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.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

'Let's repeal the damn thing'

And so, perhaps it's time for gun-control supporters to come to grips with the fact that the Second Amendment actually means something in contemporary society. For which reason, I hereby advance a modest proposal: Let's repeal the damn thing.
That's what Benjamin Wittes says in his charmingly titled essay ("Do the Gun Nuts Have a Point? Second Thoughts"), in The New Republic (registration required to read the entire article).

I count this as a victory. Not, of course, out of a desire on my part to see the Second Amendment repealed, but because it seems to indicate that civilian disarmament advocates are finally finding themselves forced to acknowledge that the Bill of Rights, as originally written (and as it still stands to this day) expressly forbids laws that would disarm the populace. It amazes me that it took this long for it to become too exhausting to sustain the intellectual gymnastics and rhetorical gyrations that are inherent to the perpetuation of the "collective right" myth, but I have a tendency to underestimate how desperately the authority junkies cling to their arguments, no matter how badly flawed.

At the moment, I have no idea what the final legacy of the Parker v. DC ruling is going to be, but if it does no more than force the other side to acknowledge that the fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms is indeed enshrined in the Bill of Rights, I'll take it.

Jonah Goldberg gives the subject a more thorough treatment
than I am equipped to. In addition to a reference to the same Benjamin Wittes piece I mentioned above, he points to something said by liberal journalist Michael Kinsley, quoting a colleague:
If liberals interpreted the Second Amendment the way they interpret the rest of the Bill of Rights, there would be law professors arguing that gun ownership is mandatory.
He also quotes liberal scholar Laurence Tribe:
(T)he amendment achieves its central purpose by assuring that the federal government may not disarm individual citizens without some unusually strong justification.
Going back to Wittes' article, he illustrates that the years of judicial evisceration inflicted on the Second Amendment pose a danger to all of the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
But, critically, judges shouldn't be in charge of stripping obsolete rights from the Constitution. If the courts can simply make gun rights disappear, what happens when the First Amendment becomes embarrassing or inconvenient? It corrodes the very idea of a written Constitution when the document means, in practice, the opposite of what its text says.
All of this serves to illustrate that an individual rights interpretation of the Bill of Rights is not a "conservative" phenomenon, and is far from antithetical to liberal philosophy (an idea which seems as if it should be fairly obvious to me, but perhaps that's just me).

By the way, I should point out that I am not quite ready to endorse every statement in Goldberg's column.
It's not an absolute right, of course. But no right is.
I have to wonder in whom he would suggest we entrust the power of determining the limits of our ostensibly inalienable right. If the individual right vs. "collective right" battle has indeed been won, I suspect that the next front will be about the "absoluteness" of the right (or lack thereof), with a second front opening up on to what degree the Second Amendment applies to states, as opposed to the federal government (it seems to me that an inalienable right isn't very inalienable, if any unit of government, at any level, can go ahead and "alien" it--and there seems to be a growing body of scholarship arguing that the incorporation of rights under the Fourteenth Amendment applies to the entire Bill of Rights).

It could be that Wittes will get his wish, and that the Second Amendment will be repealed--the "wussification" of America will not have to proceed much further for that to become distinctly possible, but at least those who wish to disarm us would be playing by rules on which we can all agree.

If we lose that battle, then perhaps we deserve to be disarmed--if we are so devoid of fighting spirit, it would seem that we have little use for arms anyway.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Zumbo's revenge

No, he's not taking revenge against gun rights activists for the damage to his career. He acknowledges that our righteous indignation was correct, warranted, and necessary.

Now, in an open letter to the United States Senate (which he requests be entered into the Congressional Record), he is returning fire at Senator Carl Levin, who used some of what Zumbo said in his fateful, ill-considered blog post, to try to advance Levin's civilian disarmament agenda. In Levin's speech, he utterly ignored Zumbo's complete reversal of his initial, poorly thought out position. Acknowledging Zumbo's abandonment of a position rooted in ignorance would have undermined Levin's goal of perpetuating that ignorance.

Not content with merely failing to mention Zumbo's recantation of his initial disapproval of homeland defense firearms for hunting, Levin actually deliberately mischaracterized that position as support for a general ban on these guns.

We all owe Jim Zumbo a debt of gratitude for his forthrightness, his honesty and his courage. We must put the safety of our communities first by taking up and passing sensible gun legislation that includes renewing the assault weapons ban.
As it happens, Zumbo has something to say about that.
In his final paragraph, Senator Levin misrepresents what I said. I never spoke in favor of a general assault weapons ban. Again, I immediately apologized for my blog statement that was exclusively directed toward hunting and not gun ownership.

I will not allow my name to be associated with this kind of attack on the Second Amendment rights of my fellow citizens.
Zumbo made a huge mistake (for which I suspect he will pay dearly for the rest of his life), and those who favor a government monopoly on force will attempt to exploit that mistake. How well that strategy will work for them is anybody's guess, at this point. Anything Zumbo does to defeat that strategy is OK in my book.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Does this make sense?

Despite the apparent victory for freedom in Parker v. DC, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has introduced S. 1001, titled "A bill to restore Second Amendment rights in the District of Columbia." This bill would repeal the district's insanely restrictive firearm legislation, which (judging from the extreme levels of violent crime in the city) has been not only draconian, but utterly ineffective, as well.

While this would seem to be a good idea, the reality may not be so simple. What Parker v. DC has to offer American gun owners is the distinct possibility that it will reach the Supreme Court. There it will hopefully lead, for the first time ever, to a definitive SCOTUS ruling on whether the right protected by the Second Amendment is an individual right, or a mythical "collective right" (the civilian disarmament crowd likes to tout the United States v. Miller ruling of 1939 as having already decided that issue on the "collective right" side, but the individual right vs. "collective right" issue was never addressed in that case).

However, if DC's insanity is struck down by legislative means before the Supreme Court has a chance to hear and rule on Parker v. DC, the reason for hearing the case disappears, and those of us who do not live in Washington DC have gained nothing. Although introduced only two days ago, the bill already has 41 cosponsors. Perhaps more puzzlingly, the NRA seems to be applauding this development.

Perhaps the NRA has a good reason for pushing this--perhaps there is reason to be doubtful of a favorable outcome in the Supreme Court at this time, and the NRA believes the gun rights movement would be best served by biding its time.

On the other hand, perhaps, as some have claimed, the NRA would rather retain its wealth and power, by continuing to be seen fighting the battle against gun legislation, rather than risk losing that importance by winning the battle.

Just a quick addendum to yesterday's post

I'll post something else later today (and I'll even try to make it something of interest outside of Illinois--I promise), but a couple of events related to the push to ban .50 caliber rifles in Illinois have come up since I talked about that yesterday.

First, we hear from the Illinois State Rifle Association that the sponsor of SB 1471 (the .50 cal ban bill) got caught in a lie at his press conference yesterday.

In his address, Kotowski pointed to a rifle staged as a prop for the event and described it as being a "military" weapon. What Kotowski did not know was that Mr. Mark Westrom, President of Armalite, Incorporated, was in the audience. Mr. Westrom rose to inform the attendees that his company manufactured the rifle in question, and that his company has never sold the rifle to the military. Westrom continued by pointing out that the rifle is purchased primarily by civilian target shooters. Westrom's revelation changed the course of the press conference, to say the least.
How typical of the civilian disarmament advocates--pointing to what they call a "military rifle" that has never been sold to any military! As ISRA points out, when Senator Kotowski was the head mouthpiece for the Joyce Foundation-funded ICHV freedom haters, sidestepping the truth made sense--he was mostly speaking to people who would eagerly swallow whatever lies he wanted to spoon-feed them, anyway. As a Senator, though, he can't count on his spewings passing with so little scrutiny.

Also, if you want to read the Chicago Tribune's argument that the .50 caliber should be banned because it is the weapon of choice of . . . Godzilla, this op-ed piece should be good for a chuckle--War on Guns has something to say about that "journalism," as do Hairy Hobbit and Piss Off the Left.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Save the .50 cal in Illinois

The Illinois Politburo legislature, their strings being deftly pulled by their puppet masters at the ICHV, who in turn are supported by vast sums of money from the Joyce Foundation, are desperate to ban firearms in Illinois. After the impressive turnout for IGOLD, it has apparently become clear to the civilian disarmament lobby in Illinois that even with their pet legislators and their Joyce Foundation money, they will not have an easy time disarming the PEOPLE of Illinois, and Senate Bill 0016, the "assault weapon" ban, is unlikely to pass.

As disappointing as this undoubtedly is to the anti-gun jihadists, they have no intention of giving up, and have instead simply shifted the focus of their power and money to a more vulnerable target, the .50 caliber rifle. Senate Bill 1471 has 15 Senate sponsors now, and could be voted on as early as today.

Despite criminal use of these heavy, bulky, extremely expensive firearms being almost unheard of (with not a single death in this country attributed to them, I believe), we are to fear them as a scourge, and an implement of unspeakable carnage. The Brady Bunch is heavily lobbying for their ban here in Illinois, using particularly overheated, distorted rhetoric.

We need to get calls, lots of them, to Senators who might be undecided, and we need to do that TODAY. Here are the names and contact information (call the Springfield offices)--first, of new Senators, who don't have voting records, plus six more whose records indicate that they can often be counted on to vote for rights, but might need some friendly reminders.

Michael Bond
M121 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-7353

1156 E. Washington St.
Grayslake, IL 60030
(847) 752-7004

Michael Frerichs
118 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-2507

45 E. University Ave.
Suite 206
Champaign, IL 61820
(217) 355-5252

Linda Holmes
M122 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-0422

13300 S. Rt. 59
# 2B-1
Plainfield, IL 60544
(815) 609-3711

Randall Hultgren
M103A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8022

P.O. Box 567
Wheaton, IL 60189
(630) 682-8100

Mike Jacobs
M120 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-5957

606 19th Street
Moline, IL 61265
(309) 797-0001

David Koehler
311 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8250

333 Margaret Street
Pekin, IL 61554
(309) 642-3636

John Millner
105C State Capital
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8192

290 Springfield Drive,
Ste 225
Bloomingdale, IL 60108
(630) 351-9340

Matt Murphy
M103E Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-4471

Palatine Centre Atrium Offices
17 E. Northwest Hwy. - Suite 4
Palatine, IL 60067
(847) 776-1490

Michael Noland
M115 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-7746

Tower Building
100 E. Chicago Street, Ste. 302
Elgin, IL 60120
(847) 214-8864

Additionally, it would behoove us to give these six Senators a reminder.

Pamela Althoff
M103C Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8000

One North Virginia Street
Crystal Lake, IL 60014
(815) 455-6330

Dan Cronin309G Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8107

313 South Main St
Lombard, IL 60148
(630) 792-0040

Kirk Dillard
309C Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8148

One South Cass Avenue
Suite 201
Westmont, IL 60559
(630) 969-0990

Carole Pankau
105K Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-9463

One Tiffany Point
Suite G
Bloomingdale, IL 60108
(630) 582-0390

William Peterson
309F Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8010

3050 North Main Street
Buffalo Grove, IL 60089
(847) 634-6060

Christine Radogno
309D Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-9407

410 Main Street
Lemont, IL 60439
(630) 243-0800

Whether or not you own a .50 caliber rifle or ever intend to, the particular caliber is irrelevant--the .50 cal is merely their target of opportunity at the moment. Whether you live in Illinois or not, gun bans are a cancer in our nation--every state that is afflicted will help to spread the disease farther and faster.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

And another thing

In my blog post earlier today, I neglected to refute one of Sugarmann's "points" in his latest diatribe against the NRA--one which is in dire need of being addressed. Sugarmann provides readers with his version of some NRA history, describing the 1977 shift of focus from being mainly a sporting organization to gun rights advocacy group.

That day, the membership ousted a leadership suspected of being soft on gun control and replaced them with no-compromise, pro-gun hardliners led by Harlon Carter. (A piece of personal history on Carter, as a 17-year-old the future NRA head shot and killed another child. He was convicted of murder, but was later freed on appeal on a technicality.)
It's Sugarmann's parenthetical reference to Carter's personal history that I take issue with.

Dave Kopel has a bit more information than Josh was interested in sharing. Kopel's piece, having been written years ago, was in response to a fundraising letter circulated by Handgun Control, Inc. (now known as the Brady Bunch). This letter also mentioned the shooting in which Carter was involved, and HCI's description was quite similar to Sugarmann's.
The Handgun Control letter continued: "50 years ago, Carter shot and killed a 15-year-old boy and was convicted of murder."
There is, however, rather more to the story than either Sugarmann now, or HCI before him, want readers to know.
The letter omitted the fact that Carter was defending his mother's ranch against a gang of intruders led by the "boy," and that the "boy" was menacing Carter with a knife. At the trial, the judge was the prosecutor's father-in-law, and he refused to let Carter introduce evidence of self-defense.

Having left out the crucial facts about Carter's innocence, the Handgun Control letter complained that the conviction "was reversed on the technical grounds that the judge had not given the jurors adequate instructions about the law of self-defense." Actually, it wasn't just the instructions that were inadequate; all the evidence about self-defense had been excluded.

Most people would think that a citizen's shooting of a criminal should be judged by whether the citizen was acting in self-defense. But Handgun Control apparently considers innocent persons who shoot criminals to be as bad as common murderers — since self-defense is only a "technicality."
At least Sugarmann didn't have much credibility to lose.

So, Josh--are you saying you're not out to disarm us? Why do I have trouble buying that?

Josh Sugarmann, Executive Director of the Victim Producing Center, has recently bloviated on the NRA's efforts to spur members into action to counter the many current and impending attacks on the Second Amendment.

Sugarmann is predictably contemptuous of the endeavor, implying, I have to assume, that gun rights are not actually under attack. This, from the author of Every Handgun Is Aimed at You: The Case for Banning Handguns. This, from the executive director of a group that wants to outlaw firearms based on their caliber. This, from the executive director of a group that wants to outlaw thousands of firearms, based on cosmetic features, and which hopes to do so by exploiting much of the public's inability to distinguish so-called "assault weapons" from machine guns.

The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.
While the VPC and its ideological allies collect obscene amounts of money from anti-freedom groups like the Joyce Foundation, we are ridiculed for taking the threat to our human right of self-defense (a right that the U.N. denies) seriously. A prominent United States Senator says on "60 Minutes" that if she could have gotten the votes for outright confiscation of all privately owned firearms in the U.S., she would have done so--but we're paranoid to think that our gun rights are at risk. A Washington Post columnist and civilian disarmament advocate (but I guess that's redundant) comes out and admits that a ban on so-called assault weapons is just the first step toward outright confiscation, but encouraging grassroots activism on the part of gun rights advocates is exploiting the gullibility of uneducated, gun loving rubes.

It seems to me that for advocates of the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right to keep and bear arms to believe the above statements, we would have to be even more foolishly gullible than Sugarmann seems to be implying we are.

By the way, does anyone want to look at this and tell me that it's our side that uses fear mongering and overheated rhetoric to stir up the faithful (and their checkbooks)?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Serial tyranny in Illinois

The Illinois Politburo legislature has reached a new intellectual and moral low. In early February, Senate Bill 1095 was introduced, with very little text. Furthermore, what text there was consisted of a "technical change" to the language of the Firearm Owners Identification Act--and the "change" was the striking out of the word "and"--and replacing it . . . with the word "and."

Clearly, the real intent of the bill was being kept hidden at that point. Since the bill dealt with firearms legislation, and since the chief co-sponsor in Illinois Senate President and Senior Gun Rights Violator Emil Jones, it was fairly clear that when the hidden intent was revealed, it would not be good for private ownership of guns in Illinois.

With Friday's introduction of Senate Amendment 001 to the bill, the validity of that suspicion was vindicated. If the amendment is adopted (and there would seem to be little reason to doubt that it will), SB 1095 will require that the bullets of every round of pistol and rifle ammunition manufactured or sold in Illinois be stamped with identifying information. The bill is silent on what effect it would have on those who handload their own ammunition--do they now become "manufacturers"?

The bill would also make provisions for an "Ammunition Coding System Database," maintained by the Illinois State Police. The database would include every ammunition manufacturer, and every ammunition vendor, in the state, and the sale of every round of ammunition would be required to be accompanied by the logging of vast amounts of information with the Illinois State Police. Apparently, we are to believe that the interests of public safety would be best served by taking vast state police resources away from actual law enforcement, and diverting them to the tracking of every bullet in the state.

The people behind this bill are, I suspect, not quite so foolish as to believe this is a crime fighting measure--they know that ammunition manufacturers will simply decide to spare themselves the trouble and expense of dealing with Illinois, and stop selling here (and I suppose all the jobs and tax revenue provided by Olin Corporation will just be exported out of state). This is, in short, a not especially subtle bid to disarm every law-abiding citizen in Illinois.

Such legislative obscenities have been introduced in California for the last couple years, but have not passed. Illinois apparently hopes to take the unquestionable lead in citizen helplessness.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Paralyzed thinking

In Massachusetts, there's an initiative underway to force handgun dealers (and thus handgun purchasers) to underwrite the costs of spinal cord injury research. The proposal would tack a $25 surcharge onto every handgun purchase in the state, with the revenue thus raised going to research. The logic, apparently, is that spinal cord injury research funds are a bit scarce, and handgun dealers (and their customers) have money, ergo it's their responsibility to pay for a way to treat these injuries.

OK--to be fair, that's not the entire argument the measure's advocates are using--they also point to the fact that some spinal cord injuries are caused by shootings. I wonder if we'll soon be seeing a push to tack a surcharge onto the purchase of every box of Girl Scout cookies, to fund research into obesity and diabetes.

One of the advocates of the tax, McArthur Williams, is himself paralyzed as the result of a shooting. He has some interesting thoughts on how gun buyers would view being forced to pay for medical research (and also on Second Amendment rights).

"It's a privilege to own a gun," Williams said in an interview yesterday. "The surcharge, if you know it's going toward research for a problem caused by gun violence, most people wouldn't have a problem."
Hmm--the privilege of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed (well, maybe some extraneous costs will be added to it)--the Second Amendment certainly is a lot more complicated in his version of the Constitution than it is in mine.
A committee member asked Williams whether legal gun owners, who would pay the fee, are the same people who are shooting others on Boston streets.

Williams said that's beside the point. "It's still violence from guns, and they got the guns from somewhere," the 39-year-old answered.
That the tax would be levied on people not responsible for the problem is beside the point?

Lest anyone believe that I am unsympathetic to victims of spinal cord injuries, I should probably point out that I am paralyzed from just below the chest on down. Granted, my injury came from a car accident, not in a shooting, but you'll not hear me crying for a tax on car and motorcycle (or perhaps gasoline) sales to fund spinal cord injury research, despite the fact that vehicle accidents cause vastly greater numbers of such injuries (and involve a vastly greater pool of money from which to extort funds).

The gun dealers didn't paralyze you, Mr. Williams, and it's not their responsibility to repair you.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Don't worry, Shaun--I think he's on your side (I sure don't plan to claim him)

Shaun Mullen apparently believes that Rudy Giuliani has let him down. According to Shaun, Rudy has abandoned his civilian disarming ways (I wish I could agree with that).

Allowing that times change and minds occasionally do too, hypocrite is a much overused word in the political lexicon.

But it is difficult to not tar presidential wannabe Rudy Giuliani with that label because of his mad dash from being a darling of gun control advocates to a suck-up to the anti-gun control crowd that dominates the Republican Party.
Hmm--maybe I haven't paid sufficiently close attention, but I've missed Rudy's "mad dash" away from the freedom hating crowd, and if he wants to be a "suck-up to the anti-gun control crowd," he is certainly keeping it a secret--even from the people to whom he supposedly wants to be a "suck-up." One would think that "sucking-up" without making the suck-upee aware of the fact is something of a wasted endeavor.
New York’s tough gun-control laws are a big reason that the Big Apple has gone from being a crime-ridden urban wasteland in the 1980s to a remarkably safe place with one of the lowest big-city murder rates . . .
And the improving economy, the greater police presence, etc. had little to do with the improvement. It certainly is strange that Chicago and Washington DC, with even more insanely draconian restrictions on private gun ownership, have been sewers of violent crime the entire time.
I have nothing against personal possession of a limited number of firearms in one’s castle (ie., a man’s home is his castle), but too many states have pitifully weak firearm laws that pretty much allow people to buy and have as many guns as they want . . .
I suppose I should be grateful that you're kind enough to let me have a "limited number" of firearms (come to think of it, ten thousand is a number, and it's not unlimited)--I have little doubt you'll be able to show me the "limited number of arms" that the Second Amendment says the people have the right to keep and bear--I can't seem to find that part in my copy.
Worst yet, Giuliani has gone weak in the knees over support of the most sensible of control-control legislation — an assault weapons ban.
Sensible if you like a government monopoly on the use of force, I suppose.

It's funny, Giuliani's reticence about "assault weapon" bans leaves you unwilling to trust that he'll support one, but it (along with his history) leaves me utterly unwilling to trust him not to. He might have more trouble with voters than the conventional wisdom suspects.

Echoing the plea

Most of my readers are probably already regular readers of David Codrea's War on Guns, and are thus already aware of how dire Wayne Fincher's situation has become. Still, I cannot in good conscience neglect to take a few minutes to add my voice to Mr. Codrea's, in asking for whatever help can be found.

Fincher is in jail, facing prison, while I sit comfortably behind a computer--for precisely one reason. That reason is that he is a patriot with the courage to put his freedom on the line for his belief in the Constitution, and I am a keyboard commando, always ready to talk about Constitutional freedoms, but much less willing to suffer for them.

If you help Mr. Fincher, you will be helping this nation, and the principles on which it was founded.

Friday, March 23, 2007

3 more dealers down, and an idea

Yesterday, David Codrea, at War on Guns, posted about three more gun shops capitulating to Mayor Bloomberg's strongarm litigation tactics. According to the Associated Press article, that brings to twelve the number of gunshops (out of 27 sued) that will no longer fight the bullying.

I'm not really making a moral judgment against the gun shop owner/operators who simply cannot afford to fight the legal battles, but as Mr. Codrea says,

I refuse to buy a gun where an appointee for that tyrant is going to "monitor" the transaction.
While I'm quoting, one of the owners offered an explanation for the decision to submit to Bloomberg's assault lawyers.
Melissa Paulette, co-owner of Hot Shots Jewelry & Pawn, of Marietta, said she had no problem opening her records or putting her clerks through extra training.
That's fine if the shop owners "have no problem" with opening their sales records up for inspection by the minions of one of the most prominent advocates of civilian disarmament in the country, but (as Mr. Codrea pointed out) some customers apparently do have a problem with that. Anyone who doubts that might ask Cole's Gun Shop.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League is gearing up to boycott and perhaps picket Cole's Gun Shop, saying owner Mark Cole put their privacy in jeopardy when he agreed to let a court-appointed officer scrutinize his gun sales for the next three years.
An issue of gun owners' privacy is exactly what this is.

While it may seem hard hearted to require gun shop owners to choose between pressure from Bloomberg on the one hand, and pressure from their own customers on the other, gun buyers can hardly be blamed for wanting to keep their names out of the hands of Bloomberg'g goon squad. Hopefully, more gun rights organizations will step up with legal defense funds (as the Second Amendment Foundation has, and so has the Virginia Citizens Defense League) for the shops whose owners do have the courage to tell Bloomberg that their customers' privacy is not for sale.

This brings me to an idea I have for perhaps the only "gun law" I would support. I would like to see state laws that would forbid such violations of customers' privacy, by prohibiting licensed gun dealers from sharing sales records except with law enforcement agencies who require the data for official investigations. By the way, I am generally strongly opposed to the idea of bestowing exclusive powers on what Mr. Codrea refers to as the "Only Ones," but I make an exception in this case. I believe that gun sales records should be released only on a need to know basis, and I am willing to acknowledge that there are times when law enforcement agencies need to know the details of specific gun sales.

I have a great deal of respect for the gun shops that continue the good fight against Bloomberg, and the organizations that help them in that fight--but not all gun shop owners are made of such stern stuff. A law like the one I propose, basically outlawing the kind of surrender Bloomberg seeks, might be just the ticket.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The war on freedom in Illinois heats up

OK, I gave everybody a break from my complaints about the bills oozing their way through the Illinois Politburo legislature, but the break is over now. Our fearless leaders have been busy in their efforts to turn the Bill of Rights into their own personal Charmin substitute. They have also gained a new (or at least this is the first I've heard of them) accomplice, the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (ICPGV).

The ICPGV has conducted what they refer to as a "statewide poll." Not surprisingly, the results of their "poll" indicate enormous support for the draconian laws that are currently being debated. From the ICPGV's press release:

The bipartisan team of Overbrook Research (R) and Lake Research Partners (D) conducted the statewide poll of 603 voters, as well as additional surveys of 300 voters each (1,200) in four state senate districts. Support for the proposed gun laws was equally strong in all four districts, with majorities favoring each of the policies whether heavily Republican or Democrat.
Setting aside for the moment the fact that we live in a republic, and not a democracy--precisely because of the danger of the tyranny of the majority, in which 51% of the people can agree to strip the other 49% of their rights--perhaps I can be forgiven for having some doubts about this "poll." For one thing, almost two thirds of it was confined to four Senate districts. Illinois has 59 Senate districts. No mention is made of which four (or just over 1/15th of the total) districts were polled--any takers on a wager that the Chicago area was quite heavily represented?

One of my friends at Illinois Carry noticed something that I find interesting:
I just did a little research on the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (ICPGV).

The first thing that struck me is Evanston is in the 708 area code and the phone number given is 773 - a Chicago number.

Checking further I found that the phone number, 773.885.2726, is a Sprint cell phone.

Does anyone besides me wonder why they use a PO box instead of a real address and a cell phone instead of a landline?

My suspicious nature tells me this is a shell organization.

Contact Information
Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (ICPGV)
A Project of Legal Community Against Violence
P.O. Box 7077
Evanston, Illinois 60204
As mentioned earlier, I had never heard of this group before yesterday (and I try to keep track of anti-gun organizations, particularly in Illinois). Quite a coincidence that they would appear--seemingly out of nowhere--just when the legislative session is debating more gun laws.

By the way, speaking of the proposed ban on .50 caliber rifles, I've mentioned my admiration for Ronnie Barrett before. After his address to the Illinos Senate Tuesday, that admiration has become even greater.
March 20, 2007

Honorable Senators

We have much in common. You have sworn an oath to uphold the United States Constitution, in its entirety, and I have spent over 25 years working to preserve the 2nd Amendment of that same Constitution. If we examine the “fifty-caliber” issue in this context, I am convinced that you and I will come to the same conclusion, and that you will act on principle and truth.

Historically, the anti-gun movement loses when there is intellectually honest debate on outright gun bans. The most recent example was in a Federal Appeals Court where the District of Columbia’s handgun ban was ruled unconstitutional. Those wanting to take our rights are then forced to take them a little at a time and use fear and “big lie” rhetoric to deceive legislators. Fortunately, only those politicians either unable to understand the issue, or lacking the courage to seek the truth, are vulnerable to this tactic. The “big lie” is that banning fifty-caliber rifles will somehow make Illinois citizens safer and protect our infrastructure from terrorists.

The truth is that if fifty-caliber rifles are banned, firearms businesses and their manufacturing jobs will leave your state, the rights of law-abiding citizens will be infringed, infrastructure will not be protected and court action is certain. Since passage would be contrary to the Bill of Rights, Barrett Firearms Manufacturing would be forced to cease servicing and selling to any government agency in the state. I am mindful of the consequences of creating an overpowering government force by limiting its citizens’ access to powerful arms.

The proposition of trading the illusion of security for freedom is not a new folly. Recall the gang violence of the 1950’s. In that case, politicians seeking the spoils of “feel good” legislation banned the self-opening knife. First, the knife was demonized by giving it an evil name, "switchblade". Then the voting public was told that the switchblade was itself the problem rather than the violent felons that killed with it. The public was conned by politicians into believing that the citizenry would be safer by simply banning switchblades. We all know that gang violence is still a serious social problem. It is painfully obvious that the cause of the problem is not a knife that opens with one hand.

Now comes the modern day switchblade; a big rifle. Along with it are politicians who blame it for hypothetical problems to which it has no connection. The fifty-caliber rifle is demonized as an evil “super-gun”. Dishonest rhetoric wrongly portrays it as having wildly destructive capabilities exceeding Hollywood’s best action film. Skillfully manipulating the fearful and the easily duped, the cunning claim is that only the evil “super-gun” can pierce terrorist targets such as aircraft, fuel depots and fuel trucks. The new “big lie” is that common rifles are impotent and only the fifty-caliber is a threat. The truth is that any common centerfire deer rifle is capable of disabling these targets.

Unless Senators are willing to support the preposterous idea of confiscating all of the deer rifles in Illinois, banning just fifty-caliber rifles will do nothing to protect targets of terrorism. Current Illinois gun laws address every conceivable form of real-world firearm abuse. Federal law already categorizes fifty-caliber (and smaller) rifles as “small arms” and governs their use as well. And because crime statistics clearly show that fifty-caliber rifles are almost never used by criminals, the obvious questions are these; how would the citizens of Illinois benefit by your banning fifty-caliber rifles and how much money shall Illinois spend enacting an ineffective law that is likely to be challenged in court?

Unfortunately, we can look to California to see the results of a similar plan. Because an equally flawed argument was used to ban fifty-caliber rifles there, those legislators who fell for the “big lie” are now suffering the effects of unintended consequences. Their plan has turned into an extravagant waste of taxpayer’s money and new equally capable calibers have emerged that are fully compliant with their new law.

If you agree to let the “fifty caliber” argument be won or lost on its own merits, you will find that passing this provision is not in the best interest of your constituents. Further, I encourage you to resist the temptation to pass this provision in exchange for dropping other provisions. Freedom is not for barter.

Our common interest is to uphold the freedoms our forefathers won for you and me and we are together now fighting to maintain. I am sure you can see that it is both counter-productive and morally wrong to trade an illusion of security for any of our freedoms.

I am asking you to oppose banning fifty-caliber rifles because it is the right thing to do.

Ronnie Barrett
Owner and CEO
Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Inc.
I fear that Mr. Barrett's powerful words fell on many deaf ears. That would be very bad news for this state.

Please read these entries at War on Guns, as well:
Common Tyranny
A Matter of Time

UPDATE: I've mentioned the Joyce Foundation before. Well, it looks as if they've had a hand in the formation of our new gun rights suppression lobby group, the ICPGV, which is, as they state, "a project of Legal Community Against Violence (LCAV)". LCAV, in turn, has gotten a cool $125,000 from the Joyce Foundation. I guess it's good to know that our rights are at least not being sold cheaply.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Senator Levin ignores some inconvenient truths

There is yet another name to be added to the list of civilian disarmament advocates who hope to exploit the ill-considered words of Jim Zumbo as a club with which to bludgeon private gun ownership in America. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) has, since May of 1999, spoken at least once every week that the Senate was in session about what he perceives as a need to ignore the part of the Bill of Rights that most offends him. Would anyone like to venture a guess as to which part that would be?

Yesterday, Levin quoted Zumbo's infamous blog. Like the rest of those who would have law-abiding Americans disarmed, Levin was, of course, thrilled to have gained what he would like to call a new ally in the jihad against homeland defense firearms. For this "support" to come from someone who had (at least until recently) commanded great recognition and respect within the hunting and shooting communities was even better.

Levin could not fail to acknowledge that Zumbo's public thrashing of many of his fellow shooters sparked a strong reaction. Like just about every other aspiring Second Amendment rights violator, Levin mischaracterized the massive grassroots groundswell of righteous indignation as a vicious, calculated campaign, orchestrated by the NRA.

The reaction from NRA officials was swift and callous. They immediately severed all ties with Mr. Zumbo. His TV program on the Outdoor Channel was canceled, and his longtime career with Outdoor Life magazine ended. In addition many of his corporate ties to the biggest names in gun making, such as Remington Arms Co., were terminated.
Never mind that the NRA's reaction was anything but "swift"--the NRA remained silent through the first several days of outrage from gun owners all over the country, and only severed ties with Zumbo when it became clear that the situation was not about to just "go away." Simple economics drove the reaction from Zumbo's other sponsors--thousands of emails and phone calls threatening boycotts tend to be noticed.

What Senator Levin was very careful not to quote was Zumbo's later acknowledgement that he was utterly wrong to demonize these firearms, and his complete retraction of statements critical of them. Levin then continues his convenient glossing over of Zumbo's reversal.
We all owe Jim Zumbo a debt of gratitude for his forthrightness, his honesty and his courage. We must put the safety of our communities first by taking up and passing sensible gun legislation that includes renewing the assault weapons ban."
Keep in mind that Zumbo never argued to ban the possession of so-called "assault weapons." He advocated that their use no longer be permitted for hunting:
I say game departments should ban them from the prairies and woods.
"Game departments should ban them from the prairies and woods"--not the national or state legislatures should ban them from homes, business,or vehicles, or even from our churches, city parks, or playgrounds.

Zumbo made the grave mistake (which I believe he now hopes to correct) of doing our enemies' work for us, in dividing gun owners into warring camps. He did this out of the belief that possession of "sporting firearms" would be less threatened if it was not tied to possession of "scary" ones. This is clearly false--as soon as the "assault weapons" are gone, his scoped hunting rifles will become "sniper rifles" in the sensationalist jargon of the civilian disarmament crowd.

The other side will use overheated rhetoric and outright lies to further their agenda. Such tactics can be frighteningly effective. To stand against them, all shooters must stand together.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Misunderstanding Down Under

Sometimes it can be amusing to read what folks in other countries think of America, guns, and the Second Amendment. What they have to say is generally not very complimentary, but it is consistently entertaining.

This rambling op-ed piece in the Sydney Morning Herald is a prime example. From the title, "Gun lobby scores a win in court," it looks to be an article about the federal appellate court ruling that finds the Washington DC handgun ban to be unconstitutional. To an extent, that is what it's about, but that's only one of the issues mentioned.

In fact, the first half dozen or so paragraphs are devoted to Jim Zumbo. Nothing really new was mentioned here, unless you count this sentence:

After more than 60 years with Outdoor Life, Zumbo was sacked.
Zumbo is, I believe, 68 years old, so if he has been writing for Outdoor Life for more than 60 years, he was certainly a precocious child.

Next, we get a quick paragraph about Mitt Romney's sudden conversion to gun rights advocacy (and if you believe that, I have a pair of breeding mules I'd like to sell you), and the NRA's apparent support for him at the Conservative Political Action Conference. His suddenly cozy relationship with the NRA is worthy of it's own look, but that's a topic for another day.

Finally, near the bottom of the first page (of two pages total), the topic turns to something bearing a resemblance to the title.
In a 2-1 judgement, the court ruled that the Second Amendment literally meant that Americans had the right to own and carry guns and that governments could not stop them from doing so.
Yes, the court ruled that the Second Amendment "literally" means that we can own and carry guns. A Constitution that only figuratively guaranteed rights would serve little purpose. Likewise, that "governments could not stop [us] from doing so" is also pretty important--a right (whether "literal" or figurative) isn't much of a right if the government can deny it by decree.

The next paragraph is pretty cool:
The key sentence of the Second Amendment reads: "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
Maybe my copy of the Bill of Rights is defective--in mine, that's not the key sentence of the Second Amendment, so much as it is the only sentence. I wonder what I've been missing.

Now that he's talking about the topic mentioned in the title, Mr. Gawenda (the Herald's Washington correspondent, and the author of this piece), doesn't take long to register his opinion about the court decision.
The Washington decision was the first time a federal court had ruled emphatically in favour of the gun lobby's interpretation and, if the ruling is upheld after the inevitable appeal, it could mean the end of meaningful attempts to restrict gun ownership.

This would surely be a disaster: there are about 192 million guns in circulation in America, more than a third of Americans own a gun and about 30,000 die each year from gunshot wounds, with another 52,000 injured.
Apparently, the "disaster" would be the end of "meaningful attempts to restrict gun ownership." I would argue that as far as controlling violent crime is concerned, there has never been any "meaningful" attempt, because attempts to rein in the behavior of the lawless, by passing more laws, are by their very nature, meaningless. One would think that Australians would know that better than most (note that both that article and the op-ed piece being addressed here appeared in the same paper).
Sadly, the American love affair with guns is not about to end any time soon.
Hopefully, the Australian new love affair with helplessness will end soon.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Would this make you happy, Christian?

By now, I don't imagine that there are many in the gun rights community (or in the gun rights suppression lobby, for that matter) who are unaware of Christian Trejbal's editorial in the Roanoke Times. To make his "point" about open government, his editorial linked to a searchable database of every concealed carry licensee in the state.

Trejbal and the Roanoke Times were apparently unprepared for the groundswell of righteous indignation over the publication of what is, after all, quite personal information. Within a day, the database was removed. Soon afterward, the announcement was made that there were no plans to bring it back.

Although the legal concerns stated by the newspaper as the reason for removing the names no longer seem to apply, Roanoke Times president and publisher Debbie Meade said Tuesday that there are no plans to put the information back online.

"The list was put up as an example of a public record," Meade said. "It was never intended for that information to be housed indefinitely on our site."
Trejbal even faced the terror of mailing labels being shipped to his house. I trust that I am not the only one awed by this journalist's courage.

Anyway, I bring all this up now, after most of the excitement seems to be over, because it's starting to look as if ol' Christian has triggered some real reform, after all--although I can't help but wonder if it's what he had in mind. There seems to be real legislative interest in closing these records. At one point in the Trejbal editorial that started all this, he justified the publication of the information this way:
I can hear the shocked indignation of gun-toters already: It's nobody's business but mine if I want to pack heat.

Au contraire. Because the government handles the permitting, it is everyone's business.
According to the new article, there is consideration being given to addressing that very issue, Christian.
One proposal is that Virginia follow the lead of Vermont, the only state that does not require its residents to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun. [Note: Alaska does not require a government issued permission slip to exercise this right, either, although permits are offered]
Simple--no government involvement, no "everyone's business."

I think the solution has been found.

Check out Second Amendment Carnival X

Just a quick note to thank Stan, at Free Constitution, for once again including me in the Second Amendment Carnival. As always, it's a great honor to be counted in that company.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

"Triangle of Death," indeed--they can't be serious

I'll say one thing for the Bradys--they certainly seem to have a good grasp of the level of intellectual sophistication of their target audience.

Apparently the reader is expected to believe that the NRA rakes in vast sums of money from "corrupt gun dealers" (despite the fact that, according to the Bradys themselves, 60% of "crime guns" are traced back to 1% of the dealers--that would presumably be the "corrupt" 1%). The amount brought in this way is much greater and more important, apparently, than what the NRA raises through membership dues and contributions from the 4 million members. The NRA, now flush with the blood-spattered crass lucre from the "corrupt gun dealers," passes much of that money along to "gun lobby-owned lawmakers," who in turn fight the passage of "sensible gun laws" (the ones over and above the over 20,000 gun laws already on the books).

This diagram came from a part of the Brady Bunch called Stop The NRA. They can't seem to get it through their skulls that "stopping the NRA" would do nothing for them. The NRA's 4 million members, plus many other gun rights activists who are not members--because the NRA isn't hard core enough for them, and tries too hard to be mainstream--aren't going to simply give up and go away if the NRA suddenly disappears. The reason that gun rights are not quite dead in this country is the number of people who put their hearts and souls into fighting for them. The various gun rights organizations help facilitate that effort to some degree, but the real power is the grassroots activism of millions of gun owners.

The Bradys have neither those numbers, nor the same kind of passion and commitment from many of the people they do have. And it scares them, so they fight it the only way they know how--with money. Joyce Foundation money (by the way, I recently discovered that another recipient of the Joyce Foundation's gun rights suppression money is Bloomberg's Coalition of Freedom Hating Mayors). They fight it with George Soros' money, and with money raised in hysterical fear mongering campaigns, screaming that those nasty Constitution lovers are going to strike down all the precious gun laws.

The Bradys may raise enough money to "stop the NRA," but that's a long way from stopping the people who treasure liberty--and we're not for sale.

UPDATE: Hairy Hobbit has made and posted a version of the "Triangle" that is definitely worth a look.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Do the Bloomberg Blood Dance

It certainly didn't take Mayor Bloomberg long to turn Wednesday's heinous murders of two New York City auxiliary police officers into motive power for his civilian disarmament agenda. Within a day of the shootings, Bloomberg called the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, to try to pressure Congress into passing more laws to rein in the behavior of the lawless.

After spending hours with the victims' loved ones at the hospital, Bloomberg put in a call to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday, and said on his radio show that "there is just a point that we have to say, 'Enough."'
Actually, I agree with that--there definitely is a time to say "Enough," and I think that it has been that time for quite awhile now. Enough of the inevitable, abject failure to control violent crime--by ensuring a rich pool of disarmed and helpless victims. Enough stripping the law-abiding of the fundamental right of self-defense, because of the evil actions of a few. Enough pretending that the rights enumerated in the Constitution are negotiable, and subject to negation at the whim of the powerful. Yeah--we have had enough of your policies, Mayor.

Bloomberg, though, apparently didn't think he had said quite enough yet.
"The Democrats have said repeatedly that they blame the Republicans for gun legislation. Well, now they're in charge," he said. "OK, stand up."
If I recall correctly, the Democrats passed some very restrictive gun legislation back in 1994, and were subsequently routed in the elections that November. One would think that by now they would realize that they've had enough so-called "gun control."

Friday, March 16, 2007

That darned Constitution getting in the way again

Last week, War on Guns commented on the very pleasant surprise of a pro-freedom ruling in California's Fourth District Appeals Court. This ruling came in the case of Andy Sun, a gun dealer in California who had a large number of so-called "assault weapons"--perfectly legal under federal law, but not under California's draconian laws.

The California authorities may never have realized he had these weapons (he wasn't selling them to California residents), but in order to comply with federal laws, Sun had submitted to an inspection of his inventory by our favorite storm troopers, the BATFE. The BATFE agent, being a BATFE agent, violated the legally mandated confidentiality that was supposed to protect Sun, and tipped off the California Department of Justice. This tip is what led to the raid, and Sun's arrest on the charges of possession of 510 "assault weapons" and 23,000 big, scary magazines (also illegal in California).

The good news mentioned previously is that although Sun was indicted, the judge seems to have known what the Fifth Amendment is for, and that using compliance with federally mandated inspections (under the National Firearms Act) as the basis for the issuance of warrants for violations of state laws, is to force a citizen to incriminate himself. This, of course, is unconstitutional, and for very good reason.

The California "justice" system being what it is, Attorney General Bill Lockyer thought it would be a good idea to appeal the ruling. The Appeal Court's ruling agreeing with the original ruling is what War on Guns reported on last week.

Yesterday another article expressed what sounds like disapproval with the decision to respect Sun's Fifth Amendment rights.

Sun is now immune from prosecution for possessing 510 illegal assault weapons and more than 23,000 rounds of ammunition—enough to keep FBI agents at bay for days.
Since there was no stand-off, no holding "FBI agents at bay for days," that seems like a rather odd choice of words (and besides, according to the first article, it was 23,000 magazines--with no mention of the quantity of ammunition). Actually, as far as I know, even California doesn't regulate the quantity of ammunition a person can possess. The article goes on to mention "high capacity bullets," but doesn't explain what those might be.

This may not be over--the second article states that the DA's office is considering appealing again, this time to the California Supreme Court.

Maybe they will have the contempt for the Bill of Rights that the prosecution is counting on.

Despite Bradys' best efforts, freedom to prevail in Maryland

I've mentioned the drive in Maryland to ban so-called "assault weapons" a couple times (here and here) before. I've already quoted one statement made by the bill's sponsor, but it's so comically ridiculous I can't help pointing it out again. This is how Senator Mike Lenett justifies his jihad against the Constitution.

"These weapons are particularly ill-suited to hunting or target-shooting, but remarkably well-suited to killing a lot of people in a hurry," said Lenett, who is the bill's chief sponsor and mentioned the sniper slayings in 2002 that left seven Maryland residents dead as one reason why such a law is needed.
Got that? Being "assault weapons," they're ill-suited to target shooting. What makes a particular rifle a bad choice for a target shooter? Incacurracy--to be good for target shooting, a rifle needs to be able to . . . hit the target. Lenett apparently buys wholeheartedly into the myth that "assault weapons" are only meant to be "spray fired from the hip" (oddly enough, when I was trained to use a real M-16 assault rifle, my drill sergeants would have made my life a nightmare if I had tried to "spray fire from the hip"), and are thus incapable of decent accuracy. Then he goes blithely along to point to the use of such a rifle in the "sniper" shootings in the DC area in 2002 as more evidence that these rifles are "bad." But how can a rifle that's not accurate enough for target shooting or hunting be an effective sniper's weapon? Senator Lenett is apparently more than a little confused--perhaps the residents of his district (the people he claims to represent) need to educate him.

The Brady Bunch apparently saw an opportunity here, and started an all-out media blitz, including a radio ad campaign. Here's an excerpt from the transcript from the ad.
State Senator James Brochin from the Baltimore area is the key vote needed now to pass this bill.

Please call Senator Brochin at 410-841-3648. Ask him to support Senate Bill 43 to ban assault rifles. Make sure your voice is heard. That number again: 410-841-3648.
They certainly went to a lot of trouble to concentrate on one state senator, didn't they? I'm not sure how they identified Brochin as they're best bet to get the bill out of committee, but they sure wanted to buy a lot of pressure to bring to bear on him.

Well, apparently the people of Maryland don't harbor as much anti-gun sentiment as Helmke and his minions had hoped, because clearly there were not enough phone calls to sway Senator Brochin. Brochin voted against the bill, leaving it with too few votes to get out of committee. It is now quite likely to die a richly deserved death. Senator Brochin had a few words of his own, after the vote.
"The only people we target in this bill are law-abiding citizens who use these guns for target shooting or competitions," Brochin said. "I wish gun control worked, but it doesn't make any sense."
Since the Bradys so kindly provided a phone number at which to reach Senator Brochin, it would probably be a good idea to call him and thank him for his defense of the rights of Maryland residents.

UPDATE: The Bradys aren't happy. Kind of amusing that the most they can threaten Senators Brochin and Stone with is a pledge to fight their reelections--in November 2010.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I promise that after today, I'll shut up about Illinois for a minute or two

Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day (IGOLD) '07 is officially in the books now. By all accounts, it was a roaring success, with an estimated 1200 responsible, law-abiding gun owners of Illinois refusing to be ignored by those who would write the laws by which the law-abiding must live. The gross distortions of the ICHV and Gun Guys notwithstanding, yesterday's endeavor made the will of the people known, in the finest tradition of grassroots lobbying.

One of the most important movers and shakers in the huge effort that went into IGOLD was Illinois Carry's own Valinda Rowe. She organized the other ladies attending IGOLD into a separate group, which visited the offices of Governor Blagojevich, Senate President Emil Jones, and Speaker of the House Michael Madigan. The governor was unavailable to meet them, as were his senior staffers, to everyone's shock (that's sarcasm, in case anyone missed it). The good ladies left behind some information about gun rights for the governor--he clearly needs an education on the subject.

Ms. Rowe also read a statement while at the governor's outer office. It's a powerful statement, and bears repeating.

Women of Illinois

Demand Right to Self-defense

March 14, 2007

Illinois State Capitol, Springfield, IL

1. The right to self-defense is a basic human right and is recognized and protected in 48 out of 50 of states as well as in our state and U.S. Constitutions.

2. Illinois is one of only two states that still do not have a right to carry law which would make it possible for law abiding citizens to carry a firearm on their person or in their vehicle to be used for protecting their families and themselves.

3. The only means of self-defense available to women in the state of Illinois is a court ordered Order of Protection, and that is only available if the woman knows the identity of a potential threat. Even that small bit of protection is ineffective in light of the fact 3,728 orders of protection are violated each year in the state of Illinois. The random victims of 766 murders, 5,982 criminal sexual assaults, 42,264 aggravated assaults, aggravated battery, attempted murders & ritual mutilations in 2005 alone were not afforded any protection!

4. The women of Illinois hereby demand the right to protect themselves with a Right to Carry law that is already honored and respected in the other 48 states.

The right to carry is coming to the state of Illinois it is only a matter of time. 48 STATES CANNOT BE WRONG. The legislators of the 95th General Assembly can either go down in history as having turned their backs on defenseless Illinois women who fall victim to violent crimes – or they can go down in history as having restored the basic human right of self-defense to the women of this great state! We urge the 95th General Assembly to pass the Family and Personal Protection Act SB348 and HB1304.

Women of Illinois

Protest Restrictions on Law-abiding Gun Owners

1. According to Chicago Police Department records more people were killed with baseball bats than so-called assault rifles and shotguns put together. Even more were killed by knives and hands and feet.

2. The LAWLESS ARE NOT BOUND BY ANY LAW much less one prohibiting the possession of firearms. This bill would leave firearms in the hands of criminals while disarming law abiding gun owners who have committed no crime and pose no threat to anyone.

3. Authorized studies of the federal assault weapons ban, which was allowed to sunset, determined there was no evidence to support the idea that the ban reduced crime.

4. What this bill calls an “assault weapon” is actually what thousands call home defense firearms and are used to protect families. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina law abiding gun owners used these very guns to protect their families and their neighborhoods in the chaos and aftermath that followed that disaster.

For thousands more these guns are precision target firearms long used by millions in the United States greatest historical tradition of marksmanship and hunting.

This bill is not an anti-crime bill; it is an anti-gun owner bill. We urge you to vote “NO” on SB16 and HB873 .
Governor Blagojevich did not hear that statement, which is too bad, because he clearly needs to. Perhaps, though, it is more important that the women of Illinois--the people most victimized by Illinois' state-mandated defenselessness--hear it (or at least read it). Toward that end, I intend to spread the good word just as far and wide as I can.

IGOLD 2007 was bigger than we had dared hope, and a rousing success. Those who advocate the disarmament of Illinois should be looking ahead to IGOLD '08 with dread, because it will be bigger yet, and WE SHALL OVERCOME

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

(Belated) good wishes for IGOLD

I had meant to post this early this morning, and then got distracted. Here's hoping for a hugely successful Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day. I wish I could be there. To everyone that did go--my eternal thanks.

We shall overcome.

Just one more reason to kill NICS "Improvement" Act

I've discussed Representative Carolyn McCarthy's (N.Y.) so-called NICS "Improvement" Act before (most recently here), and expressed why I believe that the only thing that would be improved if this passed into law is the government's ability to collect more personal information about us, and use that information to deny rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Gun Owners of America provides a good description the Orwellian dangers of the bill here.

Today, the part I intend to focus on is the close government scrutiny of mental health records this bill would provide for, particularly in regard to military veterans returning from honorable service overseas.

This could have a significant impact on American servicemen, especially those returning from combat situations and who seek some type of psychiatric care. Often, veterans who have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder have been deemed as mentally "incompetent" and are prohibited from owning guns under 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(4). Records of those instances certainly exist, and, in 1999, the Department of Veterans Administration turned over 90,000 names of veterans to the FBI for inclusion into the NICS background check system.
The last time I talked about H.R. 297, I deplored the egregious injustice of, as "thanks" for their courageous defense of American interests abroad, denying these brave men and women the right to bear arms in defense of themselves here at home.

My opinion of the outrageous inequity of that has not changed--what has changed is my realization of the potential scope of the issue. In a survey of more than 100,000 veterans returning from fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan nearly a third were found to have some kind of mental health issues--such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression.

The vast majority of these men and women pose no threat to society, and yet could, under the provisions of the NICS "Improvement" Act, be denied the right to buy and own firearms, in the same way that rapists and murderers released from prison are. A "Thank you for your service--keep your hands where I can see them" kind of welcome home.

Oddly enough, the NRA actually supports H.R. 297. In this, I submit that they are on the wrong side.

NICS doesn't need to be improved--it needs to be scrapped. If we absolutely must have a "prohibited purchaser" list (I'm not convinced that we do--if someone is too dangerous to be trusted to buy a firearm legally, he is too dangerous to be trusted not to obtain one illegally, or to not simply commit carnage without a firearm--but that's another debate), BIDS would be a real improvement.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The lying hypocrites at the ICHV whine about IGOLD

The Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence is apparently worried enough about tomorrow's grassroots push for gun rights in Illinois (IGOLD) that they've put out their own press release, full of distortions, in an effort to discredit it.

The gist of their "message" is that gun manufacturers are sponsoring this event. Put bluntly and simply--the ICHV is full of crap.

Of the 8 buses bearing determined gun rights activists of Illinois, a grand total of two are sponsored by manufacturers. My friends at Illinois Carry, along with the folks at the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA), and Guns Save Life (formerly the Champaign County Rifle Association) have done the hard work of setting this up (and that work included approaching the manufacturers to request some help with chartering the buses). One dedicated member is putting up thousands of dollars of his own money to support this effort.

Contrast that to Mayor Daley's approach of encouraging city employees to take off work early, to be bused down to Springfield, to help lobby to disarm the law-abiding citizens of Illinois. Yeah--that sounds like grassroots.

One of the interesting things about the ICHV complaining about gun industry money is that the ICHV has received almost $1.8 million of Joyce Foundation largess.

I bet Thom Mannard, at ICHV, gets paid pretty well.

UPDATE: The Gun Guys have thrown in their 2 cents (probably overpriced, at that). They don't really say anything beyond Mannard's distortions, other than referring to gun rights activists as "smelly." They certainly have a sophisticated debating style, don't they? I imagine most people don't think of that particular riposte until they're at least 6 years old or so.

Don't forget IGOLD!

I've mentioned IGOLD several times before. It's tomorrow, so I'm almost done bothering you about it. I've told you about a few of the worst of the gun rights suppression bills oozing their way through the Illinois Politburo General Assembly--there are plenty of other, minor ones, and even a few good ones (check ISRA's homepage--currently the second item--or simply click here for the pdf version, for more details about both good and bad bills).

We have high hopes that IGOLD is going to be big, with lots of law-abiding citizens and some press coverage. Our legislators would prefer to ignore us. We intend to make that impossible tomorrow. Chicago Mayor Daley and his minions like to establish a presence at the capitol, but do so by shipping busloads of city employees (on the clock, with their wages coming from the taxpayers, and the buses paid for the same way). We hope to have a much larger presence, and this will be a real grassroots effort. Let's show them that the suppression of rights runs absolutely counter to the will of the people.

IGOLD can go a long way to protecting gun rights in Illinois, and even regaining some that have been lost. If you can make it to Springfield tomorrow, please do.

Ohio preemption law goes into effect tomorrow

I had watched closely during the fight to overturn Governor Taft's veto of the bill that would provide Ohio residents with uniform gun laws. I don't live in Ohio--haven't been there in years, and don't know when I'll be back--but since I firmly believe that a victory for gun rights (and thus all rights) in one place is a victory for rights everywhere, I was thrilled to see the forces of good, with the Buckeye Firearms Association at the forefront, overcome the suppression of the rights of law-abiding Ohio residents.

The law goes into effect tomorrow. When it does, the ridiculous requirement that concealed carry licensees carry their firearms in plain sight while driving, will be no more than a minor historical embarrassment. The ban on homeland defense firearms in Columbus will likewise go to the trash, where it belongs. City parks in which the only armed people were lawbreakers will now no longer carry that dubious distinction.

Judging from this Associated Press question and answer piece, there are still some who see armed citizens--law-abiding or not--as threats.

Q: Why did the Legislature feel it necessary to allow people to carry hidden guns in their cars and trucks?

A: Lawmakers, prodded by gun-rights advocates, said the law was inconsistent in allowing permit-holders to carry hidden guns on the street but not in their cars.
"Prodded" by gun-rights advocates, or by their own common sense?
Q: What do law enforcement agencies think about guns hidden in cars?

A: Some law enforcement agencies were opposed to the provision because of concerns about officers' safety or were officially neutral.
Which would seem to imply, although the AP of course doesn't bother to come out and say it, that some law enforcement agencies were actually in favor of the change.
Q: What was the reasoning behind that change?

A: The National Rifle Association and other proponents of getting rid of the community regulations say the state had a patchwork of local gun laws that varied among communities. A person traveling through the state could be obeying the law in one place but breaking it in the next town.
It's not so much that the NRA and others said there was a patchwork of laws--there indisputably was one.

Just gotta love journalistic objectivity, don't you?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Still more anguished bleating over the Washington DC Appeals Court ruling

The opening sentence of this Reuters article is a bit tough to comprehend.

A U.S. appeals court on Friday struck down a 30-year-old Washington, D.C., law that bans handguns in homes, a precedent-setting ruling that dealt a setback to a city with one of America's highest crime rates.
How can the abandonment of a crime fighting strategy that has demonstrated its utter futility for over thirty years be considered a "setback"? Is it the Reuters staff's position that the continuation of abject failure is progress? Keep in mind, the handgun ban was fully in place last July, when Washington DC declared a "crime emergency"--is someone trying to tell us that the ban was working well?

Our favorite United States Senator from New Jersey was predictably apoplectic.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat from New Jersey, criticized the ruling.

"On the same day a new report demonstrated a sharp rise in violent crime, a federal court handed down a decision that could pour even more guns onto the streets of our nation's capital. This decision is a major setback in the effort to make communities safer," he said.
Lautenberg was referring to a study released by the Police Executive Research Forum. Here are some of the findings of that study:
* Forty of the 56 surveyed police departments, or 71 percent, saw homicide rates increase over the two-year period. That translated into an overall 10.2 percent jump in murders. Between 2005 and 2006, the increase in murders was much lower: 2.8 percent.

* Robberies rose among the cities by 6 percent since 2005 and 12 percent since 2004. Between 75 and 80 percent of the departments surveyed reported a spike in robberies over the two-year period.

* Felony robberies dipped slightly, by 2 percent, between 2005 and 2006, but rose slightly, by 3 percent, since 2004.

* Gun assaults saw a 1 percent boost from 2005 but spiked by nearly 10 percent during the two-year period.
I couldn't help but notice some points in that study that would seem to indicate that we're not exactly riding an explosively growing crime wave. Consider:
That translated into an overall 10.2 percent jump in murders. Between 2005 and 2006, the increase in murders was much lower: 2.8 percent.
The 2004-2006 murder rate jump was 10.2%, but only 2.8% of that came in 2005-2006 (meaning the other 7.8% came in 2004-2005)
Felony robberies dipped slightly, by 2 percent, between 2005 and 2006, but rose slightly, by 3 percent, since 2004.
Felony robberies actually fell by 2% from 2005-2006, but there was a net increase of 3% over the two year period--meaning that although there was a 5% increase in 2004-2005, we gained back much of the lost ground last year.
Gun assaults saw a 1 percent boost from 2005 but spiked by nearly 10 percent during the two-year period.
Gun assaults went up nearly 10% over the two year period, but 9 tenths of that must have happened in 2004-2005, because the 2005-2006 increase was only 1%.

Almost all of this "2 year increase" seems to have occurred in the first year. What all this tells me is that this "spike" in violent crime seems to be leveling off--and rather dramatically. Funny how the article doesn't mention that.

But even if we buy Lautenberg's alarmist claims that violent crime is spiraling out of control, how does that lead anyone to the conclusion that the way to counter is to continue DC's obviously failed strategy?

It should be obvious that civilian disarmament laws disarm only those who obey laws, thus rendering them helpless against those who do not. Defeating such laws is only a "setback" for those who wish to continue to terrorize our nation's neighborhoods with impunity.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Illinios gets tough on crime . . . victims

Back to my regular scheduled programming--my series about the Illinois Politburo's General Assembly's assaults on personal liberty. Today we'll talk about HB 1696, which doesn't really seem to have a name, as far as I can tell, so I'll just call it the Turning Crime Victims Into Criminals Act. Catchy, isn't it?

Anyway, this bill, if passed into law, would make it a criminal offense to fail to report, within 72 hours, the theft of a firearm. We've seen laws like this passed at the municipal level (I think Los Angeles has such a law), and there's some pressure to pass them at the state level in places--Connecticut is one such state, and I believe I've read somewhere that the California legislature is considering bringing the entire state down to LA's level in that regard, but as far as I'm aware, no state has passed such a law yet.

Why is this a bad thing, you ask? Wouldn't you want the police to know if your firearm(s) had been stolen? Personally, yes, I would. But the fact that I would do something does not mean that I should be happy about being compelled by law to do so.

I see a great deal of potential for abuse in this legislation. For example, the owner breaks the law if more than 72 hours passes between his discovery of the theft, and his reporting of it. But how can it be proved when he became aware of it? Does it come down to a question of when "he should have known"? So now, gun owners risk criminal culpability if they don't check on all their firearms every so often? What happens if you're away from the house for a few days?

By moving any amount of responsibility for a stolen gun to the person from whom it was stolen, this legislation could be seen as just the first step toward laws like those in Australia and Canada, requiring firearms to be stored in vaults, subject to police inspections (without warrants, I believe). What happened to placing the responsibility for a crime squarely on the shoulders of the perpetrator of the crime? Criminalizing gun ownership won't happen overnight, so the civilian disarmament lobby is willing to be patient and incremental in the implementation of their agenda.

Another aspect of this bill might require some explanation for people fortunate enough to live outside Illinois. Since about 1968 (not a good year for gun rights), Illinois has required every gun owner (and every ammunition owner) to have a Firearm Owner's Identification (FOID) card. Actually, the evils of the FOID Act are worth an entire blog entry of their own, so I'll forego a more detailed explanation for now, and go straight to FOID's relevance to this bill. Not only would a gun owner's failure to report theft of a firearm be a crime, but that crime would be grounds for revocation of the owner's FOID, meaning he could not buy guns or ammunition, and any guns he already owned would render him a felon (for possessing firearms without a valid FOID).

Still another problem with this bill would be its apparent potential for conflict with the Fifth Amendment. If, for example, a resident of one of the Illinois municipalities that bans possession of handguns for the lowly masses had decided that his safety was more important than compliance with draconian gun laws, and that handgun was then stolen--what does he do? The new law would compel him to incriminate himself for violation of the handgun ban. That is clearly unconstitutional, as I imagine the courts would agree. Keep in mind also that if SB 0016 passes, by the way, there are going to be plenty of otherwise law-abiding citizens all over the state who would be legally compelled to incriminate themselves on a felony violation.

There are plenty of real criminals running loose on society--let's not make new ones out of people who have no criminal intent.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Angst from the Brady Bunch

Today, I had actually planned to write about something other than the Federal Appeals Court ruling striking down the Washington DC gun ban. So much is being written about it on the gun forums and blogs, by people who have so much more knowledge about it than I do, that I figured I'd leave it to them, at least for the moment, and write about something else.

Leave it to the Brady Bunch to lay waste to my best laid plans. Their "news" release yesterday somehow managed to cram into two short paragraphs enough effluvia to overwhelm a major city's sewage treatment infrastructure (say what you want about Helmke--you have to admit that he's efficient). Anyway, I simply could not resist the urge to respond.

The 2-1 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Parker v. District of Columbia striking down the District of Columbia’s handgun law is judicial activism at its worst.
Judicial activism!?! Perhaps I can be forgiven for momentarily wondering if Paul had somehow developed a sense of humor, or at least an appreciation of irony. That, of course, is not the case--Helmke was not making a joke, and is really arguing that a court decision that says that the Second Amendment means what it says is "judicial activism." He would have us believe that twisting the Bill of Rights into a meaning that supports a desired (by him) outcome is the proper role for judges. It's a strange world he lives in.
By disregarding nearly seventy years of U.S. Supreme Court precedent, two Federal judges have negated the democratically-expressed will of the people of the District of Columbia and deprived this community of a gun law it enacted thirty years ago and still strongly supports.
The "nearly seventy years of U.S. Supreme Court precedent" Paul accuses the judges of "disregarding" is actually nearly seventy years of silence from the Supreme Court on Second Amendment issues. Helmke would apparently have us believe that since 1939, the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled in favor of the "collective rights" interpretation of the Second Amendment. Not so--the Supreme Court has not heard a single case dealing specifically with the Second Amendment since United States v. Miller, in 1939.

Interestingly enough, by the way, United States v. Miller in no way validates the "collective rights" interpretation of the Second Amendment. The decision did indeed state that prosecuting the defendant under the National Firearms Act, for his possession of an unregistered sawed-off shotgun, was not in conflict with the Second Amendment. However, this decision had nothing to do with a mythical "collective right"--it was based on the Court's (erroneous) belief that a sawed-off shotgun would not serve as a useful militia weapon, and its possession is thus not protected by the Second Amendment.

If one thinks about that, it becomes rather startling that civilian disarmament advocates want to talk about U.S. v. Miller at all. The gun ban lobby routinely singles out a class of firearms (be it so-called assault weapons, .50 caliber rifles, etc.) for attack, "because it has no sporting use, and is meant for the battlefield," and thus should be banned. This completely ignores the fact that Miller's Second Amendment defense failed precisely because the Court believed his weapon had no utility on the battlefield. That's right--by the U.S. v. Miller precedent, defending the right to possess any given type of weapon depends not on proving it has a "sporting use," but on proving that it has a military one. Forget bans of so-called "assault weapons" and .50 caliber (or larger!) rifles, never mind restrictions on fully automatic weapons--ownership of these types of arms is precisely what the Second Amendment is intended to protect.

It would seem that Helmke and his allies would be better served trying to make us forget U.S. v. Miller--not pointing to it as justification for draconian gun laws.

Friday, March 09, 2007

U.S. Court of Appeals: 2nd Amendment protects individual right

And now for a HUGE interruption of my long litany of bad news on the gun rights front. A decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Washington has determined the obvious--that the "collective right" interpretation of the Second Amendment is utter hogwash.

The decision came in a battle over the Constitutionality of Washington DC's longstanding ban on handguns. This ruling marks a vast, and long overdue shift in the way federal courts have looked at gun rights. The battle is far from over, with a Supreme Court fight looking likely, but the outlook may be brighter than it has been since 1934.

This will be a short entry, because I'm still trying to figure out the complexities (the entire decision--all 75 pages of it--is here), but there will be plenty of news about this for quite awhile.

The Victim Proliferation Center is in a shrieking, hysterical panic over it. The last sentence is absolutely classic:

While today’s decision is a dream come true for America’s gun lobby and gunmakers, it may mark the beginning of a long, national nightmare from which we will never recover as nation.
Aww--poor sheeple. It's enough to make them lose their appetite for tofu-kiwi burgers. I'm waiting with bated breath for what the Gun Guys have to say about it.

This could be huge, folks.

The end of handgun sales in Illinois

I've been somewhat narrowly focused on pending Illinois legislation aimed at destroying what's left of the Second Amendment here, in my recent blog entries (here and here) about the drive to ban homeland defense firearms in the state. Hopefully I can be forgiven for sticking with an Illinois-centric perspective a bit longer--this does, after all, hit close to home.

Today's topic is a rather more subtle attack on gun rights--it doesn't ban any firearms outright--HB 0796, the Handgun Dealer Licensing Act takes a different angle of attack. Most know that any firearms dealer anywhere in the country already faces rigorous (some might say suffocating) licensing requirements, enforced by the BATFE.

Apparently, these requirements are not onerous enough for those in the Illinois legislature who are waging a jihad on gun rights, because they would now like to require a state license (administered by the Illinois State Police), in addition to the federal license, for any firearms dealer whose inventory includes a handgun. Actually, it goes farther than that, and would require the same license for any gunsmith who works on handguns.

The requirements include (among other things) A) an extensive criminal background check--despite the fact that the federal license requires one; B) a $300 fee, for a three year license--the renewal fee is also $300; and c) fingerprinting, with an associated, undisclosed "fingerprinting fee," payable to (guess who) the Illinois State Police (this is beginning to look like a pretty nice source of income for the ISP, isn't it?).

Small, part time dealers who operate out of their homes will be largely eliminated not only by the expense (which would also include the Retailers' Occupation Tax), but also by a requirement that the building in which they conduct the business (their homes, in the specific case I refer to here) be located in an area that is zoned for retail commerce.

The bill also makes vague references to "reasonable precautions" the dealer must take to avoid selling his wares to someone who intends to use them for criminal purposes. These precautions include the redundant (because it is already required by federal law) requirement to refuse obvious "straw sales," the dealer must refuse sales to a prospective buyer whose home address lies in one of the numerous municipalities in Illinois in which handgun possession is banned outright, and other "reasonable precautions"--and the requirements are not limited to those specified in the bill--meaning . . . whatever the "authorities" want it to. Basically, it seems that if you are not clairvoyant, the state of Illinois is likely to find you unsuitable to be a handgun dealer.

Worse yet is this part (emphasis added):

Section 15. License application; fees; penalty.
(a) The Department may grant a handgun dealer license to an
applicant who satisfies the following requirements: . . .
Notice the "may" in there--meaning that even if an applicant (or renewal applicant) meets every one of these requirements, he or she can still be denied a license, for any, arbitrary reason (or no reason it all). This means that any time the state wants to shut down all handgun sales in the state, all license applications can be denied. Since people without Federal Firearms Licenses cannot buy handguns out of state, the vast majority of people do not have that option. I suspect that this is the real motivation behind this proposed legislation.

Partly to save the what might be the most dramatically, insidiously evil part for last, and partly because it only now finally occurred to me, I will now point out what might be worse yet. I had assumed that this bill was all about handguns (the title, after all, is the Handgun Dealer Licensing Act), but in the actual text of the bill, "handgun dealer" is defined as someone engaged in the business of selling concealable firearms--after the title section, no more mention is made of handguns--it's all about "concealable firearms." What they don't define, however, is what, exactly, constitutes a "concealable firearm"--people have concealed AK-47's under trench coats or long robes. Come to think of it, back in my days as an artilleryman, we "concealed" entire howitzers under camouflage nets. Is this bill intended to end not just the sale of handguns in the state, but of all guns?

In a state governed by "Gun Ban Rod," I wouldn't bet against it.