Federal Judge Vacates ATF Rule on Pistol Braces

We’re still waiting to see what the Supreme Court does in Rahimi and Cargill, but gun owners did get some very good news from the federal courts on Thursday. A U.S. District Judge in Texas has vacated the ATF’s rule treating pistols equipped with stabilizing braces as short-barreled rifles; granting relief not only for the named plaintiffs involved in the litigation, but for every gun owner across the country who owns a brace.

In his decision, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that the ATF’s rule treating most pistol braces as accessories that turn pistols into SBRs violated the Administrative Procedures Act in a number of ways.

For close to a decade, the ATF concluded that “attaching the brace to a firearm does not alter the classification of the firearm or subject the firearm to NFA control.” The ATF changed course on this position for the first time in 2023, when it issued the Final Rule reversing the agency’s otherwise long-standing policy.

“When an agency changes course, as [the ATF] did here, it must ‘be cognizant that longstanding policies may have engendered serious reliance interests that must be taken into account.’” Dep’t of Homeland Sec. v. Regents of the Univ. of Cal., 591 U.S. 1, 30 (2020) (quoting Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro, 579 U. S. 211, 222 (2016)). “It would be arbitrary and capricious to ignore such matters” Id. But this is exactly what Defendants did when they inexplicably and fundamentally switched their position on stabilizing braces without providing sufficient explanations and notice.

Under the Final Rule, the ATF estimated about 99% of pistols with stabilizing braces would be reclassified as NFA rifles. The ATF contemporaneously issued approximately sixty adjudications pursuant to the Final Rule that reclassified different configurations of firearms with stabilizing braces as NFA rifles.

The ATF provided no explanations for how the agency came to these classifications and there is no “meaningful clarity about what constitutes an impermissible stabilizing brace.” Mock, 75 F.4th at 585 (5th Cir. 2023). In fact, the Fifth Circuit “[could not] find a single given example of a pistol with a stabilizing brace that would constitute an NFA exempt braced pistol.” Id. at 575. Such “‘unexplained’ and ‘inconsistent’ positions” are arbitrary and capricious. R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. v. FDA, 65 F.4th 182, 191 (5th Cir. 2023) (quoting Encino Motorcars, 579 U.S. at 222).

The Defendants’ disregard for the principles of fair notice and consideration of reliance interests is further exacerbated by its failure to follow the APA’s procedural requirements for public notice and comment. As discussed above, Defendants failed to follow proper notice-and comment procedures because the Proposed Rule and the Final Rule differed in immense ways.

O’Connor also held that the ATF’s final rule on stabilizing braces was “impermissibly vague”, noting that while the ATF developed a worksheet that ostensibly allows gun owners to see if their brace-equipped pistol falls under the rule, the ATF itself still has “complete discretion to use a subjective balancing test to weigh six opaque factors on an invisible scale” to determine the legality of a brace-equipped pistol.

Consequently, the Court finds that the Final Rule’s six factor test is so impermissibly vague that it “provides no meaningful clarity about what constitutes an impermissible stabilizing brace,” and, thus, that “it is nigh impossible for a regular citizen to determine what constitutes a braced pistol” that “requires NFA registration.” Id. at 584–85. Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED and Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED as to this issue.

This is a big win for the Firearms Policy Coalition and their co-plaintiffs in the case, and it should provide some meaningful protection for the immediate future. The DOJ will almost certainly appeal O’Connor’s decision, but Merrick Garland and company aren’t likely to find a lot of allies in support of the rule at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which would be the next stop for the case. Garland could try to appeal directly to the Supreme Court on the issue, but SCOTUS has been reluctant to hear interlocutory appeals from gun owners in the two years since Bruen, and there’s no guarantee the Court would take up Mock v. Garland before the Fifth Circuit has a chance to weigh in on O’Connor’s decision.

For the time being, the rule is dead. And depending on what the Supreme Court does with the Cargill case, it might not be the only ATF rule to succumb to court scrutiny this week. SCOTUS is scheduled to release more decisions from this term on Friday, and the challenge to the bump stock ban could be among the cases that are decided this week.

Judge Grants Preliminary Injunction Against ATF Rule on Gun Dealers

A federal judge in Texas has granted a preliminary injunction against the ATF’s new rule on who is “engaged in the business” of dealing firearms, but his ruling won’t apply to every gun owner across the country. Instead, U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk has limited the scope of the injunction solely to the named plaintiffs in the case.

Still, given that those plaintiffs include the states of Texas, Utah, Louisiana, and Mississippi along with Gun Owners of America, the Tennessee Firearms Association, and the Virginia Citizens Defense League, millions of gun owners who could otherwise be subjected to an ATF investigation or federal charges simply for offering a firearm for sale can rest a little easier for the time being.

In his ruling, Kacsmaryk held that the plaintiff’s argument that the new ATF rule violates the Administrative Procedures Act is likely to prevail at trial. According to the judge, the new language from the ATF goes far beyond the small changes in statute that were approved by Congress as part of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

Here, the Final Rule clashes with the text of the BSCA in at least three ways. First, it asserts that there is no “minimum number of firearms to actually be sold to be ‘engaged in the business’” for the purposes of the licensing requirement. . “[A] single firearm transaction”— or even a mere offer to engage in a transaction — may suffice.

[W]hile selling large numbers of firearms or engaging or offering to engage infrequent transactions may be highly indicative of business activity, neither thecourts nor the Department have recognized a set minimum number of firearms purchased or resold that triggers the licensing requirement. Similarly, there is no minimum number of transactions that determines whether a person is “engaged inthe business” of dealing in firearms. Even a single firearm transaction, or offer to engage in a transaction, when combined with other evidence, may be sufficient to require a license.

But the BSCA says otherwise: The term “engaged in the business” means . . .

as applied to a dealer in firearms, as defined in section 921(a)(11)(A), a person whodevotes time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of tradeor business to predominantly earn a profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms, but such term shall not include a person who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personalcollection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms[.]

Congress says someone must repeatedly buy and resell firearms to be considered a gun dealer, while the ATF says merely offering a single gun for sale can suffice. Kacsmaryk rightfully held that it’s the language in the statute that matters most, and the agency has likely strayed so far from the text that its rule should be rendered null and void when the case is resolved on the merits.

The judge also took issue with the ATF rule’s suggestion that “actual profit is not a requirement of the statute —it is only the predominant intent to earn a profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms that is required,” pointing out that the current statute states “proof of profit shall not be required as to a person who engages in the regular and repetitive purchase and disposition of firearms for criminal purposes or terrorism. According to Kacsmaryk, that means that proof of profit is required if the feds want to charge someone with being an unlicensed gun dealer and there are no allegations of criminal activity or terrorism involved.

Lastly, Kacsmaryk found fault with the ATF’s presumptions on “when a person has the intent to ‘predominantly earn a profit’” and “that someone is ‘engaged in the business.’” Under the ATF’s rule, people are presumed to have those intentions unless they can prove otherwise, which the judge says “flip[s] the statute on its head by requiring that firearm owners prove innocence rather than the government prove guilt.”

I wish that the judge would have applied this injunction to all gun owners and not just the named plaintiffs in the case, but this is still a significant victory for those challenging the new rule. Texas v. ATF isn’t the only lawsuit to challenge the ATF rule either, so there’s a good chance that more gun owners will find relief as the other lawsuits move forward in the courts.

It has always been a genetic ‘treatment’

BREAKING: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Rules mRNA COVID-19 Jab is NOT a Vaccine Under Traditional Medical Definitions

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has delivered a seismic decision that could reshape public health policy across the nation.

In a contentious case involving the Health Freedom Defense Fund and other plaintiffs versus the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the court has declared that mRNA COVID-19 injections do not qualify as vaccines under traditional medical definitions.

The case revolved around the LAUSD’s COVID-19 vaccination policy, which required all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by a specified deadline.

The plaintiffs argued that the district’s vaccine mandate infringed upon their fundamental right to refuse medical treatment, as the mRNA injections do not prevent the transmission of COVID-19 but merely mitigate symptoms for the recipient.
The court’s opinion, penned by Circuit Judge R. Nelson and supported by Judge Collins, asserts that the mRNA shots, marketed as vaccines, do not effectively prevent the transmission of COVID-19 but merely reduce symptoms in those who contract the virus. This crucial distinction undermines the foundational premise of the vaccine mandates enforced by various governmental and educational institutions.
Judge Nelson pointed out that the mandate was inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s century-old ruling in Jacobson v. Massachusetts, a case that upheld the state’s right to enforce smallpox vaccinations due to their proven effectiveness in preventing disease spread. In contrast, the mRNA COVID-19 shots do not offer such public health benefits, thus failing the criteria established by Jacobson.

The ruling points out that traditional vaccines are designed to provide immunity and prevent transmission, which is not conclusively proven in the case of mRNA COVID-19 shots.

The Gateway Pundit previously reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had modified the definition of “vaccine” to include the mRNA shots.

So, look at what the CDC did. Here’s the definition the CDC used on 26 August 2021:

  • Vaccine– “a product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease.”
  • Vaccination– “the act of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a specific disease.”

Rather than admit the COVID-19 vaccine is not working as advertised, the CDC took a page out of Orwell’s 1984 and opted for new spin language.

Here is the new definition:

  • Vaccine– “a preparation that is used to stimulate the body’s immune response against diseases.”

It can be recalled that Pfizer’s President of International Developed Markets, Janine Small, admitted in an EU hearing that the vaccine had never been tested on its ability to prevent transmission, contrary to what was previously advertised.

Judge Collins, in a concurring opinion, highlighted that compulsory medical treatments for individual health benefits infringe upon the fundamental right to refuse such treatments. This perspective aligns with the constitutional principles protecting personal liberty against unwarranted governmental intrusions.

You can read the full ruling below:

Jury is chosen in Hunter Biden’s federal firearms case and opening statements are set for Tuesday

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — A jury was seated Monday in the federal gun case against President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, after prospective panelists were questioned about their thoughts on gun rights and drug addiction while the first lady watched from the front row of the courtroom.

Opening statements were set to begin Tuesday after the jurors — six men and six women plus four women serving as alternates — were instructed by Judge Maryellen Noreika not to talk or read about the case.

Hunter Biden has been charged in Delaware with three felonies stemming from a 2018 firearm purchase when he was, according to his memoir, in the throes of a crack addiction. He has been accused of lying to a federally licensed gun dealer, making a false claim on the application by saying he was not a drug user and illegally having the gun for 11 days.

The case is going to trial following the collapse of a plea deal that would have avoided the spectacle of a trial so close to the 2024 election. Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty and has argued he’s being unfairly targeted by the Justice Department, after Republicans decried the now-defunct plea deal as special treatment for the Democratic president’s son.

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Fauci Squirms During GOP Grilling Over COVID, Pandemic Response

Update (1530ET): Former NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci was grilled by Republicans during Monday testimony in front of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, where he repeatedly denied Republican allegations that he sought to cover up the COVID-19 lab-leak theory – calling the accusation “absolutely false and simply preposterous.”

In his opening statement, Fauci denied trying to silence officials and scientists who thought the virus was created in, or at least escaped from, the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China.

“The accusation being circulated that I influenced these scientists to change their minds by bribing them with millions of dollars in grant money is absolutely false and simply preposterous. I had no input into the content of the published paper,” said Fauci. “The second issue is a false accusation that I tried to cover up the possibility that the virus originated from a lab. In fact, the truth is exactly the opposite.”

Following his opening statement Fauci was grilled over the government’s response to the pandemic – defending the CDC over mask mandates, lockdowns, and other public policy – while Democrats on the panel repeatedly bent over backwards to defend him.

Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX) got into a heated exchange Fauci over the measures – at one point forcing the former NIAID director to admit that the Covid-19 vaccine doesn’t stop transmission.

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Cynical Publius

I get the sense that a lot of people across the entire political spectrum do not fully understand one of the very most basic reasons why the US federal government is such a tyrannical soup sandwich, so I thought I would write a quick primer.

The US Constitution limits the power of the federal government vis-a-vis the states (or the People). To the extent the federal government has certain enumerated powers, it is up to Congress to make laws, and it is up to the President to enforce them. (Yes, I know that it is a very simplified explanation, but it’s basically true.)

Certain federal agencies housed in the Executive Branch have existed almost from the nation’s founding, but these related solely and directly to the President’s Constitutionally-enumerated powers, thus the War Department (for example) was necessary. However, starting with the establishment of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887, we began to see Congress abdicating some of its lawmaking powers to federal agencies.

Through the following decades, with the desire of the so-called “progressives” to establish rule by “experts,” that abdication of Congressional law-making responsibilities went on warp drive, through Woodrow Wilson, through FDR and even through Richard Nixon, as numerous new federal agencies came into being.

Over those decades, more and more law-making authority was delegated to those federal agencies, most of which were housed in the Executive Branch and responsive to the President, thus greatly expanding the President’s powers beyond the original Constitutional intent.

Over time, even the powers of the third branch—the Judicial Branch—were co-opted into the Executive Branch as these administrative agencies were given the power to create their own courts, thus ruling on disputes regarding and enforcement of the very laws they made.

Penultimately, we have reached the point today where the Executive Branch has subsumed many of the Constitutional authorities of the Legislative and Judicial Branches, creating the tyrannical federal government we see today—one run by life-tenured, unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who rule first and foremost for the growth and protection of their own agencies.

Now Donald Trump wants to undo much of this. He wants to unwind this cabal of extra-Constitutional power, and he wants to do so by taking that power OUT OF THE VERY BRANCH HE WILL RUN and return that power to the Constitutional authorities where it belongs. This effort to unwind the power in the Executive Branch is what worries Fascist Democrats when they talk about Trump “destroying democracy,” and it’s why they call him a “dictator.”

(Which is hilarious, since Trump would be the very first “dictator” in world history whose primary purpose is to reduce his own power, thereby enhancing democracy.)

So hopefully that makes things more clear. I left a lot out and simplified some very complex issues, but I think this covers things at the most basic level. If you want to know more, Google the following:

1. Administrative Procedure Act.
2. “Abolishing the Administrative Procedure Act.”
3. Chevron v. NRDC.
4. INS v. Chadha.
5. Wickard v. Filburn

Have a patriotic day please.

Anti-Gunners Channel Orwell to Defend Bump Stock Ban

With the Supreme Court’s decision in Garland v. Cargill looming, gun control activists are engaging in some Big Brother-esque torture of the English language to defend the ATF’s abuse of its regulatory authority.

The doubleplus ungood spin from groups like Brady and Giffords is being aided and abetted by gun control-friendly writers like The Hill‘s Clayoton Vickers, who contends that if the ATF’s rule is struck down by the Supreme Court it “could quickly open an unfettered marketplace of newer, more powerful rapid-fire devices.”

David Pucino, legal director at Giffords Law Center, said lower courts are currently treating bump stocks and similar devices like machine guns, which are banned.

“The use case for new rapid-fire devices lower courts are considering is that somebody wants to have a machine gun, and the law won’t let them have one,” Pucino said.

If the Supreme Court does overturn the ban, he said, it “would be very, very dangerous for public safety.”

Pucino’s comments are erroneous on several counts. First, not every lower courts are treating bump stocks like machine guns. If that were the case the Court might never have agreed to hear Garland v. Cargill. It’s the government that asked the Court to take the case, after all, and the DOJ filed that request because the Fifth and Sixth Circuits have both issued rulings that bump stocks do not turn firearms into machine guns.

Pucino is also off base when he claims that the argument boils down to “someone wants a machine gun but the law won’t let them have one.” Garland v. Cargill technically isn’t even a Second Amendment case. The question before the Court is whether “a bump stock device is a ‘machinegun’ as defined in 26 U.S.C. § 5845(b) because it is designed and intended for use in converting a rifle into a machinegun, i.e., into a weapon that fires ‘automatically more than one shot … by a single function of the trigger.'”

It’s that phrase “single function of the trigger” where Pucino and other anti-gunners are trying to play games with the English language.

Gun control advocates argue that a debate over “single function” misses the point of bans on machine guns.

“The Justices are aware there’s a sort of forced nature to the other side’s argument,” Shira Feldman, director of constitutional litigation at Brady United Against Gun Violence, told The Hill.

Brady, a gun-control advocacy group, has also filed a brief in Cargill.

“Is it really reasonable that Congress would have written the law such that we have to read these statutes in a way that we wouldn’t normally parse language?” Feldman said.

It’s the gun control groups who are wanting to read these statutes in a way that defies common sense. In their view, a “single function of the trigger” is the same as “multiple functions of a trigger”, so long as any device attached to a firearm can help increase the rate of fire. Congress didn’t define “machine gun” by how many rounds could be sent downrange in a given period of time, which is essentially how the gun control groups want the statute in question to be interpreted. A bump stock doesn’t change anything at all about how a trigger functions, and it certainly doesn’t turn a semi-automatic rifle into a fully automatic machine gun.

There’s another flaw in the logic (and I use that term loosely) of the gun control groups. Like Vickers, they claim that allowing bump stocks to be sold will be “very, very dangerous for public safety.” But they also claim that the gun industry is already flouting federal law to sell any number of devices that turn AR-15s into machine guns.

According to Feldman and fellow legal experts at Brady, the gun industry has been “disingenuous” in calling rapid-fire accessories legal and has sold them as “get them before … [they’re] banned” products.

“We’ve seen the gun industry do everything they can do to skirt federal regulation to increase the lethality of the weapons that they can sell to civilians, whether it’s a hellfire [trigger], a bump stock or a host of other accessories,” said Christian Heyne, chief programs officer at Brady.

“The main reason you have these is to kill as many people in this short amount of time as you can. And to victims, it isn’t important exactly how the trigger mechanism works,” added Douglas Letter, Brady’s chief legal officer.

“The point is that what Congress was trying to do [when it passed machine gun bans] was make these unbelievably dangerous weapons not a part of our civilian society,” he said.

It’s not disingenuous to sell products that the ATF says are perfectly legal. What’s disingenuous is the agency reversing years of determinations to the contrary, while writing rules that are so ambiguous it’s impossible to know whether you’re in compliance or violating their edicts. It’s disingenuous to claim that the main reason someone wants a bump stock or a binary trigger is to “kill as many people as possible” given the fact that hundreds of thousands of bump stocks were lawfully purchased before the ATF banned them, but were rarely used in crimes of any kind.

Garland v. Cargill is a case about bump stocks, but it’s also inherently about agency power. Will the Supreme Court give the green light to ATF and other federal agencies to ignore the plain text of federal statutes and essentially write new laws out of existing regulations, or will it rein in the multiple administrative abuses that have taken place since the bump stock ban was imposed in 2017? I have no idea where the Court will come down, but with a decision expected before its summer recess in June, we don’t have too long to wait before we learn the answer.

StunnedTater Cornyn shouldn’t have pushed this bill anyway.
The pushback mail he got must have been white hot caustic.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), along with 41 of their Senate Republican colleagues, introduced a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to strike down the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) rule on the definition of “Engaged in the Business” as a Dealer in Firearms. The rule ignores the law and congressional intent and flagrantly violates the Constitution to try to require anyone who sells a firearm to register as a federal firearm licensee.

“Once again, the Biden administration is ignoring the law in their attempts to infringe on the Constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans and their ability to bear arms. This gun-grab flies in the face of congressional intent, unlawfully shifts the burden to individuals to demonstrate to the ATF that they are not firearms dealers, and prohibits lawful conduct protected by the Second Amendment. West Virginians have my word that I will fight this rule on their behalf and continue to be a fierce defender of their gun rights,” Senator Capito said.

The resolution is endorsed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), Gun Owners of America (GOA), and the National Rifle Association (NRA).

In a case of classic irony, the ship named after the President who warned about the Military Industrial Complex, gets stuck on deployment because the aforesaid MIC supposed to produce naval surface combatant ships is TARFU.

In Red Sea, US Navy paying the price of shipbuilding failures
The Littoral Combat Ship was designed with the current crisis in mind, instead it turned into a boondoggle. Here’s why.

The United States Navy recently extended the deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower while it patrols the shipping lanes of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden protecting commercial shipping from Houthi rebel attacks. The Eisenhower left its homeport at Norfolk on October 14, more than 200 days ago.

The Ike’s sailors aren’t the only ones being forced to spend more time away from home. Many of the carrier’s escort vessels have also seen their deployments extended.

The Navy is struggling to meet some of its operational requirements in part because it simply doesn’t have all the ships it expected. The current threat to navigation in the Red Sea is precisely the scenario for which the Navy invested so much time and resources building the Littoral Combat Ships. The LCS program was sold to the American people as a “networked, agile, stealthy surface combatant capable of defeating anti-access and asymmetric threats in the littorals.”

The Houthi rebels launching missiles and drones from shore and hijacking commercial shipping in the confined waters of the Red Sea meets the textbook definition of an asymmetric threat in a littoral region. Yet the “little crappy ships,” as they have come to be known, are nowhere to be seen inside the Red Sea. Rather, the Navy has to keep a carrier strike group composed of Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers on station longer than anticipated in an attempt to keep an important maritime choke point open.

The Littoral Combat Ship is one of two major shipbuilding failures from the past 20 years. The other is the Zumwalt-class destroyer. Both programs began in earnest in the years after 9/11 and almost immediately ran into trouble. The Zumwalt program saw massive cost growth which forced Navy leaders to slash the planned fleet size from the originally planned 32 to 7 and finally to the three which were actually built. These three ships cost nearly $8 billion each while failing to deliver promised combat capabilities.

The Littoral Combat Ship program cost $28 billion to build a fleet of 35 ships. According to the Government Accountability Office, the Navy expects to pay more than $60 billion to operate the fleet for its expected 25-year lifespan. Like the Zumwalt, the LCS program’s combat functionality is far less than expected. The ships were designed to be modular with crews swapping out mission systems in port for different missions. Engineers could never get the mission modules to work properly, so the scheme was abandoned.

The LCS program does excel in spectacular breakdowns. The USS Milwaukee famously broke down shortly after it had been commissioned and had to be towed into a Virginia port while its crew attempted to sail the ship to its intended San Diego home for the first time. Other ships suffered from saltwater corrosion, cracked hulls, and broken-down water jets. The Freedom-class variant LCS had trouble with the combining gear linking its diesel engine with the ship’s turbines. The problems grew so bad that Navy leaders essentially threw up their hands and began retiring ships decades before they should have smelled mothballs. The Navy decommissioned the USS Sioux City after a single deployment and less than five years after the ship entered service.

Navy leaders are now scrambling to develop the Constellation-class frigate to fill the capability gap that should have been filled by the Littoral Combat Ship. They decided upon a safer acquisition strategy with the new program by selecting the European multipurpose frigate, a proven design already in service with the French and Italian navies, rather than starting at the drawing board. The Navy awarded Fincantieri Marinette Marine the detail design and construction award for the first ship in April 2020.

Of course, the Navy isn’t simply purchasing a fully developed ship. Engineers began with the existing design and have spent the past several years “maturing” it. Like many such endeavors, changes to one shipboard system necessitated modifications to others and the entire process spiraled. Navy leaders had expected to have the first ship to be delivered in 2026, but they recently announced that because of design problems, supply chain issues, and a shortage of skilled workers will delay the first ship by an additional three years.

The U.S. Navy’s last successful comparable surface shipbuilding program was the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate. The final ship of that class, the USS Ingraham, was commissioned in 1989.

Herein lies the danger inherent with unrealistic acquisition programs. When service leaders convince themselves that a radical design will work before the concept is actually demonstrated in the real world, they commit themselves, potentially for decades, to a program that may fail. By spending so much time and money on the Littoral Combat Ship program, the U.S. Navy squandered 40 years of shipbuilding time. That is an enormous lost opportunity cost and now our hard-pressed sailors enduring extended deployments are paying the price.

Service leaders, the civilians leading them, and members of Congress need to remember this case the next time a defense contractor presents them with a bunch of slick conceptual drawings and then fills their ears with promises of transformative capabilities they can deliver at rock-bottom prices. As the homesick sailors aboard the Ike understand well now, if it sounds too good to be true, it definitely is.

Barr for NRA President Would Prove Association Has Learned Nothing

“Insiders Reveal the Rot Within the NRA,” John Crump reported Wednesday. “AmmoLand News has been speaking to several insiders on the condition of anonymity at the National Rifle Association (NRA) and NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) about the state of the historic gun rights organization since former Executive Vice President Wayner LaPierre and the NRA was found liable in a civil corruption case out of New York State.”

Revelations show the Herculean task facing the four recently elected “reform candidates” to bring about real changes in the way the association operates. That assumes they can recruit support from other Board members, and exert sufficient influence on senior management and staff to rein in excesses/reverse the corrupt practices instilled in decades of the Wayne LaPierre administration.

It’s been known for some time that powerhouse NRA Counsel William Brewer has long-donated to gun-grabbers, and while separating itself from his disastrous representation will be necessary for the association’s future credibility with no-compromise gun owners, one revelation in Crump’s report seems more immediately pressing and correctable:

AmmoLand News has also been told that former Congressman Bob Barr will be the next President of the NRA. Mr. Barr is currently on the Board of Directors and is the only one that AmmoLand News knows of who has had a negligent discharge of a firearm. According to our sources at the NRA, Mr. Barr is a Brewer loyalist.”

That was anticipated when then-candidate Jeff Knox told AmmoLand  readers:

“Then in a surprise move, the board elected Bob Barr to replace Willes Lee as First Vice President. Without the Bylaw change, Lee would have been expected to be elected President at that meeting.”

My reaction to reading that: “Who better than a Lautenberg Amendment fanboy?”

That’s a lifetime ban on possessing firearms for anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. And that could plunge people into “horrors stories” over “offenses” including “a wife tear[ing] her husband’s pocket during an argument [or] a daughter throw[ing] keys at her mom – and miss[ing]” — or simply pleading down to the misdemeanor charge to avoid expensive prosecution and the threat of more severe incarceration penalties.

From Gun Owners of America:

In early March, Rep. Bob Barr endorsed the concept of the Lautenberg gun ban, calling it “important and worthwhile legislation.” Barr’s comments appeared as an editorial in the March 6, 1997 issue of USA Today, where he called for only a limited repeal of the Lautenberg ban. While he opposed the retroactive part of the ban, Rep. Barr endorsed the underlying principle behind the Lautenberg gun ban, stating that, “This is important and worthwhile legislation, and we cannot allow its effectiveness to be reduced.”

Read the entire GOA article because there’s plenty more.

And then listen to Barr’s own words when he was running for president as the Libertarian Party candidate and see if you heard any repudiation or apology:

Telling the audience how he improved a bad bill hardly addressed his assertion that Lautenberg “is strong protection for women and children,” or his claim that his amending language kept it from being “declared unconstitutional.” He then goes on to support the concept of “prohibited persons.” So, the answer is, no, he wouldn’t repudiate his past support and spearhead the effort to repeal it. Instead, he preferred you to be caught in the trap and then go through a Catch-22 appeals process.

As an aside, since the LP platform on immigration is one of “come one/come all,” perhaps would-be future NRA president Barr can explain how the “pathway to citizenship” Democrats are paving into a superhighway won’t end up with leftist supermajorities and court appointments that will end up reversing Bruen and giving the gun-grabbers the keys to the kingdom.

See further related posts over at the original The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance.

If you agree this guy doesn’t belong anywhere near the presidency, tell the NRA to “Say ‘NO’ to Lautenberg Bob.”


Judge Fast-Tracks Review of ATF’s Universal Background Check Rule Amid Legal Challenge by GOA, Texas

A federal judge has expedited the legal proceedings against a new rule by the ATF that mandates universal background checks on private firearm sales. U.S. District Court Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk’s decision on Friday sets the stage for a rapid review of the contentious rule, which has faced strong opposition from gun rights advocates and several states.

The rule, slated to be enforced starting May 20, 2024, would significantly expand the scope of background checks, requiring them even in private transactions that have traditionally been exempt. This includes sales by individuals not classified as being “engaged in the business” of selling firearms. According to reporting by Breitbart News, this change blurs the lines between private sellers and licensed dealers, potentially impacting millions of gun owners across the country who wish to buy or sell a firearm to or from a private seller.

Gun Owners of America (GOA), the Gun Owners Foundation and the State of Texas, along with other states (Louisiana, Mississippi and Utah) and advocacy groups (including the Tennessee Firearms Association and the Virginia Citizens Defense League), have filed a lawsuit arguing that the rule not only exceeds the regulatory powers of the ATF but also infringes on constitutional rights. The plaintiffs claim the rule would unfairly classify ordinary citizens who sell firearms as dealers, subjecting them to rigorous licensing and background checks.

Judge Kacsmaryk has ordered the ATF to respond to the motion for preliminary relief by 5 p.m. tomorrow, May 14, 2024, with the plaintiffs’ reply due by the following day by 5 p.m. as well.

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Tennessee Appeals Court Rules Against Wildlife Agents Who Planted Cameras on Private Land
The three-judge panel concluded unanimously that while the state law at issue is constitutional, the wildlife agents’ application of it was not.

In December 2022, Reason reported that both state and federal wildlife agents routinely trespass onto private land and plant cameras. Two Tennessee homeowners successfully sued the state over the practice, and a three-judge panel ruled in their favor. The state appealed the decision, and this week the court of appeals ruled in the homeowners’ favor.

At issue is a state law allowing officers of the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA) to “go upon any property, outside of buildings, posted or otherwise,” in order to “enforce all laws relating to wildlife.” In the case of Terry Rainwaters and Hunter Hollingsworth, TWRA officers not only entered their respective properties but also installed trail cameras to look for hunting violations, all without a warrant and ignoring “No Trespassing” signs. A lawsuit filed by the Institute for Justice (I.J.) on behalf of Rainwaters and Hollingsworth asked the court to declare the law unconstitutional and issue an injunction against the TWRA, barring it from carrying out any further unwarranted intrusions.

Under the “open-fields doctrine,” Supreme Court precedent dating back to Prohibition holds that undeveloped land on someone’s property lacks the same rigorous Fourth Amendment protections as their home and the “curtilage,” the area immediately surrounding the home.

In March 2022, a three-judge panel from the Benton County Circuit Court ruled in the homeowners’ favor, finding that the state constitution provided more protections than the Fourth Amendment. It determined that the state law allowing the TWRA practice created an “intolerable risk” of abuse and was “facially unconstitutional,” but it stopped short of issuing an injunction. The state appealed the decision the following month.

In a hearing before the Tennessee Court of Appeals Western Section on June 20, 2023, I.J. attorney Josh Windham argued that the state law is unconstitutionally broad. “It allows TWRA officers to enter and roam around private land, fishing for evidence of crime,” Windham said. “It doesn’t require consent. It doesn’t require warrants. It doesn’t require probable cause….It’s a blank check for officers to invade private land whenever and however they please.”

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Sometimes, you wonder if corrupt crap like this isn’t done on purpose, simply to test the opposition’s mental acuity.

Judge Aileen Cannon is a Heroine
She is scheduled on June 21st to hear oral argument on whether special counsel Jack Smith was unconstitutionally appointed

The liberal news media is full of false stories about how Judge Aileen Cannon of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida has delayed former President Donald Trump’s trial unnecessarily for allegedly mishandling classified documents. But, in fact, the Biden Administration and its Attorney General, Merrick Garland, are themselves to blame for the current delay. Special Counsel Jack Smith claims to be an inferior officer of the United States, but in fact he holds no such office. Smith is a mere employee of the Department of Justice, and he lacks the power to initiate prosecutions. Lucia v. Securities and Exchange Commission, 585 U.S. __ (2018) holds that only officers of the United States can take actions that affect the life, liberty, and property of citizens.

Judge Cannon has asked for oral argument on June 21, 2024 on former President Donald Trump’s motion to dismiss Special Counsel Jack Smith’s indictment on the ground that Smith was unconstitutionally appointed to his current job because he is not an inferior officer. Washington, D.C. super-lawyer, Gene Schaerr, has filed an amicus brief in United States v. Trump on behalf of former Attorney Generals Edwin Meese III and Michael B. Mukasey, as well as me and Professor Gary Lawson, arguing that Jack Smith was unconstitutionally appointed to be an inferior officer, and Judge Cannon has asked Gene Schaerr to participate in the oral argument, which he has agreed to do.

The Appointment Clause of Article II, Section 2 provides that: “the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.” Jack Smith claims to be an inferior officer of the United States appointed by the Head of the Justice Department, but he is instead a mere employee.

We argue in our amicus brief that Congress has never by law vested in the Attorney General as the Head of a Department the power to appoint inferior officers even though Congress has explicitly vested that power in the Heads of the Departments of Energy, Health and Human Services, Transportation, and Agriculture. The only power, which Congress has given to the Attorney General is the power to make a sitting U.S. Attorney a Special Counsel with jurisdiction to prosecute cases nationwide and outside his or her home district. Thus, the Delaware U.S. Attorney, David C. Weiss, currently has nationwide jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute Hunter Biden as a Special Counsel, and this appointment is completely constitutional. Similarly, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Patrick Fitzgerald, was quite legitimately given nationwide jurisdiction to prosecute former Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, in Washington, D.C. Fitzgerald got Libby convicted and sentenced to time in jail.

Jack Smith, however, was a private citizen, and not a sitting U.S. Attorney, when Attorney General Merrick Garland named him to be the Special Counsel who would investigate and prosecute Donald Trump. Smith’s appointment as an inferior officer was thus unconstitutional, and therefore the cases against former President Donald Trump, which Smith is prosecuting in Florida and in Washington D.C. must be dismissed. Again, Congress has never by law vested in the Attorney General the power to appoint inferior officers

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Supreme Court rules in favor of veteran who sued over GI Bill limits

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of a veteran who unsuccessfully tried to use both his Post-9/11 GI Bill and Montgomery GI Bill benefits, saying that Veterans Affairs officials erred in limiting his education support.

The 7-2 decision could have far-reaching impact on student veterans who use up their VA benefits but still wish to continue degree programs. Lawyers for the plaintiff have estimated as many as 1.7 million veterans nationwide could benefit from the ruling, but federal officials have estimated the number to be less than 30,000 individuals.

The case has been closely watched by veterans advocates for nearly nine years because of its potential ramifications. VA pays out more than $8 billion in education payments annually, and the Supreme Court ruling could boost that figure even higher.

The legal fight centered on Jim Rudisill, a 43-year-old Army veteran who was wounded in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq in 2005. Rudisill used all of his Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits shortly thereafter, but later wanted to tap into his unused Montgomery GI Bill benefits to attend Yale Divinity School as part of the process to become an Army chaplain.

When VA officials denied that move, Rudisill sued, claiming they were unfairly limiting his options. Writing for the majority, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson called the government’s denial “nonsensical” and reversed lower court rulings supporting VA’s position.

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With ‘friends’ like this, we need no enemies.

Cornyn Engages in Damage Control on ATF New Rule

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act wouldn’t have passed without the help of one Sen. John Cornyn.

Cornyn championed the bill in the Senate, getting enough Republicans to sign on in order to get it out of that chamber and onto the House where there was never a chance at stopping it.

Which, honestly, might not have been too big of a deal were it not for this one bit that changed the definition of gun dealer, removing the requirement that someone attempt to make a livelihood out of selling firearms.

It seemed a small thing, but now it’s opening up things for the ATF where they can essentially push through universal background checks without going through Congress.

And Cornyn is now trying to do something about it.

The U.S. Justice Department rolled out a new policy last month requiring background checks for people who informally sell firearms at gun shows or on the internet. The rule, which is set to take effect on May 20, is based on a revised definition of gun dealers put forth in Cornyn’s so-called Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

Previously, gun dealers were defined under federal law as those who sell firearms with the “principal objective of livelihood and profit.” Under the revised definition, gun dealers are any people who “predominantly earn a profit” from selling firearms.

“Under this regulation, it will not matter if guns are sold on the internet, at a gun show, or at a brick-and-mortar store: if you sell guns predominantly to earn a profit, you must be licensed, and you must conduct background checks,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said last month. “This regulation is a historic step in the Justice Department’s fight against gun violence. It will save lives.”

Cornyn has vowed to file a congressional resolution of disapproval over the policy, and he said the Biden administration’s efforts to tie it to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is “an outright lie.”

“This rule has long been on Democrats’ wish list, and for the Biden administration to say it’s a result of our school safety and mental health law is a shameless attempt to hide their real goal: to take away the firearms of every law-abiding American,” Cornyn said in a joint statement with North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis. “We will fight this unconstitutional rule tooth and nail, and look forward to overturning it in the Senate as soon as possible.”

I’m sorry, but Cornyn doesn’t get to play savior here.

He’s the reason we’re in this mess to begin with. Were it not for him crossing the lines for BSCA, the definitions wouldn’t have changed enough for the ATF to even begin to try this. He cajoled and pushed for the precise legislation that opened the door.

Now, he’s trying to engage in damage control, hoping he can keep his job by being aggressive in his rhetoric about the Biden administration’s efforts.

Did he not see this coming? Did he even read the bill?

To be fair, I don’t actually think Cornyn intended for this to happen. I think he just didn’t think through the ramifications of his actions.

Yet let’s also remember that we don’t give people a pass on the results of their actions. How many people are held culpable for the accidents they get into while driving drunk? They don’t intend to hit other cars or pedestrians, but they do, and we hold them accountable.

The Crumbleys didn’t intend for their child to carry out a mass shooting, but the lack of intention didn’t absolve them in the eyes of the court.

Hannah Guiterrez-Reed didn’t intend for a live round to end up in the gun that killed Halyna Hutchins, but she’s going to do time for it just the same.

We hold people accountable for the outcomes of their actions, and in this case, Cornyn’s actions directly led to the ATF’s proposed rule. While we can argue that even with the BSCA’s changes, it’s still overreach, it’s overreach that wouldn’t be remotely possible had Cornyn not bent the knee to Biden on it in the first place.

O’Keefe Media Group Exposes Alleged CIA Plot Against Trump.

According to a new undercover report by the O’Keefe Media Group, high-level intelligence community executives—including former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former CIA Director Gina Haspel—withheld information from former President Donald Trump throughout his administration.

A video posted on social media by James O’Keefe features Amjad Anton Fseisi, purported to be the project manager for cyber operations at the CIA. In the video, the undercover reporter for O’Keefe Media Group gets Fseisi to admit that several intelligence agencies deliberately withheld information from Trump out of some absurd fear that he might “disclose it.” Fseisi is seen in the recording admitting that intelligence agencies “all got together and said, ‘We’re not gonna tell Trump.’”

“The executive staff,” Fseisi said in response to a question about who specifically was involved in the decision.

“We’re talking about the director and his subordinates.” That would include Pompeo and Haspel.

According to Fseisi, the intelligence agencies “kept information from [Trump] because we knew he’d f***ing disclose it.”

“There are certain people that would… give him a high-level overview but never give him any details. You know why? Because he’ll leak those details.”

And can you guess why Fseisi says Trump would leak sensitive information? Because Trump is… wait for it… a Russian asset!

“He’s a Russian asset,” Fseisi claimed. “He’s owned by the f***ing Russians.”

But there’s more.

“Amjad reveals to OMG’s Undercover American Swiper that intel agencies not only kept intelligence information from a sitting United States President and Commander-In-Chief, they also used FISA to spy on [Donald Trump],” O’Keefe says on X/Twitter. “And his team and [sic] are still monitoring President Trump according to Amjad who says, ‘We monitor everything.’ Amjad adds ‘we also have people that monitor his ex-wife. He likes to use burner phones’ – information only an insider with access to highly sensitive information would state.”

“We steal it [information]” and “We hack other countries just like that,” Amjad, who states he currently works on the CIA’s China Mission Center, explains how intel agencies obtain information. He also describes a broken intelligence system where “We don’t share information across agencies” because the CIA is “very reluctant” to share information with the “careless” NSA.

O’Keefe Media Group’s bombshell undercover footage supports earlier reports by investigative journalists Michael Shellenberger, Matt Taibbi, and Alex Gutentag that revealed how the American intelligence community illegally ran a spy operation against then-candidate Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 and illegally acquired intelligence that was later used to justify the Federal Bureau of Investigation (@FBI) official probe, “Crossfire Hurricane,” which in turn led to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that ultimately did not find evidence of Russia collusion by the 2016 Trump campaign. @shellenberger @mtaibbi @galexybrane

Contractors like Fseisi hold the duty to withhold sharing confidential or national security information. In denying his statements, Fseisi may have realized he could be held liable for violating internal agency provisions and federal laws like the Executive Agency ethics provisions, which restrict what he may share with others outside of his contracted-to agency.

Additionally, any government worker or agency head who withheld information from a superior (i.e. President Trump) may violate: (a) obstruction of justice by deception (18 USC 1512); (b) conspiracy to obstruct (18 USC 371); and false statements (18 USC 1001). Agency regulations may also provide offenses related to insubordination, reflecting poorly on the agency in public, or misrepresentation or dishonesty.

When O’Keefe confronted Fseisi on the streets of Washington, D.C., he denied making the statements in the above video.

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AG Merrick Garland Admits That It’s *Gang* Violence, Not ‘Gun Violence’

We’ve written about irepeatedly.  It’s gang violence that’s rampant across America, not so-called “gun violence.” The problem has become so bad that even full-time partisan political hack and part-time Attorney General Merrick Garland admitted as much at an ATF “summit” just days ago. Of course, the mainstream media ignored it. What’s more, his comment even escaped most of the alternative news outlets as well.

Garland abandoned his “Christian Nationalist” and “White Supremacist” bogeymen to admit that gangs members and repeat offenders are driving the gun violence problem in America. And for the slow-witted trolls in comments, this isn’t the MAGA gang either.

Here is an excerpt from the transcript provided by the US Department of Justice:

We are using our prosecutorial and technological tools to identify the repeat offenders and gangs who are principally responsible for community violence.

And here’s the video which begins at 28:00 when Garland admits what we’ve known for a long, long time: that repeat offenders and gang members (sorry for repeating ourselves in so many instances) are driving violent crime:

Yes, the mainstream media and left-leaning pols love to redirect low-information voters from violent criminals to the tools they misuse.

I love it when soft-on-crime politicians get very defensive and very animated when you talk about gang violence in their presence or correct them when they throw out the “gun violence” talking point.

“We don’t talk about gangs,” one Illinois State Representative from Chicago said to me as I sat in his office in my role as executive director of Guns Save Life. His body language screamed his discomfort at where the conversation was headed.

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