Author Topic: The Trump Presidency  (Read 87931 times)

Offline gillianren

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1155 on: August 08, 2020, 11:00:37 AM »
If the State of New York has its way, the NRA won't be influencing anyone much longer.  Maybe instead of getting someone who represents the gun manufacturers, there'll be an organization that represents gun owners after that.
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Offline Jeff Raven

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1156 on: August 08, 2020, 12:50:24 PM »
If the State of New York has its way, the NRA won't be influencing anyone much longer.  Maybe instead of getting someone who represents the gun manufacturers, there'll be an organization that represents gun owners after that.

The funny thing is, when I was young, that's exactly how the NRA operated in my area - promoting gun safety, responsible hunting, etc. I don't recall (it's possible it was happening and I just don't remember it) anyone talking about or pushing the 2nd Amendment during those courses or seminars. It was always, "if you're going to own a gun, you need to know how to do so properly."  Of course, it could be that because I'm from a rural area it was more of a foregone conclusion that people would own guns, so there was no need to talk about the Constitution, but my memory is of safety being pushed, not an agenda. It's also possible that the adults were talking about things we kids weren't.

Offline Luther

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1157 on: August 08, 2020, 10:28:09 PM »
Putting aside what type of weapons are legal to sell & own, why is there such opposition to a national firearms database?

Fear of a policy change.

To take a different example, there are a lot of people in the US who are illegal immigrants, but were brought there when they were quite young.  So what to do about them?  Their presence in the US is definitely illegal, there is no question about that.  But they were brought as children, sometimes as infants, so clearly the decision to enter the US illegally was someone else's.  You sometimes hear them referred to as the "dreamers", although this term would usually only be used by those more sympathetic to their plight.

So the Obama administration began a programme that allowed them to register, which would make them ineligible for deportation for two years, and allowed them to work.  Basically, they would still be illegal immigrants, but the government would simply ignore their illegal status.  The registration could be renewed.  There were some strings attached, if you have a serious criminal conviction, you're not eligible.  The programme was called DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.  The "Action" that is "deferred" is deportation.  You're still illegal, but the government won't do anything about it for a while.  This programme was not a law passed by a congress, it was an administrative action by the executive branch of the government, headed by the president.

Sounds great, doesn't it?  If you're one of these people, instead of having to live an undercover, illegal existence, concerned that at any moment, your illegal status could be discovered, and the government could deport you, you could stand up and be proud, live openly, find a job, etc.  You can't become a citizen, and you can't vote, but most of the ordinary everyday things citizens can do, you can do.  Why would anyone not want to sign up for that?

The trick is, you had to register.  If you weren't registered, and the government found you, you could be deported.  And you couldn't just work a job whenever you wanted - you had to register first for the job to be legal.  So you had to go to the government and identify yourself to be eligible.  Then, there was a presidential election, and Donald Trump became president.  Your name is now on a handy list of illegal immigrants in the possession of the government, whose head states openly that he wants to end this programme, and who in fact did attempt to end the programme.  The courts ruled in June that the Trump administration has acted arbitrarily and capriciously in its effort to end this programme, but it did not rule on the merits of the programme, so we have the possibility that the Trump administration will try again to end it, in a way that will pass muster in the courts.  (A similar thing happened with the so-called Muslim bans - the first two attempts were blocked by the courts, but Muslim Ban 3.0 was engineered to remedy the defects the courts found in versions 1.0 and 2.0.)  Donald Trump's term is up in five months, but he might win reelection.

So you have the possibility that a president will no longer "defer" your deportation, and force you to go back underground.  Except you can't go underground, because you went and identified yourself to the government as an illegal immigrant when you registered for this programme under the Obama administration.

So I think a lot of the gun people are concerned about something like that happening.  Maybe there is no reason to fear being in a national registry right now, but if a future administration changes policies (and the courts allow it to happen), then registration means they have a nice handy list of everyone who has guns.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2020, 10:32:25 PM by Luther »

Offline JayUtah

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1158 on: August 09, 2020, 01:26:42 PM »
That's an excellent summary and example, Luther.  The philosophy of American government is predicated on the presumption that a particular government agency's motive in any instance is untrustworthy.  From this follows that if personal information is susceptible to misuse, it simply should not be information the government has readily available.  Even when a greater good suggests information be routinely collected and kept (e.g., photographs on driver licenses), we try to put safeguards in place to prevent it from incidentally being used for other purposes, such as statewide surveillance and routine tracking of everyone's movements via face recognition.

Legally nothing prevents my state government from using whatever information I have provided to it as a requirement for licensed activity, and whatever other technology it can obtain, to routinely track everyone's movements everywhere in public at all time, and to retain this information indefinitely against some legitimate unforeseen need.  Previously it didn't need to be outlawed because it was impracticable to achieve.  The database couldn't be misused because it didn't exist.  It didn't exist because it was prohibitively difficult to create.  Now that such data can be collected, we have to think carefully about how to guarantee against misuse.  And the American philosophy to date has generally been that misuse is precluded if the data continue not to exist.

(And now there is a great struggle to reign in American law enforcement, which we have discovered is often collecting and retaining such information on the sly, without telling anyone that it exists.  We don't object to its existence if a need can be shown, but we object to its secret and unregulated existence.  American government strictly rejects the notion, "Trust us, we won't misuse this information.)

So yes, people who would have registered in good faith as firearms owners have a fear of direct action should policy change -- as it inevitably will.  But there is also the fear of indirect action in the form of parallel construction.  This is a prosecutorial technique called "parallel construction" by which information that would be inadmissible by itself can nevertheless be used to obtain admissible evidence by informing enforcement efforts.

Generally, being convicted of a felony disqualifies one from legally owning a firearm.  If a prosecutor who, for political reasons, wanted to reduce gun ownership in his district, having a handy list of gun owners would let him focus investigative efforts on those people.  Investigators are typically scarce resources, so a prosecutor must exercise discretion in what cases to pursue.  The existence of such databases can inform that discretion to nefarious ends.  Even if we take steps to make that information privileged, there is generally nothing to prevent a prosecutor from misusing the privilege so long as no part of that misuse is evident in what he actually presents in court.  The defense can inquire into the prosecutorial operation only insofar as it is was present in the complaint.

Hypothetically, Tom may be prosecuted on felony charges, whereas Dick and Harry are not.  And Tom's charges don't need to have anything to do with firearms; he can be charged, for example, with money-laundering.  And Dick and Harry can have equally or more evidently heinous felonious lifestyles.  In this case the only reason Tom was charged was because the prosecutor had the resources to prosecute only one of the three cases referred to him, and he chose Tom because he discovered Tom owns a gun and he wants to deprive him of it.  There is no valid defense to be found in the notion that Dick or Harry should have been investigated and charged instead.

The executive has long used directly inadmissible information to focus surveillance or investigation on politically or socially undesired parties, and thereby put their lives under more scrutiny than others, and thereby preferentially obtain a greater number of legitimate prosecutions among them for the same level of misconduct as found elsewhere.  Thus where enforcement-related information has the potential to create a politically vulnerable class of people, it is often better that it simply not exist, especially where misuse is so difficult to detect and root out.
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Offline JayUtah

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1159 on: August 09, 2020, 01:48:08 PM »
Of course, it could be that because I'm from a rural area it was more of a foregone conclusion that people would own guns, so there was no need to talk about the Constitution, but my memory is of safety being pushed, not an agenda.

This was identically my experience too.  Via various youth groups and activities, I was introduced to hunting-style firearms and indoctrinated with near-religious fanaticism on the responsibilities and dangers of owning and operating a firearm.  And yes, maybe the adults were talking about something more nefarious, but I never caught wind of it.  I moved out West in my early 20s, so I think I would have started to hear something about it.  And my opinion is that the people who taught me would be thoroughly appalled at these armed "militias" that are suddenly springing up to "protect" everyone's rights.

My high school civics teacher was a legend in our school district, so we had gun control debates.  And I had an excellent political science teacher who made us read the Federalists.  The NRA never really formed a part of those debates.  So I'm not surprised that recent events have exposed the gun-rights activists as being less motivated by Constitutional concerns and more likely motivated by far-right politics.  The thing they warned us about is literally happening:  the citizens are rising up against what they perceive to be heavy-handed, armed oppression on the part of government.  And they're siding with the government in that struggle.  So the people who are legitimately interested in how we should read the Constitution don't seem to care what the NRA says.
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Offline Jeff Raven

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1160 on: August 10, 2020, 11:03:32 PM »
So I'm not surprised that recent events have exposed the gun-rights activists as being less motivated by Constitutional concerns and more likely motivated by far-right politics. 

Indeed.  In Florida (where I live) after the school shootings, it was proposed that they would arm select teachers, giving them training, and requiring them to keep current on their qualifications by re-certifying either every year or every other year. I remember Trevor Noah (I believe) stating that this sounds like a great requirement, but that they should remove the word teacher and replace it with citizen. Completely logical, and in keeping with the actual meaning of the text of the Second Amendment referring to well-regulated. (having a firearm in proper condition and have proficiency in its use) Yet those same activists you mentioned would never go for such a thing, and I don't recall the NRA supporting the idea either.  Funny that.

Offline Jason Thompson

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1161 on: August 11, 2020, 04:34:22 AM »
So I'm not surprised that recent events have exposed the gun-rights activists as being less motivated by Constitutional concerns and more likely motivated by far-right politics. 

Indeed.  In Florida (where I live) after the school shootings, it was proposed that they would arm select teachers, giving them training, and requiring them to keep current on their qualifications by re-certifying either every year or every other year. I remember Trevor Noah (I believe) stating that this sounds like a great requirement, but that they should remove the word teacher and replace it with citizen. Completely logical, and in keeping with the actual meaning of the text of the Second Amendment referring to well-regulated. (having a firearm in proper condition and have proficiency in its use) Yet those same activists you mentioned would never go for such a thing, and I don't recall the NRA supporting the idea either.  Funny that.

Acknowledging that my view on guns is very different being a Brit, where we have very strict gun control laws (that were toughened up after a school shooting), that just seems to be solving the wrong problem.
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Offline Luther

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1162 on: August 11, 2020, 06:49:05 AM »
So yes, people who would have registered in good faith as firearms owners have a fear of direct action should policy change -- as it inevitably will.  But there is also the fear of indirect action in the form of parallel construction.  This is a prosecutorial technique called "parallel construction" by which information that would be inadmissible by itself can nevertheless be used to obtain admissible evidence by informing enforcement efforts.

Generally, being convicted of a felony disqualifies one from legally owning a firearm.  If a prosecutor who, for political reasons, wanted to reduce gun ownership in his district, having a handy list of gun owners would let him focus investigative efforts on those people.  Investigators are typically scarce resources, so a prosecutor must exercise discretion in what cases to pursue.  The existence of such databases can inform that discretion to nefarious ends.  Even if we take steps to make that information privileged, there is generally nothing to prevent a prosecutor from misusing the privilege so long as no part of that misuse is evident in what he actually presents in court.  The defense can inquire into the prosecutorial operation only insofar as it is was present in the complaint.

Hypothetically, Tom may be prosecuted on felony charges, whereas Dick and Harry are not.  And Tom's charges don't need to have anything to do with firearms; he can be charged, for example, with money-laundering.  And Dick and Harry can have equally or more evidently heinous felonious lifestyles.  In this case the only reason Tom was charged was because the prosecutor had the resources to prosecute only one of the three cases referred to him, and he chose Tom because he discovered Tom owns a gun and he wants to deprive him of it.  There is no valid defense to be found in the notion that Dick or Harry should have been investigated and charged instead.

Yes, I guess there is that also.  Gun ownership, even though legal, could enter negatively into your social credit score.

I knew someone once, an American, who claimed he was pulled over for some traffic issue by multiple police cars, with guns drawn.  He claims this is because he was a registered gun owner.  I have no way to verify whether this is really true, I haven't seen him for years, and I can't even remember his name.  I do remember the state, though, it was New Jersey.

Offline gillianren

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1163 on: August 11, 2020, 09:17:53 AM »
Acknowledging that my view on guns is very different being a Brit, where we have very strict gun control laws (that were toughened up after a school shooting), that just seems to be solving the wrong problem.

Oh, I quite agree.  But a lot of people really do believe they should be allowed to own arsenals with absolutely no regulation on it, and there we are.

And you folks aren't remembering the NRA wrong; its focus has shifted in the last few decades.  For one thing, it's well established that the primary force driving the current NRA is support for gun manufacturers, not gun owners.  Some of their policies make considerably more sense in that light.  There are a lot of examples of NRA hypocrisy, such as their absolute silence when a black licensed carrier was killed by the police during a routine traffic stop for informing them that he was a licensed carrier and armed.
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Offline Jeff Raven

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1164 on: August 11, 2020, 11:06:00 PM »
Acknowledging that my view on guns is very different being a Brit, where we have very strict gun control laws (that were toughened up after a school shooting), that just seems to be solving the wrong problem.

Given the long history of gun ownership in this country, and its place in our culture (some parts of the nation more than others), changing attitudes toward it would take a very long time. And that was true even before current events and the use of the internet helped to spur more distrust of government, the rise of survivalists and militia, etc.  Plus, there's the issue that there are just so many guns of all types out there that even if disarmament were pushed by the powers that be, it would almost be a practical impossibility to get them, at least without the police state action that the fear-mongers push.

Having gun owners be responsible ones, who know how to properly use and maintain their weapons, and have to demonstrate that they also are well aware of the actual laws and rights, is at least a step in a positive direction.

Offline Jeff Raven

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1165 on: August 11, 2020, 11:12:34 PM »
And you folks aren't remembering the NRA wrong; its focus has shifted in the last few decades.  For one thing, it's well established that the primary force driving the current NRA is support for gun manufacturers, not gun owners

That's a good point. Up until the rise to power of the lobbying section, the NRA was focused more on owners and responsibility, and was far more involved in that side of the law. In fact, if I remember correctly, they helped write one of the major laws involving automatic weapons and their registration with the federal government. 

Of course, in more recent times they pushed for the legislation which effectively crippled the ATF and other agencies, including state and local LEOs, from having an effective and efficient way to trace gun ownership, making it impossible for them to keep anything but hard copy records, requiring ridiculous number of man-hours to do checks that should take minutes at most using a computer.

Offline Obviousman

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1166 on: August 12, 2020, 02:04:31 AM »
Of course, in more recent times they pushed for the legislation which effectively crippled the ATF and other agencies, including state and local LEOs, from having an effective and efficient way to trace gun ownership, making it impossible for them to keep anything but hard copy records, requiring ridiculous number of man-hours to do checks that should take minutes at most using a computer.

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Offline Jason Thompson

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1167 on: August 12, 2020, 04:28:17 AM »
Having gun owners be responsible ones, who know how to properly use and maintain their weapons, and have to demonstrate that they also are well aware of the actual laws and rights, is at least a step in a positive direction.

I agree. Again, I don't know the full details of gun ownership laws in the US, and how they may differ on a state and federal level, but as I understand it, give or take the 'cooling off' periods on some firearms (I presume intended to prevent someone buying a gun to shoot someone in a fit of anger), anyone can walk into a gun store and buy a gun of more or less any kind. Since a gun has no other purpose but to kill and maim, be your target animal or human, it seems totally incredible to me that it is not already a requirement of owning one that you must have some degree of training, a licence, or somesuch measures to ensure that people buying a gun know how to store and handle it safely.

But then I don't really get the mentality of it being desirable to not only carry a lethal weapon but to advertise to others that you are doing so. Also, of course, every October/November/December time in the UK we have a period where any old tom, dick or harry over the age of 18 can walk into a shop and buy a huge box full of explosives, which is apparently allowed because they explode in a pretty way....
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Offline gillianren

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1168 on: August 12, 2020, 12:26:28 PM »
Honestly?  A lot of places have the explosives thing in June and early July as well--and the places that don't often have stricter regulations on fireworks.  Where I grew up, it was actually illegal to have fireworks, because I grew up in an area with high fire risk.  Banning guns in that way is obviously illegal.
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Online raven

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1169 on: August 12, 2020, 07:48:25 PM »
If folks need guns for an uprising, they can just find a way, like the gun fetishists are always saying criminals will do anyway.