The Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu

H/T Beyond The Band Of Brothers.

A look at the history of The Punchbowl Cemetery.

A cemetery for war heroes built on ancient holy ground.

Punchbowl Cemetery, officially called the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, is located atop Punchbowl Crater in Honolulu, Hawaii, close to Pearl Harbor. The crater’s original Hawaiian name is Puowaina, meaning “Hill of Sacrifice.” The place was hallowed long before it became a modern cemetery, though in a rather different sense: it was the burial site of kings and was also used for human sacrifice, especially the ritual sacrifice of people who violated tribal taboos.

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A 1853 depiction of Honolulu Harbor and the Punchbowl Crater

Kamehameha the Great, the founder of the Kingdom of Hawaii in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, installed cannons along the rim of the crater. These weren’t really intended to be used as weapons of war. Instead, they were fired to salute the arrival of distinguished people and on other auspicious occasions.

In the late 1890s, not long after U.S. supported white immigrants overthrew the monarchy, a proposal was raised to establish a cemetery on the site. It was rejected at the time, partly because of concern about the graves polluting the water supply and partly because people were averse to the idea of a “city of the dead” overlooking the “city of the living” from above.

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Punchbowl Crater rising above Honolulu

During World War II the crater was used as a firing range for the Hawaii National Guard and a site for artillery covering both Honolulu Harbor and part of Pearl Harbor. The idea of establishing a cemetery arose again during the war, partially because there was no convenient location for the interment of thousands of American soldiers who died in the PTO, such as on Wake Island, Guam or at various Japanese POW camps. The cemetery was dedicated in September 1949 but the first burials had already happened in January that year. It was opened to the public on July 19, 1949 with five burials: an unknown soldier, two Marines, an Army lieutenant and famous civilian war correspondent Ernie Pyle. Pyle, whose reports played a crucial role in the introduction of combat bonus for infantrymen, was killed in the Battle of Okinawa, the last pitched battle of the war.

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Ernie Pyle preparing to type an article in Normandy, 1944

At first all graves at the Punchbowl were marked with a white wooden cross or Star of David, which were in general use at the time. This, however, was only intended as a temporary measure. In 1951, all markers were replaced by flat granite headstone set into the ground. The change elicited public outcry, as people apparently weren’t aware that the old markers were slated to be removed. The new ones, however, were there to stay, giving the cemetery a very different look compared to overseas military cemeteries.

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American military graves with the type of wooden crosses, and a Star of David in the background, that were also used at the Punchbowl Cemetery in the first couple of years of its operation
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Some of the new headstones being temporarily removed from their spots for cleaning

The cemetery also played an important role in the burial of soldiers after the Korean War. In 1954, Operation Glory was an exchange of war dead between the United States and North Korea. Of the thousands of bodies handed over to U.S. authorities, several hundred unknown soldiers were buried at the Punchbowl Cemetery. The identities of only a few of them have been ascertained since.

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The location of the exchange site for Operation Glory in Korea

In addition to Ernie Pyle, a number of notable individuals are buried in the Punchbowl Crater or the urns containing their ashes laid to rest in the columbarium. Not even attempting to be comprehensive, we would like to highlight only a few of them here.

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Wah Kau Kong, the first Chinese American fighter pilot, who was shot down over Europe in February 1944, is also interred at the Punchbowl

Air Force Brigadier General Darr Alkire was captured by the Germans and acted as senior officer at the West Compound of Stalag Luft III, the prison camp where the famous Great Escape occurred, inspiring the film. Major Donn Beach operated R&R centers for officers and was the inventor of the tiki bar. Henry Oliver “Hank” Hansen was one of the men who raised the first U.S. flag over Iwo Jima. Wilfred “Jasper” Holmes was a Naval officer who came up with the idea of faking a water shortage on Midway Island in order to learn whether the Japanese were really planning an attack there. His ruse contributed to victory at the Battle of Midway. Ellison Onizuka, the first Hawaiian astronaut, died in the Challenger explosion.

You can pay your respects to the heroes, including 23 Medal of Honor recipients, interred at the Punchbowl Cemetery on our Pearl Harbor Tours. You can still join us for the 77thanniversary this December.

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When Eating Crow Was an American Food Trend

H/T Atlas Obscura.

This story gives a whole new meaning to the saying Eating Crow.

The birds briefly became a delicacy.

Often, crows were cooked with lard or butter.
Often, crows were cooked with lard or butter. BC999 / CC BY-SA 3.0

UNUSUAL TRENDS DOMINATED THE 1930S, such as the goldfish-swallowing fad that cropped up on college campuses. But choking down live fish wasn’t so much a snackas it was a novelty. Yet another trend of the time was much more filling, and just as unprecedented: In Tulsa, Oklahoma, residents started eating crows.

At the scholarly site The Recipes Project, Michael Walkden explains that the crow-eating craze can be traced to one man: Dr. T. W. Stallings, a former county health superintendent who was the first to promote eating crow. His reasons were two-fold, according to Walkden: Farmers disliked seeing the birds raid their fields, and Stallings held a deep personal dislike for the birds. At first, Stallings held “crow banquets,” where the secretive main ingredient was masked as quail. He soon managed to turn people into crow-eating aficionados, even after it came to light that the bird in question was indeed crow, and not quail. One of the most outspoken fans was the governor of Oklahoma, who founded the “Statehouse Crow Meat Lovers Association” in response.

Stalling’s recipe consisted of rubbing plucked crows with lard to combat their dryness, cooking them in a sealed cast-iron pan along with celery, and finishing them off with lots of gravy. Three crows per person would make a meal.

A crow finds a tasty treat.
A crow finds a tasty treat. INGRID TAYLAR / CC BY 2.0

Stallings’s passion for eating crow caused a craze. In 1935, a “wave of enthusiasm for crow” swept Oklahoma, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Of course, in the trailing days of the Great Depression, eating crow was more than just excitement over an alternative protein. For farmers in Oklahoma, hungry crows posed a threat to an already precarious livelihood, and the meat was a welcome addition to their daily diet. Walkden also points out that the surrounding press and public support for crow-eating could be nothing but good for the agricultural industry, so “state officials had a vested interest in promoting the extermination of the birds,” too.

Though eating crow was a curiosity, it also went down easy. The birds, mostly dark meat, have been described as pleasantly gamy by most accounts. Not to mention it was plentiful in Oklahoma and beyond. Crow-hunting clubs popped up, dedicated to shooting and eating all things corvid. In 1937, The Wisconsin Conservation Bulletin noted that “for several years there has been a campaign to prove to people generally that ‘black partridges’ are a delicious food.” It was an uphill battle, especially since crows, as scavengers, have been known to eat meat and garbage. Also, crows occasionally eat eggs and nestlings of other birds. Many hunters believed that shooting and eating crows was even good for conserving the populations of more desirable game birds, such as ducks.

Lucky for the crows, the trend soon fizzled, likely because times were less desperate. Walkden suggests that most people’s instinctual disgust towards certain animals is hard to overcome, so perhaps crow-eating was doomed from the start. But Stallings was not to be deterred. Even in 1947, as part of his “Crow-for-Food movement,” Stallings could still be found telling reporters that crows were easy to get, rich in Vitamin B, and tasty.

Kavanaugh confirmation hearings set to start on Sept. 4

H/T Fox News.

It is time for us to put pressure on our Senators to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be a Supreme Court Justice.

If you are like me I live in a Red State with a DemocRat up for reelection we need to put pressure on them to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are now set to start on Sept. 4, according to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley.

Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement on Friday that he expects the hearings to go on for three to four days, with opening statements taking up much of Day 1.

Grassley said his team has reviewed hundreds of thousands of pages related to Kavanaugh’s time as a federal judge, calling Kavanaugh “one of the most respected jurists in the country and one of the most qualified nominees ever to be considered by the Senate for a seat on our highest court.”

“My team has already reviewed every page of the over 4,800 pages of judicial opinions Judge Kavanaugh wrote, over 6,400 pages of opinions he joined, more than 125,000 pages of records produced from his White House legal service, and over 17,000 pages in response to the most comprehensive questionnaire ever submitted to a nominee.”

Democrats have argued that Republicans are rushing the process for the lifetime appointment without proper vetting. They insist the Republicans are relying on the cherry-picked files being released primarily by President George W. Bush’s lawyer, Bill Burck, who is compiling and vetting the documents, rather than the traditional process conducted by the National Archives and Records Administration.

The Archives has said its review of some one million pages of Kavanaugh records the committee requested will not be available until the end of October.

The top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, said scheduling the hearing before the documents are ready “is not only unprecedented but a new low in Republican efforts to stack the courts.”

Grassley took an opposing position on Friday, adding that at their current pace, “we have plenty of time to review the rest of emails and other records that we will receive from President Bush and the National Archives.”

Republicans are eager to confirm President Trump’s nominee ahead of the new court session Oct. 1, as Justice Anthony Kennedy retires.

KAVANAUGH DOCS FROM BUSH ADMIN HIGHLIGHT POST-9/11 LEGAL CHALLENGES

Kavanaugh was nominated on July 9 and since then, the committee has received 184,000 pages of records related to his work as a White House lawyer and for his work with Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.

Kamala Harris Unable to Name a Legislative Accomplishment When Asked

 

 

H/T Breitbart’s Big Government.

Kamala Harris(D-CA) is a typical DemocRat useless as tits on a boar hog.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) told the Call Your Girlfriend podcast in an interview released Friday that serving on various congressional committees is her biggest “win.” Awkwardly, Harris struggled to name a specific legislative accomplishment the 2020 hopeful was a part of.

Transcript is as follows: 

AMINATOU SOW: In the grand scheme of the Senate, you are relatively new to the job.

KAMALA HARRIS: Yeah, I am—

SOW: And—

HARRIS: 18 months.

SOW: Yeah, and we’re wondering, maybe, if you could talk about what at this point you could consider your biggest win or the thing that you’re like “Woah, when I look back at those 18 months this is the thing I want at the top of the resume.”

HARRIS: I’ll tell you. Umm. One of the things that I think, for me, is most important is the role that I serve on that various committees that I’m on — umm — which are oversight committees. Let’s be clear. Those committees exist to watch and question what is going on with our government, the United States government. So, I’m on Senate Intelligence, I’m on Homeland Security, I’m on Judiciary and the accomplishment then is for me is a function of what I think my role should be. Often, especially in the last 18 months, has been to try and get at the truth. And so, the accomplishment is, and the goal is to always make sure that we are being, and the system is being, as transparent as possible and that, frankly, the American public has the answers and that we’re being told the truth. When that happens, I feel a sense of accomplishment and when it doesn’t I feel a sense of frustration.

 

“Totally Fearless” Vietnam Hero Finally Awarded the Medal of Honor

H/T War History OnLine.

Thank-you President Trump for helping get the Medal Of Honor for then Gunnery Sergeant John Canley.

 

A battalion of Marines who served in the Vietnam War was determined to see their leader, Sergeant John Canley (a gunnery sergeant at the time), receive the Medal of Honor for service, for his leadership during the war’s week-long, bloody Battle of Hue in 1968.

After their commander was seriously injured, Canley, of 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, immediately took control to help and protect his men. Although wounded by shrapnel himself, he did not allow his injuries to deter him. He led an operation that vanquished the enemy, saved dozens of lives, and helped get his wounded men to safety when the battle was over.

U.S. Marines during the Tet offensive, Battle of Hue, Vietnam, February 1968

Canley had already received the Purple Heart, two Bronze Stars, and the Navy Cross – an astounding list of achievements for any Marine. However, his men felt strongly that he deserved more. It took 15 years for the Battalion, led by one of Canley’s Marines, John Litgo, to get this result. Litgo endured more than 10 “turn downs” by officials before he and his comrades achieved their goal.

“There were times I gave up,” Litgo admitted to the military website military.com. “The irony is that he is one of the most deserved Medal of Honor recipients ever in the history of our country.”

Typically, the Medal of Honor – the highest award given to any soldier – must be awarded within five years of service. Because this one hurdle was proving insurmountable, Litgo and another marine took their proposal to Congresswoman Julia Brownley, D-California (where Canley lives, in Oxnard), in 2014, and persuaded her of the merits of their cause.

U.S. Marines clear buildings in southern Huế supported by tanks

Brownley then contacted the Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who agreed that Canley was deserving of the recognition. However, Mattis’s office reiterated that the five-year window prevented him from qualifying.

Undaunted, Brownley drafted and promoted H.R. 4641 in the House of Representatives. The document allowed President Donald J. Trump to bestow the Medal on Canley, despite the time lapse. In July of this year, Canley took a call from the President himself, who signed the official document in early 2018.

Medal of Honor.

The President told him of the outcome of his men’s remarkable perseverance. “Congratulations, you’ve waited long enough,” President Trump told the 80-year-old veteran, who recounted the phone call to the Ventura County Star on July 19th. Trump then added, “We’ve made it happen.” The administration will formally announce Canley’s award when a date for the ceremony is set.

Canley was a gunnery sergeant when he won the Navy Cross. Its citation reads: “Gunnery Sergeant Canley lent words of encouragement to his men. And [his efforts] exhorted them to greater efforts as they drove the enemy from its fortified emplacement.”

U.S. Marines in Hue 1968.

Canley is now Retired Sgt. Major Canley, yet he seems to be taking this latest development in his career in the modest, self-effacing manner his men say is typical of him. But, Litgo added, “He’s totally fearless. You followed him because he was a true leader – something you need in a life or death situation.” (military.com.)

Read another story from us: Protecting His Marines at All Costs This Devil Doc Jumped on a Live Grenade in Vietnam to Save Them

In a release announcing the award, Brownley’s office said, “he neutralized many enemies and saved dozens of our soldiers’ lives. He is a true American hero, and a shining example of the kind of gallantry and humility that makes our Armed Forces the best military in the world.”

“It’s more about them than me,” Canley told the Ventura County Star in July. “This is for the young marines who sacrificed so much. I just happened to be their leader.” Spoken like the true American hero that he is.

The 1986 Plastic Gun Panic

H/T Reason.com.

I can remember all of the pissing and moaning by DemocRats and the anti-gun crowd.

The hysteria then is as bad as the hysteria today over the 3D printed gun being undetectable which is pure fantasy.

How the gun control lobbies nearly tricked Congress into banning millions of ordinary guns.

Have you heard about the “undetectable plastic gun”? The gun control lobbies call it is “tailor-made for terrorism.” The Washington Post reports that a state sponsor of terrorism is already attempting to obtain these guns. A Postcolumnist warns that the police “vehemently oppose the introduction of plastic guns into our armed society.” Newsweek predicts the NRA will face a member revolt for opposing legislation to ban plastic guns: “This time the gun lobby may have shot itself in the foot.”

The above is not today’s news. It’s the news from 1985 to 1988, the years of the first plastic gun panic. The supposed “plastic gun” was the Glock pistol, which contains more than a pound of metal, and is easily identified by metal detectors.

Today, millions of Americans own Glock pistols, and they are widely recognized as among the most common and ordinary of handguns. But back in 1985, the Glock was brand new, and the gun control lobbies found a brand new opportunity to terrify the American public. Many politicians and much of the press were eager to embrace the panic. Congress came close to enacting a wide-ranging gun ban.

This article tells the story of the first plastic gun panic.

The origins of the first plastic gun

In 1963, Gaston Glock, an Austrian engineer, created the Glock company. The Glock factory was near Vienna, in Deutsch-Wagram. It manufactured plastic and steel products, including curtain rings. After developing expertise in products combining plastic with steel, Glock became an Austrian army supplier field knives, machine gun belts, practice hand grenades, plastic clips, and entrenching tools.

In the early 1980s, the Austrian army asked a wide variety of manufacturers to submit bids to manufacture a new duty pistol. Although Glock had never made firearms before, it was invited to bid. Glock won the contract for what became the Glock 17 pistol. The Glock was the first firearm to use plastic polymers.

Most parts of the Glock 17 were still made of metal: the upper receiver, the barrel, the trigger assembly, the magazines, and so on. But the frame was made of plastic polymers. The frame is the biggest part of the gun; it is the structure to which all the other parts are attached. The Glock’s plastic frame weighed only 14% as much as a steel frame, yet was stronger.

The stronger frame helped the gun absorb recoil better, thus improving accuracy and comfort for the user. The much lighter frame also made the Glock more comfortable to carry or wear for extended periods.

Even without the plastic, the Glock would have been a major innovation. Nobody had ever made a modern full-sized pistol with so few parts. The Glock was easy to disassemble and reassemble for cleaning. Compared to other pistols of the time, it was less likely to jam or misfire because of lack of cleaning. The gun was also extremely sturdy, and resistant to cracking or other damage even after firing thousands of rounds of ammunition.

After being adopted by the military and law enforcement in Austria, the Glock 17 began to find a world-wide market. Norway was the first NATO country to adopt it. In 1985, Glock opened an office in Smyrna, Georgia, the first of what would be Glock offices around the world.

As explained in Paul M. Barrett’s book Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun, the company aimed its initial promotions at the law enforcement market. The light weight and other improvements made the gun naturally attractive to officers and deputies. And Glock offered very generous terms to adopting agencies, including buying the agencies’ former service handguns.

As law enforcement agencies adopted the Glock, other citizens could see that the new-fangled “plastic” guns were reliable and effective for lawful defense of self and others. Lawful defense is the only reason that law enforcement officers carry firearms. American citizens have always looked to law enforcement officers for good examples of appropriate arms for keeping the peace. That was true for the 1873 Colt “peacemaker” revolver and over a century later for the Glocks.

In 1986 the Washington Post sounds the alarm about plastic guns

“Qaddafi Buying Austrian Plastic Pistol.” That was the headline from columnists Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta in Washington Post on January 15, 1986. According to the article, “The Libyans are said to be trying covert methods to obtain these weapons.”

Today, Glocks are ubiquitous, one of the most common pistols, with many models. But in January 1986, they were little known in America, where only a few thousnd had been sold.

Swiftly, the gun control lobbies began warning Americans about the “plastic pistol.” They dubbed them “terrorist specials” or the “Hijackers Special.” Supposedly, this plastic gun was designed to sneak through metal detectors.

Government experts explain that the Glock—and all other handguns, are readily detectable

Phillip McGuire testified to Congress on behalf of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. McGuire was not exactly an opponent of gun control. He would later would take a job with the leading gun control group of the day, Handgun Control, Inc. McGuire testified before Congress:

There is still no evidence that we hold that a firearm intrinsically capable of passing undetected through conventional x-ray and metal detector systems exists or is feasible under any current technology immediately available to us.

Testimony of Phillip C. McGuire, Associate Director, Office of Law Enforcement, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms before the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, July 28, 1987.

At that same hearing, Raymond A. Salazar, Director of Civil Aviation Security for the Federal Aviation Administration testified: “We are aware of no current ‘non-metal’ firearm which is not reasonably detectable by present technology and methods in use at our airports today.”

FAA Director for Civil Aviation Security Billie Vincent told Congress: “despite a relatively common impression to the contrary, there is no current non-metal firearm which is not reasonably detectably by present technology and methods in use in our airports today, nor to my knowledge is anyone on the threshold of developing such a firearm.”

Congress was shown photos of Glocks under a metal detector, reveal that the Glock’s easily visible profile. Even when the Glocks were disassembled, the photos showed the parts to be easily detected.

Sen. Metzenbaum’s gun ban gains momentum

In the late 1980s, the Senate’s leading gun control advocate was Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio). In the November 1986 elections, Democrats won control of the U.S. Senate, and Joe Biden (D-Del.) would be the new Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The party change much improved the prospects for gun control bills getting a committee hearing and a floor vote.

In February 1987 Sen. Metzenbaum introduced legislation to outlaw all guns that contained less than 8.5 ounces of steel, because such guns could supposedly pass through metal detectors easily. (The original bill can be found in the Feb. 4, 1987, Congressional Record, at page S1792. The Library of Congress’ Thomas website does not have full texts of bills from this period.) The original Metzenbaum bill would have allowed grandfathered owners to retain possession, but not to sell or transfer them. So upon the demise of a grandfathered owner, the heirs would immediately become illegal possessors of contraband.

The Metzenbaum bill did not ban the Glock, which contains 19 ounces of steel. The Glock was winning adoptions by law enforcement at a rapidly increasing rate. It was no longer plausible to claim that these law enforcement handguns were “terrorist specials.”

Instead, the Metzenbaum bill banned many small handguns. Again, the BATF had testified that these too were readily detectable. According to the NRA (American Rifleman, Jan. 1988), the Metzenbaum bill covered many derringers (up to .38 caliber) as well as .22 or .25 caliber handguns from companies including Beretta, Colt, North American Arms, Raven Arms, Rossi, Smith & Wesson, Stevens, and Walther.

The bill’s use of “steel” rather than “metal” for the minimum weight made a big difference. Many guns use zinc or aluminum in alloys. The thirteen ounce .25 caliber Raven pistol was made with zinc alloy, and had only 3.2 ounces of pure steel. Similarly, the Beretta 950 weighed over nine ounces, but the frame was aluminimum alloy, so the gun’s steel weight was less than 8 1/2 ounces. Small handguns had long been a target of the gun control lobbies. The lobbies had been unable to prohibit such guns nationally by calling them “Saturday Night Specials.” Now, small handguns were again set for prohibition–supposedly because they had something to do with the fuss about “plastic guns.”

Other handguns, including historic models, had frames made from iron, brass, bronze, rather from steel. They too were set for prohibition.

In early December 1987, Metzenbaum tried to attach his legislation to a bill to increase aid to veterans. He narrowly fell short, 44 to 47 (counting two Senators not present, but who said they would have voted for the bill).

Senators Howard Metzenbaum found a powerful cosponsor for his gun ban: South Carolina Republican Strom Thurmond. Thurmond was the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He had first come to national attention in 1948 when he bolted the Democratic Party to run for President as a “Dixiecrat.” Thurmond and his supporters objected to the civil rights plank in the party platform, which had been spearheaded by Minneapolis Mayor (and future Vice-President) Hubert Humphrey.

Thurmond had a long career as governor and senator from South Carolina. In 1964, he became a Republican. He was the opposite of a civil libertarian, and a frequent sponsor of legislation that opponents said would infringe much of the Bill of Rights. (Seee.g.,

Being from South Carolina, Thurmond sometimes voted “pro-gun.” Yet later, in the first Bush administration (1989-92), Thurmond took the lead in supporting administration gun control proposals, even when most other Republican Senators refused to go along. For example, one Bush-Thurmond theme was legislation to simultaneously abolish the Exclusionary Rule and enact more gun control.

Over in the House of Representatives, leading gun control advocate Mario Biaggi (D-Bronx, later imprisoned for felony corruption) had an even more ambitious “plastic gun” proposal. He favored prohibiting any firearm “substantially constructed of plastic or other nonmetal material.” This would cover all long guns, since their stocks are made of wood or plastic, not metal. The ATF’s McGuire testified that the Biaggi “definition covers almost every existing rifle and shotgun in commerce and almost any handgun using rubber, wood or plastic oversized grips.”

Although the Biaggi idea did not advance, Metzenbaum was making progress. Even the Reagan Department of Justice was poised to endorse a “plastic” gun ban. Only the intervention of Vice President Bush (who was running for President, and seeking gun-owner support) stopped the DOJ. The “plastic gun” panic from 1986 had been cultivated so well by gun control advocates that they could still use the momentum to ban something that could be called “undetectable.”

Congress passes the Undetectable Firearms Act

Given the apparent imperative to “do something,” pro-rights legislators had introduced alternative legislation. House Majority Leader Thomas Foley (D-Spokane) introduced H.R. 4014, the Firearms Detection Act of 1988. It garnered 95 cosponsors, most notably Rep. John Dingell (D-Ann Arbor), who was a member of the NRA Board of Directors. In the Senate, similar legislation came from Sen. James McClure (R-Idaho), who had been the lead Senate sponsor for the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986, a major reform of federal gun control laws.

What resulted was a compromise, the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988, H.R. 4445. Its sponsor was William Hughes (D-N.J.), chair of the House Subcommittee on Crime, and a leading gun control advocate. Hughes was willing to negotiate, and produced a bill that won unanimous support from the House Judiciary Committee and NRA endorsement. The minimum steel weight was reduced to 3.7 ounces, which must be in the general shape of a handgun. Language that arguably would have given the Secretary of the Treasury gun-banning discretion was removed. Industry research on prototypes was protected. As enacted, the bill banned no firearm that had ever been made, including the Glock. The Act is codified at 18 U.S. Code section 922(p).

Defense Distributed and the UFA

The Texas company Defense Distributed company has produced files for the production of a singles-shot plastic handgun, which it calls the “Liberator” pistol. It is named for a single-shot Liberator handgun distributed by the United Staates to anti-Nazi resistance forces in Europe during World War II. The gun can be manufactured in a home workship with a 3D printer. Complaint with the UFA, the Liberator includes the legally-required amount of metal, with a handgun profile. In prior litigation with Defense Distributed, the U.S. State Department expressly acknowledged that the Liberator complies with the UFA.

All of the other Defense Distributed files are instructions for how to make conventional metal firearms at home with a milling machine. These are files cut blank pieces of metal to manufacture the Colt 1911 (pistol, named for the year of its introduction), the Ruger 10-22 (.22 caliber rifle, introduced 1964), the AR-15 (introduced 1965), AR-10 (1956), vz 58 (Czech rifle, 1958), and Beretta 92FS (pistol, 1976). Home manufacture of firearms has always been legal in the United States, and has been going on since the early 1600s.

If you believe the Defense Distributed files are for 3D printing of an AR-15 or any firearm other than a one-shot pistol, you can inspect the files for yourself at https://www.codeisfreespeech.com/. That website is run by a coalition of California Second Amendment groups. The temporary restraining order issued by the federal district court from the Western District of Washington simply prevents the U.S. State Department from issuing Defense Distributed a license to export said files. The U.S. government has never claimed that it has any legal authority to block distribution of the files within the U.S. to U.S. citizens. Even if the Defense Distributed website were to permanently close tomorrow, the files have been downloaded and shared hundreds of thousands of times since they were first posted in 2013.

Consequences of the 1986-88 plastic gun debate and its aftermath

Massachusetts Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy, a strong anti-gun advocate, had remarked that the “plastic gun” issue was an opportunity “to get the debate on handgun control back on the right track.” Indeed, the gun control lobbies in 1988 got to tell their members, correctly, that the lobbies had actually pushed a bill into law. The Act was the first time that Congress had actually voted to ban a type of gun—albeit a type that did not exist and had never existed.

The 1988 Act helped set the stage for the 1994 Congressional ban on “assault weapons.” Conceptually, the 1988 and 1994 bills were very different. Yet the gun control lobbies were prescient that voting to ban things that don’t exist can be a gateway to banning things that do.

For example Nebraska Democratic Senator James Exon had a generally pro-Second Amendment voting record. Yet in November 1993, he explained on the Senate floor why he was supporting Senator Feinstein’s “assault weapons” ban:

Those who have been here long enough will probably remember that as the plastic gun problem. Plastic guns were becoming very common. They were guns that could be smuggled very easily through any surveillance system at an airport, for example, or any public facility where we have certain regulations and equipment in place to detect weapons.

I crossed the NRA on that particular proposition, and we were able to solve that finally by not outlawing plastic weapons but requiring, by law, that the weapons no longer be invisible to screening devices in public places because they had to have something that would show up on the screen that does the screening when we go through, for example, airport security.

Congressional Record, vol. 139, No. 156–part II, Nov. 9, 1993.

The leading promoter of the 1986 plastic gun panic was Handgun Control, Inc. In 2001, the group changed its name to the “Brady Campaign,” belatedly realizing that many Americans were skeptical about being controlled. So instead of saying “gun control,” the group now says “gun safety.” An officer of the anti-gun “Million Mom March,” which was later absorbed by the Brady group, explained: “Changing the name from Handgun Control to the Brady Campaign will have a positive effect, especially since this organization is a key player in the fight against the powerful gun lobby. The word ‘control’ suggested that gun safety advocates wanted control over gun rights activists by infringing on their Second Amendment right to bear arms. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.” Karie Stakem, Letter to the Editor, “Gun ‘Control’ Isn’t Our Aim—Just Gun Safety,” Virginian-Pilot & Ledger Star, June 29, 2001, at B10, available at 2001 WLNR 2096578.

The name may have changed, but the principles remain the same. In a 2016 amicus brief supporting the U.S. State Department’s prior restraint against the Defense Distributed company posting gun manufacturing files on the Internet, the Brady brief pointed out: “The UFA was passed in part in response to reports that then Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi was in the process of buying more than 100 plastic handguns that would be difficult for airport security to detect. Jack Anderson, Dale Van Atta, Qaddafi Buying Austrian Plastic Pistols, The Washington Post, Jan 15, 1986.” Brady Center amicus brief, Defense Distributed v. United States Department of State, 2016 WL 704978 (5th Cir. 2016).

The words in the Brady brief was literally true—although a more candid amicus might have informed the court that so-called “plastic handguns” of 1986 were actually not “difficult for airport security to detect.” A candid amicus might have also explained that the “plastic handguns” were Glock pistols, which are now recognized as common, constitutionally-protected handguns.

The 1988 law ended efforts to ban the use of plastic polymers in firearms. The only place where Glocks were prohibited was New York City. There, the police refused to issue handgun permits for Glock pistols. A police spokesman “said that the police banned the pistol because it was partly plastic and difficult to detect electronically.”

But former NYPD officer Stephen D’Andrilli was running a business that helped guide New Yorkers through the City’s arduous gun licensing process. When the Department rejected a client’s application to purchase a Glock, D’Andrilli fired a freedom of information request, and discovered that Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward was licensed to carry a Glock 17. The Department claimed that Commissioner Ward’s Glock carrying was “part of a controlled test.” (N.Y. Times, Sept. 28, 1988.)

The day after Ward’s Glock was revealed, the Department rescinded the ban on Glocks. The Department announced that it had concluded that the Glock can “in fact can be detected with today’s present technology in the security field.” According to the Department, the Glock ban would have been lifted in the next week; the revelation about Ward’s Glock had only affected the timing of when the decision would have been made. (N.Y. Times, Sept. 29, 1988.)

D’Andrilli, now retired, runs a website that provides research and advocacy on firearms policy issues, and offers New Yorkers guidance on how to comply with the state’s confusing gun control laws.

Post-1988, the Glocks continued to catch on with police commissioners and everyone else. By 1999, Glock had sold two million American pistols, in a wide variety of calibers and sizes.

Today, any gun store will have modern handguns and long guns from many manufacturers that use plastic polymers. Plastics are a very ordinary thing for modern firearms. They make guns better for all lawful purposes, including self-defense. Guns in the right hands save lives. Better guns for lawful defense save more lives. Yet in the late 1980s, gun control groups started a technophobic panic over life-saving improvements in gun safety and then tried to ban many firearms by inaccurately claiming that they were undetectable.

Baldwin Slams Corporations for Stock Buybacks, Continues to Take Their Money

H/T The Wahington Free Beacon.

When Corporations buy back stocks they are evil but when the put money in the pockets of Senator Tammy Baldwin(D-Wis) pockets they are good.

Accepted over $86,000 from corporations that used profits to reacquire their own stock