New Aquariums officially 'done'
Hobbies aren't ever really done, but the outside is complete | 4/ 3/2018

Fifteen months, from initial design, to this:  

John Ross's article on the 500 magnum revolver
Hosting for posterity... | 10/13/2017

I noted when I went to look for it that John Ross's website is offline.  John's ... Read More

Star Trek – Discovery
A new hope (haven't I seen that somewhere before?) | 9/25/2017

As a longtime Trek fan, I wanted to review my thoughts, and writing them out helps ... Read More

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SKS Rifle Customization

KR's 'Liberty Training Rifle' | 3/ 3/2014

Several years back, a good friend of mine put together a 'how to', on modifying a basic, inexpensive (or at least they were then...) SKS rifle into something more Rifleman friendly.  Since that friend isn't too tech savy, he then gave the document to me to make it available.  Still getting hits on that old document... as valuable today as it was when he made it.


Enjoy, and Thanks, KR!

Mandatory Firearms Training

As an NRA registered trainer, that can't be bad, right? | 3/20/2013


I recently read a facebook post, from Chester, a good friend of mine, recommending that gun owners undergo some sort of mandatory training in order to exercise their 2nd amendment rights.  Another acquaintance of mine, Christopher, jumped on the bandwagon.  ‘Training is good…’ they say.  Well, they’re right, training is good.  ‘Mandatory’ training, however, is most certainly not a good thing.

I’m going to strenuously disagree with my good friends Christopher and Chester on this one.  Applying this sort of logic to the 1st amendment, you could purchase a typewriter or computer, but if you’re going to publish your opinions, well, that requires a license.  Sound good to you?   “ …the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  Please explain to me how what you’re proposing does not infringe on the right to bear arms?   Can you give me an example of any other right that depends on training, licensing, or fees in order to exercise that right?  Who do you propose we trust to tell us how much training we need, how much is ‘fair’ in licensing fees, what other restrictions we might have… Nancy Pelosi?  Barack Obama?  Claire McCaskill? 

What benefits are going to come of gun owners accepting these restrictions on our right, acknowledging that our rights are subject to government approval, and therefore, not really rights at all, but privileges?  Chester proposes that “this type of law would probably save the lives of lot children who are killed every year in accidental shootings”.  According to the national center for health statistics, the annual number of deaths among children due to accidental shooting is down 90% since 1975.  1.1% of all accidental deaths are caused by firearms.  With all of the regulations, taxes, and fees applied to driving a vehicle, vehicles still account for 41% of accidental deaths in this country.  Do you really believe legislation requiring training, safe storage, licensing fees, etc. is really going to lower this number significantly?  There is no benefit, aside from making people ‘feel’ safer, in any such legislation.

Carrying a firearm for self-defense without sufficient training is stupid.  On that point we can agree.   Legislation banning stupidity is even more so.  I pray that you will both reconsider your positions.  Actively campaigning for additional restrictions on our rights is good for one group of people only, those who want to do away with the 2nd amendment altogether.  Right now, Obama is pushing some BS about 90% of gun owners who want universal background checks.  This kind of thing hurts… badly.

Divide and conquer works for them. In 94, Clinton used duck hunters to push his ‘nobody needs an AR’ agenda, and got his assault weapons ban passed.  In 86, nobody stood against the Hughes amendment, and the full-auto registry was closed, without so much as a whimper from pro-2a groups.  Now, you want to voluntarily divide us again, in to pro/anti mandatory training camps?  We MUST STAND TOGETHER.  No new anti-gun legislation, no new restrictions on the 2nd amendment, whatsoever.  If we don’t, it’s only a matter of time, they’ll all be gone.

Arm our school employees

Denial, ignorance, and fear are not working. | 12/17/2012

The tragic events in Connecticut last week have touched us all; my prayers go out to all involved in this horrific event. Over the weekend, I’ve seen no less than a dozen calls for new gun control laws, ranging from banning anyone who has ever been treated for mental illness, to another ‘assault weapons’ ban. Neither would have prevented this tragedy, of course, but still, the calls go out to DO SOMETHING. This idiot broke at least a dozen different laws in committing this act, and multiple counts of most of them. If he hadn't killed himself, no doubt he’d be looking at multiple life sentences, most likely in solitary, since his life expectancy in general population would be quite short. Needless to say, he wasn't discouraged by the thought of punishment for his crimes. Why would anyone think that adding a few new laws would have stopped him, or anyone who gets the same idea in the future?

LAWS DON’T PREVENT CRIMES, THEY PUNISH THE GUILTY. Law enforcement didn't do anything wrong here, it’s not their job to prevent things like this from happening; it’s their job to find and punish criminals after the fact. Since this guy killed himself, about the only thing law enforcement can do is to tell us exactly what happened, and clean up the mess. In order to prevent this sort of thing, something else has to change. The way I see it, there are 3 things that we could do to prevent this sort of thing in the future.

Option 1, the Brady bunch dream: Ban guns. If we threw out the 2nd amendment and passed a law that made all civilian ownership of firearms illegal… would that stop this sort of crime? How long has the ‘war on drugs’ been raging now, over 40 years? Do you think we might be as successful in banning guns as we have been in banning drugs? The last time we took a popular, widely available product and banned it completely was in 1919, with the 18th amendment, prohibition of alcohol. Everyone remember how successful that experiment was? Banning firearms in this country will not take guns out of the hands of criminals, who are already legally prevented from owning guns.

Option 2: Better security. We could build fences, topped with concertina wire, around our schools, with armed security at the gates. This might work… it’s been fairly successful in Israel. Of course, turning our public schools into prisons might not be very popular, and may well have a less than positive impact on educating our children, but the option is there. I don’t know what the cost would be… how many schools are there in this country? How much would it cost to surround each of them with a good security fence, outfit them with a guard post at all of the gates… I have no idea. Can’t imagine it would be cheap, but hey, they’re getting ready to raise the debt ceiling once again, what’s a few billion added to our current debt?

Option 3: Allow our school employees to arm themselves. This seems to be a very unpopular solution, but would it work? Violent crime rates fall in states with liberal concealed carry laws. Virtually every mass shooting that has occurred in this country has been committed in a ‘gun free’ location. Could an armed teacher prevent this sort of thing? Who knows? At a minimum, they could reduce the number of victims. Seems to me it would be much harder to wipe out classrooms full of kids when the teacher is shooting back at you. Properly trained teachers, administrators, and custodians at our schools are unlikely to injure a student on purpose. These school employees are already being screened, right? Cost to the taxpayer is near nothing... and schools don’t look like a prison camp. Seems the only reasonable solution to me.

Denial, ignorance, and fear. These are _not_ the weapons that our children should have to rely on for their safety.

Assault Weapons

Shedding some light on the subject | 8/24/2012


I hear so much misinformation on the subject of so-called ‘assault weapons’, that I thought I’d spend a few minutes to put together some actual, verifiable facts on the subject. 

First, the term ‘assault weapon’ itself… this term was made up by anti-gun groups for political purposes.  From a gun owner’s perspective, the category simply doesn’t exist.  The idea is this, if we can’t get political support to eliminate guns entirely, we’ll divide guns up into different groups, and go after them one at a time.  The term is applied to anything that looks like something the military might use.  Functionally, there is absolutely no difference between a modern AR15 and great-grandpa’s 1905 Winchester hunting rifle. The only difference is in how it looks.  Remember the ‘Assault Weapons Ban’ of the Clinton era?  It banned guns, not based on functionality, or capability, but simply on cosmetic features, such as adjustable stocks, pistol grips, etc.

Assault weapons use extremely powerful ammunition:   No, they don’t.  The most common rifles that would be considered ‘assault weapons’ by people who use that term, would be the AR family of rifles.  In fact this platform uses a very mild cartridge.  From a hunting perspective, this caliber is suitable only for small game… typically referred to as a varmint round, used mostly for prairie dogs, coyotes, that sort of thing.  Compared to serious hunting calibers, these rifles are quite mild.

Assault weapons are only good for killing people:  Tell that to the millions of shooters who use AR15 type rifles for competitions, hunting, target shooting, or just plain fun.  AR platform rifles are light weight, easy to shoot, low recoil, accurate, reliable, and modular.  Those qualities make it an ideal target rifle.   It’s the single most popular type of rifle in the civilian market, and has been for years.   

Assault weapons are the same as Machine Guns:  Ask the BATFE on that one, they created the definition.  A Machine Gun is capable of firing multiple rounds with a single pull of the trigger.  Machine guns are strictly regulated and heavily taxed by the BATFE.  They have a list of civilian owned machine guns, and it’s been illegal to add to that list since 1986.  The hundreds of thousands of AR and AK type rifles being sold every year in this country are all semi-automatic, meaning that a single round is fired with each press of the trigger.  They can’t be converted into machine guns legally, and have been designed specifically to make such a conversion as difficult as possible.

Assault weapons are commonly used by criminals:  Wrong.  According to the FBI, 358 murders were committed in 2010 by all types of rifles combined, we don’t know how many of those could be considered ‘Assault Weapons’, as the FBI doesn’t use that term either.  To put that number in perspective, 745 people were beaten to death with bare hands during the same year.  Hardly the scourge of humanity that the anti-gun people would have you believe.

Banning guns, assault rifles or otherwise, provides no benefit to society, and has many negative consequences.  Like it or not, the cat is out of the bag, when it comes to firearms.  They’re not terribly complicated devices, a functional firearm can be built with tools and materials found in a typical suburban garage.  Keeping such a simple device completely out of the reach of people willing to commit crimes is simply impossible.  They exist, and they’re always going to, at least in the hands of criminals, who, by definition, don’t follow the laws.  Thus, if you ban guns, only criminals will have them.  Guns are used defensively by law abiding citizens many times as often as they are used by criminals.  They also prevent corrupt governments from committing acts of genocide.  Hitler had to ban guns before he could round up the Jews.  Same in Rwanda, Russia, China, everywhere in the world where this type of despicable behavior has happened, civilian gun ownership was banned.  The founding fathers of this great nation believed that an armed populace was the only guarantee of a free society, and they placed the 2nd amendment in the bill of rights to keep that promise.  I, for one, will fight with any means necessary to keep that promise for my children.

Star Trek society



I grew up watching Star Trek.  Reruns of Kirk and McCoy, new shows with Pickard and Data, even Cisco and Janeway.  I watched them all, at least I did, until some idiot cast Scott Bakula as the captain.  Gene Roddenberry allowed us a glimpse into a future without avarice, where all the people of earth were united, and equal.  It’s an intriguing world, full of hope and promise.  I knew, even as a kid that this world was complete and utter fantasy.  As long as there are humans on this planet, nothing like this will ever be possible.  I don’t mean the physics-busting idea of faster than light travel; I mean the free, harmonious society that Roddenberry depicts.  Absolute fantasy.  No more real than the worlds invented by Tolkien or Heinlein.

People are lazy.  A normal person, with all of their needs met, will not strive to better themselves.  It’s simply not in our nature.  Yeah, there’s a few power hungry over-achievers out there who will struggle on, but the vast majority of us, provided with sufficient entertainment, will expend as little effort as possible in getting through life.  We need some sort of motivation to get up and do something.  As imperfect as it is, capitalism provides that motivation better than anything our race has come up with so far.  If you don’t do something to earn a living, you go hungry.  There is no better motivator than an empty belly.

I know, there are a few people who simply can’t provide for themselves, and as a civilized culture, we should provide for those unlucky few.  I don’t believe that applies to the nearly 50% of Americans currently accepting government assistance.  The vast majority of people on welfare today do so not because they are incapable of fending for themselves, but because it’s the easy way out.  It requires very little effort to work the system well enough to feed yourself.  The vast majority of welfare recipients have a place to live, running water, electricity, television, cell phone… Why go out an actually work for a living? Our government, through its endless entitlement programs is rapidly eliminating the reasons why people work. 

To make matters worse, the ‘helping hand’ that welfare started as has become a trap, keeping people from climbing out of poverty.  My daughter made some poor choices in life.  A few years out of high school, she found herself a single mother of two, incapable of supporting herself.  She applied for, and began receiving, government aid.  Several years later, with her boyfriend having found a decent job, she found out what I’ve always known… Welfare is a trap.  It’s very difficult for a person with no marketable skills to earn enough money to replace what the government gives you.  Get a job, making far less than what the government is willing to simply hand you, and you lose your benefits.  Financially, you’re better off getting fired from your job, and becoming a permanent drain on our economy.

Say we give the income equality folks exactly what they’re asking for.  Take wealth from those who have, and distribute it evenly to those who have not.  Presto… everyone is equal.  Why would the young man coming out of school strive to make something of his life, when the dude who sits on the couch all day getting stoned and playing video games ends up with the same quality of life?  There is no motivation for anyone to produce, invent, or strive for anything.  What are you going to do with government provided health care when there are no doctors left?  Where does the money come from when there are no more wealthy people to take it from?  As Ayn Rand theorized in Atlas Shrugged… eventually, the people who struggle to produce the wealth that society relies on are simply going to quit, if they no longer gain from their efforts.

While Star Trek is wonderful entertainment, it’s hardly a model that we can build a future on.  The real world intrudes on such fantasy.  Socialism has been tried… it doesn’t work.  As long as greed and sloth remain part of the human condition, it never will.  I understand the concept that the good of the many outweighs the good of the few, but without the motivation provided by self-interest, the future looks more Mad Max than Federation.

Fast and Furious

The meaning of 'Accountable' | 6/20/2012


Fast and Furious

This ill-conceived bit if foolishness was supposed to allow BAT-men to ‘follow’ guns sold through straw purchasers to the drug runners who were the end users.  Normal gun shop procedures would have prevented many of these guns from ever having left the US, but, at the instance of the BATFE, gun store owners allowed these obvious straw-man purchases to proceed.  The end result is all too clear. US imported and US made firearms ended up being used by Mexican drug runners in criminal operations, on both sides of the border.

Right now, Rep. Issa and his committee has been trying for a year to figure out how this could have happened, and who was responsible for authorizing this poorly conceived operation.  He’s been stonewalled.  For a year.   No matter what you think of the people involved, it seems to me that an answer to that question is owed to the family of Brian Terry.  Today, with a vote of contempt scheduled on Holder, Obama’s white house has injected itself into the proceedings with some sort of executive order, protecting the documents that Issa has been asking for.

All this seems pointless to me. 

Since Sun Tzu wrote ‘Art of War’ in the 16th century, it’s been accepted that the commanding officer is responsible for actions of his subordinates.  Kings 1:21 tells us the same, with Ahab being held responsible for killing Naboth… even though he didn’t know about it.  Rome had similar views on command responsibility, including codifying that responsibility to include non-military leaders.  International law holds that ”Military commanders and other persons occupying positions of superior authority may be held criminally responsible for the unlawful conduct of their subordinates.”  As President Truman might have said, the ‘buck’ stops with Holder. 

I don’t really care what Holder knew about fast and furious, or when he knew it.  It happened under his watch.  It’s not like I’m expecting Holder to take responsibility for some idiot abusing his power on his own, this was a recognized, funded operation of the BATFE, and is Holder’s responsibility… period.

Contempt?  Yeah, I think that’s appropriate.  Unemployed would be another term I’d like to see applied to Holder. Luckily, no matter what Issa ends up getting done, you and I have the opportunity to insure that outcome, at the ballot box.  If Holder doesn’t want to accept responsibility for the actions of his subordinates, we can at least hold his boss accountable, and toss him to the curb.

Jerry Colvin

Loss of a Friend | 6/12/2012


I attended a visitation last night, for Jerry Colvin.  Jerry was my next-door neighbor for 13 years, until I bailed on the city last summer.  He was the kind of neighbor you hope for when you’re buying a home.  Jerry is the guy you call when you need to borrow a saw, or need some help moving a refrigerator.  Good people, the Colvin family...  Jerry and I raised our kids alongside each other, helped each other when we could, and pondered world events, leaning on the hood of his Suburban at the end of the day.

Jerry worked at FedEx. I know that, because of the FedEx shirts he wore during the week.  I gather he drove a truck for them, but he really didn’t talk about it much.  I have no doubt he was a good employee… he worked hard in everything he did, but working for FedEx did not define him.  If you were going to start a sentence with ‘Jerry was…’ a FedEx driver wouldn’t really fit.

Before anything else, Jerry was a dad.  His relationship with his son and his daughter were, without a doubt, the most important thing in his life.  Jerry was a scout leader.  Not the normal sort, the guy who helped out once in a while, but the guy who was always there… the one that spends his weekends rebuilding the troop’s camping trailer… the guy that really makes things work. 

Jerry’s death is one of those events that makes you want to look up and ask why.  He was 50, in better than average condition, didn’t drink, quit smoking, always seemed most happy when he was fixing something, or helping someone else fix something.  I’ve been told all my life that the good Lord has his reasons, but unless the pearly gates need new hinges, I’ll never understand this one.

Goodbye, Jerry, I’ll miss your smile, your ‘get it done’ attitude, and your generous nature. 

To Chris and Kasey Colvin, if you happen to see this, my thoughts and prayers are with you.  I always thought the world of your dad.  If you ever feel the need to talk to someone about him, or about anything, for that matter, I’d be honored if you’d give me a call.  If you need to get away for a few days, you’re more than welcome to come down here.


Tax day observations

A case for welfare reform | 4/15/2012


One of my daughters (I have four…) works for a large convenience store chain.  May not sound like much, but it’s really a pretty good company, they take care of good employees, and I’m proud of her.  In any case, this really isn’t about my daughter, but about some observations she’s been making, on the subject of those poor souls who are dependent on government assistance to get by.

Pardon my ignorance on the subject; I’m afraid I don’t know much about the rules under which you can get government assistance.  All I really know on the subject is that when my wife, prior to our marriage, needed some temporary assistance while she was (a) undergoing a divorce, and (b) giving birth to one of those four daughters, she was denied.  They told her that she’d have to quit, or be fired, before they could give her any help.  It was difficult, but she managed, with the help of her family.

Apparently, you can’t purchase ‘restaurant’ foods with food stamps, and that seems to include microwave burritos and such from stores like the one my daughter works at.  Easy work around, these poor folks just buy the burritos (with food stamps), and _then_ microwave them.  No problem.  Also, you can’t purchase alcohol or cigarettes with food stamps.  These poor folks seem to have enough cash for that type of purchase, using the food stamps for soda and snacks, while buying the booze and smokes with cash.  I personally have been approached by food-stamp recipients, offering to buy me fifty bucks worth of food at the grocery store for twenty in cash.  My daughter tells me it’s a regular event, for someone to come in and purchase fifty bucks worth of snacks and soda on food stamps, while buying a case of beer, a bottle of liquor, and a carton of cigarettes with cash… sometimes adding a few lottery tickets to the mix.  Sounds like a party to me!

Folks, I’m not rich… nowhere close.  I have worked hard to get where I am in life, and I’m firmly entrenched in that ‘middle class’ that President Obama says is disappearing in our nation.  I could, if I really wanted to, spend that kind of money on booze and snacks without blowing the budget… perhaps a couple of times a year.  I wouldn’t buy my party supplies at a convenience store, of course… have you seen the prices at those places?  Still, according to my daughter, the same people come in and make this kind of purchase every week!

Let me share another personal story about government assistance.  My oldest daughter, who might well be upset with me for sharing this, is on government assistance.  She decided, upon turning 18 that she was going to try and do everything that I’d ever told her not to do.  She’s 25 now, not working, not married, with two young children, and living with the father of one of them.  I understand, from my wife (my daughter won’t talk to me about this sort of thing), that the only reason they’re not married is that they would lose much of their government assistance if they got married.  Now, keep in mind, this is a young, single income family… I’m sure it’s a struggle to make ends meet, just as it was for me when I was that age.  They’re getting $700 per month in food stamps, plus WIC stuff for the two kids.  That’s the stuff I know about, I’m sure there is more that I am unaware of.  Heck, from what my wife says, she and her live-in eat better than I do.  When tax season started this year, she was all excited that they were going to be able to buy a car (and an X-box) with the money they’re getting back on taxes.  Now, as you might guess, they’re not paying any taxes to speak of… but they’re going to get thousands of dollars back?  Back from where?  From my back pocket, and yours, if you want to know the truth.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love my daughters… all four of them, and those two grandkids I mentioned, with all of my heart.  Still, their situation serves to point out to me just how far gone the current system really is. 

Welfare is a trap.  I have no doubt that my daughter would love to get off of government assistance, but she simply can’t.  If she gets a job, and the only job she’d be qualified for would be minimum wage, or something close to it, she loses $700 a month, tax free, in food stamps, plus WIC for the two kids, plus whatever other assistance they are getting, and add on child care expenses to top it all off.  There is no way she can make enough to offset that loss, at least not right away.  She is well and truly trapped in the system.  A system that we’re supposed to believe is a helping hand to the poor is actually a set of chains, binding people into permanent reliance on government aid.

Welfare needs a major overhaul.  At the minimum, folks who need a little temporary assistance should be able to receive it, and people entirely dependent on the system should be encouraged to work their way out of dependence, rather than being trapped by it.  My views may be a bit draconian for many, but that doesn’t change the fact that the current system is broken.  Even if you disagree with everything I say from this point forward, the fact remains, something needs to change.

Here’s my vision for a perfect welfare system… none at all.  Let the billions of dollars that we’re paying in taxes for this broken, fraud riddled system stay in the hands of those of us paying the bill.  Heck, if I got to keep a bit more of what I’m making, perhaps I could have helped my daughter out myself!  America is the most generous country in the world… we’ve proved that over and over.  Let those billions stay in the hands of the people, and private charities could assist those who need it, through increased donations.  Let church groups, private charities, and individuals decide who is deserving of assistance, rather than some cold, bureaucratic system.  And those who are in the system simply because it’s the easy way out?  Stop the payments.  Now.  They’ll either go get a job, or they’ll end up in jail, which is the only place where our taxes should pay to clothe, feed, and house our citizens.

To head off the first round of outrage, yeah, I know, our jails are already full.  That can be fixed as well… decriminalize drug use, and those jails will empty right out.  Take away the foundation on which gangs are built, that of drug sales, and the gang related crime that is filling our prisons will drastically fall.  At the same time, you would be creating a multi-billion dollar legitimate industry, with all of the associated job creation and tax benefits, overnight.  Don’t believe me?  Look at what happened in 1933, with the end of prohibition.  Virtually overnight, the immense criminal apparatus surrounding the illegal distribution of alcohol simply collapsed, and violence in our city streets fell dramatically. 


You gotta be kidding me | 4/ 4/2012

"I'm confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,"              --President Obama, 04/02/2012

Unprecedented.  The Supreme Court first ruled that a law passed by congress was unconstitutional in 1803, Marbury –vs- Madison (an effort to pack the courts), and has been doing so regularly since then.  Hardly ‘unprecedented’, don’t you think?

From Article VI of the Constitution of the United States:

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby

And from Article III:

The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States

I would say, reading the plain language of the Constitution, that the courts have the right and authority to do just what President Obama suggests, taking the extraordinary step of overturning a (BAD) law passed by congress.  They’ve done it before, and should continue doing so, whenever congress passes a law that exceeds its constitutional power.

Is Obamacare unconstitutional?  I don’t know.  I believe it is, but my opinion doesn’t count for much.  The only way a law can be held as unconstitutional is for the Supreme Court to determine it as such.  We’ll soon find out.  Having a sitting President ‘caution’ the Supreme Court about a case they are looking at… now there’s something that is ‘unprecedented’.  The only comparable event I can think of also involved Obama, when he took a very public shot at the Supreme Court during the 2010 State of the Union address.

I suppose you really can’t blame him… after all, if you eliminate Obamacare, what has the President done since being elected?  He’s spent over a trillion dollars in ‘stimulus’, which didn’t work, and he’s increased the national dept by more than any other president in history.  No matter how you feel about Obamacare, it’s the only thing he did in his first term that could in any way be considered positive.

How's that for 'hope and change'?

I'm not a Romney fan, but as I see it, we've got to get rid of this guy. Ron Paul isn't going to get there, neither is Santorum. When November rolls around, there will be two choices on that ballot. Romney, or 4 more years of Obama. I'm not at all sure this nation can stand 4 more years of Obama.

-Author's Addition-

Did you hear the latest?  A panel of judges from the 5th circuit are demanding a 3 page answer to the question 'do the courts have the power to overturn unconstitutional laws' from the Obama justice department... 


Revenue Raising

Using the liberal's own arguments against them | 4/ 4/2012
"This is not a revenue-raising measure, because, if it's successful, they won't -- nobody will pay the penalty and there will be no revenue to raise"
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg 03/26/2012

The above opinion was offered in arguing that the Obamacare case should not be delayed until 2015, as was being argued by pro-Obamacare lawyers. Justice Ginsburg seemed to think the argument obvious enough, even when arguing against a delay tactic brought by people she tends to agree with.

I’ll get back to Ginsburg in a few minutes. First, a brief history lesson:

In 1934, the US Congress, under FDR, passed what is in my opinion the worst piece of legislation ever imposed on this nation, The National Firearms Act. Prior to this law, firearms were treated just as any other product for sale. You could purchase them through the mail, no licensing, no background checks, no limits on the kind of firearm you could buy, it was simply purchasing a legal product, on the open market. The way I read the bill of rights, you are only guaranteed the _right_ to purchase two types of products… printed materials, books, newspapers, etc… and firearms. IMHO, buying a gun should be no different from buying a book or magazine. You should be able to buy them online, through the mail, or whatever, without any sort of legal requirements.

Whoa there… I can just here the screaming in the background at that statement… What about criminals? Ok, here’s a silly question for you… how effective do you think our current gun control laws are in keeping guns out of the hands of criminals? Based on what I read in the paper, laws don’t seem to have much of an effect at all. Hey, folks, here is a news flash for you… CRIMINALS DON’T OBEY LAWS! All these hoops we have to jump through to buy a gun, all they do is inconvenience honest gun owners. Felons don’t go to a gun shop to buy a gun; they either steal one, or buy one that someone else stole. Gun laws have little to no effect on criminal gun use. Note that the highest levels of crime are in locations where anti-gun laws are the most stringent. I stand by my opinion… purchasing a gun should be no different from purchasing a newspaper. Gun laws don’t prevent crime.

Ok, my opinions aside, the NFA created classifications of firearms, forced certain ‘bad’ types of firearms to be registered, and taxed those ‘bad’ firearms at a rate of $200 per item. In 1934, a Thompson sub-machine gun cost $194. The Thompson is a fairly complicated piece of machinery, and quite expensive in comparison to other firearms of the time. A good shotgun would run about $50. Under the NFA, you could buy that pump shotgun, as long as the tube was over 18”, and over 26” in total. Want a gun sized for your youngster so you can teach him or her how to shoot? That $50 youth model shotgun is suddenly $250, with a bunch of paperwork and a long delay to boot. You’re just not going to buy it, right? That, folks, is exactly the point!

To make matters worse, not only is your $50 shotgun taxed at four times its value, and your high-end Tommy gun taxed at more than 100% of its value, but if you want a $15 suppressor so that you don’t bother the neighbors with your back yard shooting range, that was taxed at $200, as well. For what amounts to a muffler for your gun… something with which perhaps all us older gunnies wouldn’t be using the word ‘huh’ quite so much. If you haven’t ever fired a gun with a suppressor, it’s nowhere near its common name of a ‘Silencer’. It quiets a gun just enough that it’s not damaging to your hearing, but not much more than that.

The NFA put an end to private research and development of automatic firearms. Why spend the time, energy, and money to invent the next version of the Tommy-gun, when you can’t sell it to the public? Yeah, you could target the armed forces and police sales, but the army buys very few gun designs. Police sales alone just couldn’t justify the expense. Without the opportunity to sell these guns to the public, the market just shut down, until the cost justification returned.

In the mid 50’s, due to inflation, the $200 tax, while still high, no longer seemed so unreasonable. Full auto research and development started up again, Eugene Stoner designed his AR series, Gordon Ingram did the Mac10, even Bill Ruger did machine gun work early in his career. Even better, many overseas gun designers started importing full auto firearms. Various H&K guns, Uziel Gal’s designs, and many others started rolling into the USA. Full auto was affordable again! Well, we can’t have that, can we? In ’68, the government again stuck its nose into American gun owners business, instituting the ‘sporting’ clause, shutting down imports of anything that didn’t pass the ‘sporting’ test (the meaning of which is still being argued). Still, we could at least buy Colt AR’s and other full auto guns, at a reasonable cost.

In 1986, the Huges amendment put an end to all pretense of the NFA being a revenue raising measure. They shut down the NFA registry completely, no new firearms accepted, period. The 150,000 or so guns that are on the registry are it. Unless something changes, those guns are all that will ever be available to the public. Let’s see, a small, fixed number of guns, a growing population, and add in the fact that guns are machines, and as so, they wear out… yeah, the prices skyrocketed. You can walk into your local gun dealer and purchase a brand new AR15 for something under $1,000. Add a few bucks worth of parts to make it full auto, and you’re a felon. You can’t buy a new full auto gun at all, you have to buy an old one that someone registered prior to ’86, and you’ll pay 15 to 20 times what its worth!

These three laws are why our armed forces are still using guns from the 1950’s and before, or else importing guns from elsewhere around the world. How’s that make you feel about our national security… when the guns our troops use are made somewhere else! Open up the market… the next John Browning is just waiting to be able to apply modern materials and techniques to the challenge of full-auto firearms.

Getting back to Justice Ginsburg… A $200 tax on an item that costs under $200, sometimes as little as $10, isn’t a revenue raising measure, it’s a penalty, designed to prevent you from purchasing that product. As Justice Ginsburg said today: "This is not a revenue-raising measure, because, if it's successful, they won't -- nobody will pay the penalty and there will be no revenue to raise". There are about 150,000 machine guns on the registry, since 1934. That’s about $380,000 per year. Anyone know what the BATFE’s yearly budget is? I’d be willing to bet that taxes on machine guns won’t cover one percent of their operating costs. The Huges amendment removes all pretense… you can’t pay the $200 tax to register your new full-auto gun, no matter how much you might want to.

Enforcement of the NFA fell on the Treasury department. Why is this non-revenue generating law being enforced by tax agents? It would be unconstitutional to ban firearms, so… they didn’t ban them, just taxed them. Besides, we have all those ‘tax agents’ who used to enforce prohibition laws… Hey, now they have something to do! All of a sudden, thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens are in possession of an NFA regulated firearm without possessing the applicable tax stamp. Just imagine, if you will, what Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry would have said about that!

So, what is a tax collection agency doing enforcing tax laws that impose taxes that are against the law to actually pay, and why, exactly, do they need armed aircraft, machine guns, and armored vehicles to enforce those tax laws? Google Ruby Ridge, Ken Ballew, the Move Raids, Waco Siege, and Project Gunwalker to learn more about the (unintended?) consequences of these heavily armed tax collectors.

Folks, it’s well past time for the ‘86 Hughes Amendment, the GCA of ’68, the ’34 NFA, and the agency charged with enforcing these laws, to all go the way of the dodo. Gun control laws don’t have the desired effect, are unconstitutional, and have a devastating effect on our nation’s security.