Shotguns are for Birds, Not Bad Guys

by Justin Hinckley, LPNC Second Amendment Issues Coordinator

"Fire two blasts outside the house."

"You don't need an AR-15. It's harder to aim, it's harder to use, and in fact you don't need 30 rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shotgun."

Look, ordinarily I would type a long-winded response about the inferiority of the shotgun as a platform. In the modern era, I need only cite Joe Biden's endorsement of the shotgun and condemnation of the AR-15 and that should be argument enough for all of us to dispense with the shotgun and install the AR-15 as the preeminent home defense tool. Since I have you here anyway, I may as well make a declarative statement: shotguns suck as home defense guns and so do you if you use one! Nerd.

That said, rule one of every gunfight is: have a gun. By that metric shotguns are adequate. But let's have a little fun and assume everyone reading this has "a gun" and now we're arguing about the best gun. And unless we're talking about birds or breaching, shotguns ain't it.

First, I'll define my terms. Unless otherwise noted, I'm referring to a 5.56 AR-15 with a 16" barrel using modern defensive or ball ammunition in a standard 30-round magazine. When I discuss shotguns, I'm referring to a tube-fed 12 gauge shotgun firing modern 00 buckshot with a 6-10 round capacity, either in pump-action or semi-automatic platforms. I won’t really discuss slugs because buckshot is my main concern as far as ammunition selection. Both guns are assumed to be properly zeroed and using quality parts in order to eliminate whataboutisms of specific brands.

Let's begin around the edges of the biggest issue in any home defense scenario: target discrimination. We only want to shoot the bad guys. Why is this relevant to the shotgun versus AR discussion? In order to appropriately discriminate a target from a non-target (friend from foe, as it were) we need accountability. Accountability in this context is the ability of a shooter to account for every round fired and all of that round. With an AR, this issue is mitigated. One trigger pull is one round. With a shotgun, the common home defense format includes buckshot, which typically carries 9 pellets per shell for 00 buckshot and the pellet count goes up based on other buckshot loads. This means that, with every trigger pull, there is more uncertainty in accounting for every "round" (each pellet being a fraction of a round) as I engage my threat. When I engage a target with a shotgun, the affected area usually starts at about 1 square inch and increases in size as the distance from muzzle increases. This means if I shoot with an imperfect sight picture, such as at a moving target, the chances I achieve a "partial hit" (only putting some of my pellets into my target) has relatively high probability. Relative in comparison to an AR-15 anyway, where partial hits are not really a thing, as the affected area remains the same at all distances. I have one round to account for and those rounds only go where I'm aiming.

I can already hear the screeching of the overpenetration crowd, so I'll address it here. This discussion is so commonly driven by rumors, urban legends, and anecdotes. (*Big sigh*) Here we go…

First the data is not conclusive as to whether 5.56 or 12 gauge overpenetrates more often because of the variability in ammo selection, barrel length, wall medium, shot placement, etc. That said, the data generally points to 5.56 as the superior round in terms of avoiding overpenetration. To disqualify an AR-15 because of overpenetration while endorsing a 12-gauge shotgun shows a fundamental ignorance of said data. Each can penetrate greater than the other depending on real-world factors, including round selection. I vehemently disagree with those who say 5.56 constantly, or even consistently, overpenetrates after striking human tissue. I challenge those who say that to produce either laboratory data or statistically significant observational data indicating such. 5.56 ball and defensive ammunition consistently catastrophically destabilizes inside human tissue, resulting in multiple small fragments which tear flesh and have minimal ability to cause damage beyond the first human target. Accuracy is the single greatest factor in how dangerous defensive ammunition is to bystanders. The greatest risk of "overpenetration" is really a miss. As it turns out, the human body is a great medium for projectiles to dump energy and reduces the overall ability to penetrate further. Our mitigation plan is simple; do not carelessly spray rounds of any caliber inside your home if you can help it. If you cannot help it, you are much better off missing with 5.56 than 00 buckshot.

The AR-15 is far superior in employment of the firearm for the shooter. I, personally, like follow-up shots. Scientifically, threats often need follow-up shots due to misses, multiple attackers, or a hit that does not stop your threat. The AR-15's recoil compared to a shotgun is minuscule and enables 2-4 shots for every 1 round out of a shotgun, typically. While a shotgun at this range is unequivocally more definitive in terms of terminal performance, this advantage exists solely on the first round and then further performance lags far behind the AR. If all you need is one round, a shotgun is sufficient, and maybe even best, but that is generally rare in a defense situation. For multiple rounds, the AR-15 prevails. You're still managing recoil with a shotgun, while with the AR you've already reset your sights, reassessed your target, and sent rounds out again or transitioned to a new target.

Then there’s the issue of round count. Hypothetically, you've managed to engage your threats for longer than an instant. You have 10 rounds, on the high end, before your shotgun is empty, which necessitates a time-intensive reload. My AR has easily thrice the round capacity and the ability to empty those 30 rounds accurately in a similar timeframe that 10 rounds can be accurately emptied from a shotgun. What's more, my magazine reload takes about the same amount of time as loading two shotgun shells. More rounds give you more options for more diverse scenarios. Shotguns exceed in a few niche scenarios but ARs carry the day when it comes to the ability to adapt to the situation. Since it is an axiom in the gun community that the scenario you train for is not the scenario you get, ARs allow us more flexibility to meet the specific context, particularly important in the moment which is likely high stress and unfolding quickly. Shotguns are hammers and we all know that when your only tool is a hammer, all your problems start looking like nails, and only nails.

While my rhetoric in the defense of ARs could continue for several more pages, I believe I have stated my case for their superiority over the antiquated shotgun. The AR-15 allows us to engage threats without doubt as to where portions of my lead went. Those rounds, which are easier to account for, also dump their energy in human tissue better than buckshot. Thanks to these two facts, I can confidently engage with a standard 30-round magazine from my AR in a faster and more accurate manner than my shotgun. Thus, I get more potential damage to more potential threats with lower potential collateral damage. Whilst I am the king of my castle the AR-15 is the King's Guard. This King's Guard should have a post in every home to protect our castles with accuracy, lethality, and adaptability. The shotgun is "a gun" and allows us to protect ourselves, but in the world where "best" exists, use it. The AR-15 is best.

TUNE IN TO THE OCTOBER ISSUE FOR THE COUNTERARGUMENT

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Bureaucratic Tyranny: New Rules for Concealed Carry Instructors

With the effective death of Constitutional Carry in NC for this legislative session, the NC DOJ is seeking ways to harass, violate, and abuse gun owners.

by Justin Hinckley, LPNC Second Amendment Issues Coordinator

As suspected, with the effective death of Constitutional Carry in NC for this legislative session, the NC DOJ, under the direction of Democratic Gubernatorial frontrunner Josh Stein, is seeking ways to harass, violate, and abuse gun owners. In this instance the state is focusing on concealed carry instructors and increasing the time and monetary commitments for them to operate. My guess is the state wants to drive more instructors and prospective instructors away from the certification. I believe they are doing this to drive costs for concealed carry of a handgun (CCH) courses up as fewer instructors means greater demand but lower supply and the additional time and materials burden causes higher costs which flow to the consumer.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 9, NC residents have the opportunity to show up to the public hearing to vociferously protest any new restrictions on CCH instructors, the course standards, or the documentation burdens. Long-term we should continue to badger the supposedly pro-2A Republicans to pass constitutional carry, an easy win for them in this legislative session.

A review of the timeline of the new restrictions highlights why it seems this panic arises out of nowhere; short answer, it did. On June 23, Bob Overton, CCH Program Manager, sent an email statewide to CCH instructors apprising them of the changes through a series of attached documents with no additional context in the body of the email. The attachments stated that the rules were to be effective October 1, 2023, indicating they had been reviewed and finalized without public notification. The email also conveniently forgot to mention the public hearing scheduled for August 9 at 10:00am at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh.

Thanks to active organizations who sounded the alarm, the outcry was enough to compel a follow-up email by Jeffrey Smythe, Director of Criminal Justice Standards Division, on June 23. Smythe first backtracked on the previously stated effective date of October 1, stating the rule changes were a proposed starting point for discussion. Smythe also indicated a public comment period began April 18, 2023, two months prior to the “public” announcement of the proposed rule changes.

This attachment was ostensibly an explanation for how the rule changes came about with a weak justification for every rule. The discussions of the background for each proposed change are brief and unconvincing. The division cites one specific instance in which the instructor is identified after a variety of rule violations in their course, two cases in which specific instructors are discussed but - not identified violating - current rules, and three instances in which no specific cases are discussed but broad trends are indicated. None of the cases discussed mention how criminals obtained CCHs, led to crimes being committed that otherwise would not have been committed, or offer any evidence that someone was hurt or victimized due to the violations. Additionally, the division fails to mention any sort of statistical trend for theses rule violations. A serious lack of justifiable evidence is presented in order to implement a serious overhaul of the CCH class process.

The proposed changes themselves are absurd and clearly-meant-to-be-burdensome. The first of the changes involve pre- and post-course forms to fill out and file with the state. At least 30 days prior to a course and within 10 days after a course, an instructor must file paperwork with the state indicating details about the proposed class to be taught. This means all classes must now be scheduled at least 30 days out, so, for example, a friend or family member cannot arrange a class with an instructor on short notice in order to get a CCH faster. This delay will likely cost lives.

What’s more, the post-class form must include all students' names and contact information. This is a naked attempt to compile more data about gun owners and CCH holders, as well as provide an additional avenue to harass instructors if they are accidentally inaccurate in their more intricate record-keeping in the future. In addition to the personal student information sent to the state, instructors will now be required to keep a roster for their own records which is to be kept indefinitely and made available to state inspectors upon request.

Adding to the financial burden, the new rules now state that an instructor is required to provide "red" books, of which the state is the only authorized dealer, to each student during each class. This means more books, which cost the instructor money as well as dealing with lead times waiting for the state to process and ship said books. Another hurdle to reduce the number of classes being taught throughout the state. The final restrictions include banning the use of steel targets for the range qualification of the course and the banning of a virtual presentation for the classroom portion of the course.

Make no mistake, this is the first of many attempts to use the bureaucratic state to forward the anti-gun agenda. It is no coincidence this effort only came about in the wake of the repeal of the pistol purchase permit law and began in the midst of the fight for constitutional carry. Josh Stein has enough distance from this to claim innocence while he runs for governor and needs undecided pro-gun voters to vote for him. He is also close enough to it to say it was one of his accomplishments as NC Attorney General when it is convenient for him. Surely this is a reason to vote for Republicans, right? Well, no, since it is Republican Speaker of the NC House, Tim Moore, who refused to hold a vote on constitutional carry, as we have previously discussed. It is Tim Moore and the NC Republicans who are continuing to allow unelected bureaucrats to harass gun owners and the instructors who seek to enable legal concealed carry for those owners. Those in power have a duty to wield that power in a way that protects and expands on the heavily violated rights of their citizenry.

Therefore, do not fall into the trap of believing that gun rights is a left-right, red-blue, liberal-conservative issue. No, politicians use the promise of expanding gun rights as a lever to win elections, particularly in North Carolina. While the left promises to restrict guns, and does it every chance it gets, the right makes the opposite promise but repeatedly fails to deliver except on the lowest-hanging fruit. They never pass any substantive reforms to roll back the consistent, decades-long assault on Liberty.

This is one of many reasons why I am a Libertarian. The Democrats and Republicans either actively hate your Liberty or are apathetic about it. Politicians reliably assault freedom or reliably make some mediocre defense of freedom during an assault, but are absolutely unreliable at going out and progressing in the fight to proactively advance the cause of Liberty. So I urge you to remember these bureaucratic assaults when next you are at the ballot box. Remember that Democrats and Republicans both love the bureaucracy, they built it! The only party who wants to actively dismantle the tyranny of bureaucracy is the Libertarian Party. The only party who wants to aggressively and unambiguously advance Liberty is the Libertarian Party. The only party who wants to give the government less power, regardless of the reigning party, is the Libertarian Party. Support freedom, support community, support Libertarianism.

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You Have a Duty to be Well Regulated

by Justin Hinckley, LPNC Second Amendment Issues Coordinator

In light of Independence Day and my reflection on those who rose up in defiance of tyranny, today we will discuss the duty bestowed on us by the 2nd Amendment. Yes, America is perhaps the greatest experiment in self-governance, individualism, and liberty ever, but the reputation of the United States is not something us modern Americans should live off of, but something we should live up to.

Being an American should be an injunction to live a life of service and responsibility. Americanism should not be a matter of geography, ethnicity, race, religion, or political affiliation. It should be one of values, a challenge to be good enough to call yourself an American. So often our focus in discourse is that of rights, freedoms, and liberties. While these are essential elements of our nation, it is a disservice to have any discussion of the former without also discussing what is demanded of us in return. Thus, our focus turns to what obligations we have as gun owners when we exercise our right to bear arms. What responsibilities do we have? What standards must we live up to?

If you own a gun, but have never received formal training in its use, you are violating the spirit of the 2nd Amendment. Likewise, if you do not train regularly, you are ignoring your obligations of being an armed American. As those who have accepted the responsibility of carrying and owning firearms for protection and security, it is incumbent upon us to be well-regulated in the matter. You may think I have lost my mind and have conceded a key point to the anti-gun side just then, but what was the true definition of well-regulated in the 18th century? According to Jack Rakove, Coe Professor of History and American Studies and Professor of Political Science, Emeritus at Stanford University and Robert J. Cottrol, Harold Paul Green Research Professor of Law at George Washington University, in separate analyses they have individually found that “well-regulated” referred to a state of proficiency and readiness during the time the 2nd Amendment was written. Synonyms of well-regulated at the time of our founding could be well-trained, well-prepared, well-armed, or well-practiced. It did not mean regulated by government. This means within the actual text of this sacred right, there is a directive to be fit, trained, and prepared.

Do not let my challenge to the gun owning community be perceived as an endorsement of government regulation or decree related to licensing or training schemes. Quite the opposite in fact. I believe one of the best strategies to combating future government regulation is to forge a corps of such highly skilled and competent gun owners as to reduce crime, death, and “gun deaths” through the elimination of accidental gun deaths and reduction in criminal murders. Of course, if my plan is to come to fruition, in the short-term we may have to accept more gun deaths overall with the potential for justified homicides to soar before criminals realize the general population is armed, trained, and prepared.

Nonetheless, to treat each gun death as morally equivalent is a disingenuous attempt at inflating gun murders, an attempt the modern media and many politicians already engage in. If 10,000 criminals died each year because they were killed attempting to hurt or kill someone instead of the current 10,000 murders that occur with a firearm each year, corporate media and gun control groups would still lump these numbers in with the ambiguous term “gun deaths” to discuss the *emergency* of private gun ownership and espouse the need for greater infringement. However, raw reduction in overall numbers is an unambiguous benefit we should all recognize, and I believe a well-regulated gun owning population would do this.

As we look at gun ownership in the modern era, we see that the individual definitions of “fit,” “trained,” “prepared,” etc. are vast. Similarly, we see many gun owners who do not take such obligations seriously at all. How many of those who profess to own guns for protection do we see are unable to engage in basic unarmed fighting techniques? Likewise if we paraphrase Sun Tzu and agree that the best fight is the one we avoid, then seeing such self-defense aficionados who are unable to run for more than a few seconds calls their dedication into question, as they cannot effectively retreat. If we accept that all rights come predisposed with responsibilities, and that the 2nd Amendment itself refers to proficiency and skill, surely we should all agree that there is a standard to be kept for keeping and bearing arms.

Now then, what might that standard be? It seems axiomatic if these standards are born out of a responsibility which itself is born out of a right, the standard must be self-determined. I generally agree with this analysis, insofar as it excludes the role of a governmental body in setting standards. Of course, it is the nature of free people to debate and cooperate in setting such standards. It is beyond the scope of this article to attempt to define a specific standard for all, but I will attempt to layout the steps to create one’s own standards and a frame to progress towards those standards to ultimately meet them. It starts with a deceptively simple statement; train regularly. This means a training plan with specific, measurable goals set within a reasonable time frame. This also means if you do not know how to make a detailed plan, just do something.

In my experience, a successful training plan incorporates a few key elements, no matter the skill level of the trainee. Use of a shot timer, dry-fire in between live-fire sessions, and benchmark drills performed at regular intervals are all required tools in a training program. The shot-timer is a tool to collect objective data which, in conjunction with target analysis, measures your performance and allows you to track your progress. Dry-fire is a form of homework that allows you to make consistent progress in between live-fire range trips, especially if your range trips are a less frequent occurrence. Finally benchmark drills such as the FAST Test, Bill Drill, Failure-to-Stop Drill, El Presidente, and Dot Torture are methods to practice skillsets and track your performance over time. Putting these drills on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly cycle for evaluation is a way to regularly test your performance without getting bored of or discouraged by specific drills. This technique is akin to regularly testing personal records in a weightlifting program or regularly running a specific distance for time in a distance running or sprinting program.

What about how to balance the real-world restrictions such as budget and availability? To incorporate these very real difficulties, training regularly might mean live-fire range time on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. I argue a quarterly range trip is the bare minimum needed to continue to progress in skill. Regardless of live-fire range time, dry-fire practice should occur multiple times per week. Dry-fire practice is a no-cost, low-time commitment activity. 10 minutes per day can show tangible progress for someone who currently does not dry-fire at all. Dry-fire schedules can be modified to fit almost any schedule or gear setup.

Throughout this discussion, I have discussed what is required of us as gun owners. I have made these claims and challenges mostly separate of the real-world considerations to employ them in an effort to increase awareness of what we all should be doing, regardless of what we are doing or are theoretically capable of doing at any given time. Throughout my life as a gun owner and regular conceal-carrier I have met my own goals and standards with mixed success. This not justify my inadequacy and it turns out criminals do not care at all how much dry-fire practice I planned to do, but skipped. So, in the interest of increasing the amount of training the Libertarian community does, start with something. Whatever you currently do, add one more thing or 10 more minutes per day or per week. You do not have to make a full training plan before you start dry-firing. You don’t have to have a monthly progress chart made in Excel before you start using a shot-timer or shooting specific drills. Just add something that you’re not currently doing to your training. Get up and do 10 perfect trigger pulls of dry-fire in the morning (or right now). Before you leave your house for the day with your gun concealed on you, do 10 draws with full presentations and good sight pictures (with an unloaded gun).

Then, put those on a clock and start trying to get faster every day. For those who do not currently train at all, if you start doing any of these things you will see huge improvements in your skill levels related to the employment of a firearm in a real-life situation. It could be draw speeds, sight tracking, first shot accuracy or speed, or any of a number of improved skills. Perhaps most importantly you will see your deficiencies and want to improve them so you have a better chance of living and winning in a life-or-death encounter.

This is the ultimate goal, greater survivability in deadly encounters. We should all be prepared to defend ourselves at a moments notice. Unfortunately, the time to make yourself prepared exists only in the months and years before your deadly encounter. In the moment when need arises to employ your gun, all you have is the training you actually did, the progress you actually made, the rounds you actually fired. So, start training now so that one day you might save your own life.

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Guns are Not Cars

Analysis of a bad analogy

by Justin Hinckley, LPNC Second Amendment Issues Coordinator

Cars kill more people every year than guns! You need a license to drive a car! We register cars! A car is also a weapon!

Whether you are pro-gun, anti-gun, or some other prefix related to guns, you have probably heard and used analogies related to cars. I'm not sure why or how this comparison gained popularity, and I admit to using car-related analogies in the past, but we need to put an end to it. In almost every debate or discussion I have, it comes up.

Cars and guns share very little in common insofar as their typical usage and the nature of these tools. Even semantically, cars and guns share very little in common. Pick most of the varied metrics people choose for comparison of differing items and cars differ vastly from guns in average price, fuel used, size, commonality of use, demographic distributions, market annual revenue, and number of parts.

Perhaps most importantly, cars and guns are actively employed for totally different reasons. What do I mean when I say "actively employed?" I mean the tool is being operated mechanically in a way that its parts were designed to function. With that definition we immediately see the disjunction in analogies. In order to have performed their duty, cars must be actively used. We get in our car and drive from point A to point B. Without this transportation, your car has not helped you and has not performed its duty. Cars are active tools that require active employment to receive value from them.

Now take guns. How often does your typical concealed carrier say a gun has done its job? Everyday they carry it. Now, how often does your typical concealed carrier employ their handgun actively by firing it at a threat? What about pointing it a threat? Most data indicate firing or pointing a concealed firearm at a threat is a once-in-a-lifetime, or less, occurrence, far less if we look only at actually firing the gun. Most concealed carriers will never fire their gun at an aggressor. Yet those who carry still think of their gun as having done its duty at the end of every day.

This tells us that a concealed firearm (or home-defense gun for that matter) is a tool which can be passively employed. "Passively employed" means a tool which can perform its duties without being mechanically operated. Firearms are not carried everyday because we know that in order to successfully complete a task we need this specific tool, akin to a screwdriver or a laptop. No, firearms are carried in case of the need to complete one very specific task; self-defense.

Most of us do not find ourselves with the need to defend our life with any sort of regularity. In other words, we carry not because of the odds we need to use it, but because of the stakes if we need it. Should we need our gun, we know our life (and possibly the lives of loved ones) is on the line. Therefore, the defensive gun is a passive tool. It is on duty just in case. It is a fire extinguisher, an AED, a seatbelt, or an airbag. All devices designed specifically for a narrow set of circumstances and to accomplish one primary mission. Extinguish the fire, fix an irregular heart rhythm, prevent ejection, reduce the trauma of impact, and stop a violent attack. Mostly, they sit where they are supposed to sit and do nothing.

Except only to the uninitiated are those tools doing nothing. Those of us who envision and prepare for the worst know there is value to preparedness, even if the tools are never actively employed. Better to need it and not have it, the saying goes. I do not want to leave it up to the fire in my kitchen to decide how much of my house is destroyed. I want a vote, and my extinguisher gives me a vote. All safety equipment is of this nature. It exists for a worst-case scenario and provides you a tool to employ to influence the final outcome of the given circumstances.

In the same way, firearms provide us the tool for survival or victory. Guns are safety equipment, let us start comparing them to other pieces of safety equipment. All these tools are great in the moment, but require thinking ahead. So too, do guns. The first step in accomplishing their respective missions is to be present prior to the emergency. Without that prior preparation, no amount of wishing or running will provide us the reprieve a properly staged emergency tool would have.

Contrast this requirement to that of a car. For the true purpose of a car (easy and fast daily transportation), no such prior planning is required. We can predict and plan for work, school, errands, vacation, and socializing in a much different and less catastrophic way. Work does not jump out from a dark alley at a moment’s notice, contrary to the feeling of dread many people have on Sunday evenings. Errands do not kill me or my family if I am not prepared for them at a moment's notice. If I am unable to socialize because I do not own a car, I can decide to purchase a car and go socialize at some point in the future. The immediacy does not exist in the car ownership paradigm in the same way as guns.

Going forward it is time to put the cars versus guns analogy in the rearview mirror (groan away...). Let us leave such comparisons to rust in the field, ironically one of the few topics where cars and guns have similar traits. There are narrow areas where comparison may be useful between cars and guns, but the broad level with which we often analogize is inappropriate. When it comes to deaths, implementation, training, and general purpose we should find better comparisons. Cars are vital tools to vastly increase the efficiency of our lives. Guns are safety equipment which save lives in specific circumstances.

Do not let yourself be limited to the suggestions offered above for analogy. Find your own piece of emergency or safety equipment you stage in your daily life to save or protect you and use that as the comparison going forward. In this way, we can reclassify guns via our discussion. They are not neat tools that improve our life like a car, but the life-saving means we use to protect ourselves. Let’s talk about them as such.

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The Big Picture Importance of the Second Amendment

by Justin Hinckley, LPNC Second Amendment Issues Coordinator

Very often in debates and discussions around gun laws the focus is the text, relevance, and meaning of the 2nd Amendment. I generally find them fruitless with those ignorant of the history of the Constitution. That said, I recently had the opportunity to read a Salon article suggesting a revision to the 2nd Amendment [editor's note: we are not linking to the article here, as we don't want to give it any extra publicity, but it is called "The Second Amendment is a ludicrous historical antique: Time for it to go" by Kurt Swearingen].

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In a later article I will discuss the suggested revision, as it is illustrative of a person who neither understands the purpose of the Bill of Rights generally nor the 2nd Amendment specifically. Today, we'll go over the *controversial* idea that the 2nd Amendment exists to protect a free people against the intrusions of a tyrannical government. In the interest of brevity, and the fact that I'm largely speaking to Libertarians here, we will not discuss much of the ideological and philosophical origins of the 2nd Amendment. I want to focus on the practicality of such an injunction. Is it practical to protect the right to arms of a people so they may retain the ability to resist tyranny? Put another way, a common refrain used by anti-gun people, from President Biden on down to your average Salon writer, is some version of "Your AR-15s are useless against nuclear weapons, F-15s, and tanks." This statement varies in its forms, but we have heard President Biden and almost every other major anti-gun commentator or politician say it.

Thinking in this manner shows a general lack of understanding of the fluidity of revolution, rebellion, and civil war, aside from a general dismissal of the complexity of war per se. One need only look at the closest analogue we in the US have as to the feasibility of widespread armed rebellion in our country. That of course is our last major armed rebellion, during which the rebels formed armies, navies, military installations, and a functioning government: the US Civil War. The Confederates acquired heavy arms in a manner repeated throughout history in uprisings: acquisition through seizure. Those who fought on the side of the Confederacy actually did this generally without the active use of weapons, as entire divisions, installations, and armies defected to join their respective states in rebellion. Some did so out of ideological support for the Confederates, some refused to turn against their respective state, still others who did so had many other reasons, I'm sure.

The reasons are not entirely material, as the point of studying our Civil War is to establish that rebellions can succeed, generally. Rifles help them get there as the ability to seize an armory or installation is much more in question when the people doing so are unarmed. What is not clear is, should there be a new revolution or rebellion, what reason is there to think this would not occur again? If anything, I think we could expect more upheaval in the military because of the political polarization we currently experience as a nation. This suggests the possibility of widespread small-scale defections with equipment, sabotage, or espionage. No matter who the rebels may be in another major American upheaval, it is reasonable to think the military would have sympathizers of the rebels in their ranks and would seek to influence the outcome.

Looking beyond the only real "American versus American" government example, there are many analogues in which we learn that military conflict is dynamic, but arms are always one of the greatest considerations. It is a common saying in insurgencies that the purpose of a pistol is to get a rifle. In the same way it could be said the purpose of a rifle is to acquire heavy weapons: Rifles, pistols, and machine guns serve to obtain aircraft, armor, and artillery. The storming of the Bastille occurred, in part, due to the cannons and powder inside. The Shot Heard Round the World occurred because of an attempted seizure of Colonial militia armories at Lexington and Concord. Their own weapons were what the Colonials used to resist the seizures. During the Winter War, Finns acquired Russian machine guns, artillery, anti-armor, and more via ambush with bolt action Mosin Nagants and ski-mounted infantry. Jews in the Polish Warsaw Ghetto resisted Nazi extermination with what few arms they had, the level of resistance almost certainly influenced by the arms available to the ghetto resistance.

Then we can look at the history of guerrilla warfare. Decentralized units focusing on hasty ambushes, supply line disruption, and logistics hub destruction to demoralize and weaken an enemy is a staple of insurgents and guerrillas alike. Often these fighters are lightly armed, primarily using assault rifles and light machine guns. We have seen this done in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Iraq, Algeria, Thailand, the Philippines, and on and on throughout the 20th Century. History is replete with examples of resistance done with lightly armed or lesser armed fighters. The lesser armed fighters inevitably spend great time and effort to acquire more arms. Thus, the idea that an already armed populace cannot provide resistance is observably false. Certainly, a populace armed with tanks, warships, and fighter aircraft in their backyard warehouses could put up a significantly greater resistance than one armed ubiquitously with pistols and rifles. This is an argument to restrict fewer arms, not greater arms. Nonetheless, the key point is that they, for one reason or another, all had arms. The specifics of which arms or how they acquired them is not relevant to my point. Arms enable resistance.

We now come to perhaps the most critical portion of this discussion: I do not discuss this topic with flippancy or lightheartedness. The idea of employing the cartridge box to protect our liberty is one I do not take lightly. And while I agree our country has many problems and is far down the rabbit hole of governmental malfeasance, I do not think we are close to needing to break out the final and most catastrophic of the boxes we employ to protect Liberty. I am not one who has a definitive line in the sand which, if crossed, would call for people to break out the guns and overtake the closest military armory. I do not know what would cause me to consider arms as a political solution, but I can assure you it would be a bleak day preceded by many, many bleak days beforehand.

While the 2nd Amendment exists ultimately to protect us from systems that permit things like the Soviet Union's Gulag, Hitler's Holocaust, Mao's Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, and Stalin's Red Terror and Holodomore, it can be difficult to know, without hindsight, just how precarious a position we are in at any given moment. And perhaps our most important tool in preventing such instances is to remain vigilant to the historical and potential future predations of government, and use our first three boxes to stop such intrusions: the soap, judicial, and ballot boxes. If all else fails, as long as the option of arms remains available to us, the need to employ them actively may never arise. The 2nd amendment seems a bit of a self-preventing prophecy in that way. As long as we have the ability to resist, we may never need to employ such abilities. If we remove the ability to resist, it seems almost inevitable that eventually we will need to resist. For that reason, let us not suggest ill-conceived revisions. Let us not enable or encourage the banning of arms, the registering of those who have arms, or the prevention of carrying said arms. Let us continue to protect the texts which protect us, so that we may never have to use the most extreme measures to we have to employ.

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Gun Law Nullification

by Justin Hinckley
LPNC 2nd Amendment Liaison Coordinator

Nullification is an oft-discussed topic amongst Libertarians. The idea a citizenry or smaller government body can declare a larger government body's laws null and void is an appealing one to us. Nullification is a term used often in reference to attempts to undermine or sabotage the enforcement of federal regulations and laws. To better understand the broad topic of nullification, let us look at some recent examples.

In the early 2000s, a new term became common in the news vernacular, "sanctuary cities." Though the movement has its roots in the 1980s, much of the activity for which the sanctuary movement is known occurred in the 2010s. These were cities which, by their own city council or mayoral actions, declared their cities as sanctuaries for illegal immigrants. Most commonly this took the form of prohibiting local police and government offices from detaining people for or questioning them about their immigration status. It also often includes prohibitions on cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Today, there are estimated to be over 500 cities, counties, and states that have declared themselves sanctuaries in the US. Covering a similar time frame and gaining momentum over the last decade is the nullification of drug laws in US states. While many drugs remain illegal at the federal level, an increasing number of states are declaring medicinal and recreational use of a variety of substances to be legal.

Now let’s examine what characteristics generally encompass successful nullification campaigns. Nullification campaigns often involve two different strategies. The first strategy is to change the governmental perspective of the given topic in a legal or official sense. This would be through legalization or a change in policy that results in a different approach to the topic by the government in question. The second strategy is to refuse to assist federal authorities in the enforcement of their own laws and regulations. This occurs through prohibitions on cooperation with federal agencies or through the restriction of funding or resources directed at local/federal cooperation programs.

I feel the need to pause and praise both the sanctuary and drug legalization movements for their success in expanding their ideas both officially through government actions and socially through the growth of public support for such ideas. It is indisputable that more people use drugs legally (at the state level) in the US than were doing so before the drug nullification movement took hold. It is likewise indisputable that there are more places for illegal immigrants to live without fear of pursuit by local government entities than before that movement took hold.

Finally, we come to the guns. Success surrounding nullification of federal and state gun laws has almost exclusively occurred in the courts. We have also seen numerous victories in state legislatures with regards to gun laws, beyond nullification drives. The multiple resounding victories in these avenues does not excuse the firearms community from its lack of significant victories in the nullification space. This is not through a lack of effort, but a lack of effect.

In fact, during the same period of the sanctuary city and drug law nullification movements in the 2010s, a "firearms freedom" movement was building. This movement led to nine states passing firearm freedom legislation, essentially declaring federal gun laws irrelevant to firearms and accessories built within each respective state, due to them not being subjected to the Interstate Commerce Clause. These gun laws were quickly struck down in federal courts, as the courts have a long history of abusing the Interstate Commerce Clause to ensure federal power over all manner of things not mentioned in the Constitution.

Some firearms freedom acts remain in effect but have little to no consequence when it comes to protecting or expanding gun rights. But momentum is building again. Recently, we have seen a flurry of activity in the space of gun law nullification. The revival was in part due to the declaration of sanctuary counties and states for the 2nd amendment. These laws, to date, have proven entirely symbolic and do not seem to influence federal enforcement of gun laws throughout the US. Part of the reason for this is many of these laws and resolutions have no funding mechanisms, do not provide penalties for government officials violating the acts, and do not grant protections to citizens who may be arrested or prosecuted by higher levels of government.

Nonetheless, these gestures have generated fervor in the firearms community, now creating approximately a dozen states with sanctuary laws (depending on how "sanctuary law" is defined) and over 70 counties in NC which have declared themselves sanctuary counties. Here is where it gets interesting, as firearms nullification could be gaining traction to stifle authoritarian gun legislation in a real way. Illinois passed an inaccurately titled "assault weapons ban" and almost immediately 80 Illinois sheriffs declared they would not be enforcing any of the provisions of the legislation. For context, there are 102 counties in Illinois. As of this writing, no significant actions have been taken in Illinois to indicate the commitment of the sheriffs, but a majority of sheriffs opposing new gun regulations is a promising development for sure.

It is unclear if this new gun law nullification movement will amount to any significant progress in expanding gun rights in the US. If we are to learn anything from the immigration or drug activists, it is that nullification can be used to great effect when done correctly. We in the gun community must continue to find creative ways to employ nullification to forward the cause of liberty in relation to the right to self-preservation. Litigation is certainly the strongest tool in the gun rights arsenal, but nullification offers a path to increased public support and a bulwark against federal overreach. As we continue down this path, I would encourage each of us to consider the tools needed to employ effective nullification strategies and support or implement sound nullification legislation and regulations at every opportunity.

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Constitutional Carry - What is it, why we need it, and what you can do about it

by Justin Hinckley
LPNC 2nd Amendment Liaison Coordinator

On January 1, 2023, Alabama enacted its constitutional carry law, signed in March 2022. This is the latest in a string of pro-self-defense actions in both legislatures and judiciaries throughout the U.S. in the last few years. In 2003 just one state, Vermont, had legal constitutional carry. Twenty years later, and 25 states now have it in their laws. Nineteen of those 25 have come into force since 2013.

Constitutional carry is essentially the removal of restrictions on concealed or open carrying a firearm. It is a term generally applied to laws which make it legal to carry a gun without a specific license issued by the state in question. A few states have stipulations pertaining to the open versus concealed carry of a gun or relating to handguns versus long guns, but the majority of laws apply equally to all manners of carry and types of firearm.

As with all burdensome government restrictions, the benefits of removal are many and varied. In this column, I will discuss some of the reasons with the biggest impact to the most people. For starters, the obvious issue of liberty is worth mentioning. As Libertarians, we support the idea that everyone should be able to best determine for themselves how to defend their life. Government should not be placing artificial barriers between individuals and self-defense.

Constitutional carry reduces entrance costs for individuals, thus allowing more people to accept the responsibility of defending themselves. Acquiring carry permits is expensive and time-consuming. By enacting constitutional carry in North Carolina, we reduce the cost of legally carrying a concealed firearm by about $200 (average concealed carry class price and application fee), reduce the time needed to take off work by about 12 hours (eight-hour class and estimated four hours for sheriff’s office), and eliminate the one-to-four month processing period of scheduling your class, attending your class, scheduling your application appointment, getting your fingerprints, submitting your application and fingerprints, and going back to the sheriff’s office to receive your concealed handgun permit. These barriers price-out lower-income individuals, as does the time required to take off work. Surely, rich people don’t deserve to defend themselves more than everyone else.

The last benefit I want to discuss related to constitutional carry is the idea of crime and policing. If we all agree that police cannot be everywhere to protect everyone at all times and we all agree that self-defense is a fundamental human right, then it should follow that we all agree having the most effective means to self-defense and having those means at our disposable at all times is essential. Even if law enforcement was eminently trustworthy, police often cannot respond to crimes fast enough to interrupt them and save lives. This makes it incumbent upon all individuals to accept the burden of providing for their own defense. Constitutional carry provides a better atmosphere for individuals to decide for themselves how, when, and where to arm themselves as a means of self-defense by eliminating the artificial barriers of government regulation.

As Americans dedicated to the cause of liberty, it is not enough that we merely read and discuss the topic of constitutional carry amongst ourselves. We must start voicing our thoughts to those who represent us, as they cannot claim ignorance to the importance of such a cause if they are told about it regularly. In the interest of assisting people with expressing their beliefs quickly and clearly, I have included a small note you can send to your state representatives, encouraging them to endorse the principle of constitutional carry:

I am contacting you today in order to express my thoughts, seek your response, and ultimately, gain your endorsement regarding the topic of constitutional carry. Constitutional carry is a term used to refer to laws which abolish permitting and licensing schemes relating to carrying a firearm outside the home. It puts the decision-making process about how and when to carry a firearm back into the hands of the individual. Would you not agree that individuals are in the best position to make decisions effecting their own lives? I fully support the enactment of constitutional carry in our great state of North Carolina, thus enabling those who have not had opportunity or means to acquire their concealed handgun permit (CHP), to be able to carry concealed without delay. The NC CHP costs hundreds of dollars, requires many hours dedicated to the process, and months of waiting in order to obtain. These barriers block many low-income citizens from being able to carry the most effective means to self-defense, because they do not wish to risk arrest for illegal carrying, while doing nothing to prevent violent criminals from illegally carrying. After all, the criminals are intent on committing additional crimes anyway, what incentive do they have to not break one more law? I look forward to your response and working with you to expand the idea of constitutional carry and passing a law to enable all peaceful North Carolinians to defend themselves in the way they see fit.

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SHORT Act Summary

by Justin Hinckley
LPNC 2nd Amendment Liaison Coordinator

The words "gun" and "legislation" rarely appear together bearing good tidings, especially at the federal level. When laws are proposed that do simple things like remove some degree of state interference with your ability to exercise your basic rights, we at the LPNC like to point it out.

Senate bill S4986, also known as The Stop Harassing Owners of Rifles Today Act (SHORT Act), is a bill that seeks to remove short-barreled rifles (SBRs), short-barreled shotguns (SBSs), and a classification known as any other weapons (AOWs) from the National Firearms Act (NFA). This would eliminate the federal requirement to register such devices with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). It would also eliminate the tax stamp required for each, an amount that currently sits at $200 per SBR or SBS and $5 per AOW. Other elements of the bill include requiring the ATF to destroy all records related to these devices and their owners within one year of its enactment, qualifying a background check as meeting all state requirements for the registration and licensure of such devices, and prohibiting future federal or state taxes being levied against such devices. The SHORT Act accomplishes this by removing "shotgun,” "rifle,” and other similar terms from the definition of "firearm” in section 5845 of the NFA.

Representative Andrew Clyde (R-GA) introduced an identical bill in the House of Representatives, known as HR 9033. Clyde’s bill is intended to prevent a new ATF rule change to the years' long pistol brace debate. He said, "By deregulating these NFA firearms, this legislation prohibits the ATF from enacting an unconstitutional pistol ban through a simple rule change." Unlike most modern Congressional bills, the SHORT Act consists of just six pages, certainly an element that should make any Libertarian pleased.

Of course, this bill is unlikely to pass, especially with Senate Democrats discussing more gun control as a proposed solution to gun violence, notwithstanding that it occurs in whatever area with already-strict gun control the media is currently panic-pimping. Regardless, we as Libertarians should never stop supporting laws that reduce overall government power and do so using short, easily read bills.

Regardless of all the political maneuvering, I would urge readers to contact your Congressional representatives, and demand that they prove their commitment to our rights by supporting the SHORT Act. It is a positive when laws chip away at the NFA, which is perhaps the worst example of government overreach codified; it limits Constitutional rights and does so while imposing an immoral and reprehensible tax on citizens wishing to exercise that right.

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In Defense of Self-Defense: a Practical Matter

by Justin Hinckley
LPNC 2nd Amendment Liaison Coordinator

Many words have been spent in defense of the 2nd amendment. Those words often focus on philosophical and judicial reasoning. In recent years, those words created strong arguments which led to great strides in our freedom to defend ourselves, such as in the decisions of Heller vs DC eliminating the outright prohibition of owning firearms in the home, or Bruen vs NYSRPA which essentially makes every citizen able to carry a firearm outside the home, through shall-issue permitting.

Discussion of Supreme Court cases, congressional action, and executive order, among other massive federal-level interventions, we sometimes we drift away from why these legal and political arguments are discussed with such gravitas. Stuck on the philosophy, we forget the practical reality that 2A enables individuals to defend themselves against aggressors. Today, I want to focus on the practicality of self-defense, of which the 2nd amendment is the absolute guarantor for all US citizens. In this discussion, I wish to take a closer look at guns and gun ownership on the individual level. How and why is a single gun beneficial to an individual person?

First, I propose this question to the readers: If you could snap your fingers and get rid of every gun in the US, legal or illegal, would you do it? You may think "yes of course! No more drive-by shootings, school shootings, or rampantly armed criminals!" It is my experience that many people, especially those who do not own guns for self-defense, think about guns almost exclusively from the perspective of criminals. Worries about what harm criminals and other bad-faith actors might promulgate dominate people’s minds and the gun-rights conversation.

Lost in this rumination is the reality of what an otherwise peaceful citizen can do with a gun. Guns are the great equalizers. Criminals have the privilege of preparation, thus theoretically putting them at an inherent advantage. They get to ensure they have superior size, strength, speed, age, numbers, weapons, aggression, positioning, and timing. As a general rule, confrontation with a criminal is an ambush, often placing the defender in the least ideal position to survive the fight and forcing the defender to overcome the disadvantage of reacting to a surprise attack.

A firearm, especially combined with training on how to use it, gives the defender a fighting chance by negating or eliminating the criminal advantages discussed above. Think about it this way: if you were only able to land one hit against your attacker do you want that hit to be a punch or a bullet? Sometimes in an ambush we only get one shot, best make it the most effective one you can.

Guns are so effective at stopping fights, they enable entire segments of the population a brand-new ability to live without fear. Elderly, disabled, petite, and non-aggressive individuals can now deliver deadly force with the same level of potential effect as the Navy SEAL, the terrorist, the seasoned criminal, or the SWAT officer. It’s unlikely an elderly or permanently disabled person can train enough to overcome their natural disadvantages in a hand-to-hand fight. Petite or pacifistic individuals might have neither the time nor the inclination required to dedicate to becoming skilled in a martial art or other self-defense technique needed to escape such a violent encounter unscathed.

Guns reduce the entry cost of self-defense. This is quite literal in the financial sense; a few hundred dollars can get a person access to a basic firearm that is often more than enough to save that person’s life. The cost of each of the many classes it takes to learn hand combat defense adds up quickly, and is likely to easily hit the cost of a middle or possibly high-quality firearm.

The entry cost is not just financial, however. One must also consider the time commitment of each defensive tool. In a world where no firearms were available to defend oneself, one would need to spend many hours over months or years to become proficient enough at retreating, fighting, and defending in a close encounter to survive, much less win, against an attacker with inherent physical and tactical advantages. With a firearm, safety can be relatively easily taught to a basic level of proficiency, giving the defender infinitely more potential for not just survival, but triumph in a violent encounter.

Theoretically, as soon as someone purchases a firearm, that person’s odds in a life-or-death fight increase substantially. In actuality, training is generally necessary to employ a firearm with consistent competence. That said, each training session on the gun range pays way more dividends than any single training session in a martial art, such as BJJ or Krav Maga.

To be clear, this is not to denigrate the martial skills, nor to discourage people from training. Certainly, any well-rounded defender has the ability to physically defend him/herself long enough to employ a firearm. There is an endless list of scenarios where a person's physical skills are called on long before or even instead of his/her firearm skills. The difference between minimum necessary gun skills and minimum necessary martial skills can be compared to the difference between learning to play an instrument and learning how to use an mp3 player.

It is clear there is great value, at the individual level, of owning and carrying a gun for defensive purposes (and there are countless examples supporting this). Guns enable us to be equal in an otherwise unfair fight. They give a lifeline to otherwise helpless victims, making an armed society an equitable society. Further, firearm possession enables freedom and encourages individualism. That is why, if I could push a button and make every gun disappear, I'd push the button next to it, putting a decent weapon in every citizen’s hands.

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Guns Don’t Kill People, Social Media Does

by Shannon Bray,
Libertarian Party U.S. Senate Candidate for North Carolina

https://www.shannonbray.us/

I have something I want you to consider. After every mass shooting, people cry out for gun control. For weeks or months, gun control is all you hear and then it goes silent. There are many people who believe that the availability of weapons is why we have mass or school shootings. The thought is that if you take the guns away from everyone, these types of events would not happen. If we just pass a few more gun laws, we will save our children.

There comes a time when we need to find the core of the issues and not just slap band-aids on everything. Everything in our community has become fuel for our cancel culture; if someone does not like it, they want it gone for everyone, but that is a topic for another day. For the sake of this article, let us call the band-aid gun control and let us consider the core of the issue: social media. No doubt you already knew where I was going with this since the title states it clearly but let me make my point and offer you several references so that you can come to your own conclusion. First, I will highlight the growth of social media. Second, I will present data that will show social media links to depression and anxiety. Third, we will discuss the characteristics of people who commit these crimes. And finally, I will offer various approaches that will help mitigate these issues and explain why Congress is unable to address the problems by simply passing a bill.

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