Sunday, January 30, 2011

QotD: Free People Editions

“Indeed. Complaining about the government is the privilege of free people.

Nothing to add

Counter-offer to the gun-grabbers

You say that the reason carriage of weapons in public by the public ought not to be permitted is because of the supposed lack of skill of the persons carrying. Police should be permitted to carry as they are “highly trained” in firearms skills.

In reply, I give you this compromise proposal. If a person can demonstrate the same level of skill with a firearm that a police officer is required to demonstrate, they may possess and carry that same firearm in a functional and loaded state. Thus, by passing the qualification test or tests that a police officer must pass, a citizen has demonstrated his competence to the level required of the police, and may therefore possess and carry any weapon that the police officer may possess and carry after passing the same qualification test or tests.

I will accede to a demand that any time a person does so, they must be prepared to furnish evidence that they have passed such a qualification course to a law enforcement officer in the course of his duties. Having done so, the person may not be subject to arrest or detention for the possession or carriage of those firearm types that the person has provided proof of demonstrated proficiency with. I will further offer that a NICS check be required before the test be taken. If proof cannot be supplied on the spot, the person carrying would be summoned to court to defend themselves against a misdemeanor charge of some kind; similar to driving without a license, and with the same repercussions.

For reference, the NJ State requirements for firearms qualification standards. NJ permits officers to qualify at private ranges – the nearest range to me offers police/security qualification sessions weekly; IIRC the cost is $75; which accounts for the testing Range Officer’s time. I would require that the state make testing available for free or nominal cost, a la a driver’s license exam, in addition to the private testers.

In other words, if I can show I can shoot as well as any cop with a firearm, I can carry that firearm in public; just as the police can. So I would go down to the local range, pass a NICS check, shoot the course of fire that the police must shoot to demonstrate proficiency, and the instructor would sign off on a card with the date and types of weapons qualified with. That would be my “carry permit”.

Any takers? Make no mistake, this is the best you’re going to get; the worst is Vermont, Arizona, Alaska, and soon to be Wyoming’s “no permit at all.”


What if there were no police as we know them, just judges, and bailiffs to keep order in the court, and sheriffs (and their deputies) to enforce court orders. The state could and should keep an investigative force on hand as a public good, but without exclusive access to the judicial system. It’s not worth it for me to hire a PI to hunt down the mutant who lifted my wallet with $20 and an expired library card in it, but it is in the interest of the public that he <i>be</i> hunted down; and the indigent victim of rape should have recourse – but the ordinary citizen would have the same powers and limitations of the public investigators, and vice versa. Perhaps we could have a “volunteer” patrol department, in the manner of a volunteer EMS or fire department; neighborhood watch writ large… You’d probably still need a traffic enforcement arm of the local government, but similar to many cities’ parking enforcement, they could only issue summons to court, and would not be officers of the investigative force. As with any other citizen they could act to enforce other laws broken in their presence, but would have no special power or responsibility to do so. (

Think of things that way, and the 4th amendment becomes … interesting.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

What if this isn’t just a right of The People against the Government, but of individuals against other individuals? It’s not too much of a stretch. After all, this is a Government of The People. Contrariwise, why must I have to apply to the police for them to obtain a warrant instead of being able to apply to a magistrate for one myself? (Though, in that case, the wise magistrate would send along a sheriff or deputy to ensure that the terms of the warrant are not violated, and that there is a “neutral” observer).

Too utopian?

Corporate punishment

There’s a vigorous discussion (the polar opposite of Reasoned Discourse (TM)) over at Sebastian’s place which I triggered off by noting that the purpose of a corporation is to limit the civil liability of the joint stockholders to the extent of their investment in that corporation (more or less), and that forming a corporation should not limit the rights of the participants in the corporation; and that property owners, natural or artificial, have property rights.

This ruffled a few feathers…

For the record, I am in favor of infringing on the rights of owners of places of public accommodation to ban certain items from their property without taking due diligence to ensure that the safety of their visitors is ensured. I am in favor of prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees or visitors who wish to possess a functional firearm in their automobile while on the premises. I am in favor of requiring property owners to take effective precautions against misuse of weaponry by employees and visitors by other employees and visitors if the property owner chooses to prohibit carriage of weapons on the property; and a sign is not effective. If you want a sterile area, you must take precautions, and permit people entering the sterile area to divest themselves safely and securely of weapons, and do the same when they wish to invest themselves after exiting. Much like the courthouse at which I served for jury duty, which maintained an active security perimeter, just outside of which was a storage room for police not assigned to the courthouse to deposit their firearms. Thus, to exercise the right of control of property, the property owner must be actively responsible to the visitors to their property.

Firearms are not “inherently safe” from an industrial point of view; there are places in which carriage of firearms (or knifes, or tasers, &c) should not be permitted for perfectly legitimate safety reasons. They are largish chunks of usually ferrous metal with small amounts of unstable explosive chemicals (primers) and larger amount of flammable substances (propellant), with mechanical (and thus fallible) safety mechanisms to prevent malfunction. Certain non-industrial areas have such a high density of violent criminals that carriage of a weapon by other than specifically-selected persons in specific areas is contraindicated (prisons, jails, and courthouses). These types of locations take active measures to prevent unsafe items from being brought into the “unsafe” areas

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Associations in business and politics

I know I’ve mentioned in a couple of places that, while I detest the use of overbearing law against a person for what they say or how they express themselves, I support the right of anyone to disassociate themselves from that person. Freedom of association is listed in the Constitution, and must include the negative as well as the positive right – that is, the right to choose NOT to associate. Thus, if you wish to boycott someone’s business over their personal views, go ahead, be my guest.

But my own threshold for boycotting for non-business reasons is a lot farther out. I purchase content and physical products from entertainers, entrepreneurs, and established businesses whose personal political and social views I find distasteful, because, as entertainers, I find them worth the money. To the extent I disagree with their views, I’d rather fight them in that space. It seems unfair to me, somehow, to judge their business venture on their personal views. Were I an entrepreneur, I would want my business success to stand or fail on the merits of the venture, not that I am a red-head, or male, or a firearm owner. And so I extend that courtesy to others.

It is possible to be a worthless enough example of humanity that I wouldn’t buy a product or service from you or your company, I suppose. But you’d have to have actually done something more active than expressing yourself, and done it directly. IOW, I won’t donate to, say, the Joyce Foundation; but finding out that a company with an excellent product has done so isn’t likely to make me stop doing business from them. All other things being equal, I might do business with a competitor, I suppose, but that’s a rare case these days.

Don’t Consent

In researching something else, I stumbled across this little gem of New Jersey jurisprudence

State vs Carty

Consent searches during a lawful stop of a motor vehicle are not valid unless there is reasonable and articulable suspicion to believe that the motorist or passenger has engaged in, or is about to engage in, criminal activity.

This was upheld just recently and extended: "a police officer who wishes to conduct a consent search must have reasonable and articulable suspicion to believe that evidence of criminal wrongdoing will be found in the vehicle before seeking consent for the search." State v. Elders (Lawyers USA No. 9937055) New Jersey Supreme Court No. A-42-06. July 30, 2007. (Emphasis mine).

The occupants of the car appearing “nervous” or “agitated” is not sufficient to breach this.

In NJ, the cops can’t even ask for permission to search your vehicle without a “reasonable and articulable suspicion”. Which is a good thing for NJ gun owners.

Friday, January 28, 2011


CNN’s shiny organic output ports worked themselves into a tizzy because (oh noes) Facebook “is allowing companies to feature users’ profiles pictures and names in advertisements.”

Tam sums up my first thought on the subject - “who pays?” My second one is a little more privacy-oriented. My guideline on fora on the internet is “would I say it at a table in a crowded restaurant?” Actually, it’s a little tighter than that – I don’t announce when I travel away from home until after I have returned, while I might mention such at a table of friends out for dinner. Hence, a guideline.

The deep systemic issues around maintaining true privacy stretch well beyond the internet. In the end, a sufficiently funded and motivated organization can assemble enough useful information about anyone but the most reclusive; and the effort required to do so is not linear with results. A reasonable expectation of privacy is one thing, but “two can keep a secret if one is dead.”

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What did I just watch?!?

I just caught the pilot ep of Harry’s Law on demand. Someone on the writing staff has a fairly luxuriant wookie pelt, at least for frigging NBC! I mean, seriously; self-defense with the display of a handgun, and jury nullification.

Not good enough to get on the DVR, not when I’ve got Castle and Allura’s  got Drag Race up against it, but a definite to watch on demand.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

New design

Still looking for a template I like. Lets see about this one. Looks easier to read, at any rate.

The Spare Magazine Loop-hole

One of the proposed infringements on rights that has followed the tragedy in Arizona is Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s proposal to restrict magazine sizes to 10 rounds. The argument is that there is no “legitimate need” to have so many rounds in a single magazine, that the only use for such a large magazine is mass murder, and so on…

A magazine is a handy way of containing ammunition. a detachable magazine is a handy way of being able to rapidly replace an empty magazine with a full one. There’s a youtube clip floating around of a pair of shooters going through 30-odd rounds of ammo, one with a single large-capacity magazine and one with a pair of normal-capacity magazines. The shooter with the pair of magazines clocks in at all of 2 seconds slower than the shooter with one magazine.

Say this restriction passes. In reaction, everyone who used to carry 1 15-round magazine in their double-stack 9mm handgun (for a total load-out of 16 rounds when you include the one in the chamber) as their personal protective weapon change to carrying 3 10-round magazines (for a total loadout of 31 round when you include the one in the chamber). Has this law made anyone safer? And if so, how? A magazine change with reliable magazines (which the AZ Shooter’s were evidently not) is a very short event, and smaller magazines are harder for someone else to interfere with the handling of.

Because magazines of smaller capacity are smaller, it’s easier to reload them in the heat. I’d be hard-pressed to carry and conceal more than one spare 30+round magazine for my handgun, but I can very easily carry and conceal 3-5 10-round magazines in a jacket pocket. Reloading speed is a muscle-memory action (as I once found to my sorrow until I rewrote the muscle-memory), a little practice goes a long way.

To the forces of freedom: we’re fighting this because to allow them to define the number of bullets you “need” in a magazine is to allow them to define the number of bullets you “need”, period. Because after they pass the magazine ban, they’ll be coming for the “spare magazine loop-hole”. After all, the AZ shooter couldn’t have shot 14 people if he had been legally prohibited from having more than 10 rounds on his person. No more than he could have shot them if only the law prohibited him from injuring them…

(edited to correct a brainfart concerning magazine capacity)

Shotgunning applecarts

SayUncle posts a video that mentions the ATF deciding that two shotguns (Raging Judge and a Rossi .410 level action pistol) are not suitable for purchase without some sort of a tax stamp (DD, AOW, SBS, what have you – the source didn’t say).

One of his commenters wonders why the companies bothered, since the laws, and more importantly the BATFE precedents, are on the side of heavy regulation/ban for this class of weapon. I wonder, did one or the other (or both) of the companies device to go after the NFA’34 classifications? (He thinks not, incidentally)

Remember, the core holding of Heller was that “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.” The NFA’34 categories block off a large amount of design space either explicitly or via BATFE “interpretation”. The remaining design space has been pretty well worked-over in the years since.

Maybe these companies have decided they want to be the first into a new market space, which is usually a good way to make a lot of money quickly. I don’t know about the financials of either of the mentioned companies, but Taurus supposedly has a blockbuster sales item on their hands with the Judge; maybe they have some money to throw at lawyers. Especially since one of the technical objections I’ve seen leveled at the Judge has been the choice of a rifled barrel to avoid some of the provisions of the SBS/AOW restrictions. If they could put a smoothbore barrel into the Judge, that could only help sales.

Packed with meaning

Ann Althouse has been collecting redesigns of the Wookie Gadsden Flag. This remarkably subtle work was one of the results.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

In which I join defend a man I don’t agree with

This week’s “government behaving badly” has to go to the case of Travis Cocoran, known as TJIC in the comments on the blogs I follow and participate in, and at his (currently offline) blog Dispatches from TJICistan.

It all started with a tasteless comment: “1 down and 534 to go”, following and clearly referring to the shooting in Tuscon AZ of Representative Gabrielle Giffords. I actually heard about the incident via a link to this article calling for a boycott of this comics store via a Facebook friend – and I am not ashamed to admit that I expressed support for the boycott; while noting that it is his First Amendment right to express his opinion, just as it is the boycotters’ right to free association to not purchase from him. My opinion there hasn’t changed, and his later postings indicate he wasn’t joking.

That was last week. This week, I find out that the police “stopped by” and revoked his permit to possess firearms (he lives in Massachusetts, whose gun laws are in some ways worse than New Jersey’s) while they investigate his “suitability to possess firearms”. He has not been charged with any crime, much less convicted in open court by an unbiased jury of a crime that disqualifies him from possessing firearms. In MA, this is not a “matter of routine”; and there’s no guarantee (contra the views of some of the commenters in this follow-up article from Comics Alliance bragging that they were the cause of the police visit) that he will have his property returned to him – the necessary permits are not required to be issued by the authorities, it is at their discretion. Permits in MA have been revoked and not re-issued for much less cause than this.

If his postings and comments had risen to the level of legal “threats” his statement surely would rise to “probable cause” for arrest, no? But he wasn’t arrested. The police in question are not the ones charged with investigating threats against federal officials anyway (that would be the US Secret Service), and the investigation is for his “suitability to possess”?!?! He’s not an adjudged violent felon or adjudged mental incompetent. I can’t see that being intemperate on the internets is such a high crime that his natural human right of self-defense should be taken away, temporarily or permanently, up to and including expressing delight in the severe injury of another human being, or even advocating the same. Worth the feds dropping by to ask a few questions, to make sure he isn’t going to act on it, sure. It’s no worse (or better) than burning the target of one’s ire in effigy. I saw any number of people approve of violence aimed at members of the previous administration and congress, and disapproved of that at the time, for that matter. As Borepatch noted in a comment to his post, a film was produced depicting the assassination of George Bush. I’ve heard and seen any number of people take positive glee in Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s. And that’s just politics in my lifetime.

There’s no need yet to go around shooting representatives – the ballot box worked in November (by and large). The jury box (in this sense the judicial system as a whole) is working more or less, and there are more soapboxes than ever. The cartridge box isn’t anywhere close to being necessary.

To sum up: we’re nowhere near the point at which it is appropriate to shoot anyone in government. Joking about it is in poor taste, and being serious is worse. Disassociating with someone who does is an understandable action. Confiscating someone’s personal property and means of self-defense, with no guarantee of return and no evidence of a crime; that’s a violation of human rights. And doing it because he exercised his First Amendment rights to express his opinion? I don’t want to be on the side of someone who thinks it’s appropriate to shoot anyone not directly threatening me. But I want to be on the side that thinks it’s appropriate to suppress human rights for something someone said even less, and there’s no middle ground. I blog, I own firearms, I express unpopular opinions. Therefore:

Mrs. Grundy in the gun safe

Sebastian and I agree on a bunch of things, but one place I’m a good deal more hard-line on is the idea of background checks for private sales. He appears to believe that it is possible to have private background checks for private sale that are both effective and not abusable. I don’t.

Oh, his rationale is sound enough – back in the day everyone knew their neighbors in a way that just isn’t probable today; at least everyplace outside of a large city. It is seductive, the thought that we can enforce via social contract what would be impossible to enforce via the law. If we could disseminate more information about people, and allow others to make decisions based on that information, it’d be great, right?

Not so fast. There’s a number of problems with showing a “maybe” on a publically-accessible database check. The first that jumped to a lot of commenters’ minds over at Sebastian’s was that you get a fact with no context. At some point, this person was arrested for something bad; and necessarily this “fact” will be divorced from context. If it’s not, there’s an information leakage.

Which brings me to my next point, that because there is abusable information leakage going on, and exposing arrest records that were not followed by conviction increases the potential for abuse, this is inappropriate for public access. There’s no way to limit exposure of this information only to people actually selling guns. As he said, “All you need is a name, date of birth, and zip code, and you can run the same check a dealer does on anyone. Since we’re doing this, there’s little reason to restrict access based on state of residence at the federal level.” None of that’s particularly private information.

And finally, what have you proved? That someone exists out there, with that name, DOB, and zip, with a particular history of arrests and convictions. That’s … not really useful. You didn’t get anything to positively match that record with the person standing in front of you. And, are you an expert in spotting a fake ID? Is the guy down the aisle at the gun show? If you do start gathering enough information to positively identify the person in front of you, you’ve gathered enough information to impersonate him (“steal” his identity). Neither side of the transaction can be trusted with that information – I don’t need to have Borepatch’s training in paranoia by the finest minds in the Free World to see that. Heck, it’s not even safe from a personal security point of view to give out enough information to a random stranger to do a useful background check.

Here’s why: I have put on my black hat and taken my bag o’guns to the Fun Show, where I have previously acquired a table to sell at, along with my smartphone and the BackgroundCheck App. I lay out my wares, and commence selling them. Unbeknownst to my purchasers, I have modified the app to retain data (I have phsyical possession plus unlimited time, this is not impossible – if nothing else, I can put in a “key”logger, and leave the app itself intact, which defeats any security on the app itself). At the end of the day I have a list of personal identity information for people who are wealthy enough to buy a firearm; plus the addresses of people who own at least 1 firearm. This is marketable information, even if I don’t use it myself to help myself to their credit or their possession. Plus, with any luck, I’ve made a bit of a profit off the guns themselves – always a bonus.

And we haven’t made straw purchasing any harder – it happens today from Federal Firearms Licensees, what makes you think that people who aren’t dependent on dotting every T and crossing every I will make more effort.

Bryan Miller outright lies

In an interview with, Byran Miller claims “"That Glock 19 is an assault weapon because it has a capacity to take clips from 17 bullets up, and [Loughner]used a 33-bullet clip," Miller said. "In New Jersey, a weapon that can take a clip of more than 15 bullets is an assault weapon and can't be sold.” I find it hard to believe that Bryan Miller does not know what the actual definition of an “Assault Firearm” in the state of New Jersey is. But it is easy enough to look up the statutory definition and the Attorney General’s interpretation of that statutory definition.

The statutory definition is found in N.J.S.A. 2C:39-1w

“Assault firearm" means:
(1)The following firearms:
Algimec AGM1 type
Any shotgun with a revolving cylinder such as the "Street Sweeper" or "Striker 12"
Armalite AR-180 type
Australian Automatic Arms SAR
Avtomat Kalashnikov type semi-automatic firearms
Beretta AR-70 and BM59 semi-automatic firearms
Bushmaster Assault Rifle
Calico M-900 Assault carbine and M-900
Chartered Industries of Singapore SR-88 type
Colt AR-15 and CAR-15 series
Daewoo K-1, K-2, Max 1 and Max 2, AR 100 types
Demro TAC-1 carbine type
Encom MP-9 and MP-45 carbine types
FAMAS MAS223 types
FN-FAL, FN-LAR, or FN-FNC type semi-automatic firearms
Franchi SPAS 12 and LAW 12 shotguns
G3SA type
Galil type Heckler and Koch HK91, HK93, HK94, MP5, PSG-1
Intratec TEC 9 and 22 semi-automatic firearms
M1 carbine type
M14S type
MAC 10, MAC 11, MAC 11-9mm carbine type firearms
PJK M-68 carbine type
Plainfield Machine Company Carbine
Ruger K-Mini-14/5F and Mini-14/5RF
SIG AMT, SIG 550SP, SIG 551SP, SIG PE-57 types
SKS with detachable magazine type
Spectre Auto carbine type
Springfield Armory BM59 and SAR-48 type
Sterling MK-6, MK-7 and SAR types
Steyr A.U.G. semi-automatic firearms
USAS 12 semi-automatic type shotgun
Uzi type semi-automatic firearms
Valmet M62, M71S, M76, or M78 type semi-automatic firearms
Weaver Arm Nighthawk.
(2)Any firearm manufactured under any designation which is substantially identical to any of the firearms listed above.
(3)A semi-automatic shotgun with either a magazine capacity exceeding six rounds, a pistol grip, or a folding stock.
(4)A semi-automatic rifle with a fixed magazine capacity exceeding 15 rounds.
(5)A part or combination of parts designed or intended to convert a firearm into an assault firearm, or any combination of parts from which an assault firearm may be readily assembled if those parts are in the possession or under the control of the same person.

Per the NJAG “interpretation” of “substantially identical” we get the following:

A semi-automatic firearm should be considered to be "substantially identical," that is, identical in all material respects, to a named assault weapon if it meets the below listed criteria:

A. semi-automatic rifle that has the ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least 2 of the following:

  1. a folding or telescoping stock;
  2. a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon;
  3. a bayonet mount;
  4. a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor; and
  5. a grenade launcher;

B. a semi-automatic pistol that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least 2 of the following:

  1. an ammunition magazine that attaches to the pistol outside of the pistol grip;
  2. a threaded barrel capable of accepting a barrel extender, flash suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer;
  3. a shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel and that permits the shooter to hold the firearm with the nontrigger hand without being burned;
  4. manufactured weight of 50 ounces or more when the pistol is unloaded; and
  5. a semi-automatic version of an automatic firearm; and,

C. a semi-automatic shotgun that has at least 2 of the following:

  1. a folding or telescoping stock;
  2. a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon;
  3. a fixed magazine capacity in excess of 5 rounds; and
  4. an ability to accept a detachable magazine.

Now, the magazine (not the clip) used is illegal under NJ law  - N.J.S.A. 2C:39-1y:

"Large capacity ammunition magazine" means a box, drum, tube or other container which is capable of holding more than 15 rounds of ammunition to be fed continuously and directly therefrom into a semi-automatic firearm.

But a firearm that can accept such a magazine is not, by including such a feature, a banned “assault firearm”. I guess, if you possessed both a firearm that could accept such a magazine and such a magazine you would be in possession of an “assault firearm” (under the “combination of parts” clause if you stretched it hard enough), but simple possession of the firearm wouldn’t do it. And the proof of that is that innumerable Glock 9mm handguns, each and every one of which are capable of accepting a magazine that exceeds the round limit, have been legally sold in New Jersey by licensed firearms dealers to legal and permitted purchasers, each one’s serial # and model having been recorded by the New Jersey State Police via the Permit to Purchase a Handgun which is a legal requirement to obtain before purchase, without a single problem, arrest, &c.

Finally, as a number of people have noted – Laughner did not legally purchase his firearm. He committed perjury and a federal felony when he purchased any firearm by setting down on the form 4473 that he was not a habitual user of illegal drugs.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Col. Hammer, please contact Base Alpha TOC

It’s no flying car, but the arty system in this video (ad by Samsung, maybe?) is straight out of David Drake’s best. Now all we need is reliable fusion to make the fans spin, and we’ve got the Hogs of How Co, including their ammo haulers.

Couple of other things to note, some amusing, some not so much. First, the infographic @ 0:36 implies the SP guns can each fire a Time-On-Target salvo of 3 shells per tube. Secondly, the many clips of the auto-loader and shell conveyor between the SP Track and the Ammo Track are definitely anime-inspired. Thirdly, note the on-board computer is running some variant of Windows – probably Win2K. And at the end, note the stacks of manuals, specs, &c in hardcopy.


H/T to The Armorer of Argghhh!

Ubiquity and creativity

This started out as a response to Sarah Hoyt at Classical Values; but then evolved. RTWT @ Classical Values :: The Tight Rope Over The Lion Pit - and also the previous post Classical Values:: What Baen Does Right
Jim Baen wrote (and I read) a novel where e-publishing was "invented" and the major publishing houses were willing to kill to prevent it from spreading. (I no longer have it, and unfortunately, given the existence of Baen Books and their ebooks division it's a rough thing to search for). So he had envisioned a world where the publishing business was in doubt. And, given the opportunity, embraced that world. I wish some other publishers (including the idiots in Renton who pulled the e-books of the D&D rules off the market) would get with the program – it’s unwise to abandon your market to pirates, because then the “legitimate” buyers will have to go to the pirates, and you can’t stop that signal
I believe that there will always be a "market" for curators, and to a lesser extent financial middlemen. Google, Amazon, Apple, and Baen have all, essentially, embraced their roles as middlemen and curators (to a greater or lesser extent) and chosen to take their profits small and in volume (yes, even Apple). All of them have active and thriving “communities” as well. Another pair of companies I do business with that have the same philosophy are Valve and Stardock. They all leverage those communities to “curate” their products. There’s a Demotivational poster with the text of “Meetings: none of us are as dumb as all of us”. This is demonstrably true of mobs. The inverse applies, as well – any economist will tell you that (both ways).
What does that mean for the future of content creation? Cheap content, eventually; with a few more self-made producers of content, many more “part-time” producers, and a paper-thin intermediary/curatorial layer between the producers and the consumers, with a lot of holes where producers and consumers can transact without a middlemen. How long? How long will it take the “heavy” middlemen to convert or die…

Friday, January 14, 2011

Size matters


Via Uncle of SaysUncle, I found this gem in the NYPost.

More officials join Post in pressuring gun makers to drop high capacity clips -

Amidst all the handwaving freakoutery in the article, I noted this pair of sentences below:

Nationally, the private handgun market generates about $800 million in sales a year, according to Rommel Dionisio, a vice president at Wedbush Securities who tracks firearm manufacturers.

By comparison, he estimated law-enforcement sales totaled $80 million to $90 million a year, with Glock, a private Austrian company, commanding about two-thirds of the market.

The article calls for the NYPD to boycott Glock for making so-called “high-capacity” magazines. Given the relative size of the markets, I have to wonder how well that would go over. At least one firearms manufacturer stopped doing business with California law-enforcement organizations when their product was vilified and then banned (Barret, who famously produces several .50 BMG rifles).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Christie clams up

Via Cemetery I found this article

Gov. Christie won't share opinion on concealed weapon licenses |

You know what? I’m OK with that. He’s right – he has a limited supply of political capital, and this isn’t the issue he went to Trenton to deal with. He did say the minimally correct thing, “"I would consider any bill that they send to me."

We’ve got 2 separate suits in the court system, and some noises coming out of prominent legislators (Including the Senate president) that they want to “reform” NJ’s gun laws in at least a minimally positive way. The NJ Governors Office isn’t where we need to pursue freedom today (though he ought to rein in his AG a little…)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

For the kid who’s graduated from the Playmobil Security checkpoint toy

Comes Homeland Defense – Nation Security Patrol.

I have to complain about the realism, though – the blurb claims you have to keep your operation within budget…



  • Maintain traffic checkpoints, train tracker dogs and investigate smuggling operations. But are you able to do it all within budget?
  • Use NEW technology to secure America – listening devices, satellite surveillance, remote cameras, helicopter patrols and more!
  • Review your daily briefing to determine which threats pose the most danger.
  • Interrogate detainees to gain information about future plans of smugglers or terrorists seeking to harm America.
  • Set an alert level based on the Homeland Security alert levels. Increase the amount and level of agents patrolling the border at higher risk periods.
  • Reassign agents to new locations and patrol routes and monitor them using the electronic satellite map.
  • Outfit, arm and train your guards with top-of-the-line life-saving security.



I guess it’s a natural expansion of their Prison Tycoon series

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Citizens and residents and immigration policy

I am a citizen of 2 sovereign states; as is (almost) every US citizen. One of these required that I be born to a citizen or on her soil, or go through an arduous and expensive vetting process; the other just that I reside inside her borders for a short period of time, or indicate the desire to become a citizen. The first nation is of course the United States, and the second is New Jersey.I actually was able to, for nearly a decade, live in New Jersey and maintain legal residency in Virginia. Looking back now, I wish I had taken advantage of that to build up a small firearms collection, rather than waiting until I was a New Jersey citizen to start buying guns. It would have made things a lot easier. But I digress.

The existence of the several states as sovereign nations (subject to the limitations on the states in the US Constitution), and their citizens being citizens of those nations, is not one that is often considered these days. But the fact remains that the several states are each sovereign. The US Constitution guarantees that each state may not discriminate against citizens of any other state in commerce or travel (with some exceptions). Consequently, the states have adopted a liberal immigration policy. In fact, with few exceptions, residency=citizenship and you must be a citizen if you reside in a state. I mention this to point out that this model of immigration has worked for the states since 1787, and nobody really complains about it. It’s just the way it is.

For that matter, up until the late 19th century, the immigration policy of the USA could be summed up as “if you’re here, and want to, you can call yourself a citizen of the USA.” Racism changed that. Quotas were set, and in some cases (legal) immigration from some regions was entirely stopped. The racism always existed, but it took the beginning of the industrial age to make it possible to set this kind of policy, where records could be checked via long-distance means (telegraph, then telephone, and so on).

Constitutionally, the federal government does have the power to set naturalization (and thus immigration) policy. Our current immigration and naturalization policies are probably not directly unconstitutional (well, beyond the limits of the 4th, 5th, and 8th amendments, anyway). They are, however, unwise, and may infringe on the rights of citizens.

I don’t know if it has been said in exactly this fashion before, but in the US, we have the strongest, most addictive drug lifestyle available anywhere in the world. We live in the most free, most prosperous nation on earth; the one where it is easiest to succeed, and hardest to fail. And failure has the lowest cost of anyplace in the world; you just pick yourself back up and try again. Is it any surprise that the US draws in would-be immigrants from every corner of the globe? But we still wonder why people risk their lives, fortunes, and honor to come to this country for just a taste of what we who are born here take for granted.

So we turn around and say “I’ve got the freedom, you can’t have any.” We don’t have the strictest immigration/naturalization policy of anyplace in the world, but it’s still pretty strict. We citizens are all card-carrying members of the Union Of Free People, and like most other unions, we’ve set up artificial barriers to entry to keep the non-members from competing against us. Oh, sure, if you follow all the nitpicking rules, and keep your nose clean, and suck up to the shop steward, you can (eventually) join the union. In the meantime, keep paying your dues (taxes).

I hear the ranting and raving about “illegal” immigrants and how we should start asking people to show that they are present legally in this country, about how we should build a wall, and all of that. The most cogent argument I hear is that asking people to show ID isn’t so bad, since legal immigrants are required to carry proof of such with them. That’s all very well and good – but citizens are not (and ought not) required to carry proof of citizenship with them. There is no citizenship “registry” to be checked against, &c. We rightly abhor the thought of a firearms registry, or a registry of firearms owners, but can contemplate a registry of citizens? Seriously?

As for the “wall”, didn’t that kind of thinking go out with the Maginot Line? You would need a defense in depth. And when the authorities start to develop one (with “immigration” checkpoints tens or a hundred miles away from “international points of entry”) we rightly condemn them as unwarranted and unconstitutional infringements on our liberties. Go down that road and you end up with “papers please.” I don’t say this to invoke Godwin’s Law – there are plenty of regimes, even ones we would consider benign, where that’s an acceptable part of interaction between the authorities and the subjects. I don’t want to hear it in the US, though.

I’m not saying that everyone who wants to come to the US ought to be allowed. We shouldn’t allow violent criminals in, for example. There needs to be some process. But the current “legal” immigration process is like trying to get and keep a firearms permit in the state of Massachusetts. There is just no way that some people will be able to do it, and the difficulty in doing so can be quite staggering. The resources being used to “regulate” immigration are a waste and a danger to a free state, because they start with the assumption that there can be an “illegal” person who is not also “dangerous”.

What ought to be done is to massively simplify and deregulate the process of immigration, so that the resources being used to keep (mostly) harmless people from being able to participate in society except at the fringes should be redirected towards enforcing actual crimes. I don’t give a flying fig about Juan Herrero working as a laborer dishwasher or whatever, paying his taxes and raising his family. I don’t even really care if he’s sending every spare buck he has after living expenses back to Cuidad Mexico to support the rest of the clan. Resources directed towards rooting him out and sending him “home” are resources that can’t be directed towards finding a murderer, rapist, or mugger of whatever nationality. Juan Herrerro is just as likely to be a goblin as John Smith, assuming he can make that living.

In the end, what is the difference between John Smith moving into your neighborhood from out of state and Juan Herrero moving in from out of country (all other things being equal)?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cleaning up the mess (SBR, SBS, AOW Part 3)

For reference, Part 1a (“Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns, Oh My”), Part 1b (“Grown-up Toys"), Part 2 (“Where’s the crime? (SBR, SBS, AOW Part 2))”, and Part 3 (“Two Handguns, One Lawsuit (SBR, SBS, AOW Part 3)”).

The Packetman commented in the last post:

You've done anb excellent job of pointing out how ridiculous the ATF's interpretation of the laws are (not to mention the idiocy of the laws themselves).

These are the issues, IMHO, that the NRA should be attacking legislatively; the law is stupid, it makes no sense, it's open to mis-interpretation, and it needs to change or be done away with.

I would have worded that another way; that the laws are idiotic, and that ATF’s interpretation is (overly) harsh. The ATF is stuck with the unenviable job of converting a law passed by people who didn’t know better that was slapdash “repaired” to allow handguns to not be taxed as Any Other Weapon into workable regulation. That they have done so in a harsh and draconian manner is a black mark against them; but the laws themselves are the root cause of the idiocy. They are also unconstitutionally vague, as well as infringing on the right of self-defense recognized and guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

In a more perfect world, the 112th Congress would up and repeal the NFA ‘34, NFA ‘68, and the Hughes Amendment element of FOPA ‘86. We don’t live in that world. The 112th Congress is going to be full-time busy fixing up the idiocies of the 110th and 111th. And the number of people impacted by this is minimal compared to other excesses of previous Congresses and the ATF. I guess I could see this Congress doing a fix that basically deletes the Short-Barreled-Rifle clause and modifies Any Other Weapon to exempt weapons with rifled barrels. I don’t see Short-Barreled-Shotguns getting removed legislatively because of FUD about sawed-off shotguns(!!!!!). Nor do I see any Congress wiping out the difference between Rifles and Handguns, because of the 18-vs-21 issue. (Something else for the courts, incidentally). Nonetheless, this is something the NRA ought to be pushing,

Speaker Boehner is ready for business


Speaker Boehner to the Democratic Minority: “You and the horse we rode in on…”

Boehner fires back at Dem senators with vow to push forward with repeal - The Hill's Blog Briefing Room

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Two Handguns, One Lawsuit (SBR, SBS, AOW Part 3)

“For reference, Part 1a (“Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns, Oh My”), Part 1b (“Grown-up Toys"), and Part 2 (“Where’s the crime? (SBR, SBS, AOW Part 2))”

In the comments to Part 2, Sigivald says:

Ian: My impression of the ATF's interpretations of the law suggest that "if it was ever a rifle FIRST", it's a rifle forever for their purposes. (Same thing with a long barreled "normal" shotgun vs. AOW shotgun, which is why people going for an AOW rather than SBS buy factory-pistol-grip shotguns.) And thus despite not having a stock anymore it'd still be a "short barreled rifle" when converted to what any sane human being would call a "pistol".

That would be my impression as well, albeit via second- and third-hand osmosis and news of the occasional prosecution; and is one way to read the relevant statute, if the legal category of Handgun can overlap with the legal category of Short-Barreled-Rifle

Title18, U.S. Code, Title I, Section 921(a)(3)

(7) The term "rifle" means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of an explosive to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger.

(8)The term "short-barreled rifle" means a rifle having one or more barrels less than sixteen inches in length and any weapon made from a rifle (whether by alteration, modification, or otherwise) if such weapon, as modified, has an overall length of less than twenty-six inches

(29)The term "handgun" means a firearm which has a short stock and is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand.

Title II, Sec 5845

(e) Any other weapon.:The term "any other weapon" means any weapon or device capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive, a pistol or revolver having a barrel with a smooth bore designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell, weapons with combination shotgun and rifle barrels 12 inches or more, less than 18 inches in length, from which only a single discharge can be made from either barrel without manual reloading, and shall include any such weapon which may be readily restored to fire.Such term shall not include a pistol or a revolver having a rifled bore, or rifled bores, or weapons designed, made, or intended to be fired from the shoulder and not capable of firing fixed ammunition.

But, now comes the exciting part of tonight’s show. Do not try this at home without consulting a competent firearms lawyer, preferably one who has won multiple cases before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Take one (1) 1911-pattern-based .45acp carbine constructed from: a 1911-pattern frame that has never been assembled as part of a pistol, and a MechTech CCU for 1911 in .45acp. This is clearly and legally a rifle, both by common understanding and that of the ATF. It is not a Short-Barreled-Rifle because the barrel is more than 16” and the overall length is over 26”. Nor is it a handgun, as it does not have a short stock nor is it designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand. It is not Any Other Weapon, either as it cannot be concealed on the person. It is a rifle by the above definition, however

Take one (1) 1911-pattern .45acp handgun constructed from: an identical frame to the example above, and a slide assembly designed and manufactured as the slide assembly for a 1911-pattern pistol that does not have any serial numbers that match the frame. This is clearly and legally a handgun, both by common understanding and that of the ATF. It is not a rifle as it is not intended to be fired from the shoulder. It is not a Short-Barreled-Rifle, as it is not made from a rifle. It is not Any Other Weapon, as it is a “pistol … having a rifled bored.” It is a handgun by the above definition, however.

Take two (2) kits to allow the conversion of 1911-pattern firearms from .45acp to .22lr. These are not firearms by law or custom, and therefore not any species of Rifle or Handgun or Any Other Weapon.

Detach the 1911-pattern frames from their respective upper receivers/slide assemblies. Place them on your workbench next to the conversion kits. Call your lawyer and make sure your legal defense fund is adequately funded. Ask my family to take the pets to your parents’ place for the weekend. Wait for them to get clear.

Attach the frames and the conversion kits. Contact the ATF and ask them which one is an unregistered Short-Barreled-Rifle. Place all the components into a gun safe, and step out onto the porch to await the Long Arm of the Law. Keep your hands in view and make no sudden moves.

I’ve perhaps exaggerated the physical danger to your person in this hypothetical; but I think I made my point. Some of the curlicues above regarding the specifics of each starting firearm are done to prevent identification of which frame started as a handgun and which as a rifle. Likewise, I’ve chosen 1911-pattern frames as the start as they can be sourced anywhere and can even be personally manufactured – it’d be harder to try and claim that a Glock frame is anything but a handgun frame, and would be much more difficult both physically and legally to personally manufacture.


Prior to Heller and the 111th Congress, this would have been a politically- and legally-risky move. Nobody knew if there was a right to personal possession of a handgun, and Congress could choose to wipe out the “handgun” exemption to Any Other Weapon. Heller proved that there is an individual right to possess an operable firearm, particularly a handgun, in the home for self-defense. That’s the core finding. And the 111th Congress showed that a Democratically-dominated Congress would still vote to allow firearms in National Parks and come within one vote in the Senate to force permit reciprocity down the throats of the States.

This leaves the ATF in a bind. On the one hand, they can ignore my hypothetical above. One guy with a handgun that, in a certain light, looks a bit like a SBR if you squint real hard, isn’t much of a threat to their regulatory scheme ,by himself. Until he tells his friends, and posts on the internet, and his friends tell their friends, &c… And the ATF, institutionally, prefers to bring that certain lightbulb with them, and squint at it really hard. And this case will yank the rug out from under SBR; because the next case won’t be 1911-pattern frames, it’ll be AR-15 receivers. And once you’ve shown that there’s no difference between an AR-15 pistol and an AR-15 full-length rifle, you go on to an AR-15 with a 20” OAL, and then one with a 14” barrel length, &c.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Do Want

The Keltec KSG 12GA Bullpup, dual-tube magazine, shotgun got a glamour session from Oleg Volk.

I want a new toy – fully aware it would be a toy for me. But, hey, it’s NJ-compliant. Really.

Where’s the crime? (SBR, SBS, AOW Part 2)

This is a natural progression of two of my previous posts – “Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns, Oh My” and “Grown-up Toys" that is meant to highlight the absurdity of the definitions of firearm types, and an inherent contradiction in trying to separate firearms into types.
This will take several ingredients:
  1. A 1911 version of the Mechtech CCU
  2. A 1911-pattern frame, that has never been assembled into a handgun
  3. All the rest of the parts necessary to assemble a 1911-pattern firearm, except the slide and barrel assembly
  4. a .22lr conversion kit for a 1911-pattern handgun
Place ingredients 1-3  in the inventory of an FFL in, say, Pennsylvania, assembled into a functional .45acp carbine. This is a perfectly legal rifle, per the federal definition of same:  “The term "rifle" means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of an explosive to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger.” (Note emphasis). Current federal law permits me (as a New Jersey resident) to purchase same from the PA FFL, as long as the laws of both states are followed, and PA permits FFLs to sell to out-of-staters and NJ permits its residents to purchase out-of-state. Say that I do so, following all the relevant laws – in this case passing an instant background check in PA, after showing an NJ Photo ID, an NJ Firearms Purchaser ID card, and filling out a federal form 4473 and a New Jersey Certificate of Eligibility. (For the sake of this post, this transaction is not happening in a City of the First Class under PA law).
Ingredient 4 is not a firearm, and therefore may be purchased without any particular restrictions. I will buy mine at a different PA FFL, still not in a City of the First Class by PA law.
I will then drive to a range, following all the laws pertaining to transport of firearms and ammunition without a License to Carry in PA. At the range I run a few magazines through my .45acp carbine. I step back from the line, detach the 1911-pattern frame from the Mechtech unit, and attach it to the .22lr conversion kit. I now have a handgun (federal definition": “a firearm which has a short stock and is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand” that is “ … a pistol or a revolver having a rifled bore”) whose component pieces I obtained in a state in which I am not resident, without having fulfilled the requirements for purchase of a handgun of the state in which I am resident.
What federal laws did I break, and when? What state laws did I break, and when? Each individual transaction is legal. I bought a rifle in one store, and a conversion kit for a handgun in another. At no point did I engage in the manufacture of a firearm, and at no point did any of the components being sold by any one vendor qualify as a “collection of parts” for the assembly of a handgun.
The Mechtech unit is by far not the only way I could have done this – AR-15-pattern “pistols” have been around for a while. For me, as a New Jersey resident, an AR-15-pattern pistol is an illegal Assault Weapon, having a detachable magazine outside the handgrip and also (I believe) weighing over 50 oz. and fires what is traditionally a rifle round. The Mechtech+1911 carbine unit has the benefit of being chambered in a traditionally handgun caliber. The Mechtech CCU alone has the advantage of having the long barrel and the long stock as one single unit, foreclosing the possibility of assembling a carbine with only one or the other feature and falling into Short-Barreled-Rifle or Any Other Weapon territory. I specified a conversion kit as that is something that can be found in many FFLs inventory on hand – though I probably could find a slide assembly almost as easily.
Now, my (hypothetical) 18-year-old friend does the same thing. In PA, an 18-year-old may possess a handgun (subject to the laws concerning possession without a License to Carry). When he steps up to the line with a .22lr pistol, who broke what state and federal laws?
Someone braver than I (and better-funded) could probably parlay some of these thoughts into an interesting federal lawsuit aimed at gutting federal regulation of handguns and Any Other Weapons separate from rifles, and then leverage that into breaking up the asinine regulation of Short-Barreled-Rifles. A similar strategy using a Taurus Judge (or variant) with a smoothbore barrel will do in Short-Barreled-Shotguns. As I said in my previous post, we have a recognized individual right to possess a functional firearm, particularly a handgun. From that, and the amazing modularity of modern weaponry, follows the conclusion that there is no justification for regulating any semi-automatic firearm (long arm or handgun, smoothbore or rifled barrel) in a different fashion than any other.

Please follow through to The Lair: Two Handguns, One Lawsuit (SBR, SBS, AOW Part 3) for a slightly tweaked hypothetical intended as a direct attack on the definitions of short-barreled rifle and handgun as separate from rifle.

Across a table, through a loophole, nothing but hysterics

One of the current tactics of the opponents of freedom is to decry the “gun-show loophole”, where (they say) unlicensed individuals are selling firearms to prohibited persons. Of course, it is legal (federally) for one private citizen to sell to another private citizen, as long as they’re not “in the business” of selling firearms. Now, I’ve never actually been to a gun show, but it they’re anything like other “x-shows” I’ve been to, (or like the descriptions I’ve heard from people who have gone), there are undoubtedly one or two people at any show who could, with a squint and a warrant, be accused of “being in the business” of selling firearms. I will assume for the sake of argument that there are such folks to be found.

“But wait,” I hear from the cheap seats, “that means that someone is breaking the law!” Well, yes. But they don’t have any choice. It used to be, back before the grim days of the Clinton Administration, that we had people who were referred to as “kitchen table” or “gun-show table” dealers. They didn’t have a storefront, but made pocket money by buying and selling firearms on a hobby basis. Many of them had their Federal Firearms License to engage in the trade, and were required to maintain the Aquisitions and Dispositions books, file Form 4473, and otherwise do for each transaction what any other FFL must do. Fast-forward to today, though, and these ‘table dealers are entirely gone from the landscape.

The dearth of 'table dealer FFLs is a direct result of the BATF under Clinton (and, by all appearances, by action from 1600 PA Ave). They used to exist and were driven out of business. The regulations changed such that you had to have a fixed place of business, with fixed hours, &c. If you couldn’t measure up, your license was revoked. Purportedly, this was done “to stop the illegal transfer of firearms at gun shows,” or “in living rooms,” &c. Of course, it really doesn’t matter – an illegal transfer is an illegal transfer, and ‘table FFLs have to do everything that a storefront FFL does in a transaction; if they don’t, the BATF(E) can revoke their FFL no matter where or how they conduct business.

In short, the cause of these “underground” dealers, whose transactions are untraceable, is a regulatory change purported to reduce the number of untraced transactions. How’s that for unintended consequences?

This was part and parcel of the "attrition" strategy of gun control that saw the ranks of FFLs decimated, or worse. One estimate I saw put the number of FFLs in 2000 at 1/10th that of the number in 1990. That’s the flip side of decimation; instead of eliminating 1 in 10, only 1 in 10 survived! This was the actual goal of the change in regulations.

If you want to regulate sales by “small-time” sellers, then how about allowing them to get licensed again? That brings more of the “gun show” or “living room” transactions back into the background check system, making it harder for prohibited persons to obtain guns. But that’s not the goal of the loop-hounds, is it? They would rather stop transactions entirely.


(This started as a response to Sebastian’s “Unintended Consequences” post, but got a little large for a comment box)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns, Oh My

I’ve been promising this for a while, so here it is: my post on why the restrictions on short-barreled rifles and shotguns, and what are known as Any Other Weapons are unconstitutional, immoral, and unreasonable.
Let’s take a look at firearms law (I’m using the NRA’s reference, found here).
Title18, U.S. Code, Title I, Section 921(a)(3)
(5) The term "shotgun" means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of an explosive to fire through a smooth bore either a number of ball shot or a single projectile for each single pull of the trigger.
(6) The term "short-barreled shotgun" means a shotgun having one or more barrels less than eighteen inches in length and any weapon made from a shotgun (whether by alteration, modification, or otherwise) if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than twenty-six inches.
(7) The term "rifle" means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of an explosive to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger.
(8) The term "short-barreled rifle" means a rifle having one or more barrels less than sixteen inches in length and any weapon made from a rifle (whether by alteration, modification, or otherwise) if such weapon, as modified, has an overall length of less than twenty-six inches.
(29) The term "handgun" means--;
(A) a firearm which has a short stock and is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand
Any Other Weapon (Title II, Sec 5845)
(e) Any other weapon.:The term "any other weapon" means any weapon or device capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive, a pistol or revolver having a barrel with a smooth bore designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell, weapons with combination shotgun and rifle barrels 12 inches or more, less than 18 inches in length, from which only a single discharge can be made from either barrel without manual reloading, and shall include any such weapon which may be readily restored to fire.Such term shall not include a pistol or a revolver having a rifled bore, or rifled bores, or weapons designed, made, or intended to be fired from the shoulder and not capable of firing fixed ammunition.
A little bit of history – originally, handguns were going to be considered as Any Other Weapon (AOW), and charged a burdensome tax. With that little tidbit, the definitions of Short-Barreled-Rifles (SBR) and Short-Barreled-Shotguns (SBS) becomes clear as well; they are attempts to make sure that handguns cannot be legally created out of rifles and shotguns, at least not without registering them and paying an even more burdensome tax.
The classifications of  was changed at the eleventh hour of lawmaking, but the definitions of AOW, SBS, and SBR were left in, and a tight definition of Handgun was added. The BATF has held since then that the attachment of a stock to handgun makes it a rifle (most likely short-barreled, since very few handguns have the necessary 16” barrel) and the attachment of a forward grip makes the combination AOW. In both cases, possession of the stock or grip without a corresponding registered AOE or SBR is considered “constructive possession”. This has been allowed to stand so far because no-one was sure if the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual right to a handgun or not, until the Heller decision. Now, of course, we have the guaranteed right to possess a functional firearm (specifically a handgun) in the home for the purposes of self-defense.
Given that, I can’t see the restrictions on SBS, SBR, or AOW standing. Each in their own way exists to prevent the conversion of a non-handgun into a handgun (or, in the case of AOW, prevents making a handgun more effective). Since we now have a guaranteed right to possess a functional handgun, there’s no reason to restrict someone from having a short-barreled firearm, &c.
I expect the only reason these haven’t been challenged so far is due to lack of bandwidth on the part of the relevant organizations.

Grown-up toys

Ran across this – The MechTech CCU; an upper that drops onto a Glock or 1911, allowing the owner to convert their pistol to a pistol-caliber carbine.

It’s interesting, since the unit and accessories are not firearms. I’m sort of vaguely interested, since I have a (probably irrational) fascination with pistol-caliber carbines. The problem with this type of kit is that you can end up with something that’s either a Short-Barreled-Rifle or Any Other Weapon (technicalities of federal firearms law kick in) if you’re not careful. Since this is a one-piece assembly, attaching both the barrel and the stock at one go, it would appear to be safer (legally) than a kit that has the barrel and stock as separate parts.

In NJ, of course, I shouldn’t look at any of the adjustable stock options. Owning them would be OK, but if I ever attached it to my Glock frame, I’d be in violation of the Attorney General’s Office’s interpretation of NJ’s Assault Weapon Ban (having a a semi-automatic weapon with a pistol grip, detachable magazine, and an adjustable stock).

All of this goes to show some of the idiocy in both federal and state firearms laws, written by people who didn’t know guns, and don’t take into account modern design and inspiration.

The firearm that I’d like to have for home defense is a short-barrel (12” or so), pistol-caliber semi-auto carbine with collapsible stock and a full-size (18-20 round or so) magazine, with an integral suppressor. Accessories would include a laser and probably a light, and a (folding) vertical forward grip. A compact form factor is essential for a “bedside” gun, but a shoulder stock and forward grip enhance accuracy, as does the laser. The suppressor is to prevent damaging the hearing of myself or anyone else in the house (since they don’t make hearing protection for cats). In some states, I could actually own such a weapon, after an annoying amount of federal paperwork, and paying (I believe) $400. $200 would be because it’s a Short-Barreled-Rifle, and the other $200 would be for the suppressor. That’s on top of the cost of the weapon itself (which, if other carbines I’ve been are any guide, would be around $600-$1000). Absolutely illegal in NJ, of course; where we can't own a SBR or a suppressor. For now, anyway…