapon would give you reasonable belief that there was an immediate threat of harm that would justify an act of force or deadly force.

Even in this situation, I would be very cautious. Now, if this situation escalates even further, where the person has actually made physical contact with your vehicle, whether they are beating on it with an instrument with their fists or they’re attempting to open your door, this would give you the facts that you would need to show that you had a reasonable belief that that individual is unlawfully and forcefully attempting to either enter your vehicle or remove you from your vehicle. This is very very important because this falls under what is commonly known in Texas as the Castle Doctrine.

The Castle Doctrine provides that an individual is given a presumption of reasonableness if they use force or deadly force in a situation where they believe that the person is unlawfully and forcefully either attempting to enter their occupied vehicle or remove somebody from their occupied vehicle. This legal presumption can be very very important because this legal presumption then says that you are allowed to use force or deadly force in response to this other individual’s actions.

We want to keep you safe out on the roadway, so keep these words of advice in mind and try to have a little less road rage out there. If we have a little less road rage, maybe we’ll have a safer world.

 

 

Check out these other great articles from U.S. Law Shield and click here to become a member:

 

The “purple paint law” became official in Texas on September 1, 1997. The law doesn’t appear to be common knowledge for every hunter in the Lone Star State, even though Texas hunting regulations describe it.
Can your employer restrict your ability to carry firearms at the workplace? Click to watch Emily Taylor, Independent Program Attorney with Walker & Byington, explain that in Texas, employers call the shots regarding workplace self-defense.
In this excerpt from a U.S. Law Shield News live report, watch Emily Taylor, independent program attorney with Walker & Byington, discuss the ground rules for carrying firearms into restaurants and bars. Click the video below to find out the significant differences between blue signs and red signs in Texas establishments, and how getting those colors crossed up could lead to some orange jumpsuit time.   If you would like to see these reports live on Facebook, click here to join the Texas Law Shield Facebook page and sign up for live notifications.

California Court Blocks Enforcement of Recently-Enacted Magazine Ban

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Second Amendment advocates are cheering a federal court’s opinion blocking enforcement of California’s draconian magazine ban. Read more…

judge in California

Source: NRA ILA

The battle to secure Second Amendment rights is ever-evolving. Last Monday, gun owners were dealt a disappointing blow with the Supreme Court’s refusal to review the legal scheme that empowers California counties to effectively ban the bearing of arms. Yet by Thursday, Second Amendment advocates were cheering a federal court’s opinion blocking enforcement of California’s draconian magazine ban. That opinion, in Duncan v. Becerra, shows what’s possible when a federal judge treats the right to keep and bear arms with the respect deserved by all provisions within the Bill of Rights.

The case is challenging the ban enacted last fall by Proposition 63 on so-called “large capacity magazines” (i.e., most ammunition feeding devices “with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds”). California’s law went beyond similar laws in other antigun states by prohibiting not only the manufacturing, sale, or importation of such magazines but also their possession, including by those who had lawfully obtained them before the ban’s effective date of July 1. As Judge Roger T. Benitez put it in his order, “On July 1, 2017, any previously law-abiding person in California who still possesses a firearm magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds will begin their new life of crime.”

Thanks to the injunction issued by Judge Benitez, that is no longer the case. His order prevents enforcement of the ban on possession and the requirement that those in possession rid themselves of their magazines, pending further proceedings in the case. The order left intact, however, the bans on manufacturing, sale, or import.

Judge Benitez held that standard capacity magazines like those affected by the ban are “arms” within the meaning of the Second Amendment. He further ruled that the law burdens the “core” Second Amendment right of possessing an arm commonly held by law-abiding citizens for defense of home, self, and state. The burden, he wrote, was “more than slight” and the ban was neither presumptively legal nor of long-standing pedigree. And even if the ban were subject to the more forgiving brand of “intermediate scrutiny” under which many gun control laws have been upheld, he found it would not be a reasonable fit with the state’s asserted purpose of public safety because it is squarely aimed at law-abiding persons.

Judge Benitez had some unusually sharp characterizations of California’s gun control laws. “The language used, the internally referenced provisions, the interplay among them, and the plethora of other gun regulations, have made the State’s magazine laws difficult to understand for all but the most learned experts,” he stated. “Too much complexity fails to give fair notice and violates due process,” he continued, noting that even the attorney for the State of California could not describe all of the magazine ban’s intricacies during the hearing. “Who could blame her?” he asked rhetorically. “The California matrix of gun control laws is among the harshest in the nation and are filled with criminal law traps for people of common intelligence who desire to obey the law.”

Judge Benitez also assailed the creeping incrementalism that retroactively seeks to punish facially harmless behavior by upstanding people who are acting in good faith.

“Constitutional rights would become meaningless if states could obliterate them by enacting incrementally more burdensome restrictions while arguing that a reviewing court must evaluate each restriction by itself when determining constitutionality,” he wrote. Perhaps not coincidentally, this was exactly the complaint that the NRA and others had raised with the Ninth Circuit’s opinion the Supreme Court had earlier in the week declined to review. By focusing narrowly on the question of whether the Second Amendment was specifically meant to protect concealed carry, the Ninth Circuit had ignored the fact that California has foreclosed every option to lawfully bear arms for self-defense in public.
Judge Benitez framed the questions in Duncan case as whether a law-abiding, responsible citizen has “a right to defend his home from criminals using whatever common magazine size he or she judges best suits the situation” and “to keep and bear a common magazine useful for service in a militia.” He opined that “a final decision on the merits is likely to answer both questions ‘yes’… .“

Last Thursday’s opinion represents a very encouraging development but unfortunately is not the last word in the case. It remains to be seen if the state will appeal the injunction, and the court must still resolve the underlying claims. Once that happens, further appeals are likely to follow.

Overall, however, the week’s events were a reminder of the critical role that federal judges play in the freedoms that Americans enjoy (or don’t enjoy). And having a president who respects the Constitution when appointing those judges is a safeguard that no liberty-loving American can overestimate.

The Second Amendment Story

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In the wake of the 4th of July, this is a focus for many of us, and here’s the full story of how and why the Second Amendment came to be. Learn more…

second amendment

by Chip Lohman, NRA Publications Staff

Our earliest colonial governments began with charters written for individuals and settlement companies. As colonists sought religious freedom, better land or escape from British rule, charters were authorized by the King as the legal means for the colonies to exist.
As the colonies became more independent, they established their own governments, even drafting state constitutions in some cases. During this same period in our history, complaints began to surface about the perception that traditional rights of English citizens were not being extended to the colonists. Similar unrest was vented in Jonathan Mayhew’s sermon where he coined the phrase “No taxation without representation.” These and other objections to British oversight led to the American Revolution, during which the colonies formed the Continental Congress, declared independence on July 4, 1776 and fought the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783).

Eleven years after publishing the Declaration of Independence with the legendary words “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” representatives from the 13 states were invited to Philadelphia’s Independence Hall to revise the “Articles of Confederation.” These Articles still recognized states as independent governments. After the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781, colonial activists began to compare the viability of independent state governments to a federal government better suited to national affairs. By 1786, it was apparent that the Union would not last unless the Articles of Confederation were revised.

Absent Rhode Island, the Philadelphia meetings began on Friday, May 25, 1787, with 55 prominent citizens attending. The deliberations included alternatives for wartime security, transitioning to a central government and how the states would be represented in that central government. The more populated states preferred proportional representation, while smaller states argued for equal representation. Thanks to the remarkable wisdom for our forefathers, the matter of state representation was resolved by proportional representation in the lower house (House of Representatives) and equal representation in the upper house (Senate).

As the summer debates of 1787 wore on, emphasis gradually shifted from state rule to a central, federal government. However, with little mention of individual rights guarantees written into the draft, several delegates, including anti-federalist George Mason of Virginia, proposed that a committee be appointed to prepare a bill of rights. Mason concluded in his objection: This government will commence in a moderate aristocracy. It is at present impossible to foresee whether it will, in its operation, produce a monarchy or a corrupt oppressive aristocracy. It will most probably vibrate some years between the two, and then terminate in the one or the other.
One hundred and sixteen days after convening, 39 delegates signed the carefully crafted system of checks and balances that would become the United States Constitution. As provided for in Article VII, the document would not become binding until it was ratified by nine of the 13 states.

The following summer, New Hampshire became the requisite ninth state to ratify the document, thus establishing our new form of federal government. Today, our Constitution is the oldest written, operating constitution in the world.

Mason’s objection was delivered five days before the Constitution was signed. Perhaps due to the months already spent in argument and debate, and maybe to some degree because of the summer climate, worsened by the heavy wool coats and wigs of the day, the anti-federalist’s proposal was rejected.

Those who supported the Constitution were known as federalists. Delegates who feared that a centralized government would lead to a dictatorship were called anti-federalists. Recall that our fledgling country had just fought a war over matters such as “taxation without representation,” so there remained a healthy resistance to replacing one autocratic government with another. As a result of the impasse over the proposed amendments, several delegates refused to sign the final document.

Negotiating a common, legislative rule of law for 13 states, in four months (not years) and securing a majority vote was an extraordinary task in itself. Devising a system of checks and balances with separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches was brilliant. But in 1787, the completed document contained none of the civil liberties that distinguish our government today. Were it not for the inspired, flexible design of the newly drafted Constitution that allowed a minority group to voice a dissenting opinion, the cornerstone of individual rights on which our democracy is now based may never have been laid.

The early framers recognized the need for flexibility in constitutional law. Consequently, Article V of the Constitution outlines the method for change as a two-step procedure: Proposal of an amendment, followed by ratification. Using state models for individual rights and reaching as far back as the English Magna Carta for inspiration, Mason proposed a Bill containing 10 amendments to the Constitution what became known as the Bill of Rights. Through a lengthy process of House, Senate and State ratifications, the Bill was ultimately signed four years later on December 15, 1791. Over time, more than 5,000 amendments have been proposed in Congress, with far fewer actually ratified.

Established shortly after the American Civil War (1871) as a marksmanship and firearms safety organization that today includes a myriad of related education and support programs, the National Rifle Association’s mission was significantly expanded in the mid-1970s. With an increased concentration of resources devoted to preserving Second Amendment rights, NRA became a more active participant in the legislative and public policy arena in support of protecting and advancing the guarantees of our Constitution. As originally ratified by the founding fathers, the Second Amendment decrees that: 
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.This wasn’t a new concept, with origins dating back to Great Britain’s Bill of Rights written in 1689. The British version created a separation of powers, enhanced democratic elections, bolstered freedom of speech and argued that individuals had the natural right of self-defense.

The old style grammar used when drafting the Second Amendment has since led to multiple dissections and interpretations of the founders’ intent. Were the framers referring merely to the need for a standing militia, or is it clear that their focus was to preserve an individual right, as was the theme for all 10 amendments?

Over the years, the Supreme Court has rendered its own interpretations of the intent of the Second Amendment. In 1875 (United States v. Cruikshank), the Court ruled that “the right to bear arms is not granted [emphasis added] by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second Amendment means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress, and has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the National Government.”

Fast forward to 2008 (District of Columbia v. Heller), where the Court again ruled that the Second Amendment “…codified a pre-existing right” and that it “…protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.” Most recently in 2010, (McDonald v. Chicago), the Court ruled that the Second Amendment limits state and local governments to the same extent that it limits the federal government.

While it’s interesting to review the twists and turns of history and the awe-inspiring wisdom of the founding fathers, what lies ahead rests squarely on our shoulders. Readers will argue their own reasons why the fervent debate continues over the Second Amendment and, by extension, gun control. I believe that the implementation of Social Security (1935), the shift from an agricultural to urban life, and a dependence on others for food, shelter and safety, and maybe even the advent of 911 calls (1968), have contributed to an attitude, for many, that “someone else” is responsible for our welfare. The opposing side will argue that we are “our own 911.”

With the recent Republican wins in the White House and Congress, and the Supreme Court nominations to follow, one could mistakenly believe we have put this debate to bed for 40-50 years. Whether or not the argument can be reconciled through education, arbitration or compromise, that’s another article — for all of us to write.

Trump sends more feds to fight Chicago gun violence

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As usual: it’s not about new laws, it’s about more effective enforcement… Read on…

chicago crime scene

Source: Chicago Tribune

Twenty federal gun agents have been assigned to Chicago to join a newly formed task force aimed at cutting the flow of illegal guns into the city and cracking down on people repeatedly arrested on gun charges.

Hours after the Chicago police department sent out a news release about the task force, President Donald Trump claimed credit for sending in the agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“Crime and killings in Chicago have reached such epidemic proportions that I am sending in Federal help,” he tweeted last Friday morning.

Trump said there have been “1714 shootings in Chicago this year!” but the number is actually higher, according to data kept by the Tribune. As of Friday morning, the number of people shot in Chicago was at least 1,760, still lower than this time last year, when violence reached levels not seen in two decades.

In January, Trump tweeted, “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, … I will send in the Feds!”

At a news briefing Friday in Washington, D.C., reporters asked Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders whether Chicago’s crime problem was related to gun access.

“I think that the problem there is pretty clear that it’s a crime problem. I think crime is probably driven more by morality than anything else,” she said. “So I think that this is a law enforcement issue and our focus is trying to add additional support.”

The roughly 40-person strike force, which consists of Chicago police officers, ATF agents and Illinois State Police, will be working on unsolved shootings and gun-related homicides and combating illegal gun trafficking, officials said Friday.

“It is a battle which can only be fought with all hands on deck, that is, state, federal and local law enforcement,” Joel Levin, Chicago’s acting U.S. Attorney, told reporters at a Friday afternoon news conference at Chicago police headquarters.

This isn’t the first time task forces have been formed to combat gun violence in Chicago.

For example, ATF agents worked in the past with Chicago police officers in the South Chicago District, which borders northwest Indiana, to try to counter the flow of illegal firearms from that state. ATF statistics have shown that most of the guns originating from outside of Cook County that were recovered at Chicago crime scenes in past years came from Indiana.

Tim Jones, who heads the ATF task force, told reporters that 20 new agents will be working on it. That’s in addition to 41 ATF agents who were already working in Chicago.

“We are a small agency, have a small footprint but we like to cast a bigger shadow through our attitude and effort, and we’re here to help, so we’re going to do what we can to work with our partners,” Jones said.

When asked by a reporter if 20 additional agents is enough, given the scope of Chicago’s illegal gun problem, Jones replied, “Me personally, we could probably use 500 more agents. We just don’t have (those resources).”

One of the things the task force will be doing is examining bullet casings recovered from crime scenes in order to perform expedited ballistics testing and determine whether the casings came from the same guns used in other crimes.

These casings will be tested in a mobile van provided by ATF agents who will perform the tests through its National Integrated Ballistic Information Network. This way, Chicago police will be able to determine within hours — instead of days with the department’s in-house lab — whether the casings came from guns used at other crime scenes.

Anthony Riccio, chief of the Chicago police’s Bureau of Organized Crime, said the ATF’s ballistics technology not only could help the department work more quickly, but also could help them link guns to solve more crimes.

“While officers probably will still be working on the arrest report for this individual, we’ll know the history of that gun. We’ll know if it’s been involved in any other shootings. We’ll know where it’s been used,” he said. “And that’s a great lead for detectives because now they’ve got the guy and the gun that have been used in shootings that before would’ve taken us days to find out.”

Chicago police First Deputy Superintendent Kevin Navarro said the department had been working on arrangements to receive more assistance from federal law enforcement since November, during former President Barack Obama’s administration. Those efforts continued under Trump

According to a release from the office of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the task force became operational June 1.

“The Trump Administration will not let the bloodshed go on; we cannot accept these levels of violence,” the release quoted Sessions as saying. “That’s why, under President Trump’s strong leadership, we have created the Chicago Gun Strike Force and are sending 20 more permanent ATF agents to Chicago, reallocating federal prosecutors and prioritizing prosecutions to reduce gun violence, and working with our law enforcement partners to stop the lawlessness.”

Sessions went on to criticize the city of Chicago’s status as a “sanctuary city,” which gives certain legal protections to immigrants without legal status in Chicago, saying the policies “tie the hands of law enforcement.” He then praised Celinez Nunez, the new Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of ATF, saying the agent “has experienced the tragic consequences of gang violence firsthand,” and would make the city safer.

The task force will work with the Chicago police department’s Organized Crime Bureau and the ATF’s Chicago field office, Chicago police said.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in the CPD news release that the task force “will significantly help our police officers stem the flow of illegal guns and create a culture of accountability for the small subset of individuals and gangs who (disproportionately) drive violence in our city.”

National Legal Update: Hearing Protection Act Rolling Into Bigger Bill

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The Hearing Protection Act has been attached to the SHARE Act, a sportsman’s omnibus bill with a lot of pro-gun features. Among those features, the SHARE Act (Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act) would do the following:

  1. Moves silencers/suppressors from Title II to Title I status.
  2. Enhances the Firearms Owners Protection Act (FOPA) language to include travel by means other than vehicles.
  3. Creates remedies against states that violate the safe travel provisions, including a cause of action and attorneys fees.
  4. Eliminates the sporting-purposes language from the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the law on armor-piercing ammunition.
  5. Creates a blanket exception for shotguns to prevent arbitrary reclassification as destructive devices.

“The Hearing Protection Act has been one of the most important bills for sportsmen and women this Congress, which is why it’s common sense for it to be included in this year’s sportsman’s legislative package,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) Duncan, the bill’s sponsor, told POLITICO. “By changing the outdated regulation of suppressors to an instant background check, just like the requirements to purchase a typical firearm, I hope the sportsmen and women in the United States will have greater access to noise reduction technology as they carry the hunting and recreational shooting tradition to future generations.”

“If this bill passes,” said Texas & U.S. Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington, “it will make suppressors Title I items like firearms—that is, not National Firearms Act devices—which means they will become more common and more widely transported. However, at least 10 states will likely ban suppressors even if this becomes law. About the same number of states have some kind of restriction on ammunition-feeding devices, also known as magazines. FOPA safe travel won’t do us much good if gun owners can still be arrested for magazines and accessories.”

“Attaching the HPA to a bill that should be easier to pass suggests that Congressional Republicans may have become serious about actually passing this,” she said. “Passing this bill would be a big win.” —Texas & U.S. Law Shield Staff

 

 

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