Mission statement:

Armed and Safe is a gun rights advocacy blog, with the mission of debunking the "logic" of the enemies of the Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms.

I can be reached at 45superman@gmail.com.You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/45superman.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Found the bill number

This morning, when I wrote about Sen. Lautenberg's "gun show loophole" closure bill, I couldn't find the bill number.

I finally tracked it down--S. 2577. Still no text, of course.

'Gun show loophole' closure goes nationwide

I've been writing a bit lately (with more here) about the recent efforts (all of which have died screaming) in Virginia to close the mythical "gun show loophole." Now, everyone's favorite citizen disarmer, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), along with Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), is trying the same thing on the federal level.

“It defies common sense that a loophole in federal law lets unlicensed dealers sell firearms at gun shows without running a background check on the buyer. Our legislation would require background checks for every gun purchased at every gun show across America. Without this change in the law, felons, fugitives and severely mentally ill people will continue to be able to buy guns – no questions asked,” said Sen. Lautenberg.
Those "unlicensed dealers," of course, are no more "dealers" than someone who sells his used car is a car dealer, but far be it from a citizen disarmament advocate to stick to facts, when menacing hyperbole works so much better.

How far will this go? Hard to say. A House bill, H.R. 96 (discussed briefly here) was introduced almost a year ago, and has languished for months, drawing only five cosponsors so far.

Senator Lautenberg's bill (haven't yet found a bill number for it [UPDATE: it's S. 2577]), though, appears to be a more serious effort. Although just introduced yesterday, it already has (in addition to Lautenberg and Reed) nine cosponsors (the usual suspects). From Lautenberg's press release:
The Lautenberg-Reed measure is cosponsored by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), John Kerry (D-MA), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Carl Levin (D-MI) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
Also, as Rep. Carolyn McCarthy and Sen. Chuck Schumer have already stated, the "next step" after the NICS "Improvement" Act is the attack on gun shows.

And the "next step" after that? The Brady Bunch has made it clear that they want to require that all private sales (not only those at gun shows) to involve a background check. In the their press release praising the Lautenberg-Reed bill, Helmke spouted their motto on that subject:
“The bottom line should be: ‘No background check. No gun. No excuses.’”
Catchy, isn't it?

It's funny, isn't it, that the citizen disarmament advocates, who routinely dismiss the slippery slope argument as paranoid fear-mongering on the part of gun rights advocates, refer to every gun law they pass as "a good first step." We certainly take a lot of "first steps," and if they had their way, would take a lot more.

UPDATE: Ryan has more.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Real reasoned discourse at Sharp as a Marble

It's rare enough to find a citizen disarmament advocate with whom it's possible to have "reasoned discourse" (although such advocates sometimes lament that fact, and imply that it's the fault of the freedom advocates). Robb, at Sharp as a Marble, believes he has found one.

I've been having a conversation with Brandon Bryn of Prevention Works regarding a post he wrote about the Gun Show Loophole. I, of course, disagree with the term "loophole" and have been arguing my point and Brandon has been respectful in his replies. This is what true reasoned discourse is like.
I'm not sure I'll enter this debate, as I'm approaching the point where I'm one of those gun rights advocates who cannot help but take personally what I see as an attack on my Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms, even when the guy doing the attacking does so in a "reasonable" manner.

I'm also starting to lose interest in the pragmatic arguments for gun rights. Although I believe restrictive gun laws do not save lives, and can be demonstrated to have cost lives, I have come to believe that the utilitarian arguments for or against so-called "gun control" miss the point.

The point is that life and liberty, and the means to defend them, are fundamental, natural rights (and, as it happens, protected by the Constitution). Whether this or that gun law constitutes a net increase in safety to society, or a net decrease, is, to my way of thinking, window dressing.

Still, it's an argument that won't go away anytime, and for those interested, Brandon seems a decent sort with whom to debate it.

Laura Washington: Sure, Suffredin is a political whore, but he's my political whore

Rabidly anti-gun columnist Laura Washington wrote Monday of her support for rabidly anti-gun Cook County (Illinois) Commissioner Larry Suffredin in his bid to become the next Cook County state's attorney. This is in spite of Suffredin's other job as a lobbyist.

Larry Suffredin's fatal flaw may be his longtime lobbying for gambling, tobacco and drug interests. It raises conflict of interest questions that are tough to set aside.
A list of his lobbying clients can be found here.

Why, despite Suffredin's "fatal flaw," would she support him?
Still, Suffredin has made fighting gun violence a signature initiative. He's got the NRA and its minions in a frenzy. His plan to go after gun shop owners and others who are peddling death on our streets will save our children.
In other words, so what about the clear conflict of interest--as long as it serves my pet agenda? By the way, does this make me one of the NRA's "minions"? Does Laura consider herself one of the Brady Bunch's minions?

Looking at that list of lobbying clients, we see that one of them is Illinois Citizens for Handgun Control, which, according to this, is another name for the rabidly anti-gun Illinois Council against Handgun Violence. Suffredin is also a longtime board member of yet another rabidly anti-gun, group, the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

So let's see, a commissioner of a county board, who pushes every restrictive gun ordinance he thinks he can manage to impose on the county (in addition to his latest attempt to shut down every gun dealer in the county, he was the author of Cook County's huge expansion of their ban of so-called "assault weapons"), and now is running for State's Attorney, is also a paid lobbyist for anti-gun groups, and is a board member of one such group. This goes beyond conflict of interest--this is closer to incest.

But never mind that, Laura Washington says--it's OK, because he's going after "gun shop owners and others who are peddling death on our streets . . . "

Let's just put the fox in charge of hen house security, while we're at it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

IGOLD '08 update

Yesterday, I updated my original IGOLD '08 post with this information, but I've decided to mention it in a new post, to help ensure that it's not missed.

PK Firearms, in Shelbyville, IL, is generously sponsoring another bus to Springfield (with their sponsorship making the trip free for any gun rights activist who can make it). This one takes off from Effingham, with stops for additional pick-ups in Vandalia and Litchfield. Here are the details:

Effingham/Vandalia/Litchfield - Free, donations accepted
7:30 a.m. Effingham – Depart K-Mart parking lot – 1006 N. Keller at I-70 exit 160 Please park at edge of lot away from the building (Map soon)
8:00 a.m. Vandalia - Depart Harmon’s IGA parking lot, 827 Veterans Ave. 62471 just southwest of I-70 exit 63 Please park at N/W corner between Subway and IGA. Employee parking area. (Map soon)
9:30 a.m. Litchfield – Depart Tractor Supply (TSC), 20 Litchfield Plaza, Litchfield, IL Just east of I-55 exit 52 (Map soon)
10:30 am Springfield - Lunch - Old Country buffet $8.50 per person (includes meal, drink, gratuity, bus captain collects money)
On-line reservation or call 815-635-3198
Bus provided by PK Firearms of Shelbyville, IL
Donations accepted - Donations will go to the ISRA legal defense fund
By the way, while I'm pointing out PK's generous sponsorship of this event, I should probably mention other businesses and organizations that are working hard to make IGOLD '08 even bigger and better than last year. These include the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA), Guns Save Life (formerly Champaign County Rifle Association), Springfield Armory, Rock River Arms, Armalite, and DSArms. Without the hard work and generous contributions of these entities, IGOLD would still be invaluable in fighting against the scourge of restrictive gun laws in Illinois, but would be considerably less capable of making gun owners' voices heard in Springfield.

Also, the earlier post had document files (either pdf or MS Word) for flyers that could be printed up for distribution at gun shops, gun shows, gun clubs, etc., to promote IGOLD. Here they are again:

ISRA's flyer (pdf format)
Aurora info (MS Word doc)
Champaign info (MS Word doc)
Chicago info (MS Word doc)
Mt. Vernon-Fairview Heights info (MS Word doc)

Now, we have a few more:
Joliet-Chatsworth info (MS Word doc)
Moline-Galesburg-Peoria info (MS Word doc)
Marion info (MS Word doc)
Quincy-Barry-Jacksonville info (MS Word doc)
Rockford-Mendota-Normal info (MS Word doc)
Effingham-Vandalia-Litchfield info (MS Word doc)

Help spread the word.

Ammunition encoding--a nationwide effort?

Last week, I took a look at four bills festering in the Illinois Politburo legislature that would require ammunition to be encoded with unique (from box to box) serial numbers. The expense of implementing such a program, coupled with the near utter lack of any utility as a crime-fighting tool, makes, I suspect, passage of any of these bills quite unlikely, even here in Illinois.

Still, the citizen disarmers are going to take their shots (no pun intended), and while we on the pro-rights side busy putting out fires, that's effort we won't be using to actually advance our cause. I can therefore see, from a tactical point of view, why introducing such bills is seen as worth it to them, even if they aren't likely to pass (and who knows--maybe I'm underestimating how bad things have gotten in Illinois, and they really do intend to make a real fight over this abomination).

It's a bit more surprising to me to see such legislation proposed in traditionally gun-friendly states, but it's happening. War on Guns tells us of such efforts (both House and Senate) in Tennessee. I suspect such efforts are especially quixotic in Tennessee, but as WoG points out, Tennessee did give us Al Gore, so I should perhaps not take anything for granted.

Mississippi is another southern state, generally perceived as pro-gun, that is considering such legislation. Interestingly, a look at the text of the bill shows that one of the cosponsors is newly elected Senator Eric Powell. I say "interestingly," because of Senator Powell's NRA endorsement, his platform that includes "Second Amendment rights," and his promise that he "will lead the opposition to any move in the legislature to undermine our Second Amendment rights." He certainly seems to be "lead[ing] the opposition" in a rather odd direction, doesn't he?

I realize that Sen. Powell does not come up for reelection until 2011, but I hope Mississippi gun owners and his district remember his treachery then.

Monday, January 28, 2008

What's a dangerous weapon in D.C.?

Apparently, anything is, if so used in an assault. The "weapon" referred to in the linked-to George Washington University student newspaper article was a beer bottle (probably--the victim isn't sure, but is apparently convinced that it was a glass object), with which the victim was struck in the head.

Senior Isabella Bacardi was arrested for assault with a dangerous weapon - a felony charge - at McFadden's Saloon Oct. 21. Bacardi is accused of hitting a 29-year-old Alexandria, Va., resident on the head with a glass object, a court document states.

[ . . . ]

Michelle Lindsay, the 29-year-old alleged victim, said she believes the glass object was a beer bottle but added she did not see it because of the angle of the reported incident.
While calling a beer bottle a "dangerous weapon" may sound a bit silly, I actually don't really have a problem with that. Beer bottles can be, and undoubtedly have been, used to kill, as have bikini tops, and for that matter, so have fists and feet. As those of us who fight against gun bans constantly point out, it's the evil and aggressive intent of the person using an implement that makes that implement dangerous, rather than the nature of the implement itself.

Channing Phillips, a spokesman for the District's U.S. Attorney's office, elaborates:
Possession of a prohibited weapon is a charge added to an assault case to specify the weapon used in an attack, Phillips said.

"D.C. statute states anything that you use in a prohibited manner can be considered a prohibited weapon," he said. "Even a writing pen could be considered prohibited under certain circumstances."
They seem to take that "the pen is mightier than the sword" thing pretty seriously there, don't they?

How, though, do they reconcile that position with a handgun ban--a law that turns a peaceable citizen into a criminal, for merely having the audacity to maintain an efficient means of self-defense in the home? If a beer bottle is just a container until it's swung at someone's head, at which point it becomes a "prohibited weapon" (or if a pen is simply a writing instrument until it's stabbed into someone's eye, at which point it becomes a "prohibited weapon"), why isn't a handgun in the home simply part of the security arrangements, until it's used to harm an innocent victim?

Could the reason be that it's not very difficult for a tyrannical government to suppress a rebellion fought with beer bottles and pens?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Nicki hits one out of the park

And does a number on Virginia State Senator Dick Saslaw. I was going to just add this as an update to today's earlier post, but it's too good for to risk the possibility of people not noticing it.

Nicki can demolish a statist idiot without even putting any effort into it. For Saslaw, though, she put some time into it.

This letter is a must-read.

Contempt from the contemptible in the Virginia Senate

I'm feeling a bit lazy on this Sunday morning, so I'm not even going to try to come up with much original material today. I had been following the other side's efforts in Virginia to close the mythical "gun show loophole" (here, when the relevant House bill was defeated; here, when I realized that the greater danger was actually the Senate bill; and most recently, here, when that abomination was finally dispatched).

What I didn't cover was the contempt with which Senator Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax, and member of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, in which the bill was debated) views gun rights activists. From the Virginia Citizens Defense League:

On Monday, Executive member John Pierce was in an elevator in the General Assembly building, participating in the VCDL Lobby Day. John was in the back of the elevator and at some point Democratic Senator Dick Saslaw of Fairfax County, who is the Senate Majority Leader, entered the elevator with a companion.

The Senator, not realizing that John with his large "Guns Save Lives" badge was in the back of the elevator, continued a loud conversation he was having with his companion.

In a clearly audible voice, Senator Saslaw said to his companion: "I see we're debating a gun bill today. Half of the cast of Deliverance is in town."
Nice, eh? Sailor Curt and the Washington Post discuss this, as well.

Saslaw wasn't done, though. Once again, VCDL has the story:
In the following Washington Post blog, Saslaw doesn't deny making the "Deliverance" statement, but asks how gun owners know it was referring to them.

How about because it was obvious to anyone with more than a kindergarten education, Senator? You support every anti-gun bill that comes your way and we are to believe you are disparaging the anti-gunners?
It was Senator Saslaw, by the way, who rudely and contemptuously interrupted the VCDL's Phillip Van Cleave during his testimony to the Courts of Justice Committee--something he did not do when supporters of the restrictive gun law were speaking.
But even if you were referring to the anti-gunners, as a Senator you should have more decorum than to make such an offensive statement about ANY group, even the anti-gunners.

Adding insult to injury, Saslaw said this about gun owners who might think that his "Deliverance" comments were aimed at them: "some people must have one hell of an inferiority complex."
The point about the irrelevance of exactly to whom Saslaw referred is a good one (and one that Sailor Curt also made well). Saslaw is a public servant. Whichever component of his constituency he disparaged is composed of his employers (until they dismiss him, anyway).

Saslaw needs to be made aware that there are consequences attached to such egregious behavior on the part of an underling. Virginians need to let him know. Here's how (courtesy of Sailor Curt):

Senator Richard L. Saslaw
(D-Senate District 35)
Virginia Senate Majority Leader

In-session address:
General Assembly Building, Room 613
Capitol Square
Richmond, Virginia 23219
(804) 698-7535

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 1856
Springfield, Virginia 22151-0856
(703) 978-0200

email: district35@sov.state.va.us

VCDL also provides a tool for Virginia residents to use to contact their Delegates and Senators, urging them to demand an apology from Senator Saslaw.

Saslaw wants this to simply go away. Do not grant him that wish.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Paying the lawyers

Ryan Horsley, of Red's Trading Post, has some good news--the judge presiding over the case brought by the BATFE (not so much a case, really, as a jihad, utterly without merit) has denied the BATFE's request for summary judgment. The BATFE wanted to avoid trial, of course, because trials tend to deal in justice--something from which the BATFE shrinks, as a vampire shrinks from daylight.

That's the good news. The bad news is that trials are expensive, and the legal bills that Red's (and thus Ryan) is facing already add up to $115,000--and now the expensive part begins.

Ryan doesn't enjoy asking for money, and would much prefer to sell you a gun (here's the one I got--crazy, but I like it). Gun Owners Foundation has also set up a legal defense fund.

This isn't charity--this is defending the Second Amendment for all of us.

Along somewhat similar lines, Academics for the Second Amendment could really use some monetary help for the creation of pro-rights briefs in the Heller case. I've mentioned them before, and again, this is money well spent.

Get involved with urging Bush administration to withdraw DoJ's Heller brief

Wednesday, I wrote about Representative Virgil Goode's (R-VA) letter to the White House, urging Bush to direct the Department of "Justice" to withdraw its Heller brief. That brief basically says, you'll remember, that while the "right of the people to keep and bear arms" is, indeed, a right of the people (the Brady Bunch's Dennis Hennigan notwithstanding), "shall not be infringed" actually means . . . well, nothing, apparently.

In an update, I finally caught up with the fact that another Virginia congressman, Representative Eric Cantor, had already spoken out against that brief, and is circulating an online petition along similar lines.

Now, Gun Owners of America asks that we urge the NRA to step up the pressure on members of Congress to sign Rep. Goode's letter.

As you know, Rep. Virgil Goode is rounding up other members of the U.S. House of Representatives to join with him on his letter to the President asking him to withdraw that brief.

Gun Owners of America has taken the lead in building public awareness of the Solicitor General's action, and the need to urge all members of Congress to support Rep. Goode's efforts.

We know it is imperative for the NRA to encourage their members to weigh in with their representatives on behalf of Rep. Goode.

It would be very helpful if you -- and as many gun owners as you can recruit to help -- would call the NRA and urge them to publicly encourage members of Congress to join with Rep. Goode by signing his letter to the White House.

The toll-free number to call at the NRA is 800-392-8683. To maximize your effort, please call rather than e-mail.

For your information, the GOA press release that explains what is wrong with the administration's brief is here.
While I agree with the GOA that a phone call probably has more impact than an email, I see no harm in contacting the NRA by both methods--their email address is ila-contact@nrahq.org.

Gun Owners of America catches a lot of heat for being unwilling to play nice with the NRA. Perhaps there is some merit to such criticism. In this case, though, GOA is implicitly acknowledging the NRA's importance in the fight to defend the Second Amendment.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wow--you guys work fast!

Just kidding--I don't actually think that people responded in droves to my post yesterday, and thus inspired, flooded Commissioner Beavers' office with a mighty tide of calls and emails expressing righteous outrage, thus causing him to withdraw his proposal for a virtual ban of firearms in Cook County. Nevertheless, he is supposedly withdrawing it.

Commissioner William Beavers also introduced two other gun-control ordinances in December, but his staff said Thursday he is withdrawing them.
I had actually somehow managed to miss the fact that he had proposed two citizen disarmament ordinances (the other would have banned gun shows in Cook County--as Commissioner Suffredin's will, if passed--and required gun shop employees to undergo background checks; there were some other provisions, as well).

Anyway, although I know better than to try to take any credit for Beavers' retreat, I do believe that the grassroots activism of Illinois gun owners--led by groups like the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA), Illinois Carry, Guns Save Life (formerly Champaign County Rifle Association), etc.--was what forced him to back off. Grassroots works--remember that as we approach March 11th, and IGOLD '08.

The work in Cook County is far from over, of course. Not only does Cook County suffer already under an inordinately heavy burden of egregiously draconian gun laws already on the books, there's still Commissioner (and State's Attorney candidate) Suffredin's proposed ordinance, which would shut down every gun dealer in the county.

In the Daily Herald article I linked to earlier (here's the link again), Suffredin claims to have eight of the nine votes he needs to pass that abomination:
In the past, Suffredin has enacted county ordinances banning assault weapons, and he says he has eight votes for this one, needing just one more to pass it.
Curiously, by the way, in an earlier (Nov. 29th) article, he claimed to already have two more votes than he needed.
Suffredin was joined by Father Michael Pflaeger and the parents of several slain children as he predicted passage of his proposal which he says has 2 more than the 9 votes he'd need for passage.
So, Larry--were you lying then, or now--or have three commissioners stepped away from your citizen disarmament agenda?

We need to keep up the pressure on the Cook County Commissioners. Here, again, is their contact info:
District 1
Earlean Collins
Phone: 312/603-4566
Fax: 312/603-3696

District 2
Robert Steele
Phone: 312/603-3019
Fax: 312/603-4055

District 3
Jerry “Iceman” Butler
Phone: 312/603-6391
Fax: 312/603-5671

District 4
William M. Beavers
Phone: 312/603-6398
Fax: 312/603-4678

District 5
Deborah Sims
Phone: 312/603-6381
Fax: 312/603-2583

District 6
Joan Patricia Murphy
Phone: 312/603-4216
Fax: 312/603-3693

District 7
Joseph Mario Moreno
Phone: 312/603-5443
Fax: 312/603-3759

District 8
Robert Maldonado
Phone: 312/603-6386
Fax: 312/443-9531

District 10
Mike Quigley
Phone: 312/603-4210
Fax: 312/603-3695

District 11
John P. Daley
Phone: 312/603-4400
Fax: 312/603-6688

District 12
Forrest Claypool
Phone: 312/603-6380
Fax: 312/603-1265

District 13
Larry Suffredin
Phone: 312/603-6383
Fax: 312/603-3622

District 14
Gregg Goslin
Phone: 312/603-4932
Fax: 312/603-3686
I've omitted the contact information for Commissioners Peter Silvestri, Timothy Shneider, Anthony Peraica, and Elizabeth Ann Doody Gorman, because they have committed to opposing this ordinance (although I am tempted to ask them how the motion to suspend the rule requiring public notification of the proposed ordinances passed unanimously).

By the way, some of the resistance to Suffredin's proposed ordinance is coming from the big, new Cabela's in Hoffman Estates, which would be forced out of business by Suffredin's ordinance (here's an article about that), which has the Hoffman Estates Chamber of Commerce agitated. The Daily Herald article says that Suffredin might try to take those parties out of the fight by buying them off:
"We're taking it very seriously," said Commissioner Tim Schneider, a Bartlett Republican who represents Hoffman Estates, where Cabela's Outdoor Superstore is located. The store does significant business in guns. Suffredin says he's negotiating with the store on a possible exception.
I hope Cabela's knows better than to sell the public's good will so cheaply.

Philadelphia's Nutter Doctrine

Back in May, I wrote about the Philadelphia city council's passage of a package of draconian gun laws, despite Philadelphia having no legal authority to pass such laws (Pennsylvania state law preempts local laws regulating firearms).

Basically, they passed laws that were themselves illegal. That is clearly a problem, so the laws were never actually put into effect. This year, however, under the administration of the appropriately named Mayor Nutter, Philly will apparently break the law, enforcing illegal laws.

Mayor Nutter yesterday said he would enforce new city gun-control laws even without state authorization to do so - setting up a possible legal and political showdown between the state and the new mayor.

At the first regular meeting of the new City Council yesterday, Council members Darrell L. Clarke and Donna Reed Miller introduced the same package of gun-control measures that languished last year while the state legislature refused to authorize them.

But these bills have a new wrinkle - they don't call for state-enabling legislation. The previous bills were conditional on companion state laws in recognition of a 1996 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that said cities could not enforce their own gun laws.

But Nutter, Clarke and Miller, frustrated by the repeated failure of gun-control measures in the legislature, now appear ready to do just that.

"If these bills pass and if I sign them, then I expect to enforce them," Nutter said. "If you believe we can have a safer city by putting these measures in place, I think as good public servants we are compelled to take some type of action in the face of no relief coming from anywhere else."
If I were a Philadelphia police officer, I would be looking for a new job, because the municipal government would be putting me in the position of having to break the law in order to do my job.
Clarke said only that the new bills are "part of a legal strategy."
Perhaps Darrell actually meant "part of an illegal strategy," because that's what is being proposed here.

If the Philadelphia municipal government goes through with this, then they and every police officer who enforces these illegal laws will themselves be criminals.

I believe Pennsylvania law allows armed self-defense against criminals.

UPDATE: Sebastian (a Pennsylvanian) has more at Snowflakes in Hell

A new, creative way to endanger children

If the VPC describes the NRA's Eddie Eagle (gun safety for children) program as "Joe Camel with Feathers," what do they think of a pharmacy that gives kids free candy in prescription pill containers?

As War on Guns points out, accidental poisonings kill vastly more folks than accidental shootings.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Why the shift away from rights, Commissioner?

Right after Christmas, I wrote about Cook County (Illinois) Commissioner William Beavers' radical position shift--from advocating an end to Chicago's ban on handguns as a Chicago alderman in 1994, to proposing an ordinance mandating a near total ban on all firearms throughout the entire county last month.

That, obviously, is quite a reversal. I was curious about what would prompt such a dramatic shift, so I asked him--via both email and snail mail--about it.

Commissioner Beavers,

It was with a great deal of consternation that I learned of your introduction of the "Safe Streets/Weapons Registration Ordinance," which amounts to a near-total ban on firearm ownership in Cook County. This will serve only to force tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of heretofore law-abiding citizens to choose between becoming "criminals," and being rendered defenseless--subject to the tender mercies of the real criminals.

Upon reading "Gunning for Change," a 1994 article in Reason Magazine, that consternation became coupled with utter bafflement. As a Chicago alderman, your sentiments would seem to have been diametrically opposed to whatever is driving the recent introduction of your extraordinarily restrictive gun ordinance. Here are a few quotes from the article:
That sentiment is common among the residents of Chicago's tougher neighborhoods. It's easy for people with wealth and political power to push stricter and stricter gun control laws, notes Alderman William Beavers, who represents the working-class, mostly black South Shore district. The wealthy, he says, "can afford to pay a detective agency or some kind of police agency to act as security." His constituents, he argues, deserve the right to protect themselves.

Beavers is no stranger to gun crime. Before his election to the City Council 11 years ago, he spent 21 years in the Chicago Police Department, working some of the neighborhoods responsible for the city's nickname of "Beirut by the Lake." Now, for the second time in five years, he has proposed legislation to reopen handgun registration. The idea is endorsed by other prominent black political leaders, including activist Sokoni Karanja of the Center for New Horizons and Aldermen Virgil Jones and Robert Shaw, who feel that gun bans prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves.
Later in the article, we come to this:
Beavers, however, doesn't emphasize the racial dimension in opposing the gun-registration freeze. Instead, he stresses Second Amendment issues and pragmatic policy concerns.

"The Constitution allows you to bear arms in your home," he says. "But according to our city ordinance, it's illegal to own a firearm that is not registered."
(While he defends a right to ownership, the alderman is no Second Amendment purist. He is, for instance, against the issuing of carry permits.)

Beavers is also disturbed that the registration freeze forces law-abiding citizens into breaking the law if they, like Sen. Hendon, try to protect themselves by keeping a handgun in the house. And the freeze, Beavers thinks, makes the police's job tougher by making it more difficult to track stolen firearms. "Guns are stolen now from people who don't have them registered and won't report the [theft]," says Beavers.
Finally, the article ends with your expression of opposition to the extremely draconian nature of Chicago's gun laws--laws it would seem you now want to spread to the entire county--on both Constitutional and pragmatic grounds.
For his part, Beavers remains pledged to change Chicago's handgun registration law by hammering home arguments born out of real-world experience. Gun control will always fail, he argues, because criminals are never going to register their guns. And as for ordinary citizens who feel a need to protect themselves: "People are going to own guns. You cannot deny them the right to own a gun."
So to repeat my question, why are you now so in favor of forcing citizen disarmament on Cook County?

Thank you,
Kurt Hofmann
It has been more than three weeks, and I have still not received a reply from Commissioner Beavers. He is, of course, a busy man, and I am but one person--perhaps he is of the opinion that there is not enough interest in this question to warrant answering it. I think he would be wrong about that, but it would probably be easier to convince him of that if he received a significant volume of correspondence asking such questions. Care to help?

Main Office
118 N. Clark Street
Room 567
Chicago, IL 60602
phone: (312) 603-2065
fax: (312) 603-4678

District Office
2548 E. 79th Street
Chicago, IL 60649
phone: (773) 731-1515
fax: (773) 933-5535


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Goode effort to get behind

With the Bush administration's Department of "Justice" having taken the position in its Heller brief that "shall not be infringed" apparently means . . . something else, it's good to see a Republican Congressman speaking out against this mealy-mouthed attempt to protect tyranny. Representative Virgil Goode (R-VA) has done just that.

Read the letter (in the link), and use Gun Owners of America's web mail tool to contact your own representative, asking him or her to join Representative Goode's effort to persuade the Bush administration to withdraw the brief.

Likely to happen? Probably not, but it certainly won't happen if gun owners stick to our standard "strategy" of doing . . . very little.

UPDATE: Nicki is on this, too, and reminds us (how did I forget already?) that Rep. Goode is not the first congressman (or even the first Virginia congressman to speak out against the administration on this.

Now it's dead

Tuesday, I reported that I had been a bit premature last Friday, in celebrating the death of the effort in Virginia to close the mythical "gun-show loophole."

Today, though, the Senate Courts of Justice Committee (chaired by the sponsor of the bill) voted it down 9-6 (actually, they referred it to the Virginia Crime Commission for further study--but that commission doesn't meet until May, so the bill is dead for this year, at least).

The Senate Courts of Justice Committee voted 9-6 this afternoon to reject a bill that would require criminal background checks for all firearms purchases at gun shows.

Sens. John Edwards and Roscoe Reynolds, Democrats from Roanoke and Henry County, respectively, joined the committee’s seven Republicans in voting against the bill.

Combined with a party-line committee vote in House of Delegates last week, the Senate vote would seem to doom the proposed legislation. The measure had been backed by Gov. Tim Kaine and families of Tech shooting victims who wanted to close Virginia's "gun show loophole," which exempts private, unlicensed sellers from a state law requiring criminal background checks for firearms purchases.
Even a last-ditch effort, on the part of Senator R. Creigh Deeds, to greatly dilute the onerousness of the bill was not enough to save it.
The amendment spelled out by Deeds at a Senate Court of Justice Committee hearing this afternoon, would change the proposed bill in three ways:
# It would exempt from a background check any prospective purchaser who already has a permit to carry a concealed weapon and who wants to buy a gun from an unlicensed seller.
# It would exempt from a background check any purchases of antique weapons from unlicensed sellers.
# It would make the background-check apply only on the leased premises of the gun show. Areas outside the leased space, such as parking lots, would be exempt from requiring background checks.
Way to go, Virginia. Now I eagerly await the anguished bleating of the anti-self-defense pantywaists.

Illinois Politburo House wants to ban ammunition

'Tis the season for insanely draconian gun legislation to be introduced in the Illinois Politburo legislature, and they've already gotten busy. Today I'm going to take a look at no fewer than four House bills that would require ammunition to be encoded with serial numbers, and registered in a database maintained by the Illinois State Police.

The first two bills, HB 4258 and HB 4259 could be considered to be one bill--they're both called the "Ammunition Accountability Act," the text of the two appears to be identical, and they were even introduced by the same representative. Here's a summary:

Creates the Ammunition Accountability Act. Provides that all firearm ammunition manufactured or sold in the State of Illinois on or after January 1, 2010 shall be coded by the manufacturer. Provides that effective January 1, 2010, all firearm ammunition used within the State of Illinois shall be coded by the manufacturer. Provides that on or after January 1, 2010, a person in possession of non-coded ammunition that was manufactured prior to January 1, 2010, may transfer the same only to an heir, to an individual residing in another state maintaining the ammunition in another state, or to a federally licensed firearms dealer. Provides that the Department of State Police shall be responsible for establishing and maintaining an Ammunition Coding System Database (ACSD) containing specified information. Establishes penalties and exemptions.
The "coding" is applied to the base of the bullet (where it's apparently supposed to hold together through firing and impact, in order to identify the ammunition. Now these bills (or this bill, really) exempt shotgun ammunition (which makes sense--the idea of encoding the hundreds of .08" diameter pellets in a round of #9 shot is obviously ridiculous), and muzzle-loader ammunition.

The other two bills, HB 4269 and HB 4349 are both called the "Regulated Firearms Encoded Ammunition Act," and although somewhat different from the first two bills, appear to be identical to each other. Here's the summary of these bills:
Creates the Regulated Firearms Encoded Ammunition Act and amends the State Finance Act. Provides that a manufacturer of ammunition for handguns and certain specified assault weapons sold in this State after January 1, 2009 must encode the ammunition in such a manner that the Director of State Police establishes. Provides that ammunition contained in one ammunition box may not be labeled with the same serial number as the ammunition contained in any other ammunition box from the same manufacturer. Provides that on or before January 1, 2011, an owner of ammunition for use in a regulated firearm that is not encoded by the manufacturer shall dispose of the ammunition. Provides that beginning on January 1, 2009, the Director of State Police shall establish and maintain an encoded ammunition database. Creates the Ammunition Accountability Fund as a special fund in the State treasury. Provides that subject to appropriation, the Department of State Police may use moneys from the Fund to establish and maintain the encoded ammunition database. Provides that beginning January 1, 2009, each person selling encoded ammunition at retail in this State shall collect from retail customers a fee of $0.05 for each round that is sold and delivered in this State. Establishes civil and criminal penalties for violations of the Regulated Firearms Encoded Ammunition Act. Effective January 1, 2009.
These bills are apparently intended to mollify hunters, by "only" going after ammunition intended for handguns and so-called "assault weapons." This, of course, is ridiculous, as handguns have been built in nearly every caliber that rifles have, including the terrifying, airline-busting .50 BMG "weapon of war" (that's sarcasm, if you're wondering) and the .600 Nitro Express elephant gun cartridge. Additionally, "assault weapons" aren't chambered in special "assault weapon" calibers (although that little fact is conveniently ignored by the folks pushing bans of "high-powered assault weapons"), so there is no such thing as a special category of "'assault weapon' ammunition." In fact, the bill defines "assault weapon" by type, and among the designated "assault weapons" are several 12 gauge shotguns, meaning that, unlike the other bills, these two will apply to 12 gauge shotgun ammunition (.410 shotgun shells would also be affected, because the Taurus "Judge" means that .410 shells are "handgun ammunition"). Hunters take note.

Both types of bill have the program administered by the Illinois State Police--an organization that in its zeal for citizen disarmament, has no compunction about breaking the law.

In the title of this blog post, I mention banning ammunition, because although the bills won't explicitly do that, the enormous costs of tooling up to manufacture such ammunition will basically make it impractical for ammunition manufacturers to comply, meaning they'll simply have to stop selling ammunition in Illinois. The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute (SAAMI) has more on that, from when they were fighting such legislation in California (before California went the "microstamping" route, instead). If manufacturers (and retailers) would continue to serve the Illinois market, the cost of ammunition for the consumer would be prohibitive (even without the nickel per round tax imposed by the second set of bills).

By the way, neither bill mentions provisions for an exemption for hand loaders.

Illinois has apparently gotten tired of the slow progress of a relentless "slippery slope" procession of draconian laws, and has decided to push the state off a "teflon cliff."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The battle for Virginia gun show freedom is not yet won

Last Friday, I apparently got a bit ahead of myself in celebrating the ignominious defeat of the Virginia House of Delegates bill to close the mythical "gun show loophole." I hadn't considered the fact that a Senate version, SB 109, is still very much alive, and is considered to have a better chance of passing in the Senate than anti-rights bills do in the House. Granted, if it does pass in the Senate, it will then go to the House of Delegates (and in fact to the same committee that so handily dispatched the House version). Still, the earlier such legislation is killed, the better.

The anti-rights lobby is pushing this bill hard, and has no compunction about exploiting the deaths of the innocent to further their agenda.

"Today, united with the families of our fellow Virginians whose loved ones have been lost forever, we fight back for change!" protest organizer Abigail Spangler told supporters, many wearing ribbons in Tech's colors of maroon and orange.
The protest organized by Ms. Spangler was called a "lie-in" (a surprisingly frank term to describe the actions of a group that advocates "safety" through helplessness), in which groups of 32 people, representing the victims last April at Virginia Tech, lie on the ground. The "change" to which she refers, apparently, is from the victim disarmament policy (so beloved of Larry Hincker) in place at VA Tech at the time of the killings, to . . . still more gun legislation.

Blissfully unconcerned with the fact that the killer didn't acquire either of his guns at a gun show, the anti-rights crowd lobbied Virginia's state senators to pass SB 109.

They, however, were not the only ones present.
Colin Goddard, who survived despite being shot four times by Cho, was taken aback when a member of the Firearms Coalition approached him and said students could have stopped the rampage if they had been allowed to carry handguns on campus.

"I would have stopped him," Jeff Knox, director of operations for the Manassas-based group told Goddard. "Because when I went to school, I carried a gun. It was legal, I did it."
Goddard's response?
"I feel sorry for you--the fact that you feel you need to protect yourself in every situation," the Virginia Tech senior said. "You're afraid of crazy situations happening. I've lived through this and I know that I can't continue in my life afraid of things. Things are gonna happen out of my control.
No, Colin, Mr. Knox is not afraid, because he will be prepared to actively defend himself, rather than trying to hide under a desk. Save your pity for people who are unwilling to make such preparations--people like . . . you, for example.
"There are people within our society who we deem capable and correct, our police forces who are supposed to protect us--and I put my full trust in them."
And how well did that work out, Colin? Well, at least no members of "our police forces" were hurt.

The issue at hand, though, is SB 109--more specifically, how to defeat it. The Senate committee (Courts of Justice) that heard testimony from both sides today will vote Wednesday on whether to pass the bill along to the entire Senate. Before then (which basically means today), they need to hear from a bunch of Virginians concerned about the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms. Without wishing to intrude on the superb work done by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, here are the names and contact information of the committee members:
Senator Henry L. Marsh III (D) - Senate District 16 (committee chairman, and sponsor of the bill): (804) 698-7516 district16@sov.state.va.us

Senator Richard L. Saslaw (D) - Senate District 35: (804) 698-7535 district35@sov.state.va.us

Senator Kenneth W. Stolle (R) - Senate District 8: (804) 698-7508 district08@sov.state.va.us

Senator Frederick M. Quayle (R) - Senate District 13: (804) 698-7513 district13@sov.state.va.us

Senator Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R) - Senate District 3: (804) 698-7503 district03@sov.state.va.us

Senator Janet D. Howell (D) - Senate District 32: (804) 698-7532 district32@sov.state.va.us

Senator L. Louise Lucas (D) - Senate District 18: (804) 698-7518 district18@sov.state.va.us

Senator John S. Edwards (D) - Senate District 21: (804) 698-7521 district21@sov.state.va.us

Senator W. Roscoe Reynolds (D) - Senate District 20: (804) 698-7520 district20@sov.state.va.us

Senator Linda T. Puller (D) - Senate District 36: (804) 698-7536 district36@sov.state.va.us

Senator Ken T. Cuccinelli, II (R) - Senate District 37: (804) 698-7537 district37@sov.state.va.us

Senator Mark D. Obenshain (R) - Senate District 26: (804) 698-7526 district26@sov.state.va.us

Senator Ryan T. McDougle (R) - Senate District 4: (804) 698-7504 district04@sov.state.va.us

Senator R. Creigh Deeds (D) - Senate District 25: (804) 698-7525 district25@sov.state.va.us

Senator Robert Hurt (R) - Senate District 19: (804) 698-7519 district219@sov.state.va.us
Long live the liberty "loophole."

UPDATE: Nicki says that it's not pity that Colin feels for Jeff Knox, but envy. David has a few choice words for him, too. Also see Sailor Curt's firsthand account of the day's events--a very good read.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Turning the U.S. into Illinois

Ever since Solicitor General Paul Clement submitted the government's amicus brief in the District of Columbia v. Heller case, stating something along the lines of "Sure, the Second Amendment protects an individual right . . . but," I've been kicking an idea around for a blog post, without having gotten around to posting it. A couple days ago, I learned through War on Guns that the GOA's Larry Pratt had beaten me to the punch.

It's a point that bears repeating, though (and besides, it's probably pure conceit on my part to think that I've ever come up with anything original . . . well, aside from some of my really weird stuff), so here goes.

But Pratt said it would be analogous to the situation in the state of Illinois, where the state constitution provides a right to keep and bear arms, "subject to the police power," he said. Not surprisingly, Illinois has one of the most restrictive atmospheres in the nation regarding guns, he told WND.

"Under the administration's amicus brief, a national ban on all firearms – including hunting rifles – could be 'constitutional,' even if the Supreme Court decides – on ample historical evidence – that the Founders intended the Second Amendment as an individual right," he continued.
Larry Pratt refers to the fact that here in Illinois, the state constitutional equivalent of the Second Amendment (the equivalent is Article I, Section 22) reads:
Illinois Constitution Article I, Section 22

Subject only to the police power, the right of the individual citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
I refer to the "subject only to the police power" part. Chicago Handgun Rights has the details, but the gist of it is that the offending language was tacked onto Illinois' equivalent of the Second Amendment in a 1970 state constitutional convention, with plenty of political muscle for doing so coming from Chicago's original Mayor Richard Daley (the apple, clearly, has not fallen far from the tree).

What "subject only to the police power" does, basically, is to take the teeth out of the right to keep and bear arms. It turns the "shall not be infringed" into "shall not be infringed unless we decide to go ahead and infringe it." Obviously, there's no real point in a right that the government can limit at will.

The Department of Justice brief, in arguing that the government must only meet a standard of "reasonable" to justify a gun law's Constitutionality under the Second Amendment (rather than the strict scrutiny standard of "compelling state interest"), has basically tried, in effect, to copy Illinois' "subject only to the police power" language into the Second Amendment.

Funny, I don't know how I missed that alteration to the Constitution (which is generally kind of tough to do on the sly).

To those for whom gun rights are not central, chew on this: if the DoJ's wishes are upheld by SCOTUS, a right protected by the Bill of Rights can be trampled simply because the government says it's "reasonable" to do so. If too many criminals are getting off because illegally obtained evidence violates their Fourth Amendment rights, perhaps it's time to declare that it's "reasonable" to say the Fourth Amendment doesn't really mean what it says. "Due process" under the Fifth Amendment making it too hard to prosecute criminals? No problem--just say that it's "reasonable" to violate it. Don't complain too loudly about it either, or it might be found "reasonable" to shut you up, First Amendment notwithstanding.

The "Vote Freedom First" President's Department of Justice is arguing, in effect, that We The People have the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights only until it's "reasonable" to strip them from us. Behold the Bill of Privileges, courtesy of "Vot[ing] Freedom First."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Some of us are well past 'rankled'

A Washington Post article today says that some gun rights activists (although the article uses the somewhat dismissive term of "gun enthusiasts"--as if the palladium of liberty were a mere hobby) are "rankled" about the Bush administration's position on the District of Columbia v. Heller case, as outlined in the amicus brief submitted by solicitor general Paul Clement.

The government's brief, filed by U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement just hours before the court's deadline Jan. 11, endorses the view that the Second Amendment conveys an individual right to gun ownership, a finding long sought by gun rights activists.

But it also said an appeals court used the wrong standard when it struck down the District's ban on private handgun ownership, and it urged the Supreme Court to return the case to the lower court for review.
What makes that more than "ranklesome" is the fact that the administration is claiming that a law regulating a Constitutionally protected fundamental human right--one that shall not be infringed--be subjected to anything less than the strictest scrutiny. The article quotes David Kopel summing up the position of gun rights advocates quite nicely.
David B. Kopel, an associate policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, said that President Bush was elected in part because of the passion of gun rights activists and that "the citizen activists would never have spent all those hours volunteering for a candidate whose position on the constitutionality of a handgun ban was 'maybe.' "
But fear not! Not everyone is "rankled"--some are quite pleased.
On the other side, Sanford Levinson, a liberal constitutional scholar at the University of Texas who believes that the Second Amendment protects individual rights, called the administration's position "a gift to the Democratic Party" and urged his party's presidential candidates to embrace it.

The view that the amendment guarantees gun ownership subject to reasonable government restrictions is one that most voters would endorse, Levinson said. In a debate last week in Nevada, all three major Democratic candidates pledged their fealty to the Second Amendment -- "People have a right to bear arms," Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) said -- although none mentioned the District's handgun ban.
The D.C. legal team is also "gratified," and the Brady Bunch's Paul Helmke "salutes" the administration for arguing that shall not be infringed actually means that . . . the government can infringe it whenever it suits them.

Yesterday, by the way, War on Guns spotted this . . . curious explanation from the Heritage Foundation of why we shouldn't be so "rankled."
Those who understood the department's dual obligations--to defend the Constitution and also to preserve federal power and federal statutes where possible--knew that some attempt at baby-splitting was likely. Serious originalists are correct that the government's brief erred in the line it tried to draw and went unreasonably far in its attempt to preserve government power, but what the government concedes is far more important. And like the original solution proposed by King Solomon, the Solicitor General's solution so threatens the viability of the individual right that it will be quickly rejected by anyone who cherishes such rights.
So if I'm following that correctly, the Heritage Foundation acknowledges that the DoJ's advocacy of an application of a standard of less than strict scrutiny of laws regulating the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms is wrong, but the argument is made so ineffectively that we shouldn't worry about it.

Oh, well that's a relief--as long as the aspiring tyrants argue their case for tyranny incompetently, it's not a problem.

Why, then, am I still "rankled" enough to be on board with this?

Will 'Maximum Mike' be going north now?

I've talked about efforts to blame "weak U.S. gun laws" for violence in Mexico (and again here). Now it seems that apparently, violence in Canada is also our fault.

With two Toronto bystanders shot dead in one week, the New Democrats are calling for a cross-border political summit to tackle "the ongoing crisis" of illegal handguns crossing into Canada.
Note that the "ongoing crisis" isn't the preponderance of violent thugs in Toronto, but "illegal handguns crossing into Canada."
"We need a cross-border summit," said Layton, "to develop an action plan to stop illegal guns from coming across the border."
Happily, the BATFE just loves "cross-border summits". Let's just give the Canadians some eTrace terminals--if we're going to let the BATFE have a de facto (illegal) gun registry, why not let any country who is interested have access to it?

And let us not forget the dreaded "gun show loophole":
A cross-border summit on gun control should address the loose identity checks at some big gun shows in the U.S., Comartin added, where gun dealers skirt state laws restricting sales to residents of that state. Such gun shows often provide biker gangs with the illegal handguns that end up on Canadian streets, he said.
By the way, the Joe Comartin quoted above is described in the article as an NDP (New Democratic Party) "justice critic"--does that mean that his job is to criticize justice? I suppose that with one who doesn't like justice, it's not too surprising that he's no big fan of liberty, either.

Second Amendment Violation Amnesty Act of 2008

I am what some undoubtedly consider a gun rights "extremist" (or would be, were I significant enough to be worthy of notice). That's an appellation that doesn't particularly disturb me, but even so, I do not wish to be seen as one with whom it is impossible to reason. In that spirit, I propose throwing a bone to the other side ("the other side" being the citizen disarmament advocates).

What I have in mind is federal legislation that would grant amnesty to officials (elected or not, whether in the legislative, executive, or judicial branch) and agents of government (at any level) from prosecution under Title 18, U.S.C., Section 242,"Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law," for violation of American citizens' Second Amendment rights. Section 242 reads, in part:

This statute makes it a crime for any person acting under color of law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom to willfully deprive or cause to be deprived from any person those rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution and laws of the U.S.
The imposition and enforcement of laws that violate Second Amendment rights would clearly fall under the purview of this statute--and the penalties are not insignificant.
Punishment varies from a fine or imprisonment of up to one year, or both, and if bodily injury results or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire shall be fined or imprisoned up to ten years or both, and if death results, or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.
With all the deaths that have resulted from violence inflicted on citizens placed under a condition of government mandated defenselessness (unconstitutionally mandated defenselessness), such an amnesty should be seen by a great many officials as quite a boon indeed (who could have predicted I would try to save Mayor Daley's life?).

An undeserved boon, I acknowledge, but such is the nature of politics--besides, perhaps it is fear of facing the music that forces these people to cling so desperately to the ridiculous fiction that their efforts to trample a right of the people, a right that shall not be infringed, are not actually a violation of the Second Amendment. Perhaps that fear is what drives the Department of "Justice" (ha!) to claim that the Supreme Court should not overturn Washington D.C.'s draconian gun laws on Second Amendment grounds. Perhaps giving them an out is the way to break the impasse. After all, although most of the folks who read this blog (not that you're out there in overwhelming numbers) know the true purpose of the Second Amendment, I would imagine that the vast majority fervently hope it never comes to that.

That is why I propose the "Second Amendment Violation Amnesty Act of 2008." It's quite beyond me to express it in the convoluted (and inevitably verbose, even by my standards) language of lawyers, but the gist of a summary would be something like this:
Title: A bill to extend amnesty to officials and agents of government who, prior to the effective date of this code, participated in the imposition or enforcement of laws that violated the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms, and to make that amnesty conditional on the violator's immediate and permanent departure from government service.
For violations after the effective date, of course, all bets would be off.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Meet the new boss (just the same as the old boss)

War on Guns tells us yesterday about Hillary Clinton's "belief in the Second Amendment."

You know, I believe in the Second Amendment. People have a right to bear arms.
Well shucks, Hill--why didn't you say so before?

I want to look at another Hillary quote from the same article:
And we need to enforce the laws that we have on the books.
Hmm--that sounds familiar--where could I have heard that before?

Let's see--could it be here?
Strictly enforcing existing laws and severely punishing violent criminals.
Fred Thompson, candidate for U.S. president, and "Second Amendment stalwart"

Or here?
"Until you provide 100% enforcement of the existing laws, (criminals are) going to laugh at you, and ... go about their business."
Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President, National Rifle Association (you know--the "800 lb. gorilla of the gun rights movement")

And, come to think of it, that sounds quite a bit like this:
The country doesn't necessarily need new laws to limit handguns, but it should enforce the laws it has and resist efforts to weaken them, one of the nation's top handgun control advocates said Thursday.
Paul Helmke, President, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

Oh, by the way--there's also this:
It starts with enforcing the law. We need to say loud and clear to somebody, if you’re going to carry a gun illegally, we’re going to arrest you, if you’re going to sell a gun illegally you need to be arrested, and if you commit a crime with a gun there needs to be absolutely [sic] certainty in the law.

[ . . . ]

Saying America is “still wrestling with the lessons of Columbine,” Bush today called for tougher enforcement of gun laws and a greater emphasis on character education as the way to promote school safety. “Today is the sad anniversary of a terrible tragedy-a tragedy that shattered our sense of safety and security-a tragedy that hit home for every parent and every child and every school in America,” Bush said. “A year later, America is still wrestling with the lessons of Columbine,” Bush continued. “Strict enforcement of tough laws is important.”

[ . . . ]

I’m in favor of keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them like felons & juveniles. I’m for enforcing the laws on the books.
George W. Bush, President, United States of America (also known as the "Vote Freedom First" President)

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it a bit disturbing that the president of the biggest "gun-control" group, the executive vice president of what claims to be the largest gun rights group, the presidential candidate who might be gun owners' biggest fear, the presidential candidate whom many gun rights activists point to as our greatest hope, and the "vote freedom first" president, all say the same thing?

Of course there is one presidential candidate who will never be heard calling for "enforcement of existing gun laws"--one who, in fact, calls for their repeal. Ah--but I guess I'm forgetting about "the art of the possible," or something.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Freedom to prevail at Virginia gun shows

Just a quick note about some good news from Virginia:

A Virginia House committee on Friday effectively killed for this year an effort to close a major loophole in the state's gun laws that was a priority of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D).

The House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee voted to indefinitely delay action on a bill that would to require all sellers to conduct background checks on those who want to purchase firearms at gun shows.
That's what I like to see. Take that, Paul Helmke, Tim Kaine, Michael Bloomberg, George Bush, and all the rest of you statist pantywaists.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns still can't seduce the presidential candidates

I mentioned about a week and a half ago that Bloomberg's "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" coalition was having trouble getting the presidential candidates to notice them and their survey. At that time, every candidate had missed the mayors' original Jan. 2nd deadline, although one (at the time unnamed) candidate had asked for an extension.

None answered the questionnaire that Bloomberg's anti-gun coalition released on Dec. 9 and paid $22,200 to publicize last week in full page newspaper ads in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Bloomberg spokesman Jason Post said no candidate responded by the Jan. 2 deadline; one asked for an extension, so the new deadline is Jan. 14. Post declined to say which candidate wanted more time.
With the extended, Jan. 14th deadline now come and gone, the "mystery candidate" who wanted the extension is now known--but according to New York Daily News blogger Elizabeth Benjamin, he missed the new deadline, as well.
John Edwards had asked for an extension until Monday (that's yesterday [this was written on Tuesday, Jan. 15th], not next week), according to Bloomberg spokesman Jason Post. But the day came and went, and still nothing has been received from the former senator, who is gunning for a win in his native South Carolina to keep his campaign alive.
It would certainly be tricky to come up with a way of appeasing a gaggle of rabidly anti-rights mayors while simultaneously avoiding alienating South Carolina voters (although it may be time for Edwards to consider South Carolina a lost cause for him, anyway).

The next part particularly amuses me.
Ron Paul was the only other candidate to offer his opinion. He submitted a prepared statement on the Second Amendment, which the mayors’ coalition does not consider a sufficient response, Post said.
My guess (and this is only a guess) is that the prepared statement referred to is this. If I am correct about that, I'm not sure what Post means about the response not being "sufficient"--I think the statement makes Dr. Paul's position crystal clear. Perhaps Post meant "not sufficiently tyrannical"--it would certainly be that, by the mayors' standards.
“The more than 250 Republican, Democratic, and Independent mayors who make up the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition are disappointed that none of the people who want to lead this country are paying attention to an issue that kills 12,000 Americans each year," Post told DN City Hall Bureau Chief Kirsten Danis.
Face it, mayors, the candidates don't want anything to do with you because going along with your agenda would be political suicide. What do you suppose that says about what the American people think of that agenda?

By the way, this is only very tangentially related to the rest of this blog post, but while we're on the subject of "Mayors Against Illegal Guns," I couldn't help but notice this little tidbit about their financing:
At one point, Mr. Bloomberg said that "as far as I know" the city was paying for the Web site of the "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" coalition, which Mr. Bloomberg played a leading role in founding. The coalition has brought significant national attention to Mr. Bloomberg.
So New York City taxpayers are helping to fund Bloomberg's national anti-gun crusade (and potential presidential aspirations?). One might think that with his billions, he'd have the decency to pay for that himself. One would apparently be wrong.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

'Maximum Mike' and 'Project Gunrunner'

The cries of "weak U.S. gun laws are causing carnage in Mexico" are being screeched again, and the BATFE wants a piece of the action.

Faced with spiraling drug violence along the border, senior U.S. officials met with their Mexican counterparts Wednesday and announced steps to stem the flow of illegal weapons into Mexico.

Officials said that many of the weapons – including powerful handguns and semiautomatic assault rifles – are purchased legally at shops and gun shows, and that Houston and Dallas are two of the top sources. The guns are typically carried south across the border by multiple couriers whom some officials referred to as an "army of ants."

Even black-market military-style weapons, such as .50-caliber machine guns, bazookas and grenades, have been seized in raids.
I've commented recently about the "machine guns, bazookas and grenades," pointing out that such items are extremely heavily regulated in the U.S.--"weak laws" here aren't responsible for Mexican drug gangs' possession of them. But don't worry--"Maximum Mike" is on the case, so we're sure to get to the bottom of this.
"Drug-trafficking organizations have made life at the border increasingly dangerous," Michael J. Sullivan, acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said in El Paso. "And this danger extends across the border and into several parts of Mexico."
In fact, his boss, Attorney General Michael Mukasey (who, incidentally, is also the boss of solicitor general Paul Clement, author of the Department of Justice's D.C. v. Heller amicus brief that has the D.C. legal team "gratified," and has the Brady Bunch's Paul Helmke "saluting" the administration) is now announcing a new program just to deal with this issue.
In Mexico City, U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey said the goal of what officials are calling Project Gunrunner is to dry up the cartels' arms supply in the U.S. by punishing gun dealers who knowingly sell weapons to "straw" buyers who then resell them illegally.
"Project Gunrunner," eh? And just how, might I ask, does the BATFE intend to determine which gun dealers "knowingly" sell firearms to "straw purchasers"?
"I certainly foresee a tightening-up of the way gun dealers distribute guns if, in fact, they are selling to straw purchasers," Mr. Mukasey said after meeting with his Mexican counterpart, Eduardo Medina Mora, and Mexican President Felipe Calderón.

"I see tighter enforcement of regulations requiring that they get proper identification and that they check these people before they sell guns, and inevitably we are going to find people who are not doing what they ought to do, and they will be prosecuted," Mr. Mukasey said in an interview.
I see Bloomberg-style "sting" operations in gun shops, but this time carried out with the force of law behind them, rather than just the force of Bloomberg's ego (a not inconsiderable force, admittedly).
Under Project Gunrunner, ATF is adding 35 special agents along the border. The multi-agency El Paso Intelligence Center will receive three additional ATF agents, for a total of 10, and an additional investigator, for a total of four. Other agents will be stationed in Mexico. EPIC will serve as a clearinghouse for ATF operations and will gather intelligence on the cartels responsible for the violence.
On the bright side, I suppose that the more manpower and funding they use going after folks in other countries, the less they'll have available for jack-booted thuggery here.

The article goes on for a while, but I'm going to leave it alone, after mentioning one more bit of hysterical fear mongering:
One of the most popular weapons is the FN 57, a Belgian-made handgun known in Mexico as mata policias – "cop killer" – because the bullets can penetrate body armor, the official said.
Ah--the FN Five seveN hysteria. Trying to drum up support for H.R. 1784, are we?

Look out, Texas and Arizona--here comes "F Troop."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More Illinois counties embrace freedom

In the process of composing yesterday's post, I realized that it had been quite awhile since I had posted an update about the county-by-county spread of resolutions condemning Chicago-style trampling of the right to keep and bear arms. As it happens, rather a lot has gone on in the month and a half since the last update.

Jackson (Dec. 12th), Cass (Dec. 13th), and Ogle (Jan. 15th) Counties have all passed resolutions of support for the Second Amendment. That makes 64 counties (of 102) that have taken a public stand against the disarming of Illinois. Additionally, Clinton County's board will vote on the resolution next week (Jan. 22nd), and Macon (also Jan. 22nd), Peoria (Jan. 31st), and Moultries (Feb. 6th) Counties have scheduled committee votes, which will hopefully lead to votes by the whole board.

This brings the map to this:

(click to enlarge)

As always, the place to stay current on this movement is the Illinois Pro Second Amendment website.

The people of Illinois are speaking, but are legislators listening?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

IGOLD '08--be heard on March 11

UPDATE: There has been a revision to the Rockford/Normal bus itinerary--see below.

UPDATE II: Another bus has been added, with pick-ups in Effingham, Vandalia, and Litchfield--details below

Last year, Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day was a big success, with over 1,200 Illinois gun rights activists going to Springfield to let legislators know that the policies of state-mandated defenselessness are not acceptable. The media did its best to ignore this statewide outpouring of opposition to restrictive gun laws, although the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (ICHV) decided it was big enough to be worth lying about.

As well as it went last year, we have still bigger plans for IGOLD '08 (web page still under construction--keep an eye on it [UPDATE: it's up now]). Many Illinois legislators seem to be rather hard of hearing when it comes to the peaceable Illinois citizens' demands for recognition of our Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms--so let's turn up the volume.

Below, you will find information on how to reserve a seat on buses to Springfield from all over the state.

IGOLD 2008 is officially set for Tuesday, March 11, 2008

12:00 p.m. Rally at the Hilton, 700 E Adams St.
1:30 p.m. lobby legislators
4:30-7:00 Reception at the State Library
7:00 p.m. Depart for home

Mark that day on your calendar, schedule a vacation day, personal day, whatever you have to do to be in Springfield on that day!! Last year more than 1,500 Illinois gun owners swarmed the Capitol complex lobbying state legislators for firearm owners rights and the need for a Right to Carry law in Illinois.

With the help of sponsors we have been able to charter buses from the locations listed below. Bus fares will be $20 ( or in the case of Champaign/Decatur donations will be accepted) and seat reservations are a must!!! We will be making flier documents available for you to print out and hand out in your neighborhoods, work places, wherever you can to get the word out.

Check in often for updates!

IGOLD 08 Charter Bus Schedule

Advance reservations required for bus seats!
Beginning Monday Jan. 14, 2008 For reservations and departure locations go to www.IGOLD.isra.org or call 815-635-3198

Dundee/Aurora $20
6:00 a.m. Depart from GAT Guns, 14N915 IL RT 25, Dundee, IL ,
7:00 a.m. Aurora - Pick-up at Fox Valley Mall, 195 Fox Valley Center - Park near Steak N Shake
10:30 a.m. Lunch at Ryan's Steak House, 2730 N Dirksen Pkwy, Springfield, IL, $10 includes meal-drink-tax-tip,

Joliet/Chatsworth $20
6:30 a.m. Depart Gander Mt., 3301 Essington Rd., Joliet, IL (Park at farthest edge near Outback
8:00 a.m. Pick-up Chatsworth, ISRA Headquarters
10:30 a.m. Lunch at Ryan's Steak House, 2730 N Dirksen Pkwy, Springfield, IL, $10 includes meal-drink-tax-tip

North Chicago Area $20
7:00 a.m. Depart Allright Parking at Cumberland Stop, 5701 N River Rd, $3/15 hr, $6/24 hr
10:30 a.m. Lunch at Ryan's Steak House, 2730 N Dirksen Pkwy, Springfield, IL, $10 includes meal-drink-tax-tip,

Chicago South (Englewood) $20
7:00 a.m. St Andrews Temple, 6722 S Hermitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60636
10:30 a.m. Lunch at Ryan's Steak House, 2730 N Dirksen Pkwy, Springfield, IL $10 includes meal-drink-tax-tip

Champaign/Decatur - Free, donations accepted
8:30 a.m. Depart Farm and Fleet parking lot, Urbana, IL
9:45 a.m. Decatur Sam's Club pick up point
10:30 a.m. Lunch – Ryan’s Restaurant $10 per person
For reservations contact CCRA/GSL johnnaese@insightbb.com (217) 684-2602

Rockford/Normal $20
6:30a.m. Depart CherryVale Mall, 7200 Harrison Ave, park out by Petland Near Bell School Rd.
9:30 a.m. Pick up at College Hills Mall, Normal, IL Park between Target And Von Maur
10:30 a.m. Lunch at Old Country Buffet, 2733 S Veterans Pkwy, Springfield, $8.50 include meal-drink-tax-tip

Rockford/Mendota/Normal–4 hrs. $20
6:30 a.m. Rockford - Depart CherryVale Mall, 7200 Harrison Ave., park out by Petland Near Bell School Rd.
7:30 a.m. Mendota - Buster's Truck Plaza, Mendota, IL
9:00 a.m. Normal - Pick up at College Hills Mall Park between Target And Von Maur
10:30 a.m. Lunch at Old Country Buffet, 2733 S Veterans Pkwy, Springfield, IL $8.50 include meal-drink-tax-tip, Bus drivers and captains eat free.

Marion $20
7:00 a.m. Depart Sam’s Club parking lot, 2709 Walton Way just west of I-57 exit 54– park at far north edge
10:30 a.m. Lunch at Old Country Buffet, 2733 S Veterans Pkwy, Springfield, IL $8.50 includes meal-drink-tax-tip

Mt.Vernon/Fairview Heights $20
7:15 a.m. Depart Mt.Vernon Walmart Parking lot just west of I-57 at exit 95
8:15 a.m. Depart St.Clair Square Mall locate in Fairview Heights just south of I-64 at exit #12
Park Red Bird Express Parking lot just past the East doors of Dillards and the water tower
10:30 a.m. Lunch at Old Country Buffet, 2733 S Veterans Pkwy, Springfield, IL $8.50 include meal-drink-tax-tip

Quincy/Barry/Jacksonville $20
8:00 a.m. Quincy - Depart Kmart east parking lot, 3701 Broadway
8:45 a.m. Barry - I-72 exit #20 Travel Plaza passenger pick-up
9:30 a.m. Jacksonville - I-72 exit #64, Blackhawk Village Inn,
1111 East Morton Road, park near the brick wall & closed restaurant
10:30 a.m. Lunch at Old Country Buffet, 2733 S Veterans Pkwy, Springfield, IL $8.50 include meal-drink-tax-tip

Moline/Galesburg/Peoria $20
7:00 a.m. Depart South Park Mall 4500 16th St, Moline, IL Park across from Long John Silvers
8:00 a.m. Pick up at Sandburg Mall, 1150 W Carl Sandburg Dr., Galesburg, IL Park at the far south end by Bergner’s
9:00 a.m. Pick up at Walmart parking lot, 3315 North University Street, Peoria, IL park in the far lot
10:30 a.m. Lunch at Old Country Buffet, 2733 S Veterans Pkwy, Springfield, IL $8.50 include meal-drink-tax-tip

*New!* Effingham/Vandalia/Litchfield *New!* - Free, donations accepted
7:30 a.m. Effingham – Depart K-Mart parking lot – 1006 N. Keller at I-70 exit 160 Please park at edge of lot away from the building (Map soon)
8:00 a.m. Vandalia - Depart Harmon’s IGA parking lot, 827 Veterans Ave. 62471 just southwest of I-70 exit 63 Please park at N/W corner between Subway and IGA. Employee parking area. (Map soon)
9:30 a.m. Litchfield – Depart Tractor Supply (TSC), 20 Litchfield Plaza, Litchfield, IL Just east of I-55 exit 52 (Map soon)
10:30 am Springfield - Lunch - Old Country buffet $8.50 per person (includes meal, drink, gratuity, bus captain collects money)
On-line reservation or call 815-635-3198
Bus provided by PK Firearms of Shelbyville, IL
Donations accepted - Donations will go to the ISRA legal defense fund

Bus fares will be $20 with the exception of Champaign/Decatur and Effingham/Vandalia/Litchfieled where donations will be accepted
Advance reservations required for bus seats!
Beginning 1-14-08 For reservations and departure locations go to www.IGOLD.isra.org or call 815-635-3198
Help spread the word--here are links to flyers that folks can print up (or better yet, have them a print shop do it on gold/yellow paper) for dissemination at gun shops, ranges, gun clubs, gun shows, etc.

ISRA's flyer (pdf format)
Aurora info (MS Word doc)
Champaign info (MS Word doc)
Chicago info (MS Word doc)
Mt. Vernon-Fairview Heights info (MS Word doc)

A "supermajority" of Illinois counties have rejected Chicago-style "gun-control" (which reminds me--I'm behind on my updates). That would not have happened, had the people of those counties not become fed up with the relentless attacks on liberty and self-defense. Many lawmakers don't want to hear about that. Too bad--that's their job, and we need to hold them to it, or get them out of that job.