Sunday, October 30, 2011
Missing the Point
At the blog Shall Not Be Questioned, two posts were made there in regards to Crockett Keller, the Texas-certified firearms instructor who in a radio advertisement stated he would not train "Obama-voters" and "Muslims". Youtube Video to see it for yourself.
The first post "Help We Don't Need" some pretty interesting comments are there. Sebastian seems to be cleaning them up good because it breaks his rules, but some of them included suggestions that "This is America, if the person offended by this wants it, they can go down the street to an instructor that will teach the enemy". This is disgusting behavior that shouldn't be allowed by any gun owner blog, which I will get into later.
A second post, More on Instructor Certification Non-Discrimination, seems to inordinately focus on the fact that Texas has a mandatory training platform, done by state certified instructors, and that one must go through the gateway of state certified instructors. Sebastian and others suggest that going to a non-specific training regiment (private instructor via the NRA Personal Protection Course or something similar), or going the Pennsylvania route (where Sebastian resides) where no training is required at all.
However, neither of these suggestions to alleviate or address the underlying problem: What the instructor did was unlawful under federal public accommodations law, and gun owners supporting law breaking members of our community, especially law breaking with bigoted overtones and exclusionary tactics, is a major black eye to all of us firearms owners, instructors, and so on.
Even if there was no state requirement for state certified instructors teaching a state certified course to get a state issued license, it still does not change the fact that what he did was unlawful, and it would certainly be unlawful by a firearms instructor in Pennsylvania.
Under federal law:
(D) an auditorium, convention center, lecture hall, or other place of public gathering;
Trying to be cute with definitions of "interstate commerce" and "place of public gathering" doesn't change the fact that it's a form of business transaction and therefor a public accommodation under Heart of Atlanta Hotel and McClung.
Firearms used during the instruction, for example, crossed a state line (unless there's a huge amount of Texas handgun manufacturers, which I don't think there would be). Let's also consider the fact that non-residents can and have flown into Texas to get a Texas CHL. That makes it interstate. Of course, any students from out of state to an lecture hall style instruction, say, an NRA Basic Pistol course, makes it interstate commerce as well.
Some of you folks have a lot of real problems with the commerce clause uses against business entities like instructors. The way it's being dealt on the purely gun front issue is MSSA v. Holder. Even if MSSA somehow succeeds at the Supreme Court, the court will narrowly address the issue of firearms purely intrastate. It will not address public accommodations at all.
Unfortunately, the skepticism and defense of this instructor on forums and blog comment rolls feeds into the PR slander campaign that gun owners, especially gun owners who identify themselves in some form or fashion on the internet as gun owners, are misogynists, racists, and bigots (oh, and bloodthirsty murderers too, but that's on a separate issue).
Simply put, this instructor is not obeying the laws of our country, and arguing that the law is unconstitutional, despite clear rulings from 50 years ago that is in fact constitutional, is neither helpful nor correct. Remember that the Brown plaintiffs did not achieve their victory by refusing to leave the school in Topeka and getting cited/arrested in order to challenge Plessy. They applied for admission and were denied, then they sued in federal court. They didn't break the law.
I leave you with three points:
1) If you think that the federal public accommodations law will be struck down by this instructor's action, you have another thing coming. Federal courts, even SCOTUS, are not going to light the fuse on the powder keg by annihilating the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, when they can cite the doctrine of stare decisis to keep the status quo. The only time they have departed from that doctrine is to increased perceived civil liberty (especially that of a historically oppressed population), not decrease it.
2) The instructor broke the law. Gun owners should not in ANY way shape or form support law breaking, especially in this fashion. A private conversation over instant messenger with someone else questioning purely constitutionality is one thing, but when you post on the internet stupid things that you know nothing about in regards to interstate commerce, or even worse, make stupid comments about along the lines of "all terrorists are Muslims" that I saw in the previous thread, these gun owners are especially giving Ladd Everitt/CSGV, the VPC, the Brady Campaign, and MAIG all of the ammunition they need to attack all of us, and us protesting of "not all of us are like this" doesn't work. That leads to the third point.
3) "This is the face of the gun owner: Bigoted, racist, wife beating murderers" is what the anti-gunners will drum beat. They'll ignore the fact that more gay people are arming themselves, more African-Americans are embracing responsible gun ownership (thank you, Otis McDonald!). We are winning the battle in the courts, which is helping us win the battle of public opinion as well. However, that doesn't mean that certain segments of gun owners have the ability now to screw it all up for us by making racist and/or bigoted statements. The commentary you make could make it onto the front page of New York Times or LA Times, which is the rule I generally prescribe to when making public commentary about issues such as this.