Thursday, December 14, 2017

Deer Legislators

If you live in New Jersey you know we have a serious deer population problem. That is, unless you are NJ state Senator Lesniak. The senator introduced S3537, which will replace three representatives on the NJ Fish and Game Council with members of the Animal Protection League, Sierra Club, and Humane Society. The Fish and Game Council sets hunting and fishing seasons, and limits on number and species in NJ. It already has a diverse makeup, including the chair of the endangered species advisory committee and a person knowledgeable in land use management and soil conservation practices. Replacing council members with members of these anti-hunting groups is analogous to putting member of the KKK on the school diversity council - they are there merely to put a stop to hunting and fishing.

The uninformed might see this as a good thing, since hunting is "evil" and kills innocent animals. But that ignores two important facts. First off, every deer that is born will die. That death can either be a quick clean kill by a hunter, providing food for hungry people, or by slow starvation or being hit by a car and suffering on the side of the road for hours or days. I have personally seen both. In NJ deer have almost no predators, since coyotes, wolves, and big cats are scarce (and with good reason - the animals that hunt deer would also hunt our children and pets). The main predator left to keep deer populations from destroying the habitat is hunters.

Secondly, there is misinformation, pushed by organizations like the three above, that hunters are anti-conservation, when in fact the opposite is true. Hunters have every reason to conserve the natural habitat, as that is the only way to ensure that they are getting clean, healthy food. Income from hunting and fishing and the Pittman–Robertson tax produce over two billion dollars a year to support wildlife and habitat conservation. doing far more to help the environment than any anti-hunting group.

Hunting may not be popular in New Jersey, but it provides much needed relief for overpopulated species, like deer, and it provides most of the support for environmental conservation efforts. Don't break what isn't broken now.

Monday, December 11, 2017


I'd like to talk to you about an object. I'm not going to name it now, but you'll be able to figure it out from my description. As a hint, it is a three letter word.

You can find this object in every part of the world, but nowhere as much as in America. Americans have a unique obsession with these objects, owning more of them than any other country in the world. Some Americans feel naked going anywhere without this object. There is a whole culture around this object. There are clubs where people can go to practice, compete, or just show off this object. There are shows where these objects can be admired or traded. There are even national organizations that lobby to fight government regulations for these objects.

And yet they are dangerous. They kill over 30,000 Americans every year. What do you expect when such objects are ubiquitous? And these objects don't discriminate. Often their victims are children. Sometimes they turn children into killers, when owners fail to secure this object at home and a curious child decides to try it out. This is also one way criminals get a hold of these objects. Once they are stolen they are either traded to other criminals or used in crimes themselves.

What do you think we should do with these objects? Should we ban them outright? Should people undergo background checks and mental health checks before being allowed to buy one? Should we have the police do surprise inspections of the owners' homes to see they are properly secured, and lock up people who don't secure them? Should we limit how large or powerful they could be? Impose bans on accessories or ones that are styled in an aggressive manner? Ban accessories that make them faster or more powerful? Maybe restrict ownership to certain places? After all, maybe out in the boonies people need these, but surely we should ban them in cities. What would you do?

Oh, and I am talking about cars, by the way. What did you think it was?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

HR 38

Brian Fletcher and family, from article linked to below
Imagine the following scenarios:
  • You are going to a concert. No video recording is allowed. Earlier that day you were at Chuck e Cheese for your daughter's birthday party, and forgot to take the camera out of your bag. One of the concert personnel catches a glance of the camera as you are getting your money out, and you are successfully sued for five million dollars for intellectual property theft.
  • You are getting gas, and absentmindedly light up a cigarette. You are immediately arrested and after a month in jail and a lengthy and expensive trial are sentenced to prison for arson and attempted manslaughter.
  • There is a pair of nail scissors in your carry-on bag when you check in at the airport. You are arrested, charged with attempted murder and terrorism, and face years in prison with no possibility of parole.
Ridiculous? Of course. In reality the person with the camera is asked to disable it or check the bag. The smoker is told to put out the cigarette (and even if he refuses is fined, not imprisoned). The nail scissors are removed and the owner can either put them back in their car, mail them home, or discard them. You don't prosecute someone for merely being able to commit a crime when they haven't actually committed a crime and they have no intention to ever commit a crime.

But that sort of harassment is exactly what happens to gun owners all the time.
  • Shaneen Allen was a mother of two and a nurse in Philadelphia. She drove into New Jersey to arrange a birthday party for her son, and mistakenly brought her legally owned and carried gun, secured in her purse. At a routine traffic stop she showed the officer her weapons license, and informed the officer that there was s gun in the car, as is the law in most states. She was sentenced to three years in prison without the possibility of parole. After public outcry that was reduced, but she still had a felony charge, which would prevent her from working as a nurse and take away her rights for the rest of her life. Governor Christie was able to pardon her, but not until she had spent months in jail awaiting trial, spent thousands in legal fees, lost her job and lost custody of her children.
  • Brian Fletcher was a lineman from North Carolina, who traveled to New Jersey to help with disaster relief after superstorm Sandy. He had a legally owned gun in his vehicle for protection. He also showed police his weapons license and informed them of the weapon. He was also arrested, convicted and sentenced. He too was eventually pardoned by Governor Christie.
  • Raymond Hughes was a corrections officer in Pennsylvania who took his wife to dinner and a concert in New Jersey. On the way home, they were hit by a drunk driver and had to be hospitalized. He informed police that he was a law officer and he had a gun, and asked them to secure it from the damaged vehicle. Because PA corrections officers do not have "statutory arrest" powers under PA law, New Jersey did not consider him a law enforcement officer and prosecuted him for felony gun possession. After public outcry charges were eventually dropped.
I would like to say that these are the only three cases, but New Jersey has, according to gun rights lawyers, over a thousand people currently serving prison terms for being in the state with a gun that they own legally, and that they had no intention of using for a crime. These cases are significant because of their notoriety. And although in these three cases the citizen was eventually freed, it was not without spending tens of thousands of dollars, losing months or years of their lives, and massive public awareness campaigns, and ultimately depended on Chris Christie being governor. Under our next governor, Phil Murphy, these people would be rotting in jail (not just in my opinion, Murphy has said as much).

Multiple that number by eleven states who have such laws - California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Rhode Island, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington D.C. and you can imagine the magnitude of the problem.

This week the house passed HR 38, the "Concealed Carry Reciprocity" bill, which does three things.
  • It creates a study to address the issue of bump stocks (like the ones used in the recent concert mass shooting in Las Vegas).
  • It removes immunity from legal consequences for states and agencies that do not report violent criminals to the NICS system (the National Instant Criminal Search system is what is used to identify people who should not be allowed to purchase guns).
  • It treats weapons licenses the same way as other state issued legal documents (marriage licenses, birth certificates, drivers licenses) so that states must recognize gun licenses issued by other states. This would address some of the issues above.
It does NOT (as some are claiming)
  • Allow criminals to possess guns.
  • Allow legal gun owners to violate state laws regarding firearms.
  • Allow people to have guns in schools.
  • Allow people to carry a gun who cannot otherwise carry a gun.
  • Create a "public safety crisis." This law does not protect anyone with criminal intent.
Soon the Senate will take up bill S 446, the "Constitutional Concealed Cary Reciprocity Act" which is the corresponding similar bill in the senate. This bill does not address bump stocks or the loopholes in the NICS system fixed by HR 38. Please contact your senators and ask them to support S 446 and adopt the language of HR 38.