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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Big Brother Lautenberg at it again

This isn't my first time talking about Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and is unlikely to be the last. Today's Lautenberg-led attack on the Second Amendment comes in the form of S. 2935, to require keeping federal records of gun sales for six months, rather than twenty-four hours (and if the sale is made to someone on the "terrorist watch list"--a list rapidly approaching 1 million names--the record is kept ten years).

The text is not yet available on the Thomas site (by the way, is it just me, or is the Thomas site very slow to load these days?). Lautenberg does have a gloat page press release, though (excerpt):

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced legislation to preserve records of gun sales for longer periods of time to aid law enforcement officials in preventing gun crimes and terrorist acts. Under current law, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) must destroy these records in most cases within 24 hours of allowing a gun sale to proceed. In addition, the FBI currently destroys records of gun sales to known and suspected terrorists within 90 days.
The name of this charming bit of tyranny? Preserving Records of Terrorist and Criminal Transactions (PROTeCT) Act of 2008. So . . . we're keeping records of all gun sales through licensed dealers, and calling all such sales "Terrorist and Criminal Transactions," eh? Does anyone have any doubts about what the senator thinks of gun owners?

The bill has seven cosponsors so far, none of whom will come as a surprise to anyone.

The Brady Bunch is, of course, appropriately giddy. Another "first step common sense gun law," I presume. I've lost track, would that be about the twenty-three thousandth "first step"?

By the way, blogging might be light and sporadic for a while--my mother is having surgery today, and what they find will determine if she needs to start chemotherapy. My attention is thus going to be on matters other than gun politics for the immediate future. Who knows--maybe I'll feel like sticking with this, to help keep my mind off other things, but if I quiet way down for a time, that's why.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Illinois State Representative LaShawn K. Ford tries to hold the Bill of Rights hostage to his socialist agenda

Just short of two weeks ago, Illinois gun rights activists fought off the latest onslaught from the citizen disarmament crowd. The anti-gun extremists made their move on April 16th--anniversary of the Virginia Tech killings (anyone who thinks that's a coincidence would perhaps be interested in a sweet deal on a pair of breeding mules); they bused Chicago aldermen down to Springfield; and two nights previously, held a "forum" at the NIU campus (although that ended up not going so well for them).

The focus of their efforts? No secret about that (or check the top two priorities listed on the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence website)--HB 758, to ban private sales of handguns, and SB 1007, to ban magazines with a capacity of eleven or more rounds.

Just as predicted, HB 758 came up for a vote, and thanks in no small part to the grassroots efforts of concerned, civic-minded Illinois gun owners, was narrowly defeated (58 to 58, with 60 votes needed to pass). With the defeat of HB 758, they didn't even try to pass the still more onerous laws they had hoped for.

The failure of the background check legislation led Rep. Eddie Acevedo (D-Chicago), who is pushing a ban on assault weapons, and supporters of other Daley-backed gun-control bills to put off further votes Wednesday.
I'm not writing this to gloat (well--maybe a little), and I certainly don't want my fellow Illinois gun rights activists to become complacent--the recent bloody weekend in Chicago (even by Chicago's standards) has undoubtedly re-energized the gun prohibitionists.

No--the point to which I am slowly getting pertains to the statements Illinois State Representative LaShawn K. Ford made on the House floor during the debate over HB 758. The relevant portion, about 3 minutes long, can be heard here (mp3 format)--it starts with Ford asking the bill's sponsor, Rep. Harry Osterman, some questions, Osterman answering those questions, and Ford explaining why he supported the bill.

I have done my best to directly quote the part of Ford's speech that really offends me--I'm no transcriptionist, but I can promise that any inaccuracies are both accidental and incidental:
And I think that this legislation--I think everyone should enjoy what the Constitution says, but I think we all should join in. If, right now, we have people voting against, um, opportunities for ex-offenders to have the opportunity to go to work, and we know that gun violence is--is prevalent in communities that's been subject to, um, people not being able to go to work. So, as much as I would like to share the views of the other side, at this point, I have no choice but to vote "yes" for your legislation, because right now, we're voting against legislation to improve schools in my district. We're voting against funding going back to the non-for-profit agencies, and people are being killed every day. Unfortunately, I cannot support the fact that people think they should have their Second Amendment right respected at this time, but I look forward to the time when I can say that people should enjoy their Second Amendment right, but until then, I ask that everyone vote "yes," so that we can, um, enjoy what the Constitution says: "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Never mind the rather incoherent, rambling nature of his speech. Never mind the grammatical lapses. Hell--never mind even the fact that he isn't even bright enough to know that "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" comes from the Declaration of Independence, rather than the Constitution--all that is beside the point. The point is that he seems to know that the Second Amendment prohibits restrictive gun laws like HB 758, but since other legislators have refused to support legislation he wants, he feels justified in supporting legislation that he knows to be unconstitutional. That makes him no better than an extortionist--"give me what I want, or I'll violate your rights--the Constitution be damned."

Hell--I don't know if even my "Second Amendment Violation Amnesty Act" would be enough to protect him.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Chicago Tribune readership not anti-gun enough?

Chicago Tribune columnist and self-proclaimed "non-gun-grabber" Eric Zorn has been trying to stimulate discussion on the issue of gun rights vs. "gun control." Unfortunately for Mr. Zorn's best-laid plans, the "debate" has been rather one-sided.

I've written several posts and column items recently on the issue of gun control -- the most recent one asking for ideas from both sides about compromises that gun-rights people and gun-ban people might be able to live with.

And each time it has struck me how tiny, uninspired and vague the response has been from those who favor new laws to try to keep guns out of the hand of evildoers.

While the gun-rights folks weigh in quickly and forcefully with links to studies and detailed arguments, the gun-ban folks are mostly quiet. The suggestions seem to be mostly on the order of Police Supt. Jody Weis' call in today's paper to ban AK-47 rifles, which, as I have argued before, is beside the point, at best.

If gun-control advocates don't want to or can't join the conversation here, I'm prepared to shut it down as the futile exercise it may well be.
That's from a week ago today.

Yesterday, he tried again:
Monitoring the feisty and zesty comment boards at Change of Subject these last two weeks has reminded me of something I became aware of in the mid-1990s, when I wrote rather often on the subject of firearms policy:

Gun-control advocates are weak. Whether they're badly outnumbered by gun-rights advocates, lazier than gun-rights advocates or simply don't have the statistical or philosophical ammunition to keep up with gun-rights advocates I'm not totally sure.

But the undeniable truth is that, whenever this subject bobs to the surface of the news pond, as it has lately, those who favor tough new laws to restrict access to guns prove to be no match for their passionate foes in the rumble-tumble of online debate.

"Gun-control backers: Where are you?" I pleaded in a headline last week.

Cue the sound of crickets.
Could it be that enthusiasm for infringing that which shall not be infringed is not as strong as some would have us believe? Could be--the fact that thousands of concerned Illinois gun owners converged on Springfield--any way they could get there--to lobby for gun rights, while the Chicago Public Schools system buses students, at tax payer expense, to lobby for more restrictive gun laws, would seem to indicate which side the grassroots support is on.

Similarly, the fact that 77 of Illinois' 102 counties have passed resolutions of opposition to more gun laws is another indication of where most of the state stands on the issue.

Days of Our Trailers has more.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Eric Thompson tries to end defenselessness (and helps me out in the bargain)

Eric Thompson's internet gun business has taken a great deal of idiotic criticism over the fact that both the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University killers used firearms and/or accessories purchased from his websites. As has been covered elsewhere, the criticism has lately gotten even more vitriolic, in response to Thompson's latest efforts to deny the next would-be killer a supply of unarmed, helpless victims.

The owner of an Internet-based firearms store that sold a gun to Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho says he is now offering a discount for students who want to carry guns on campus to protect themselves. The company, TGSCOM Inc., also sold two 9mm Glock magazines to Steven Kazmierczak, who killed five people at Northern Illinois University earlier this year.

The owner of TGSCOM, Eric Thompson, announced today that for the next two weeks he will sell firearms at cost in the hopes of targeting students who may be on a tight budget. Customers will have over 5,400 different kinds of firearms from which to choose.

"This offer allows students and people who might not have otherwise been able to afford a weapon to purchase one at a hefty discount and at a significant expense to myself," Thompson told ABCNews.com.
Utterly predictably, the citizen disarmament advocates are beside themselves with outrage.
A spokesperson for Virginia Tech said that Thompson's remarks and offer are "incredibly insensitive to the families of the victims who lost loved ones, and to the injured students still recovering from this horrendous tragedy," said Larry Hincker, the Associate Vice President for University Relations.
Hincker is, of course, the namesake of the coveted Larry Hincker Award, given to those who use their authority to mandate that people under their power be rendered disarmed and helpless in the face of evil.
Gun control advocates also call Thompson's special offer "shameless".
"Shameless," eh? That would mean "without shame," wouldn't it? Whaddya' know-it looks as if the gun prohibitionists and I actually agree on something.
While gun control advocates acknowledge that Thompson has a right to make this offer, they say this is yet another example of the gun industry trying to profit from gun violence.
"Trying to profit"? He's clearly not trying very hard to do so, since he is selling the guns at no profit.

To show my support (and also because I really wanted this little bundle of ├╝bercoolness), yesterday I ordered (backordered, actually) what I like to call the "Carjacker's Surprise." Of course, the support I'm offering will only be moral support, rather than financial, because as pointed out earlier, Thompson isn't making any money from this.

Well done, Mr. Thomspon. By the way, War on Guns talks about Thompson at the VA Tech campus, with a link to a YouTube clip of Thompson speaking articulately about the evils of victim disarmament.

Friday, April 25, 2008

What can you do, but shake your head?

I wasn't planning on two blog posts this morning (before 4 AM!), but this absolutely demands a look:

Lifelong West Philadelphia resident Latisha Moore, 27, said she believes that if it weren't for Philadelphia's lack of gun control, the father of her child wouldn't be sitting behind bars for murder.

"He never had a gun," Moore said. "He only got one because everyone else has them."

The father of Moore's three-year-old son shot and killed another man in self-defense while under the influence of alcohol, according to Moore.
So which was it--self-defense, or murder? Either way, it's not a lack of gun laws that caused him to either save his own life (and be imprisoned unjustly), or murder someone.

I'm no mathematician, but . . .

Since the Virginia Tech atrocity just over a year ago, citizen disarmament advocates have clamored for the return of the ban on so-called "assault weapons." The justification offered is not that either of the firearms used that awful day have ever been defined as "assault weapons" (despite the slippery, and ever more expansive, definition used to snare more and more firearms under that dreaded designation, they haven't), but because the ban also included magazines with a capacity of eleven or more rounds. The "reasoning" (to be charitable) is apparently that if the murderous scum had needed to change magazines more often, the carnage would have been less. I can only assume that those advancing that argument have never seen a Travis Tomasie reload.

For an example of that argument, see this LA Times editorial:

The same goes for reviving the federal assault-weapons ban. Among other things, that 1994 law limited newly issued ammunition magazines to 10 rounds. Virginia authorities believe Cho's magazines contained at least 15 rounds, allowing him to slaughter more people without reloading. He was able to buy those big clips because Congress and President Bush allowed the ban to expire in 2004.
Another example: in the wake of VA Tech, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) tried (utterly futilely) to use that argument to deflect an interviewer from the fact that she had no idea what barrel shrouds are (despite having introduced legislation to ban them). McCarthy, you may remember, introduced H.R. 1859 (which would mandate low-capacity magazines) before the Virginia Tech victims' bodies had been removed from the scene. She might be a blood dancer, but at least she's not a cold blood dancer, I suppose.

There are numerous problems with this argument, but perhaps the most telling (and one I don't remember seeing elsewhere), comes from simple mathematics. From the empty cartridge cases recovered at the scene, investigators determined that the VA Tech murderer fired 174 shots.
On Thursday, university officials let members of the news media tour Norris Hall, which has been locked since Cho fired 174 shots from two handguns in nine minutes in four classrooms.
To the uninitiated, this may seem an indication that he used specialized equipment, granting him what might sound like a great deal of firepower.

What that ignores, though, is the number of magazines he used--17.
Crime scene technicians recovered a total of 17 spent magazines of ammunition, the majority of which were for Mr. Cho’s 9-millimeter handgun, a law enforcement official said.
If he had started with rounds chambered in both his pistols, and 17 full magazines--even if they were limited to a capacity of 10 rounds, that would account for 172 of his 174 shots.

Do the citizen disarmament advocates claim that the carnage would have been materially reduced had he not been able to take those last two shots (one of which ended, albeit far too late, his miserable existence)?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Why don't you just steal them again, Mayor?

New Orleans Mayor Nagin is lobbying the Louisiana legislature to ban so-called "assault weapons" (in excerpts from the article, the odd substitution of question marks where quotation marks and apostrophes should be is apparently the result of some kind of cyber-flatulence in the original article).

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin kicked off a series of closed-door sessions in Baton Rouge to encourage state legislators to breathe life into the city�s health care infrastructure, curb access to assault weapons and ignite economic development.
But I thought the mayor liked "assault weapons"--he certainly seems to be having a good time here.

Oops--I suppose those are "patrol rifles," rather than "assault weapons"--my mistake.

Anyway, as I asked in the title, if Nagin doesn't like people having these firearms, why doesn't he just steal them (at gunpoint) again? Oops--my mistake again--that mean old Louisiana legislature says he can't do that anymore (although if laws were much of a deterrent, one might think that the Constitution would have stopped him before).

This part of the article caught my eye:
To tackle the issue of assault weapons, Mayor Nagin wants to team-up with Rep. Richmond and the National Rifle Association to lay out a �workable compromise.� The NRA has been a formidable opponent against any proposed state gun laws.
My first thought was to wonder what the good mayor has been smoking, but on second thought, if Carolyn "What's a barrel shroud?" McCarthy and Paul "Have I mentioned I was mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana?" Helmke can sweet-talk the NRA into a "compromise," why can't Nagin?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The ICE Men Cometh?

Apparently the BATFE's "Project Gunrunner" isn't enough--now we have Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and their "Operation 'Armas Cruzadas'" enforcing gun laws. I guess they're having so much success in stopping illegal immigration that they need some new missions to occupy their time and other resources.

A multi-agency task force led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized 10 weapons over the weekend, including a Serbu .50-caliber sniper rifle, authorities said.

It was part of Operation "Armas Cruzadas," an ongoing ICE initiative targeting cross-border weapons trafficking.

The sniper rifle was seized by ICE agents during a traffic stop Saturday in East Tucson. Intelligence gathered during the ongoing investigation indicates the weapon was going to be smuggled into Mexico, authorities said.
"During a traffic stop"? They're enforcing the rules of the road, as well? They certainly wear a lot of hats, don't they?

Speaking of hats, and working with the BATFE, maybe their new pals can hook them up with some of this snazzy headgear:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Has the 'assault weapons' ban been reinstated, and no one told me?

Just wondering. For the last year or two we have been hearing that the 2004 expiration of the AWB is responsible for an increase in the number of police officers killed in the line of duty. Now, however, it seems that police deaths are falling--dramatically.

Fatal police shootings have been cut in half, to 11, compared with this time last year. Police deaths overall have declined 39%, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which tracks the statistic.

The decline represents a stark reversal from 2007, when fatal shootings were up 26%, and 68 officers were shot and killed — including six multiple murders.
But wait--if the return of "assault weapons" (which had never really left--but I suppose I'm nit-picking) was responsible for a dramatic rise in police deaths, how does one explain an even more dramatic decline, while those nasty "assault weapons" are still around?

As it turns out, the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association claims to have the explanation:
Ed Nowicki, executive director of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, said many of the group's 4,000 members urge such defensive tactics as:

• Broader use of mandatory handcuffing, even at traffic stops.

• More analysis of video from dashboard cameras in patrol cars to critique officers' behavior with suspects who may pose risks.

• Renewed emphasis on the use of body armor. The memorial fund reports 27% of officers killed last year were not wearing protective vests.
The second and third suggestions seem pretty sensible (although since we're constantly told that one reason to ban "assault weapons" is that police body armor offers scant protection against them, how is increased use of body armor helping against the ostensibly rising tide of criminal use of "assault weapons"?), but I have some serious doubts about the first. It seems to me that such arrogant bullying of
. . . speeders and the like is more prone to increase danger to police officers, by fostering a more adversarial relationship between the "Only Ones" and the rest of us.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Mandating 'laser guns'

The Times Union (Albany, New York) editorial board is, not surprisingly, enthusiastically in support of dragging New York down the contemptible path blazed by California, and requiring that handguns "microstamp" their serial numbers on the fired cartridge cases. Like many other "authorized journalists," though, their knowledge of the issues at hand is . . . more than a little shaky. Get this:

At issue is a bill in the Legislature that, if enacted into law, would require handguns sold in New York to be equipped with a laser capable of etching a gun's serial number on the firing pin or chamber, thereby marking each cartridge as it fires.
The handgun is to be equipped with a laser?! One powerful enough to etch legible characters on brass, and do so in the fraction of a second between the firing of a gun and the ejection of the cartridge case? Wow--the miniaturization of lasers (not to mention their power sources) has certainly come a great deal farther along than I had realized.
Gun advocates are already raising a host of "what if" objections to microstamping, such as "what if" criminals were to leave microstamped casings from another gun at a crime scene to confuse police. But Sen. Golden, a former New York City police officer, says that possibility exists even now, when police try to match casings in ballistic tests. And yet, he says, it rarely happens.
Here's another "what if" for you. "What if" the nefarious shooter replaces the firing pin with one that does not have the "microstamping," and defaces the characters stamped into the chamber walls (assuming that we're talking about the kind of technology being mandated in California, and not futuristic, tiny, powerful lasers)? I'm not at all mechanically inclined, but even I have swapped out firing pins in a matter of minutes, and defacing microscopic engraving isn't exactly a technically demanding challenge.
Opponents also claim that microstamping will add hundreds of dollars to the cost of a handgun. Supporters say it would be more like $1. Opponents say that microstamping would be useless in tracing stolen guns, or those smuggled in from other states. Supporters say that if New York were to join with California in enacting microstamping legislation, that would set a model for other states, and Congress, to follow.
Yeah--because the rest of the nation has a long history of following along with California's and New York's citizen disarmament policies.
Supporters have the better arguments all around, just as Sen. Moynihan had the better argument on bullet control years ago.
And the Times Union editorial board has certainly demonstrated the expertise to have the authority to render a judgment on who has the better argument--their minds are obviously in laser-sharp focus.

UPDATE: Guess I wasn't the first to catch this. Nice work, Robb.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

'Full and robust public debate,' Bogus style

There's not much in this article to surprise anyone paying attention to gun issues. Yes--Obama was on the board of the hugely anti-gun Joyce Foundation. And yes--the Joyce Foundation has doled out many millions of dollars to various citizen disarmament groups. And yes--Obama believed enough in the Joyce Foundation's agenda that he considered leaving politics to become the foundation's president. All of that is old news.

I did find something from the article mildly amusing, though.

Obama’s eight years on the board of the Joyce Foundation, which paid him more than $70,000 in directors fees, do not in any way conflict with his campaign-trail support for the rights of gun owners, Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for Obama’s presidential campaign, asserted in a statement issued to Politico this week.

LaBolt stressed that the foundation, which has assets of about $935 million, doesn’t take “detailed policy positions,” but rather uses its grants to “fuel a dialogue about how to address public policy issues like reducing gun violence.”
Ben, you must have superhuman balance, because that kind of spinning would leave a normal human too dizzy to function.

Obama certainly seems to want to sweep his years of advocacy for extreme gun prohibitionist policies under the rug. From getting the endorsement of the pretty blatantly fifth column "American Hunters and Shooters Association" (an endorsement I think he would actually be better off without, if he really wants to reassure gun owners), to his rather laughable claim that a questionnaire about his positions in which he voiced support for an outright ban of handguns was filled out by a staffer, without his knowledge, despite his handwriting being on it; he seems to want voters (at least small town Pennsylvania and Indiana voters) to believe that the consistency with which he voted for citizen disarmament policies does not accurately reflect how he would approach the presidency.

But my favorite part of the article was this:
But the Joyce Foundation in 1999 awarded $84,000 to the Chicago-Kent College of Law for a symposium on the theory that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual’s right to bear arms, but rather only a state’s right to arm its militia.

“No effort was made to include the individual right point of view,” its organizer, Carl T. Bogus, a Roger Williams University School of Law professor, wrote in one of several law review articles stemming from the symposium. “Full and robust public debate is not always best served by having all viewpoints represented in every symposium. Sometimes one point of view requires greater illumination.”
Got that? According to the Bogus View, sometimes "full and robust public debate" is best served by suppressing the dissenting view. I've previously discussed another of Professor Bogus' . . . interesting ideas here.

Perhaps it's time to promote Professor Bogus to Big Brother Bogus.

Nicki apparently read the same article.

UPDATE: Look who stopped by! Pity they didn't stick around for some "full and robust public debate," eh?

UPDATE II: And look who else!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bloomberg has cultivated some pet Congresscritters

I like to make fun of Bloomberg's movement's irrelevance (and more recently here), but I should admit that they have managed to domesticate (and perhaps even housebreak) a few members of Congress. These include Carolyn "I don't know what a barrel shroud is, but I demand we ban them" McCarthy (D-NY), Peter "too many mosques" King (R-NY), and (what would gun prohibitionist movement would be complete without an Illinois politician?) Mark (don't have a catchy name for him yet) Kirk (R-IL). Mark, in fact, put out a press release yesterday, to mark the occasion of his becoming a minion of mayors.

Following an ad hoc congressional hearing on illegal guns in Washington, U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, local and law enforcement officials today called for federal action to combat the rise of illegal gun trafficking in the Chicago area.
Following Bloomberg's script perfectly, Mark explains the four laws that must be inflicted on the entire country, in order to stop Chicago gang-bangers from shooting each other.
• Close the gun show loophole. Unlicensed individual gun sellers and “occasional sellers” are not required to perform background checks on gun purchasers. The weapons used in the Columbine school shootings were purchased at a gun show without background checks;
• Require gun dealers to perform criminal background checks on all gun-handling employees;
• Close the fire sale loophole that allows dealers whose licenses have been revoked to continue to sell their inventory without conducting background checks; and
• Close the “terror gap” that leaves those on the terrorist no-fly list off the list of prohibited purchasers of firearms.
Let's look at these one at a time, shall we?
1) Close the gun show loophole
Perhaps it would be instructive to look at a Department of Justice study report, Firearm Use by Offenders, showing what percentage of "crime guns" were purchased at gun shows:
Purchased from a retail store 8.3 percent
Purchased at a pawn shop 3.8
Purchased at a flea market 1.0
Purchased in a gun show 0.7
Obtained from friends or family 39.6
Got on the street/illegal source 39.2
Let's be generous, and lump flea markets in with gun shows. That gives us a whopping 1.7%. Yep--that sounds like the key to stopping the violence. But wait--I thought gun shows were "arms bazaars for criminals." Actually, a convicted gun trafficker explained why he assiduously avoided the private vendors.
They all knew that in Virginia, they could avoid the background checks if they purchased secondhand guns from private sellers - either at gun shows or through the classifieds.

But, Headlam said: "We never bought from any of them. That one-on-one stuff gets too complicated. People want to have a conversation. They get all skeptical. For real, it was less hassle at a gun shop. Show your two forms of ID, fill out the forms and that's it. No questions asked. Besides, new guns were my thing. They were more in demand on the other end."
But why let the non-existence of a problem stop us from passing a law to solve it?
2) Require gun dealers to perform criminal background checks on all gun-handling employees
What's a "gun-handling employee," I wonder? Does that include people who handle packaged firearms? If so, we need to force shipping companies to screen their employees, as well.

By the way, is there a big problem on the national level of gun shop employees trafficking firearms?
3) Close the "fire sale loophole" that allows dealers whose licenses have been revoked to continue to sell their inventory without conducting background checks
If a gun dealer's license is revoked, he no longer is a dealer--he is a private gun owner, trying to sell some unneeded guns. If the real goal here is, as it appears to be, ending private sales altogether, then come out and say so--even the Brady Campaign is honest enough to do that.

Actually, if "fire sales," by former dealers whose licenses have been revoked, are such a problem (and I'd love to see some numbers on that), maybe it would be a good idea for the BATFE to stop its jihad against dealers, systematically eliminating almost 80% of them since 1994. A good first step in addressing this problem is H.R. 4900, the "BATFE Modernization and Reform Act." Currently, the BATFE has two approaches for dealing with dealers who (almost always accidentally) violate the rules--warnings, or license revocation. H.R. 4900, besides bringing some desperately needed accountability to the agency, would give them some regulatory tools in between those two extremes.

And then, my favorite--
4) Close the “terror gap” that leaves those on the terrorist no-fly list off the list of prohibited purchasers of firearms
I've talked about this before--to give the Attorney General (not even an elected official) the power to unilaterally deprive citizens of their Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms, without a conviction, without an indictment, without even an arrest, is to abjectly surrender our system of justice based on the precept of the presumption of innocence pending proof of guilt. Besides, the grotesquely bloated "terrorist watch list" doesn't exactly inspire confidence

Congratulations, Mayor Bloomberg--your pet Congressman is well trained.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Illinois Supreme Court upholds Fourth Amendment

Well, I'm back to writing about Illinois again, and this time, I'm talking about an issue only tangentially related to guns, but I think this illustrates the kind of mindset that will have to be stamped out in Illinois before residents of this blighted state can enjoy the liberties that are the birthrights of all Americans.

First, a little background. Back in 1999, the Illinois Politburo General Assembly passed a law prohibiting "secret compartments" in cars. The law, ostensibly intended to thwart illegal transportation of drugs and/or guns, in fact made it a felony to have such a compartment installed in a vehicle--regardless of whether or not there was actually anything illegal in the compartment.

I had heard nothing of this law until, in 2006, it was declared unconstitutional by the Illinois Appellate Court. Articles about that are by now tough to find but one was quoted in full at Illinois Carry.

At issue was the 2004 conviction of repeat felon Derrick Carpenter, arrested by Chicago police [Chicago police? I'm shocked] after officers found a BB gun in the airbag compartment of the van he was in.

Hidden BB gun

The airbag was gone, creating a "secret compartment."
But because it's legal to carry a BB gun, Carpenter, 22, could only be charged with violating the state's secret compartment statute -- a conviction for which Judge Bertina Lampkin sentenced him to two years in prison.
A more thorough examination of that case can be found here (registration required--or use BugMeNot). This law was sponsored by then Illinois State Senator Lisa Madigan, who later (in 2002) went on to become the Illinois Attorney General--a post she still holds. She was none too pleased about the appellate court ruling.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who helped sponsor the law, called it "an important law for fighting drug crimes and protecting the lives of police officers" and said she will now confer with prosecutors.
In other words, the chief law officer of the state of Illinois apparently holds a "screw the Fourth Amendment" attitude.

Actually, Madigan was apparently even more unhappy with the ruling than I had thought--rather than accepting her well-earned defeat, she apparently appealed the ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court, which handed down a ruling yesterday.

Sorry, Lisa.
The Illinois Supreme Court declared Thursday that a state law banning secret compartments in cars is unconstitutional.

A unanimous court said the 1999 law meant to discourage gang members from hiding guns from police was too broad and penalized innocent conduct.

Justices ruled on two cases in which police stopped cars with empty air bag compartments. During one, in Cook County in 2004, police found a BB gun. The other, a 2006 stop in Grundy County, turned up a large amount of money.
So has this law ever been used against someone who was actually transporting something that is, you know . . . illegal?
Chicago police pushed the law in 1999 because they said gang members were installing hidden compartments for as little as $1,000. Some could hold dozens of guns gangbangers could grab quickly, they said.
I'm sorry, but any compartment that is large enough to "hold dozens of guns," and is positioned so that those guns can be grabbed quickly, can't be that secret, especially if the work is being done for $1000. Does the city of Chicago have a habit of putting blind officers on patrol?

This, though, is my favorite part:
Madigan's attorney general's office, which defended the law before the court, argued that the presence of a secret compartment indicates the desire to hide something illegal.
Let me get this straight, Lisa--you want it to be a felony to desire to do something illegal?

Better lock me up for life.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bloomberg and pals still desperately seeking relevance

When I started Armed and Safe, I hadn't really planned on an Illinois focus--I would actually prefer to talk more about advancing gun rights on the national level. Obviously, it hasn't really worked out that way, because draconian gun laws are pushed so relentlessly in this state that I feel kind of compelled to talk about it. Still, I can't really imagine it being very interesting to people who don't live in Illinois, and who don't plan to ever come here (and why would you?). That being the case, and despite my temptation to gloat over the hard-fought defeat of HB 758 yesterday, I'll take a break from Illinois, and talk about our favorite gazillionaire gun prohibitionist mayor.

Apparently, he and his water boys at Mayors Against Illegal Guns (conveniently leaving out that if it were up to them, all privately owned guns would be "illegal guns") are unhappy that citizen disarmament isn't a larger part of the platforms of the three presidential candidates, so they're trying to force the issue with an ad released at the beginning of this week.

A group of 300 mayors from across the nation have banded together to produce an advertisement aimed at forcing the three remaining presidential hopefuls — Democratic Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Republican Sen. John McCain — to tackle gun control.
For Obama and Clinton, the timing of the ad's release probably left something to be desired, as they battle for votes in the pro-gun stronghold of Pennsylvania, with both making rather outlandish bids to win over gun rights supporters (I see that Obama has at least managed to win the backing of a fake "pro-gun" group).
"This is the kind of thing that will make the candidates get very uncomfortable. Gun control is not an issue that any of these candidates wants to bring up right now. For the candidates, it's a lose-lose," said Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute. "To have prominent mayors — including Bloomberg, who has been courted assiduously by all three presidential candidates — push them on an issue where they lose more voters than they gain is a nightmare."
I'm not much of one for TV, so I hadn't seen the ad until I found it on the mayors' website. The ad is focused on closing the mythical "gun show loophole"--that's apparently Bloomberg's pet issue these days (although perhaps that's just a convenient choice because it's the one "gun control" issue to which McCain has committed himself publicly).

Maybe now the presidential candidates will notice you, eh, Bloomy?

Speaking of Bloomberg, one of his victims, a gun dealer who seems to be cut from the same cloth as Ryan Horsley, could use some help.

I would say he's more than earned that help.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

David Codrea (War on Guns) on New York Times forum

Keep an eye on the title link for further updates.

Read, hit the comments at NYT, and spread the word.

Today is the day; citizen disarmament on the move in Illinois

ISRA and the NRA agree that the citizen disarmament extremists will make their move today--apparently they want to mark the anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre by disarming an entire state full of new potential victims with laws that would have done nothing to stop the kind of beast who committed that atrocity.

The bills they will most likely try to pass are HB 758 (a virtual ban of private handgun sales) and SB 1007 (a ban of standard, non-reduced capacity magazines). They may also try to pass HB 4357, which would ban a huge array of so-called "assault weapons," .50 caliber rifles (and ammunition), and standard capacity magazines. SB 1007 is especially threatening, because it has already passed in the Senate (last spring), so passage in the House is the last hurdle it faces before going to Governor Blagojevich for his certain signature (the only hope then would be that he seriously sprain something in his gleeful, mad dash to sign it).

My friends at Illinois Carry and I have compiled a list of representatives who might vote either way on these bills, and need to hear from the pro-liberty crowd:

Representative Suzanne Bassi (R-47th District)
(217) 782-8026
(217) 782-5257 FAX;

Representative Patricia Bellock (R-54th District)
(217) 782-2289 FAX;

Representative Bob Biggins (R-41st District)
(217) 782-6578
(217) 782-5257 FAX;

Representative Sandy Cole (R-62nd District)
(217) 782-7320
(217) 782-1275 FAX;

Representative Joe Dunn (R-96th District)
(217) 782-6507
(217) 782-5257 FAX

Representative Mike Fortner (R-95th District)
(217) 782-1653
(no Springfield FAX listed);

Representative Paul Froelich (D-56th District)
(217) 782-3725
(217) 557-6271 FAX;

Representative Charles Jefferson (D-67th District)
(217) 782-3167
(217) 557-7654 FAX;

Representative Michael Madigan (D-22nd District; Speaker of the House)
(217) 782-5350
(217) 524-1794 FAX;

Representative Sidney Mathias (R-53rd District)
(217) 782-1664
(217) 782-1275 FAX;

Representative James H. Meyer (R-48th District)
(217) 782-8028
(217) 557-0571 FAX

Representative Ruth Munson (R-43rd District)
(217) 782-8020
(no Springfield FAX listed);

Representative Sandra Pihos (R-42nd District)
(217) 782-8037
(217) 558-1072 FAX;

Representative Harry Ramey (R-55th District)
(217) 558-1037
(217) 782-5257 FAX

Representative Ed Sullivan Jr. (R-51st District)
(217) 782-3696
(217) 782-1275 FAX
This is for all the marbles, Illinois gun owners--if you don't step up to the plate today, I don't want to hear about your lost freedom--you should know whom to blame. The Illinois House meets at 10--start early.

UPDATE: HB 758 failed by two votes (58-58)! Don't know yet if HB 4357 and/or SB 1007 will come up today or not, but for now, Illinois gun owners can pat themselves on the back.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Citizen disarmament popular in Illinois? Could have fooled me

As mentioned Saturday, the Illinois Campaign to Suppress Gun Ownership Prevent Gun Violence tried last night to exploit the murders of disarmed students and faculty by staging a conference at Northern Illinois University (scene of the most recent campus atrocity). The funny thing is that it didn't work out so well for the citizen disarmament advocates.

I just got back from the Naperville/NIU event and it was the single most lopsided forum I have ever witnessed. There were about 150 in the audience and 4 ICPGV presenters. Without exaggeration, my best guess would be that of the approx 150 in the audience there might have been less than 5 anti's with most of the remainder outwardly pro 2A. The panel took a real beating at the end of their presentation when no fewer than 20 pro2As stood at the microphone for the next 1/2 hour and gave the panel a real tongue lashing. This included the president of the ISRA who made a few "retaliatory verbal" trips to the mic to counter the blatant lies of the ICPGV.
That's actually one of the more conservative estimates of the ratio of pro-rights to anti-rights activists--another attendee estimated an audience of perhaps 180 (maybe more), with only one person (aside from the four panelists) supporting citizen disarmament. News coverage mentions somewhat smaller numbers, but acknowledges that pro-rights activists were in the majority.
They were met by a largely pro-gun crowd of roughly 100 people who attacked the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence leadership's positions, arguing the proposals would make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to obtain firearms.
As I have been saying recently, the other side's two big priorities in Illinois are currently a virtual ban on private sales of handguns and mandated low capacity magazines. The usefulness of the proposed magazine law was effectively rebutted by someone interviewed by the Daily Herald:
Carl O'Neill of Skokie said Evans' story was compelling, but the laws the sponsoring group is pursuing wouldn't change what happened to him.

"Mr. Evans said it took 1.5 seconds for the gunman to reload," O'Neill said. "There's no big difference that it takes three seconds to reload twice and fire 30 bullets than if he had a 30-round clip. It only takes one bullet to kill."
Excellent point, Mr. O'Neill.

CBS2Chicago also has some coverage, and also acknowledges that supporters of gun rights outnumbered the disarmers.
But the majority of those listening to her [Nina Vinik, of the ICPGV] speak in Naperville were staunch gun rights activists, who insist the laws on the books right now are enough.

"We are not going to change our position," said Richard Pearson of the Illinois Rifle Association. "None of the laws that are proposed in Springfield will help stop crime."
Keep in mind, by the way, why this location was chosen by the ICPGV (aside from the attempt to cash in on the murders of the NIU students, by holding the event on that campus):
Young said Naperville was chosen to host the event because of the support residents have shown for the organization's legislative agenda.
So they carefully picked a location with the idea of stacking numbers in their favor, and were still overwhelmingly outnumbered by pro-rights advocates.

I'm proud of you, northern Illinois gun owners--you done good.

War on Guns has more, as does Days of Our Trailers.

Update: Found this article, from the Northern Illinois University student newspaper, after I'd already posted this blog. Anti-gun fanatic Steve Young seems a bit unhappy about the turnout, doesn't he?
“The whole idea was education,” said ICPGV representative Steve Young, speaking one-on-one. “These are single-issue voters, and we heard from some pretty radical people tonight. These people make our case for us; all they have to do is show who they are,” Young said, referring to the protesters.
Those "pretty radical people" seem to outnumber the people trying to disarm them--that disarmament effort is going to be tough.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Well, since you asked . . .

Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn, apparently unhappy that HB 4391, the one-gun-a-month "Constitutional rights rationing" bill, failed (thanks, in large part to the hard work of some committed gun rights activists in this blighted state) to draw enough votes for passage (I wrote about that here), wants to know how we could object to something so "reasonable."

Longtime readers can attest that I'm not a gun-grabber, and I respect the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms for self-defense.

That said, it's beyond me why gun-rights folks are opposed to the modest, one-gun-purchase-a-month measure that failed in the Illinois House last week. It's intended to reduce straw-buying and illegal sales — good goals! — but the complaints of hobbyists and firearms fetishists killed it. The floor is open to any and all who can explain why it insults the Constitution and common sense to limit people to a dozen new guns a year.
I guess I'm not a "longtime reader," because I cannot attest to his lack of gun-grabbing tendencies--my take is that he sees himself in that light because he only supports "reasonable" infringements of that which shall not be infringed. There are few things I like better than to have my commitment to holding onto a basic, fundamental, human right dismissed as nothing more than a "hobby," or, better yet, being called a "firearm fetishist."

Anyway, I don't know if he is adequately capable of learning as to be worth the effort, but if you would like to educate the guy, you can leave a comment here.

Here's mine:
First, please don't refer to guns rights advocates as "hobbyists," or "firearms fetishists." Far too many heroes have shed far too much blood for the defense of liberty to be dismissed as a "hobby." Likewise, defenders of free speech are never, to my knowledge, referred to as "printing press (or pen, or word processor--what have you) fetishists"--perhaps you will see that defense of the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right of the individual to keep and bear arms cannot be fairly compared to (for example) sadomasochism.

I also reject the reference to "one-gun-a-month" rationing laws as permitting "twelve-guns-a-year. " Opportunities to buy the specific firearms one seeks are not necessarily distributed evenly across the course of a year.

The foregoing, however, is not really the point. The point is that I claim that "shall not be infringed" means what it says. If not, we might as well throw the Bill of Rights away, because if the people in power (our public servants, ostensibly) can arbitrarily decide that provisions of it that don't fit neatly with their agenda can simply be ignored, it is rendered meaningless.
I don't think I'm quite done yet--the issue of the folly of the entire concept of "prohibited purchasers" has yet to be addressed. If he's genuinely interested in soliciting food for thought, then a couple commenters, particularly "Carl in Chicago," have laid out a veritable sumptuous feast for his edification.

Actually, it seems that Zorn is more closely monitoring the more extensive column he wrote about this subject here, so it probably makes more sense to leave your comments at the bottom there.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

More citizen disarmament muscle flexing in Illinois

It seems that the Illinois Politburo legislature is planning another push to ban so-called "assault weapons" next week. The relevant portion of the article is at the very bottom, under "Guns."

The House last week killed a bill restricting handgun purchases to one per month. A bill to ban assault weapons will be called for a vote this week, said sponsor Rep. Edward Acevedo, D-Chicago.
The bill referred to here is almost certainly HB 4357, although it could alternatively be HB 873, which was also introduced by Acevedo. I don't know that it matters, as the language of the two bills seems identical--identically obscene. Here's the synopsis:
Synopsis As Introduced
Amends the Criminal Code of 1961. Provides that 90 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act, it is unlawful for any person within this State to knowingly manufacture, deliver, sell, purchase, or possess or cause to be manufactured, delivered, sold, purchased, or possessed a semi-automatic assault weapon, an assault weapon attachment, any .50 caliber rifle, or .50 caliber cartridge. Provides that beginning 90 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act, it is unlawful for any person within this State to knowingly manufacture, deliver, sell, purchase, or possess or cause to be manufactured, delivered, sold, purchased, or possessed a large capacity ammunition feeding device. Provides that these provisions do not apply to a person who possessed a prohibited weapon, device, or attachment before the effective date of this amendatory Act if the person has provided proof of ownership to the Department of State Police within 90 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act. Provides that on or after the effective date of this amendatory Act, such person may transfer such device only to an heir, an individual residing in another state maintaining that device in another state, or a dealer licensed as a federal firearms dealer. Specifies penalties for violations. Provides exemptions. Provides that the provisions of the Act are severable. Effective immediately.
"Assault weapons," .50 caliber rifles (and ammo), and "large capacity ammunition feeding devices" (standard capacity magazines)--ambitious, aren't we, Representative Edward "Only One" Acevedo? Note that although the bill has a "grandfather clause," presumably to blunt opposition over the fact that people will be forced to surrender their legally purchased and owned firearms and accessories, it's somewhat meaningless. I don't keep the receipts for the guns and magazines I buy--how am I suppose to prove my ownership to the police? Besides, there is no such clause for the .50 caliber ammunition (which, being a consumable item, wouldn't mean much, anyway)--so you can keep your .50 caliber rifle, but now it's just an awkward, very expensive club.

It's quite possible that this talk of a vote next week is mere posturing--intended as a bargaining chip (some bargain!) to use on legislators who are sitting on the fence with regard to what I still think are their real priorities this session (HB 758--background checks for all private sales; and/or SB 1007--standard capacity magazine ban): "If you won't stand with us to get deadly assault weapons off our streets, then at least stand up for reasonable gun-control, like universal background checks and banning large capacity clips." That's a favorite tactic.

By the way, the article from the first link had a bit more about guns:
Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, is sponsoring a bill to allow Illinoisans to carry concealed weapons. It is stuck in the House Rules Committee, where nothing will happen to it unless Madigan agrees.

“I know better than to run around chasing my tail,” Schock said.
Well, Aaron, it's true that Madigan has your HB 4544 bottled up in committee, but how about putting some muscle behind HB 1304, since that one isn't stuck in Rules.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Citizen disarmament party in Naperville, IL

The forcible disarmament advocates are pulling out all the stops--this time, it's the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (ICPGV), which is a subsidiary of the San Francisco-based Legal Community Against Violence (LCAV). At 7:00 PM on Monday, April 14th, they will be gathering at the Northern Illinois University Campus (where better to exploit the deaths of an evil punk's victims?), to push their citizen disarmament agenda.

According to the Daily Herald, the current focus of these freedom haters is the same as I mentioned as the Brady Campaign's top priority for Illinois--SB 1007, to ban standard (non-reduced) capacity magazines, and HB 758, to basically ban private sales of handguns.

Steve Young, the organization's faith community coordinator and a victim of gun violence, will be on a panel with a Virginia Tech student wounded in that campus shooting spree on a year ago.

Young said the timing is significant because it's been two months since a former NIU student killed five people and himself as well as wounding more than a dozen others Feb. 14 at the DeKalb campus. April 16 is also the one-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings.

The forum will focus on ways residents can help reduce gun violence and state legislation the organization is pushing in Springfield, Young said.

Young said Naperville was chosen to host the event because of the support residents have shown for the organization's legislative agenda. Universal background checks for all gun purchases and limiting the capacity of ammunition clips are the two main legislative pieces the group is pushing.

"We polled up and down the state and we also polled in three specific state Senate districts in DuPage County," Young said. "What we found was overwhelming support for these bills from the people, but the legislators tend to vote with the gun lobby."
That didn't sit well with Senator John Millner:
State Sen. John Millner, a Carol Stream Republican, said Young is wrong about the legislative support.

"The three senators from that area are for the ammunition clip thing," he said. "Plus, I co-sponsored that bill and it's passed the Senate, so I don't know what he's talking about."
Yes, John--we know about your treachery, as well as your "A+" grade from the NRA--interesting that you would want to discuss that.

The Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) is urging gun rights advocates to be there to get the pro-freedom message out.
The San Francisco-based “Legal Community Against Gun Violence” (LCAV) will be holding a gun control rally in Naperville on Monday, April 14, 2008.

The LCAV plays a crucial supporting role in Chicago Mayor Daley’s attempts to take your guns away from you. California lawyers write the actual legislation designed to ban and confiscate your guns, tax your ammunition, ration your ammo purchases and register you like a sex offender.

It’s time for Illinois gun owners to tell these Californians, “MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!”

Here is what you need to do:

1. Gather up all your firearm owning friends and assemble at the Naperville Campus of NIU, 1120 East Diehl Road, Room 101C, Naperville, IL. The campus is on the south side of Diehl Road, approximately 1/8 mile west of Naper Boulevard. Plan on arriving no later than 6:45 PM.

2. If you still have your iGOLD t-shirts or hats, wear them. If you have NRA or ISRA hats, wear them. DO NOT bring signs or other items that might get you kicked out before this thing gets under way.

3. Be advised that you will be in close proximity to people that hate your guts because you own guns. They will attempt to insult you and provoke you. Stand your ground, challenge their every assertion. Freedom is at stake here.

4. Please distribute this alert to all your gun owning friends and post it to every Internet bulletin board to which you belong.

If you live anywhere near Naperville, don't let the citizen disarmament tyrants monopolize the discussion.

I just noticed that Days of Our Trailers covered this, as well.

So has War on Guns.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Nutter's version of American patriotism

I wasn't planning to write about the Philadelphia city government's decision to become a criminal organization (by illegally enacting "laws" that are not within its power to enact), but Mayor Nutter's (is that an appropriate name, or what?) statements in this article are too offensive to go unchallenged.

Mayor Nutter likened himself and City Council members yesterday to the band of rebels who formed this country as he signed five new gun-control laws that defy the state legislature and legal precedent.

"Almost 232 years ago, a group of concerned Americans took matters in their own hands and did what they needed to do by declaring that the time had come for a change," Nutter said as he signed the bills in front of a table of confiscated weapons outside the police evidence room in City Hall.
Don't you dare, Nutter. Don't you dare compare yourself, and your attacks on the freedoms that built this country, to the men who secured those freedoms for us.

For those who have not been following this story, and are in need of some background, Sebastian (a PA resident), at Snowflakes in Hell, has been covering it extensively--start here, then read this.

The (extremely) short version is that the Philadelphia City Council passed, and Mayor Nutter signed (and ordered immediate enforcement of) five citizen disarmament laws, despite the fact that Pennsylvania's state constitution specifically reserves the power to pass such laws to the state (not that any gun laws passed at the state or national level are Constitutional, either, but that's another topic).

This, by the way, isn't the first time the City Council has passed such laws, but last year was apparently just a shot across the bow, and the "laws" were never actually implemented--not so this time.

Back to the present:
The five laws - called everything from unconstitutional to criminal by critics - do the following:

Limit handgun purchases to one a month.

Require lost or stolen firearms to be reported to police within 24 hours.

Prohibit individuals under protection-from-abuse orders from possessing guns if ordered by the court.

Allow removal of firearms from "persons posing a risk of imminent personal injury" to themselves or others.

Outlaw the possession and sale of certain assault weapons.
I've not seen Philadelphia's definition of "assault weapon," but according to SiH, it's so broad that even a Ruger 10/22 with a ported barrel is an illegal "assault weapon." By the way, I'm not sure what " . . . everything from unconstitutional to criminal . . . " means--I thought unconstitutional was criminal.

The article ends with another Nutter gem:
"If we all sat around bemoaning what the law was on a regular basis," Nutter said. "I'd probably still be picking cotton somewhere as opposed to being mayor of the city of Philadelphia."
"Still be picking cotton," Nutter? When have you ever done that? That chapter of your life certainly seems to have escaped the attention of the author(s) of your Wikipedia entry.

It seems to me that Nutter fancies himself as the one to be putting folks in chains.

War on Guns has more.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Good news in Illinois--but the fight is far from over

On the good news side, the proposed one-handgun-per-month law, HB 4393, fell seven votes short yesterday of passage in the House. It's not dead, however, because when it became clear that the votes weren't there, it was withdrawn from consideration before the vote tally was made official. If and when they think they have the votes, they'll try again to ration the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms.

Similarly, HB 731, a bill that would mandate the locking up of all guns in homes in which there is (even momentarily) anyone under the age of 18, and who doesn't have a FOID card, also failed to draw enough votes for passage. It, too, was withdrawn when its backers realized it didn't have the votes, so like HB 4393, it can come back any time. Still think this bill is a good idea, citizen disarmers?

The big concerns for the moment are two big Brady Bunch priorities: Commissar Senator Kotowski's full capacity magazine ban bill, SB 1007 (a bill Kotowski hijacked from its original purpose of protecting children from sexual exploitation); and HB 758, which would make even private sales of handguns subject to the same draconian restrictions imposed on sales from dealers. Yesterday, the bill was amended to be made even more onerous.

These bills could come up for vote as early as today (HB 758 in particular seems to have a lot of momentum behind it). Here's contact information for some legislators who are thought to be on the fence:

State Representative Sandy Cole (R-62)
(217) 782-7320

State Representative Paul Froehlich (D-56)
(217) 782-3725

State Representative Sidney Mathias (R-53)
(217) 782-1664

State Representative Ruth Munson (R-43)
(217) 782-8020

State Representative Charles Jefferson (D-67)
(217) 782-3167

State Representative Patricia Bellock (R-47)
(217) 782-1448

State Representative Sandra Pihos (R-42)
(217) 782-8037
Illinois folks, is what's left in this blighted state of the right to keep and bear arms worth seven quick phone calls to you?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Shouldn't the Chicago Public Schools system focus on . . . educating its charges?

It seems that Chicago Public Schools system CEO Arne Duncan is more concerned with politicking than with educating the students given into his care. Last week, it was a rally in Chicago, at which CPS students, rather than actually being taught in classrooms, were used as political currency for--you guessed it--more restrictive gun laws.

Later, Duncan spoke about the need to get rid of guns and hold manufacturers accountable, as he has after each of the killings so far this year. Last year there were a record 34 students were killed during the school year.

Tuesday's rally will put more heat on lawmakers and bring more attention to the issue, he said.

"This is a public health epidemic. We are struggling to find the cure for AIDS, we are struggling to find the cure for cancer; we know the cure for this public health epidemic—getting rid of guns," said Duncan. "We need political courage."
Presumably, Duncan isn't lobbying to make Chicago's gun laws more restrictive--Chicago's gun laws can't really get any more restrictive--he wants to inflict Chicago-style citizen disarmament tyranny on the entire state. When one considers Chicago's vastly higher violent crime rate, as compared to the rest of the state, that "solution" seems more than a little odd. Days of Our Trailers has more on that rally.

That's not the end of Duncan's political posturing, though--now the Chicago Public Schools system is busing students all the way to Springfield to help lobby for the citizen disarmament agenda.
As CBS 2's Kristyn Hartman reports, it is no ordinary field trip for the students from Jones College Prep, at 606 S. State St., who have boarded buses for Springfield with Chicago Public Schools chief executive officer Arne Duncan. Some of the students are even putting law class experience to use in lobbying legislators about something highly important to them.
And what is "highly important to them"?
[CPS student Rene] Howard hopes state lawmakers take that to heart. In addition to additional funding, he and classmates are asking for tougher gun laws.

"My uncle was killed due to guns, so I want to give him his voice," said student Emmanuel Izaguirre. "I want other people to have his chance, and I don't want people to suffer the way I did."
This bus trip (paid for, presumably, out of the CPS budget) to Springfield isn't the only one the CPS is planning this spring--according to this video clip, this is the first of sixteen such trips planned before the scheduled adjournment of Illinois' legislative session in late May.

The Illinois State Rifle Association makes some interesting observations about the Chicago Public Schools system's foray into state politics.
Interestingly enough, at about the same time that Duncan was delivering his rant against the state's law abiding firearm owners, a report was released in "Catalyst Magazine" that indicates that just 51% of freshmen enrolled in Chicago public high schools stick it out to graduate.

[ . . . ]

"It's ironic that the truth about Duncan's administration was being released just as he was damning the state's law-abiding gun owners," continued Pearson. "Maybe if Duncan did a better job keeping his charges in school, they wouldn't be out on the streets beating, knifing and shooting one another to death. If Duncan had any sense of responsibility at all, he would have been at the microphone apologizing to the people of Illinois for wasting their time and tax dollars. By all rights, Arne Duncan should be returning 49% of his $200,000 annual salary to the Chicago treasury. He's doing half a job -- so he deserves half his pay."
Pretty slick on the part of the disarmers--gun owners from all over the state are, through their state taxes, helping to pay for lobbying efforts (in the form of buses from Chicago to Springfield and back) aimed at trampling their own Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms. It's one thing to ask a Southern Illinois taxpayer to help pay for the education of Chicago kids, but a 51% graduation rate is a pretty poor return on the investment. Perhaps the payoff would be better if the funding actually went to education, rather than for lobbying for the deprivation of rights.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

When gun-grabbers collide

Few things warm my heart like seeing citizen disarmament advocates dumping on each other's plans.

Virginia Tech said yesterday that it will not allow a national gun-control advocacy group to hold a campus demonstration on April 16 while the school commemorates last year's massacre.

Tech spokesman Larry Hincker said neither the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence nor the co-sponsor of the planned demonstration, ProtestEasyGuns.com, had applied for an assembly permit, and even if they had, Tech only issues permits to student groups.

Tech's position threw the Brady Campaign's plans into disarray yesterday: The noon demonstration at Tech was supposed to be the centerpiece of a nationwide series of events on April 16 in more than 70 cities and towns.
An interesting question would be why Hincker is blocking the Brady Bunch's plans--he certainly seems to share their agenda. Perhaps he simply does not wish to be reminded of his own culpability.

What's 'liberal' about citizen disarmament?

I tend to make fun of attitudes in the U.K. about guns and self-defense (a few examples), so when I see an op-ed piece written by a Brit who does fully understand the fundamental nature of the basic human right of self-defense, I feel kind of obligated to acknowledge it. When the superbly written piece appears in The Guardian, of all places, I first have to recover from the shock. Anyway, here it is.

It's actually about Charlton Heston, but the part I want to focus on is the myth that "gun control" is "liberal."

From great actor and progressive campaigner to reactionary old fart who loved guns: everyone agrees it was a tragic fall from grace. But did Heston really make a dramatic political u-turn? Actually, no. From the 1950s to the 1990s, he remained rather consistent in his commitment to upholding America's freedoms. It was his liberal critics in the gun control lobby on the east coast and in trendy parts of LA who changed their tune, and made a mad swing from liberalism to authoritarianism.

How gun control came to be seen as a liberal cause is one of life's great mysteries. In both the US and across Europe, fully paid-up lefties and progressives will tell you with pride, even pomposity, that the American authorities ought to disarm their populace and ban guns.
That there is nothing "liberal" about mandating a government monopoly on the means for the use of force is a point I have been making (albeit less effectively) for a long time.

O'Neill (the author) then goes on to present a quite good (although necessarily brief) summary of the racist motivation behind the history of citizen disarmament in the U.S. Here's an excerpt:
Throughout the twentieth century, too, gun control tended to rise to the top of the political priority pile when the authorities feared that certain communities were getting out of control. The Gun Control Act of 1968 was ostensibly passed in response to assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, but its real targets were inner-city black communities where there had been violent riots for three summers running, and where some black activists were beginning to arm themselves. That is why the act specifically targeted cheap imported pistols, such as the "Saturday night special"; in other words, the affordable guns of the black ghetto.
Citizen disarmament advocates have enjoyed great success in purveying the myth that gun rights advocacy is the exclusive province of reactionary, racist, white men, and Mr. O'Neill has done a superb job of debunking that lie.

More at Alphecca.

Monday, April 07, 2008

How is that a change?

I wasn't planning to write about Charlton Heston today (beyond my brief R.I.P. message yesterday)--plenty of better writers than I'll ever be have his life and death well covered, but the title of this article stuck in my craw. "Charlton Heston: From civil rights supporter to gun lover"--the implication, presumably, being that civil rights and guns are somehow incompatible.

In his later years, the star was a passionate right winger and figurehead of the controversial NRA - the National Rifle Association.

But when he first shot to prominence, Heston was a Democrat and a vocal supporter of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, describing the African American leader as "a 20th century Moses for his people".

The actor joined civil rights marches and picket lines.
Perhaps the author of the article did not realize that John F. Kennedy was a life member of the NRA, who once said this:
"Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom."

-John F. Kennedy
Perhaps the author has never heard of the Deacons for Defense and Justice, who, as Ken Blackwell eloquently stated, "forced the Klan to re-evaluate their actions and often change their undergarments."

Clearly, the author fails to realize that the right to an effective means to defend one's life and liberty is among the most fundamental of human rights, and that advocacy of that right is perfectly consistent with being a civil rights supporter.

Then again, perhaps I'm just expecting too much of a publication based in Scotland, where knives are increasingly heavily regulated--the spirit of Sir William Wallace is apparently all but extinguished in Scotland.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

'Snuffy' and the commies--not such a strange alliance after all?

From not blogging on Sunday to posting twice--guess I just hate being predictable. Yesterday, I wrote about "Snuffy" Pfleger's admirers among the Communist Party USA. Perhaps that's not such a surprising relationship--communists tend not to like an armed populace any more than those who would disarm us "for the children."

Along those lines, War on Guns posted some lyrics to songs promising a violent demise of the middle class when the revolution comes.

WoG follows that up today with a superb piece (that he wrote ten years ago) clearly demonstrating the chilling parallels between the methods of deception used by the communist tyrants of the old U.S.S.R., and those employed by modern-day, American gun grabbers.

Go. Read.

Gone, but never forgotten

I had kind of gotten out of the habit of Sunday posting (not out of religious conviction--just out of . . . laziness, really), but the passing of Charlton Heston should not go unremarked.

I didn't agree with him all the time, but his was a powerful voice for gun rights, and there was never any doubt about the moral courage behind his convictions.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Commies for 'Snuffy' Pfleger-style citizen disarmament

It has been awhile since I've discussed Father "Snuffy" Pfleger, but this article singing his praises for his efforts to disarm peaceable citizens is too much to pass up.

CHICAGO — Turning grief and shock to anger and action, nearly 1,000 Chicago public high school students, including teachers, administrators, parents, religious leaders and elected officials rallied here April 1 against the crisis of gun violence plaguing the city. The rally was called in response to the 21st shooting death of a public school student this school year.

“Stop the killing. Pass gun laws!” exhorted Father Michael Pfleger, pastor at St. Sabina Church, as he read a list of the state legislators who have refused to support statewide gun control laws.
Reading a list of legislators who refuse to support his agenda certainly sounds a lot like attempting to influence legislation--I seem to remember someone pointing out that a church, as a non-profit, tax-free institution, isn't supposed to do that. I guess Americans for Separation of Church and State still hasn't found time to look into it--who knew they would be so busy?
“No child is safe while guns are accessible in the streets across the city. We need young people to stand up and say enough is enough. We need young people to take the lead. This is a national emergency. We need our voices to be heard over the special interests and the National Rifle Association,” he said.
"A national emergency"--I guess he's not planning to content himself with disarming Illinoisans only.
Pfleger called for legislation including a measure introduced by State Rep. Harry Osterman, a Chicago Democrat, that would require gun purchasers to have an ID card, limit purchasing to one gun per month, reinstate an assault weapons ban, require universal background checks and make gun crime data public.
Require gun purchasers to have an ID card? You mean like the FOID card, that has been required for gun and ammo purchases in Illinois since 1968 (and a marvelous job that bit of Constitution-mangling has done at thwarting violence in Chicago)?

Then, the article's author does a bit of editorializing.
A thousand persons die each day globally as a result of gun violence, including 80 in the United States. There are 640 million guns in the world and 8 million new ones are manufactured each year. Guns kill, wound or disable about 1 million people a year.

A big battle remains to place some curbs on the multi-billion-dollar gun industry. Sturm, Ruger, Smith and Wesson, Sigarms, Bryco, Remington and Mossberg are among the largest U.S. handgun manufacturers. They and their front group, the National Rifle Association, have adamantly resisted any form of gun control, and wink at the vast illegal and underground trade in weapons. Any other industry whose product caused so much death and destruction would have been regulated or shut down years ago.
Remington and Mossberg among largest U.S. manufacturers of handguns, eh? That's certainly news to me.

About the paper in which this article appeared--it's called the People's Weekly World, and they have all kinds of . . . interesting ideas about how to make America a better place:
The PWW is known for its partisan coverage. We take sides — for truth and justice. We are partisan to the working class, racially and nationally oppressed peoples, women, youth, seniors, international solidarity, Marxism and socialism. We enjoy a special relationship with the Communist Party USA, founded in 1919, and publish its news and views.
Farrakhan, Jeremiah Wright, and now the commies--Snuffy certainly knows how to pick his friends, doesn't he?

War on Guns has more, including some catchy, relevant song lyrics from the commies.

Also, RicketyClick has a video of Snuffy and Mayor Daley rabidly screeching for state-mandated defenselessness.

Friday, April 04, 2008

U.K. disarmament groups are also 'anti-body armor'

Our friends across the pond seem to be more than a little agitated about a new product that claims to be a "bullet proof hoodie" (never mind, for the moment, the dangerously naïve myth that anything a person can wear can be made "bullet proof," rather than bullet resistant).

Gun control groups have condemned a new “bullet-proof hoodie” which claims to protect against street violence.

The £300 Defender hoodie makes the wearer’s upper body invincible to every bullet up to a high velocity rifle, its makers claim.
Again, it's not really my purpose here to address the claim of making the wearer’s upper body invincible," or to point out my skepticism about the hoodie's ability to stop handgun cartridges like the .460 S&W Magnum--if someone else wants to test that, they're welcome to try. £300 ain't exactly cheap--about $600. More than enough to buy a decent defensive handgun . . . oops--I forgot--this is a defense-free zone we're talking about here.

Still, in the U.K., even something as purely defensive in nature as body armor is apparently considered excessively martial.
But gun control groups said today that the company was practising “exploitation at its most grotesque”. They predicted a rise in gang violence, saying children would buy the hoodie as a status symbol.

Raymond Stevenson, a spokesman for Don’t Trigger, an international anti-gun campaign based in Brixton, London, said: “It’s not helping kids to provide them with bullet-proof armoury. These companies are just encouraging the escalation of the urban warfare.

“It’ll give people the false impression that they’re protected and will encourage more aggressive behaviour.”
If "children" (especially urban children) can plunk down the equivalent of $600 for clothing, I can only assume that the British economy is doing a lot better than ours.

I tend to believe that the best protection against someone who intends to shoot you is to not allow him to live long enough to do it, rather than to try to interpose material between you and his gun that will (hopefully) slow the bullet down enough to keep you alive, but I acknowledge there are some cases in which something like this could be a real life saver.

Citizen disarmament groups in Britain, though, would prefer that this life saver not be available. One can perhaps justify a rabidly anti-gun position on pacifistic grounds, but when a person argues that it's wrong to sell something that only stops bullets, there is no disguising his wish to deny citizens any means of self-protection at all.

According to these groups, apparently, people are under a moral obligation to be perforated by any bullet that comes their way.