I’ve been there. You walk around in silence, almost like the power to speak has been taken from you. And although you can walk right up to multiple little mass grave plots marked Graves of Thousands Unknown this was ‘merely’ a concentration camp. Not one of the camps in Poland designed for mass slaughter.

April 29 also marks the 72nd anniversary of Israel’s founding as a nation. Israel was formed on April 29, 1948 exactly three years after the Dachau liberation.

US troops liberated Dachau concentration camp 75 years ago

Seventy-five years ago the U.S. Army liberated Dachau, a concentration camp operated by Nazi Germany during World War II.

On April 29, 1945 the U.S. Army’s 42nd Infantry Division (Rainbow), now a part of the New York Army National Guard, uncovered the concentration camp in the town of Dachau, near Munich Germany. According to a press release by the New York National Guard, the frontline soldiers in the Army unit knew there was a prison camp in the area, but knew few details about the camp’s true nature.

“What the Soldiers discovered next at Dachau left an impression of a lifetime,” the division assistant chaplain (Maj.) Eli Bohnen wrote at the time, according to the release. “Nothing you can put in words would adequately describe what I saw there. The human mind refuses to believe what the eyes see. All the stories of Nazi horrors are underestimated rather than exaggerated.”

The U.S. Army unit uncovered thousands of bodies of men, women and children held in the concentration camp.

“There were over 4,000 bodies, men, women and children in a warehouse in the crematorium,” Lt. Col. Walter Fellenz, commander of the 1st Battalion, 222nd Infantry, said in his report. “There were over 1,000 dead bodies in the barracks within the enclosure.”

After NYS Rifle & Pistol is dismissed, SCOTUS distributes 10 Second Amendment Cases for 5/1/2020 Conference (Updated)
Four justices have signaled they are ready to take a 2nd Amendment case. Are there 5 votes to reverse?

On Monday, the Supreme Court decided NY State Rifle & Pistol Association. (Let me know if you’d like an edited copy.). Four Justices signaled they were ready to take another Second Amendment case.

Justice Kavanaugh wrote in his concurrence:

And I share Justice ALITO’s concern that some federal and state courts may not be properly applying Heller and McDonald. The Court should address that issue soon, perhaps in one of the several Second Amendment cases with petitions for certiorari now pending before the Court.

Justice Alito wrote in his dissent, joined by Justices Thomas and Gorsuch:

We are told that the mode of review in this case is representative of the way Heller has been treated in the lower courts. If that is true, there is cause for concern.

Immediately after the case was decided, the Supreme Court distributed 6 Second Amendment cases for the May 1, 2020 conference (H/T to the Duke Center for Firearms Blog.)

  1. Mance v. Barr (5th Circuit)—challenge to federal prohibition on out-of-state handgun purchases
  2. Pena v. Horan (9th Circuit)—challenge to California’s prohibition on “unsafe” handguns (including “microstamping” requirement)
  3. Gould v. Lipson (1st Circuit)—challenge to Massachusetts’s “may issue” conceal carry licensing regime
  4. Rogers v. Grewal (3rd Circuit)—challenge to New Jersey’s “may issue” conceal carry licensing regime
  5. Cheeseman v. Polillo (N.J. Supreme Court)— challenge to New Jersey’s “may issue” conceal carry licensing regime
  6. Ciolek v. New Jersey (N.J. Supreme Court )—challenge to New Jersey’s “may issue” conceal carry licensing regime

Mance v. Barr is the oldest case on the list. My colleague Alan Gura filed this petition in November 2018. It was originally distributed for the 3/29/2019 conference. But then was “rescheduled.” The petition was then distributed at the 4/12/19 conference. Yesterday, the Court scheduled the next distribution for 5/1/2020. This petition is an excellent vehicle if the Court wants a law-profile case that won’t reach any sweeping rulings.

Or, if the Court wants to take a conceal carry case, Rogers v. Grewal has been floating around since December 2018. (I am engaged in several gun-related cases with the New Jersey Attorney General). The two criminal prosecution cases can be held over, and vacated if Rogers prevails.

Once the Court decides one, or more of these cases, and clarifies the appropriate level of scrutiny, the other cases can be GVR’d.

UpdateSCOTUSBlog located four more Second Amendment cases that were distributed for the 5/1/20 conference:

  1. Worman v. Healey (1st Circuit)—challenge to Massachusetts ban on “assault weapons” and large-capacity magazines
  2. Malpasso v. Pallozzi (4th Circuit)—challenge to Maryland’s “may issue” conceal carry license regime
  3. Culp v. Raoul (7th Circuit)—Challenge to Illinois’s ban on allowing non-residents to apply for conceal carry license
  4. Wilson v. Cook County (7th Circuit)—Challenge to Cook County’s ban on “assault weapons” and large-capacity magazines

We should know Monday morning whether there is a new grant. And invariably, the local governments will try to moot the cases. Again.

Oh the Southwest side of Chicago……..

Brothers shoot suspected robber in Bridgeview

A store clerk and his brother shot a suspected robber Tuesday in Bridgeview after he allegedly tried to rob a business in southwest suburban Justice for the second time in five days.

The male tried to rob the store about 6:15 p.m. near 82nd Street and Roberts Road in Justice, but was foiled by the clerk, according to Bridgeview spokesman Ray Hanania. He was also suspected of robbing the same place on Friday.

The clerk called his brother, who was driving with friends nearby on Roberts Road, Hanania said. Together, they chased the suspected robber into Bridgeview, where they engaged in a brief shootout.

The suspected robber was shot in the back and hospitalized in good condition, Hanania said. Weapons were recovered from both the suspect and the brothers.

Bridgeview police are investigating the shootings, while Justice police are investigating the robberies, Hanania said.

Charges are pending against the suspected robber, Hanania said. The brothers will not be charged.

Sen. Kevin Cramer Leads Effort to Protect Firearm Businesses from Loan Discrimination During COVID-19

GOP Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) is spearheading an effort to ensure that firearm related small businesses do not receive discriminatory treatment from banks, after the Senate passed additional funding to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Sen. Cramer penned a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza asking the trio of administration officials, all of whom play a role in the execution of PPP loans, how this type of discrimination would be prevented. A group of GOP senators joined Sen. Cramer in defending the Second Amendment during COVID-19:

I’ll take
‘What are really nothing more than demoncrap front organizations’
for $500, Alex.

Why Have Women’s Groups Gone Dead Silent on Biden Sex-Assault Accusation?

Women’s groups and prominent feminist figures have remained almost universally silent over a former staffer’s accusation of sexual misconduct against former Vice President Joe Biden—including those individuals and groups who came to express regret for how the Democratic Party handled similar accusations made against President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

The collective non-response from mostly Democrat-aligned groups comes as potential female running mates struggle themselves in responding to the Biden allegation, which has the potential to upend his campaign against President Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women in alleged incidents spanning decades. And it echoes the division among progressives when the #MeToo movement revived scrutiny of Clinton’s own alleged sexual misconduct.

Man shot while attempting to burglarize Bay County home

BAY CITY, MI — Police are investigating the shooting of a suspected burglar in Bay County.

About 1:45 a.m. on Wednesday, April 29, Michigan State Police troopers and Bay County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the shooting scene at a house in the 5100 block of Baxman Road in Monitor Township. They arrived to find a resident had shot a 26-year-old man in his abdomen, said MSP Special 1st Lt. David Kaiser.

Police determined the wounded man had entered the home through a window he had broken, Kaiser said.

The wounded man was taken via ambulance to an area hospital, where he remains in stable condition.

The resident was not arrested or issued a citation, Kaiser said.

Kaiser did not know if the burglar and resident knew each other prior to the incident.

Suspected burglar shot and injured by homeowner in Lake Elsinore

A man suspected of breaking into a house in Lake Elsinore [California]  on Monday night was shot and injured by the homeowner, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday.

Deputies responded to the 18000 block of Carmela Court at around 11:30 p.m. after getting reports of gunshots in the area, authorities said. On arrival, they found a man in the street with multiple gunshot wounds.

That man was identified as Rodney Ortiz Jr, 39, of Banning. Ortiz was transported to a local hospital for his injuries.

The Sheriff’s Department said a homeowner in the area reported that Ortiz forced his way into the homeowner’s residence. Ortiz was confronted by the homeowner, who had a handgun.

“The homeowner, fearing for his safety, fired at Ortiz, who took off running and collapsed in the street in front of the residence,” officials said.

Ortiz was involved in two other vehicle burglaries in the area prior to Monday night’s burglary, the Sheriff’s Department said.

Fear is an opportunity for tyranny

And ’twas ever thus.

One of the many lessons of the COVID-19 response is how easily public official embrace tyranny, and how many people accept it because of fear.

I’m afraid of COVID-19. I’m in a relatively high-risk group, and I’m laying very low. I’ll probably lay low for longer than my state tells me to, but that’s my decision. I didn’t like the initial 2-week shutdown, but I thought I understood the reasons – flatten the curve and keep the health care system from being totally overwhelmed – and I knew it would buy us time to learn more about the illness.

Mission accomplished. It’s been far more than two weeks, and the damage from the shutdown itself has gotten to the point that it becomes crystal clear it needs to be removed. The benefits have been less clear, too. There doesn’t seem to be much evidence that shutdowns mattered all that much in the curve of the COVID-19 toll in various states and various countries. We understand more than we did, but although we don’t understand enough, we have to take a few leaps because one thing we do understand (and was clear from the start, actually) is that the shutdown itself is causing tremendous damage. And that damage is not limited to economics; it involves mental and physical health as well.

Almost six weeks ago I wrote this:

So here’s my question for all you epidemiologists and infectious disease experts out there –

Wouldn’t it be better to have only high-risk people stay home? People over 60 and those with pre-existing conditions? That way, if all those at low risk kept mingling, a lot of them would get a mild flu and herd immunity will be achieved fairly quickly, to the benefit of all, without overwhelming the health care system.

I’m not suggesting this as an actual policy right now, but I’m just wondering if my logic is flawed. I suppose the question is how long would it take for it to run its course and achieve sufficient herd immunity, and when would it be safe for us old folks to finally emerge. Also, would there be a lot of deaths among the younger ones in the meantime?

I just don’t see the end game for the current mitigation strategies.

It wasn’t rocket science to question what was happening back then. And that was before the worst of the draconian measures were put in place by governors such as Michigan’s Whitmer, which are not only startlingly strict but seemingly unrelated to any public health goal or logic involving such goals.

What’s going on? People in power like more power, particularly people on the left. Tyrants of all stripes have long used emergency powers to increase their control over the people. Sometimes those emergency powers become semi-permanent or even permanent. It certainly doesn’t surprise me that some governors are trying to stretch it out for as long as possible.

I believe that’s one of the reasons the MSM is trying to stoke fear, and has been doing so from the start. There’s plenty of fear to be had, of course, just from the basic facts of the matter without trying to increase it further. But the MSM is strongly motivated in various ways to do just that: in order to get Trump, to give petty tyrants like Whitmer more reasons to clamp down, and to increase traffic because “if it bleeds it leads.”

The real wild card in all this is how long the people are going to take it. Spring is stirring even in northern climes, and it’s fully flowering further south, and people are ready to burst forth from their own enforced isolation. Some people’s livelihoods depend on it, and a lot people feel their sanity does as well.

And some people are just tired of being told what to do without seeing sufficient reason to obey, when all they’re asking for is the freedom to go about their normal lives – or as near normal as possible, taking precautions to protect the most vulnerable.

Our Dress Rehearsal for a Police State

All my life, I have dismissed paranoids on the right (“America is headed to communism”) and the left (“It can happen here” — referring to fascism). It’s not that I’ve ever believed liberty was guaranteed. Being familiar with history and a pessimist regarding the human condition, I never believed that.

But the ease with which police state tactics have been employed and the equal ease with which most Americans have accepted them have been breathtaking.

People will argue that a temporary police state has been justified because of the allegedly unique threat to life posed by the new coronavirus. I do not believe the data will bear that out. Regardless, let us at least agree that we are closer to a police state than ever in American history.

“Police state” does not mean totalitarian state. America is not a totalitarian state; we still have many freedoms. In a totalitarian state, this article could not be legally published, and if it were illegally published, I would be imprisoned and/or executed. But we are presently living with all four of the key hallmarks of a police state:

No. 1: Draconian laws depriving citizens of elementary civil rights.

The federal, state, county and city governments are now restricting almost every freedom except those of travel and speech. Americans have been banned from going to work (and thereby earning a living), meeting in groups (both indoors and outdoors), meeting in their cars in church parking lots to pray and entering state-owned properties such as beaches and parks — among many other prohibitions.

No. 2: A mass media supportive of the state’s messaging and deprivation of rights.

The New York Times, CNN and every other mainstream mass medium — except Fox News, The Wall Street Journal (editorial and opinion pages only) and talk radio — have served the cause of state control over individual Americans’ lives just as Pravda served the Soviet government. In fact, there is almost no more dissent in The New York Times than there was in Pravda. And the Big Tech platforms are removing posts about the virus and potential treatments they deem “misinformation.”

No. 3: Use of police.

Police departments throughout America have agreed to enforce these laws and edicts with what can only be described as frightening alacrity. After hearing me describe police giving summonses to, or even arresting, people for playing baseball with their children on a beach, jogging alone without a mask, or worshipping on Easter while sitting isolated in their cars in a church parking lot, a police officer called my show. He explained that the police have no choice. They must respond to every dispatch they receive.

“And why are they dispatched to a person jogging on a beach or sitting alone in a park?” I asked.

Because the department was informed about these lawbreakers.

“And who told the police about these lawbreakers?” I asked.

His answer brings us to the fourth characteristic of a police state:

No. 4: Snitches.

How do the police dispatchers learn of lawbreakers such as families playing softball in a public park, lone joggers without face masks, etc.? From their fellow citizens snitching on them. The mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, set up a “snitch line,” whereby New Yorkers were told to send authorities photos of fellow New Yorkers violating any of the quarantine laws. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti similarly encouraged snitching, unabashedly using the term.

It is said that about 1 in every 100 East German citizens were informers for the Stasi, the East German secret police, as superbly portrayed in the film “The Lives of Others.” It would be interesting, and, I think, important, to know what percentage of New Yorkers informed on their fellow citizens. Now, again, you may think such a comparison is not morally valid, that de Blasio’s call to New Yorkers to serve a Stasi-like role was morally justified given the coronavirus pandemic. But you cannot deny it is Stasi-like or that, other than identifying spies during World War II, this is unprecedented in American history at anywhere near this level.

This past Friday night, I gathered with six others for a Shabbat dinner with friends in Santa Monica, California. On my Friday radio show, I announced I would be doing that, and if I was arrested, it would be worth it. In my most pessimistic dreams, I never imagined that in America, having dinner at a friend’s house would be an act of civil disobedience, perhaps even a criminal act. But that is precisely what happens in a police state.

The reason I believe this is a dress rehearsal is that too many Americans appear untroubled by it; the dominant force in America, the left, supports it, and one of the two major political parties has been taken over by the left. Democrats and their supporters have, in effect, announced they will use state power to enforce any law they can to combat the even greater “existential” crisis of global warming.

On the CNN website this weekend, in one of the most frightening and fanatical articles in an era of fanaticism, Bill Weir, CNN chief climate correspondent, wrote an open letter to his newborn son. In it, he wrote of his idealized future for America: “completely new forms of power, food, construction, transportation, economics and politics.”

You cannot get there without a police state.

If you love liberty, you must see that it is jeopardized more than at any time since America’s founding. And that means, among other things, that at this time, a vote for any Democrat is a vote to end liberty.

Hog Hunting In The Time Of Coronavirus
In Texas, you can still hunt feral hogs despite the lockdowns. Just make sure you prepare like it’s the end of the world.

Preparing for a hog hunt is like preparing for the end of the world. You need a reliable rifle and ammunition, of course, but you also need a bunch of other stuff—a sidearm, maps, binoculars, compass, flashlight, knife, raingear, boots, food and water, two-way radios. Once you’re all geared up, you can’t help but think that if the end came, you’d be ready.

The feeling is even more intense when you go hog hunting during a global pandemic. It might not be the apocalypse, but when it comes to buying guns and ammo—or toilet paper—it might as well be.

I know, because I recently went on a hog hunt in East Texas. Hunting feral hogs might not seem like an essential activity during coronavirus lockdowns, but here in Texas it is.

Or at least it isn’t banned. In his March 31 executive order, Gov. Greg Abbott made it clear that hunting and fishing are not prohibited so long as proper measures are taken to prevent the spread of the disease.

Some friends and I had been planning a hog hunt for months, long before the pandemic upended our lives, and as the appointed weekend neared, we decided that if the governor said we could go and the ranch owner still wanted us to come, then we’d throw some face masks and hand sanitizer in our packs and go kill some hogs. Even if we didn’t get any, it would at least get us out of the house to somewhere besides the grocery store and Home Depot.

Yes, People Hunt Feral Hogs
For the uninitiated, hog hunting is hugely popular across the South and especially Texas, which has the largest feral hog population in the country by far, some two million and counting (nationwide, there are between six and nine million feral hogs spread across 39 states).

Last summer, Texas lawmakers unanimously passed a law allowing anyone, resident or not, to hunt feral hogs on private land without a license, year round, with no limits. As far as the state is concerned, hunting feral hogs is pretty much like hunting rats or possums. If you see them, you can kill them.

If that seems harsh, understand that feral hogs aren’t domestic farm pigs. The term “feral hog” refers to hybrids of Eurasian wild boars (introduced to North America by Spanish conquistadors in the sixteenth century) and domesticated hogs that have escaped and gone feral. With the latter, they actually change physically, growing thick coats of hair and sharp tusks.

They’re an invasive, non-native wild species that’s incredibly destructive and sometimes dangerous. They tear up ranch land, destroy crops, infect livestock with diseases, eat endangered species, and on rare occasions will attack and kill people. In addition, they are incredibly intelligent and difficult to hunt or trap.

Many Americans have no awareness of this. Recall the “30-50 feral hogs” meme explosion that ensued when Willie McNabb, some random guy in southern Arkansas, responded to a tweet by musician Jason Isbell questioning the necessity of “assault weapons” in the wake of a mass shooting. “Legit question for rural Americans,” McNabb wrote, “How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?”

Everyone on the internet had a good laugh at McNabb’s expense until some people pointed out that actually, feral hogs are a problem in rural America, can be very dangerous, and sometimes travel in herds of 30 or more. The Washington Post even ran an explainer-type piece about the affair.

Four months later, after everyone had forgotten about it, Christine Rollins, a 59-year-old caretaker for an elderly couple in rural east Texas, was killed by a large herd of feral hogs after she got out of her car, right in front of the couple’s home.

Attacks like that are rare, but property damage from feral hogs is commonplace. All told, they cause about $2 billion in property damage nationwide every year, an amount that’s steadily growing. In Texas alone the annual damage estimate is in the hundreds of millions, so there’s a powerful incentive for landowners to kill or trap as many as they can.

In recent years, they’ve begun outsourcing that killing to hunters, and in the process have managed to monetize the hog problem. Today, Texas hog hunting is its own little industry. Ranches all over the state offer almost every conceivable hog hunting experience, from traditional blind hunting, walking and stalking, night hunts with thermal and night vision optics, and for those willing to spend a couple thousand dollars—at least—helicopter hunts, including helicopter hunts with fully automatic rifles. There are even places that will take you hog hunting with a pack of trained dogs and a knife. (The dogs attack and pin the hog, and you come in with a knife and stab it in the heart.)

But no matter how many hogs are hunted down, it doesn’t make a dent in the population. Every year, hunters in Texas kill tens of thousands of the animals, but there’s no way to kill or trap them faster than they can reproduce. Females can begin breeding as young as six months old and produce two litters every 12 to 15 months, with an average of four to eight piglets per litter, or in the case of older sows, 10 to 13 piglets.

Hence, the population explosion of feral hogs over the past four decades:

Once primarily a rural problem, feral hogs are now becoming a problem in suburban areas. The federal government has even taken notice. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture created an office devoted to the wild hog problem, the National Feral Swine Damage Management Program, which produced a 250-page report last year on mitigation efforts……………

And in an addition: another one bites the dust.

Investigation into Fatal Shooting at 8301 Darlington Drive

The fatal shooting of a robbery suspect at 8301 Darlington Drive about 3:10 p.m. on Sunday (April 26) will be referred to a Harris County grand jury.

The identity of the deceased male, 22, is pending verification by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

HPD Homicide Division Detectives E. Martinez and R. Montalvo reported:

HPD patrol officers responded to a shooting call at the above address and found one male lying in the street unresponsive and another male (shooter) still on scene.  HFD paramedics pronounced the male in the street deceased.  The shooter, 29, surrendered his weapon to officers.

A preliminary investigation determined the deceased male robbed the other male and both men exchanged gunfire.  The deceased male was shot.  The other male was uninjured.  Officers recovered property on the deceased male and learned the property belonged to the shooter.

Witnesses stated they saw a white Chevrolet Impala fleeing the scene after the shooting.  The vehicle, with damage from the shooting, was recovered nearby, but unoccupied.

Don’t bring a toy gun to a real gunfight.

Clerk shoots armed suspect trying to rob liquor store in Lindsay

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — A store clerk shot an armed suspect who tried to rob a liquor store in Lindsay on Sunday night, police say.

Lindsay police officers responded to the store on East Honolulu Street at around 10:40 p.m.

Officials say three young men barged into the store carrying at least one weapon. The store clerk took out his own gun and fired at the suspects — shooting one of them.

The injured suspect was taken to Kaweah Delta Medical Center and is expected to be OK.

Police say they recovered a replica weapon from the crime scene.

The other two suspects ran away after shots were fired. Police believe they’re men in their late teens or earlier 20s.

Minot man fatally shot after allegedly entering another home

MINOT, N.D. (AP) — Minot police said Monday that a 39-year-old man was fatally shot after he allegedly entered another man’s home.

According to police, a resident in northwest Minot called authorities early Saturday to say he had shot an unknown man who entered his home and threatened him. Officers arrived to find a dead man inside.

The dead man was identified Monday as Christopher Lee Reader of Minot. The name of the man who lived at the residence was not released. Authorities say they are still investigating and there is no presumed risk to the public.

Some analysis on the NYSPA case.

Court sends New York Second Amendment case back to lower courts without ruling on the merits

The Supreme Court sent a major Second Amendment case back to the lower courts today, ruling that the challenge to a New York City restriction on the transport of guns is “moot” – that is, no longer a live controversy – because the city changed the rule last year. But some of the court’s more conservative justices signaled that it might not be long before the court takes up another gun rights case.

The case in which the justices ruled today was filed in 2013 [SEVEN (7) YEARS!! ed.] by New York City residents who have licenses to have guns at their homes, as well as by an association of New York gun owners. The gun owners wanted to be able to take their guns to target ranges and weekend homes outside the city, but they were barred from doing so by the city’s ban on the transport of licensed handguns outside the city, which was enacted in 2001.

The Supreme Court agreed to review the gun owners’ case in January 2019, after both a federal district court in New York and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit upheld the ban. But before the justices could hear oral argument last December, the city argued that the case should be dismissed because it had repealed the ban and the state had changed its laws. As a result, the city suggested, the gun owners had received everything that they had asked for, and the case was moot.

The justices allowed the case to move forward, but today a majority of the court sent the case back to the lower court without weighing in on the merits of the gun owners’ Second Amendment claims. The court’s two-page opinion – which was unsigned but apparently joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Brett Kavanaugh – explained that, as a result of the changes to state law and the city’s rule, the gun owners have gotten exactly what they had asked for: They can now take their guns to a second home or a shooting range outside the city.

The court turned next to the gun owners’ claim that the new rule still violates their Second Amendment rights because they can’t stop for “coffee, gas, food, or restroom breaks” en route. The court noted the city’s assertion that the gun owners are allowed to make such stops and stated that, in any event, the Supreme Court’s practice is not to referee that dispute but instead to send it back for the lower courts to decide. In the same vein, the court declined to weigh in on whether the gun owners can seek damages for the city’s violation of their rights under the old rule when they had not previously done so, leaving that question for the lower courts as well.

Justice Samuel Alito dissented from today’s decision, in a 31-page opinion that was joined in full by Justice Neil Gorsuch and in large part by Justice Clarence Thomas. Alito was sharply critical of the decision to dismiss the case as moot, arguing that his colleagues were allowing “our docket to be manipulated in a way that should not be countenanced.” First of all, Alito argued, the case is not moot: The gun owners had alleged that the Second Amendment gives them “unrestricted access” to gun ranges and vacation homes outside the city, “and the new laws do not give them that.” As a result, Alito reasoned, although the gun owners “got most” of what they wanted, they did not get all of it, “and that means that the case is not dead.” Moreover, Alito added, if the court were to conclude, as the gun owners “request and as I believe we should,” that the city’s transport ban violated the Second Amendment, the district court “on remand could (and probably should) award damages,” which would also be enough to stave off mootness.

Addressing the merits of the gun owners’ claims, Alito concluded that it is not “a close question” whether the city’s transport ban violated the Second Amendment. In his view, the transport ban involves the same “core Second Amendment right” at the heart of the court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which held that the Second Amendment protects the right to have a handgun in the home for self-defense. The city’s arguments about the extent to which the transport ban protects public safety, Alito suggested, “were weak on their face, were not substantiated in any way, and were accepted below without no serious probing.” And if it is true this case is typical of the way that Heller has been applied in the lower courts, Alito cautioned, “there is cause for concern.”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh filed a concurring opinion in which he explained that he agreed with the majority that the gun owners’ original claims are moot and that the new claims should be addressed first by the lower courts. But Kavanaugh also indicated that he agreed with Alito’s “general analysis of Heller and” McDonald v. City of Chicago, in which the court made clear that the Second Amendment applies fully to the states, and that he shares Alito’s “concern that some federal and state courts may not be properly applying Heller and McDonald.” Kavanaugh posited that the Supreme Court “should address that issue soon, perhaps in one of the several Second Amendment cases with petitions for certiorari now pending before the Court.”

It surely took them long enough to finally make up their minds. From the quotes, it appears that Kavanaugh wanted a ‘better’ case to make a ruling.
I can’t say I totally disagree with him as I think he believes (what with Roberts being the new “squish”) that they’d wind up with a very narrow decision and then not revisit RKBA for another 10 years.

Supreme Court declines to rule on its first Second Amendment case in nearly a decade

The Supreme Court said Monday that it will not issue a ruling in a closely watched case over a New York gun regulation that barred transport of handguns outside the city, including to second homes and firing ranges.

In an unsigned opinion, the court said that the rollback of the rule by city and state officials after the court agreed to hear the case effectively ended the dispute without the justices needing to intervene. 

It was the first Second Amendment case to reach the top court in nearly a decade. The justices have not waded into the highly charged debate over gun rights since expanding the reach of the Second Amendment in a pair of cases in 2008 and 2010.

Conservatives were hoping the court, which has a new 5-4 conservative majority, would use the New York case to limit regulations on firearms further. But the outcome of the case was telegraphed in December during oral arguments, when the court spent little time addressing the underlying constitutional questions raised by the New York regulation.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a President Donald Trump appointee who’s known to have an expansive view of gun rights, wrote separately to say he agreed with the court’s handling of the “procedural issues” raised by the case, but urged his colleagues to hear another Second Amendment case “soon.”

Three of the court’s Republican appointees, Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, said they would not have dismissed the case. Alito, in an opinion joined by Gorsuch and in part by Thomas, wrote that by declining to rule in the case the court allowed itself to be “manipulated.” 

While New York City had previously defended its gun regulation in court, once the Supreme Court agreed to review it, both city and state “sprang into action to prevent us from deciding this case,” Alito, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote.

He added the the city’s easing of the regulation did not necessarily grant the gun owners who brought the case all the relief that they had sought. He said the new measure still requires trips outside the city to be direct.

“What about a stop to buy groceries just before coming home? Or a stop to pick up a friend who also wants to practice at a range outside the City? Or a quick visit to a sick relative or friend who lives near a range?” Alito wrote.

Alito’s comments echoed lines of argument raised in December.

The attorney for the gun owners, Paul Clement, had said during arguments that his clients could still be prosecuted for a simple coffee stop under the city’s new rule. But Richard Dearing, who argued on behalf of New York, said there would be no such prosecutions.

The court’s unsigned opinion explicitly declined to address controversies relating to the “new rule” over coffee stops and bathroom breaks.

The opinion also did not engage with the argument raised by the gun owners that they could seek financial damages based on the old rule, instead noting that those new issues would have to be raised first in the lower courts.

The case is New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York, No. 18-280.

If General Flynn is vindicated, and I think he will be, if not pardoned. I hope he sues the pants off the Special Prosecutors, the FBI & the DOJ.

Robert Mueller’s Case Against Michael Flynn Is About To Implode

The criminal case against Michael Flynn imploded Friday. First, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia provided Flynn’s legal team with documents discovered by an outside review of the Flynn prosecution — documents withheld for years. Then, Sidney Powell, the attorney who took over Flynn’s defense nearly a year ago, filed new documents in the case, revealing a secret “lawyers’ understanding” not to prosecute Flynn’s son if the retired lieutenant general pleaded guilty……………

These facts call into question not just the government’s conduct, but the voluntariness of Flynn’s plea. But because there was no mention in the official plea deal of any agreement not to charge Flynn Jr., the court had no opportunity to exercise its “special responsibility to ascertain the plea’s voluntariness.”

With these facts now known, it seems unfathomable that Judge Sullivan will reject Flynn’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea. But Sullivan should do more: He should dismiss the charges against Flynn to make clear that outrageous prosecutorial misconduct will not be tolerated.

Why didn’t Washington have a plan to deal effectively with a pandemic? Because the bureaucraps -doing what they do best- created so many different plans that no one could keep track of them.

When Crisis Planning Doesn’t Work.

As the 2020 coronavirus pandemic unfolds, many Americans have asked why the government didn’t seem to have a plan for this crisis—a crisis that was both predictable and predicted. Almost no one remembers that six months before the current outbreak, Congress passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2019, which offered funds and planning authority for just such a crisis. It was the latest in a series of at least a half-dozen similar acts passed over the last two decades.

The problem isn’t that the U.S. government lacked a plan for an international pandemic. It’s that the government had dozens of such plans, totaling thousands of pages, issued by different agencies and different presidential administrations, with little thought to how they would be combined or who would implement them. To meet the next crisis more effectively, we need to get over our obsession with “planning.” Each crisis brings its own challenges, and we must meet those challenges accordingly.

After the 2005 avian influenza scare, for example, Congress did what it does best: demand that someone else come up with a plan. The White House soon issued a National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza, followed the next year by the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Implementation Plan. These proposals in turn birthed numerous individual department blueprints, such as the Department of Defense Implementation Plan for Pandemic Influenza. Congress also mandated that states create their own Pandemic Preparedness Plans.

One might think that all these initiatives would provide the basis for the American pandemic response. Yet they are swamped by countless others. After 9/11, the government also began writing National Response Frameworks on how to deal with any national emergency, including a biological crisis. These frameworks in turn led to Biological Incident Annexes. The most recent such version claims that it “serves as the Federal organizing framework for responding and recovering from a range of biological threats.” What function the other plans now serve is unclear.

To confuse things further, the Department of Health and Human Services, apparently on its own initiative, wrote a Pandemic Influenza Plan in 2005, and it issued new versions in 2009 and in 2017, with no discussion of how these related to the earlier documents mandated by Congress. HHS also created a separate National Health Security Strategy for the United States in 2009, with updates in 2015 and 2019, to supplement the White House’s National Security Strategies, which also deal with biological crises.

But make no mistake: these plans are separate from the United States Health Security National Action Plan, along with the North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza, which HHS issued in response to World Health Organization mandates. Why the earlier plans did not satisfy these mandates is unknown.

Also getting into the act, the National Security Council has issued plans on how to respond to outbreaks. And, in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017, Congress, seemingly forgetting its earlier decrees, also mandated that the White House write a National Biodefense Strategy, which refers to none of the previous plans.

All these contradictory plans have consequences. When Politico noted that the Trump administration was not following the National Security Council’s Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Infectious Disease, which I haven’t even mentioned, the administration responded that they weren’t working with that plan anymore, but with a combination of the Biological Incident Annex to the National Response Framework, the Biodefense Strategy, and something called the Pandemic Crisis Action Plan (or PanCAP), the existence of which, outside of this discussion, I have not been able to confirm.

So many plans only ensure that there is no clear plan—and no accountability. What the federal government needs is nimbleness in responding to new scenarios and clear lines of authority in implementing actions. Thus, the one thing that Congress should not do in response to Covid-19 is to mandate yet more plans for future pandemics.

Virginia Judge Halts Northam’s Order To Close Indoor Gun Ranges

A circuit court judge in Lynchburg, Virginia has overturned a portion of Gov. Ralph Northam’s executive order that declared indoor gun ranges “places of amusement” that are non-essential and must shut down during his state of emergency. Judge F. Patrick Yeatts declared in an order on Monday that Northam’s actions are likely to have exceeded his constitutional authority, and declared that the portion of the governor’s executive order on essential businesses that deals with indoor ranges not be enforced while the litigation continues.

Yeatts noted in his decision that the Virginia state constitution declares that “the body of the people, trained to arms is the proper, natural safe defense of a free state.” Since that is the case, clearly the right to bear arms includes the right to train with them. Since gun ranges provide a place where that training can take place, they are protected under the right to keep and bear arms.

The judge agreed with Gov. Northam that he has great deference in times of emergency, but stated that a Virginia law passed in 2012 (and supported by Northam, who was a state senator at the time) prohibits the governor from taking any action, even in a state of emergency, that interferes with the right to keep and bear arms.

Northam had argued that under an intermediate scrutiny standard of review, his closures should be upheld. Yeatts declined to do so, noting that there under any standard of review the governor isn’t likely to prevail in his defense, but pointing out that if he had to decide on what level of judicial review to use, he would have gone with strict scrutiny, given that “proper training and practice at a range… is fundamental to the right to keep and bear arms, even necessary for the self-defense concern expressed by the governor.”

The governor also argued that economic concerns “are not enough and that outdoor gun ranges provide a sufficient alternative to indoor ranges.” SafeSide Lynchburg, the indoor range that brought the lawsuit along with the Virginia Citizens Defense League, Gun Owners of America, and the Association of Virginia Gun Ranges argued that they would suffer irreparable harm if they were not allowed to re-open, and Judge Yeatts agreed. The judge also noted, however, that it wouldn’t just be the range owners who would suffer. There are no outdoor ranges located in Lynchburg, and in fact the city has an ordinance that prohibits the firing of guns outside of approved gun ranges. As Yeatts wrote, “the Court rules that the right to keep and bear arms is not relegated to the outskirts of the city and of fundamental rights jurisprudence.”

The governor will almost certainly appeal Judge Yeatts decision, but for the moment, SafeSide Lynchburg and other indoor ranges in the state are allowed to re-open. The judge made the right call. Let’s hope that the state Supreme Court agrees.

The paranoid style in COVID-19 America.

To grasp the urgency of lifting the ubiquitous economic shutdowns, visit New York City’s Central Park, ideally in the morning. At 5:45 am, it is occupied by maybe 100 runners and cyclists, spread over 843 acres. A large portion of these early-bird exercisers wear masks.

Are they trying to protect anyone they might encounter from their own unsuspected coronavirus infection? Perhaps. But if you yourself run towards an oncoming runner on a vector that will keep you at least three yards away when you pass each other, he is likely to lunge sideways in terror if your face is not covered. The masked cyclists, who speed around the park’s inner road, apparently think that there are enough virus particles suspended in the billions of square feet of fresh air circulating across the park to enter their mucous membranes and to sicken them.

These are delusional beliefs, yet they demonstrate the degree of paranoia that has infected the population. Every day the lockdown continues, its implicit message that we are all going to die if we engage in normal life is reinforced. Polls show an increasing number of Americans opting to continue the economic quarantine indefinitely lest they be ‘unsafe’. The longer that belief is reinforced, the less likely it will be that consumers will patronize reopened restaurants or board airplanes in sufficient numbers to bring the economy back to life…………

something close to ‘what she said’

1. You MUST NOT leave the house for any reason, but if you have a reason, you can leave the house

2. Masks are useless at protecting you against the virus, but you may have to wear one because it can save lives, but they may not work, but they may be mandatory, but maybe not

3. Shops are closed, except those shops that are open

4. You must not go to work, but you can get another job and go to work

5. You should not go to the doctor or to the hospital unless you have to go there, unless you are too poorly to go there

6. This virus can kill people, but don’t be scared of it. It can only kill those people who are vulnerable or those people who are not vulnerable. It’s possible to contain and control it, sometimes, except that sometimes it actually leads to a global disaster

7. Gloves won’t help, but they can still help, so wear them sometimes or not

8. STAY HOME, but it’s important to go out

9. There is no shortage of groceries in the supermarkets, but there are many things missing. Sometimes you won’t need loo rolls but you should buy some just in case you need some

10. The virus has no effect on children except those children it affects

11. Animals are not affected, but there was a cat that tested positive in Belgium in February when no one had been tested, plus a few tigers here and there…

12. Stay 6 feet away from tigers (see point 11)

13. You will have many symptoms if you get the virus, but you can also get symptoms without getting the virus, get the virus without having any symptoms, or be contagious without having symptoms, or be non-contagious with symptoms…it’s a sort of lucky/unlucky dip

14. To help protect yourself you should eat well and exercise, but eat whatever you have on hand as it’s better not to go to the shops, unless you need toilet roll or a fence panel

15. It’s important to get fresh air but don’t go to parks, but go for a walk. But don’t sit down, except if you are old, but not for too long or if you are pregnant or if you’re not old or pregnant but need to sit down. If you do sit down don’t eat your picnic, unless you’ve had a long walk, which you are/aren’t allowed to do if you’re old or pregnant

16. Don’t visit old people, but you have to take care of the old people and bring them food and medication

17. If you are sick, you can go out when you are better, but anyone else in your household can’t go out when you are better unless they need to go out

18. You can get restaurant food delivered to the house. These deliveries are safe. But groceries you bring back to your house have to be decontaminated outside for 3 hours including frozen pizza…

19. You can’t see your older mother or grandmother, but they can take a taxi and meet an older taxi driver

20. You are safe if you maintain the safe social distance when out, but you can’t go out with friends or strangers at the safe social distance

21. The virus remains active on different surfaces for two hours … or four hours…or six hours… I mean days, not hours… But it needs a damp environment. Or a cold environment that is warm and dry… in the air, as long as the air is not plastic

22. Schools are closed so you need to home-educate your children, unless you can send them to school because you’re not at home. If you are at home, you can home-educate your children using various portals and virtual class rooms, unless you have poor internet, or more than one child and only one computer, or you are working from home. Baking cakes can be considered maths, science, or art. If you are home-educating you can include household chores within their education. If you are home-educating you can start drinking at 10 AM

23. If you are not home-educating children you can also start drinking at 10 AM

24. The number of corona-related deaths will be announced daily, but we don’t know how many people are infected as they are only testing those who are almost dead to find out if that’s what they will die of… the people who die of corona who aren’t counted won’t or will be counted, but maybe not

25. We should stay in locked down until the virus stops infecting people, but it will only stop infecting people if we all get infected, so it’s important we get infected and some don’t get infected

26. You can join your neighbors for a street party and turn your music up for an outside disco, and your neighbors won’t call the police. People in another street are allowed to call the police about your music whilst also having a party, which you are allowed to call the police about

27. No business will go down due to corona virus except those businesses that will go down due to corona virus.