Randazza gets PWNED by Troll

Some people in our audience do not know the finer points of trolling…

Wow… there I was, all proud of the article I just wrote about journalism licensing.

And five minutes after posting it, I get word that I've been trolled. Yep. The proposed law was a Second Amendment protest. I would love to say "I knew that all along." No, I did not. I failed to critically examine the story. Epically failed.

I thought about updating the post. No. When I get trolled and epically owned, I need to go to the box for two minutes by myself, and I feel shame.

I go free when you say I go free. I feel shame.

by Marc Randazza

Last 5 posts by Marc Randazza

Comments

  1. Moebius Street says

    My first quick glance at the embedded video stillshot had me thinking that Marc is the kind of guy who wears plaid blazers. But he'd be in good company, with other luminaries such as Herb Tarlek.

  2. says

    I don't think the intention of the bill is entirely relevant. There isn't only one lesson to be learned, one discussion to be had about any issue.
    So you didn't know the context. Your post isn't wrong or embarrassing because of it.

  3. says

    So many news reporters seem to have misunderstood this story—some honestly, but some otherwise (Washington Post and Mother Jones most egregiously)—that it almost justifies the licensure & registration requirements Mr. Pitts was only joking about.

  4. Toastrider says

    If it makes you feel better, a number of folks got suckered initially. A sad commentary on our current attention-span-of-a-gnat culture.

  5. says

    INAL, but I instantly grasped that this was a 2A protest.

    And while I'm as much a 2A absolutist as I am for the 1A, I'm a little annoyed.

    I think legislators should not propose silly bills that they will not go anywhere, especially when they realize they are unconstitutional on their face.

  6. Zach says

    Well, at least you're not scared of owning it. My favorite thing about you is you're at least an honest dude. For a dirty godless rascal. =)

  7. M. Alan Thomas II says

    So many people act like there is, or should be, a line separating "journalists" from "rabble-rousers" (or thoughts to that effect) that it's still worth the argument.

    Personally, I would have pointed out that freedom to own a press—to publish and thereby be a journalist—without licensure by the authorities was one of the purposes in enacting the First Amendment, given the press licensing abuses by the censorious British.

  8. DRJlaw says

    I think legislators should not propose silly bills that they will not go anywhere, especially when they realize they are unconstitutional on their face.

    Methinks that was the legislator's point about certain gun licensing requirements.

    I saw the intended parallel when reading a story authored by reporters who, like Marc, did not recognize or write about the parallels to 2nd amendment issues (trigger phrases: "responsible journalism," paralleling "responsible gun ownership, and "registry," paralleling various gun-related registries).

    I also recognized that it was a stunt — a sophomoric comparison between two quite different things. The harms are completely different — feelz and offense versus violent crimes — so that the implication that 1st and 2nd amendment rights should be subject to the same legal tests is a little nuts. But I also appreciate some of the underlying point — why should I have to hold a state-issued Firearms Owner Identification Card, a.k.a., a license to possess and listing within a de facto, government-run gun owner registry, if I've already passed the time-of-purchase background check?

    People dislike licensing and registries due to the oft-repeated abuses that they become connected to. I think that Pitts' core point is that we're terribly vigilant about those issues in one context, but all too quick to dismiss similar concerns in the other.

  9. says

    I'd call it satire rather than trolling, but tomato toMAHto.

    The salient question to me is whether you'd want to defend the 2A with the same vigilance you defend the 1A? If not, why not?

  10. AH says

    I, for one, give you internet points for standing up and admitting it.

    @David: proper satire is indistinguishable from trolling (but yes, I'd call it satire too, a particularly good one for this day and age).

  11. Michael 2 says

    As it happens, a type of journalist license already exists called a "press pass". The difference is that the major league sports authority decides who is a journalist and issues a credential, a press pass. The idea is that since only a limited room exists a the field or press box, the reporter representing a million viewers has a better claim on that limited space and will bring more readers and viewers, hence revenue, to the league.

    To strengthen this distinction everyone that lacks a press pass is usually not permitted to bring "professional" looking cameras to the stadium.

    Major news organizations presumably issue credentials to their reporters making it possible for venues to more easily decide whether to let you into the press box.

    States often require licensing for professions, such as photographer, to engage in business. Anyone can be a photographer but to do so for hire usually requires a license. Some professions require a skill demonstration to get a license, others do not, just send money :-)

  12. Jordan says

    I don't think the intention of the bill is entirely relevant. There isn't only one lesson to be learned, one discussion to be had about any issue.
    So you didn't know the context. Your post isn't wrong or embarrassing because of it.

    Agreed. The sad fact is there are plenty of people – including many journalists – who support the idea of journalism licensing. Those people are far more terrifying than the ISIS's and Adam Lanzas of the world.

  13. ZK says

    I, too, thought it was serious, and was very happy to see people ridicule it.

    I expect a lot of those same people will walk that back now. Frankly, I think he made his point pretty well.

  14. says

    As I pointed out to Mr. Pitts, it’s traditional to give such satirical suggestions the heading “A Modest Proposal” so they can be recognized more… swiftly. 😜

  15. OFC Member says

    I think Pitts' satire succeeded quite well. It's too bad he let the cat out of the bag so soon, before the largely hypocritical media outrage had built to a critical mass.

    “It strikes me as ironic that the first question is constitutionality from a press that has no problem demonizing firearms,” Pitts said. “With this statement I’m talking primarily about printed press and TV. The TV stations, the six o’clock news and the printed press has no qualms demonizing gun owners and gun ownership.”

    Well said, Rep. Pitts, well said.

  16. OFC Member says

    @DRJlaw says

    I also recognized that it was a stunt — a sophomoric comparison between two quite different things. The harms are completely different — feelz and offense versus violent crimes — so that the implication that 1st and 2nd amendment rights should be subject to the same legal tests is a little nuts.

    There is nothing sophomoric or nuts about his point.

    During the Clinton administration, the Centers for Disease Control appointed an independent, non-federal, uncompensated body of public health and prevention experts to the Task Force on Community Preventive Services to examine firearms laws. The Task Force conducted a systematic review of scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of firearms laws in preventing violence.

    They reviewed 51 studies "that evaluated the effects of selected firearms laws on violence," including the law that created the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and other "Restrictions on firearm acquisition." The Task Force concluded: "The evidence … is insufficient to determine the effectiveness of acquisition restrictions on violent outcomes." In fact, they "found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes".

    In 2005, National Research Council of the National Academy of Science published Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review. The two committees responsible for the 340-page report reviewed 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications, and some original empirical research. In the Executive Summary (p. 6) they say: "In summary, the committee concludes that existing research studies and data include a wealth of descriptive information on homicide, suicide, and firearms, but, because of the limitations of existing data and methods, do not credibly demonstrate a causal relationship between the ownership of firearms and the causes or prevention of criminal violence or suicide."

    In November 2012, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service released Gun Control Legislation by William J. Krouse, a specialist in Domestic Security and Crime Policy. According to Krouse's "Table 1. Estimated Murder Rates and Firearms, 1993-2011," in 1994, the estimated firearms-related murder rate per 100,000 population was 6.3. The rate in 2007, was 3.9. Meanwhile, Americans owned about 192 million firearms in 1994, and approximately 294 million in 2007 (p. 8). Using these numbers and the US population estimates from Table 2 of U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2009 (1994 Est. US Pop. 263,436,000; 2007 Est. US Pop. 302,045,000) I calculated the following figures:

    1994
    Firearms per 100,000 Population: 728.8
    Firearms-related Murder Victims per 100,000 Population: 6.3

    2007
    Firearms per 100,000 Population: 973.3
    Firearms-related Murder Victims per 100,000 Population: 3.9

    So, despite a significant increase in firearms ownership there has been–not an increase–but a significant decrease in rate of firearms murder victims. I picked 1994 and 2007, because those are the only two common endpoints in the data supplied by Krouse. You can look at his report yourself and verify that those two years are not outliers.

    In 2013, Greg Ridgeway, Ph.D., Deputy Director, National Institute of Justice, provided an internal policy memo for the Obama administration entitled "Summary of Select Firearm Violence Prevention Strategies." Ridgeway cited an ATF study that found that the two most important means criminals used to obtain guns were "straw" purchasers (47%) and theft (26%). He concluded that the "Effectiveness [of universal background checks] depends on the ability to reduce straw purchasing, requiring gun registration and an easy gun transfer process."

    Yet, according to the Krouse report, federal straw purchase prosecutions under 18 USC §§922(a)(6) and 924(a)(1)(A) declined from Bush-era levels under the Obama administration "despite congressional efforts to increase ATF appropriations to combat gun trafficking." 922(a)(6) prosecutions went from 459 in FY 2004 to 218 in FY 2010 and 924(a)(1)(A) prosecutions went from about 290 in FY 2004 to about 110 in FY 2010. I don't know if things have changed since 2010.

    I submit that national gun registration is both politically and practically a dead letter. Further, "ghost guns" have never been more easily manufactured and it will probably only get easier for guns to be manufactured and sold without government oversight. Alcohol prohibition and war on drugs also point out the futility and danger to liberty of the draconian measures that would be required to implement a full-blown gun control strategy and for such dubious ends (and we haven't even talked about the data on defensive uses of guns).

    Like it or not, the 2nd Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights and, arguably, the right to keep and bear arms is a "fundamental right". IMO, any restrictions on that right should be subject to strict scrutiny. Unless it is repealed the liberty of those who exercise their 2A rights ought to be treated as respectfully as those availing themselves of the 1A rights. So, IMO, Rep. Pitts is right on the mark.

  17. Sami says

    This post makes me respect you more.

    To err is human, to forgive divine; to own that shit is rare.

  18. DRJlaw says

    Like it or not, the 2nd Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights and, arguably, the right to keep and bear arms is a "fundamental right". IMO, any restrictions on that right should be subject to strict scrutiny.

    I, for one, did not mention applying a different standard of constitutional review. However, applying tests such a prohibition against "prior restraints" in a gun context (for example, to the up-to-3-day delay permitted under the NICS) would indeed be "a little nuts."

    BTW, nice wall of text. Does very little to convince people that background checks are unnecessary or useless, though, doesn't it?

  19. mcinsand says

    To echo Sami, you only get more respect for this post and leaving the other post up there. Facing a mis-step head-on and acknowledging it shows strength and integrity. If I know that a person will be forthright about a misconclusion, then I will only have faith with the conclusions that remain.

  20. JWH says

    I really did think it was serious. Then again, I follow First Amendment issues somewhat closely, but I don't really follow the latest arguments on the Second Amendment.

  21. MelK says

    > The salient question to me is whether you'd want to defend the 2A with the same vigilance you defend the 1A? If not, why not?

    Sure, choose an easy comparison. How about a more difficult question: Would you want to defend the 18A with the same vigilance you defend the 21A?

  22. OFC Member says

    @T: "FYI your firearms/pop figures are off by orders of magnitude ;)"

    You are correct. Thanks for catching that.

    It should be:

    1994
    Firearms per 1,000 Population: 728.8
    Firearms-related Murder Victims per 100,000 Population: 6.3

    2007
    Firearms per 1,000 Population: 973.3
    Firearms-related Murder Victims per 100,000 Population: 3.9

  23. OFC Member says

    @DRJlaw:

    I, for one, did not mention applying a different standard of constitutional review.

    I apologize, I did not mean to imply you did.

    However, applying tests such a prohibition against "prior restraints" in a gun context (for example, to the up-to-3-day delay permitted under the NICS) would indeed be "a little nuts."

    On what basis is it "a little nuts"? Would you support a 3-day delay on controversial speech?

    BTW, nice wall of text. Does very little to convince people that background checks are unnecessary or useless, though, doesn't it?

    Hmm, 745 words doesn't seem like a "wall of text" to me but I suppose such judgments are in the eye of the beholder. In any case, my purpose wasn't to convince anyone of anything except that there are reasons to think that perhaps when it comes to guns "common sense" might not necessarily be supported by the scientific evidence.

    The Centers for Disease Control and the National Research Council are not exactly bastions of gun rights activism so when they publish assessments that say, respectively

    The evidence … is insufficient to determine the effectiveness of acquisition restrictions on violent outcomes.

    and

    In summary, the committee concludes that existing research studies and data include a wealth of descriptive information on homicide, suicide, and firearms, but, because of the limitations of existing data and methods, do not credibly demonstrate a causal relationship between the ownership of firearms and the causes or prevention of criminal violence or suicide.

    then it seems to me that reasonable people might be hesitant to jump on the gun control bandwagon.

    I admit that the CDC and NRC assessments are somewhat dated and it's possible that there is now compelling evidence in favor of background checks, etc. but I'm not aware of any.

    For instance, in 2013, in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre and President Obama's first round of executive actions on guns the Institute of Medicine and the NRC published Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence. They stated:

    Research findings have been mixed on the effectiveness of interventions to prevent firearm violence. … Unauthorized gun possession or use is associated with higher rates of firearm violence than legal possession of guns. Controlling access to guns through background checks or restrictions on particular types of firearms remains controversial, and the effectiveness of various types of control is inadequately researched. Research on the impact of imposing additional penalties for firearm use in illegal activities has also produced mixed results. Studies on the impact of right-to-carry laws on firearm violence also have inconsistent results and have been debated for a decade.

    Similarly, in late 2013, Siegel et al. published "The Relationship Between Gun Ownership and Firearm Homicide Rates in the United States, 1981–2010". They found: "We observed a robust correlation between higher levels of gun ownership and higher firearm homicide rates. Although we could not determine causation …" Here is their own interpretation of their results (see Table 2):

    *For each 1 percentage point increase in proportion of household gun ownership, firearm homicide rate increased by 0.9%
    *For each 1 percentage point increase in proportion of Black population, firearm homicide rate increased by 5.2%
    *For each 0.01 increase in Gini coefficient, firearm homicide rate increased by 4.6%
    *For each increase of 1/1000 in violent crime rate, firearm homicide rate increased by 4.8%
    *For each increase of 1/1000 in nonviolent crime rate, firearm homicide rate increased by 0.8%
    *For each increase of 1/10 000 in incarceration rate, firearm homicide rate decreased by 0.5%

    So you can see that they identified three statistically significant factors that were much stronger predictors of the US age-adjusted firearm homicide rate than gun ownership.

    In sum, we ought to be especially reluctant to tamper with a constitutionally-protected right especially when the public policy benefits are not clear. That seems to be the case with gun ownership restrictions.

  24. Dan Audy says

    @OFC Member

    It is worth noting however that one of the reasons there is insufficient evidence to draw conclusions regarding the connections between gun ownership and crime prevention and gun ownership and homicides/suicides is that the NRA lobbied to have such research banned or retaliated by cutting funding when that research is done.

    I don't know whether gun advocates or gun control advocates are right about what impact gun ownership has because there is little to no solid data and any decision is based purely on emotion. Given that one side is trying to find out information and the other to suppress it, I find myself tentatively supporting the one trying to let me make an informed decision since concealing evidence tends to be evidence of someone trying to hide something. Who knows though, maybe the NRA is afraid that if they let research get done that we will find out just how awesome guns are and stores will raise prices as demand skyrockets and the poor will be left unarmed, so their goal is to ensure the poor have access to guns too – but I doubt it.

  25. T says

    @Dan Audy

    That's highly disingenuous, but I suspect you already know that. I am not aware of any instance in which the NRA has tried to suppress private research. On the other hand, they quite rightly oppose government funded grants to activist agencies staffed by anti-2A zealots who already know what the "right" answer is.

  26. DRJlaw says

    On what basis is it "a little nuts"? Would you support a 3-day delay on controversial speech?

    What is the potential harm in selling a violent felon a semi-automatic handgun versus the potential harm in allowing the same violent felon to engage in "controversial speech"? Particularly if it were to be "on demand."

    Only one portion of your walls-o-text was relevant to universal background checks – the portion which stated that 47% of guns obtained by criminals were obtained through straw purchases. However, we need not let perfection be the enemy of good-enough. The rest of the time you veer off into statistics for possession by the generally law abiding, which is not relevant, or murder rates, as if that's the only form of gun-involved crime. I'm not impressed.

    The harms of controversial speech are largely intangible and transient. Where there is damage, it can typically be fixed by opposing speech, a judgment, or money,

    The harms of allowing those already disqualified from purchasing and possessing guns to complete the purchases because those not so disqualified might have to wait during a background check are manifest, and frequently long term or permanent. Judgments don't fix GSWs, and the shooter rarely has enough money to make the victim whole.

    So, yes, I do support a 3-day delay on purchases, I don't support a 3-delay on controversial speech, and I don't see any intellectual dishonesty in dividing the two. Nor do most other Americans. Nor do the courts. No matter how fundamental the right is, it is still balanced against compelling interests and subject to least the restrictive means (not non-restrictive means) for achieving such a balance.

  27. Noscitur_a_sociis says

    Even Eugene Volokh was taken in by this one. Interestingly, none of the numerous comments has noted the development.

    By "was taken in" I assume you mean "explicitly noted that 'Pitts is apparently trying to make a point about the restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms imposed by concealed carry permit law' and then explained why he didn't believe the analogy was apt"?

  28. JohnnyDerp says

    A couple of comments.

    Some are so focused on "their" rights, they forget others have concerns about "their" rights. We should all have concerns about the rights spelled out in the Bill of Rights. The courts have extrapolated other rights from the founding documents, and because these rights are social darlings, we sometimes forget about those rights, enumerated and unalienable, that deserve extra attention and often get short shrift from both media and the branches of government

    As far as proposing bills that are clearly unconstitutional, I suggest you look at the current crop of bills in California under consideration vis a vis firearms, the laws already signed into law here, and the laws winding their way through Federal courts for nigh onto a decade. In Progressive California, the Second Amendment is under sustained attack, and the District and Circuit courts are ignoring Heller and McDonald rulings from SCOTUS, and even SCOTUS will not take a case where their holdings have been roundly ignored in order to slap some sense in the lower Federal courts (see Friedman v Highland Park)

    My Scottish Great Grandmother would say things are going to Hell in a Handbasket

  29. Mike Cermak says

    The crow tastes better if you splash a little sriracha on it (as most things do). Thanks for owning up to your pwnage, you're a bigger man than many for it.

  30. Resolute says

    Anyone who references Slap Shot need not feel shame. Go free and be trolled again, good sir!

  31. Jeff Ryan says

    As usual when discussing the Second Amendment, even tangentially, some have responded with rather absolute statements about the amendment's meaning or purpose. So I will enter the fray, however briefly, in that spirit.

    Statements that gun registration is categorically "unconstitutional" are frankly unsupportable. Both before the passage of the amendment and after, the state governments, as well as the federal government (obviously after passage) conducted gun censuses by which citizens had to tell the government what arms they had. The purpose (militia-related, as indeed is the amendment) was to determine what guns were in private hands should they be needed for the militia. This is really no different than registration. Yet no one raised a hue and cry that it was none of government's business who had what guns. Jefferson himself presided over one of these censuses as president, and history records that he was president some years after the Bill of Rights was ratified.

    One cannot read the militia out of the amendment, and thus one has to take it as it was operative following ratification of the Bill of Rights. Otherwise, original intent would truly be meaningless.

  32. Jonathan Rabbitt says

    If you'd been a responsible and properly licensed journalist, this failure would never have happened.

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