Does This Sound Stupid Or What?

Liberated from the Post-Dispatch article here.

Even if it becomes law, Illinois freedom of speech won’t apply to Missourians

Even if Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signs newly passed freedom of speech legislation into law, Missouri freedom of speech permit-holders shouldn’t plan on visiting the Land of Lincoln while speaking freely any time soon.

The legislation that lawmakers passed Friday, under orders from a federal court, doesn’t contain any reciprocity language.

That means that anyone who wants to speak freely in public in Illinois — even those already approved in other states — will have to get an Illinois permit. That in turn means paying a $300 non-resident fee (double the in-state fee) and taking 16 hours of training.

Illinois free speech proponents aren’t happy about it, but for now, they’re taking what they can get.

“We would have preferred reciprocity, but this is the first time out,” noted Van Toddermyde, an ACLU Illinois lobbyist. “The first step is to see what the governor does.”

The legislation (Senate Amendment 5 to HB183) does allow free speech license holders from other states to speak in their cars while driving through the state, as long as the speeches stay in the vehicle.

Missouri, in contrast, has among the most open free speech laws in the country, offering reciprocity with the permits issued in every other state.

Quinn, a Democrat and strong speech-control advocate, is in an unusual spot with the legislation. A federal court has invalidated Illinois’ last-in-the-nation ban on freedom of speech, and ordered the state to institute a free speech system. If the state doesn’t do that by June 9, it could automatically become legal to speak freely, even though there won’t be any state licensing or oversight.

Advertisements

A Nation of Cowards

Jeffrey R. Snyder

OUR SOCIETY has reached a pinnacle of self-expression and respect for individuality rare or unmatched in history. Our entire popular culture — from fashion magazines to the cinema — positively screams the matchless worth of the individual, and glories in eccentricity, nonconformity, independent judgment, and self-determination. This enthusiasm is reflected in the prevalent notion that helping someone entails increasing that person’s “self-esteem”; that if a person properly values himself, he will naturally be a happy, productive, and, in some inexplicable fashion, responsible member of society.

And yet, while people are encouraged to revel in their individuality and incalculable self-worth, the media and the law enforcement establishment continually advise us that, when confronted with the threat of lethal violence, we should not resist, but simply give the attacker what he wants. If the crime under consideration is rape, there is some notable waffling on this point, and the discussion quickly moves to how the woman can change her behavior to minimize the risk of rape, and the various ridiculous, non-lethal weapons she may acceptably carry, such as whistles, keys, mace or, that weapon which really sends shivers down a rapist’s spine, the portable cellular phone.

Now how can this be? How can a person who values himself so highly calmly accept the indignity of a criminal assault? How can one who believes that the essence of his dignity lies in his self-determination passively accept the forcible deprivation of that self-determination? How can he, quietly, with great dignity and poise, simply hand over the goods?

The assumption, of course, is that there is no inconsistency. The advice not to resist a criminal assault and simply hand over the goods is founded on the notion that one’s life is of incalculable value, and that no amount of property is worth it. Put aside, for a moment, the outrageousness of the suggestion that a criminal who proffers lethal violence should be treated as if he has instituted a new social contract: “I will not hurt or kill you if you give me what I want.” For years, feminists have labored to educate people that rape is not about sex, but about domination, degradation, and control. Evidently, someone needs to inform the law enforcement establishment and the media that kidnapping, robbery, carjacking, and assault are not about property.

Crime is not only a complete disavowal of the social contract, but also a commandeering of the victim’s person and liberty. If the individual’s dignity lies in the fact that he is a moral agent engaging in actions of his own will, in free exchange with others, then crime always violates the victim’s dignity. It is, in fact, an act of enslavement. Your wallet, your purse, or your car may not be worth your life, but your dignity is; and if it is not worth fighting for, it can hardly be said to exist.

The Gift of Life

Although difficult for modern man to fathom, it was once widely believed that life was a gift from God, that to not defend that life when offered violence was to hold God’s gift in contempt, to be a coward and to breach one’s duty to one’s community. A sermon given in Philadelphia in 1747 unequivocally equated the failure to defend oneself with suicide:

He that suffers his life to be taken from him by one that hath no authority for that purpose, when he might preserve it by defense, incurs the Guilt of self-murder since God hath enjoined him to seek the continuance of his life, and Nature itself teaches every creature to defend itself.

“Cowardice” and “self-respect” have largely disappeared from public discourse. In their place we are offered “self-esteem” as the bellwether of success and a proxy for dignity. “Self-respect” implies that one recognizes standards, and judges oneself worthy by the degree to which one lives up to them. “Self-esteem” simply means that one feels good about oneself. “Dignity” used to refer to the self-mastery and fortitude with which a person conducted himself in the face of life’s vicissitudes and the boorish behavior of others. Now, judging by campus speech codes, dignity requires that we never encounter a discouraging word and that others be coerced into acting respectfully, evidently on the assumption that we are powerless to prevent our degradation if exposed to the demeaning behavior of others. These are signposts proclaiming the insubstantiality of our character, the hollowness of our souls.

It is impossible to address the problem of rampant crime without talking about the moral responsibility of the intended victim. Crime is rampant because the law-abiding, each of us, condone it, excuse it, permit it, submit to it. We permit and encourage it because we do not fight back, immediately, then and there, where it happens. Crime is not rampant because we do not have enough prisons, because judges and prosecutors are too soft, because the police are hamstrung with absurd technicalities. The defect is there, in our character. We are a nation of cowards and shirkers.

Do You Feel Lucky?

In 1991, when then-Attorney General Richard Thornburgh released the FBI’s annual crime statistics, he noted that it is now more likely that a person will be the victim of a violent crime than that he will be in an auto accident. Despite this, most people readily believe that the existence of the police relieves them of the responsibility to take full measures to protect themselves. The police, however, are not personal bodyguards. Rather, they act as a general deterrent to crime, both by their presence and by apprehending criminals after the fact. As numerous courts have held, they have no legal obligation to protect anyone in particular. You cannot sue them for failing to prevent you from being the victim of a crime.

Insofar as the police deter by their presence, they are very, very good. Criminals take great pains not to commit a crime in front of them. Unfortunately, the corollary is that you can pretty much bet your life (and you are) that they won’t be there at the moment you actually need them.

Should you ever be the victim of an assault, a robbery, or a rape, you will find it very difficult to call the police while the act is in progress, even if you are carrying a portable cellular phone. Nevertheless, you might be interested to know how long it takes them to show up. Department of Justice statistics for 1991 show that, for all crimes of violence, only 28 percent of calls are responded to within five minutes. The idea that protection is a service people can call to have delivered and expect to receive in a timely fashion is often mocked by gun owners, who love to recite the challenge, “Call for a cop, call for an ambulance, and call for a pizza. See who shows up first”.

Many people deal with the problem of crime by convincing themselves that they live, work, and travel only in special “crime-free” zones. Invariably, they react with shock and hurt surprise when they discover that criminals do not play by the rules and do not respect these imaginary boundaries. If, however, you understand that crime can occur anywhere at anytime, and if you understand that you can be maimed or mortally wounded in mere seconds, you may wish to consider whether you are willing to place the responsibility for safeguarding your life in the hands of others.

Power and Responsibility

Is your life worth protecting? If so, whose responsibility is it to protect it? If you believe that it is the police’s, not only are you wrong — since the courts universally rule that they have no legal obligation to do so — but you face some difficult moral quandaries. How can you rightfully ask another human being to risk his life to protect yours, when you will assume no responsibility yourself? Because that is his job and we pay him to do it? Because your life is of incalculable value, but his is only worth the $30,000 salary we pay him? If you believe it reprehensible to possess the means and will to use lethal force to repel a criminal assault, how can you call upon another to do so for you?

Do you believe that you are forbidden to protect yourself because the police are better qualified to protect you, because they know what they are doing but you’re a rank amateur? Put aside that this is equivalent to believing that only concert pianists may play the piano and only professional athletes may play sports. What exactly are these special qualities possessed only by the police and beyond the rest of us mere mortals?

One who values his life and takes seriously his responsibilities to his family and community will possess and cultivate the means of fighting back, and will retaliate when threatened with death or grievous injury to himself or a loved one. He will never be content to rely solely on others for his safety, or to think he has done all that is possible by being aware of his surroundings and taking measures of avoidance. Let’s not mince words: He will be armed, will be trained in the use of his weapon, and will defend himself when faced with lethal violence.
Fortunately, there is a weapon for preserving life and liberty that can be wielded effectively by almost anyone — the handgun. Small and light enough to be carried habitually, lethal, but unlike the knife or sword, not demanding great skill or strength, it truly is the “great equalizer.” Requiring only hand-eye coordination and a modicum of ability to remain cool under pressure, it can be used effectively by the old and the weak against the young and the strong, by the one against the many.

The handgun is the only weapon that would give a lone female jogger a chance of prevailing against a gang of thugs intent on rape, a teacher a chance of protecting children at recess from a madman intent on massacring them, a family of tourists waiting at a mid-town subway station the means to protect themselves from a gang of teens armed with razors and knives.

But since we live in a society that by and large outlaws the carrying of arms, we are brought into the fray of the Great American Gun War. Gun control is one of the most prominent battlegrounds in our current culture wars. Yet it is unique in the half-heartedness with which our conservative leaders and pundits — our “conservative elite” — do battle, and have conceded the moral high ground to liberal gun control proponents. It is not a topic often written about, or written about with any great fervor, by William F. Buckley or Patrick Buchanan. As drug czar, William Bennett advised President Bush to ban “assault weapons.” George Will is on record as recommending the repeal of the Second Amendment, and Jack Kemp is on record as favoring a ban on the possession of semiautomatic “assault weapons.” The battle for gun rights is one fought predominantly by the common man. The beliefs of both our liberal and conservative elites are in fact abetting the criminal rampage through our society.

Selling Crime Prevention

By any rational measure, nearly all gun control proposals are hokum. The Brady Bill, for example, would not have prevented John Hinckley from obtaining a gun to shoot President Reagan; Hinckley purchased his weapon five months before the attack, and his medical records could not have served as a basis to deny his purchase of a gun, since medical records are not public documents filed with the police. Similarly, California’s waiting period and background check did not stop Patrick Purdy from purchasing the “assault rifle” and handguns he used to massacre children during recess in a Stockton school yard; the felony conviction that would have provided the basis for stopping the sales did not exist, because Mr. Purdy’s previous weapons violations were plea-bargained down from felonies to misdemeanors.

In the mid-sixties there was a public service advertising campaign targeted at car owners about the prevention of car theft. The purpose of the ad was to urge car owners not to leave their keys in their cars. The message was, “Don’t help a good boy go bad.” The implication was that, by leaving his keys in his car, the normal, law-abiding car owner was contributing to the delinquency of minors who, if they just weren’t tempted beyond their limits, would be “good.” Now, in those days people still had a fair sense of just who was responsible for whose behavior. The ad succeeded in enraging a goodly portion of the populace, and was soon dropped.

Nearly all of the gun control measures offered by Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI) and its ilk embody the same philosophy. They are founded on the belief that America’s law-abiding gun owners are the source of the problem. With their unholy desire for firearms, they are creating a society awash in a sea of guns, thereby helping good boys go bad, and helping bad boys be badder. This laying of moral blame for violent crime at the feet of the law-abiding, and the implicit absolution of violent criminals for their misdeeds, naturally infuriates honest gun owners.

The files of HCI and other gun control organizations are filled with proposals to limit the availability of semiautomatic and other firearms to law-abiding citizens, and barren of proposals for apprehending and punishing violent criminals. It is ludicrous to expect that the proposals of HCI, or any gun control laws, will significantly curb crime. According to Department of Justice and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) statistics, fully 90 percent of violent crimes are committed without a handgun, and 93 percent of the guns obtained by violent criminals are not obtained through the lawful purchase and sale transactions that are the object of most gun control legislation.

Furthermore, the number of violent criminals is minute in comparison to the number of firearms in America — estimated by the ATF at about 200 million, approximately one-third of which are handguns. With so abundant a supply, there will always be enough guns available for those who wish to use them for nefarious ends, no matter how complete the legal prohibitions against them, or how Draconian the punishment for their acquisition or use. No, the gun control proposals of HCI and other organizations are not seriously intended as crime control. Something else is at work here.

The Tyranny of the Elite

Gun control is a moral crusade against a benighted, barbaric citizenry. This is demonstrated not only by the ineffectualness of gun control in preventing crime, and by the fact that it focuses on restricting the behavior of the law-abiding rather than apprehending and punishing the guilty, but also by the execration that gun control proponents heap on gun owners and their evil instrumentality, the NRA Gun owners are routinely portrayed as uneducated, paranoid rednecks fascinated by and prone to violence, i.e., exactly the type of person who opposes the liberal agenda and whose moral and social “re-education” is the object of liberal social policies. Typical of such bigotry is New York Gov. Mario Cuomo’s famous characterization of gun-owners as “hunters who drink beer, don’t vote, and lie to their wives about where they were all weekend.” Similar vituperation is rained upon the NRA, characterized by Sen. Edward Kennedy as the “pusher’s best friend,” lampooned in political cartoons as standing for the right of children to carry firearms to school and, in general, portrayed as standing for an individual’s God-given right to blow people away at will.

The stereotype is, of course, false. As criminologist and constitutional lawyer Don B. Kates, Jr. and former HCI contributor Dr. Patricia Harris have pointed out, “[s]tudies consistently show that, on the average, gun owners are better educated and have more prestigious jobs than non-owners…. Later studies show that gun owners are less likely than non-owners to approve of police brutality, violence against dissenters, etc.”

Conservatives must understand that the antipathy many liberals have for gun owners arises in good measure from their statist utopianism. This habit of mind has nowhere been better explored than in The Republic. There, Plato argues that the perfectly just society is one in which an unarmed people exhibit virtue by minding their own business in the performance of their assigned functions, while the government of philosopher-kings, above the law and protected by armed guardians unquestioning in their loyalty to the state, engineers, implements, and fine-tunes the creation of that society, aided and abetted by myths that both hide and justify their totalitarian manipulation.

The Unarmed Life

When columnist Carl Rowan preaches gun control and uses a gun to defend his home, when Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer seeks legislation year after year to ban semiautomatic “assault weapons” whose only purpose, we are told, is to kill people, while he is at the same time escorted by state police armed with large-capacity 9mm semiautomatic pistols, it is not simple hypocrisy. It is the workings of that habit of mind possessed by all superior beings who have taken upon themselves the terrible burden of civilizing the masses and who understand, like our Congress, that laws are for other people.

The liberal elite know that they are philosopher-kings. They know that the people simply cannot be trusted; that they are incapable of just and fair self-government; that left to their own devices, their society will be racist, sexist, homo phobic, and inequitable — and the liberal elite know how to fix things. They are going to help us live the good and just life, even if they have to lie to us and force us to do it. And they detest those who stand in their way.

The private ownership of firearms is a rebuke to this utopian zeal. To own firearms is to affirm that freedom and liberty are not gifts from the state. It is to reserve final judgment about whether the state is encroaching on freedom and liberty, to stand ready to defend that freedom with more than mere words, and to stand outside the state’s totalitarian reach.

The Florida Experience

The elitist distrust of the people underlying the gun control movement is illustrated beautifully in HCI’s campaign against a new concealed-carry law in Florida. Prior to 1987, the Florida law permitting the issuance of concealed-carry permits was administered at the county level. The law was vague, and, as a result, was subject to conflicting interpretation and political manipulation. Permits were issued principally to security personnel and the privileged few with political connections. Permits were valid only within the county of issuance.

In 1987, however, Florida enacted a uniform concealed-carry law which mandates that county authorities issue a permit to anyone who satisfies certain objective criteria. The law requires that a permit be issued to any applicant who is a resident, at least twenty-one years of age, has no criminal record, no record of alcohol or drug abuse, no history of mental illness, and provides evidence of having satisfactorily completed a firearms safety course offered by the NRA or other competent instructor. The applicant must provide a set of fingerprints, after which the authorities make a background check. The permit must be issued or denied within ninety days, is valid throughout the state, and must be renewed every three years, which provides authorities a regular means of reevaluating whether the permit holder still qualifies.

Passage of this legislation was vehemently opposed by HCI and the media. The law, they said, would lead to citizens shooting each other over everyday disputes involving fender benders, impolite behavior, and other slights to their dignity. Terms like “Florida, the Gunshine State” and “Dodge City East” were coined to suggest that the state, and those seeking passage of the law, were encouraging individuals to act as judge, jury, and executioner in a “Death Wish” society.

No HCI campaign more clearly demonstrates the elitist beliefs underlying the campaign to eradicate gun ownership. Given the qualifications required of permit holders, HCI and the media can only believe that common, law-abiding citizens are seething cauldrons of homicidal rage, ready to kill to avenge any slight to their dignity, eager to seek out and summarily execute the lawless. Only lack of immediate access to a gun restrains them and prevents the blood from flowing in the streets. They are so mentally and morally deficient that they would mistake a permit to carry a weapon in self-defense as a state-sanctioned license to kill at will.

Did the dire predictions come true? Despite the fact that Miami and Dade County have severe problems with the drug trade, the homicide rate fell in Florida following enactment of this law, as it did in Oregon following enactment of similar legislation there. There are, in addition, several documented cases of new permit holders successfully using their weapons to defend themselves. Information from the Florida Department of State shows that, from the beginning of the program in 1987 through June 1993, 160,823 permits have been issued, and only 530, or about 0.33 percent of the applicants, have been denied a permit for failure to satisfy the criteria, indicating that the law is benefiting those whom it was intended to benefit — the law-abiding. Only 16 permits, less than 1/100th of 1 percent, have been revoked due to the post-issuance commission of a crime involving a firearm.

The Florida legislation has been used as a model for legislation adopted by Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Mississippi. There are, in addition, seven other states (Maine, North and South Dakota, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and, with the exception of cities with a population in excess of 1 million, Pennsylvania) which provide that concealed-carry permits must be issued to law-abiding citizens who satisfy various objective criteria. Finally, no permit is required at all in Vermont. Altogether, then, there are thirteen states in which law-abiding citizens who wish to carry arms to defend themselves may do so. While no one appears to have compiled the statistics from all of these jurisdictions, there is certainly an ample data base for those seeking the truth about the trustworthiness of law-abiding citizens who carry firearms.

Other evidence also suggests that armed citizens are very responsible in using guns to defend themselves. Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck, using surveys and other data, has determined that armed citizens defend their lives or property with firearms against criminals approximately 1 million times a year. In 98 percent of these instances, the citizen merely brandishes the weapon or fires a warning shot. Only in 2 percent of the cases do citizens actually shoot their assailants. In defending themselves with their firearms, armed citizens kill 2,000 to 3,000 criminals each year, three times the number killed by the police. A nationwide study by Kates, the constitutional lawyer and criminologist, found that only 2 percent of civilian shootings involved an innocent person mistakenly identified as a criminal. The “error rate” for the police, however, was 11 percent, over five times as high.

It is simply not possible to square the numbers above and the experience of Florida with the notions that honest, law-abiding gun owners are borderline psychopaths itching for an excuse to shoot someone, vigilantes eager to seek out and summarily execute the lawless, or incompetent fools incapable of determining when it is proper to use lethal force in defense of their lives. Nor upon reflection should these results seem surprising. Rape, robbery, and attempted murder are not typically actions rife with ambiguity or subtlety, requiring special powers of observation and great book-learning to discern. When a man pulls a knife on a woman and says, “You’re coming with me,” her judgment that a crime is being committed is not likely to be in error. There is little chance that she is going to shoot the wrong person. It is the police, because they are rarely at the scene of the crime when it occurs, who are more likely to find themselves in circumstances where guilt and innocence are not so clear-cut, and in which the probability for mistakes is higher.

Arms And Liberty

Classical republican philosophy has long recognized the critical relationship between personal liberty and the possession of arms by a people ready and willing to use them. Political theorists as dissimilar as Niccolo Machiavelli, Sir Thomas More, James Harrington, Algernon Sidney, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau all shared the view that the possession of arms is vital for resisting tyranny, and that to be disarmed by one’s government is tantamount to being enslaved by it. The possession of arms by the people is the ultimate warrant that government governs only with the consent of the governed. As Kates has shown, the Second Amendment is as much a product of this political philosophy as it is of the American experience in the Revolutionary War. Yet our conservative elite has abandoned this aspect of republican theory. Although our conservative pundits recognize and embrace gun owners as allies in other arenas, their battle for gun rights is desultory. The problem here is not a statist utopianism, although goodness knows that liberals are not alone in the confidence they have in the state’s ability to solve society’s problems. Rather, the problem seems to lie in certain cultural traits shared by our conservative and liberal elites.

One such trait is an abounding faith in the power of the word. The failure of our conservative elite to defend the Second Amendment stems in great measure from an overestimation of the power of the rights set forth in the First Amendment, and a general undervaluation of action. Implicit in calls for the repeal of the Second Amendment is the assumption that our First Amendment rights are sufficient to preserve our liberty. The belief is that liberty can be preserved as long as men freely speak their minds; that there is no tyranny or abuse that can survive being exposed in the press; and that the truth need only be disclosed for the culprits to be shamed. The people will act, and the truth shall set us, and keep us, free.

History is not kind to this belief, tending rather to support the view of Hobbes, Machiavelli, and other republican theorists that only people willing and able to defend themselves can preserve their liberties. While it may be tempting and comforting to believe that the existence of mass electronic communication has forever altered the balance of power between the state and its subjects, the belief has certainly not been tested by time, and what little history there is in the age of mass communication is not especially encouraging. The camera, radio, and press are mere tools and, like guns, can be used for good or ill. Hitler, after all, was a masterful orator, used radio to very good effect, and is well known to have pioneered and exploited the propaganda opportunities afforded by film. And then, of course, there were the Brownshirts, who knew very well how to quell dissent among intellectuals.

Polite Society

In addition to being enamored of the power of words, our conservative elite shares with liberals the notion that an armed society is just not civilized or progressive, that massive gun ownership is a blot on our civilization. This association of personal disarmament with civilized behavior is one of the great unexamined beliefs of our time.

Should you read English literature from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries, you will discover numerous references to the fact that a gentleman, especially when out at night or traveling, armed himself with a sword or a pistol against the chance of encountering a highwayman or other such predator. This does not appear to have shocked the ladies accompanying him. True, for the most part there were no police in those days, but we have already addressed the notion that the presence of the police absolves people of the responsibility to look after their safety, and in any event the existence of the police cannot be said to have reduced crime to negligible levels.

It is by no means obvious why it is “civilized” to permit oneself to fall easy prey to criminal violence, and to permit criminals to continue unobstructed in their evil ways. While it may be that a society in which crime is so rare that no one ever needs to carry a weapon is “civilized,” a society that stigmatizes the carrying of weapons by the law-abiding — because it distrusts its citizens more than it fears rapists, robbers, and murderers — certainly cannot claim this distinction. Perhaps the notion that defending oneself with lethal force is not “civilized” arises from the view that violence is always wrong, or the view that each human being is of such intrinsic worth that it is wrong to kill anyone under any circumstances. The necessary implication of these propositions, however, is that life is not worth defending. Far from being “civilized,” the beliefs that counter-violence and killing are always wrong are an invitation to the spread of barbarism. Such beliefs announce loudly and clearly that those who do not respect the lives and property of others will rule over those who do.

In truth, one who believes it wrong to arm himself against criminal violence shows contempt of God’s gift of life (or, in modern parlance, does not properly value himself), does not live up to his responsibilities to his family and community, and proclaims himself mentally and morally deficient, because he does not trust himself to behave responsibly. In truth, a state that deprives its law-abiding citizens of the means to effectively defend themselves is not civilized but barbarous, becoming an accomplice of murderers, rapists, and thugs and revealing its totalitarian nature by its tacit admission that the disorganized, random havoc created by criminals is far less a threat than are men and women who believe themselves free and independent, and act accordingly.

While gun control proponents and other advocates of a kinder, gentler society incessantly decry our “armed society,” in truth we do not live in an armed society. We live in a society in which violent criminals and agents of the state habitually carry weapons, and in which many law-abiding citizens own firearms but do not go about armed. Department of Justice statistics indicate that 87 percent of all violent crimes occur outside the home. Essentially, although tens of millions own firearms, we are an unarmed society.

Take Back the Night

Clearly the police and the courts are not providing a significant brake on criminal activity. While liberals call for more poverty, education, and drug treatment programs, conservatives take a more direct tack. George Will advocates a massive increase in the number of police and a shift toward “community-based policing.” Meanwhile, the NRA and many conservative leaders call for laws that would require violent criminals serve at least 85 percent of their sentences and would place repeat offenders permanently behind bars.

Our society suffers greatly from the beliefs that only official action is legitimate and that the state is the source of our earthly salvation. Both liberal and conservative prescriptions for violent crime suffer from the “not in my job description” school of thought regarding the responsibilities of the law-abiding citizen, and from an overestimation of the ability of the state to provide society’s moral moorings. As long as law-abiding citizens assume no personal responsibility for combatting crime, liberal and conservative programs will fail to contain it.

Judging by the numerous articles about concealed-carry in gun magazines, the growing number of products advertised for such purpose, and the increase in the number of concealed-carry applications in states with mandatory-issuance laws, more and more people, including growing numbers of women, are carrying firearms for self-defense. Since there are still many states in which the issuance of permits is discretionary and in which law enforcement officials routinely deny applications, many people have been put to the hard choice between protecting their lives or respecting the law. Some of these people have learned the hard way, by being the victim of a crime, or by seeing a friend or loved one raped, robbed, or murdered, that violent crime can happen to anyone, anywhere at anytime, and that crime is not about sex or property but life, liberty, and dignity.

The laws proscribing concealed-carry of firearms by honest, law-abiding citizens breed nothing but disrespect for the law. As the Founding Fathers knew well, a government that does not trust its honest, law-abiding, taxpaying citizens with the means of self-defense is not itself worthy of trust. Laws disarming honest citizens proclaim that the government is the master, not the servant, of the people. A federal law along the lines of the Florida statute — overriding all contradictory state and local laws and acknowledging that the carrying of firearms by law-abiding citizens is a privilege and immunity of citizenship — is needed to correct the outrageous conduct of state and local officials operating under discretionary licensing systems.

What we certainly do not need is more gun control. Those who call for the repeal of the Second Amendment so that we can really begin controlling firearms betray a serious misunderstanding of the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights does not grant rights to the people, such that its repeal would legitimately confer upon government the powers otherwise proscribed. The Bill of Rights is the list of the fundamental, inalienable rights, endowed in man by his Creator, that define what it means to be a free and independent people, the rights which must exist to ensure that government governs only with the consent of the people.

At one time this was even understood by the Supreme Court. In United States v. Cruikshank (1876), the first case in which the Court had an opportunity to interpret the Second Amendment, it stated that the right confirmed by the Second Amendment “is not a right granted by the constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence.” The repeal of the Second Amendment would no more render the outlawing of firearms legitimate than the repeal of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment would authorize the government to imprison and kill people at will. A government that abrogates any of the Bill of Rights, with or without majoritarian approval, forever acts illegitimately, becomes tyrannical, and loses the moral right to govern.

This is the uncompromising understanding reflected in the warning that America’s gun owners will not go gently into that good, utopian night: “You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.” While liberals take this statement as evidence of the retrograde, violent nature of gun owners, we gun owners hope that liberals hold equally strong sentiments about their printing presses, word processors, and television cameras. The republic depends upon fervent devotion to all our fundamental rights.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Jeffrey Snyder’s “A Nation of Cowards”

Permission obtained for the Internet for Jeffrey Snyder’s “A Nation of Cowards”. It may be reproduced freely, including forwarding copies to politicians, provided that it is not distributed for profit and subscription information is included. A Nation of Cowards” was published in the Fall, ’93 issue of The Public Interest, a quarterly journal of opinion published by National Affairs, Inc.Single copies of The Public Interest are available for $6. Annual subscription rate is $21 ($24 US, for Canadian and foreign subscriptions). Single copies of this or other issues, and subscriptions, can be obtained from:
The Public Interest
112 16th St., NW, Suite 530
Washington, DC 20036

I especially encourage you to copy and pass on this strong statement about firearms ownership to friends, colleagues, undecideds, and other firearms rights supporters. Your grass roots pamphleteering can counter the propaganda blitz now going on by introducing some reason to the debate. This essay is one of our best weapons.

These Senators Voted for the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

From the Conservablogger inbox…

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” — Edmund Burke

There is nothing like a good-ole knife in the back by our own elected representatives. They swore to uphold and defend the Constitution, but instead they are stabbing us in the back!

Over the weekend, we came four votes away from the United States Senate giving our Bill of Rights, Second Amendment rights over to the United Nations. In a 53-46 vote, the Senate narrowly passed a measure that will stop the United States from entering into the United Nations Small Arms Trade Treaty.

The Statement of Purpose from the bill read:

To uphold Second Amendment rights and prevent the United States from entering into the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.

The U.N. Small Arms Treaty has been championed by the Obama Administration and would have effectively placed a global ban on the import and export of small firearms. The ban would have affected all private gun owners in the U.S. and had language that would have implemented an international gun registry on all private guns and ammo.

Astonishingly, 46 of our United States Senators were willing to give away our Constitutional rights to a foreign power.

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Here are the 46 senators that voted to give your rights to the U.N.:

Baldwin (D-WI)

Baucus (D-MT)

Bennet (D-CO)

Blumenthal (D-CT)

Boxer (D-CA)

Brown (D-OH)

Cantwell (D-WA)

Cardin (D-MD)

Carper (D-DE)

Casey (D-PA)

Coons (D-DE)

Cowan (D-MA)

Durbin (D-IL)

Feinstein (D-CA)

Franken (D-MN)

Gillibrand (D-NY)

Harkin (D-IA)

Hirono (D-HI)

Johnson (D-SD)

Kaine (D-VA)

King (I-ME)

Klobuchar (D-MN)

Landrieu (D-LA)

Leahy (D-VT)

Levin (D-MI)

McCaskill (D-MO)

Menendez (D-NJ)

Merkley (D-OR)

Mikulski (D-MD)

Murphy (D-CT)

Murray (D-WA)

Nelson (D-FL)

Reed (D-RI)

Reid (D-NV)

Rockefeller (D-WV)

Sanders (I-VT)

Schatz (D-HI)

Schumer (D-NY)

Shaheen (D-NH)

Stabenow (D-MI)

Udall (D-CO)

Udall (D-NM)

Warner (D-VA)

Warren (D-MA)

Whitehouse (D-RI)

Wyden (D-OR)

Assault Weapons Ban Could Hurt Military, Police

Experts say lack of civilian market would stifle innovation, make soldiers and police less safe

By David Reeder

March 1, 2013 RSS Feed Print

 

A SWAT team member walks away from the entrance of Sandy Hook Elementary School, the scene of a shooting in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman opened fire leaving 26 people dead on Dec. 14, 2012.

As the Obama administration lobbies for stricter gun laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook mass shooting, some industry analysts worry that any new ban on weapons or accessories could put U.S. law enforcement and military units at greater risk.

Firearms technology experts argue that the majority of safety and other innovations incorporated into the weapons used by soldiers, police and federal agents to defend themselves were developed for the civilian market first, and point to the 10-year assault weapons ban as a “dark time” for the safety of U.S. troops in the field.

“What the administration has embarked on here is wholly damaging to the security of the United States,” says Paul Leitner-Wise, a Virginia-based gun maker who designs weapons components used by elite military units.

“Are we going to have a brain drain or a talent walk-out? Who will build the guns when you need them—and you will need them,” he adds.

The Brady Campaign declined to comment on the issue, but Josh Sugarmann, Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center—a Washington, D.C.-based anti-gun group—rejected the idea that gun restrictions would hurt innovation.

“That’s one of the most screwball arguments I’ve ever heard,” he says. “The fact is that it works in the exact opposite way. Military innovation for military use is what gun manufacturers use to market to the civilian market.”

For example, the military first developed the Internet, global positioning system satellites, and even duct tape.

But firearms experts contend the development of the M-16 and M-4 rifles—the military version of an AR-15 which was banned under the Clinton-era gun laws—stagnated in the 1990s, resulting in weapons and accessories that jammed during combat conditions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“A high-tech, strong, viable firearms industry means a high-tech, strong, viable small arms capability for the U.S. military and law enforcement,” says Eric Graves, a former equipment buyer for military special operations units and a firearms industry analyst. “Innovation happens in industry not government.”

Graves points to problems the Army had with the 30-round magazines it issued to troops fighting in the early years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The magazines were found to have a design flaw that caused the weapon to jam during combat.

It wasn’t until 2009 that the service adopted a new magazine design similar to one developed for use by civilian shooters. Current gun-control efforts are attempting to ban 30-round magazines for civilians.

“The original Magpul polymer magazine was developed to provide a solution to a specific problem,” says Duane Liptak of the Colorado-based Magpul Industries, which supplies U.S. military and law enforcement units with assault rifle accessories. The company designed an ammunition magazine widely adopted by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan that solved the problem with frequent jams in military M-4 and M-16 assault rifles.

“Without the civilian market, military equipment will not improve.”

And the advances in military and law-enforcement weaponry didn’t stop with just the magazines. More reliable rifle parts, more accurate sights and the ability to tailor the rifle to an individual shooter’s abilities–things that help a soldier or FBI officer be more effective and safer on the job–all stemmed from the demands of a civilian market.

“If it wasn’t for commercial firearms development, the U.S. military would not have been able to field any of the new capabilities that it has over the past few years,” Graves says. “The Army’s current rifle improvement program … relies completely on technologies developed for the civilian market.”

In the end, most weapon manufacturers—especially those who build rifles—say they’ll keep up gun making until it becomes illegal either through federal law, or local ones. And some argue they will move out of states that ban the kinds of weapons the companies build.

“I’m going to keep designing and keep developing,” Leitner-Wise says. “People say my view is biased, because it’s my bread and butter, but it’s not that. It’s what I am passionate about. I will keep designing and manufacturing.”

“There is nothing like adversity to breed creativity.”

 

The Gun Control Debate, in Plain English

Explaining the jargon and policy proposals of gun control, in layman’s terms

By Seth Cline

December 18, 2012 RSS Feed Print

State police on the scene after the shooting Friday at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The Newtown shooting has sparked talk of the nation’s gun laws, with politicians from President Barack Obama to West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin to California Sen. Dianne Feinstein alluding to possible gun reform legislation.

Debating firearm policy or gun control can be difficult to those not familiar with the particular jargon associated with firearms. Here’s a basic rundown of terms likely to find their way in the firearm debate or any upcoming legislation.


“Semi-automatic”

Semi-automatic firearms are those that fire each time the trigger is pulled, without requiring the shooter to manually reload or re-cock the weapon. Automatic weapons, which are heavily regulated, fire until the trigger is released. Revolvers, bolt, or pump-action firearms require the shooter to reload the chamber using a separate mechanism from the trigger. Most guns in use today are semiautomatic, which only describes the firing and reloading action, not the size or shape (there are semiauto handguns, rifles, and shotguns—Lanza had the first two; it’s unclear if the shotgun in his car was semiautomatic or not.

A handgun.

A semi-automatic handgun.

M14 marksman rifle.

A semi-automatic M14 rifle.


“Assault weapon”

One of the most popular policy proposals floated is an “assault weapons ban.” The problem is, it’s a vague term, says Jeff Green, a defense industry lobbyist.

“Everybody has a slightly different variation on the definition,” he says. “I think in layman’s terms the question is: ‘Is this a weapon designed for sporting uses or is this a weapon that’s defined or applied more for military applications.’ ”

In 1994, Congress passed an assault weapons ban in a comprehensive crime bill that lasted until 2004. That law defined assault weapon by particular military-style features. Assault weapons were firearms with at least two of a number of features, including: a bayonet lug, a flash suppressor, a pistol grip that protrudes beneath the line of the barrel, a detachable magazine, or a folding or telescoping stock (the part of the gun which supports the shoulder when fired).

This piecemeal definition is akin to defining a luxury car based solely on its features — a car is only a luxury car if it has seat warmers or two sunroofs. In the same way an $80,000 car could therefore not be considered a “luxury car” if it didn’t have those specific features, a military-grade semiautomatic rifle could escape the assault weapons ban. That allowed gun manufacturers to skirt the ban, which one study said “targets a relatively small number of weapons based on features that have little to do with the weapons’ operation.”

Another possible downside to re-instating the assault weapons ban is the effect it would have on demand.

“Sales of these weapons increase every time there’s a discussion of banning them, and many manufacturers are seeing record demand right now,” says Green. If a new ban is similar to the 1994 variety, any assault weapons bought or built before the ban would be exempt.

A semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle.


“High-capacity magazine”

A magazine is the storage device that feeds bullets into the chamber of a weapon for firing. High capacity models allow shooters to fire multiple rounds without having to manually reload a weapon. These often rectangular-shaped add-ons typically allow shooters from 10 to 30 shots (Adam Lanza had a 30-round magazine) before the need to reload.

As an aftermarket feature, the magazine capacity is pretty much up to the gun owner, Green says.

“Ten would be the baseline (capacity), but there are 30- and even 100-round magazines that are available.”

The 1994 assault weapons ban also banned high capacity magazines, which it defined as feeding device that can accept more than 10 rounds of ammo.

Green expects that regulating magazines and ammunition will be the most promising reform.

“The clips issue is one that would have a high likelihood of success,” he says. “If the understanding is you’ll never take all weapons off the street, having to deal with constitutional issues, I think then limiting the ability of an individual to have the ammunition necessary to do these drastic things is a good angle to take.”

A semi-automatic M16 assault rifle with a scope and extra magazine. (Above right) 5.56mm cartridges.


Gun Show loophole

Current federal law requires prospective gun buyers undergo a criminal background check before purchasing a firearm from a licensed firearm dealer. But if the buyer wanted to buy a gun through any private channel — a newspaper ad, a website, or most commonly an unlicensed seller at a gun show—there would be no such check in most states. An estimated 40 percent of gun sales go through these unlicensed channels, according to government statistics—and the loophole exists in 33 states. Bills proposing to close the loophole by requiring background checks for all gun purchases have been introduced in the House and Senate, though neither has made it out of their respective committees.


“Caliber”

This refers to the diameter, in inches or millimeters, of a weapon’s barrel or the cartridges it fires. Lanza’s Bushmaster rifle used .223-caliber ammunition, meaning its rounds were .223 inches wide. Typically this spoken as a “two twenty-three rifle.”

Lanza also used two handguns: a Sig Sauer 9mm and a Glock 10mm. These round sizes are measured in millimeters as opposed to inches. Sometimes, handguns are referenced in caliber instead of the metric millimeter. The .357 (“three fifty-seven”) .38 (“thirty-eight”) for example, are popular handgun and cartridge sizes.

The caliber of a firearms does not indicate its exact appearance, which is why attempts such as this, which aim to guess Lanza’s weapon based solely on its caliber, were misguided.

Unlike with rifles and handguns, shotguns’ calibers are classed by “gauge,” which refers to the diameter of the barrel rather than the size of the round it fires.

DHS Denies Massive Ammunition Purchase

By Elizabeth Flock

March 22, 2013 RSS Feed Print

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., says the Department of Homeland Security was planning to buy 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition over the next five years.

The Department of Homeland Security responded Friday to questions from Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., about why the agency was allegedly planning to buy some 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition over the next five years.

DHS told Whispers it regularly fills all of its goods and services requirements at one time because it’s cheaper for the agency, and that the 1.6 billion number was misleading because the language of DHS’s purchase said it would need “up to” a certain amount.

One solicitation by the agency—for training centers and law enforcement personnel—was for “up to” 750 million rounds of training ammunition over the next five years, DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard told Whispers.

Another five-year contract allows for the purchase of “up to” 450 million rounds of ammunition, he said, and was also for law enforcement. Boogaard noted that the contract would be used by all DHS agencies except the Coast Guard.

“With more than 100,000 armed law enforcement personnel in DHS, significant quantities of ammunition are used to support law enforcement operations, quarterly qualifications, and training, to include advanced firearms training exercises,” Boogaard told Whispers.

According to a letter to one lawmaker detailing DHS ammunition purchases, the department procured 148 million rounds in 2012.

Questions over DHS’s big ammunition purchases have been bouncing around the right-wing blogosphere for months. But the story came to a head Friday after a video was posted to the website Infowars of Rep. Huelskamp saying at CPAC that he had expressed concerns to DHS over the purchase but received no response.

“They have no answer for that question. They refuse to answer to answer that,” Huelskamp said on the video of the purchases. His office told Whispers that he had sent a letter to DHS with his concerns but had not heard back.

In the letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, Huelskamp wrote that it had “become clear” that DHS was “purchasing vast quantities of ammunition” and that “estimates show that this … would be enough for 24 Iraq wars.” The Kansas congressman also said the timing of the purchase was “of great interest” because of gun control legislation currently being pushed by the Obama administration.

“The extraordinary level of ammunition purchases made by Homeland Security seems to have, in states such as my own, created an extreme shortage of ammunition to the point where many gun owners are unable to purchase any,” he wrote.

DHS previously responded to concerns over the purchase voiced by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., noting in a detailed letter sent to the senator’s office in February just how much had been purchased and for what purpose.

“DHS routinely establishes strategic sourcing contracts that combine the requirements of all its components for commonly purchased goods and services such as ammunition,” a DHS legislative affairs person wrote to Coburn. “These strategic sourcing contracts help leverage the purchasing power of DHS to efficiently procure equipment and supplies at significantly lower costs,” the department told Coburn.

Chicago, Los Angeles, New York Prosecuted Fewest Federal Gun Crimes

By Elizabeth Flock

March 28, 2013 RSS Feed Print

A new report finds the nation’s three largest cities are among the worst in the country at prosecuting federal gun crimes.

The districts that contain Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City ranked last in terms of federal gun law enforcement in 2012, according to a new report from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which tracks federal data.

Federal gun crimes include illegal possession of a firearm in a school zone, illegal sale of a firearm to a juvenile, felon, or drug addict, and illegal transport of a firearm across state lines. In Chicago, the majority of gun charges last year were for firearms violations.

The districts of Eastern New York, Central California, and Northern Illinois ranked 88th, 89th and 90th, respectively, out of 90 districts, in prosecutions of federal weapons crimes per capita last year, but it wasn’t always this way. All three districts fell lower on the list than they had been in years past. In 2010, for example, Chicago was 78th in federal weapons prosecutions.

These cities also have some of the nation’s most restrictive gun laws, as well as the most active mayors in championing gun control. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are all members of the national Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign.

D.C., which also has tough gun laws, was in the lower half of the list in 2012, coming in at 78th. In 2011, D.C. prosecuted a higher number of gun crimes, coming in at number 49.

National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre first pointed to the report on Meet the Press Sunday, when he demanded to know why the national press corps wasn’t asking the White House or U.S. attorneys general to explain lax federal enforcement of gun laws.

His comment didn’t sit well with gun control activists, including the group Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America. “It’s like, ‘don’t look at us, look at gun enforcement’,” says the group’s founder Shannon Watts. “But the NRA works to block gun prosecutions all the time.”

Requests for comment from the U.S. Attorney’s offices in New York and California were not immediately returned. But the U.S. attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois maintains that federal weapons law enforcement is among the top priorities of their office. “We have a number of different methods of attacking gangs, guns, drugs and violent crime,” says spokesman Randall Sanborn, who notes that many gun arrests are reviewed to determine whether the arrest should stay with the county or be brought to the federal level. “We look at which court the defendant is likely to get a substantially greater sentence… More cases that used to be brought federally are now staying in state courts because [they are] now able to get a sentence equally great or greater,” he says.

The TRAC report notes that many more gun arrests happen at the state and local level than happen at the federal level, and that it’s difficult to assess how many prosecutions happen overall.

While the districts that ranked lowest last year for federal gun crime prosecutions all contained major cities, the districts at the top of the list for its enforcement were almost exclusively rural. The districts of Southern Alaska, Kansas and Western Tennessee ranked first, second and third in prosecutions of federal weapons laws per capita last year.

Susan Long, a statistician and co-director of TRAC, said the data revealed a stronger federal enforcement presence in rural areas than urban ones. “If taxpayers of [a certain area] don’t pass strong gun control measures … the feds pick up the ball,” she said. “But now we’ve got sequestration cutting back on all these resources.”

The U.S. court system has said that sequestration will have a major impact on the federal judiciary, including the furlough of some court employees, cuts to the federal defenders’ office and fewer probation officers for criminal offenders.

Mental Illness and Guns

By Matthew Ernst

Ever since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting there has been much discussion about improving the nation’s mental health care system. But what exactly does that mean? It seems that nearly all of us agree that we should keep firearms away from people who are mentally unstable, but accomplishing that is much more difficult than generally realized.

We must remember that the term “mental illness” is only a general term that refers to more than 300 mental health disorders that are currently recognized. In order to thoroughly analyze this issue, we must differentiate between specific mental disorders, because not all mental illnesses lead to a high likelihood of violence. Thus, there will not be an effective “one size fits all” solution.

Mental illness is much more prevalent than we might realize. In any given year, a full 25% of U.S. adults are diagnosable for at least one mental health disorder, with approximately 6% of the population suffering from a “seriously debilitating mental illness” (SMI). SMI’s, which are commonly present in people who commit violent acts, include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism.

Our current mental healthcare system was primarily established by the U.S. Supreme Court case Lessard v. Schmidt. The Lessard decision stated that people who suffer from mental illness are entitled to the same Constitutional rights as everyone else — they cannot be illegally detained, are entitled to legal due process, have the right to own firearms, etc. In addition, a law enforcement officer can only take a person into custody, if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person presents an immediate danger to him/herself or others.

However, if the person doesn’t present any immediate danger, and has not committed a crime, a law enforcement officer cannot legally take that person into custody. This oftentimes leads to the person remaining in the same environment which may have helped contribute to the problem in the first place.

This is the critical issue regarding our current mental health policy. Law enforcement officers encounter people every day who suffer from mental illness and have not committed a crime. But just because a person suffers from mental illness doesn’t mean the officer can take them into custody. If the officer doesn’t have any evidence that the person poses an imminent danger then sometimes there is little the officer can do. This means the officer may walk away having done nothing to reduce the possibility of a violent act being committed.

A person who suffers from developmental disabilities and mental illness is 7 times more likely to come into contact with law enforcement. Consequently, officers have a major opportunity to intervene in ways that others will not. If an officer cannot take a person into custody, the officer still should highly consider other actions such as notifying the person’s family members, their treatment provider, talking the person into voluntarily seeking treatment, transporting the person to a homeless shelter, etc.

While all states adopted the Lessard standards, mental health laws still vary from state to state. Each state defines “dangerous” and “mental illness” differently. Both federal law and most states’ laws are designed to prevent people with mental illness from owning firearms. In addition, people prohibited from owning a firearm by one of these laws can be entered into a national database (NICS) of people who are not allowed to purchase or possess firearms.

However, many states only make it voluntary to report people with mental illness to NICS, and many states choose not to report. Both Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) have indicated that their states have not entered tens of thousands of mental health records to NICS. A current bill under debate in the Senate encourages states to submit mental health records to NICS, but it doesn’t make reporting mandatory. Reporting to NICS should be mandatory, not encouraged. We don’t encourage convicted felons to get entered into NICS; indeed it is mandatory. Why would we not do the same with those who are assessed to be at a high risk of committing violence?

Regardless of the state, however, many people with SMI do not receive adequate treatment. A 2008 survey showed that only 58.7% of those suffering from SMI, received treatment. That means 42.3% are not receiving any treatment. In the last 50 years the number of beds in psychiatric hospitals has decreased from 559,000 to 43,000.

Bottom line: there have simply been too many mass shootings in the U.S. for us to think that we don’t need to change the way we do some things. One recent study showed that there have been 62 mass shootings in the last 30 years, with 61% of the shooters having shown signs of mental illness prior to the shooting. Three separate studies all showed that mass killings are increasing.

While the majority of people who suffer from mental illness might not be dangerous, a small percentage are incredibly dangerous. Approximately 10% of all homicides are committed by someone with untreated, severe mental illness. Of greatest concern are those who are not receiving any treatment. Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, a research psychiatrist involved with SMI’s, recently wrote:

Would we have fewer mass killings in the U.S. if we made sure that individuals with severe mental illnesses were receiving treatment? Examining the other 10 largest mass killings suggests that the answer is yes.

While law enforcement remains on the front lines of dealing with mental illness, another emerging trend is Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT). AOT is court-ordered outpatient treatment for people with mental illness who meet certain criteria. AOT is now permitted in 44 states. Several studies have shown that AOT reduces hospitalization, violence, homelessness, and reduced stress for caregivers. Legislators must be passing legislation which allows for the continued expansion of AOT.

We are then left with these questions: Can we predict violent behavior in someone with SMI? Multiple studies have shown that the people who are most likely to become violent have a SMI, along with substance abuse. The most common SMI’s present in people who commit violent acts are schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. Other common factors that increase the risk of violent behavior include: having a past history of violence, paranoia, neurological impairment, antisocial personality disorder, being male, and refusal to take medication.

It should be obvious by now that our mental healthcare system has definite room for improvement. The overall capacity of the mental healthcare system is not currently accommodating the mental healthcare needs of our society. We may never be able to prevent every single mass killing committed by a person with a mental illness. But research points us in the right direction for identifying people at risk of committing violence.

Without a doubt, some of us have a much higher level of interaction with this issue just based simply on our occupation. However, all of us will encounter people with mental illness. Whether we work to combat this issue as part of our occupation, or we simply take steps to ensure our neighbor with SMI gets treatment, we can all do something — indeed responsible citizenship requires it.

 
Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/../2013/03/mental_illness_and_guns.html at March 26, 2013 – 11:01:02 AM CDT

Universal Background Checks: the Liberal Holy Grail

March 22, 2013

By Rick Averill

Feinstein’s assault rifle ban has been removed from the Senate gun-control bill. While that is good news, it was recognized from the beginning as a bridge too far. What has survived, and may well become law, all in the spirit of bipartisan compromise, will actually be far worse.

The goals of the left have always been shrouded in deception and misrepresentation. Hide your true agenda behind a deceitful argument and then, after grabbing power, do what you really meant to do all along. That is what Hitler, Lenin, Mao, Castro and Obama have all done. By controlling the terms of the discussion, the left controls the argument. Actual Assault Rifles are not sold to the general public. The left invented the term “assault-style rifles” and the next thing you know assault-style rifles become assault rifles.

Fully automatic firearms have been restricted since the 1930s but recently the left has started combining “automatic and semi-automatic” weapons as one type of weapon. Another one of the left’s favorite misnomers is the term “gun-show loophole.” Loopholes, of course, are a way of skirting the law. They must be bad. Any chance to demonize firearms, like connecting the term “gun shows” with questionably legal practices like loopholes, is a win/win for the liberal media. The real goal behind closing the gun show loophole is actually to confiscate your personal property.

First of all, there is no gun show loophole. People who sell firearms at gun shows are licensed Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) dealers to begin with. Other people can set up a table at a gun show to sell tee shirts, laser sights, hand grips and other shooting accessories. Unless they are FFL dealers, they cannot sell guns. If you read articles by journalists who visited gun shows, read carefully what they write because you will discover they will mix buying a tee shirt with buying an AR-15 and state that is some cases, they didn’t even need a background check. The LIV reads the article and goes away thinking, “Wow, he bought an assault rifle at a gun show without any background check.” Actually he bought the tee shirt without the background check but combined multiple purchases to mislead the reader. People do sell guns at gun shows without a background check, but those people are you and me. I went to a gun show last summer and brought my Walther PPK with me. I brought it because I wanted to make a side-by-side comparison with a new gun that I thought I might find at the show. (And yes, I actually did find the gun and held it side by side with my Walther) When I checked in my firearm at the gate, there was a man stationed right next to the check-in table. He took one look at my PPK and asked, “Do you want to sell it?” No, I had no intention of selling my pistol, but he worked for one of the vendors and his job was to identify attendees who owned a firearm that they might be interested in selling. Like anybody else there, I could have sold my PPK to any of the FFL vendors (already cleared front, back, and sideways by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives [BATFE]) and I would not have phoned in a background check on the gun dealer. THAT is the actual “gun-show loophole”.

The left is seeking to fix the “gun-show loophole” problem with what they call a universal background check. It is all part of what Obama collectively terms a “common sense” approach to reasonable and responsible gun laws. First of all, the law would restrict law abiding citizens and have NO EFFECT on criminals obtaining guns. Watch the TV show “Sons of Anarchy” to get clued in to what a big business selling guns illegally really is. The left knows this, but they have no interest in actually cutting back on crime. What they really want is to disarm all of us who obey the law. Passing a universal background check law is how they will make firearm ownership illegal, and thereby confiscate our guns.

The UBC will require any citizen selling their gun to go through their local FFL dealer. That means: you find someone who wants to purchase your firearm. Both of you go to a gun store and pay the gun store a processing fee to do the paperwork on the sale. You leave the firearm at the gun store and if everything turns out okay, the purchaser comes back 30 days later and picks up his gun. If everything does not turn out okay (e.g. if the purchaser has an unpaid parking ticket from 5 years ago) then the sale does NOT go through. You get your gun back. (Or does it get held by BATFE for “processing?”) But that is only the tip of the iceberg.

The worst part of UBC will be the check on the seller (that’s you and me). In the interest of getting illegal guns off the street, the left will want to throw in this little addition to the universal background check scheme: the seller must prove that they legally own the gun they are seeking to sell. I have a very modest gun collection (the number of guns just barely breaks into double digits). Half of the guns I have bought in the last several years, the other half go back to the 1970s and 80s. For example, I have a .22 my parents gave me for Christmas in 1980. My folks are long gone and I certainly don’t have a bill of sale for the rifle. Half of my guns fit this mold. I have no proof that I own them. All the government needs to do is write the law so the seller must provide proof of ownership (original bill of sale, in your name) and we are all in trouble. By this UBC law, the .22 my parents gave me 32 years ago is now an ILLEGAL GUN. What about the Mauser your grandfather brought back from Germany after WWII? Without a bill of sale, in YOUR name, that is an illegal gun. Under this law, every firearm that goes through probate could be considered illegal. When you die, you cannot leave your firearms to your family — they would be considered illegal and be confiscated. Not only that, if some widow unwittingly went to a gun store to sell her late husbands’ shotgun because she doesn’t need it, a background check on the seller will show that she does not own the gun in her name (legally) and she is now in possession of a stolen gun. The shotgun is confiscated and the woman may face criminal charges. The same thing goes for you. If you attempt to sell an old shotgun your father left you years ago, to your neighbor you have known for 10 years, both of you must go to the FFL dealer and fill out the paperwork. When it turns out you don’t have a bill of sale for the shotgun IN YOUR NAME, you are now in possession of an illegal gun. The shotgun will be confiscated and the police will now have a reason to search your house for any other illegal weapons you might have in your possession. That means they will legally take every gun you have and you will have to go to court to try and get any of them back. Good luck with that now that you are already on record attempting to traffic an illegal shotgun.

The universal background check to close the “gun show loophole” is the Holy Grail to the left and is their “common sense” approach to gun confiscation without firing a shot. Of course, there is an alternative where we can keep our guns. We simple bring all our guns to the government and officially register our weapons to show that we own them. Universal gun registration would give us official title to our guns and the left would accept that choice just as eagerly.

We must defeat the universal background check.
Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/../2013/03/universal_background_checks_the_liberal_holy_grail.html at March 22, 2013 – 06:47:59 AM CDT

Colorado Governor Plans to Sign Gun Control Bills, Magpul Packs its Bags

By Leah Barkoukis

3/19/2013

After the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, the state’s Governor John Hickenlooper questioned whether more gun laws would really have stopped the shooter, James Holmes.

“This person, if there were no assault weapons available, if there were no this or no that, this guy’s going to find something, right?” he asked. “If it was not one weapon, it would have been another.”

But in an interview with the Associated Press in December, his tone changed. He said he needed a few months after the shooting to “let people process and grieve and get a little space” but that the “time is right” to discuss gun control.

“When you look at what happened in Aurora, a great deal of that damage was from the large magazine on the AR-15,” he said in the interview, questioning where this is appropriate.

Now, after months of heated debate, the governor plans to sign new gun legislation on Wednesday that bans ammunition magazines with more than 15 rounds, requires that background checks be expanded to include sales and transfers between private parties and online purchases, and forces gun purchasers to pay for their own background checks, according to Fox News.

“I think it will make it more difficult for people to get guns who shouldn’t have them, and that’s really the goal,” said Democratic Rep. Beth McCann on the expanded background checks.

Magazine limits would reduce gun violence and have an impact during mass shootings, because they would force gunmen to reload more times, she said. “It’s an interruption in the spraying of bullets.”

As a result, Colorado-based Magpul Industries is moving its operations elsewhere, taking hundreds of jobs from the state. Magpul released the following statement:

Apparently Gov Hickenlooper has announced that he will sign HB 1224 on Wednesday. We were asked for our reaction, and here is what we said:

We have said all along that based on the legal problems and uncertainties in the bill, as well as general principle, we will have no choice but to leave if the Governor signs this into law. We will start our transition out of the state almost immediately, and we will prioritize moving magazine manufacturing operations first. We expect the first PMAGs to be made outside CO within 30 days of the signing, with the rest to follow in phases. We will likely become a multi-state operation as a result of this move, and not all locations have been selected. We have made some initial contacts and evaluated a list of new potential locations for additional manufacturing and the new company headquarters, and we will begin talks with various state representatives in earnest if the Governor indeed signs this legislation. Although we are agile for a company of our size, it is still a significant footprint, and we will perform this move in a manner that is best for the company and our employees.

It is disappointing to us that money and a social agenda from outside the state have apparently penetrated the American West to control our legislature and Governor, but we feel confident that Colorado residents can still take the state back through recalls, ballot initiatives, and the 2014 election to undo these wrongs against responsible Citizens.

Leah Barkoukis

Leah Barkoukis is the Townhall.com web editor.