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What the Second Amendment Really Guarantees

October 30, 2016 Leave a comment

Anyone who owns a concealed carry permit is very familiar with the Second Amendment and likely has very strong views on what freedoms are guaranteed by one of the most familiar addendums to the U.S. Constitution. The Bill of Rights is an extension of the U.S. Constitution that attempted to close loopholes not covered by the Founders in the original document. gold-bullets

Yet the Second Amendment is not a statute that provides a legal basis for citizens of the United States to keep and bear arms.

As Beth Alcazar explains in her article “The Second Amendment Gives Nothing…” at USConcealedCarry.com, the Second Amendment is simply the medium for the message:

“The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects and guarantees the right of individuals to keep and bear arms. It affirms our right. And what the Second Amendment was designed to do is prohibit government from infringing upon that right.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)

One of the reasons America was colonized was because of the desire the colonists had to live in a place where they could exercise the inalienable rights that they felt had been subjugated in the countries they’d left behind. They were anxious to create a system where rights and liberties were permanent and available to all, such as the right to keep and bear arms.

In other words, the Second Amendment is basically putting the government on notice with a reminder of sorts, regarding what the Framers intended when they wrote the original Constitution.

Another key word in the Second Amendment is the term “infringed.” Although the word itself doesn’t brim with power, it certainly can invoke strong emotions when used to keep abuse of power in check. In its simplest form, infringed means to wrongfully violate or restrict the rights of another. The Founders chose this word deliberately, as a warning signal covering a wide swath of potential government intrusions, excesses, and basic human rights violations.

The colonial leaders understood the natural right to protect “life, limb and property” early on. Yet it wasn’t the Native Americans or the wild animals on the frontier that they worried most about. Jefferson wrote that “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

Some things never change.

“Roughing It” Could Mean Leaving Your Gun at Home

August 14, 2016 Leave a comment

Gun owners in general and concealed carry permit holders in particular are generally vigilant people when it comes to personal and home defense planning, but those plans change radically when you decide that a family vacation in the back country is a good idea.moose

Any trip off the beaten path requires a different mindset than taking the family to the movies.

Although situational awareness is still paramount, the focal points are different. The likelihood of being confronted and robbed while in the great outdoors is slim.

An attack by any number of large animals that roam the more remote areas of national parks, forests, and Bureau of Land Management properties is more likely.

Unfortunately, firearm regulations in these areas can be tricky. A 2010 federal law makes it legal to carry firearms in national parks as long as it doesn’t infringe on local or state laws and although it may be legal to carry the weapon, likely isn’t legal to discharge it.

National park websites now have links to the applicable state firearm laws for their respective states. International borders such as the Boundary Waters area on the U.S.-Canada border create even more confusion as regulations can vary at different entry points.

The same is true to a lesser extent on U.S. federal lands, as author Tom Watson explains in his article “Backcountry Backup: Defending Your Life and Property” at USConcealedCarry.com:

“In the case where a portion of two or more states [lie] within a park boundary, it is up to each individual to check the status of laws in each of those particular states.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)

Although the passing of the 2010 law has generated considerable debate, there has been no indication of consequences in either direction. Between 2012 and 2013, minor criminal incidents in federal lands dropped from 113,000 to 105,000. Firearm use or lack thereof was not indicated in the reports.

There has been at least one incident of isolated campers being terrorized by gun-toting marauders. The incident occurred in 2007 before the federal law was passed and is still a topic of debate today whether the outcome would have been different if the campers had been armed.

Large carnivorous animals are a legitimate concern anytime you venture into their territory, but the chances of being killed by one are remote. For instance, in a 25-year period in Alaska, a total of 90 bears were killed either in self-defense or to protect property, amounting to less than 4 bears per year. However, 6 people were killed by bears from 1985 to 1996. Alaska regulations now require people to remain at least 50 yards from bears, although the bears are probably not familiar with the law.

For those who feel more comfortable carrying a firearm as a large animal deterrent, the recommended calibers are .40 handguns and .44 Magnum revolvers or shotguns. Bear spray is also extremely effective. Before you head to the outback with a weapon, make sure you are comfortable and skilled enough with it to potentially face off with a large man-eater looking for food or defending his territory.

Tales from the Court: Grand Jury Mysteries Explained

July 17, 2016 Leave a comment

The U.S. government system has worked well for more than 200 years and one of the reasons for this success is that the Founding Fathers, and those who followed them didn’t hesitate to borrow bits and pieces of what was working best for governments in other countries around the world.courtroom

However, there is one government institution that’s almost solely American. In fact, the United States shares this legal entity with only one other country — Liberia, which likely adopted it from the United States, and that entity is the grand jury.

The legal procedure known as the “grand jury” is a term that just about everyone has heard, but very few people actually understand. Many assume it’s just a regular jury for more important cases.  Yet the term actually comes from the number of jurors involved, usually ranging from 16-23 citizens.  A standard jury is technically called a petit (French for small) jury.

Although the grand jury system is part of the judicial process, its purpose is completely different from the standard jury’s. The members of a grand jury are empowered to investigate whether a crime has occurred and if there’s enough evidence to bring a case to trial.

Yet as author John Caile explains in his article “What is a Grand Jury?” at USConcealedCarry.com, many states do not use the grand jury prerogative:

“Interestingly, while every state has provisions to empanel grand juries, approximately half don’t use them. Instead, they have a ‘preliminary hearing’ to determine if a trial is warranted. However, there are significant differences.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)

One of the reasons many states forego grand juries is cost. A preliminary hearing is presided over only by a judge, who hears both sides and determines the viability of going to trial. A grand jury on the other hand, involves the outlay of taxpayers’ money for weeks or potentially even months to compensate a large number of jury members for their time.

Another difference is that the grand jury isn’t required to have all members in agreement in order to make a recommendation. Depending on the jurisdiction, a 2/3 or ¾ of the majority is all that is needed.

If the grand jury does return an indictment, the prosecutor can proceed immediately to the trial stage. Even if an indictment isn’t returned, the prosecution can still move forward, but the burden of proof is higher since the DA’s office must now provide convincing evidence to a judge before a trial date can be set.

In some jurisdictions, there may be cases where both options are on the table and the prosecution will have to weigh the odds. One factor is that the defendant must choose to have a preliminary hearing. This happens when the defense attorney believes the judge will be sympathetic to their case.  In other instances, high profile cases such as those involving police officers are often sent to a grand jury to relieve the onus of creating a possible adversarial relationship between the District Attorney and local law enforcement.

For those members of the concealed carry community, a little legal knowledge can be dangerous. It is important to learn as much as possible about the areas of law that may directly affect your life should you ever have to use your weapon. The grand jury is a somewhat obscure process that could significantly alter your future. Learn what to expect now and you will be prepared for the unexpected.

I.O. Inc. Sporter AK-47: Old World Tradition, New World Performance

November 8, 2015 Leave a comment

The Russian Kalashnakov AK-47 is one of the most famous and incidentally most infamous weapons of the modern period. Developed during World War ll as a response to the large number of German troops armed with Sturmgewehr StG 44 assault rifles, the AK-47 began as the SKS semi-automatic rifle, but was soon updated to the AK-47, essentially the same weapon that we’re familiar with today.sporter ak

The AK-47 was standard issue for the Soviet Union and its eastern bloc satellites for years and as a result, gained a reputation as the “communists’ gun.”

Despite its effectiveness as a combat rifle, the gun was loathed in the western world. The AK-47’s reputation suffered further when the gun was linked to various terrorist organizations whose stated goal is to kill as many non-Muslims as possible.

Despite the bad rap, the AK-47 is one of the best guns for some home defense situations and I.O. Inc. manufactures one of the best of the best, its made-in-the-USA Sporter.  In his article “I.O. Inc. Sporter Rifle–USA Made Quality, AK-47 Reliability” at USConcealedCarry.com, author Scott W. Wagner describes how I.O. Inc.’s Sporter design improved on the basic AK-47:

“I.O. Inc., one of the relative newcomers to the AK market, has taken the AK and combined simple updates with quality manufacturing to provide potential buyers with an AK that will meet their needs and then some.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)

Replacing the wood stock was one of the first changes I.O. Inc. made with the Sporter since it was a relatively easy cosmetic modification and was a feature that was generally disliked.  I.O. Inc. still produces the traditional wood stock, but their lightweight modern black polymer model is more popular.

In addition to its ergonomic design, it has a rubber recoil pad that increases comfort and reduces kickback. Other features on the Sporter include a ventilated fore-end, angled muzzle brake, scope mounting point, bayonet lug, and bottom-mounted Picatinny rail for additional accoutrements such as lights and lasers.

But I.O. Inc. didn’t stop with external modifications. Improved performance was a primary goal with the Sporter model.  The accepted grouping for a traditional AK-47 was about 4-6 inches at 100 yards. With the Sporter, I.O. Inc. has reduced groupings to an incredible 2 inches at the same distance, levelling the playing field with the AK-47’s main competition, the AR-15. The trigger action on the Sporter was a pleasant surprise as well; exceptionally smooth and fairly short.  Its performance during testing was impeccable, not jamming a single time even during rapid fire.

If you are looking to beef up your defense plan for a farm, ranch, or other large rural property, the I.O. Inc. Sporter AK-47 is the way to go, and at an MSRP of about $750, the price is definitely right.

Urban Myths Can Create Legal Nightmares

January 30, 2015 Leave a comment

caution tapeIt doesn’t take long for gun owners to become familiar with the more widespread urban myths surrounding the world of firearms.  Those in the concealed carry community are even more likely to hear unsubstantiated stories, dubious statistics, and just plain hearsay because they’re more involved in the cultural aspects of responsible gun ownership.

Most of these myths can be easily discredited by knowledgeable firearm owners, but a few of these urban myths have survived through the years and are now somewhat dangerous in that many people simply quote them as fact without fact-checking their sources.

What follows is a short list of urban legends that aren’t true and can get someone into serious legal trouble in the event that they take action based on their false beliefs.

Author John Caile discusses the dangers of spreading unsupported urban myths in his article “Well My Buddy’s Dad Was a Cop and He Says…” on USConcealedCarry.com:

“But whatever you do, ignore [what you’ve heard]. And please, don’t be so stupid as to repeat them publicly, especially online! Instead, learn everything you can about what really happens in criminal and civil court — especially how decisions based on ‘urban myths’ can have devastating results for you and your family.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)

The most popular misconception is the notion that you can shoot someone anywhere on your property and then move them inside.  With today’s technology, the trained crime scene investigators can easily determine that the body was moved.  At that point, be prepared to be treated more like a suspect than a victim.

Another widely-spread misconception is that deadly force is acceptable if you’re fearing for your life.   While this is essentially true, it’s an abstract concept and very difficult to prove in court. The jury will have to believe that the attacker had the ability to kill or maim you with intent to do so.

The belief that anyone in your house is fair game is also likely to get you in serious trouble.  The term “Castle Doctrine” refers to the various laws governing the rules of self-defense in the home.  The laws vary from community to community and will most likely work against you in court.

And of course, there’s the myth that a wounded intruder should be finished off so there’s no possibility of a lawsuit.  As mentioned before, the forensics unit will easily determine that the invader was basically executed and there’s no guarantee that the family of the deceased won’t opt to sue.  On top of that, you’ll likely face criminal charges.

When examined in a rational manner, many of the myths are easily dispelled.  Unfortunately, it’s often easier to spread misinformation than to become informed.  Members of the concealed carry community should strive to be up to date on the latest laws and regulations regarding weapon use in their homes and locales to ensure their safety as well as their families’.