Thursday, November 29, 2007

How to Help Win Heller

Academics for the Second Amendment
Post Office Box 131254
St. Paul, Minn. 55113

Academics for the Second Amendment ("A2A") will be filing an amicus brief in the US Supreme Court in support of Mr. Heller (and urging the Supreme Court to affirm the Court of Appeals decision that the DC gun laws are unconstitutional). Our brief will be written by attorneys David Hardy and Joseph Olson with historical assistance from Clayton Cramer. As one of the several pro-gun amici, we'll be taking an approach that focuses on the ratification process in 1791 and the meaning and usage of terms found in the Second Amendment. We will show that no one in America, at that time, could have understood the amendment to preserve a state or government organization's "right" and that everyone who did speak out did so in the context of a meaningful individual right to keep and bear arms.

District of Columbia v. Heller will decide whether or not the Second Amendment protects any American from gun bans and confiscations.

Preparing and filing the amicus brief will take thousands of additional dollars. A2A will be facing attorney fees, printing expenses, filing fees, travel and lodging expenses, etc. We have some money but not enough.

A2A is a tax-exempt educational organization recognized under IRC §501(c)(3) [that makes your contributions tax-deductible]. Our primary goal is to give the “right to keep and bear arms” enshrined in the Bill of Rights its proper, prominent place in Constitutional discourse and analysis.

A2A was formed in 1992 by a number of present and former law school teachers, joined by historians, political scientists, and philosophers of government, who believe it is time to stand and be counted in support of a complete Bill of Rights which includes an individual right under the Second Amendment. The organization seeks to foster intellectually honest discourse on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and, of course, the environment in which academics, judges, politicians, and the public place the rights preserved by the Second Amendment.

A2A has filed friend-of-the-court briefs (A2A was an amicus in the U.S. Supreme Court in Lopez and the U.S. Court of Appeals in Emerson), sponsored academic symposia, encouraged media commentary, supported research and publication, and challenged the legal profession and the public to appreciate the place of the individual right to keep and bear arms in the American constitutional scheme. A major endeavor has been a series of “Open Letter” advertisements signed by groups of University and College professors. The signers cannot be dismissed by the media as “gun nuts” nor can their statements be ignored as without foundation. Their academic records and reputations are too strong for that to occur. The message is simple – the Second Amendment is there, it does preserve a meaningful individual right for responsible persons, and it cannot, without duplicity, be overlooked or interpreted into meaninglessness.

We need your help. If you believe in full and fair discourse on the Bill of Rights, A2A should receive your support. A2A is open to all. You don’t have to be “academic” in order to join. Your contributions are tax deductible. Please don’t ignore this request --- copy this post for a friend, forward it on, and send in your check or use our PayPal account.

Very truly yours,

Joseph Olson
Professor of Law

Note from Dave: A2A now has a PayPal donation button at their site. Yes, PayPal is antigun. However, this lets us use their service to our advantage. If you don't want to use PayPal, please consider a donation via check.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Firefox vs. Safari 3.0

Ever since Apple released OS 10.4.11, which included the non-beta version of Safari 3.0, I've been using it as my deafult browser. Overall, it's worked very well. Compared with the beta, the released version is more stable and works with more web sites. E.g., the Haloscan comments on GeekWithA45's blog no longer crash the browser.

Safari's integration with the OS X Keychain is a big plus in my book. It's more secure than the manner in which Firefox stores passwords. Safari integrates with other Apple software as well, e.g., right-clicking on an image on a web page allows you the option of adding it directly to your iPhoto library.

My one major problem with Safari 3.0 has been incomplete compatability with Blogger's post compostition window. Specifically, I often like to compose posts (like this one, AAMOF) offline in TextWrangler, then paste them into the Blogger composition window. That doesn't work in Safari, the pasted text appears on the page below the text entry block.

Safari also lacks a few extensions which I like, to wit:

  • Linkification,
  • DownlThemAll, and
  • AdBlock Plus.

So, today I downloaded the latest update to Firefox, v2.0.0.10. None of the extensions seem to have been broken. Just as noteworthy, this version seems to be a bit faster than

I'll putz around some with Firefox before deciding whether to keep it as my default, or go back to Safari.

As an aside, now that the first patch was made available for Leopard, I do plan to upgrade to 10.5.1. Just as soon as I get a roundtuit.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Kubuntu 7.10

In my lab I have a Dell Latitude D600 which is setup to dual boot Windows XP Pro and Linux. At first, I had SUSE but sometime last year I installed Kubuntu 6.10 on the Linux partition. Yesterday, I decided to upgrade to the latest version of Kubuntu -- 7.10.

Upgrading from one version of Kubuntu to the next should be fairly straightforward. You go into the K menu > System > Adept Manager and select Full Upgrade. Since I was on 6.10 and the next step up was 7.04, I had to get to 7.10 in two steps.

The upgrade to 7.04 went fairly smoothly. However, the upgrade program overwrote my /boot/menu.lst file, so Windows XP was no longer an option in Grub's boot menu. Making a note of that I went and upgraded to 7.10.

This morning I went into /boot and found an older version of menu.lst and copied the entry for XP into the new file, then rebooted. "Microsoft Windows XP" appeared in the list of OSes to boot, and when selected, I was able to load it. Whew.

Aside from upgrading the OS, I wanted to check out the Enlightenment window manager. Enlightenment, or "E," is not a full desktop environment like KDE or Gnome. It supports some neat eye candy, but its main attraction is that it's lighter weight than the full desktops, so runs better on lower end hardware. (The Dell runs KDE or Gnome just fine, but I wanted to check out E's usability.)

To install Enlightenment using apt-get from a CLI, I first had to enable additional package repositories in /etc/apt/sources.list. Then, do apt-get update, and finally, apt-get install enlightenment.

E is kinda neat and I'll continue to mess with it, but on systems that can handle a full desktop environment I do find it easier to work in KDE.

So far, Kubuntu seems to run OK on the Dell. I don't use it heavily but it remains one of the more user-friendly Linux distros I've tried. I prefer it over Ubuntu, since it defaults to KDE rather than Gnome for the desktop, though it's simple to install KDE on Ubuntu or Gnome on Kubuntu. For that matter, I may go ahead and install Windowmaker on the Dell, for a NeXTish experience. ;)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

PA Update: WE WON

Yesterday I went to Harrisburg along with GeekWithA.45 and Egregious Charles to attend the meeting of the PA House Judiciary Committee, which was considering three gun control laws. The primary drivers of the proposed legislation were from Philadelphia, and Governor Ed Rendell (D). In an unusual move, Rendell appeared before the committee to testify in favor of the bills. He gave a 45 minute passionate speech, full of the usual anti-gun cliches: "If it saves one life ...," "Common sense ...," "We dont' want to take guns away from hunters...." Blah, blah, blah. Nowhere in his speed did he provide real reasons why the proposed laws would reduce crime.

HB-18 would allow local municipalities to enact their own gun control laws, repealing state preemption which was enacted in 1995. Its supporters contend that this is needed to fight crime.

HB-22 would enact one gun per month legislation. It was put forth as a means of fighting straw purchases.

HB-29 would make it a crime for a gun owner to fail to report to the police the loss of theft of a gun. This was proposed as a means of assisting law enforcement in tracing guns later used in crimes.

HB-18 failed by a vote of 19-10. HB-22 failed 17-12. HB-29 was tabled for later consideration. It is expected to be reintroduced later after its sponsors "fix" certain provisions which other members of the committee had previously expressed reservations about. The motion to table came from the bill's sponsor, Rep. Jewell Williams (D-Philly), who saw that otherwise it was about to go down in flames.

One bill did make it out of committee. It would enhance penalties for killing or attempting to kill police officers.

Afterwards, Rep. Ronald Marsico (R - Dauphin County) reamed Rendell, "Public safety has not been a priority for this governor," and proceeded to catalog a list of ways in which the governor has failed to take meaningful steps to fight crime, such as putting more police on the streets.

Also afterwards, a rep who's name I didn't catch pleaded with the committee for limited gun control measure, such as enacting laws with a 1 or 2 year sunset provision. His desperation was evident.

The NRA and local PA RKBA groups had blitzed PA gun owners with warnings about these bills. There was a decent turnout of pro-liberty folks, not much turnout from the gun banners except for the usual police officers sent for Rendell's photo-op.

Except for a few areas in Pennsylvania (most notably Philadelphia), gun control remains very unpopular. Voting in favor of gun control legislation in most of PA is considered a sure way to get fired by the voters. We'll have to work to keep it that way.

State RKBA Provisions

This post is in response to a very fair question asked by reader Don Armstrong in reply to my Ammo Day post.

When the Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791, it was seen as a set of restrictions upon the federal government, not upon the states. It wasn't until after the Civil War and the enactment of the 14th Amendment that the BoR was seen as applying to the states.

What throws a wrench into the mix is the doctrine of "incorporation" which was adopted by the Supreme Court, the highest court in the country. Essentially, this means that until the court "incorporates" a particular amendment in the BoR against the states in a decision, the states can take the position that it does not apply to them.

With respect to the meaning of the Second Amendment, it refers to "the people," which is a term of art used in several places in the Constitution and BoR. In ruling on other parts of the BoR, the Supreme Court has always held that "the people" refers to individuals, not some collective. The court has even referred to the Second Amendment as an individual right in passing, in cases regarding other parts of the Constitution. E.g., US vs. Verdugo-Urquidez (1990).

Yesterday, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to hear the Heller case, which challenged the District of Columbia's handgun ban on Second Amendment grounds. D.C. was a good venue for asserting the Second Amendment because it is a Federal territory, not state, so whether the Second Amendment is incorporated against the states is irrelevant.

What makes Heller so important is that it's the first time in 70 years that the court will be directly addressing the Second Amendment and whether it's a fundamental, individual right. "Fundamental right" is another legal term of art, and if the court does hold that the Second is one, then it will incorporate it against the states.

OK, so what about state constitutional provisions on the right to keep and bear arms?

The wording of state RKBA provisions varies quite a bit by state. 43 of 50 states do have such provisions, however. Some of those provisions are weak, e.g., Illinois's provision subordinates the RKBA to the police power, effectively rendering it moot.

In contrast, other states have very strong RKBA provisions, e.g., Pennsylvania. Pennsyvlania's constitional provision reads, "The right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned." (Pa. Const. Article I, Section 21.) It has been recognized by the state supreme court -- the final arbiter of what PA state laws mean -- as an individual right.

There is a list of every state's RKBA provision located at

What about the National Guard?

The National Guard was created in 1903.  The militia referred to in the Second Amendment were the various state militias, consisting of able bodied men who provided their own arms and ammunition.

Monday, November 19, 2007

National Ammo Day/Week

It's National Ammo Day/Week.  Participate in the buycott.  It's for the children.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

PA Call To Action

From Harry S. of the Pennsylvania Sportsman's Association:


It would be helpful if a significant number of pro 2nd Amendment supporters are in attendance Tuesday morning. The Pennsylvania House Committee Votes on the anti-rights bills (HB 18, HB 22, and HB 29) are scheduled Tuesday November 20 at 10:00 AM.

This extraordinary Judiciary Committee meeting has been moved to a much larger room: Room 140 Main Capitol.

It appears that the Governator is planning to pack the larger room with those who seek to demonize gun owners. Therefore, it is ok if you openly ask your members to attend if possible.

It will help if numbers of sportsmen and sportswomen attend - preferably wearing business casual. The media will try to get pictures of people who are dressed inappropriately or who are acting inappropriately in an attempt to portray gun owners as undisciplined.

Guns and knives cannot be carried in the Capitol - it is also a courthouse.
The only gun lockers are in the lower rear entrance.

Please avoid inflammatory signs and do not be baited into making inflammatory statements.

Please meet at the steps of the Rotunda no later than 9:30 AM and obtain 2nd Amendment badges from Melody Zullinger, Executive Director of the Federation of Sportsmen Clubs. And PLEASE comply with all direction from Melody.

We will all be judged based upon how the participants dress and act.

It is important to keep these bills in committee.

Thank you,

Harry Sxxxxxxx
Legislative Committee, Chairman
Pennsylvania Sportsmen's Association

Governor Rendell plans to take an unprecedented step and personally attend Tuesday’s PA House Judiciary Committee meeting to attack gun owners and our constitutional freedoms by forcing bad legislation (HB 18, HB 22, and HB 29) out of committee.
Please contact members of the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee today and keep it up through Tuesday morning.
The Committee Votes are scheduled Tuesday November 20 at 10:00 AM.
Phone numbers, fax numbers and email addresses are at the end of this message. PLEASE USE THEM.

At the request of Governor Ed Rendell (D), the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a meeting for Tuesday, November 20 at 10:00am, to vote on several anti-gun measures. The package of bills include one-gun-a-month, a requirement for individuals to report lost or stolen firearms, and legislation that would overturn Pennsylvania’s current preemption law.

House Bill 18, sponsored by State Representative Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), would further provide for limitations on the regulation of firearms and ammunition by local municipalities. State preemption regulating firearms was enacted by the legislature to avoid the possibility of thousands of separate firearm laws across the Commonwealth. Without preemption there would be a myriad of local firearms laws making compliance impossible for law abiding gun owners. In addition, this proposed legislation may also be in conflict with Article 1, Section 21 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania which states "The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned."

House Bill 22, "one-gun-a-month" legislation, sponsored by State Representative John Myers (D-Philadelphia), will prohibit law-abiding citizens from purchasing more than one handgun at a time, and impose a 30-day waiting period between single handgun purchases.

House Bill 29, "Lost or Stolen Firearms” legislation, sponsored by State Representative Jewell Williams (D-Philadelphia), would make it a crime to fail to report the loss or theft of a firearm to police within 24 hours of discovering the firearm missing. This proposal would criminalize victims of crime and is ineffective.

**For more in-depth information on these issues please go to this link –

The following organizations are on record as opposing this legislation:

Allegheny County Sportsmen's League (ACSL),
Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs (PFSC),
Pennsylvania Sportsmen's Association (PSA),
National Rifle Association (NRA),
Gun Owners of America (GOA),
Second Amendment Sisters (SAS),
Pennsylvania Rifle and Pistol Association (PR&PA),
Pennsylvania Gun Collectors Association (PGCA)
Lehigh Valley Firearms Coalition,
Philadelphia Federation of Sportsmen's Club,
Pennsylvania Gun Owners Association (PGOA)
Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania (Unified)
National Association of Firearms Retailers (NAFR),
Pennsylvania State Fish & Game Protective Association,
The Pink Pistols
Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association (PAFOA)
National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSA)
Western Pennsylvania 30 Caliber League, Inc
Firearms Owners Against Crime (FOAC) the largest gun owners Political Action Committee (PAC) in Pennsylvania will record any support for any of this legislation, now or in the future, as an anti-gun vote.

It is imperative that you contact the following members of the House Judiciary Committee TODAY through Tuesday to strongly encourage them to OPPOSE this package of anti-gun rights bills! PLEASE focus your efforts on the Committee Leaders and then the ‘Uncommitted Group’ and then the listed ‘Pro-2nd Amendment’ group.

**Representatives listed below are Committee Leadership

State Representative Thomas R. Caltagirone (D-127), Majority Chairman
106 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202127
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2127
(717) 787-3525
Fax: (717) 772-5401

State Representative Ron Marsico (R-105), Minority Chairman
218 Ryan Office Building
PO Box 202105
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2105
(717) 783-2014
Fax: (717) 705-2010

State Representative Daylin Leach (D-149), Secretary
109A East Wing
PO Box 202149
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2149
(717) 783-9114
Fax: (717) 787-0861

**Representatives listed below are Pro 2nd Amendment

State Representative Deberah Kula (D-52)
104A East Wing
PO Box 202052
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2052
(717) 772-1858
Fax: (717) 780-4784

State Representative Joseph A. Petrarca (D-55)
220 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202055
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2055
(717) 787-5142
Fax: (717) 705-2014

State Representative Jesse White (D-46)
102B East Wing
PO Box 202046
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2046
(717) 783-6437

State Representative Tom C. Creighton (R-37)
400 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202037
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2037
(717) 772-5290
Fax: (717) 783-1904

State Representative Craig A. Dally (R-138)
211 Ryan Office Building
PO Box 202138
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2138
(717) 783-8573
Fax: (717) 705-1849

State Representative John R. Evans (R-5)
B12 Main Capitol Building
PO Box 202005
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2005
(717) 772-9940
Fax: (717) 772-7099

State Representative Will Gabig (R-199)
410 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202199
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2199
(717) 772-2280
Fax: (717) 705-2012

State Representative Glen R. Grell (R-87)
404 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202087
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2087
(717) 783-2063
Fax: (717) 772-8418

State Representative Kate Harper (R-61)
149A East Wing
PO Box 202061
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2061
(717) 787-2801
Fax: (717) 787-2022

State Representative Beverly Mackereth (R-196)
7 East Wing
PO Box 202196
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2196
(717) 783-2655
Fax: (717) 772-9869

State Representative Todd Rock (R-90)
162A East Wing
PO Box 202090
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2090
(717) 783-5218
Fax: (717) 260-6505

State Representative Katie True (R-41)
143A East Wing
PO Box 202041
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2041
(717) 705-7161
Fax: (717) 705-1946

State Representative Tina Pickett (R-110)
155A East Wing
PO Box 202110
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2110
(717) 783-8238
Fax: (717) 705-1949

**Representatives listed below are Uncommitted on these issues

State Representative John E. Pallone (D-54)
325 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202054
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2054
(717) 783-1819
Fax: (717) 772-9984

State Representative Don Walko (D-20)
121 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202020
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020
(717) 787-5470
Fax: (717) 783-0407

State Representative Sean M. Ramaley (D-16)
323 Main Capitol Building
PO Box 202016
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2016
(717) 787-4444

State Representative Carl W. Mantz (R-187)
53B East Wing
PO Box 202187
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2187
(717) 787-3017
Fax: (717) 772-9869

**Representatives listed below are dedicated Anti 2nd Amendment Fanatics

State Representative Kathy Manderino (D-194)
125 East Wing
PO Box 202194
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2194
(717) 787-1254
Fax: (717) 780-4770

State Representative Lisa Bennington (D-21)
6A East Wing
PO Box 202021
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2021
(717) 705-7011
Fax: (717) 780-4761

State Representative Dan Frankel (D-23)
217 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202023
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2023
(717) 705-1875
Fax: (717) 705-2034

State Representative Harold James (D-186)
317 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202186
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2186
(717) 787-9477
Fax: (717) 787-7517

State Representative Greg Vitali (D-16)
103B East Wing
PO Box 202166
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2166
(717) 787-7647
Fax: (717) 705-2089

State Representative Jewell Williams (D-197)
101 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202197
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2197
(717) 772-2004
Fax: (717) 787-2284

State Representative Bernie O'Neill (R-29)
B13 Main Capitol Building
PO Box 202029
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2029
(717) 705-7170
Fax: (717) 783-3278

State Representative Chelsa Wagner (D-22)
109 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202022
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2022
(717) 783-1582
Fax: (717) 780-4755

State Representative Bryan R. Lentz (D-161)
106B East Wing
PO Box 202161
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2161
(717) 787-8574
Fax: (717) 780-4777

I'm going to try to be there.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mac OS 10.4.11 Update

For Mac users still running OS 10.4 Tiger, Apple released the latest major update, 10.4.11 yesterday.  It's a 128 MB download which according to Apple, includes security and compatibility updates.  It also includes Safari 3.0.4, which is now out of beta.

Before installing major OS X updates it's a good idea to fix disk permissions and verify your hard disk's file structure.  When I did so this morning I discovered that there was a minor problem with the volume header for my MacBook Pro's drive.  Since Disk Utility cannot fix volumes from which your machine is currently booted, I had to wait until I got home to boot the MBP from my OS X install CD1.  Once the OS X installer loads, you can then go into the Utilities menu and run Disk Utility to repair the disk.

Once finished with housekeeping I rebooted from the hard disk and ran the 10.4.11 update from the .dmg file I downloaded this afternoon.  Maybe it's an illusion, but the system seems a little snappier.

I'm experimenting with Safari 3.0.4.  It still doesn't work correctly with Blogger's post composition page.  E.g., if you try to paste text into the Compose box, the text appears on the page below the Publish Post and Save Now buttons.  On the other hand, it's fast.

I will post follow ups if I run into any issues related to the update.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Some House Work

The latest projects we've undertaken around the house have been to put a new tile floor and toilet in our downstairs powder room, and completely remodel the second bathroom upstairs. We had hoped to put this off for a few more years but the sheetrock surrounding the tub upstairs finally completely gave way, so we had little choice.

We used our usual plumber as our contractor. He took care of our master bathroom when we got that redone in 2005, did a great job, so we didn't even consider anything else.

The powder room was finished about two weeks ago and the upstairs bathroom this week. As with the master bath, I handled painting. I hate painting but can do it pretty well, so doing it myself saved me a few hundred bucks. I painted the walls and ceiling before the fixtures were installed, which makes it a lot easier. Today I'm wrapping up by painting the door. As I write this I'm waiting for the primer coat to dry. I'll put on a coat of semigloss in about an hour or so.

The next big home project will be to have our driveway dug up and repaved. I am really hoping to wait a few years on that, however.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Mini-14 Rear Sight Removal

I've previously written about the stainless Ruger Mini-14 GB that I bought last year, and which turned out to have a broken rear sight. Windage adjustment was difficult and limited. A couple of weeks ago I got a complete replacements sight assembly from Brownell's.

JasonAC556 at the PerfectUnion BBS provided the following instructions for removing the old rear sight, which worked:

1. Take a small punch and remove the pin that holds the windage screw captive. You will see it on the right side of the sight assembly as you shoulder the rifle.

2. Depress the windage adjustment pin on the left side of the assembly and unscrew the windage adjustment knob until it slides free of the assembly. Be careful to keep the adjustment pin captive so it doesn't fly across the room.

3. Carefully lift up on the back of the sight assembly. The elevation adjustment pin spring and pin will drop free from the bottom of the sight assembly, so be careful not to lose these.

4. You're done!!

I wanted to reproduce the instructions here so that it'll be easier to find by others.

I'm looking forward to getting the Mini-14 out and zeroed.