BVU Authority Takes Down “No Guns” Sign

BVU-LOGO

BVU Authority, which provides utility and state-of-the-art internet and telephone services to residents of Southwestern Virginia, started life as the Bristol Virginia Utilities Board.

However, in 2010, the Virginia General Assembly passed the BVU Authority Act (§ 15.2-7200 et seq.). This act officially renamed the organization and made it a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Why is that important to the story? It is important because, as a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia, BVU Authority is subject to Virginia’s firearms preemption law (§ 15.2-915).

Now that the stage is set, I bet you can imagine where this is going …

They are going to attempt to implement a gun ban aren’t they?

Why yes … Yes they are.

My involvment started about two weeks ago.  I was contacted by a VCDL member back on January 16th who told me that they had just left the BVU Authority main office on Lee Highway in Bristol and that there was a “No Guns” sign on the door. He sent me the following picture.

BVU_No_Guns

Sure enough … they had indeed posted a “No Guns” sign in direct violation of the preemption statute.

I followed up on this news with letters to the Interim CEO and their attorney who, to their credit, reacted incredibly quickly to my concerns.

I was notified yesterday that the signs had been ordered removed.

I want to thank the BVU Authority for taking quick action to bring themselves in line with Virginia law and for respecting the rights of their customers.


Posted in Gun Bans, State Preemption, Virginia | 2 Comments

Deconstructing the media response to the Duck Dynasty scandal

Phil_RobertsonIn case you have been off-planet for the last week, there is a media firestorm surrounding comments made by Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson concerning those in the LGBT community.

But, unlike every other writer on the internet, I am not here to discuss those comments or how A&E has handled the controversy. Rather, I want to look at the media’s response and how it compares to incidents where other groups of American’s have been similarly attacked.

So what kind of media response did the Duck Dynasty scandal receive?  The term ‘media firestorm’, which I used earlier, was custom made to describe what we are seeing in every major news outlet.  E-Online called it one of the top stories of the week … and that is in a week in which Congress reauthorized the indefinite detention of American citizens without trial. So clearly the media considers this an important story.

In fact, there have literally been hundreds upon hundreds of reports. I would go so far as to say that no one who owns a radio, TV, or internet browser could have failed to hear about Phil’s GQ interview and the public relations nightmare it has caused for both the show and for A&E.

But do not misunderstand me.  I am not criticizing the media for covering this issue. I believe that this issue justifies the amount of coverage it is receiving.  On the one hand, you have members of the LGBT community who feel that A&E is providing a forum for someone who holds their very existence in disdain.  On the other hand, you have Christians who believe that their voice in American culture is being systematically stifled.

Regardless of which side you are on, the media is doing what it should be doing … reporting on the concerns of those groups of Americans so that the rest of us can be informed.

But that willingness to report is sorely lacking when the people being attacked are gun owners.

Let’s look at a few examples.

When University of Kansas journalism professor David Warner Guth called for the murder of NRA member’s children and for God to damn them, the media largely looked the other way.


John-CobarruviasWhen John Carburruvius, a prominent member of the Texas Democrat Executive Committee, called for the murder of NRA members and “everyone who defends them,” there was almost no coverage at all.  His followup that they “need to [be] wiped off the face of the earth” was not enough to make the comment newsworthy.


LoomisWhen University of Rhode Island history professor Erik Loomis went on a rage-filled tirade in which he a) called for the assassination of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, b) called all NRA members murderers, and c) called NRA members terrorists, you could have heard a pin drop.


SwindellWhen Christopher Swindell, a journalism professor at Marshall University in West Virginia, declared all NRA members to be traitors who should be executed by firing squad, there was no outrage from the mainstream media.


NainanWhen comedian Dan Nainan expressed a wish that a mass shooting take place “at the offices of the NRA.” … crickets.


donald-kaulIn fact, sometimes the media themselves are the ones attacking gun owners.  Des Moines Register columnist Donald Kaul joined the attack on gun owners when he called for the government to “declare the NRA a terrorist organization and make membership illegal … [then] raze the organization’s headquarters, clear the rubble and salt the earth.

As for the members themselves, if they oppose his efforts, he would see the government kill them and then begin “prying the guns from their cold, dead hands

If politicians refuse to accede to his demands then he calls for them to be tied “to the back of a Chevy pickup truck and [would] drag them around a parking lot until they saw the light.

His fellow journalists seemed more than willing to look the other way as he spewed his hate-filled manifesto.


I could go on and on.  But you get the picture.

Is there any wonder why gun owners consider the media to be the lap-dogs of the gun control movement?  No amount of hatred or threats is considered newsworthy if the victim is a gun owner.

You can either be an advocate or and objective reporter but only where gun control is concerned does the media claim to be both.

Posted in General Civil Rights, Media Views on The Second Amendment | 2 Comments

It’s time to comment on ATF’s disastrous proposed rulemaking

ATF_Regs-244x300For those of you who are not familiar with the issue, the ATF is proposing to modify the regulations governing NFA applications for trusts, corporations, and other non-individual legal entities.

If you are not a NFA collector, you might be tempted to ask “Why should I care?”  The answer is that the proposed rulemaking will have disastrous consequences for collectors, the firearms industry, and ultimately the Second Amendment itself.

The Issue

Current ATF regulations require an individual applicant to comply with a number of requirements that ‘legal-entity’ applicants are exempt from.  The most important of these is the requirement that applicants get approval from their local chief law-enforcement officer (CLEO) before an application may be submitted.  This is known colloquially as the ‘CLEO Sign-off.’

In many jurisdictions, the CLEO will not sign the form which acts as a complete and arbitrary ban on the acquisition.

That’s where the NFA trust (or other legal entity) comes into the picture.  Currently, legal-entity applicants do not need CLEO Sign-off.  This allows applicants in those jurisdictions where the CLEOs will not sign to avoid the de-facto ban that individual applicants face.

The proposed change wants to do away with this option.  It would require that all ‘responsible persons’ of a legal entity complete the same requirements that individual purchasers must currently complete including the process of securing a CLEO sign off which would subject legal-entity applicants to the same arbitrary bans that CLEOs have been using against individual applicants.

But it doesn’t end there.  The proposed change would also require that any new ‘responsible person’ of the legal entity submit a form  5320.23 along with fingerprints, photographs, and CLEO sign-off within 30 days of assuming their position with the legal entity.

What Can You Do To Help?

The rulemaking process requires that the public and those affected by a proposed rule have an option to comment on the proposed rule.  This is known as the ‘notice and comment period.’  The notice and comment period for this proposed rulemaking ends on December 9th.

We need you to make your voice heard.  At the bottom of this article is a link that will take you to Regulations.gov where you may submit your own comment.  The following are suggested comments you might consider:

Suggested Comment #1

Rulemaking which imposes such a significant burden upon both citizens and industry should not be undertaken lightly.  Here, we have burdensome rulemaking which has the potential to damage or destroy segments of one of America’s few growing industries and it is not based upon an identified problem.  Rather, it is based upon mere conjecture.

Suggested Comment #2

ATF’s assertion in the proposed rulemaking that a disqualified person might form a trust or other legal entity in order to avoid undergoing a background check runs counter to current ATF directives.  Since 2009, ATF has required that the responsible party who picks up an NFA item from a dealer pursuant to an approved Form 4 and tax stamp complete a 4473 form and undergo an individual background check prior to taking possession of the NFA item.

Suggested Comment #3

NFA items are expensive, already heavily regulated, and virtually unheard of in criminal hands.  In fact, there have only been two crimes committed with NFA items during the last 79 years and both of those were crimes committed by law enforcement officers.  This despite the fact that there are over a quarter of a million legally owned pre-1986 machine guns in the ATF registry and untold tens of thousands of AOWs and suppressors.

Suggested Comment #4

The ATF stated in the proposed rulemaking that they had complied with the Regulatory Flexibility Act.  However, there is no indication in the proposed rulemaking that the needs of small businesses were considered. Instead, the ATF took a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to regulating which will have a devastating impact upon the many small businesses that supply the NFA market.

Suggested Comment #5

The proposed rulemaking intrudes unnecessarily upon the sovereignty of states by interfering with the lawful uses of trust instruments for legitimate estate planning purposes.  In addition, the proposed rulemaking demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the many ways that a trust might be used to pass assets on to one’s heirs.  By defining the term ‘responsible person’ so broadly as to include beneficiaries, one finds oneself having to contemplate the absurd possibility of fingerprinting, photographing, and securing CLEO sign-offs for unborn children.

Suggested Comment #6

ATF’s assertion that CLEOs who had been unwilling to sign off on applications in the past would do so in the future based upon changes in the wording of the certification has been proven to be false.  When contacted, numerous CLEOs who have refused to sign in the past have stated that nothing in the new verbiage would change their mind about signing certifications in the future.  The proposed rulemaking would result in thousands of law-abiding collectors being banned from going through the very process that the ATF NFA Branch is charged with overseeing.

Suggested Comment #7

By requiring that any new ‘responsible person’ submit a 5320.23 as well as a CLEO sign-off within 30 days of their appointment, the proposed rulemaking radically intrudes upon the traditional uses of trusts and upon the rights of settlors to manage their estate plans.

Suggested Comment #8

ATF has failed to consider less intrusive forms of regulation that might accomplish the same goals.  By eliminating the CLEO sign-off and narrowing the definition of ‘responsible person’, ATF could still require fingerprints and background checks on the person primarily responsible for a legal entity application without exposing law-abiding citizens to the arbitrary and capricious CLEO sign-off ban.

Suggested Comment #9

Passage of this proposed rule would do nothing to enhance safety but would only place additional bureaucratic roadblocks in front of law-abiding collectors and swamp ATF staff who are already overwhelmed.  The result would be a drastic increase in the processing time for NFA applications and potentially a collapse of the booming suppressor industry.

These are merely suggestions.  You are welcome to pick one or more of the above comments or write your own but now that you know just how significant the issue is we are facing, I urge you to head on over to the Regulations.gov page for the proposed rulemaking and make your voice heard!

Thank you!

Posted in Abuse of Discretion, Abuse of Power, Administrative Regulations, BATFE, Class III, Due Process, NFA, Regulatory Rulemaking | 1 Comment

Virginia’s gun owners have a stark choice for governor

Cuccinelli_McAuliffeTomorrow morning Virginians will go to the polls to elect our next governor.  And for gun owners the consequences couldn’t be more significant.

Terry McAuliffe has abandoned all pretense of supporting the rights of gun owners and has fully embraced the gun control dreams of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg who has pumped millions into McAuliffe’s campaign, allowing him to outspend Cuccinelli 10 to 1 in television advertising.

This influx of New York money has allowed McAuliffe to stay afloat despite the scandals that continue to rock his campaign.  It has also encouraged him to reveal his disdain for gun owners.

Politicians such as McAuliffe have historically claimed to support the Second Amendment right up to the point where they are elected, at which time they can drop the act and pursue their true legislative agenda.  In fact, McAuliffe himself originally followed this playbook by buying a shotgun earlier this year so that he could claim to be a ‘gun owner’ when speaking to ill-informed voters.

But that is no longer the case.  In the waning days of the campaign, McAuliffe has fully embraced his role as the gun control candidate.  He has proudly touted his F rating from the NRA and supports a number of extreme gun control proposals including:

    • Outlawing Private Sales
    • Banning popular semi-auto rifles
    • Banning normal capacity magazines
    • Limiting handgun purchases to one per month

Cuccinelli on the other hand has always been a staunch advocate for gun rights and has earned the endorsement of the political action committee of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, the state’s premier gun rights organization.

So let’s cut to the chase.  If you care about gun rights then the choice is simple.  We cannot allow McAuliffe to destroy the gun rights that we have all worked so hard to protect and we do not want Michael Bloomberg as Virginia’s shadow governor!

Tomorrow I need you to get out and vote!

Posted in General Civil Rights, McAuliffe, VCDL, Virginia | 3 Comments

Innocent Victims of Gun Control: The DC Businessman

Shotgun_HullGun control advocates like to describe their goals as ‘reasonable restrictions’ that would never interfere with the rights of average Americans. However, I think that DC Businessman Mark Witaschek would strongly disagree with that statement.

Award winning journalist Emily Miller recently covered Witaschek’s story in the Washington Times.  But the important legal lesson I want you take away from his ordeal is just how ‘unreasonable’ gun control actually is when applied to real people living in the real world.

So how unreasonable are we talking here?  Well … in the District of Columbia, not only are firearms regulated practically out of existence, but so is ammunition.  If you do not have a DC registered firearm then it is illegal to even possess ammunition.

But, while that is a draconian law in its own right, it is not the absurd part.  Where it really becomes ludicrous is that the definition of ammunition extends to include any components of ammunition, including spent shell casings and shotgun hulls.

That’s right.  If you have a keychain made from a shell casing, which many of us do, and you take it into DC then .. bam … you are a felon.

If you have a spent shell casing or shotgun hull in your truck from your last trip to the range and you drive into DC then … bam … you are a felon.

If you volunteer to pick up litter from a highway, park, or community and one of the pieces of trash you pick up is a spent shell casing , then … bam … you are a felon.

I can almost hear the questions from those reading this.  “Ok.  But we are talking DC here right?  They have always been a bit crazy in DC.  That’s not the case elsewhere is it?

In fact, DC  is not the only gun-control paradise to feature such ridiculous and draconian restrictions on ammunition components.  In 2011, following the holding of the Massachusetts Appeals Court in Commonwealth v. Truong (934 N.E.2d 1274), the Massachusetts Bar Association issued this warning:

The Appeals Court has held that it is a crime in Massachusetts to possess spent shell casings that are incapable of being fired or of discharging a bullet. So nature lovers, bird watchers, souvenir hunters, scrap metal collectors and curious people of all ages who pick up empty shotgun shell casings, or discharged firearm cartridges, are now subject to criminal prosecutions.

So … the next time one of your non-gun-owning friends tells you that only an extremist would oppose “common sense” gun control, remind him that he is only a simple piece of plastic away from being a felon.

Posted in Ammunition Possession Laws, District of Columbia, Gun Control, Innocent Victims of Gun Control, Massachusetts | Leave a comment

The devil is in the details with proposed NFA trust changes

ATF_Regs-244x300As of last Monday’s Federal Register, we now have the full text of the proposed regulatory changes that the Obama Administration is pushing to close what they are calling the ‘trust loophole’ and it is far worse than I had initially feared.

I had based my original expectations upon the Petition For Rulemaking (PRM) that the National Firearms Act Trade and Collectors Association (NFATCA) had submitted in 2011 and the proposed rules resulting from that PRM that made appearances in both 2011 and 2012.

While the newest proposed rulemaking gives lip service to the NFATCA PRM, it completely fails to address the key problems that the PRM was hoping to solve while simultaneously creating an entire class of new problems for law-abiding NFA collectors.

This situation has confused experienced collectors and for those just getting started in the NFA world it is downright mind-boggling.  Consequently, the phone has been ringing off the hook as collectors and prospective collectors search for answers.

A typical phone call goes something like this:

Did President Obama issue an executive order eliminating the use of trusts to purchase NFA items?

No!  All he did was to throw his weight behind a proposed regulatory change. In order to become effective, it must still go through the regulatory rulemaking process.

What is the regulatory rulemaking process?

It is a process that attempts to interject due process protections into rulemaking by executive branch administrative agencies.

Why do administrative agencies even have the power to pass laws?

They don’t.  Under our system of government, Congress passes the laws, the courts interpret the laws, and the executive branch is charged with executing the laws.  To accomplish that goal, the executive branch has administrative agencies that promulgate regulations to ‘fill in the gaps’ between the often expansive grant of power in a particular piece of legislation and the specific rules that are needed to effectively execute the legislation in the real world.

How does the regulatory rulemaking process work?

In order to achieve a level of due process that satisfies minimum constitutional requirements, most regulatory changes must go through what is known as a ‘notice and comment’ period during which time the full text of the change is published and the public is allowed to submit comments, both pro and con, on the proposed change. This information is then summarized and theoretically forms the basis for an impartial decision on the merits by the agency (in this case the ATF).

What do you mean by ‘decision on the merits?’

To quote from the Federal Register’s Guide to Rulemaking:

“At the end of the process, the agency must base its reasoning and conclusions on the rulemaking record, consisting of the comments, scientific data, expert opinions, and facts accumulated during the pre‐rule and proposed rule stages.

To move forward with a final rule, the agency must conclude that its proposed solution will help accomplish the goals or solve the problems identified. It must also consider whether alternate solutions would be more effective or cost less.

If the rulemaking record contains persuasive new data or policy arguments, or poses difficult questions or criticisms, the agency may decide to terminate the rulemaking. Or, the agency may decide to continue the rulemaking but change aspects of the rule to reflect these new issues.

If the changes are major, the agency may publish a supplemental proposed rule. If the changes are minor, or a logical outgrowth of the issues and solutions discussed in the proposed rules, the agency may proceed with a final rule.”

Has the ‘notice and comment’ period already started for this proposed regulatory change?

Yes.  The ‘notice’ portion occurred on Monday September 9, 2013 when the proposed regulatory change was published in the Federal Register.  We are now in the ‘comment’ period which does not end until December 9, 2013.

How does one make a comment on this proposed regulatory change?

The easiest way to comment on the change is to use the Federal eRulemaking Portal. But don’t head over there and start telling them how bad their ideas are just yet.  Finish reading this article so you know just how complex the issue is and why this proposed change to ATF regulations will create more problems than it solves.

So if it does become a final rule, when will the change become effective?

The final rule must itself be published in the Federal Register and the rule cannot take effect for at least 30 days after that publication.  So … we have until sometime early next year if the ATF is determined to push this through.

Will the proposed change affect existing trusts?

Well … no not really … but yes a little.

No … you will not have to retroactively submit fingerprints, photographs, and CLEO sign-offs for all of the ‘responsible parties’ in your trust if you already have an NFA item or an application pending.

However … once the regulation goes into effect, the next time you submit a Form 1 or Form 4 application you will have to comply with all of the new requirements.

What exactly are those new requirements?

To understand the changes, you must first understand where we are right now.

Current ATF regulations require individual applicants to get sign-off from their local chief law-enforcment officer (CLEO).  This is known colloquially as the ‘CLEO Signoff.’

In many jurisdictions, the CLEO will not sign the form which acts as an effective ban on the acquisition.

That’s where the NFA trust comes in.  Currently, trust applicants do not need CLEO Sign-off.  Nor do they need to submit the fingerprint cards and photographs that individual applicants must submit.

The proposed change wants to do away with this option.  It would require that all ‘responsible persons’ of a trust complete the same requirements that individual purchasers must currently complete including the process of securing a CLEO sign off which would subject trust applicants to the same arbitrary bans that CLEOs have been using against individual applicants.

What exactly is a ‘responsible person’ where trusts are concerned

The proposed regulations defines a ‘responsible person’ broadly as “any individual, including any grantor, trustee, [or] beneficiary, … who possesses, directly or indirectly, the power or authority under any trust instrument … or under state law, to receive, possess, ship, transport, deliver, transfer, or otherwise dispose of a firearm for, or on behalf of, the [trust].

What does all this mean?

If this proposed change becomes a final rule, trusts and corporate entities will no longer offer collectors a way to avoid the de-facto ban instituted by so many CLEOs across the country.

In addition, even in jurisdictions where CLEO sign-off is not a problem, the definition of ‘responsible person’ is overly broad and unworkable.  If you have two joint trustees plus four children as beneficiaries, all seven of you will have to complete the application process including CLEO sign-off.

Whoever drafted these regulations either did not understand the full implications of what they were doing … or they knew exactly what they were doing and their actual intention was to eliminate the trust as a vehicle for NFA registration.

So what do we do to stop this?

We need to make our voices heard during the comment period.  I will be posting suggested comments in the coming days.

Posted in Abuse of Discretion, Abuse of Power, Administrative Regulations, BATFE, Class III, Democrats, Gun Control, NFA, Regulatory Rulemaking | 2 Comments

Fact-checking Bill Clinton’s absurd rhetoric

Clinton_MLK_50thWhile speaking at the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, former President Bill Clinton made the absurd claim that it is “harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon.

I appreciate the fact that the primary point of his comment was to criticize states which have passed voter ID laws but nonetheless, it is high time that we stop letting politicians get away with such patently absurd comments about gun rights.  Otherwise, there will be those who actually believe them to be true.

So … let’s set the record straight.  Is it easier to buy an assault weapon than it is to vote?

Well … since gun laws vary from state to state, we need to select a state that the anti’s seem to think has very lax gun laws.

I know … let’s use Virginia.  In addition to being one of the favorite targets of anti-gun advocates for its supposedly lax gun laws, Virginia also has a recently-passed voter ID law.  It will be the perfect test-bed for our comparison.

Buying a so-called ‘assault weapon’

Let’s start by looking at what a prospective buyer of a so-called ‘assault weapon’ must do to complete the purchase.

  • They must produce both a primary and a secondary form of ID.
    • The primary form of ID must be a photo ID issued by a governmental agency or by the United States Department of Defense
    • The secondary form of ID must show an address identical to that shown on the photo ID and must be one of the following:
      • Evidence of currently paid personal property tax or real estate tax, or
      • A current lease, or
      • Utility or telephone bill, or
      • Voter registration card, or
      • Bank check, or
      • Passport, or
      • Automobile registration, or
      • Hunting or fishing license
  • They must then complete a Virginia Firearms Transaction Record (Form SP-65)
  • They follow this up by completing an ATF form 4473
  • The information from these forms is then transmitted to the Virginia State Police where the purchaser’s background is checked.  If the background check reveals any of the following then the purchaser cannot buy the firearm:
    • Conviction of a crime punishable by more than 1 year in prison
    • Being a fugitive from justice
    • Being an unlawful user of, or addicted to, a controlled substance (This includes users of medical marijuana)
    • Being adjudicated as a mental defective
    • Being committed to a mental institution
    • Being in the US illegally
    • Having received a dishonorable discharge from the military
    • Having surrendered their US citizenship
    • Having been convicted of a misdemeanor offense of domestic violence
    • Having been acquitted of a crime by reason of insanity
    • Having been adjudicated legally incompetent or mentally incapacitated
    • Having been involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility or ordered to mandatory outpatient treatment

I should also note that any incorrect answer on the Virginia Sp-65 form or the ATF 4473 form subjects the prospective buyer to criminal liability.

As for how long this all takes, the background check is supposed to be ‘instant’, and often is, but may also be delayed for minutes, hours, or even days depending upon a variety of factors.

In the best case scenario, a purchaser of a so-called ‘assault weapon’ will need to allow at least 30 minutes to complete the process.

Voting

If the same person were to show up at the polls under Virginia’s voter ID law, they would be required to do a single thing:

  • Provide an acceptable form of ID.  This would include:
    • Virginia voter registration card
    • Valid Virginia driver’s license
    • Military ID
    • Any Federal, Virginia state or local government-issued ID
    • Employer issued photo ID card
    • Concealed handgun permit
    • Valid student ID issued by any institution of higher education located in the Commonwealth of Virginia
    • Current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck indicating the name and address of the voter
    • Social Security card

Even then, lack of proper ID would not preclude a person from casting a vote.  Any voter who does not bring an acceptable ID to the polls will be offered a provisional ballot.

And despite the fact that felons lose their right to vote as well as to own firearms, there is no requirement that the prospective voter undergo any kind of background check.

Assuming no line, a voter can be in and out of the polls in 5 minutes.

So what’s the real comparison between voting and gun rights?

The truth of the matter is that the right to keep and bear arms is not only enshrined in the Constitution but is the second article in the Bill of Rights whereas voting was not mentioned at all in the original Constitution.

So long as citizens must produce ID to exercise the fundamental right to keep and bear arms because of a supposed state’s interest in public safety, then there is no valid legal argument against requiring ID to vote to further a supposed state’s interest in only extending the franchise to those actually qualified to vote.

A warning to the ACLU and other civil liberties groups which inexplicably oppose gun rights … you should be very careful what you ask for.  When you put forward an argument for the infringement of a basic right and that argument is accepted, do not be surprised when the same argument is used to infringe another right.

Posted in 'Assault Weapons', General Civil Rights, President Clinton, Voting Rights | 7 Comments

The Christie Chronicles: Due process be damned

Chris ChristieIf you live in New Jersey and are named Robert Johnson, Kevin Johnson, James Rogers, or Mary Smith then I have bad news for you.  Governor Chris Christie just signed a bill making you a second class citizen.

“Are you kidding me?”

No I am not.  With a stroke of the pen, Governor Christie has stripped away the constitutional rights of thousands of New Jersey residents with no due process whatsoever.

“How did he do that?”

Among the 10 gun control bills that the New Jersey governor signed on August 8th was Assembly Bill 3687.  This bill prohibits all those whose name appears in the Terrorist Screening Database, known colloquially as the ‘Terrorist Watch List’ from obtaining firearms identification cards or permits to purchase a handgun.

“So what is wrong with that?  Aren’t we talking about terrorists here?”

Well … no … not really.  In reality, we are talking about a bloated database that often contains no identifying information other than a name.  And if your name has ever been used by a suspicious person as an alias, such as happened to Senator Ted Kennedy, then you are out of luck.  No constitutional rights for you!

“How many people are affected by this?”

Well …  We don’t know exactly since the list is secret and you are not allowed to know that you are on it.  But we do know that all of the names I mentioned above (and many other common names) are either on, or have been on, the Terrorist Watch List.

We also know that the government considers the cost to those innocent people to be an acceptable cost.  Donna Bucella, who ran the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center from its inception in 2003 until her departure in 2007, was quoted as saying that “It’s a price society and anyone named Robert Johnson has to pay for security.

When pressed on the point, she stated emphatically that the name “Robert Johnson will never get off the list

“Ok.  But just how big is the entire ‘Watchlist’?”

The Terrorist Watch List has expanded exponentially from the 16 persons who were prohibited from flying on September 11, 2001.  While the exact size of the Terrorist Watch List is unknown due to its classified nature, in March of 2008 the Department of Justice (DOJ) Audit Division released a report stating that, at that time, the Terrorist Watch List contained over 1.1 million names and a 2007 report from the DOJ Audit Division noted that the list was growing at a rate of over 20,000 names per month.

If we extrapolate that through 2013, we are looking at a list that encompasses well over 2 million names!

“How accurate is the list?”

The 2007 DOJ Audit Report also included the terrifying fact that a full 45% of records were incomplete or inaccurate at that time. It included this warning from Inspector General Glenn Fine: “[I]naccurate, incomplete, and obsolete watchlist information increases the chances of innocent persons being … misidentified as a watchlist identity.

We also know that an awful lot of innocent people have been caught up in the Terrorist Watch List since its inception.  This list includes Senators, Congressmen, airline pilots, federal law enforcement agents, and children.

The true absurdity of the situation is illustrated by the fact that a 5-year-old boy (now 13) named James Robinson was swept up in the wide net cast by the Terrorist Watch List.  When asked by CNN in 2008 if he was a terrorist, young James replied sadly “I don’t know.

He may not be a terrorist … but now he is a second class citizen as far as New Jersey is concerned.

Other who might want to consider avoiding a move to New Jersey include:

  • Civil rights hero and Georgia Congressman John Lewis,
  • Clinton Administration United States Attorney James Robinson,
  • Rep Don Young Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee,
  • Singer-songwriter Cat Stevens,
  • Actor and activist Mark Ruffalo, and
  • CNN reporter Drew Griffin

“Does the government acknowledge the flaws in the ‘Watch List’?”

Yes.  Where flying is concerned, the federal government implemented a redress process to allow those who are on the list to proactively take steps to minimize the impact on their ability to purchase airline tickets.

However, the New Jersey bill does not provide such any such option.  It simply denies the right to own firearms to “any person named on the consolidated Terrorist Watchlist maintained by [the] Terrorist Screening Center administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Does this bill do anything at all to enhance public safety?”

No.  In fact, it negates one of the touted benefits of the Terrorist Watch List.  As Chief District Judge Solomon Oliver, Jr. noted in the case of Shearson v. Holder, “The Government does not reveal whether or not an individual is on a watchlist because disclosing this information would undermine the purpose of terrorist watchlists, which is to provide the Government with information about security threats without alerting security threats of the Government’s knowledge.

“Do those who end up on the list get any due process at all?”

No.  None at all.  They receive no notice of their placement on the list, no opportunity to present evidence, no chance to appeal.  As Senator Susan Collins of Maine noted, “The evidence used to compile the watch list is often fragmentary and can be of varying degrees of credibility. It is not, in other words, the equivalent of a criminal history report.

And yet Governor Christie has decided that inclusion on this secret government list is sufficient to deny the citizens of his state one of their fundamental rights.

“Did Governor Christie know what he was doing to all those people?”

Don’t think for one minute that Governor Christie doesn’t understand the implications of what he did.  In a signing statement, he commented that “As a former federal prosecutor, I understand the obligation of government to ensure the safety and security of its people … [however] … I urge Congress to take steps to ensure that law-abiding American citizens are never swept into these databases.

Good luck with that.  After having to call the Secretary of Homeland Security to resolve his months-long ordeal, Senator Ted Kennedy noted that If they have that kind of difficulty with a member of Congress, how in the world are average Americans, who are … caught up in this thing … going to be treated fairly and not have their rights abused?

The answer is “They are not!”  Governor Christie knew exactly what he was doing.  He was catering to the anti-gun crowd and ignoring the fact that, in America, we consider people innocent until proven guilty.

“What can we do about this?”

I am glad you asked.  Governor Christie has clear aspirations for higher office and I suspect that he will be a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. When that comes to pass, remember that he supported depriving American citizens of a fundamental right based upon nothing more than their presence upon a secret government list.

Does that sound like a man you would want in the White House?

Posted in Abuse of Power, Chris Christie, Due Process, General Civil Rights, New Jersey, Watchlists | 24 Comments

Innocent Victims of Gun Control: The Eagle Scout

I would like forCole_Withrow you to meet Cole Withrow. In addition to being an Eagle Scout, Cole is an honors student and high school senior in Johnston County North Carolina … at least he was until recently.

Now, he is charged with a felony, expelled from school weeks before graduation, and sees his college plans crumbling since he will not be allowed to graduate.

All of the hard work he has put into becoming a successful member of society is threatened.

Cole is the epitome of what I am talking about when I say that gun control does nothing more than victimize the innocent.

So what did Cole do to deserve a virtual death penalty on his future? Did he kill someone in cold blood? Did he blow up a building?

No … it was far worse than that (at least in the viewpoint of modern academia) … he went skeet shooting and forgot to remove his shotgun from the vehicle before going to school.

Well … perhaps he was showing the gun around at school or handling it?  Nope. Once Cole realized what he had inadvertently done, he secured the shotgun and phoned his mother to come and get the vehicle.

But he was overheard by a school employee who promptly called the police.

The rest, as they say, is simply a matter of zero-tolerance …. no intent required.

To illustrate the hypocrisy even further, it has been noted that two years ago, Cole’s assistant Principal Catherine Bennett brought a gun in her car onto school campus. To make matters worse, her car was being worked on by the auto mechanics class and the gun was found by students who handed it around before hiding it under the fender of the car.

So Cole will be joining Bennett in prison?  Nope. Bennett did not face criminal charges because she said that she did not know the gun was in the car.

School officials claim that this is because the law is different where students and teachers are concerned. Now … I have not yet reviewed the statutes but a general rule of constitutional law is that differing classes of citizens may not be subject to differing punishments for the same criminal act.

Any objective observer will immediately see that this whole thing stinks of hypocrisy, double standards, and zero tolerance ran amuck.  Ultimately, it all goes back to the true aim of gun control … to make people so afraid of the consequences of even inadvertent acts that they will simply give up their rights rather than attempt to comply.  It is intended to have a very chilling effect indeed.

When next you hear a Democrat call for ‘reasonable restrictions’ think of Cole and what he and his family have lost.

So what can you do for Cole?

  1. Contact the Johnston County School Board and let them know what you think of their actions.
  2. Contact the Johnston County DA Susan Doyle via email [email protected] or telephone (919) 209-5521 and ask her to immediately drop the charges against Cole.
  3. Sign this petition that is going to the School Board.
  4. Sign this petition to the Governor.
  5. Keep up with the #FreeCole campaign at their Facebook page.

The ‘Innocent Victims of Gun Control‘ series of articles details the effects of gun control policies on law abiding citizens and exposes the lie that gun control is only aimed at criminals.
 

Posted in Campus Carry, Innocent Victims of Gun Control, North Carolina, Zero Tolerance Policies | 32 Comments

A tale of two rallies

photo-1This morning I was reading the press coverage of last week’s Stop The NRA ‘rally’ in DC.

Despite the fact that it only attracted a whopping 60 attendees, it received quite a bit of positive attention from the mainstream media.

Now … let’s compare that to another rally that took place last week with practically no media attention.

On Tuesday April 23rd, I drove the 430 miles from Bristol Virginia to Harrisburg Pennsylvania for the 8th annual Right to Keep and Bear Arms Rally.

This rally, which takes place every year, is a gathering of Pennsylvania gun owners who travel to the state capitol to let their voices be heard by those who represent them.

So how did the two rallies compare?  Well … since the Stop the NRA ‘rally’ was a nationwide effort and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Rally was only for Pennsylvania gun owners, it might seem that the state rally would have far fewer attendees than the nationwide rally.  Right?

Not so fast … that might be true if the Democrat’s polling about the interest in gun control were valid.  But no … nothing could be further from the truth.  Let’s take a look at the ‘crowd’ that appeared for the Stop The NRA ‘Rally’.

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I think the picture speaks for itself. The turnout for the anti-gun rally was pathetic by any objective standard.

Now let’s turn to the Pennsylvania rally.  It was scheduled to start at 10 in the morning and it was about 10:15 when I finished parking my car on 2nd Street and headed over to State Street to walk the 2 blocks to the Capitol Building.  As I rounded the corner, I was absolutely floored by the huge crowd that literally overflowed the steps of the Capitol.

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The official police estimate put the crowd at around 1,500 people but it felt much larger than that.  And the people in attendance were fired-up as the speakers took turns addressing the Democrat’s war on gun owners.

I want to particularly congratulate the attendees from Beaver County Pennsylvania who wore matching red hats and red, white, and blue smocks.

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There were even historical characters in attendance.

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And … like every other gun rights rally I have ever attended, this one was very much a family friendly event.

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It was also interesting to see how social media has changed the landscape.  There was a gun rights advocate there who was live tweeting the event.  He took time out from tweeting to pose for a quick picture showing a very cool 2nd Amendment Soldier sticker.

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When the speakers finished speaking, I joined Harry Schneider from Pennsylvania Sportsmen’s Association and Dan Campbell and David Green from Firearm Owners Against Crime as they headed into the Capitol Building to meet with legislators.

In the entryway of the Capitol, I noticed that there were displays of civil war era weapons. It was good to see one of the original ‘assault weapons’ on prominent display.

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As I watched Harry, Dan, and David meeting with pro-gun legislators, it became clear that Pennsylvania gun owners are dedicated to protecting their freedoms and they have advocates who are very much up to the challenge.

Anti-gun groups can’t hope to compete with that.

Posted in General Civil Rights, Gun Control, Gun Rights Rallies, Pennsylvania | 7 Comments