Archive for December, 2006

Arnie Grossman, Hopolophobia, and senseless lies

December 18, 2006

Book review of

One Nation Under Guns: an Essay on an American Epidemic

 David B. Kopel dispels Arnie Grossman’s anti gun rhetoric using facts and logic. It is sad that good people need to go to such extremes because others resort to the use of outright lies to further their agenda. Yet it must be done, and Mister Kopel is as fine a standard bearer as any that live on this earth.

 

By Arnie Grossman

Introduction by Gary Hart

Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, Colorado (2006).

$12.95

pp. xxiv, 166

 

By David B. Kopel

 

December 15, 2006

 

 

Why are so many gun control activists so angry? If you read this book you will understand.

 

On November 15, 2006, I debated author Arnie Grossman, in an event organized by the Denver Press Club. The debate was taped for C-Span’s Book Talk series, but has not yet been broadcast. The debate will also be available, in either video or audio-only, at the Independence Institute’s iVoices podcast and multimedia website.

 

Mr. Grossman is co-founder of SAFE (Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic), Colorado’s leading gun control group. SAFE is a state affiliate of the Brady Campaign, the leading United States gun control group. The Brady Campaign, in turn, is a member of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), the world’s leading anti-gun lobby.

 

This essay examines various claims in Mr. Grossman’s book One Nation Under Guns, and also some claims that he made during our debate.

 

Mr. Grossman is a good writer, a fine speaker, and, in person, a nice man. Yet the tone of his book is one of outrage and fury.

 

One the one hand, he decries “name-calling” (26). (Parenthetical references are to particular pages in the book.) On the other hand, the book revels in name-calling. He approvingly quotes Sarah Brady that all Congresspeople who do not vote her way consist of the “the cowardly lions and the ones without a brain.” (56). Senator Gary Hart’s introduction claims that the policies of the gun rights movement are “the triumph of paranoia” and “simply insane” (Hart, xvi). In the debate, Mr. Grossman began by asserting that it was wrong that there even is a gun control debate, since there is only one correct view of the issue.

 

Indeed, if the world really were the way that Mr. Grossman, Mrs. Brady, and Senator Hart claim, it would be appropriate to be extremely angry. The problem is not that these gun control advocates are unintelligent. It’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.[1]

 

One Nation contains no footnotes, endnotes, or citations. Only rarely does the author explain the source of any of his claims. Quite clearly Mr. Grossman has gotten almost all of his information from the national anti-gun groups. Unfortunately, he is so eager to believe that worst that he has apparently not checked the veracity of any of those claims.

 

As a result, an enormous amount of One Nation is factually wrong. No respectable newspaper would continue to employ a report whose work included such an enormous high rate of factual error – especially of facts which are easily checked, such as the straightforward language of a federal statute.

 

Thus, One Nation is of very little use in studying the pros and cons of gun control policy. Readers interested in intellectually serious books which argue for increased gun control would be much better off with any of the following: Philip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig, Evaluating Gun Policy: Effects on Crime and Violence (Brookings Institution, 2003); Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig, Gun Violence: The Real Costs (Oxford University Press, 2000); William J. Vizzard, Shots in the Dark: The Policy, Politics, and Symbolism of Gun Control (Rowman & Littlefield, 2001).

 

I do not necessarily agree with all of the policy conclusions of these three books, and Vizzard’s book does have some careless errors. But on the whole, these books are based on accurate presentation of basic facts and law about firearms – in sharp contrast to One Nation.

 

One Nation is still worthwhile reading, however, because it provides an excellent insight into the mind of the anti-gun movement. You would not study a Ku Klux Klan book to learn an accurate history of race relations in the United States, but you could study a Klansman’s book in order to understand the mentality that leads to the most extreme form of racism. Similarly, One Nation can help readers better understand the dystopian world view which has convinced so many gun control advocates that anyone who disagrees with them must be insane, cowardly, or brainless.[2]

 

Table of Contents

I. Non-Existent “Loopholes” in Gun Law

II. Bogus Statistics

III. The Brady Bill

IV. Terrorism

V. NRA

VI. Firearms Business

VII. The Politics of the Gun Issue

VII. Columbine

IX. Those Sophisticated Europeans!

Conclusion: Fear and Loathing

 

 

I. Non-Existent “Loopholes” in Gun Law

 

A. The .50 caliber machine gun

In debate and in print, Mr. Grossman is obsessed with the terrifying .50 caliber machine gun; he claims “the weapon can be bought at most gun shows.” (41-42).

 

To the contrary, it is impossible to buy any machine gun at a gun show. Pursuant to the National Firearms Act of 1934, the purchase of a machine gun requires a months-long process involving a background check and letter of authorization from local law enforcement (known as Form 4), fingerprinting, registration of the owner and the gun with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), and a $200 tax.

 

There has never been an instance of a legally-owned, registered machine gun being used in a crime (with the lone exception of one Ohio police officer’s misuse of a personally-owned gun.)

 

In 1986, Congress outlawed the sale of new machine guns (manufactured after May 19, 1986) to anyone except law enforcement and the military. 18 US Code § 922(o).

 

Accordingly, it would be impossible to complete the transaction for any machine gun at a gun show.

 

Moreover, the only .50 caliber machine guns which an ordinary citizen can buy are World War II antiques. They are rare, and would likely cost a collector over $20,000. The claim that they are on sale “at most gun shows” is preposterous. It is like saying “most police officers are over seven feet tall.” Only a person bereft of any personal knowledge of gun shows (or police officers) would make such a silly claim.

 

B. Conversion kits

Another product which Mr. Grossman believes can be purchased at gun shows are conversion kits, by which a self-loading firearm can be converted to fully automatic. (44, 75).

 

To the contrary, federal law mandates that the purchase of such a conversion kit is subject to precisely the same restrictions as a machine gun itself. For purposes of federal law, the definition (and, hence, the applicable restrictions) of “machine gun” includes 26 USC § 5845(b) (“The term ‘machinegun’…shall also include…any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.”)

 

What can be purchased as a gun show is an entirely different type of a “conversion kit” – one that changes the caliber of an ordinary firearm. For example, if a person owns a .45 caliber Colt pistol, but wants to practice using the gun with .22 caliber ammunition (since .22 caliber ammunition is far less expensive), the person could buy and install a conversion kit to change the gun’s caliber from .45 to .22. Of course changing the caliber does not turn an ordinary gun into a machine gun.

 

C. Assembly of firearms from kits

Mr. Grossman believes that a person can evade existing federal laws (such as the mandatory background check of the buyer and registration of the gun):

“As long as a manufacturer offers every part that goes into a firearm except for the firing mechanism (which also carries the serial number of the gun), the sum of the parts sold as a kit do not constitute a firearm according to the loophole in the law.”

He further claims that a consumer can obtain, via mail-order parts, with no background check, everything to assemble a firearm, except that he must “add something called a ‘flat’ to a completed receiver, and he has a fully operable and legally obtained assault weapon.” (83-84).

 

Federal law plainly states just the opposite. The Gun Control Act defines the term “firearm” to include the following: “…(A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may be readily converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive: (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon. 18 USC § 921(a)(3).
 

The receiver is “The basic unit of a firearm which houses the firing and breech mechanism and to which the barrel and stock are assembled. In revolvers, pistols, and break-open guns, it is called the Frame.”

Thus, any retailer who sells receivers or frames must conduct the same federally-required background checks as are required for the sale of completed guns.

 

Similarly, the retailer must fill out a federal gun registration form (Form 4473) which must be kept available for law enforcement inspection at any time. Retailers must retain each and every one of their 4473 forms for 20 years. Thus, Mr. Grossman’s assertion, throughout the book, that there should be gun registration is blind to the fact that there already is registration of every gun (and every frame and every receiver) sold by every firearms dealer in the United States. Such registration has been the law of the land since 1968.

 

In addition, a person who is not federally-licensed firearms retailer may not sell receivers or frames to a person in an another state, just as the interstate private sale of assembled firearms is illegal.

 

As for the “flat,” since Mr. Grossman refuses to supply citations or sources, it is impossible to know for sure what he is writing about. One possibility is that “a flat” means a flat piece of metal. A highly skilled machinist can build an entire receiver (or, indeed, an entire gun), from a flat piece of metal – if he is willing to invest many hours of time, and commit a major federal felony. But there is no such part as a “flat” which is used to complete a receiver.

 

Alternatively, Mr. Grossman might be indirectly, and without understanding, repeating something he thinks he heard about the self-loading AR-15 rifle. That rifle has an unusual design, in that it has a two-part receiver: the upper receiver and the lower receiver.

 

Some self-loading AR-15 upper receivers are called “flat tops” (because of their shape).

 

So Grossman creates the impression that the consumer need only add a simple piece of metal (“a flat”) to the receiver, the truth is that consumer cannot even buy the receiver without going through the same background check and registration that are required for purchase of a complete firearm.

 

By the way, the “firing mechanism” (the unit which includes the firing pin, the hammer, spring, and trigger) does not carry the serial number. The firing mechanism is attached to the receiver/frame, which by federal law must have the serial number.

“Licensed importers and licensed manufacturers shall identify, by means of a serial number engraved or cast on the receiver or frame of the weapon, in such manner as the Secretary shall by regulations prescribe, each firearm imported or manufactured by such importer or manufacturer.”

18 USC § 923(i).

 

D. Federal Firearms Licenses issued to dogs

According to Mr. Grossman, the standards for issuing Federal Firearms Licenses (the licenses required for all persons “engaged in the business” of selling firearms) are so lax that people can and do obtain licenses in the name of their dogs. Thus, “A terrorist with no identification, bent on killing perceived enemies on American soil, is obviously going to choose to do business with a ‘dealer’ whose license bears the name Rover.” (115-17).

 

In 1990, two reporters obtained FFLs in the name of their dogs. (Knut Royce, “New Rules Target Gun Dealers: Applicants must provide photo IDs, fingerprints,Newsday Feb. 15, 1994 (“In 1990, the ATF licensed two dogs as firearms dealers. The dogs had acted as proxies for reporters…).)

 

In 1994, federal law was changed to require a photograph plus fingerprints, thus making future journalistic dog stunts impossible. 18 USC § 923(a) (“The application… shall include a photograph and fingerprints of the applicant.”)

Thus, Mr. Grossman’s fear and anger that the “loophole” will be exploited by terrorists in 2006 are based on the fact that he does not know that the law was changed a dozen years ago.

 

E. The federal government can only investigate crimes by a gun dealer once per year

Complaining about the Firearms Owner’s Protection Act of 1986, Mr. Grossman asserts that the Act prohibits the BATFE (the regulatory bureau for gun dealers) from investigating criminal activities by the dealer more than once a year. “Imagine any other public safety agency being told it can only investigate a business suspected of illegal and dangerous activity once a year.” (83)

 

Again, if Mr. Grossman had read the law – rather than relying on misleading propaganda from the gun prohibition lobby, he would not to be so worried.

The one-per-year limit applies only to random investigations involving no probable cause or suspicion. There is no limit on the number of audits which may be conducted pursuant to a genuine criminal investigation. 18 USC § 923(g)(1)(B) (allowing inspections “at any time with respect to records relating to a firearm involved in a criminal investigation that is traced to the licensee; or (iii) when such inspection or examination may be required for determining the disposition of one of more particular firearms in the course of a bona fide criminal investigation.”)(emphasis added)

 

F. Supposed immunity for criminal gun sales

Foremost among Mr. Grossman’s bête noires is the new law which he believes was named the “Gun Industry Immunity Bill” (38). The actual name is the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Firearms Act, which became law in 2005.

 

According to Mr. Grossman, the new law makes the firearms business “the only industry in America to enjoy blanket immunity from prosecution and accountability, even when its members knowingly furnish illegal gun traffickers with weapons destined for criminals and terrorists.” (93)

 

The bill was passed in response of a wave of abusive lawsuits filed against firearms manufacturers, retail dealers, wholesalers, and even trade associations, at the behest of the Brady Center, the litigation arm of the Brady Campaign. (Analysis of the lawsuits, and the need for preventive legislation, is available here.)

 

Mr. Grossman is apparently unaware that the new law’s restriction on lawsuits specifically allows lawsuits against any defendant which violated the law. Far from providing blanket immunity, the Act also allows for lawsuits for defective products, negligence per se, negligent entrustment, breach of contract, and warranty: 

(5) QUALIFIED CIVIL LIABILITY ACTION-

(A) IN GENERAL- The term ‘qualified civil liability action’ means a civil action or proceeding or an administrative proceeding brought by any person against a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product, or a trade association, for damages, punitive damages, injunctive or declaratory relief, abatement, restitution, fines, or penalties, or other relief, resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a qualified product by the person or a third party, but shall not include–

(i) an action brought against a transferor convicted under section 924(h) of title 18, United States Code, or a comparable or identical State felony law, by a party directly harmed by the conduct of which the transferee is so convicted;

(ii) an action brought against a seller for negligent entrustment or negligence per se;

(iii) an action in which a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product knowingly violated a State or Federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing of the product, and the violation was a proximate cause of the harm for which relief is sought, including–

(I) any case in which the manufacturer or seller knowingly made any false entry in, or failed to make appropriate entry in, any record required to be kept under Federal or State law with respect to the qualified product, or aided, abetted, or conspired with any person in making any false or fictitious oral or written statement with respect to any fact material to the lawfulness of the sale or other disposition of a qualified product; or

(II) any case in which the manufacturer or seller aided, abetted, or conspired with any other person to sell or otherwise dispose of a qualified product, knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that the actual buyer of the qualified product was prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm or ammunition under subsection (g) or (n) of section 922 of title 18, United States Code;

(iv) an action for breach of contract or warranty in connection with the purchase of the product;

(v) an action for death, physical injuries or property damage resulting directly from a defect in design or manufacture of the product, when used as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner, except that where the discharge of the product was caused by a volitional act that constituted a criminal offense, then such act shall be considered the sole proximate cause of any resulting death, personal injuries or property damage; or

(vi) an action or proceeding commenced by the Attorney General to enforce the provisions of chapter 44 of title 18 or chapter 53 of title 26, United States Code.

(C) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION- Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to bar a governmental action to impose a penalty under section 924(p) of title 18, United States Code, for a failure to comply with section 922(z) of that title.

And despite Mr. Grossman’s intimation, the Act in no way changes the federal law that furnishing guns to criminals or terrorist is a major federal felony. See 18 USC § 922(d)(barring firearms transfer prohibited persons, including convicted criminals, by any transferor “knowing or having reason to know” of the transferee’s prohibited status); 18 USC § 924(a)(2) (ten year prison sentence for violating § 922(d)); 18 USC § 924(h) (any transfer when the transferor knows the gun will be used in a crime of violence or a drug trafficking crime is a 10 year felony).

 

Mr. Grossman is not attorney, so he apparently takes at face value the claims of the Brady Center (the instigator of the abusive lawsuits which Congress curtailed), and he therefore insists that the firearms business was given an “unprecedented free pass from civil accountability in the courts” and is “the only industry in America which is granted such a shield.” (xxii, 38, 93).

 

A quick look at state and federal statutes shows that Mr. Grossman is far off base. First of all, the Protection of Lawful Commerce Act is far from a “free pass” or “blanket shield.” Moreover, the firearms business is one of many businesses which lawmakers have chosen to protect from abusive litigation. Other such industries and liability limitation laws include:

 

  • Rail carriers. 49 USC §§ 10103, 10730, 11707 (“The Carmack Amendments”).

  • Child Safety Protection Act, 15 USC § 1261, et seq.; 16 C.F.R. § 1500.19 (toy makers who comply with federal labeling rules cannot be sued for failure to warn about dangerous toys; similarly firearms businesses which comply with all federal, state, and local laws for selling and making guns cannot be sued for selling and making guns).

  • Federal Hazardous Substances Act. 15 USC § 1261, et seq.; (labeling law for manufacturers of hazardous substances; lawsuit immunity similar to Child Safety Protection Act).

  • Poison Prevention Packaging Act. 15 USC § 1471, et seq. (lawsuit immunity similar to Federal Hazardous Substances Act).

  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. 29 USC § 1001, et seq.; 29 USC § 1144(a) (prohibits lawsuits against fiduciaries of employee benefit plans who comply with all federal laws).

  • Medical Devices Amendments of 1976. 21 USC § 360, et seq. (bans state lawsuits seeking to contest the legality of medical devices which have been approved by the FDA – just as the BATFE requires that all firearms must be manufactured in accordance with federal law).

  • Vaccine Act. 49 USC § 300aa-1, et seq. (restricts lawsuits against vaccines manufactured according to federal law).

  • General Aviation Revitalization Act. 49 USC § 40101, et seq. (bans lawsuits against manufacturers of planes which are more than 18 years old).

  • Biomaterials Access Assurance Act of 1998. 21 USC § 1601, et seq. (bans almost all lawsuits against raw suppliers of materials and bulk components for medical devices).

In addition, many states have enacted similar bills to prevent abusive lawsuits against a particular industry, or prevent trial lawyers from using the courts to usurp policy decisions which belong to the legislature. Among the businesses so protected are skiing and the food industry.

 

G. Why People Get So Angry

For a moment, put yourself in the shoes of Mr. Grossman, and other victims of the national gun prohibition lobby propaganda.

 

  • You would believe anyone, including a terrorist, can easily buy .50 caliber machine guns at gun shows, no questions asked, and that such guns are ubiquitous at gun shows.

 

  • You would believe that terrorists can, with no questions asked, buy machine gun conversion kits, and that they can buy mail-order “assault weapons” which they can assemble at home.

 

  • You would believe that a criminal can obtain a firearms dealer’s license in the name of his dog; that even when he is suspected of selling guns to terrorists, he can only be investigated once a year; and that when he does sell guns to terrorists, the victims cannot even sue him.

 

If you believed all these things, wouldn’t you be mad? Wouldn’t you think that anyone who refused to close these terrorist loopholes must be insane, brainless, or cowardly? I would.

 

Mr. Grossman is a smart man, but he foolishly believes everything that the gun prohibition lobbies tell him. Senator Hart is a brilliant man, but he foolishly believes everything that Mr. Grossman tells him.

 

One thing that Mr. Grossman, Senator Hart, and I agree on is that the war against Islamic terrorism is crucial to the survival of the free world. It would be understandable to be angry about the continued existence of loopholes which allow the provision of arms to terrorists.

 

Mr. Grossman, Senator Hart, and the readers of One Nation have all been duped by the gun prohibition lobbies. None of the “loopholes” exist -– as anyone who bothers to read the relevant federal statutes can be absolutely certain. As an author, Mr. Grossman owed his readers a higher duty of care.

 

At a time when national unity against terrorists is so important, what does it say about Washington lobbies which create false fears and needless domestic divisions by spreading blatantly false stories of terrorist loopholes? Can it be said that spreading false fears is a type of terrorism hoax? When Americans are distracted and divided by terrorism hoaxes, the greatest beneficiaries are the real terrorists.

 

 

II. Bogus Statistics

 

The inside cover flap of One Nation promises “staggering statistics.” The statistics are indeed staggering, in the sense that they are stumbling and directionless. Put another way, they are false.

 

A. States with repressive gun laws are safer.

 

“How Safe Are You?” is the title of concluding section of One Nation. It purports to show that the more repressive the gun laws, the safer the state. In an October 2006 debate on KHOW radio (the Caplis & Silverman Show) with Mr. Grossman, I asked him for the source of his claim that gun control makes a state safer. He replied that the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports was his source.

 

To the contrary, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports were certainly not the source of Mr. Grossman’s statistics, since the statistics apparently include items which the FBI does not track, such as gun accidents.

 

The actual FBI statistics disprove Mr. Grossman’s claim that more gun control leads to more safety. The tables below show the homicide rates and the total violent crime rates, sorted by the the stringency of a state’s gun control laws. States with an “A” rating have the more severe laws, and states which a “F” have the least repressive.

 

Average of Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter Per 100,000 population

 

 

Average of Violent Crime Rate Per 100,000 population

 

Thus, the “A” states–with the most gun control laws–are by far the most dangerous.

 

Unlike Mr. Grossman, I do not believe that simple state-to-state comparisons provide a definitive answer about the efficacy of various social policies. Multi-variate studies, taking into account many different factors, provide better information. My point here is that Mr. Grossman’s simplistic state-to-state comparison–which he and his publisher claim to be decisive, “staggering” proof that gun control works, are false, even their own terms.

 

 

B. “in the next two minutes, someone will be shot by a handgun”.

Mr. Grossman begins the book by announcing: “In the next five seconds, another handgun will be manufactured in the United States. In the next two minutes, someone will be shot by a handgun.” Both of these claims are wildly false.

 

According to the BATFE, in 2004 in the United States, there were 728,511 pistols manufactured, and 294,099 revolvers. This is a total of 1,022,610 handguns manufactured in the United States in 2004.

 

Simple division shows that this is 2794.02 per day, or 116.42 per hour, or 1.94 per minute. This equals one new handgun every 31 seconds.

 

Mr. Grossman does not say where he got his figure of one every 5 seconds, but he has overstated the rate of handgun manufacture by 620%.

 

What about the claim that “In the next two minutes, someone will be shot by a handgun.” This claim is utterly false, and cannot be rescued using even the highest estimates for shootings involving all types of firearms.

 

Let us being with data from the National Center for Health Statistics for 2004. (As with firearms manufacture, it is the most recent year for which complete data are available.) Let us take the number of fatal gun shots (the majority of which are suicide), which is 29,557.

 

The last year for which NCHS has data on non-fatal gun shot wounds is 1997. That year, there were 64,207. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Nonfatal and fatal firearm-related injuries–United States, 1993-1997,” Morbidity & Mortality Wkly Rep., Nov. 19, 1999 (vol. 48, issue 45):1029-34.)

 

The number of woundings has almost certainly declined since 1997, because we know that fatal gun shots have declined since then. Indeed, according to the 2005 annual report of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, gun crime declined by 50% from 2001 to 2005. (See pages 9-10 of the report.) If we bias the data in favor of Mr. Grossman, we can hypothesize that there was no decline in wounds from 1997 to 2004.

 

Then we get a figure of 29,557 + 64,207 = 93,764 divided by 365 days = 256.88 per day = 10.67 per hour. This is a rate of once every 5 minutes and 37 seconds (or every 337 seconds) for all types of firearms.

 

The NCHS wounding figure includes all non-fatal gunshot wounds which were treated in hospital emergency rooms. There may have been other gun shots for which the victim did not seek hospital care; presumably, these wounds would tend to be very minor. Scholarly gun control advocates Cook and Ludwig estimate 113,000 gun shot wounds in 1997, including fatal and non-fatal.

 

Again, let us (counter-factually) presume that there has been no decline since 1997. If we use Cook and Ludwig’s estimate of 113,000 total wounds in 1997, then the per day rate is 310, and the hourly rate is 12.9, which is a rate of once every 4 minutes and 40 seconds, for all guns.

 

Based on 2004 data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, handguns were used in 78% of gun homicides. Because handguns are less powerful than are rifles and shotguns, it makes sense to presume that a gun shot wound would be more likely to be caused by a handgun than would a gun shot homicide. This would be especially likely for the thousands of wounds (in Cook and Ludwig’s estimate) which do not even necessitate hospital treatment.

 

So let us again make an assumption in Mr. Grossman’s favor, and estimate that 90% of non-fatal gun wounds come from handguns. Let us also use the (high) Cook-Ludwig estimate for total wounds, rather than the lower estimate from the National Center for Health Statistics. Let us also assume (counter-factually), that wounds have not declined since 1997. Then: 29,557 x. .78 = 23,054 fatal handgun wounds. (113,000-29,557) x .9 = 75,099 non-fatal handgun wounds. This is a total of 98,153. This is 268.91 per day, or 11.2 per hour. Or one every 5 minutes and 21 seconds.

 

Mr. Grossman claims a handgun rate of once every two minutes. Making extremely generous estimate in Grossman’s favor, we find that he has overstated the handgun wounding rate by at least 268%.

 

Every reasonable person would prefer a society in which the handgun wounding rate was less than even one per year.

 

But the fact is that Mr. Grossman, to bolster his handgun “epidemic” claims, has recklessly exaggerated the data by hundreds of percent.

 

C. “nearly half” of gun deaths are suicides

This claim appears on page 8. The actual figure is about 57%. I do not suggest that the difference between whatever figure Mr. Grossman had in mind, versus the actual number, is tremendously significant. But it hardly seems unreasonable to ask an author to take care to find out an easily-obtained item of data.

 

National Center for Health Statistics, 2003 data for firearms deaths

Cause

Under 1 year

1-4 years

5-14

15-24

All ages

Accidents

0

7

49

200

730

Suicide

0

0

74

2075

16,907

Homicide

8

40

187

4410

11,920

Total

8

47

310

6685

29,557

 

 

III. The Brady Bill

 

In 1993, Congress passed the Brady Act. As originally proposed, the Brady Bill did not require a background check, but did required a two-week waiting period, and prohibited handgun sales without police approval. As finally enacted, the bill included a provision–originally supported by the NRA and sponsored by NRA A-rated Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fla.) for a mandatory “national instant check” using computers; the Brady waiting period sunset in 1998, and was replaced with the NRA’s National Instant Check System.

A. Did the Brady Bill reduce crime?

Mr. Grossman insists that it did, and tells his readers: “As the saying goes, ‘Do the math.’” (34-35). He provides, however, no evidence that the Brady Bill reduced crime; he simply supplies data about the number of transactions prevented under the Brady Bill.

 

Scholars and gun control advocates Jens Ludwig and Philip Cook actually did the math, and reported their results in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The Brady Act had no effect on gun homicide, they found. The only benefit the authors could find was a reduction in gun suicide (but not overall suicide) among people over age 55.

 

One reason may be that many of the Brady rejections are based on incomplete criminal justice records; the records, for example, show an arrest, but not that the case was dismissed.

B. Would the Brady Bill have stopped John Hinckley?

Mr. Grossman quotes Mrs. Sarah Brady (39. also, 44):

“There’s certainly a chance a background check would have prevented Hinckley from getting a gun…In those days, you were supposed to buy a gun in the state where you lived. So he lied about his residence on his application form. And he got his gun illegally. If Texas had run a background check, they likely would have caught him in his lie and denied him the purchase.”

Unfortunately, Mrs. Brady is simply incorrect. Hinckley was a legal resident of Texas, where he bought the gun. Accordingly, there is no possibility that a background check on Hinckley would have revealed that he was not a Texas resident. Moreover, the Brady Bill check does not include a residence check.

 

Indeed, a police background check was run on Hinckley a few days before he bought the guns, and nothing turned up. Hinckley was caught trying to smuggle another gun (while he already owned) aboard a plane on October 9, 1980, in Nashville. His name was run through the National Crime Information Center, which reported, correctly, that he had no felony convictions in any jurisdiction. He was promptly released after paying a fine of $62.50 and pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.

 

On October 13, 1980, John Hinckley walked into Rocky’s Pawn Shop, in Dallas, Texas, and walked out shortly thereafter with two .22 caliber RG revolvers. As with the retail purchase of any firearm, the gun dealer was required to complete a federal form which listed Hinckley’s address. Because Hinckley was buying two handguns in the same five-day period (in fact, at the same moment), the dealer also filled out another federal form. That federal form was sent to the local office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

 

By federal law, the dealer was required to verify that Hinckley was a resident of Texas, the state in which he was buying the handgun. When asked for identification, Hinckley offered his Texas driver’s license.

 

Hinckley moved around a great deal, from one Texas address to another. The Lubbock address he listed on his federal gun form (the address for a rooming house) was different from both his driver’s license address and his address in the then-current Lubbock phone book. Of course moving frequently is not a federal crime. Because the only use of the driver’s license (on a gun purchase) is to prove identity and residence in the state, there is no federal requirement that a handgun purchaser reside at the street address shown on his license, as long as the address is in the same state. Even if Hinckley had deliberately made a false statement about his address, the act would not have been illegal; a false statement on the federal form is illegal only if it relates to the purchaser’s eligibility. While a person’s state of residence does relate to eligibility, address within that state does not.

 

In other words, Hinckley’s purchase would have been illegal under federal law only if he were not a resident of Texas. Merely offering a Texas driver’s license with a street address that was no longer current and was different from the address put on the federal form was not illegal.

 

During the previous summer, Hinckley had attended both summer sessions at Texas Tech in Lubbock. According to federal gun regulations, a university student is considered a resident of the area where he attends school, and may purchase firearms there. When Hinckley was arrested in Nashville (a few days before he bought the handguns), he identified himself as a Texas resident.

 

Significantly, Hinckley, after the assassination attempt, was the subject of an intensive federal investigation. The federal government used every resource possible to convict Hinckley. Yet, Hinckley was not charged with illegally purchasing the handguns in Texas. Had the prosecutors believed that Hinckley was guilty of an illegal gun purchase, the charges would likely have been brought. The case could have been prosecuted before a conservative Dallas jury, rather than a liberal Washington one. Further, Hinckley would then have had to convince the Texas jury that he was insane not just on the day of the assassination attempt, but six months beforehand.

 

If the full resources of the Department of Justice did not find enough evidence even to charge Hinckley with an illegal gun purchase, it is not realistic to claim that a routine background check would have found the exact same transaction illegal.

 

In any case, law enforcement authorities already had an opportunity to run a check on Hinckley. Because Hinckley bought two handguns on the same day, his purchase was immediately reported to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (as it was then known) as required by federal law. At the time, the Bureau reportedly ran name checks as standard procedure, but did not run detailed background checks on multiple handgun purchasers (such as Hinckley) even though it had the legal authority to do so. Perhaps BATF concluded that the expense of running the checks exceeded the likely benefits.

 

Hypothesize the fact that Mr. Grossman and Mrs. Brady assume (but for which the Justice Department apparently had no evidence): Hinckley was no longer a Texas resident. Would the assassination have been prevented by a background check? Almost certainly not.

 

How would the police have found Hinckley’s “lie”? If they had looked in the phone book, they would have seen Hinckley listed as a Lubbock resident. To ascertain that Hinckley did not reside in Texas, the police would have had to visit his purported residence at least once. Since many police departments do not have the time to visit the scene of residential burglaries, it is not realistic to assume that they would have bothered to verify the address listed as Hinckley’s residence.

 

Most importantly, the police never would have found the “lie” about Hinckley’s address, because they would not be checking addresses. Under the Brady Act, the police do not verify anyone’s address. As Mrs. Brady’s own organization stated, in lobbying for passage of the Brady Act, “The ‘investigation’ is limited to the review of police and court records.”

 

Sources: Hinckley trial transcript, pp. 1489-1559. Texas driver’s license #9457099, issued to John W. Hinckley, Jr., 1612 Avenue Y, Lubbock, Texas, in Hinckley trial transcript, pp. 1751-52. Southwestern Bell, Lubbock-Slaton Telephone Directory (November 1979) (listing “­­John W. Hinckley…409 University Av.­”). 18 United States Code § 922(a)(6). ATF Rul. 80-21, reprinted in Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, (Your Guide to) Federal Firearms Regulation 1988-89, ATF P 5300,4 (6-88), p. 73.

 

 

IV. Terrorism

 

A. Cop-Killer/Armor-piercing bullets

Mr. Grossman and Senator Hart claim that terrorists can buy “armor-piercing ammunition.” (53; Hart xv). In support of the claim, Mr. Grossman describes a video by the Brady Campaign, involving the Fabrique Nationale (FN) 5.7 pistol (99-100).

 

The video purports to show two bullets from the FN 5.7 penetrating a police vest. The video does not follow the federal protocols for testing vests and ammunition. Notably, the video does not disclose what type of ammunition is used. According to the Firearms Technology Branch of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, none of the types of ammunition for the FN 5.7 which are available for sale to the public in the United States are armor-piercing.

B. Gun shows and Terrorists

Under federal law, the laws for gun sales at gun shows are exactly the same as for gun sales anywhere else. (Details here.) Mr. Grossman claims that the “gun show loophole” results in terrorists acquiring guns from gun shows. The claims are much weaker on closer examination.

 

1. Connor Claxon is said to have bought concealed guns “in packages they mailed back to Northern Ireland to be used against the British government in terrorist attacks.” (78-79).

 

Actually Claxon was convicted of gun smuggling, but not of supplying guns to terrorists. The case counts as an incident of guns shows being used to supply terrorists only if one deliberately ignores the jury’s findings of fact.

 

Moreover, Claxon’s purchases at gun shows were approved by the same background checks as if he had bought firearms in a retail store.

 

2. Muhammed Navid Asrar is another “example of weapons flowing through gun show loopholes to terrorists.” (78).

 

On October 30, 2001, federal prosecutors secured a guilty plea for immigration law violations by Muhammad Navid Asrar, an illegal alien from Pakistan. While illegally living in Texas, Asrar purchased several firearms at gun shows. In federal court, Asrar pleaded guilty to illegal possession of ammunition, since it is illegal for illegal aliens to possess firearms or ammunition. While Mr. Grossman has claimed that the illegal alien was a terrorist, no one in the government has so claimed.

 

3. Ali Boumelhem. According to the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin of November 17, 2000:

“An FBI terrorism task force arrested a Lebanese resident of Detroit allegedly involved in shipping weapons and ammunition to Hezbollah guerrillas. Ali Boumelhem, 35, was apprehended just before departing on a scheduled trip to Lebanon. Authorities say that Boumelhem, a leader in the militant Amal militia and a ‘sympathizer’ of Hezbollah, traveled frequently to gun shows to buy arms and then hid them in cargo crates bound for Lebanon. FBI agents intercepted one cargo container bound for Lebanon which contained a pair of shotguns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a radio and a police scanner. In addition, an FBI informant told investigators that he had seen Boumelhem in Beirut unloading shipments of automatic weapons, explosives, grenades and rocket launchers. He faces charges in a US District Court of shipping firearms to a nonlicensed person.”

On September 10, 2001, Boumelhem was convicted by a Detroit jury of federal weapons charges. Shotguns and ammunition are indeed the kinds of products which one can buy at a gun show. “Automatic weapons, explosives, grenades and rocket launchers” are certainly not. Thus, it appears that Boumelhem had some source unrelated to gun shows from which he obtained very powerful weapons.

 

Even before Boumelhem began his arms acquisition spree he was a convicted felon, so it was illegal for him to acquire or possess firearms or ammunition. Yet like most convicted felons, he knew someone who could make purchases legally: his brother. Boumelhem brought his brother to gun shows, to make “straw purchases.” More laws against gun shows would not stop straw purchases, since the straw purchaser (the surrogate for the real buyer) is chosen because he has a clean record. (Firearms industry efforts to thwart straw purchasers are detailed below.)

 

Currently, stringent federal background checks are already required for the acquisition of automatic weapons, explosives, grenades, and rocket launchers — yet Boumelhem was apparently able to obtain those. Given that Boumelhem acquired police scanners (no background check) and rocket launchers (virtually impossible to buy legally, even after a very strict background check), perhaps the lesson of the Boumelhem case has less to do with background checks on shotguns, and more to do with the necessity of strictly watching suspected terrorist sympathizers — as federal agents commendably did with Boumelhem.

 

Indeed, the Boumelhem case is a good illustration of two contrasting approaches to anti-terrorist law enforcement. Because Boumelhem had a straw purchaser working for him, nothing that Mr. Grossman proposes would have made any difference in his case. To use Boumelhem as a pretext for passing restrictive laws about gun shows is purely symbolic politics — to pass legislation for the sake of appearance, even when the legislation is manifestly irrelevant to the very case which is proclaimed as the reason for passing the law. Such symbolism does for gun safety precisely what confiscating toenail clippers from airline pilots does for airplane safety: nothing. Indeed, such symbolism reduces the freedom of law-abiding people, and distracts the public and the government from genuinely substantive actions.

 

 

V. NRA

 

Mr. Grossman is quite sure that the gun rights movement in general, and the NRA in particular, are evil. He alternates between theory that NRA is only concerned with firearms manufacturers, or only concerned with the Republican Party. He also makes implausible charges about bigotry, and about alleged support for carrying guns while drunk.

 

A. “The NRA has become an arm of the Republican Party…”

So says the then-head of the Brady Campaign, Michael Barnes. (103).

Yet the NRA refused to endorse the presidential campaigns of George H.W. Bush in 1992, or Bob Dole in 1996.[3] It’s hard to believe that something is an “arm” they party if it refuses to lift a finger on behalf of the party’s head.

 

The notion that the NRA is an arm of the Republicans must sound very strange to the Republicans who have been defeated by NRA-endorsed pro-gun Democrats such as Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry, and Nebraska Governor and Senator Ben Nelson.

 

During the 2006 election, the only two realistic Republican hopes of defeating Democratic US House incumbents were in Georgia. There, the NRA-endorsed, A-rated incumbent Democrats, Jim Marshall and Sanford Bishop, blanketed the airwaves with advertisements touting their pro-Second Amendment voting records. Both of them narrowly won re-election. Bishop, by the way, is black–a relevant point in light of the racism charges discussed below.

 

B. NRA as tool of firearms manufacturers

Mr. Grossman also writes that the NRA’s “only concern is with the profits of the gun industry.” (133-34, quoting an anti-gun activist.)

 

This would be news to the gun industry, because every time there has been a conflict between the interests of gun users and gun makers, the NRA has sides with the former. The NRA, after all, is a group of four million consumers. Manufacturers have a separate lobby: the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI).

 

Usually the NRA and SAAMI share common goals — just as book readers and book publishers often have common goals. But sometimes the NRA and the industry diverge. For example, the first major federal anti-gun law, the Gun Control Act of 1968, was initially pushed by American manufacturers to curb the spread of inexpensive imported guns. The gun industry backed it, and the NRA fought it.

 

For similarly protectionist reasons, the industry supported Drug “Czar” William Bennett’s 1989 ban on the import of so-called “assault weapons.” The NRA, on the other hand, went ballistic, and launched a massive campaign against the import ban and its administration supporters.

 

Like most businesses, the American firearms industry is protectionist. Like most consumer groups, the NRA supports free trade.

 

C. False accusations of racism

Mr. Grossman claims that when he ran a web search for “Second Amendment rights” “one of the first web sites that came up” was a racist site. (58). Strangely, he does not name the web site and the search engine. When I ran a search for “Second Amendment rights” through all the major search engines in November 2006, and examined every site which appeared on the first screen, there was no site like the one Mr. Grossman described.

 

Mr. Grossman claims that “the racist thread appears in the rhetoric of the most venerable of all pro-gun groups, the National Rifle Association.” (64)

 

As proof, he quote NRA Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre “There are many politicians willing to sacrifice the Second Amendment as the first step in the homogenization of American culture.” (64).

 

When I ran “homogenization of American culture” through the Google search engine on Nov. 14, 2006, the first screen results involved the weakening of regional distinctions, the growth of national businesses, post-WWII conformity, suburbanization, national restaurant chains, television, and national advertising. If you are against homogenization, then you want to celebrate cultural diversity. For Mr. Grossman to take the anti-homogenization comment as being racist says more about Mr. Grossman than about Mr. LaPierre.

 

Mr. Grossman also quotes from a 1989 paper by now-retired NRA Research Coordinator Paul Blackman. (Blackman is now a Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute; I have co-authored one book and many articles with him.)

 

Blackman is quoted as saying that deaths of homicide victims who are “criminals themselves and/or drug addicts or users…in terms of economic consequences to society, are net gains.” Well, “in terms of economic consequences,” that is generally true.

 

Blackman was addressing the assertion that gun-related injuries and deaths cost society $20 billion annually. Blackman noted that most of the alleged “costs” were lost productivity — lower contributions to society (taxes paid, etc.) that were lost if a productive young person died. One of the oddities of the public-health “productivity” analysis is that it sees children and retired people as drains on society. According to this flawed analysis, if a 20-year-old gangster shoots an 80-year-old, there is no economic loss to society beyond the costs of the funeral; on the other hand, if the 80-year-old victim manages to kill the 20-year-old in self-defense, tens of thousands of dollars in productivity are imagined to have been lost.

 

Blackman simply noted that, to the extent these young thugs were unlikely actually to become productive members of society, their deaths did not deprive society of tax revenue or other economic productivity. If they were caught and sent to prison, they would cost society about $20,000 per year. If their criminal careers were not interrupted by prison or by being shot (either by a good citizen or by another criminal), the most active of these criminals would cost society about $400,000 per year, according to Justice Department estimates.

 

Mr. Grossman apparently believes that if you think that criminals are not economically beneficial to society, then you must be a racist.

 

D. Gay Rights and Abortion Rights

One Nation is certain the people who support the Second Amendment must be enemies of some other causes that Mr. Grossman cares about: “there is a clear link between people who are passionate about denying women the right to make reproductive choices and homosexuals right the right to live in marital harmony while, equally passionately, defending the right of virtually anyone to own and use firearms.” (66)

 

Actually, there is no such link; pro-Second Amendment advocates can be found all over the spectrum on abortion rights and gay rights issues.

 

On the abortion issue, Mr. Grossman of Colorado perhaps has forgotten Colorado’s own Gale Norton, who served two terms as Colorado Attorney General, and then served five years as Secretary of the Interior. She is staunchly pro-gun, and has delivered the keynote address at the NRA annual convention. She is also staunchly pro-choice on abortion.

 

As for the “clear link” on gay issues, Mr. Grossman might consider Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – who as Minority Leader worked hard and effectively to help pass the Protection of Commerce in Lawful Firearms Act. As Minority Leader, Senator Reid also led opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment to ban on gay marriage.

 

And then there’s Pink Pistols, the grassroots pro-gun organization for gays, lesbians, and their allies. Pink Pistols has 35 chapters nationwide, and just opened its first Canadian chapter. Their motto is “Armed Gays Don’t Get Bashed.”

 

Can you find Second Amendment supporters who disagree with Mr. Grossman on the abortion and gay rights issues? Certainly. That is because Second Amendment supporters are very diverse. There are hundreds more politicians, writers, and scholars who could be listed who agree with Mr. Grossman on abortion or gay marriage – and who passionately defend Second Amendment rights.

 

E. Bars

Mr. Grossman quotes Denver Post columnist Jim Spencer: “In Virginia’s governor’s race, the Republican candidate runs on a platform that many think will become the next gun-lobby battle cry: allow people to carry loaded, concealed weapons in bars.” (68).

 

Virginia law currently allows people to carry loaded, unconcealed handguns into bars, with no need for a permit. Yet people who obtain a concealed handgun permit (by undergoing a fingerprint-based background check, and safety training), are forbidden even to enter (while carrying) a restaurant which holds a liquor license. VA Code 18.2-308.

 

The Virginia reform proposal would simply return Virginia law to its pre-1995 status, allowing concealed handgun permitees to enter a restaurant and have a meal there. The proposal applied only to establishments which receive less than 35% of their gross revenue from alcohol. Nothing in the proposal would change Virginia’s law against carrying firearms while under the influence of alcohol.

 

 

VI. Firearms Business

 

Mr. Grossman insists that he is not “anti-gun”, yet the describes the firearms business as “the one that makes things designed to kill, not to help people, save lives, or educate children.” (93)

 

In fact, firearms are made to help people — by saving lives, by protecting people from violent felony attacks, and by providing legitimate recreation in sports such as trap shooting, skeet shooting, sporting clays, and target shooting. Under responsible adult guidance, firearms are used millions of times a year to help educate children in responsibility, sportsmanship, and conservation.

 

A. Chicago gun stings

Mr. Grossman makes a big deal about some alleged stings in which undercover Chicago police officers claimed that they found suburban gun stores which were willing to knowingly supply firearms to criminals. (106-07).

 

Mr. Grossman does not inform his readers that the police working for Chicago’s extremely anti-gun Mayor Daley recorded only video for the stings, and chose not to record audio. The strange choice raises serious doubts about what the gun dealers actually said.

 

Notably, not a single one of the many instances of (supposed) clear commission of major federal felonies by any of the gun stores has resulted in a criminal conviction. The one exception is a single dealer, who was planning to retire, agreed to a plea bargain whose only consequence was that he would go out of business.

 

B. “Don’t lie for the other guy

A “straw purchase” involves a person who can legally buy a gun acting as a surrogate for the acquisition of a firearm by a person who is prohibited from possessing guns (such as a convicted felon). The National Rifle Association wrote the 1986 law which explicitly banned straw purchases. The law was part of the Firearm’s Owners Protection Act.

 

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is the trade association of the firearms business. In conjunction with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the NSSF runs a program called “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy.” The program trains firearms dealers how to detect potential straw purchasers, and how to ask questions to uncover attempted purchases.

The program also supplies in-store materials to inform customers about the straw purchase law, and to deter straw purchase attempts.

 

Perhaps the single most mean-spirited passage in One Nation is Mr. Grossman’s sneer that “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” is merely “lip service.” (109).

 

Mr. Grossman never informs readers (perhaps because he himself does not know) that “Don’t lie” is a joint program of the NSSF and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. “Don’t Lie” also partners with US Attorneys in the relevant jurisdictions.

 

It is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a public-private partnership led by the Department of Justice, along with the National District Attorneys Association, and other law enforcement organizations. “Don’t Lie” is partially supported by a grant from the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance.

 

BATFE Director Carl J. Truscott, speaking at the Project Safe Neighborhoods National Conference in Kansas City on June 17, 2004, affirmed:

 “We recognize the value in partnering with private organizations and gun enthusiasts because we share a common interest in a safe society.”

(emphasis added.) The BATFE Director’s view—that law enforcement and lawful firearms manufacturers “share a common interest in a safe society”—is quite different from Mr. Grossman’s malicious and evidence-free claims that firearms manufacturers support criminals.

 

At a January 26, 2006, the BATFE Director said that NSSF is one of

 “our partners in the fight to keep guns out of the hands of criminals…I’d like to express my sincere appreciation to the National Shooting Sports Foundation…The Don’t Lie for the Other Guy program is a vital in educating firearms dealers and their employees how to recognize and deter the illegal purchase of firearms through straw purchase. This program is an important tool” for ATF….”

According to BATFE’s 2005 annual report, the Don’t Lie program, as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, helped cause 50 percent reduction in firearms violence from 2001 to 2005, the first four years of the program.

 

C. Bob Ricker

Mr. Grossman devotes lots of ink of Bob Ricker, a professional lobbyist who formerly worked for gun rights groups, and who now works for gun control groups. Mr. Ricker is presented as proof that the firearms industry knows itself to be wicked.

 

According to Mr. Grossman, Mr. Ricker worked for a trade group called the American Shooting Sports Council. “His next move was to the position of associate general counsel for the National Rifle Association, which was to become his last professional involvement with the firearms industry and its lobbyists.” (111) “It was in 2003 that Ricker reached the point where he could no longer remain silent…” (111).

 

What Mr. Grossman does not tell you: In 1999, Mr. Ricker was terminated from his position at the American Shooting Sports Council because he was using his position to lobby for gun control. Mr. Ricker’s poor management had so damaged the group that it had lost its credibility; the ASSC eventually was absorbed by the more-established NSSF.

 

Contrary to what Mr. Grossman says, after 1999 Mr. Ricker was never hired by the National Rifle Association. Mr.Ricker began assisting the trial lawyers in anti-gun lawsuits in 2001, not 2003, as Mr. Grossman claims.

 

Mr. Ricker is currently a paid employee and lobbyist for a gun control organization – a Potemkin group which poses as a “hunting organization” and is run by activists which a long history of support for repressive gun control laws. Mr. Ricker’s organization is so hostile to gun ownership that the group even complained about firearms advertisements being broadcast during sporting events.

 

According to Mr. Ricker’s September 27, 2005, deposition, Mr. Ricker’s “biggest” client is the Educational Fund to End Handgun Violence, a group which favors the prohibition and confiscation of handguns.

 

As an American, Mr. Ricker has every right to lobby for whomever he wants, and to get paid for it. But the Bob Ricker in Mr. Grossman’s book bears only a passing resemblance to the real-life Bob Ricker.

 

 

VII. The Politics of the Gun Issue

 

Interviewed by Mr. Grossman for One Nation, Mrs. Sarah Brady candidly admits that the gun control movement has “hit rock bottom.” Mr. Grossman, however, promises his readers that “Things are changing…Montana, generally considered a safe Republican state where guns are away of life and gun ownership is a GOP issue, elected a Democratic governor, Brian Schweitzer, in 2004, by a large margin.” (101)

 

Whatever is changing is not a reduction in the electoral power of the Second Amendment issue. Mr. Schweitzer was A-rated and endorsed by the National Rifle Association. The 2006 elections resulted in more pro-gun Democrats in Governor’s mansions, the United States Senate, and the US House of Representative than we have seen for many years. Change indeed, but hardly a sign of growing power for the anti-gun movement.

 

A. Ronald Reagan

Mr. Grossman relies on Mrs. Brady for a political history of the successes of the gun control movement. Mrs. Brady’s memory has a few gaps.

 

Regarding the history of the Reagan Presidency and the NRA, Mrs. Brady states: “Luckily, Reagan didn’t follow through and help them.” (49-50).

 

Actually, President Reagan was the first sitting President to address the annual NRA Convention, in Phoenix in 1983. His speech extolled the NRA, reeled off a list of the pro-NRA reforms in gun laws which he had already implemented, and promised to help enact the NRA’s flagship bill:

You know, I’ve always felt a special bond with the members of your group. You live by Lincoln’s words, “Important principles may and must be inflexible.” Your philosophy put its trust in people. So, you insist on individuals being held responsible for their actions. The NRA believes that America’s laws were made to be obeyed and that our constitutional liberties are just as important today as 200 years ago.

No group does more to promote gun safety and respect for the laws of this land than the NRA, and I thank you.

We’re working closely with your leadership and congressional sponsors of firearms legislation, such as Senators McClure and Hatch and Congressman Volkmer. I look forward to signing a bill that truly protects the rights of law-abiding citizens, without diminishing the effectiveness of criminal law enforcement against the misuse of firearms.

Your leadership’s support has been important to us. Just last year, I signed two amendments into law. One eliminated unnecessary recordkeeping requirements on 22-caliber rimfire ammunition. The other saved many custom gunsmiths from financial ruin.

And I want you to know that I’m in favor of the Civilian Marksmanship program. I support this idea because clear back to the Revolutionary War, one of the great talents of American soldiers has been their marksmanship. And it turned out they developed this shooting at targets and plinking as young boys. So, I’m asking Secretary Weinberger to study ways in which the marksmanship program can be improved.

I’m also happy to report that since I took office the sale of M – 1 rifles to participants and instructors in high-power rifle marksmanship training programs has been increased significantly. And I have asked the Department of Defense to look at ways in which sales might be increased even further.

President Reagan kept his promise, and on May 19, 1986, he signed the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, a far-reaching reform of federal firearms law. The law was sponsored by Idaho Republican Jim McClure and Missouri Democrat Harold Volkmer.

 

Thirty-two pages after reporting as fact Mrs. Brady’s silly claim that President Reagan never helped the NRA, Mr. Grossman waxes indignant that: “In 1986, the powerful lobby led a successful effort to hamper the ATF’s enforcement powers under the McClure-Volkmer Act.” (82) Has Mr. Grossman forgotten who was President in 1986?

 

B. The Brady Campaign’s Record

One Nation recounts a pair of triumphs of the Brady Campaign which never actually happened. According to Mrs. Brady:

“When we worked for the Brady Bill, we lobbied nonstop for states we had to get with us. Illinois was a great example. Who would have thought that Illinois would go for a bill like ours. But we stayed on them until they came around.”

(Brady, 54). Illinois has had a licensing system for gun owners 1966, but in the period when the Brady Bill was being pushed, Illinois never enacted anything like the Brady Bill.

 

Then there is “George Ryan, who, as a Republican lieutenant governor back in the eighties, got an assault weapon ban passed…” (Brady, 56.)

 

George Ryan, who was recently sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison for public corruption, served as Lieutenant Governor from 1983 to 1991. During that period, the Illinois legislature never passed an “assault weapon ban.” Nor has the legislature passed such a ban to this day.

 

Mrs. Brady also misremembers the scope of at least one previous triumph. She states that the Brady Campaign has always taken the position on “assault weapons” that “only the new sales of such weapons and of those in production would be prohibited; previously sold weapons would not be affected.” (Brady, 43). To the contrary, Mrs. Brady’s organization successfully lobbied for the enactment of a New York City “assault weapons” law which provided for the confiscation of previously sold, lawfully registered firearms.

 

 

VIII. Columbine

 

As you can see in the Denver Press Club debate, Mr. Grossman has a great knack for relating everything back to the Columbine High School murders. Not all of his claims about Columbine are accurate, however.

 

A. Charlton Heston

Like Michael Moore in the movie Bowling for Columbine, Mr. Grossman falsely implies that the NRA President delivered “from my cold, dead hands” line in Denver. Mr. Grossman also re-writes the formulation “as cold, dead fingers,” a line which Mr. Heston never used.

 

B. Tom Mauser

One of Mr. Grossman’s fellow gun control lobbyists in Colorado in Tom Mauser, whose son was murdered at Columbine. In Mr. Grossman’s book, Tom Mauser is the voice of Columbine victims, although in the broader world, Columbine families have more diverse perspectives.

 

Darrel Scott (whose daughter Rachel was murdered at Columbine) testified against gun control in the US House of Representatives in May 1999. Brian Rohrbaugh and Sue Petrone (whose son Daniel was murdered at Columbine) have criticized the “assault weapon” ban as useless symbolism.

 

Evan Todd was wounded at Columbine, survived, and helped save the lives of two of his fellow students. In a speech, he explained his belief that moral decay, not the lack of gun control, were the cause of the murders. His father expresses similar sentiments

 

One Nation quotes Tom Mauser rejecting the that criminal control is a better idea than gun control: “My son was not killed by criminals—they only became criminals once they pulled the triggers.”

 

In fact, the Columbine killers had long been convicted criminals -– after they were apprehended breaking into an automobile for theft.

 

Long before the attacks at Columbine High School began, the killers had violated at least 7 state and 10 federal weapons laws.[4]

 

 

IX. Those Sophisticated Europeans

 

A. America vs. Europe

One Nation Under Guns makes it very clear that the American national character is defective. Mr. Grossman twice quotes Mrs. Brady: “We haven’t grown up yet.” (27, 30). He finds it very profound that his fellow Colorado anti-gun lobbyist Tom Mauser says the same thing. (151)

 

Mrs. Brady describes the United States as “a young and spoiled country” (40).

 

In contrast, she recalls her first visit to Europe: “What a shock it was to get over there and find out how sophisticated everyone was.” (40).

 

Sophisticated Europe has been the scene of numerous genocides in the last century, most recently in Bosnia, and every one of them was preceded by government confiscation of firearms from the victim population. When you remember that genocide is a form of homicide, it becomes clear that, for as long as records have been kept, the United States has been a much safer place that Europe.

 

B. Great Britain

Mr. Grossman’s book is full of claims that the United States is more dangerous than other countries because of American gun policies. Let us, like Mr. Grossman, assume that genocide victims do not “count” in assessing how dangerous a country is. Instead, let us examine one of the very few nations in Europe which did not experience genocide in the 20th century: Great Britain.

 

Great Britain also has the most severe anti-gun laws in the Western world, which gun control advocates admiringly call “The Gold Standard of Gun Control.” The nation ought to be a perfect test case for Mr. Grossman’s theories.

 

Yet Great Britain has a much higher violent crime rate than the United States. A joint study of the British Home Office and the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics found that:

  • “the English robbery rate was 1.4 times America’s”

  • “the English burglary rate was nearly double America’s”

  • the English assault rate was more than double America’s”

  • “serious crime rates measured in victim surveys were all higher in England than in the United States.”

(Patrick A. Langan and David P. Farrington, Crime and Justice in the United States and in England and Wales, 1981-96, United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, October 1998, NCJ 169284).

 

British Home Office figures show that violent crime in Great Britain is rising at the second-fastest rate in the world, well above the US rate, and on par with crime-ridden South Africa.[5] On May 4, 2001, the Telegraph disclosed that the risk of a citizen being assaulted was “higher in Britain than almost anywhere else in the industrialized world, including America.”[6] The latest UN data show that Scotland (which has always kept separate criminal justice statistics from England and Wales) has the highest violent crime rate of any developed nation, and that England and Wales are not much better.[7]

 

Only about one-eighth of American burglaries take place while the victim is home, whereas over half of all British burglaries do. Taking into account that the overall British burglary rate is twice the American rate, the British rate of home invasion burglaries appears to be at least nine times the American rate.

 

Evidence from other nations also suggests that the American policy whereby a person can own a firearm in the home for lawful protection plays a significant role in deterring burglaries of homes when the occupants are present.

 

If your idea of safety includes being able to enjoy the tranquility of your home, without being attacked by an invader who breaks in to your own dwelling, America is much safer than many of the more “sophisticated” countries.

 

 

Conclusion: Fear and Loathing

 

Mr. Grossman insists that neither he nor his national affiliate, the Brady Campaign, are anti-gun. He doth protest too much.

 

Mrs. Brady opposes gun ownership for self-defense: “To me, the only reason for guns in civilian hands is for sporting purposes.[8]

 

And she does not think very highly of sporting purposes, either. “Sarah Brady, of course, does not support attempts to get more and younger children hunting with guns.” (50-52)

 

Her organization (and, by extension, Mr. Grossman’s organization), is part of the International Action Network on Small Arms, whose founder and head, Rebecca Peters, calls for the prohibition and confiscation of all handguns and shotguns, and for banning all rifles except single shot rifles which a range of less than 100 meters. She argues that gun possession for self-defense should be totally prohibited. Her organization promotes the idea–which is widely shared at the United Nations–that there is no human right to self-defense.

 

This same principle is apparent in Mr. Grossman’s book, in which he denounces the National Rifle Association for opposing the confiscation of firearms from the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Grossman falsely claims that the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre has defended “those who would seize upon a natural disaster to commit armed mayhem, to intimidate citizens, or to engage in looting at gun point.” (5-6)

 

Mr. Grossman’s conflation of criminals and victims is at the heart of the gun control movement’s opposition to armed self-defense. The NRA never defended looting or mayhem. It did defend the right of law-abiding citizens in New Orleans and Jefferson parishes to keep their lawfully-owned firearms, for defense against looting and mayhem, in circumstances in which the government was quite obviously unable to provide protection.

 

It was Mr. Grossman’s beloved Brady Campaign which fought, unsuccessfully, to allow federal funding of gun confiscation from victims of a natural disaster even when there is no law or regulation authorizing such confiscation.[9] You cannot get much more extremist than that.

 

One Nation does, unintentionally, tells us a great deal about why the gun control lobby has “hit rock bottom.” Mr. Grossman, the head of a major state gun control group with close ties to the Brady Campaign, has no shortage of passion or energy. He also “knows” many things that are not so, and many other things that are not nearly so clear-cut as he thinks they are.

 

In most legislative bodies, a legislator, or her aide, will listen to arguments from lobbyists on both sides of an issue. When Mr. Grossman, and his counterparts around the country, tell dystopian tales of .50 caliber machine guns for sale at gun shows, of various loopholes, and of the many other pseudo-facts recounted in One Nation, they make the job easy for the citizen lobbyists on the other side.

 

The pro-Second Amendment lobbyists need only show the legislator (or her aide), the statute that proves there is no loophole, or point out the government statistics that belie the latest panic campaign from the Brady Campaign.

 

Understandably, then, the anger and frustration of Mr. Grossman and his counterparts continue to increase, as their gun control proposals are rejected again and again by legislative bodies. The rejections lead to a vicious cycle in which the anti-gun lobbyists blame everyone but themselves: the NRA and the gun manufacturers are bigots who work on behalf of terrorists and criminals, and the American people are “immature” and have refused to “grow up” and make themselves into New World Europeans.

 

It is unlikely that any change in tactics would allow Mr. Grossman and his allies to achieve their most ambitious goals. Yet it might be true that the gun control lobby in the United States could be relatively more successful if it were more scrupulous about factual accuracy.

 

That One Nation is a careless, and recklessly inaccurate failure does not mean that there are no good arguments in favor of gun control, but it does help demonstrate why the contemporary American gun control movement has been so unsuccessful.

 


Endnotes


[1] A similar phrase is often attributed to Ronald Reagan, although no one has been able to provide an actual citation.

[2] There are many, many other issues raised in One Nation for which is might be said that the author’s presentation of the facts is so incomplete as to leave an unsophisticated reader with a misleading impression. On some of these issues, I have written articles which, read in conjunction with One Nation, might help the reader develop more complete perspective; these issues include so-called “assault weapons”, (non-existent) “undetectable guns,” fifty caliber guns, armor-piercing ammunition, gun shows, the National Instant Check System, and the BATFE.

[3] Both of them had broken with the NRA by endorsing bans on self-loading firearms (so-called “assault weapons”). Bush had also made numerous anti-gun appointments, including the Chair of the Republican National Committee, Drug “Czar” William Bennett, and an HUD subcabinet official who promoted gun bans in public housing.

[4] Terrorist Training. 18-9-120.
“(1) As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:
(a) ‘Civil disorder means any planned public disturbance involving acts of violence by an assemblage of two or more persons that causes an immediate danger of, or results in, damage or injury to property or to another person.
(b) ‘Explosive or incendiary device’ means:…
(II) Any explosive bomb, grenade, missile, or similar device;
(III) Any incendiary bomb or grenade, fire bomb, or similar device, including any device which:
(A) Consists of or includes a breakable receptacle containing a flammable liquid or compound and a wick composed of any material which, when ignited, is capable of igniting such flammable liquid or compound; and
(B) Can be carried or thrown by one person acting alone.
(c) ‘Firearm’ means any weapon which is designed to expel or may readily be converted to expel any projectile by the action of an explosive or the frame or receiver of any such weapon….
(2) Any person who teaches or demonstrates to any person the use, application, or making of any firearm, explosive or incendiary device, or technique capable of causing injury or death to any person and who knows that the same will be unlawfully used in furtherance of a civil disorder and any person who assembles with one or more other persons for the purpose of training or practicing with, or being instructed in the use of, any firearm, explosive or incendiary device, or technique capable of causing injury or death to any person with the intent to unlawfully use the same in furtherance of a civil disorder commits a class 5 felony.”

Possessing a Dangerous or Illegal Weapon. 18-12-102.
“(1) As used in this section, the term ‘dangerous weapons’ means a…short shotgun…
(3) A person who knowingly possesses a dangerous weapon commits a class 5 felony.”

Unlawfully Carrying a Concealed Weapon. C.R.S. 18-12-105.
“(1) A person commits a class 2 misdemeanor if such person knowingly and unlawfully:
(b) Carries a firearm concealed about his or her person.”

Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon–Unlawful Possession of a Weapon–School, College, or University Grounds. C.R.S. 18-12-105.5.
“(1) A person commits a class 2 misdemeanor if such person knowingly and unlawfully and without legal authority carries, brings, or has in such person’s possession a deadly weapon…in or on the real estate and all improvements erected thereon of any public…high school.”
(2). Requires a sentence of 12 to 24 months, as opposed to the normal class 2 misdemeanor sentence of up 12 months.

Possession of handguns by juveniles. C.R.S. 18-12-108.5.
“(1)(a) Except as provided by this section, it is unlawful for any person who has not attained the age of 18 years knowingly to have any handgun in such person’s possession.”
“(c)(1). Illegal possession of a weapon by a juvenile is a class 2 misdemeanor.”
Possession, Use, or Removal of Explosives or Incendiary Devices. C.R.S. 18-12-109.
“(2) Any person who knowingly possesses or controls an explosive device commits a class 4 felony.”

Possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle. 33-6-125.
“It is unlawful for any person, except a person authorized by law or by the division, to possess or have under his control any firearm, other than a pistol or revolver, in or on any motor vehicle unless the chamber of such firearm is unloaded.”

Note: Most of the above statutes have exceptions, none of which applied to Harris and Klebold.

Federal Law, Gun Control Act

Possession of Firearms by Drug Users. 18 USC 922(g)(3).
“(g) It shall be unlawful for any person–
(3) who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance…to…possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.”

Gun Free School Zones Act. 18 USC 922(q).
“(2)(a) It shall be unlawful for any individual knowingly to possess a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone.”

Sale of Handgun to a Minor. Possession of Handgun by a Minor. 18 USC 922(x).
“(x)(1) It shall be unlawful for a person to sell, deliver, or otherwise transfer to a person who the transferor knows or has reasonable cause to believe is a juvenile–
(A) a handgun;…

(2) It shall be unlawful for any person who is a juvenile to knowingly possess–
(A) a handgun;…”

Federal Law, National Firearms Act

The federal Gun Control Act covers rifles, shotguns, and handguns, and was enacted in 1968 (and has since been greatly amended). The National Firearms Act (NFA) was enacted in 1934, and covers a smaller category of weapons. For NFA purposes only, a “firearm” is defined to include sawed-off shotguns, and “destructive devices.” 26 USC 5845(a)(1) and (8). “Destructive devices” include “any explosive…bomb…or similar device.” 26 USC 5845(f)(1). With that definition in mind, here are the NFA violations committed by Harris and Klebold:

Making Tax. 26 USC 5821.
Requires a $200 tax for the construction each NFA “firearm.” The two sawed-off shotguns were made into NFA “firearms” when Harris or Klebold sawed off the barrel to less than 18 inches. Harris and Klebold also failed to pay the $200 tax for each bomb they made.

Making. 26 USC 5822.
Prohibits making any NFA firearm unless the maker has registered with the Secretary of the Treasury, and identified in advance the firearm that will be made.

Registration. 26 USC 5841(c).
Requires manufacturers of NFA “firearms” (the sawed-off shotguns, and the bombs) to register each firearm with the Secretary of the Treasury.

Identification. 26 USC 5842.
Requires that every maker (Harris and Klebold) of NFA firearms place serial numbers on them.

Record and Returns. 26 USC 5843.
Requires manufacturers to keep certain records.

Prohibited Acts. 26 USC 5861.
“It shall be unlawful for any person–
(f) to make a firearm in violation of the provisions of this chapter.”

Each violation of the above laws is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Each sawed-off shotgun and each bomb constitutes a separate violation.

Other Federal Laws

Explosives Law. 18 USC 842.
“(i) It shall be unlawful for any person–
(2) who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance….
(4)….to…possess any explosive which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.”

“(j) It shall be unlawful for any person to store any explosive material in a manner not in conformity with regulations promulgated by the Secretary [of the Treasury].”

[5]Nick Paton Walsh, “UK Matches Africa in Crime Surge,” The Guardian, Jun. 3, 2001.

[6] Philip Johnston, “Britain Leads the World on Risk of Being Assaulted,” The Telegraph, May 4, 2001.

[7] “Scotland Worst for Violence – UN,” BBC News, Sept. 18, 2005 (“Scotland has been named the most violent country in the developed world by a United Nations Report.”).

[8] Tom Jackson, “Keeping the Battle Alive,” Tampa Tribune, Oct. 21, 1993.

[9] The 2006 Homeland Security appropriations bill, H.R. 5441:


SEC. 557. Title VII of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 USC 5201) is amended by adding at the end the following:
‘‘SEC. 706. FIREARMS POLICIES.
‘‘(a) PROHIBITION ON CONFISCATION OF FIREARMS.—
No officer or employee of the United States (including any member of the uniformed services), or person operating pursuant to or under color of Federal law, or receiving Federal funds, or under control of any Federal official, or providing services to such an officer, employee, or other person, while acting in support of relief from a major disaster or emergency, may—
‘‘(1) temporarily or permanently seize, or authorize seizure of, any firearm the possession of which is not prohibited under Federal, State, or local law, other than for forfeiture in compliance with Federal law or as evidence in a criminal investigation;
‘‘(2) require registration of any firearm for which registration is not required by Federal, State, or local law;
‘‘(3) prohibit possession of any firearm, or promulgate any rule, regulation, or order prohibiting possession of any firearm, in any place or by any person where such possession is not otherwise prohibited by Federal, State, or local law; or
‘‘(4) prohibit the carrying of firearms by any person otherwise authorized to carry firearms under Federal, State, or local law, solely because such person is operating under the direction, control, or supervision of a Federal agency in support of relief from the major disaster or emergency.
‘‘(b) LIMITATION.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit any person in subsection (a) from requiring the temporary surrender of a firearm as a condition for entry into any mode of transportation used for rescue or evacuation during a major disaster or emergency, provided that such temporarily surrendered firearm is returned at the completion of such rescue or evacuation.
‘‘(c) PRIVATE RIGHTS OF ACTION.—
‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—Any individual aggrieved by a violation of this section may seek relief in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress against any person who subjects such individual, or causes such individual to be subjected, to the deprivation of any of the rights, privileges, or immunities secured by this section.
‘‘(2) REMEDIES.—In addition to any existing remedy in law or equity, under any law, an individual aggrieved by the seizure or confiscation of a firearm in violation of this section may bring an action for return of such firearm in the United States district court in the district in which that individual resides or in which such firearm may be found.
‘‘(3) ATTORNEY FEES.—In any action or proceeding to enforce this section, the court shall award the prevailing party, other than the United States, a reasonable attorney’s fee as part of the costs.’’.


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Copyright © 2006

From GOA

December 16, 2006

There’s a lot of danger looming on the horizon. When the next
> Congress is sworn in January, a committed gun hater and supporter of
> gun confiscation, Nancy Pelosi, will take the reins in the House.
>
> The democratic congresswoman from California is rabidly anti-gun.
> She holds an F- rating from Gun Owners of America and has
> consistently championed socialist “values.” The new Majority Leader
> in the Senate, Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada, also holds an F- rating
> from GOA.
>
> Both Pelosi and Reid have worked hard to earn their failing grades,
> and now, they will be setting the agenda on gun control issues. Gun
> owners will have to remain vigilant in a way that we have not had to
> for more than a decade. But lest we forget, there was much that we
> were able to accomplish this year. Just consider some of the
> victories that we achieved together.
>
> *** January — March
>
> Gun Owners lobbied on all kinds of issues at the state level this
> year. But, perhaps, the most gratifying victories centered on the
> Emergency Protection bills that protect the rights of Americans to
> keep and bear arms in the wake of a natural disaster.
>
> Gun owners will remember that a little over a year ago — in the wake
> of Hurricane Katrina — police began stealing the guns of law-abiding
> residents in New Orleans. This travesty exposed the fact that,
> similar to Louisiana, several states had laws which gave enormous
> (although unconstitutional) powers to Governors to regulate or ban
> firearms during an emergency.
>
> GOA sprung into action, first, by posting videos of the gun
> confiscation on our website. GOA then began working in several state
> legislatures, as GOA-supported bills were introduced all across the
> nation to repeal these pernicious state codes.
>
> GOA spent a lot of time in Louisiana, getting gun owners in the state
> to lobby their own legislators in favor of a change in the law. The
> results were astounding, as the state sponsor of the “Emergency
> Protection” act credited GOA with helping him get 80% of the House of
> Representatives to cosponsor his bill.
>
> Rep. Steve Scalise, told GOA that, “I’ve had a number of
> [Representatives] come up to me asking to co-author my bill because
> they heard from members of Gun Owners of America in their districts
> in support of my bill.”
>
> Not only that, Scalise said that the GOA-produced videos which
> contained media footage of the gun thefts were instrumental in
> helping him convince lawmakers that gun confiscation had actually
> occurred. (Yes, it’s true. Many of his legislative colleagues had
> no idea gun confiscation had occurred in New Orleans.)
>
> In the end, Louisiana was one of ten states that GOA spent time in,
> working to enact their Emergency Protection bills into law.
>
> *** April — June
>
> With most of the state legislatures ending, GOA turned its sights on
> pro-gun bills at the national level. GOA used the Internet and the
> mail to mobilize gun owners in support of the Vitter-Jindal bills,
> which were federal versions of Emergency Protection legislation that
> passed in almost a dozen states.
>
> GOA also spent time defending gun owners’ rights in the courts.
> After San Francisco voters decided to ban handguns within their city
> limits, Gun Owners’ founder and chairman, Sen. H.L. Richardson,
> submitted an amicus brief contesting the new edict.
>
> While serving as a California state senator for more than two
> decades, Richardson had drafted (and passed) preemption legislation
> which bans localities from doing what the Bay City did.
>
> In June, Superior Court Judge James Warren agreed with the Gun Owners
> Foundation-funded amicus brief and overturned the voter-approved
> measure, citing Richardson’s law as prohibiting the city from banning
> guns.
>
> At the same time, GOA started alerting people to the upcoming UN gun
> control conference, which would take place over the July 4 holiday.
>
> In the days leading up to the conference, Gun Owners of America
> activated its grassroots network, generating thousands of messages
> into Senate and State Department offices.
>
> GOA used the mail, radio, and Internet for several months, urging gun
> owner support for legislation to instantly cut off US funds to the
> United Nations. In addition to contacting the Congress, GOA also
> urged gun owners to contact the State Department delegation which
> attended the UN conference.
>
> *** July
>
> GOA members were on hand to protest the UN and give interviews to the
> New York Times on the opening day of its gun control summit. Fox
> News reported that “Groups like Gun Owners of America… [are]
> heavily lobbying against the symposium here at the U.N.”
>
> Despite high expectations in the gun-grabbing community, the
> conference would not end favorably for Brady-types all around the
> globe. As indicated above, GOA was very active in the weeks and
> months leading up to the July 4 gun control conference. And with the
> conclusion of the conference, press reports indicated that our active
> participation was well worth the effort.
>
> According to Reuters, the conference ended in a “total meltdown” and
> “chaos.” No formal paper was adopted, and no plan for future action
> was agreed to.
>
> Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), in a column appearing on the day before the
> conference was to begin, praised gun owners for having responded to
> the call to action with “an avalanche of letters” to the American
> delegation, asking that none of our tax dollars be used to further UN
> anti-gun proposals.
>
> July was also an important month because both the House and Senate
> passed their respective versions of the Emergency Protection Act.
> The bill was signed into law by President Bush in October.
>
> *** August
>
> Most lobby groups in Washington get to take a vacation in August, as
> Congress goes out of town for its summer recess. But Gun Owners went
> to work, lobbying hard against the expansion of the Brady Act — a
> bill introduced by F- rated Carolyn McCarthy. Her bill (HR 1415) is
> designed to suck in even more innocent, unsuspecting gun owners into
> the web of gun owner disarmament.
>
> GOA members and activists overwhelmingly responded to our internet
> and postal alerts over the August recess, resulting in untold
> thousands of postcards and emails being dumped on legislators’ desks
> in opposition to HR 1415.
>
> The results were astounding, as indicated by the following quote from
> a congressional office: “Oh s–t! We got a lot of postcards and
> e-mails from GOA members.”
>
> It’s a good thing those postcards and e-mails were sent by our
> members, too, because GOA was the only Second Amendment group in
> Washington opposing McCarthy’s attack.
>
> *** September
>
> Part of the confusion over the McCarthy gun grab was that pro-gun
> lobbyists in the nation’s capital were encouraging House members to
> support her anti-gun bill. For this reason, when the House Judiciary
> Committee was scheduled to vote on HR 1415 in early September, the
> McCarthy gun bill was expected to easily pass.
>
> But that was before thousands upon thousands of postcards and emails
> from GOA members began flooding legislative offices. When the
> Judiciary Committee met in September, they reported two
> firearms-related bills to the floor of the House — but they
> specifically passed over the McCarthy bill (even though it was
> scheduled to come up for a vote).
>
> Thanks to the active support of GOA members, legislators decided they
> didn’t want to touch this “hot potato.” The tidal wave of grassroots
> opposition buried the gun control bill as legislative offices on
> Capitol Hill told GOA, “We’ve heard your postcards and e-mails loud
> and clear!”
>
> *** October — November
>
> Gun Owners were very involved in the recent elections, as our
> political victory fund helped elect several, new, outstanding pro-gun
> legislators to Congress. GOA-PVF directly assisted several of these
> new congressmen, while GOA helped expose the anti-gun records of
> those who were selling out gun owners’ rights.
>
> GOA is famous for its extensive Candidate Rating which is posted
> every two years on our website, and has been published in many
> pro-gun magazines over the years. But the Brady Campaign hates this
> fact, and they have asked the Federal Election Commission to
> investigate GOA’s practice of posting its candidate ratings on the
> Internet.
>
> Millions of gun owners rely on these ratings, but obviously, that is
> something the Brady Bunch would like to end. They want to keep you
> in the dark! They don’t want you to know the truth. The more they
> can hide what anti-gun legislators are doing, the greater their
> ability to take away your guns.
>
> A decision by the FEC is currently pending. While this could become
> a costly battle for Gun Owners of America, we still plan to fight it
> in the courts. But this won’t be the only court battle that is
> carrying-over to the next year. As the year comes to an end, there
> are three very-high profile cases in which Gun Owners Foundation is
> involved.
>
> First, GOA’s foundation stood alongside the Attorney General of
> Wyoming in defiance of the BATFE. The agency wants to overturn a
> Wyoming law, introduced by Senator Cale Case, which essentially
> allows state residents (who are disqualified to own firearms because
> of the federal Lautenberg gun ban) to find a legal way of getting
> around the federal ban. While the BATFE is opposing this law in
> court, GOA is in the state, helping to protect the rights of gun
> owners.
>
> This case is extremely important, because if GOF can win in Wyoming,
> then Case’s law can be used as a model in other states, thus allowing
> innocent gun owners — who were unsuspectingly disarmed for life –
> to own guns once again.
>
> Another one of GOF’s high-profile cases is in Montana, where we are
> helping to defend Rick Celata, the owner of KT Ordinance. KTO makes
> parts kits for individuals who want to make their own firearms, which
> is legal as long as the owner does not sell the firearm to another
> person. The BATFE has raided Celata and confiscated all of his part
> kits, although the agency has yet to charge him with any criminal
> wrongdoing. Nevertheless, Celata’s firearms have been put up for
> forfeiture.
>
> Finally, GOF is assisting Bob Arwady, a gun dealer in Texas. The
> BATFE vendetta against gun stores in general — and Bob Arwady in
> particular — has dragged on for years. The BATFE lost their effort
> to jail Arwady when he showed in federal court that their three
> witnesses were liars. The jury acquitted him. But that has not
> stopped the BATFE from their current effort to pull Arwady’s dealer’s
> license — an effort which amounts to nothing more than the agency’s
> attempt to punish and harass someone for having continuously beaten
> them in court.
>
> As you can see, both Gun Owners of America and its foundation have
> been working to defend your rights all over the country. And we
> certainly look forward to working together with you again next year.
>
> PLEASE FORWARD THIS E-MAIL TO YOUR PRO-GUN FRIENDS AND FAMILY. We
> are going to be fighting a lot of battles in the next Congress, and
> it’s good for gun owners all across the country to go into these
> skirmishes with a reminder that we can accomplish much together (and
> that we have done so in the past).
>
> Thanks for standing with us. You can go to
> http://www.gunowners.org/ordergoamem.htm to make sure that your
> support remains current.
>

What can I say? Too arms! Too arms! The Commies Democrats are coming!

Early Retirement

December 11, 2006

Brought to you by the Military of the United States of America. An all too real option for Jihadist looking for a simple path to 72 virgins.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmlCmmtCeI0

What real war looks like

December 11, 2006
What Real War Looks Like

By Elan Journo
The Iraq Study Group has issued many specific recommendations, but the options boil down to a maddeningly limited range: pull out or send more troops to do democracy-building and, either way, “engage” the hostile regimes in Iran and Syria. Missing from the list is the one option our self-defense demands: a war to defeat the enemy. If you think we’ve already tried this option and failed, think again. Washington’s campaign in Iraq looks nothing like the war necessary for our self-defense.

What does such a war look like?

America’s security depends on identifying precisely the enemy that threatens our lives–and then crushing it, rendering it a non-threat. It depends on proudly defending our right to live free of foreign aggression–by unapologetically killing the killers who want us dead.

Those who say this is a “new kind of conflict” against a “faceless enemy” are wrong. The enemy Washington evasively calls “terrorism” is actually an ideologically inspired political movement: Islamic totalitarianism. It seeks to subjugate the West under a totalitarian Islamic regime by means of terrorism, negotiation, war–anything that will win its jihad. The movement’s inspiration, its first triumph, its standard-bearer, is the theocracy of Iran. Iran’s regime has, for decades, used terrorist proxies to attack America. It openly seeks nuclear weapons and zealously sponsors and harbors jihadists. Without Iran’s support, legions of holy warriors would be untrained, unarmed, unmotivated, impotent.

Destroying Islamic totalitarianism requires a punishing military onslaught to end its primary state representative and demoralize its supporters. We need to deploy all necessary force to destroy Iran’s ability to fight, while minimizing our own casualties. We need a campaign that ruthlessly inflicts the pain of war so intensely that the jihadists renounce their cause as hopeless and fear to take up arms against us. This is how America and its Allies defeated both Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan.

Victory in World War II required flattening cities, firebombing factories, shops and homes, devastating vast tracts of Germany and Japan. The enemy and its supporters were exhausted materially and crushed in spirit. What our actions demonstrated to them was that any attempt to implement their vicious ideologies would bring them only destruction and death. Since their defeat, Nazism and Japanese imperialism have essentially withered as ideological forces. Victory today requires the same: smashing Iran’s totalitarian regime and thus demoralizing the Islamist movement and its many supporters, so that they, too, abandon their cause as futile.

We triumphed over both Japan and Germany in less than four years after Pearl Harbor. Yet more than five years after 9/11, against a far weaker enemy, our soldiers still die daily in Iraq. Why? Because this war is neither assertive nor ruthless–it is a tragically meek pretense at war.

Consider what Washington has done. The Islamist regime in Iran remains untouched, fomenting terrorism. (And now our leaders hope to “engage” Iran diplomatically.)

We went to battle not with theocratic Iran, but with the secular dictatorship of Iraq. And the campaign there was not aimed at crushing whatever threat Hussein’s regime posed to us. “Shock and awe” bombing never materialized. Our brave and capable forces were hamstrung: ordered not to bomb key targets such as power plants and to avoid firing into mosques (where insurgents hide) lest we offend Muslim sensibilities. Instead, we sent our troops to lift Iraq out of poverty, open new schools, fix up hospitals, feed the hungry, unclog sewers–a Peace Corps, not an army corps, mission.

U.S. troops were sent, not to crush an enemy threatening America, but (as Bush explained) to “sacrifice for the liberty of strangers,” putting the lives of Iraqis above their own. They were prevented from using all necessary force to win or even to protect themselves. No wonder the insurgency has flourished, emboldened by Washington’s self-crippling policies. (Perversely, some want even more Americans tossed into this quagmire.)

Bush did all this to bring Iraqis the vote. Any objective assessment of the Middle East would have told one who would win elections, given the widespread popular support for Islamic totalitarianism. Iraqis swept to power a pro-Islamist leadership intimately tied to Iran. The most influential figure in Iraqi politics is now Moktadr al-Sadr, an Islamist warlord lusting after theocratic rule and American blood. When asked whether he would accept just such an outcome from the elections, Bush said that of course he would, because “democracy is democracy.”

No war that ushers Islamists into political office has U.S. self-defense as its goal.

This war has been worse than doing nothing, because it has galvanized our enemy to believe its success more likely than ever–even as it has drained Americans’ will to fight. Washington’s feeble campaign demonstrates the ruinous effects of refusing to assert our self-interest and defend our freedom. It is past time to consider our only moral and practical option: end the senseless sacrifice of our soldiers–and let them go to war.

Elan Journo is a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute (www.AynRand.org) in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand–author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.” Contact the writer at media@aynrand.org.

While I am not 100 percent in agreement with the above I do have to support it in a general sense. What would a viable solution to Islamic aggression be? Americans spent billions of dollars developing a nuclear strike capability. Why not use it when an identifiable major threat to our existence can be targeted? Produce evidence that is incontrovertible, say in the case of Iran. Tell friendly nations to get their diplomatic corp out and any resistance forces within to get very busy very fast and that failing turn the damned place into radioactive glass. The proceed in the same manner to the next nation that sponsors our eradication.

Some will undoubtedly say that I am proposing a bloodthirsty solution. Admittedly, it is. The question being whose blood will spill? Theirs in a nuclear flash? Or ours via the sawing off of our heads? I seem to prefer them to us being killed. Imagine that?

Old Sayings

December 11, 2006

I got these from a friend, enjoy!

These have been around before, but it’s been a while.

>
>
>> \The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the
>> water temperature isn’t just how you like it, think about how things
>> used to be. Here are some facts about the1500s:
>>
>> These are interesting…
>>
>> Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath
>> in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were
>> starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the
>> body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting
>> married.
>>
>   Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the
>> house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other
>> sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all
>> the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose
>> someone in it. Hence the saying, Don’t throw the baby out with the
>> Bath water..
>>
>> Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood
>> underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm , so all
>> the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof When
>> it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and
>> fall off the roof. Hence the saying . It’s raining cats and dogs.
>>
>> There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house.. This
>> posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings
>> could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a
>> sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That’s how canopy
>> beds came into existence.
>>
>> The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.
>> Hence the saying, Dirt poor. The wealthy had slate floors that would
>> get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on
>> floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added
>> more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start
>> slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway.
>> Hence the saying a thresh hold.
>>
>> (Getting quite an education, aren’t you?)
>>
>> In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that
>> always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added
>> things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much
>> meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the
>> pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes
>> stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the
>> rhyme, Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the
>> pot nine days old..
>>
>> Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.
>> When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off.
>> It was a sign of wealth that a man could, bring home the bacon. They
>> would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around
>> and chew the fat..
>>
>> Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid
>> content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead
>> poi soning death. This happened m ost often with tomatoes, so for the
>> next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.
>>
>> Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom
>> of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or
>> the upper crust.
>>
>> Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would
>> sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone
>> walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for
>> burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days
>> and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see
>> if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.
>>
>> England is old and small and the local folks started running out of
>> places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and woul d take
>> the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these
>> coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the
>> inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they
>> would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the
>> coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would
>> have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to
>> listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was
>> considered a ..dead ringer..
>>
>> And that’s the truth.Now, whoever said History was boring ! ! !

A Personal Right

December 10, 2006

I have long argued that one needs not be an attorney to understand the Constitution of the United States. The Founders were wise people, and wrote the document in a way that anyone with basic intelligence could easily understand what it means. Big government authoritarian types constantly challenge that premise though. Just what did my father, and so many others die for? Certainly not to be abused by power mad politicians.  Washington D.C. is constantly among the most crime ridden cities in the United States. It also has some of the most draconian laws regarding ones right to defend oneself, family, or others in distress. Whether there is a correlation between those ignominious status’s is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the common citizen is at the mercy of every petty thug that happens to come along.

What follows is a possible remedy to such government abuses of the people that reside, or visit the nations Capitol.

Media Contact: (202) 789-5200

Cato Legal Scholars File Second Amendment Challenge to Washington, D.C. Gun Ban
Regulations are unconstitutional; residents have the right to defend themselves in their homes

WASHINGTON – Two Cato Institute scholars announced today that they have filed a civil lawsuit in a Washington, D.C. federal court on behalf of six plaintiffs to vindicate the right of D.C. residents to defend themselves in their home. Robert A. Levy, senior fellow in constitutional studies, and Gene Healy, senior editor, joined by two other D.C.-based attorneys, argue in their complaint that “the Second Amendment guarantees individuals a fundamental right to possess a functional, personal firearm, such as a handgun … within the home.” But D.C. officials “enforce a set of laws [that] deprive individuals, including the plaintiffs, of this important right.”

The Cato Institute is not itself involved in the litigation, but Cato scholars have argued consistently and vigorously that the Second Amendment guarantees the right of responsible adult citizens to keep and bear arms for self-defense. That is the same position now taken by respected legal scholars − both liberal and conservative − by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in the recent Emerson case, and by the U.S. Justice Department in friend-of-the-court briefs filed before the Supreme Court. Yet the D.C. city council, which is controlled by Congress and indisputably constrained by the Second Amendment, has enacted one of the most draconian gun bans in the nation. No handgun can be registered in the District. Even pistols registered prior to D.C.’s 1976 ban cannot be carried from room to room in the home without a license. Moreover, all firearms in the home must be unloaded and either disassembled, or bound by a trigger lock. In effect, no one in D.C. can possess a functional firearm in his or her own residence.

The lead plaintiff, Shelly Parker, resides in a high-crime neighborhood. As a result of trying to make her neighborhood a better place to live, Ms. Parker has been threatened by drug dealers. She would like to possess a handgun within her home for self-defense, but fears arrest, prosecution, incarceration, and fines because of D.C.’s unconstitutional gun ban. A second plaintiff is a Special Police Officer who carries a handgun to provide security for the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Center. But when he applied for permission to possess a handgun within his home, the D.C. government turned him down. Other plaintiffs include a gay man who has been assaulted on account of his sexual orientation, and the owner of a registered shotgun who cannot lawfully render her gun operational.

The plaintiffs are asking the federal court to prevent D.C. from barring the registration of handguns, banning the possession of functional firearms within the home, and forbidding firearms from being carried from room to room without a license. “This is not about carrying a machine gun on the streets,” says Levy. “It’s about having a garden-variety handgun in your own home.” Healy adds that “the right to keep and bear arms includes the right to defend your property, your family, and your life. No government should be permitted to take that right away.”

The lawsuit is Parker v. District of Columbia and the full text of the complaint is available at http://www.cato.org/pubs/legalbriefs/gunsuit.pdf.

More about this; Appeal

http://www.tomgpalmer.com/papers/appellantsbrief.pdf

Self-Defense vs.Municipal Gun Bans

When Hale DeMar shot an intruder in his house, he may well have saved his children’s lives. So why was he charged with a crime?

On the night of December 29, 2003, Morio L. Billings was AWOL from the Army, in violation of his probation, and driving a BMW X5 sport utility vehicle he’d stolen less than a day earlier. The 31-year-old was staying with his mother in Chicago, but he wanted “blow and crack” badly enough to risk yet another jail stay. He had been taken into custody at least six times in 2003, with police alleging residential burglary, receiving stolen property (twice), driving while suspended (twice), auto theft (three times), and possession of a controlled substance.

Source: http://reason.com/news/show/36162.html

Another Perspective
Playing Chicken Roulette
By Robert A. Levy & Alan Gura
Published 3/15/2005 12:05:47 AM

Imagine that your local government makes it a crime to engage in an activity that you believe to be constitutionally protected — like possessing a handgun in your home for self-defense. Imagine further that the weight of legal scholarship, from liberals and conservatives alike, holds that the Second Amendment secures an individual right to keep and bear arms. Too bad if you live in Washington, D.C., where you may be faced with a Hobson’s choice. You can forego possessing a gun for self-defense, and perhaps suffer personal injury. Or you can defy the law, illegally own a gun, use it to defend yourself, then risk arrest, prosecution, fine, or even incarceration when D.C. authorities investigate your “crime.”

Source: http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=7882

Iraq Study Group

December 9, 2006

Correct me if I am wrong; Virtually every commentator has said that the ” Iraq Study Group” is a blueprint for surrender. That victory is only even mentioned twice, and then in a context that refers to the enemies of the United States.

Then again what should we expect from a group of career politicians and lawyers? Only two from the august assembly have any military experience at all. None have any experience in unconventional warfare, the genre of warfare that is being waged in this day and age.

Below is what I believe to be the best assessment of this surrender coalition.

Source: Read the citation before you spout off Joe.

Copyright © 2006 Ayn Rand® Institute. All rights reserved.

What Real War Looks Like

By Elan Journo
The Iraq Study Group has issued many specific recommendations, but the options boil down to a maddeningly limited range: pull out or send more troops to do democracy-building and, either way, “engage” the hostile regimes in Iran and Syria. Missing from the list is the one option our self-defense demands: a war to defeat the enemy. If you think we’ve already tried this option and failed, think again. Washington’s campaign in Iraq looks nothing like the war necessary for our self-defense.

What does such a war look like?

America’s security depends on identifying precisely the enemy that threatens our lives–and then crushing it, rendering it a non-threat. It depends on proudly defending our right to live free of foreign aggression–by unapologetically killing the killers who want us dead.

Those who say this is a “new kind of conflict” against a “faceless enemy” are wrong. The enemy Washington evasively calls “terrorism” is actually an ideologically inspired political movement: Islamic totalitarianism. It seeks to subjugate the West under a totalitarian Islamic regime by means of terrorism, negotiation, war–anything that will win its jihad. The movement’s inspiration, its first triumph, its standard-bearer, is the theocracy of Iran. Iran’s regime has, for decades, used terrorist proxies to attack America. It openly seeks nuclear weapons and zealously sponsors and harbors jihadists. Without Iran’s support, legions of holy warriors would be untrained, unarmed, unmotivated, impotent.

Destroying Islamic totalitarianism requires a punishing military onslaught to end its primary state representative and demoralize its supporters. We need to deploy all necessary force to destroy Iran’s ability to fight, while minimizing our own casualties. We need a campaign that ruthlessly inflicts the pain of war so intensely that the jihadists renounce their cause as hopeless and fear to take up arms against us. This is how America and its Allies defeated both Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan.

Victory in World War II required flattening cities, firebombing factories, shops and homes, devastating vast tracts of Germany and Japan. The enemy and its supporters were exhausted materially and crushed in spirit. What our actions demonstrated to them was that any attempt to implement their vicious ideologies would bring them only destruction and death. Since their defeat, Nazism and Japanese imperialism have essentially withered as ideological forces. Victory today requires the same: smashing Iran’s totalitarian regime and thus demoralizing the Islamist movement and its many supporters, so that they, too, abandon their cause as futile.

We triumphed over both Japan and Germany in less than four years after Pearl Harbor. Yet more than five years after 9/11, against a far weaker enemy, our soldiers still die daily in Iraq. Why? Because this war is neither assertive nor ruthless–it is a tragically meek pretense at war.

Consider what Washington has done. The Islamist regime in Iran remains untouched, fomenting terrorism. (And now our leaders hope to “engage” Iran diplomatically.)

We went to battle not with theocratic Iran, but with the secular dictatorship of Iraq. And the campaign there was not aimed at crushing whatever threat Hussein’s regime posed to us. “Shock and awe” bombing never materialized. Our brave and capable forces were hamstrung: ordered not to bomb key targets such as power plants and to avoid firing into mosques (where insurgents hide) lest we offend Muslim sensibilities. Instead, we sent our troops to lift Iraq out of poverty, open new schools, fix up hospitals, feed the hungry, unclog sewers–a Peace Corps, not an army corps, mission.

U.S. troops were sent, not to crush an enemy threatening America, but (as Bush explained) to “sacrifice for the liberty of strangers,” putting the lives of Iraqis above their own. They were prevented from using all necessary force to win or even to protect themselves. No wonder the insurgency has flourished, emboldened by Washington’s self-crippling policies. (Perversely, some want even more Americans tossed into this quagmire.)

Bush did all this to bring Iraqis the vote. Any objective assessment of the Middle East would have told one who would win elections, given the widespread popular support for Islamic totalitarianism. Iraqis swept to power a pro-Islamist leadership intimately tied to Iran. The most influential figure in Iraqi politics is now Moktadr al-Sadr, an Islamist warlord lusting after theocratic rule and American blood. When asked whether he would accept just such an outcome from the elections, Bush said that of course he would, because “democracy is democracy.”

No war that ushers Islamists into political office has U.S. self-defense as its goal.

This war has been worse than doing nothing, because it has galvanized our enemy to believe its success more likely than ever–even as it has drained Americans’ will to fight. Washington’s feeble campaign demonstrates the ruinous effects of refusing to assert our self-interest and defend our freedom. It is past time to consider our only moral and practical option: end the senseless sacrifice of our soldiers–and let them go to war.

Elan Journo is a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute (www.AynRand.org) in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand–author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.” Contact the writer at media@aynrand.org.

Op-eds, press releases and letters to the editor produced by the Ayn Rand Institute are submitted to hundreds of newspapers, radio stations and Web sites across the United States and abroad, and are made possible thanks to voluntary contributions.

The times have changed

December 9, 2006

My Chiropractor sent this to me. It would be laughable if it were not so true in this day and age.

Scenario: Jack pulls into school parking lot with rifle in gun rack.

 
1973 – Vice Principal comes over, takes a look at Jack’s rifle, goes to his car and gets his to show Jack.

2006 – School goes into lockdown, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

 
1973 – Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best friends. Nobody goes to jail, nobody arrested, nobody expelled.

2006 – Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark.   Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.

++++++++++++ +++++++++ ++++++++++

 
Scenario: Jeffrey won’t be still in class, disrupts other students.

1973 – Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by Principal.  Sits still in class.

2006 – Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.

++++++++++++ +++++++++ +++++

 
Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his father’s car and his Dad gives him a whipping.

 
1973 – Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.

2006 – Billy’s Dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. Billy’s sister is told by state psychologist that she remembers being abused herself and their Dad goes to prison. Billy’s mom has affair with psychologist.

++++++++++++ +++++++++ ++++++++

 
Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some headache medicine to

school.

 
1973 – Mark shares headache medicine with Principal out on the smoking dock.

2006 – Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.

++++++++++++ +++++++++ ++++

 
Scenario: Mary turns up pregnant.

1973 – 5 High School Boys leave town. Mary does her senior year at a special school for expectant mothers.

2006 – Middle School Counselor calls Planned Parenthood, who notifies the ACLU. Mary is driven to the next state over and gets an abortion without her parent’s consent or knowledge. Mary given condoms and told to be more careful next time.

++++++++++++ +++++++++ +++++

 
Scenario: Pedro fails high school English.

1973: Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.

2006: Pedro’s cause is taken up by state democratic party. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro’s English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he can’t speak English.

++++++++++++ +++++++++

 
Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.

1973 – Ants die.

2006 – BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny’s Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

++++++++++++ +++++++++

 
Scenario: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee.  He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary, hugs him to comfort him.

 
1973 – In a short time Johnny feels better and goes on playing.

2006 – Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job.  She faces 3 years in State Prison.

Sculpture to honor fallen SEAL

December 9, 2006

Another fine young man to be honored. 

Sculpture to honor fallen SEAL

Fundraiser aims to lure $30,000 for Littleton memorial

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LITTLETON – Danny P. -Dietz, the 25-year-old Navy SEAL killed last year in one of the worst single combat losses of life for American forces since 2001, will soon be immortalized in his hometown with a bronze sculpture.”A memorial in honor of my brother is just one more piece of the puzzle that helps our family cope with his loss,” said Dietz’s sister, Tiffany Bitz, during a fundraiser Friday at the Littleton Historical Museum.

Just feet from where Bitz stood as she delivered her speech, her brother’s faded boots and his camouflage pants sat in a glass case. The clothes were some of the items the Dietz family received a couple of months after his death.

The fundraiser, which featured a silent auction, was co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Littleton. The money raised will go toward the $30,000 memorial next to Berry Park, 3400 W. Berry Ave.

Dedication of the memorial is planned for next year on the Fourth of July, the day Dietz’s body was recovered.

Dietz, a graduate of Heritage High School, was part of a four-man reconnaissance team in Afghanistan looking for a key militia leader.

He died June 28, 2005, battling as many as 40 Taliban fighters who surrounded Dietz and his team members at nightfall in the Afghan mountains.

A Chinook helicopter carrying eight other SEALs and an eight-member Army NightStalker team sent as reinforcements was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade, killing everyone aboard.

Dietz’s actions have been recognized as having enabled the rescue of the lone survivor from his team.

“He would never let anything happen to anyone,” said Bitz, 24. “He would’ve done anything to save somebody else over himself. And I truly believe that’s why there was one survivor.”

In September, Dietz was awarded the Navy Cross, an honor second only to the Medal of Honor, and the Navy’s highest accolade.

The plaque recognizing Dietz read that he “fought valiantly against the numerically superior and positionally advantaged enemy force.” Even though he was wounded, “he bravely fought on, valiantly defending his teammates and himself.”

“I love my brother – I am so proud of him,” Bitz said.

The times have changed

December 3, 2006

My Chiropractor sent this to me. It would be laughable if it were not so true in this day and age.

Scenario: Jack pulls into school parking lot with rifle in gun rack.

 
1973 – Vice Principal comes over, takes a look at Jack’s rifle, goes to his car and gets his to show Jack.

2006 – School goes into lockdown, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

 
1973 – Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best friends. Nobody goes to jail, nobody arrested, nobody expelled.

2006 – Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark.   Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.

++++++++++++ +++++++++ ++++++++++

 
Scenario: Jeffrey won’t be still in class, disrupts other students.

1973 – Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by Principal.  Sits still in class.

2006 – Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.

++++++++++++ +++++++++ +++++

 
Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his father’s car and his Dad gives him a whipping.

 
1973 – Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.

2006 – Billy’s Dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. Billy’s sister is told by state psychologist that she remembers being abused herself and their Dad goes to prison. Billy’s mom has affair with psychologist.

++++++++++++ +++++++++ ++++++++

 
Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some headache medicine to

school.

 
1973 – Mark shares headache medicine with Principal out on the smoking dock.

2006 – Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.

++++++++++++ +++++++++ ++++

 
Scenario: Mary turns up pregnant.

1973 – 5 High School Boys leave town. Mary does her senior year at a special school for expectant mothers.

2006 – Middle School Counselor calls Planned Parenthood, who notifies the ACLU. Mary is driven to the next state over and gets an abortion without her parent’s consent or knowledge. Mary given condoms and told to be more careful next time.

++++++++++++ +++++++++ +++++

 
Scenario: Pedro fails high school English.

1973: Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.

2006: Pedro’s cause is taken up by state democratic party. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro’s English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he can’t speak English.

++++++++++++ +++++++++

 
Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.

1973 – Ants die.

2006 – BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny’s Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

++++++++++++ +++++++++

 
Scenario: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee.  He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary, hugs him to comfort him.

 
1973 – In a short time Johnny feels better and goes on playing.

2006 – Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job.  She faces 3 years in State Prison.


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