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The Obama administration's three front move against citizen firearms:

In this week's Second Amendment Podcast, Jon Caldara and I discuss three recent steps the Obama administration has taken against firearms: canceling Department of Defense sales of once-fired brass; strangling the armed pilots program; and the new National Park Service rule against lead in national parks. The show was taped on Tuesday, and, happily, the first problem was fixed on Wednesday, as I explained in a postscript.

/:
What is there to convey at this point, other than somebody somewhere seems to have a problem with the concept of self-defense?

One need only to see how burglary-assaults are being prosecuted in Britain to see where this would lead.
3.21.2009 6:22am
Public_Defender (mail):
What is the evidence that Obama is "strangling the armed pilots program"? I did a Google news search and found only unsourced rumors on right-wing sites.
3.21.2009 9:41am
Seamus (mail):

What is the evidence that Obama is "strangling the armed pilots program"? I did a Google news search and found only unsourced rumors on right-wing sites.



Well, there's this (though perhaps you will dismiss the Washington Times as a "right-wing site").
3.21.2009 9:50am
Brett Bellmore:
How do you strangle a corpse? Last I heard, Bush had done a pretty good job of effectively killing off the armed pilots program.

Regarding the shredded brass, I've heard excuses that it was just low level incompetence. But, contra Napoleon, I say, "Where malice is already known to exist, it's reasonable to attribute to malice what might otherwise be explained by incompetence."
3.21.2009 10:04am
Brooksy (mail):
I believe The DoD rescinded the order to mutilate all spent cases. Although, I don't think it reflects any better on the administration that they tried to do this under the radar.
3.21.2009 10:04am
Nick B (mail):
re: Brooksy
Why would you expect anything else? It's Chicago politics as normal, but we've for some reason elected them to the national level.
And it's noted that the DoD order has been fixed, "The show was taped on Tuesday, and, happily, the first problem was fixed on Wednesday, as I explained in a postscript."
- Nick
3.21.2009 10:11am
Nick056:
Public_Defender,

I did come across a Washington Times editorial saying that two million dollars had been "diverted from the pilot training program to hire more supervisory staff" which the editorial described as "harassment" given that the gun-carrying pilots are reported to have "the best behavior of any federal law enforcement agency." Also, the process of being granted permission to carry as a pilot has become "stalled" -- this is on anecdotal evidence.

So, I'd say "strangled" is a bit strong given what I've read so far. But perhaps I don't have the major story here.

I can say that I found a piece talking about Bush's own "sabotage" of this program. It makes such a powerful case against Bush that I'm not sure how Obama could possibly be doing any worse than his predecessor on this front, or, frankly, how you could be described as strangling a program that probably flat-lined already, given Bush's sabotage. (I realize Kopel doesn't compare them above. Still, would you assume Obama was continuing the general Bush attitude toward this program?) After all, the article I found reports that no less a person than Homeland chief Tom Ridge wanted to stall the program -- permanently. But perhaps things weren't so bad then, if it's still around at all for Obama to take shots at today. So perhaps things won't be that bad now, though I can't say for sure.

But I'm not sure what David Kopel would think of the article on which I rely so heavily to reason out my claims on Bush and Obama. The piece is written by the notorious reprobate David Kopel.
3.21.2009 10:14am
Brooksy (mail):
re: Nick B
I am not at all surprised. This is par for what I expected from the Obama administration. And my apologies, somehow I missed David's note that the first problem was resolved.
3.21.2009 10:41am
Cornellian (mail):
I'm finding it hard to get too worked up about this. Changing a park service rule isn't exactly a full frontal assault on the Second Amendment.
3.21.2009 10:46am
rosetta's stones:
Cornellian,

No, it's not a full frontal assault, it's a full bureaucratic assault.

An aim of the antis seems to be to run up the cost of ammunition, which shredding brass does, and which eliminating lead does.
3.21.2009 10:54am
Fub:
Cornellian wrote at 3.21.2009 10:46am:
I'm finding it hard to get too worked up about this. Changing a park service rule isn't exactly a full frontal assault on the Second Amendment.
True that it isn't "exactly a full frontal assault". It's just a continuation of the "gun control" lobby's "long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object", to reduce the 2nd Amendment to an inkblot.
3.21.2009 11:10am
Joseph Slater (mail):
I have no knowledge or even strong opinion about the armed pilot program, but for the record, the Washington Times is clearly a right wing source.
3.21.2009 11:24am
OSU2L (mail):
David:
How about a comment on the court's inunction in the National Park Gun ban case?
3.21.2009 11:34am
Augusto Pin O'Shea:
Slater: "...the Washington Times is clearly a right wing source.
.................................

Well that all depends on your perspective, doesn't it?
3.21.2009 11:39am
the_pathogen (mail) (www):
I've been described as reactionary gun-nut many times, but the armed pilots program is useless, and I'm in favor of it being reevaluated or dropped entirely. The only empirical evidence I can find of a sort of success is back in July 6, 1954.

The other day there was a discussion on Volokh about the accuracy of civilians with CCW/CHLs. I implore everyone who considers pilots carrying pistols to research it themselves. Sure, you could look ask Luke Woodham and Peter Odighizuwa about how pistols changed their life, but cases like that are unique, and do not involve a large number of hostages in a confined area.

If during 9/11 the pilots on board had pistols it would not have stopped the attacks. A terrorist just needs to kill hostages until the pistols are turned over, it's not like these pilots are going to attempt a heroic rescue mission of the back cabin during a flight. This idea of armed pilots is for the pilots protection, not the passengers. If we really are concerned for our safety, lets get a federal CHL that allows regular citizens to carry on board (after going through the same evaluation these pilots have), or provide more air marshals, or anything that actually provides a level of safety for passengers.
3.21.2009 12:45pm
glangston (mail):
Would the fact that an investigative reporter went 4 for 4 on fake passport applications be a further incentive to arm pilots?. It looks like we have to assert all avenues of security to achieve even a modicum of success.
3.21.2009 1:32pm
Nick B (mail):
re: Joseph Slater
Will you accept that CNN is a clearly left wing source then?
3.21.2009 1:55pm
RPT (mail):
Nick B:

Re CNN, No, it is not "left-wing", a term which has only pejorative meaning ("left wing is what I don't like"). You need to use more clearly defined terms. WT is all ideology all the time. CNN is standard center-right corporate media.
3.21.2009 3:48pm
Nick B (mail):
re: RPT
Your definition of center right is very interesting.
3.21.2009 4:02pm
Joseph Slater (mail):
Augusto (if I may use your first name):

Yes, perspective is important. Using the perspective of the broad swath of mainstream U.S. politics, the Washington Times is clearly on the political right.

Nick B.:

No, CNN is not "clearly left wing" -- again, using the perspective of the broad swath of mainstream U.S. politics. MSNBC has a couple of left-liberal commentators with their own shows, though.
3.21.2009 4:26pm
Joseph Slater (mail):
Nick B.:

Comparing how many times a news source cites a certain think tank vs. how many times a Congressional Rep cites the same is certainly a weird methodology.

You might want to check out Eric Alterman and Media Matters for the other point of view.
3.21.2009 4:28pm
Allan Walstad (mail):

If during 9/11 the pilots on board had pistols it would not have stopped the attacks. A terrorist just needs to kill hostages until the pistols are turned over, it's not like these pilots are going to attempt a heroic rescue mission of the back cabin during a flight.

Path, given what we know now about how hijacked planes can be used to kill thousands, presumably pilots would not turn over their pistols in any event. The point is to prevent access by terrorists to the cockpit, so that the plane cannot be used as a missile.
3.21.2009 4:35pm
the_pathogen (mail) (www):
Allan Walstad,

If that was our goal, we could simply install a system that overrides pilot control in fly-by-wire systems and have the aircraft land on autopilot. We have that technology in Predator drones. As a former aviation mechanic for the military, I can assure you that on most modern aircraft it would be as simple as installing a computer box. Ground control could activate it. If for some reason you do not think that is feasible, the locked and barricaded cockpit doors should suffice.

Pilots having pistols is an illusion of safety. As a person with a CHL, I'd much rather have a pistol myself if the aircraft is being overrun with terrorists.
3.21.2009 5:41pm
Brett Bellmore:

As a former aviation mechanic for the military, I can assure you that on most modern aircraft it would be as simple as installing a computer box. Ground control could activate it.


Oh, yeah, that's really going to be popular with the pilots, knowing that some hacker might turn their airliner into an RC toy.
3.21.2009 6:42pm
Seamus (mail):

CNN is standard center-right corporate media.



Anyone who thinks CNN is "center-right" is probably a pretty hard leftist. Although I suspect RPT thinks of himself as a moderate "progressive." ("What do you mean, dude? You don't know nuthin' about 'hard left.' I got plenty of friends who think we ought to have show trials for Bush, Cheney, and Ben Bernanke, followed by their executions. I disagree with them and say they ought to have trials before juries that will have the option of voting for acquittal. That makes me a moderate.")
3.21.2009 6:49pm
Public_Defender (mail):
It was a Wash Times editorial. That's a bit suspicious. Did the story not have enough to it to make the news section of the paper?
3.21.2009 8:00pm
Owen Hutchins (mail):

In this week's Second Amendment Podcast, Jon Caldara and I discuss three recent steps the Obama administration has taken against firearms: canceling Department of Defense sales of once-fired brass; strangling the armed pilots program; and the new National Park Service rule against lead in national parks. The show was taped on Tuesday, and, happily, the first problem was fixed on Wednesday, as I explained in a postscript.



The first wasn't instituted by the administration (as noted already), the second is false on its face, and the third has nothing to do with the second amendment as hunting in National Parks is already banned in almost all parks, and the scientific data actually does support the conclusions that it is harmful. The primary goal is to remove lead fishing tackle, for environmental reasons, rather like the move away from lead shot in some areas for wildfowl hunting. So you're 0 for 3.
3.21.2009 8:48pm
Kirk:
pathogen,

What on earth makes you think it has to be either/or? It's not the presence of the armed pilots program that's keeping you from carrying on board!

Also, what Brett said about automated, non-overrideable ground control of human-carrying aircraft.
3.21.2009 8:49pm
Public_Defender (mail):
It looks like Kopel might have been snookered. From that left wing source, Fox New:


Federal officials are denying a report that the Obama administration is seeking to end a program that allows trained airline pilots to carry guns.

In an editorial published Tuesday in The Washington Times, the newspaper wrote that "President Obama is quietly ending the federal firearms program, risking public safety on airlines in the name of an anti-gun ideology."

Sterling Payne, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, denied the report and said the program that oversees a reported 12,000 federal flight deck officers (FFDO) is actually expanding.

"It's inaccurate, this program continues to grow," Payne told FOXNews.com of the editorial. "TSA continues to recruit and put new FFDOs on planes, and we continue to train them and do recurring training."

Payne said TSA officials have recently opened a training center for FFDOs in Atlantic City, N.J., with others planned to open in Texas and other states. She declined, citing security concerns, to say how many federal flight deck officers are authorized by the agency, citing security concerns.

"We have thousands of FFDOs right now and we add thousands each year," Payne said.
Representatives from The Washington Times did not return a request for comment. A White House spokesman declined to speak on the matter, saying it was being handled by TSA officials

In a statement issued Tuesday, the Airlines Pilots Association International -- the world's largest airline pilot union, representing nearly 52,250 pilots in the U.S. and Canada -- said the Times editorial "couldn't be further from the truth."

"ALPA representatives met with TSA executives this afternoon and were told in no uncertain terms that TSA embraces the FFDO program, that there are no plans to reduce or restrict its growth, and that in fact the agency fully intends to grow and expand the program," the statement read. "Government representatives acknowledged that the program needs additional funding to achieve these goals, and that they are actively seeking same."

TSA officials are currently training up to 1,500 pilots annually for the program, which was instituted after the Sept. 11 attacks, according to ALPA's statement.

"The size of the FFDO cadre has grown so large that additional resources are needed to provide greater structure and oversight to this important program, which TSA referred to [Tuesday] as 'an important layer of defense.'"

According to TSA's Web site, the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks "demonstrated the need for a multi-layered approach to securing commercial airlines -- and in particular the cockpit -- from terrorist and criminal assault."


Again, if a right wing paper like the Washington Times didn't have enough confidence to put these allegations in their new section, why should anyone believe them? The editorial is based only on allegations that the editorial writers claim were made by an unknown number of anonymous pilots.

So far, the denial has a lot more facts and is a lot more credible than the allegation. Obama Derangement Syndrome may be setting in already.
3.21.2009 9:21pm
Kirk:
Public_Defender,

Are you not aware of the Attorney General's recent pronouncements on the subject of a renewed AWB? Sure, in any given instance, a rumor may just be an unfounded story, but these folks sure don't deserve the slightest benefit of the doubt on this subject.
3.21.2009 11:31pm
Owen Hutchins (mail):
So what you're saying is, a false story is ok?
3.21.2009 11:35pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

As a former aviation mechanic for the military, I can assure you that on most modern aircraft it would be as simple as installing a computer box.

I take it you weren't an avionics tech?
3.21.2009 11:48pm
Kirk:
Owen,

Not at all. If a report is mistaken (or, worse yet, simply false right out of the gate) then the sooner it's corrected ty better.

Rather, what I mean is, given the public statements that have been made by administration officials (and also by some congressional leaders, e.g. Feinstein), only a fool would trust assurances that these folks mean well in regard to civilian small-arms ownership. They themselves have already told us they don't!
3.22.2009 12:08am
James Gibson (mail):
As a practicing Aerospace engineer who is aware of FAA requlations I have to state that Pathogen is too modern for his own good. F-16s may have been fly-by-wire since the 1970s and the C-17 since the 1980s, but only a very few commercial aircraft are FBW. We may have glass cockpits, but the controls are not electric and the aircraft can't be controlled from the ground. The reason for this is the FAA and TSA regulations.

In truth we should be using Fly-By-Light fiber optic systems by this time. Instead the first FBW commercial liners was the A320 and the first American design was the 777. Everything else is too old and the cost of revamping the control system and then recertifying it is as expensive as building a whole new design. The first Business jet with FBW was certified in 2007. Granted the 787 will be FBW and the A380 is, but very few A380s are in service and the 787 is still awaiting flight testing. It will be another decade before we can "control the airliner from the ground" in an emergency.

Besides, all a terrorist needs to do is disrupt the control signals and he can bring the plane down with anywhere from 100 to 800 passengers. Its that concern, and the FAA's conservative view,s that require people to turn off their phones, laptops, gameboys, and CD players (though who owns one of these now) on takeoff and landing on the FBW jets.
3.22.2009 3:32am
Public_Defender (mail):

Sure, in any given instance, a rumor may just be an unfounded story, but these folks sure don't deserve the slightest benefit of the doubt on this subject.


If Kopel and the commentators had treated the allegations as rumor, instead of as fact, I would not have had a valid point. By contrast, my comments are full of words like "may" and "looks like" because I just don't know what really happened. The denials include names and facts. The accusations are unnamed and vague.

Nick056 also had a good point. Some pilots complained that the Bush Administration was engaging in pretty much the acts that the Washington Times was attributing to Obama. It's possible that Obama's real "fault" is not cleaning up a Bush mess quickly enough. If that's the case, it's almost a lie to allege that any problems are the result of an Obama anti-gun crusade.

Look, there are some on the Left who would have believed a story that Cheney was detaining Palestinian children at Gitmo so he could drink their blood. The reaction to these allegations show that some on the Right are just as wacky. This Conspirators tend to be more level headed than that. It looks like Kopel slipped a little with this post.
3.22.2009 5:46am
PersonFromPorlock:
Treating rumor as fact actually works pretty well, at least in politics. Look at how a rumor of racism instantly causes all concerned to back away from whatever the rumor's about. It isn't necessary for the public to be outraged about reality, so long as it's outraged.
3.22.2009 8:21am
Joseph Slater (mail):
Should I be shocked that people are, essentially, defending what appears to be an out-and-out falsehood in the Washington Times editorial (and, by extension, in the original post)? It's no big deal because the people being lied about are on the "wrong" side of the issue anyway? Because the other side does it? Really?
3.22.2009 11:12am
Kirk:
I'll try one more time, and then go off to more beneficial pursuits.

Speaking just for myself, I have no interest in defending rumors which turn out to be false and those who right stories about them. I merely want to point out that folks who have got their 2nd-amendment-infringement detectors turned up to 11 have some reasonable grounds for doing so.
3.22.2009 11:52am
zippypinhead:
I'm as suspicious as anyone of the Administration's motives on Second Amendment issues, but these particular vignettes are all probably false alarms.

NRAILA, not generally viewed as a Brady Campaign dupe, seems satisfied with the DoD explanation on milsurp brass sales.

If the real purpose of the anti-lead NPS rule was to raise the price of ammunition, how does one explain the potentially more far-ranging ban on lead fishing weights, etc? Sounds like a perhaps-misguided environmental motive, not one aimed specifically at ammunition. If there was an overt anti-firearms goal underlying such a rule, the Administration should have have proposed a significantly broader rule affecting ammunition nationwide from the EPA, CPSC, or some other alphabet-soup agency.

Finally, as for the TSA program, as Nick056 pointed out above, Dave Kopel himself has made excellent observations about the bipartisan ways in which the FFDO program has been diddled with over time.

I will readily admit there is a lot that can be done administratively to discourage firearms ownership and use. And eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. So perhaps there's a benefit to raising the alarm even in instances where there may not be a real threat (provided you don't cross over to being perceived as just crying wolf or being a member of the tinfoil-hat set). Strong responses to even possible attempts to infringe on Second Amendment rights put the Administration on notice that even under-the-radar attempts will be "outed" and resisted aggressively. It's another useful signal, much like the Senate's filibuster-proof majority vote on the D.C. gun control amendment and the letter last week to A.G. holder from 65 Democratic Congressmen warning that any new AWB legislation is DoA on the Hill.
3.22.2009 2:32pm
ARCraig (mail):
The APP was dead on arrival. From the very beginning, the gov't was mandating such insane things as a padlock placed through the trigger lock while the gun was in the holster. In other words, it was ridiculously easy for the pilot to accidentally put the lock in in such a way as to cause an accidental discharge- which happened once.

For all the smothering (and sometimes outright dangerous) red tape any pilot wanting to defend himself and his plane was buried in, the program may as well have not existed. It simply wasn't worth it, and I think that was the intention.
3.22.2009 2:42pm
ARCraig (mail):

Also, what Brett said about automated, non-overrideable ground control of human-carrying aircraft


That would do even more harm to a light aircraft industry/hobby that was already damaged heavily by the government's post-9/11 authoritarian incompetent flailing.
3.22.2009 2:45pm
Owen Hutchins (mail):


If that was our goal, we could simply install a system that overrides pilot control in fly-by-wire systems and have the aircraft land on autopilot. We have that technology in Predator drones. As a former aviation mechanic for the military, I can assure you that on most modern aircraft it would be as simple as installing a computer box. Ground control could activate it. If for some reason you do not think that is feasible, the locked and barricaded cockpit doors should suffice.



It's funny you should mention this. Just such a system was used in the pilot episode of a TV show called The Lone Gunmen (spinoff from X-files), which aired March 4, 2001. In the episode, a ground-control system intended to prevent hijackings was itself hijacked in order to fly an airliner into...the World Trade Center. The plot was hatched by a group of hawks in our own government, so that they could then blame the tragedy on some unnamed middle-eastern country, starting a war.
3.22.2009 5:27pm
the_pathogen (mail) (www):
Owen Hutchins, funny isn't it? I seem to remember watching remote control fighter jet drones take off only to be shot down. But hey, I was just a Crew Chief, and I was only working on KC-135's, and I only did it for four years.

If there was a market for creating a technology so that these airplanes could land themselves in an emergency, we would have them, and all the aircraft would be retrofitted with them. I only suggested fly-by-wire and ground-operation for analogy reasons, they are not required for the technology to work. This is a political problem, not a technological one. Flying with a computer would inevitably be safer if a reliable system could be built. In twenty years we might not have a quarter of the pilots we have now and flights will be safer. Commercial airlines will probably be piloted from a remote facility with a group of observers who oversee several flights at once. That's the safe way to do it, if you're concerned about terrorism.
3.22.2009 8:40pm
Kirk:
No, pathogen, creating a non-subvertible remote control system is very much a technical problem (as well as political problem too--I'll grant you that if you accept the "too" being added.)
3.23.2009 12:45am
pintler:
I had a relative who was an airline pilot. By the time the airlines resumed flying a few days after 9/11, he and his colleagues had already decided that if anyone attempted to hijack their aircraft, they would begin an emergency descent to the nearest airport, while performing +1G,-1G maneuvers until it was time to flare for landing, and they would ensure the aircraft would be unflyable w/o maintenance by the end of the rollout.

Using unhackable (riiiight!) remote control of aircraft is simply unnecessary, even if it was practical. Of course, that's also true of much of the rest of airport security, as far as preventing hijacking goes (bombs are a different case).

As an aside, the whole 'we'll trust you with a 747 but not a pistol' business is pretty odd, too. The same relative once mentioned that in the 90's, it was not uncommon for grizzled old Captains to have a gun in their briefcase; apparently in days gone by it was actually required when flying mail, and the old codgers had gotten into the habit.
3.23.2009 11:17am
FWB (mail):
My idea since 911 was to arm EVERY passenger at the gate with a .45 and make everyone fly nekkid. Oh, yes, you have to give the .45 back as you deplane.

OTOH, the term ARMS in the Second Amendment includes ammunition and components to produce ammunition whether those servants of ours want to believe so or not. Arms is an all inclusive term. And for darn sure it doesn't say "firearms".

Tiocfaidh ar la!
3.23.2009 4:52pm

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