Archive for the ‘Regulation’ Category

From Katie Pavlich over at Townhall:

Last week the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, through the power of Dodd-Frank, passed a rule giving the agency unprecedented power to shut down businesses, no matter what the reason, at any time it wishes through a cease-and-desist order. Further, the rule puts businesses at the mercy of the CFPB and they cannot go back into operation until government approval or a court ruling is made over an issue. Subsequently because bureaucratic decisions and court rulings take a substantial amount of time to happen, businesses cannot survive during those waiting periods.  Here are the details:

In a notice published in today’s Federal Register, the CFPB has announced that it has adopted its interim final rule on temporary cease-and-desist orders (C&Ds) without change. The final rule takes effect on July 18, 2014.

The CFPB is authorized to issue temporary C&Ds under Section 1053(c) of Dodd-Frank. That provision authorizes a temporary C&D as an adjunct to a cease-and-desist proceeding brought under Section 1053 against a covered person or service provider. A temporary C&D is effective immediately upon service and remains in effect unless modified or terminated administratively by the CFPB or set aside on judicial review.

So they can shut any business down at any time.

regulations grow freedom dies

1053(c) of Dodd-Frank is almost incomprehensible.

(c) SPECIAL RULES FOR TEMPORARY CEASE-AND-DESIST PROCEEDINGS.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Whenever the Bureau determines that the violation specified in the notice of charges served upon a person, including a service provider, pursuant to subsection (b), or the continuation thereof, is likely to cause the person to be insolvent or otherwise prejudice the interests of consumers before the completion of the proceedings conducted pursuant to subsection (b), the Bureau may issue a temporary order requiring the person to cease and desist from any such violation or practice and to take affirmative action to prevent or remedy such insolvency or other condition pending completion of such proceedings.

Such order may include any requirement authorized under this subtitle. Such order shall become effective upon service upon the person and, unless set aside, limited, or suspended by a court in proceedings authorized by paragraph (2), shall remain effective and enforceable pending the completion of the administrative proceedings pursuant to such notice and until such time as the Bureau shall dismiss the charges specified in such notice, or if a cease-and-desist order is issued against the person, until the effective date of such order.

There’s more, but it’s the same kind of legalese gibberish that basically means if there’s something questioned in a terms of service agreement or contract, a business can be shut down.

Ms. Pavlich points out some more things going on with this:

The new rule comes on the heals of revelations the Department of Justice has been smothering firearms dealerships and other “high risk” entities out of business by “choking” banks and stripping funding through Operation Choke Point.

Consumer groups are pushing back against the rule and issuing a warnings to businesses everywhere about what the rule means for them. The United States Consumer Coalition in particular is sounding the alarm:

“This unprecedented rule created by the CFPB grants the agency unilateral authority to literally shut down any business overnight. It is a doubling down of Operation Choke Point (OCP), the Administration’s program to target lawful industries by intimidating banks from doing business with them. This rule allows the CFPB to immediately issue a cease-and-desist order, which terminates all business practices — and a hearing doesn’t have to be granted for 10 days, effectively shutting down businesses for at least 10 days. This is a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ tactic of the Administration that goes against every historical notion of justice under the law in America.”

A quick primer on Operation Choke Point:

The Obama administration, after failing to get gun control passed on Capitol Hill, has resorted to using its executive power to try to put some in the firearms industry out of business, House Republican investigators say.

The assertion is included in a report recently released by California GOP Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Citing internal Justice Department documents, the committee concluded that the administration used a program known as Operation Choke Point to target legal companies that it finds “objectionable.”

The program was started in 2013 to protect consumers by “choking” alleged fraudsters’ access to the banking system. The Justice Department essentially forces banks and third-party payment processors to stop accepting payments from companies that are considered “high risk” and are supposedly violating federal law.

However, the documents released by Issa’s committee show the federal government lumped the firearms industry in with other “high-risk” businesses including those dealing with pornography, drug paraphernalia, escort services, racist materials, Ponzi schemes and online gambling.

So basically the Orwellian-named Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is going to have the ability to shut down any business, any time, and we’ve already seen this administration using financial schemes to target businesses they find politically undesirable.

But what’s the best part about the Consumer Financial Protection People’s Defense Bureau?  They can’t be stopped – they’re funded by the Federal Reserve, and thus can’t even be reigned in by congress defunding them.

Republicans and Democrats on Captiol Hill continue to fight over whether the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should be subject to the congressional appropriations process — that is, whether Congress should directly control how much money the fledgling agency can spend each year.

In the meantime, the CFPB funds itself through a bank account at the New York Fed.

Under the Dodd-Frank law, the CFPB gets its money from transfers from the Federal Reserve System, up to specific caps set by the law. The Fed can’t turn down requests under that cap.

The caps are fixed percentages of the Fed’s operating expenses, which works out to the following:
–10% of Fed operating expenses in fiscal 2011 or $498 million
–11% of Fed operating expenses in fiscal 2012 or $547.8 million
–12% in fiscal 2013 or $597.6 million
–12% each fiscal year thereafter, subject to annual adjustments for inflation

So they’re a completely unaccountable, self-funded government group who’ve just made up the rule that they can shut down any business at any time, giving themselves virtually unlimited power to unilaterally destroy any company or enterprise.

Longer version here.  Remember, this is the guy who actively said he will bankrupt the coal industry.

Now, here comes a mandate for 30% cuts in emissions, which are already low.

From WSJ:

WASHINGTON—The Environmental Protection Agency will propose a draft rule on Monday seeking a 30% reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions by 2030 from existing power plants based on emission levels from 2005, according to two people who have been briefed on the rule, setting in motion the main piece of President Barack Obama‘s climate-change agenda.

The rule, scheduled to be completed one year from now, will give flexibility to the states, which must implement the rules and submit compliance plans to EPA by June 2016. States can decide how to meet the reductions, including joining or creating new cap-and-trade programs, deploying more renewable energy or ramping up energy-efficiency technologies.

Either buy carbon indulgencies from Global Warming High Priest Al Gore or throw money at Solyndra or go out of business.  And soon the American people will be experiencing brownouts and blackouts and power loss that will be blamed on the greedy power companies.  There will always be kulaks or counterrevolutionaries or people who are not significantly revolutionary enough who are the cause of misery, never the actual tyrants who engineered it.

The Obama administration is already claiming credit for everything that was done by Bush 10 years ago and that is coming to fruition now.  The Chamber of Commerce (though reprehensible on amnesty) has already come forth warning that the new regulations will cost upwards of $50,000,000,000 for energy producers.  Watching the second Obama video above, he outright states “the companies will pass those costs onto their customers” – you will foot the bill for this.  The EPA is already setting up a legal bulwark to prevent anyone from assailing their new regulations – they’re spending your money to raise your power rates and cut your access to energy and now they’re spending your money on their lawyers to crush anyone who would oppose them.

As usual.

regulations grow freedom dies

HotAir has this post today on the Armatix iP1, a pistol which is wholly unsuitable for defense against anything other than paraplegic squirrels.  It’s another twist on the idea of the so-called “smart gun” that only allows a user wearing an RFID-chipped watch to fire it.  I’ll elaborate on its uselessness later, but first, I’d like to discuss the magazine disconnect.

The magazine disconnect is a bug feature, primarily in handguns, that disables a firearm when the magazine is removed.  It will also disable a firearm if the magazine isn’t properly seated and the mechanism isn’t engaged.

The supposed benefit to this is that if a police officer is fighting a suspect, the officer can take the magazine out, rendering the gun inert.  That it renders the officer’s gun inert for the officer is never considered… or that simply jarring the magazine slightly loose will also disable it is never considered.  For the citizen, the supposed benefit is… for the children or something.

For a citizen carrying a pistol for self-defense (or for law enforcement), there is a need for a firearm to work the first time every time.  And it simply adds one more thing to go wrong that wasn’t there before.  If a magazine doesn’t seat right, rather than have one round fired and the need for immediate action to “tap rack bang” and get the gun working, it simply means there is no first shot.  That lack of a first shot means the immediate threat that’s caused the defender to draw is going to overwhelm them.

I can’t think of any law enforcement agencies that carry pistols with a magazine disconnect, though examples where the magazine disconnect is rejected are quite frequent.

It makes a tactical reload more dangerous, because rather than changing one magazine for another with a pistol still carrying one round… it means reloads are changing one magazine for another with a pistol that’s been turned into a brick for the time being.  And if you don’t seat that reload properly, your pistol is still bricked.  If for whatever reason your pistol magazine well (the place the magazine goes, for you non-gun folks), has become dirty, whether because you’re rolling across the ground of a Christmas tree lot or if it’s just filled with pocket lint, you’ve rendered your gun inert.

Magazine disconnects objectively make guns more dangerous by making them less reliable.  The push for “smart” guns is like saying knives should be made safer by making them dull – folks who work with knives know it’s a dull knife that’s unreliable that causes injuries.  To the uninformed or to a vapid idiot, a dull knife seems less dangerous.  Magazine disconnects also make guns more dangerous by allowing casual users to rely on the disconnect, thinking that a firearm with no magazine is “safe” without checking the actual chamber.

Magazine disconnects, however, are not called magazine disconnects by the state of California.  They’re called magazine “safeties” and are mandatory.

Which brings us to the Armatix iP1, as introduced in the Washington Post as the “iPhone of guns”.

One of California’s largest firearm stores recently added a peculiar new gun to its shelves. It requires an accessory: a black waterproof watch.

The watch’s primary purpose is not to provide accurate time, though it does. The watch makes the gun think. Electronic chips inside the gun and the watch communicate with each other. If the watch is within close reach of the gun, a light on the grip turns green. Fire away. No watch means no green light. The gun becomes a paperweight.

A dream of gun-control advocates for decades, the Armatix iP1 is the country’s first smart gun. Its introduction is seen as a landmark in efforts to reduce gun violence, suicides and accidental shootings. Proponents compare smart guns to automobile air bags — a transformative add-on that gun owners will demand. But gun rights advocates are already balking, wondering what happens if the technology fails just as an intruder breaks in.

A bug has been added in the name of “safety”.  Magazine not in?  Gun won’t work.  Not wearing your magic watch?  Gun won’t work.  Magic watch battery dies?  Gun won’t work.

Criminal identifies your magic watch arm and knows how to disarm you?  Gun can’t help.  Don’t wear your magic watch because it looks stupid and has to go on the wrong wrist?  Gun won’t work.  Get hassled by police who see you with a gun-watch?  Gun brings you problems.

If your kid can find your magic gun, he can also find the magic watch.  If you’re going to off yourself with your own gun, you can find your magic watch.

James Mitchell, the “extremely pro-gun” owner of the Oak Tree Gun Club, north of Los Angeles, isn’t one of the skeptics. His club’s firearms shop is the only outlet in the country selling the iP1. “It could revolutionize the gun industry,” Mitchell declared.

When someone has to go out and say they’re “extremely pro-gun”, and yet they’re introducing a product that makes lawmakers salivate at rights they can now legislate away… I suspect this guy’s another Jeremy Alcede.

Lawmakers around the country have been intrigued by the possibilities. New Jersey passed a hotly contested law in 2002 requiring that only smart guns be sold in the state within three years of a smart gun being sold anywhere in the country. A similar measure made it through the California Senate last year, and at the federal level, Rep. John F. Tierney(D-Mass.) also has introduced a mandate.

Looks like James Mitchell’s “extremely pro-gun” stance has just led to New Jersey laws activating in 2017 that will ban all gun sales except for a glitchy .22 pistol.

Smart guns, advocates say, will have huge appeal to buyers. “If you have two cars, and one has an air bag and one doesn’t, are you going to buy the one without the air bag?” said Belinda Padilla, president of Armatix’s U.S. operation. “It’s your choice, but why would you do that?”

Belinda Padilla is an opportunist and clearly an idiot when it comes to both gun rights and self-defense, but she sure knows how to be a crony and make something that will appeal to government, who will mandate her product.

A better example would be “if you have two cars, and one has a starter that requires a digital signature from the powered-RFID key where if the battery goes dead in the key, you’ll be left stranded and unable to drive; and you have a car that runs on a mechanical key, are you going to drive the one with the glitchy system that will fail you and leave you stranded?”

I’ve only been stranded by a mechanical key… never.  But I’ve been stranded a handful of times due to dying batteries on RFID-only keys.  If I’d needed the car to start right then and there… or even needed the doors to unlock right then and there, I’d’ve been screwed.

It’s one thing to have something go wrong with a machine, it’s another to have failure specifically engineered into the machine.

Teret and others point to now-commonplace safety enhancements that Americans were skeptical about at first: air bags and smoke detectors. “They thought the air bag would kill them,” said Teret, who did early work on air-bag technology. “They thought it would shove them out the back window, that it would explode. It takes awhile to dispel these mythologies.”

Comparing it to airbags actually may be more accurate than they think.  Airbags deploy violently and injure people in minor accidents, and occasionally deploy because of damaged or faultly sensors, or due to jarring on rough roads.  Airbags require holding steering wheels differently in order to avoid being crippled by them.  I’ve personally been injured by an airbag, and have had a handful of coworkers injured by airbags that deployed spontaneously due to any number of electrical glitches or faulty sensors.

For people who drive on rough roads in rural areas, an airbag can be a huge liability, because cars may not know the difference between a bounce on a rock or an impact.

And also, Airbags Kill More Kids Than School Shootings:

Life with airbags has turned out very differently from the one promised by Joan Claybrook back in 1977. That’s when she told Congress that those friendly balloons in every car would pillow away 40 percent of crash deaths each year.

Last year, Dwight Childs, 29, of Broadview Heights, Ohio, screwed up. He ran a red light, resulting in a 10-mph crash. It was exactly the sort of mistake airbag supporters have always said, “you shouldn’t have to die for.” Childs’s two-month-old son, Jacob Andrew, strapped into a rear-facing child seat on the passenger side of a 1997 Ford F-150 pickup, was killed by the airbag, and Childs himself was charged with vehicular homicide.

The man’s crime? He didn’t switch off the airbag.

Judge Kenneth Spanagel piled on the punishment: 180 days in jail, suspended except for two cruel and unusual days; Childs must check in to jail on Jacob’s first birthday and on the first anniversary of the crash. Childs was ordered to make radio and TV ads about airbag safety for the Ohio Department of Public Safety. He was also placed on probation for three years, his license was suspended, and he had to pay $500 in fines and court costs.

I’ll boil it down for you. First, government forced this man to buy airbags, because bureaucrats in Washington know better than he what’s needed for his well-being. Then, when he failed to deactivate the safety feature he was compelled to buy, it sent him to jail. Airbags have turned America’s sense of justice on its head.

That government force is a big part of this story.  From the Silicon Valley elitist do-gooder who came up with the prize for bringing a “smart” gun to the market:

Conway, out in Silicon Valley, said: “You let the free enterprise system take over. Just like everyone opted into the iPhone and abandoned the flip phone and BlackBerry, consumers will vote with their feet. We want gun owners to feel like they are dinosaurs if they aren’t using smart guns.”

Except New Jersey already passed a mandate.  Other legislatures will follow.  Gun ban groups have been pushing this nonsense for years, as more guns can be banned because they can point to the bug-as-a-feature Armatix as a “success” that means everything else can go away.  The same has already been done with magazine disconnects.  The same has also been done with loaded-chamber indicators (which don’t interfere with function as much, but do make for a false sense of security, and do establish new banning criteria on all guns that don’t have them).

The objective is the same as the microstamping scam – ban guns by mandating technology that’s onerous, dangerous, and eliminates most of the market.

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The same style of government force objectives are pushed in the automotive world through CAFE standards.  Statist knows-what’s-best-for-you government doesn’t like certain cars, so they require automakers to not make them by putting restrictions on them that can’t be met.  Same government force used to mandate the use of nonexistent fuels.

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One final note – police and law enforcement won’t have these in their guns.  Ever.

Car thieves disable and manipulate RFID systems with computers in order to steal cars.  Any criminal with forethought could disable police firearms.

Or, in another scary thought, any government with a broadcaster could be disabling citizen firearms.  Makes confiscation needless if a gov agency can just brick a gun with the click of a mouse.

Beretta has already noted there “There always seems to be a problem with Maryland“, and now Beretta is coming up with solutions to their Maryland problem.

Written by Ugo Gussalli Beretta in the Washington Times:

My family has operated our business from the same small town in northern Italy for 500 years. This means that when we make a commitment to a local community, our hope is to do so for decades, if not centuries, to come.

We apply this same philosophy to all of our factories and locations throughout the world. Such a commitment is not a one-way street, though.

Ugo Beretta makes the point that Beretta brings not only jobs, but makes firearms for the US military and citizens to defend themselves… and yet they’re treated poorly.

Our business has grown in recent years, and because of that, we needed to expand production in our U.S facility, located in Accokeek, just outside of Washington, D.C., in the Maryland suburbs.

Unfortunately, as we were planning that expansion, Maryland’s governor and legislature voted in favor of new regulations that unfairly attack products we make and that our customers want.

These regulations also demean our law-abiding customers, who must now be fingerprinted like criminals before they can be allowed to purchase one of our products.

And Beretta stands up for their people and their customers by voting with their feet and their dollars.

…because of these new restrictions and the pattern of harassment aimed at lawful firearm owners we have seen in Maryland over the decades, we decided to expand our facilities in a state that shows more respect for citizens who exercise their Second Amendment rights.

We chose Tennessee for our new facility expansion. Our plans for that location are extensive and long-lasting.

We chose Tennessee because the governor and legislators in that state understand what it means to support businesses (such as through job recruitment and training programs) that improve employment in the state without treating companies as a necessary evil.

We chose Tennessee also because the vast majority of its residents and their elected officials have shown that they respect and honor the American tradition of personal freedoms, including the right to bear arms.

Just like Magpul left Colorado, Beretta is moving away from Maryland and moving towards Tennessee.

Political decisions have consequences.

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I wonder if Beretta is still making the fairly well-regarded 96D?

beretta 96dNot a huge fan of the safety on the slide… but I gotta give credit for a company taking a stance like that.

Maybe I’ll just look into a 92FS instead just to see how the great 80s action movie handgun would hold up in a pistol competition.  Yippie-kay-ay indeed.

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Minor addendum here, but Beretta also currently owns SAKO and Tikka, two Finnish rifle manufacturers who make some of the best guns on the market.  Beretta’s stance for citizens’ rights makes one of those Tikka T3s that much more attractive.

tikka t3 liteIn fact, coupled with another pro-2A business, very, very attractive.

Drudge already made the comparison, as have several other people.  It’s immediate, and immediately understandable.

Obama will negotiate with Iran, but not with Republicans in congress.

Iran is funding terrorism, is a state sponsor of terrorism, and yet the Obama administration calls Republicans terrorists.

Republicans are pushing through bills that will fund all of government except Obamacare – a wholly transformative, unconstitutional mandate that demands that every living citizen pay a tax in order to exist, that changes the nature of the citizen to the government and ignores that the Constitution limits the government (something even ignored by SCOTUS).

For me personally, a government shutdown will be a huge hassle.  I’d very much like for the Democrats to do the jobs their offices demand and pass budgets that fund necessary functions of government.  Then they can bicker over Obamacare.  But since Democrats refuse to allow for passage of those bills as they’re about their agenda and single-payer socialism, and are instead saying “give us Obamacare or we’ll shut it all down and blame you”, I guess a government shutdown is the next best option.  I’ll take the hassle in my own life that comes with a government shutdown for the knowledge that a government health care system is being stopped.  And it can be stopped.

Anyone who’s dealt with government health care (I know people with broken bones that healed wrong while waiting on government paperwork, and had to be rebroken and set by private doctors because government-related injuries were never treated by government) knows it’s a pathetic system of rationing.  Without the ability to use personal resources to move things along, or to benefit from charity, or from experimental treatment, or even the basic efficiency of the private sector, it’s nothing but a failure all the way around.  But don’t take my word for it.

Here’s hoping the government is funded, but not Obamacare.  And if we can’t get that, here’s hoping for a shutdown until the Democrats finally listen to what the American people want… which isn’t a 22,000 page bill and regulations they read after they pass it.

red tape tower obamacare

Remember Obama’s 23 proposed executive orders/actions on guns?

Two just happened.  They’re listed in propaganda form at Whitehouse.gov.

The first one is that folks who are purchasing National Firearms Act (NFA) regulated items (shotguns or rifles with 14″ barrels, silencers, and $10,000 machineguns, etc.) now have to ask their local law enforcement for permission regardless of how they want to buy it.  Meaning that local law enforcement can simply say “no” to their purchases and deny them firearms that are already arbitrarily regulated.

John Lott gives a good summary of what was reported and what the facts are.

The short short summary is that this only applies to NFA trusts and corporations.  If an individual owns an NFA item (like a 14″ shotgun or 14″ rifle, or silencer, etc.), they have to ask their chiel local law enforcement officer for permission to bring it in to the new area.  If it belongs to an individual, the individual is left with some problems if they, as a registered owner, tries to move into a neighborhood where the CLEO won’t sign off on it.  Are they allowed to have the NFA item anymore?  Are they allowed to move there without violating new laws?  All kinds of problems can crop up.  Many people solve this by simply creating a trust or corporation to purchase their item, then they control the trust.  The paper trust/corporation owns the item, and was exempt from having to ask CLEO permission.

This is a very specific subset of firearms enthusiasts and gun owners, as machineguns are prohibitively expensive due to artificially limited supply, and short barreled items or silencers are usually only owned by serious enthusiasts (or folks who like to protect their hearing and not annoy their neighbors).  There are still NICS checks involved, there’s no “work-around”, and there’s still a pile of paperwork.  A criminal with access to a machine shop can crank out plenty more dangerous things much more easily and at lower cost.

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The second is that all those horrible military weapons that we gave to our allies decades ago can no longer be imported.  All the M1 Garands and M1 Carbines that fed the Civilian Marksmanship Program for decades are what’s being targeted.

Sebastian at PAGunBlog elaborates:

But by law the State Department gets to have a say when it comes to weapons that have been exported by our government to foreign governments. If those governments wish to dispose of those firearms by selling them to private importers in the United States, they have to have sign-off from the State Department. That’s where this EO comes in. Basically, the Korean government still has a lot of M1 Carbines and M1 Garands sitting in warehouses that they’d like to sell to US collectors or to the Civilian Marksmanship Program. The Obama Administration has been unwilling to sign off of any of these re-importations to date. All this executive order does is make that official policy. In short, it doesn’t actually change much from the status quo. Without the requirement for State Department signoff, those M1s would be legal to import without any permission from the US government.

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A little more backstory to explain what they are and what they mean.  In 1934 when the National Firearms Act (NFA) was passed, the fedgov decided to make things like short-barreled shotguns and rifles, silencers and machineguns illegal by taxing them.  The cost for the tax was set at $200, which at the time was so prohibitively expensive that only the super-wealthy in the Ruling Class could afford them.  Fast forward a few decades and inflation has made it so $200 is still steep, but not out-of-bounds for many folks who want to own such equipment.

Machineguns required registration, but the Hughes Amendment in 1986 cut short the supply of MGs, so now the only MGs available are those that were around and registered between 1934 and 1986. This has driven the price of even a crappy machinegun into the multiple thousands of dollars range.  Things like silencers, however, are still able to be manufactured and added, and have recently become a lot more popular in the US, especially as states legalize them for hunting.  If that seems odd, consider wearing hearing protection while you’re trying to stalk your quarry – either you can hear your prey or you can protect your hearing, not both without dropping money on expensive ear protection, and not for everyone in your group, and not for everyone else in the forest or across the prairie with you.  Short-barreled shotguns and rifles were ruled unprotected by Second Amendment by a 1930s-era SCOTUS case which ruled them unsuitable for sporting or militia use.  Except virtually every fedgov agency uses shotguns with 14″ barrels, which are apparently “unsuitable” for you to own for the same purposes… without the $200 stamp.  The fedgov’s own use of such weapons disproves the 1930s SCOTUS decision, but the fedgov isn’t about to say “yeah, I suppose those are useful for X purposes”… and the 2nd Amendment doesn’t require anything to suit any purposes, so it would only be supporting a definition inconsistent with the Constitution.  I’d say I digress, but this whole section here is digression.

There were two ways to buy such items – one was personally, the other through a trust or corporation.  If you buy them personally, you had to ask the chief local law enforcement officer’s permission to buy them, or permission to move into his neighborhood.  If he says no, you don’t get to exercise a regulated & taxed right.  Trusts and corporations were exempt.  Now they aren’t.

So for all the folk who have to deal with anti-gun politicians appointing anti-gun police chiefs, they just lost their right (that was already turned into a regulated privilege) to go shoot deer with a silencer and not disturb the entire forest with a shot, or to go to the range and not annoy the neighbors.

Worth noting is that in many European countries where firearm ownership is severely limited and restricted, silencers can be bought over the counter.  Why?  Because it’s impolite to irritate your neighbors with gunfire.  The US is the only place where silencers are considered to be some kind of Hollywood ninja assassin weapon, rather than what they are – mufflers:

oleg volk silencer

From Free Enterprise (last year):

Tis the season to give thanks. And for the last 80 years, the federal government has required raisin producers to “give thanks” for the privilege of selling their raisins nationally by requiring them to fork over up to half of their raisins – for free. A lawsuit raising a constitutional challenge to the program has now made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The case is Horne v. Department of Agriculture.

The program, operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has a rather Orwellian-sounding name – the “Raisin Marketing Order.” In a nutshell, under this program, every year, as a condition for “letting” farmers sell their raisin crops in interstate commerce, the federal government has taken up to 47% of the farmers’ raisins – often for no payment at all, or below the cost of producing the raisins. The program has its origins in Great Depression efforts to fix the prices of agricultural crops. Don’t care much for raisins? Similar programs cover a variety of other agricultural products, such as walnuts, almonds, prunes, tart cherries – and cranberries! That’s something to chew on as you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal tomorrow.

From Free Enterprise (a few weeks ago):

The Supreme Court overruled a decision that allowed the federal government to attempt to strong-arm raisin farmers, Marvin and Laura Horne, into giving up half their raisin crop.

…When the government told the Hornes to hand over the raisins or their cash equivalent, the Hornes fought back.  Their legal fight began over a decade ago and the federal government has levied almost $700,000 in fines against them.  Today, Marvin and Laura won their Supreme Court case.

In today’s decision, the Supreme Court held that the raisin farmers could use the Constitution’s Takings Clause to defend their property rights in the enforcement proceedings the government initiated after the Hornes refused to hand over their raisins.  (The Constitution’s Takings Clause says that the federal government must provide just compensation when the government takes a person’s private property.)

It’s nice to see SCOTUS pushing back against the government and the government’s regulatory oppression of businesses.  The problem is the government wanted to keep their $700,000 in fines and then make them file again to get the money back that the government illegally took.  Thieves with the force of law.

Worland, Wyoming.  Photo by ShortTimer.