Tom Knighton

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New York Times column on the Constitution: Just get rid of it!

Louis Michael Seidman is a constitutional law professor who doesn’t think we need to listen to the Constitution.  At least, that’s the case he laid out late last week in the New York Times when he said:

AS the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.

Consider, for example, the assertion by the Senate minority leader last week that the House could not take up a plan by Senate Democrats to extend tax cuts on households making $250,000 or less because the Constitution requires that revenue measures originate in the lower chamber. Why should anyone care? Why should a lame-duck House, 27 members of which were defeated for re-election, have a stranglehold on our economy? Why does a grotesquely malapportioned Senate get to decide the nation’s fate?

First, I have to assume that Seidman knows exactly why revenue bills have to originate in the House.  Now, that serves less of a purpose now that voters choose senators directly, rather than the state legislatures, but it did serve a purpose.

Now, Seidman makes reference to “archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions” of the Constitution, yet makes little effort to actually identify these provisions with one exception.  That’s right, boys and girls, he does as all who oppose ideas like constitutionality do, and that’s point to slavery.

Recapping 2012: Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin

Every campaign cycle, there is a politician that puts his foot so far into his mouth that he manages to pop it back into place. This past year, progressive bloggers – and more than a few libertarians ones - were gifted with Todd Akin.

Akin was challenging Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) for her Senate seat when he made his now infamous comments about how during “legitimate rape,” a woman’s body had ways to prevent pregnancy. The phrase “legitimate rape” became burned in the lexicon of political discourse.

The comments were a gift from above for McCaskill, who was considered extremely vulnerable before the race, but who easily retained her seat. However, the comments may have done more damage to the Republican Party in general. While many Republicans did condemn Akin’s remarks, a significant number came out in support of Akin which permitted Democrats to continue to paint the GOP as “anti-woman.”

Why a new assault weapon ban would be bad politics

Dianne Feinstein

After the last assault weapon ban was passed, the Democrats suffered a complete blood bath in Congress during the midterm elections that year.  Why?  Simple.  Most Americans didn’t like the of Uncle Sam telling them they couldn’t have certain kinds of weapons apparently.

Well, it looks like that’s still the case:

A slight majority of Americans do not want assault weapons banned in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting, though a clear majority said they support stricter gun laws in general, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll out Wednesday.

Specifically on an assault weapons ban, 51 percent of respondents were against the measure, while 44 percent said they support it, the poll said. That remains largely unchanged from an October 2011 poll that had 43 percent for and 51 percent against a ban.

This comes as more Americans say they want stricter gun control in general.

Now, it must be pointed out that 51 percent isn’t a huge margin, but this is also in the aftermath of Sandy Hook when people are more likely to be reactionary about the issue.  Expect the numbers to reach higher as people begin to calm down from the tragedy.

Gallup also found that resistance to a handgun ban is at an all-time high.

Tom Coburn: The Second Amendment’s knight in shining armor?

Tom Coburn

There is a real push on to try and and enact stricter gun control in this country after the Sandy Hook tragedy. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s proposed bill is scaring the pants out of gun owners throughout the nation.  However, ABC News points out that there is one really big roadblock in the way, and that is Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).

Conservatives revere the Oklahoma Republican for his fiscal hawkishness and regular reports on government waste. But he’s also a staunch gun-rights advocate, and he’s shown a willingness to obstruct even popular legislation, something in the Senate that a single member can easily accomplish.

That mixture could make Coburn the biggest threat to quick passage of new gun-control laws in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., shooting that has prompted even pro-gun NRA-member lawmakers like Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to endorse a new look at how access to the most powerful weapons can be limited.

Coburn’s office did not respond to multiple requests to discuss the current push for gun legislation. But given his record, it’s hard to imagine Coburn agreeing to a major, new proposal without some fuss.

Personally, I happen to agree with them on this one.  Why?  History.  Coburn was instrumental in blocking the last knee jerk bill that came about after one of these rampage shootings.  As ABC points out:

BATFE claims mea culpa over David Gregory flap

NBC’s David Gregory may be in a bit of trouble for having a 30 round AR-15 magazine on his show, Meet the Press, recently.  The issue is that the show is filmed in Washington, DC, and 30 round magazines are illegal in the District of Columbia.  It’s been widely reported that Gregory sought permission from DC law enforcement to use the prop, and was told no.

Now, it appears that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is saying that they told the anti-gun journalist that it was fine to use the magazine.

From CNN:

The ATF official told CNN on Thursday that a reporter with NBC News - not Gregory - called ATF last Friday to inquire whether it would be legal to have ammunition or an empty magazine on the set of the Sunday show, which is broadcast from Washington.

The ATF official said he reached out to officers with the MPD to ask if that was permissible.

“What was relayed back to me - which turned out to be a miscommunication - is ammunition was not legal unless (in the possession of an officer), but a magazine was not a problem,” said the official, who passed along the information to NBC.

The detail about empty magazines being legal in Washington was apparently inaccurate. Possessing a large-capacity ammunition device, such as a magazine, is illegal in the District of Columbia if the device holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Of course, BATFE allegedly relayed the information to Gregory’s people and the host used the magazine.  The official also told CNN that he did not give Gregory permission, only relayed the information as he understood it.

Feinstein’s bill: What it looks like

Both sides of the debate on so-called “assault weapons” have been in high gear lately.  Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) had already declared her intention to introduce a new assault weapon ban before the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School thrust guns into the national spotlight.  However, most debate was really centered around the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban because all we had was Feinstein’s statements.  There wasn’t an actual bill to speak of.

Well, now thanks to Sen. Feinstein’s website, we know what the bill will look like.

Occupy movement ‘domestic terrorism’?

OWS goons

The Occupy movement is back in the headlines, but not because of a new protest by the largely “ecclectic” protest movement.  No, these headlines come courtesy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who apparently classified the group as domestic terrorists.

From the Huffington Post:

According to internal documents newly released by the FBI, the agency spearheaded a nationwide law enforcement effort to investigate and monitor the Occupy Wall Street movement. In certain documents, divisions of the FBI refer to the Occupy Wall Street protests as a “criminal activity” or even “domestic terrorism.”

The internal papers were obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice fund via a Freedom of Information Act Request. The fund, a legal nonprofit that focuses on civil rights, says it believes the 112 pages of documents, available for public viewing on its website, are only “the tip of the iceberg.”

“This production … is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement,” wrote Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the fund’s executive director, in a press release Saturday.

And folks have called me paranoid for being concerned about laws like the NDAA and the Patriot Act and how they could be used against regular Americans.  After all, they’ve argued, it’s only for use against terrorists.  I have countered that, saying that it wouldn’t be all that hard for law enforcement to argue that movements like the Tea Party or Occupy were “domestic terrorists”.

They laughed.  Probably not so much now.

Feinstein now has a plan for getting the guns

Dianne Feinstein

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) not only wants all the assault rifles, but she also has a plan for snagging all of the weapons she can get her paws on.  Her plan now consists of a buy back program that will purchase the weapons from gun owners.

Feinstein says that this is just something they’re looking at right now, but as the Washington Examiner noted, there are others out there that appear to be further along in the decision making process:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., already discussed the possibility of a buy-back law for his state, but he made clear it would be a forced buyback.

“Confiscation could be an option,” Cuomo told The New York Times yesterday when discussing semiautomatic weapons. “Mandatory sale to the state could be an option. Permitting could be an option — keep your gun but permit it.”

Australia implemented a mandatory buyback program in 1996 following a mass shooting. “The law banned semiautomatic and automatic rifles and shotguns and put in place a mandatory buy-back program for newly banned weapons,” USA Today recalls. “The buyback led to the destruction of 650,000 gun.”

Opinion shifting after Sandy Hook

Gun rights had been enjoying a miniature golden age.  Following the Supreme Court decisions of Heller and McDonald, gun rights advocates have kind of been skating on cloud nine.  Even the halfhearted pushed by President Obama for more gun control, spurred on by violent crime south of the border, sputtered and died following “Operation Fast and Furious” came to light.  Unfortunately, that seems to be changing.

From Politico:

More Americans prioritize gun control above Second Amendment rights by the widest margin since President Barack Obama took office, according to a new poll released Thursday in wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

Forty-nine percent of those polled said it’s more important to control gun ownership, compared to 42 percent who say it’s more important to protect Americans’ rights to own guns, according to a Pew Research Center Poll.

Christian group wants NC-17 rating for new Tarantino movie

A Christian group is urging the Motion Picture Association of America to give Quenton Tarantino’s new movie, Django Unchained, an NC-17 rating due to violence.  In the process, they invoke the horrors of Sandy Hook Elementary School:

Via a press release:

Hollywood, Calif. – The Christian Film & Television Commission®, an advocacy group in Hollywood, is petitioning the Motion Picture Association of America to change the rating of the ultra– violent new western from Quentin Tarantino, DJANGO UNCHAINED, from R to NC– 17.

“This movie ends with two of the most violent scenes we’ve ever seen in more than 27 years of reviewing movies,” said founder and spokesman Dr. Ted Baehr. “As countless research studies and recent events in Connecticut have shown, some young boys and men like to imitate the violence they see in movies, TV, and video games.”

The movie shows blood erupting like lava from bodies when people are shot. Also in the movie, a slave is eaten by dogs and a man hanging upside down is threatened with castration.

“Rating DJANGO NC– 17 would be the right thing to do,” Dr. Baehr concluded.

Of course, the fact that there’s little evidence that this is true doesn’t really seem to matter.  It also doesn’t seem to matter that the vast majority of people watch these movies, laugh at the “blood erputing like lava from bodies” because it’s ridiculous, and never hurt a human soul.  After all, Tarantino has used this kind of thing before…in Kill Bill, the amount of blood that “erupted” from the bodies was probably measured in gallons…far more than the human body can actually contain.  We didn’t end up with a rash of katana murders, now did we?

After all, none of that lets the nanny-types get in the way of you enjoying a goofily violent movie.

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Tom Knighton

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Tom Knighton has been a blogger here at United Liberty since 2010. In 2011, he made history when he became the first blogger anywhere known to have purchased a newspaper when he purchased The Alba... Click here to read full bio

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