Archive for February, 2013

Yes, They’re Coming for Your Guns

February 27, 2013

From The New American by William F. Jasper, February 26, 2013

In the ongoing fevered debate over gun control legislation, registration of firearms is a key flashpoint. “Progressives” insist that nothing could be more reasonable and benign than simply requiring every firearm and firearm owner to be registered with some government entity. Thus, they argue, bad guys could be screened out and guns used in crimes could be traced to help catch the criminals. They denounce as paranoid, delusional nonsense the concerns of gun owners that registration would lead to eventual confiscation.

In a “Fact Check” at Time.com intended to dismiss “The Gun Registry Red Herring,” Michael Scherer notes that President Obama’s “Now Is The Time” gun plan issued on January 16 does not call for a federal gun registry. However, the Time piece does acknowledge that in a 2001 interview Obama, then a state senator, stated: “I’ll continue to be in favor of handgun law registration requirements and licensing requirements for training.”

It is reasonable to believe that President Obama still holds to those views and is, at this point, taking a slower, more pragmatic, step-by-step approach to get momentum going in the direction of more expansive firearms restrictions.

Leaving that reasonable speculation aside, however, it is clear that gun rights advocates are far from delusional in suspecting that gun registration might be used to actually confiscate firearms that had previously been deemed legal. First of all, there is the historical record in one country after another. In the past century alone, fascist and communist regimes have used gun registration (oftentimes enacted by previous democratic governments) to identify gun owners and implement confiscation. In Canada, Australia, and many countries of Europe, gun registration has led to confiscation in recent years. It is happening here in the United States with state laws, as the recently passed legislation in New York State amply demonstrates.

Then, there is an abundance of statements from the militant gun control activists and the organizations they lead calling for outright bans and confiscation.

Nevertheless, disregarding this palpable evidence that the anti-gun lobby does indeed desire, and intend, to outlaw private firearm ownership (or make it so costly and onerous as to be impractical), the pundits and commentators of the liberal-left media would have us believe that only crazy yahoos would suspect that anyone seriously intends to infringe on the Second Amendment.

The anonymous Daily Kos blogger who goes by the moniker GrafZeppelin127 says in a January 25 posting entitled “Gun-Strokers’ Self-Esteem Issues”:

One of the things that makes what passes for “debate” on gun laws, gun policy, gun control, gun safety, whatever you want to call it, so difficult is that so many of those who proclaim their opposition to these things always frame it in a way that pits them against things that are not happening, that no one is proposing, that no real person actually wants and that have no real chance of actually happening….

This, I think, is what a lot of this hysterical freakout over “gun-grabbing” is about, when no one is actually grabbing or proposing to grab anyone’s guns.

We get a torrid lambasting of the supposedly ignorant gun-toting Bubbas from Justin Gibson (a Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual activist, according to his linked Facebook profile) in his Tumblr blog entitled, “Guns are Just the Latest Symptom of the Right’s Anti-Obama Delusion.” Gibson writes:

The current outrage and unfathomably ignorant claims from gun-fanatics that President Obama is sending federal forces to confiscate their precious firearms is a microcosm of the past four years of teabagger claims their liberties and freedoms are being trampled asunder….

The delusional conservatives’ real issue is they still cannot accept the results of the last two general elections, or the will of the people, so they fabricate imaginary sleights against the Constitution, their freedoms, and for the past month, belief the President is coming to seize their guns.

Well, President Obama may not be “coming to seize  their guns” just yet, but plenty of other politicians are already going down that road. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo admitted during a December 17 radio interview that  confiscation is “one option” under his state’s new legislation.

In Iowa, Democratic State Rep. Dan Muhlbauer went on the radio to call for “radical changes” and said he favored a ban on semi-automatic guns — not just so-called “assault rifles,” and said the government should “start taking them” from owners who refuse to surrender any of the newly prohibited firearms.

As reported in the local newspaper:

In an interview, a fiery Muhlbauer said it is time to act with “radical changes” on gun laws and other issues to protect schoolchildren from shooting sprees like the one last week in Newtown, Conn.

“We cannot have big guns out here as far as the big guns that are out here, the semi-automatics and all of them,” Muhlbauer said. “We can’t have those running around out here. Those are not hunting weapons.”

He added, “We should ban those in Iowa.”

Muhlbauer, who did not list the specific weapons he wants outlawed in The Daily Times Herald interview, said he would like to see the ban implemented in a retroactive fashion.

“Even if you have them, I think we need to start taking them,” Muhlbauer said. “We can’t have those out there. Because if they’re out there they’re just going to get circulated around to the wrong people. Those guns should not be in the public’s hands. They are just too big of guns.”

In California, State Senator Leland Yee, a Democrat from San Francisco, has reintroduced legislation (SB 47) that would criminalize ownership of many formerly legal firearms. Owners would have to either turn them in or have them confiscated. His similar bill, SB 249, failed last summer, but with political impetus from exploitation of the Sandy Hook shooting, he is hoping to push this one through. And that is just a start; other anti-gun bills are also pending in the Democrat-controlled legislature. Sen. Yee’s chief-of-staff, Adam Keigwin, has stated that California should ban all guns, even bolt-action hunting rifles.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, perhaps the biggest gun in the anti-gun lobby, has often tipped its hand in the confiscation direction. In its annual scorecard for state gun control laws it grants “Extra Credit” points to states in which law enforcement uses firearms registration records to “disarm” categories of citizens that have been retroactively declared “Prohibited Handgun Possessors.” Here is the Brady description from their 2011 State Scorecard:

Disarm Prohibited Handgun Possessors: State law enforcement matches firearm records with prohibited person records to identify, disarm, and prosecute illegal firearms possessors.

Admission: Registration Is the “First Step” to Confiscation

Most of the gun grabbers are politically astute enough to realize that any frontal attack on the Second Amendment is politically untenable, because it will immediately arouse concerted opposition and will result in political retribution at the polls. So, the strategy is to conceal the real endgame goals and attempt piecemeal “reasonable” concessions that will not seem too painful, or that will immediately affect only a fraction of gun owners.

A recent article for the Daily Kos, the news and opinion blog site considered to be the Bible by many “Progressives,” provides one of the candid admissions by the Left that their real end goal is a total monopoly of gun ownership by the government. Entitled, “How to Ban Guns: A step by step, long term process,” the December 21 column by Daily Kos writer “Sporks” says

The only way we can truly be safe and prevent further gun violence is to ban civilian ownership of all guns. That means everything. No pistols, no revolvers, no semiautomatic or automatic rifles. No bolt action. No breaking actions or falling blocks. Nothing. This is the only thing that we can possibly do to keep our children safe from both mass murder and common street violence.

That’s pretty all-inclusive. Sporks would like to see that happen immediately, but,

Unfortunately, right now we can’t. The political will is there, but the institutions are not. Honestly, this is a good thing. If we passed a law tomorrow banning all firearms, we would have massive noncompliance. What we need to do is establish the regulatory and informational institutions first.

Sporks then lays out precisely the game plan that many in the anti-gun lobby are already pursuing. This is obviously aimed at counseling and consoling the frustrated anti-gun militants and convincing them to adopt a more patient, gradualist mindset, with the objective of attaining what now seems politically unattainable. First the gun-grabbers must identify where the guns are and who possesses them. Sporks writes:

This is how we do it:

The very first thing we need is national registry. We need to know where the guns are, and who has them. Canada has a national firearms registry. We need to copy their model. We need a law demanding all firearms be registered to a national database. We need to know who has them and where they are. We need to make this as easy as possible for gun owners. The federal government provides the money and technical expertise, and the State police carry it out. Like a funded mandate. Most firearms already have a serial number on them, so it would really be a matter of taking the information already on the ATF form 4473 and putting it in a national database. I think about 6 months should be enough time.

See how reasonable they are; they’ll make it easy and convenient, and they’ll even help pay for it (with your own tax dollars). Sporks continues:

Along with this, make private sales illegal. When a firearm is transferred, make it law that the registration must be updated. Again, make it super easy to do. Perhaps over the internet. Dealers can log in by their FFLs and update the registration. Additionally, new guns are to be registered by the manufacturer. The object here is to create a clear paper trail from factory to distributor to dealer to owner. We want to encourage as much voluntary compliance as possible.

“Now … we can do what we will”

For the impatient activists who want a total ban immediately, Sporks reinterates and expounds:

So registration is the first step. Now that the vast majority are registered, we can do what we will. One good first step would be to close the registry to new registrations. This would, in effect, prevent new guns from being made or imported. This would put the murder machine corporations out of business for good, and cut the money supply to the NRA/GOA [National Rifle Association/Gun Owners of America]. As money dries up, the political capital needed for new controls will be greatly reduced.

Yes, registration is just the first step to the ultimate goal, which, as Sporks said, is “to ban civilian ownership of all guns. That means everything.” In the meantime, he has some additional interim measures:

There are a few other things I would suggest. I would suggest an immediate, national ban on concealed carry. A ban on internet sales of guns and ammunition is a no brainer. Microstamping would also be a very good thing. Even if the only thing it does is drive up costs, it could still lead to crimes being solved. I’m willing to try every advantage we can get.

Sporks accentuates the need to “drive up the costs,” which has been used successfully in other countries in disarming the civilian populace. The government propaganda machine and its allies in the media will go into overdrive to demonize gun owners. And, Sporks says, hunting should also be targeted for increased vilification:

We must make guns expensive and unpopular, just like cigarettes. A nationwide, antigun campaign paid for by a per gun yearly tax paid by owners, dealers, and manufacturers would work well in this regard. We should also segway [sic] into an anti-hunting campaign, like those in the UK. By making hunting expensive and unpopular, we can make the transition to a gun free society much less of a headache for us.

So much for the anti-gun advocates who insist they have no intention of going after guns used for hunting. Gun rights champions realize that hunting is an ancillary right; America’s Founders intended the 2nd Amendment as the ultimate check and balance against tyrannical government, protecting all other rights. The gun grabbers though, have sought to split hunters off from the Second Amendment stalwarts by offering false assurances that their guns are not being targeted. Sporks’ admission, together with current legislative pushes, should cause hunters who have fallen for that line to take notice. Sporks concludes:

I know this seems harsh, but this is the only way we can be truly safe. I don’t want my kids being shot at by a deranged NRA member. I’m sure you don’t either. So lets stop looking for short term solutions and start looking long term. Registration is the first step.

Tell Pres. Obama and democrats in congress to demand mandatory, comprehensive gun registration. It’s the only way we can ban guns with any effectiveness.

Those who are committed to the 2nd Amendment can thank Sporks for having inadvertently contributed a major service to the preservation of the right to keep and bear arms. With this column he has openly stated the real sinister agenda behind the more “reasonable” benign-sounding proposals of the anti-gun lobby. He has admitted to all of us “gun-toting Bubbas” that our paranoid “delusions” are firmly grounded in reality. And that should go a long way in steeling the resolve of all constitutionalists to redouble their efforts against these attacks on liberty and those elected office holders who support them.

Justice Dept. Memo Refutes Obama on Guns, Calls for Gun Registration

February 27, 2013

From The New American by William F. Jasper, February 26, 2013

When President Barack Obama delivered his televised “Now Is The Time” plan to reduce “gun violence” on January 16, did he know that a white paper from his own Department of Justice had already shot down some of his key proposals? Was he not given this information, or did he decide to ignore it and exploit emotions surrounding the Sandy Hook school shooting to score political points and advance an agenda?

A white paper by the National Institute of Justice of the DOJ issued on January 4 and obtained by the National Rifle Association contains admissions that strongly undercut fundamental premises of the president’s proposals. President Obama’s two primary propositions that he declared would “better protect our children and our communities from tragic mass shootings like those in Newtown, Aurora, Oak Creek, and Tucson” are presented in “Now Is The Time” as:

1. Closing background check loopholes to keep guns out of dangerous hands;

2. Banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

However, a leaked nine-page briefing paper by Greg Ridgeway, Ph.D., deputy director of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) at the Department of Justice, brings up some inconvenient facts that the administration obviously didn’t let get in the way of its gun control freight train.

Entitled “Summary of Select Firearms Violence Prevention Strategies,” the NIJ paper points out that background checks and gun bans such as those proposed by the president have proven not to be effective in reducing violent crime. It also states:

On average there are about 11,000 firearm homicides every year….

Fatalities from mass shootings (those with 4 or more victims in a particular place and time) account on average for 35 fatalities per year. Policies that address the larger firearm homicide issue will have a far greater impact even if they do not address the particular issues of mass shootings.

Before proceeding, we must pause for a fact check and correction. NIJ’s Dr. Ridgeway’s citation of “11,000 firearm homicides” annually in the United States is a false factoid that has worked its way through the media to such an extent that it is commonly believed to be true — but it is not. CNN’s Piers Morgan has been citing this supposed “fact” nightly for weeks. Cincinnati television reporter Ben Swann does a good job of breaking down and refuting this and other related statistical sleight-of-hand tricks in the gun debate on his “Reality Check” (see here).

As Swann points out, using official FBI sources, in 2011 there were not 11,000 firearm homicides, but 8,583. And of that number, 400 were justifiable homicides by law-enforcement officers. Another 260 were justifiable homicides by private citizens (shooting robbers, rapists, burglars in self-defense). So the actual criminal homicides were under 8,000, not 11,000. The NIJ has inflated the firearms homicides by some 37 percent.

That’s not a minor discrepancy but, nevertheless, on to the main point at hand: One of the key admissions in Dr. Ridgeway’s NIJ paper, to wit, that from a statistical standpoint, President Obama’s focus on “mass shootings” is misguided since those types of killings — totaling about 35 deaths per year — amount to less than half a percent of the annual gun-related homicides. So, it would seem that policies aimed at the few high-profile mass shootings — even if they worked superbly and reduced those incidents — would have a negligible effect on the 99+ percent of gun-related homicides. But President Obama’s point man on this issue, Vice President Joe Biden, admitted that no legislation would impact mass shootings either. “Nothing we’re going to do is going to fundamentally alter or eliminate the possibility of another mass shooting or guarantee that we will bring gun deaths down to 1,000 a year from what it is now,” Biden told reporters at a Washington, D.C. press conference on January 31.

Some of the other findings in the NIJ/DOJ report that run counter to the anti-gun ethos and arguments of the Obama/Biden/Feinstein/Schumer chorus undermine claims made for gun buyback programs, background checks, and bans on semi-automatic firearms and high-capacity magazines.

President Obama attempted to load the issue with inflammatory rhetoric, using references to “weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines” and “military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.” Of course, he is not the only one using these terms to sow confusion and lead uninformed members of the public to falsely equate semi-automatic civilian rifles and handguns owned by millions of American citizens with fully automatic military machine guns. Dr. John R. Lott is one of the many experts who have thoroughly exposed and patiently explained the very significant misinformation and disinformation involved in the common usage of these terms. Here is one of Prof. Lott’s explanations, during the media frenzy following the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting last year:

Yes, the M&P 15 and the AK-47 are “military-style weapons.” But the key word is “style” — they are similar to military guns in their aesthetics, not in the way they actually operate. The guns covered by the federal assault-weapons ban (which was enacted in 1994 and expired ten years later) were not the fully automatic machine guns used by the military but semi-automatic versions of those guns.

The civilian version of the AK-47 uses essentially the same sorts of bullets as deer-hunting rifles, fires at the same rapidity (one bullet per pull of the trigger), and does the same damage. The M&P 15 is similar, though it fires a much smaller bullet — .223 inches in diameter, as opposed to the .30-inch rounds used by the AK-47.

The Aurora killer’s large-capacity ammunition magazines are also misunderstood. The common perception that so-called “assault weapons” can hold larger magazines than hunting rifles is simply wrong. Any gun that can hold a magazine can hold one of any size. That is true for handguns as well as rifles.

In order for bans on large-capacity magazines to have any effect, says NIJ’s Dr. Ridgeway, they must be comprehensive and draconian, something the administration insists it does not intend to do. Ridgeway writes:

In order to have an impact, large capacity magazine regulation needs to sharply curtail their availability to include restrictions on importation, manufacture, sale, and possession. An exemption for previously owned magazines would nearly eliminate any impact. The program would need to be coupled with an extensive buyback of existing large capacity magazines. With an exemption the impact of the restrictions would only be felt when the magazines degrade or when they no longer are compatible with guns in circulation. This would take decades to realize.

Decades? But President Obama and his cohorts would have us believe that there is not a moment to lose and we must act now, immediately, so that we can immediately effect changes that will save lives.

The NIJ paper also shoots down the Obama administration’s “universal background checks,” unless the administration is willing to go all the way to gun registration, which the White House says it is not contemplating — because that would surely galvanize even greater resistance. Regarding the background checks, Ridgeway says: “Effectiveness depends on the ability to reduce straw purchase, requiring gun registration.” (Emphasis added.)

Moreover, Ridgeway undercuts the argument of the gun banners that states with lenient gun laws are responsible for “crime guns” that are used in the more restrictive states. He wrote:

An NIJ funded study of the Los Angeles illicit gun market noted: “Results showed that many crime guns were first purchased at local — that is, in county — licensed dealers, rather than from out of state. That is, contrary to the conventional wisdom that crime guns were being trafficked across state borders from places with less stringent regulations, such as Arizona and Nevada, we found that a majority of the guns used in crimes were purchased in Los Angeles County.

Dr. Ridgeway’s NIJ study contends further: “Gun buybacks are ineffective as generally implemented.” And, according to the NIJ’s top researcher, the Australian gun buyback program and its associated stringent regulations have not had a noticeable impact on crime. He says a 2006 study “using Australian data from 1979 to 2003 shows that the firearm homicide rate was already declining prior to the firearm reforms and that there is no evidence that the new legislation accelerated the declines. This remains true when data through 2007 are added to the analysis.”

Media Reaction: Clobber the NRA for Pointing Out the Obvious

What is interesting, though hardly surprising, is the general response to the Ridgeway NIJ paper by the major media. The Associated Press led the way with an article by Alan Fram that ran in hundreds of papers and websites. “NRA Uses Justice Memo to Accuse Obama on Guns” was the commonly used headline for Fram’s AP story that worked hard to present the administration’s talking points on the issue and to cast the NRA’s use of the leaked NIJ memo in a negative light. It begins:

The National Rifle Association is using a Justice Department memo it obtained to argue in ads that the Obama administration believes its gun control plans won’t work unless the government seizes firearms and requires national gun registration — ideas the White House has not proposed and does not support.

The NRA’s assertion and its obtaining of the memo in the first place underscore the no-holds-barred battle under way as Washington’s fight over gun restrictions heats up.

“The NRA’s Cox declined to say how his organization obtained the memo,” the AP story reported, seeming to imply that there may be something untoward in the NRA’s acquisition of the document. That is amusing inasmuch as the AP, like virtually all of the other MSM organizations, regularly traffics in leaked official documents.

Supreme Court Throws Out Challenge to Government Electronic Surveillance

February 27, 2013

From The New American by Joe Wolverton, II, J.D., February 27, 2013

The conversion of the United States into a type of “prison” with the inmates under the constant surveillance of the government “jailers” is progressing quickly; this time, with the help of the Supreme Court.

By a 5-4 decision on Tuesday, the court rejected a challenge to the constitutionality of government wiretaps and monitoring of citizens’ e-mails, telephone calls, and electronic messages. Those targeted for the surveillance are not suspected of committing any crime, so searching their communications is a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The Fourth Amendment protects “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures….”

The case before the court was Clapper v. Amnesty International.

The likely effect of this decision, the New York Times reports, will be that “the Supreme Court will never rule on the constitutionality of that 2008 law.”

The law in question is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments (FISA) passed by Congress in 2008. FISA was recently renewed by Congress and will not expire until 2017.

The FISA Amendments Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush on July 10, 2008 after being overwhelmingly passed 293 to 129 in the House and 69-28 in the Senate. Just a couple of days prior to FISA being enacted, Representative Ron Paul led a coalition of Internet activists united to create a political action committee, Accountability Now. The sole purpose of the PAC was to conduct a money bomb in order to raise money to purchase ad buys to alert voters to the names of those congressmen (Republican and Democratic) who voted in favor of the act.

George W. Bush’s signature was but the public pronouncement of the ersatz legality of the wiretapping that was otherwise revealed to the public in a New York Times article published on December 16, 2005. That article, entitled “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts,” described the brief history of the “anti-terrorist” program:

Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible “dirty numbers” linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.

It’s not the eavesdropping that’s the most egregious violation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (such activities are conducted by law enforcement all the time for legitimate purposes), but it’s the indefensible fact that the federally empowered snoops conduct this surveillance without a probable cause warrant so long as one of the parties being monitored is located outside the territory of the United States. The justification being that if an American is talking, texting, or e-mailing a foreigner, then something might be said that would aid in the acquisition of “foreign intelligence information.”

This policy is such a shameful disregard for our long history of individual-based human and civil rights (including the Fourth Amendment) that it shocks the conscience even when the source is considered.

Tuesday’s decision, however, strengthens the federal government’s position and all but guarantees that its drive to make every citizen a suspect will accelerate.

Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito ruled that the attorneys, human rights groups, and labor and media organizations challenging FISA had no standing to bring the suit because their claim of harm due to having their communications monitored by the government was “too speculative.”

Regarding the respondents’ claim that the fear of having their phone calls, e-mails, and other electronic communications monitored by the government forced them to make burdensome changes to the way they conduct business, the Supreme Court held that “respondents cannot manufacture standing by choosing to make expenditures based on hypothetical future harm that is not certainly impending.”

What the majority fails to recognize is that the constant surveillance of Americans is not hypothetical. The government admits that it is listening to, recording, and cataloging electronic communications — including those of Americans not suspected of any crime. Such otherwise unconstitutional surveillance is necessary, the government claims, to “meet the challenges of modern technology and international terrorism.”

The goal, they insist, is to prevent future attacks by a “member of al-Qaeda or any affiliated terrorist organization.”

Of course, in FISA as in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), key terms such as “terrorist” and “affiliated terrorist organization” go undefined. This gap is just large enough for the government to squeeze its unlawful surveillance plan past the Constitution and the Supreme Court that ostensibly is empowered to protect it.

It is this vagary that worries the coalition of organizations challenging this law. They argue that if, as part of their job as a journalist or human rights worker, they interact via telephone or e-mail with someone who might be considered by the federal government to be “associated with al-Qaeda” or some other suspected terrorist organization, that their First Amendment right of free speech is infringed by being forced to restrict themselves to only communicating with people approved by the government.

They have a good point, and one that was completely overlooked by Justice Alito. If a reporter is writing a story on the growing backlash in Yemen to the U.S. drone war, for example, would he be subject to electronic eavesdropping by the feds because there is a chance that he would be talking to someone they don’t approve of?

What if, furthermore, the fear of surveillance forces the reporter to meet face-to-face with the subject of the interview and that person has been, without the reporter knowing it, targeted for assassination by drone? Would a dead American reporter just be acceptable collateral damage in the never-ending “War on Terror?”

The majority was unpersuaded. They (Justices Alito, Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas) ruled that the Article III requirement that plaintiffs have standing was not met and therefore the constitutional merits of the law would not be examined.

To “have standing” means that the person filing the suit must have a case where they have suffered injury or are about to suffer injury. The Supreme Court has decided, in other words, that the people challenging FISA have not suffered, cannot prove that they will ever suffer, and thus they have no case.

Justice Breyer disagrees. In his dissent, Justice Breyer writes that the harm suffered by complainants is real and not hypothetical, as Justice Alito held.

“Indeed,” Breyer wrote, “it is as likely to take place as are most future events that common-sense inference and ordinary knowledge of human nature tell us will happen.”

It has been over a decade since the American people were placed under the never-blinking, ever-watchful eye of the federal government in the name of national security. Not once has there been a successful challenge to the body of federal acts that created this situation. The Fourth Amendment has been legislatively repealed and Presidents Bush and Obama signed off on it. Now, with the rejection of this latest legal challenge, the Supreme Court has joined the crew demolishing the Bill of Rights and constructing the surveillance state on top of the rubble.

Why is the Federal Government Disarming Veterans?

February 27, 2013

From The New American by Joe Wolverton, II, J.D., February 26, 2013

Veterans around the country are receiving letters from the federal government informing them that because of alleged physical or mental disability their financial decisions will be made by a government-appointed “fiduciary” and they will be forbidden from “purchasing, possessing, receiving or transporting a firearm or ammunition.”

This is not a warning of something that might happen; these letters are being sent out everyday by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as part of its Fiduciary Program.

Citing the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, VA is warning veterans labeled as incompetent that they will be “fined and/or imprisoned” if they are found in possession of a gun or ammunition.

The final decision on whether the veteran should be disarmed and prevented from ever owning a gun or ammunition will include an assessment of the following:

• The willingness to serve and abide by all agreements

• An interview with a VA representative

• Credit report review

• An inquiry into the criminal background, and

• Interviews with character witnesses

For years now, the Obama administration has followed a policy of targeting vets, taking away their guns, imprisoning them, and labeling them as “right wing extremists” and potential threats to national security.

Consider this quote from a Department of Homeland Security report entitled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment”:

The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.

Veterans are being asked to serve tour after tour in unconstitutional foreign conflicts with no identified enemy, then returning home and having their most basic right denied by the very government that asked them to sacrifice their lives.

There was a story last year about a police raid on the house of an Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient in Ohio. The county sheriff executed a search warrant and seized the man’s guns for the “safety of the defendant and the general public.”

Although unnamed, the government ruled the man was mentally incompetent to handle his own affairs or to own a weapon.

Readers also may remember the recent shocking case of Brandon Raub. The New American’s Jack Kenny reported on the story last August. Kenny wrote that Raub was:

held involuntarily as a psychiatric patient at the Salem Veterans Affairs hospital in Virginia over anti-government postings on his Facebook page. Raub, a Marine combat veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, was visited by FBI and Secret Service agents at his North Chesterfield home on August 16, then taken by police under an emergency custody order to John Randolph Medical Center in Hopewell. He was transferred to the veterans hospital on August 20. A medical assessment of his condition at John Randolph described him as paranoid and delusional, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. But after an hour-long hearing in Hopewell Circuit Court August 23, Judge W. Allan Sharrett dismissed an involuntary commitment petition as invalid.

“The petition is so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy,” said the release order signed by Sharrett, vacating the order of Special Justice Walter Douglas Stokes to detain Raub for 30 days. Stokes, who presides over commitment hearings, also ordered Raub’s transfer to the VA hospital in Salem, about 180 miles from his home. Judge Sharrett said he was shocked to find the commitment order contained no grounds for holding Raub.

The irrefutable fact is that, had the Rutherford Institute not stepped in and defended Raub, the young man would likely still be unconscionably held in a government mental hospital at the mercy of Obama administration bureaucrats.

Apart from the government’s reprehensible quest to disarm veterans, brand them as mentally ill, and treat them as terrorists, there is the fact that all this is being done in violation of the veterans’ right to due process protected by the Fifth Amendment.

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution provides that no person shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

As in the case of so many other constitutional impediments to its statist goals, the president and his subordinates are ignoring the Fifth Amendment and arresting, disarming, and imprisoning veterans without due process.

Of course, the VA assures veterans subject to disarmament that if they file a timely objection to the decision, a VA board will consider their appeal. This is hardly the rigorous legal process required before the government can constitutionally deprive citizens — or any person — of their most basic constitutional rights.

Why is the president targeting veterans? Michael Connelly proposes the following possible explanation:

The reality is that Obama will not get all of the gun control measures he wants through Congress, and they wouldn’t be enough for him anyway. He wants a totally disarmed America so there will be no resistance to his plans to rob us of our nation. That means we have to ask who will be next. If you are receiving a Social Security check will you get one of these letters? Will the government declare that you are incompetent because of your age and therefore banned from firearm ownership. It certainly fits in with the philosophy and plans of the Obama administration. It is also certain that our military veterans don’t deserve this and neither do any other Americans.

Or, as Michael Snyder wrote at the American Dream, “The federal government wants lots of warm bodies to throw into battle, but when those bodies get broken the government is not there to pick up the pieces.”

Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and travels frequently nationwide speaking on topics of nullification, the NDAA, and the surveillance state.

Feds Requested Targets With Children and Pregnant Women

February 27, 2013

From The New American by Alex Newman, February 27, 2013

Even as the Obama administration continues to stockpile enough ammunition to kill every American multiple times, law-enforcement agencies were reportedly caught requesting so-called “no more hesitation” targets featuring pictures of children, pregnant women, mothers at playgrounds, and elderly people. The company behind the controversial scheme, which has received millions of taxpayer dollars from the Department of Homeland Security, said the images were specifically requested by government officials.

After first being exposed by Infowars.com editor Paul Joseph Watson last week, an immediate, nationwide uproar erupted, with the news quickly going viral across America and even the world. Conservative, liberal, and libertarian activists all pointed to the latest scandal as further evidence that the Obama administration is wildly out of control and needs to be restrained before a tragedy happens — after all, federal agents have already murdered women and children during the now-infamous assaults on Ruby Ridge and the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, for example.

Following the most recent explosive revelations, critics wondered, among other disturbing questions, why the Obama administration would be training its legions of heavily armed enforcement agents to shoot at young children, mothers with kids in tow, pregnant women, and elderly people without hesitating. The target line in question — dubbed “No More Hesitation” by the company, Law Enforcement Training, Inc. — features a range of images with what the company describes as “non-traditional threats.”

The products that sparked worldwide outrage include seven separate targets as part of the series. As described by the company, those are: “pregnant woman threat,” “older man with shotgun,” “older man in home with shotgun,” “older woman with gun,” “young school aged girl,” “young mother on playground,” and “little boy with real gun.” You can view a slideshow of the images here.

According to the firm, the controversial target line was “designed to give officers the experience of dealing with deadly force shooting scenarios with subjects that are not the norm during training.” The women and children cardboard cutouts were also “meant to help the transition for officers who are faced with these highly unusual targets for the first time,” the firm said.

The company involved, Minnesota-based Law Enforcement Training, boasts about its ties to the U.S. Justice Department, Homeland Security, and thousands of local, state, and federal law-enforcement agencies nationwide. According to official data compiled on a federal website, the firm has landed close to $6 million worth of federal contracts alone, with almost $2 million coming from the Department of Homeland Security. Even more alarming, perhaps, the widely ridiculed and loathed Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has awarded the company almost $1 million in contracts. The precise purpose remains unclear.

In a statement sent to the libertarian-leaning Reason magazine, a spokesperson for the company tried to downplay the seriousness of the issue and justify its production of the widely criticized products. “The subjects in NMH targets were chosen in order to give officers the experience of dealing with deadly force shooting scenarios with subjects that are not the norm during training,” the company said. “I found while speaking with officers and trainers in the law enforcement community that there is a hesitation on the part of cops when deadly force is required on subjects with atypical age, frailty or condition.”

It was not immediately clear why government officials were expecting targets of this nature to become a threat, or how an officer desensitized to shooting children would be able to show restraint if, for instance, a child happened to be carrying a BB gun. “This hesitation time may be only seconds but that is not acceptable when officers are losing their lives in these same situations,” the statement continued. “If that initial hesitation time can be cut down due to range experience, the officer and community are better served.”

However, despite the ham-handed justifications, following the outrage in the wake of the worldwide publicity, the firm seems to have removed all of the pictures and descriptions from its website, though screenshots of the images can still be found all over the Internet. In a February 21 statement released on its Facebook page, the company apologized for the scandal and confirmed that it had taken the controversial targets off its website.

“We apologize for the offensive nature of our ‘No More Hesitation’ products. These products have been taken offline due to the opinions expressed by so many, including members of the law enforcement community,” Law Enforcement Training said. “This product line was originally requested and designed by the law enforcement community to train police officers for unusually complex situations where split-second decisions could lead to unnecessary loss of life.”

The company also said that, consistent with its mission as a “training supplier” as opposed to a “training-methods firm,” it would continue to seek input from law-enforcement professionals to better serve their needs. “We sincerely appreciate law enforcement professionals for the risks they take in providing safety and defending freedom,” the statement concluded.

In comments underneath the post, however, critics lambasted the company, accusing it of continuing to sell the products as part of its inventory. Some commentators also claimed the firm was helping desensitize federal functionaries to the horror of killing American women and children. Others pointed out, like critics from across the political spectrum, that the Obama administration’s domestic agencies have stockpiled massive numbers of rounds of ammunition — enough to wage a decades-long war.

Amid the controversy, members of the law-enforcement community have also been speaking out. “There’s something wrong, seriously wrong here. If we start to desensitize law enforcement officers, have them disregard humanity, to feel nothing’s wrong in shooting a pregnant lady or an old man with a shotgun inside his own home … then what kind of society have we become?” wondered retired Houston police officer T.F. Stern in a post on The Moral Liberal. “How will police officers react after they no longer believe they are part of the society which they have been charged with policing, when they have become used to shooting pregnant ladies and old men?”

The reporter who first broke the story had some serious questions, too. “Why are top training target suppliers for the government supplying the likes of the DHS with ‘non-traditional threat’ targets of children, pregnant women, mothers in playgrounds, and elderly American gun owners unless there is a demand for such items?” wondered Infowars’ Watson in the first article exposing the scheme, which features screenshots of the targets and attracted attention around the globe.

The trends are troubling, he added. “The fact that targets of armed pregnant women, children, mothers in playgrounds, and American gun owners in general are being represented as ‘non-traditional threats’ ‘for the first time’ is deeply concerning given the admitted preparations for civil unrest undertaken by Homeland Security as well as other federal agencies,” Watson wrote, echoing concerns expressed by increasing numbers of Americans.

Indeed, as The New American has documented extensively in recent years, the federal government is increasingly portraying regular Americans as the primary terror threat facing the “Homeland.” Gun owners, pro-life activists, veterans, supporters of the U.S. Constitution, opponents of U.S. government membership in the United Nations, and more have all been painted as potential domestic terrorists in official federal reports and training programs.

The Justice Department, for example, was recently exposed training local police to consider popular bumper stickers as indicators of possible terrorism. Homeland Security and its out-of-control “fusion centers,” meanwhile, have targeted veterans and even supporters of certain popular political figures, such as the GOP’s Ron Paul and Pastor Chuck Baldwin with the Constitution Party. More recently, a U.S. military think tank at West Point painted “far right” conservatives — those who support individual liberty and constitutional limitations on federal power — as a major terror threat.

Critics of the “No More Hesitation” targets said the controversy was especially troubling in light of the recent assault on the Second Amendment being waged by Obama, some extremist Democrat lawmakers, and their increasingly discredited anti-gun rights allies in the press. Several prominent Democrats, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have openly discussed gun confiscation, which would necessarily require armed bureaucrats and would undoubtedly meet fierce resistance among citizens. For now, however, the true motivation behind the government’s request for the controversial targets remains unclear.

Former Sheriff Says There is Precedent for Fighting Federal Gun Laws

February 27, 2013

By Bob Blake, The Lima News, February 16, 2013

Don’t like the gun control measures being sought by President Barack Obama? Think there’s nothing that can be done about it? Think again. That’s the message a former Arizona sheriff is bringing to people nationwide.

Sheriff Richard Mack knows a thing or two about what it takes. After the Brady bill was signed into law during Bill Clinton’s presidency, Mack sued the Clinton administration claiming the federal government had overstepped its bounds. The case found its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Mack won.

“There’s still hope and local sovereignty, state sovereignty, state’s rights is the solution. We’ve got to have local officials that tell the federal government there’s just a few things you’re not going to do here,” Mack said. “If we have local officials, sheriffs and state representatives and governors nullifying what the federal government is doing it’s all proper, it’s all constitutional, and it is completely in line with state sovereignty and the 10th Amendment.”

The 10th Amendment guarantees this process that we’re about today. Acting on the powers of the states we can keep this movement peaceful and effective and put the federal government back where they belong.”

Mack was the keynote speaker Saturday during a daylong event at American Legion Post 571 in Maria Stein that focused on the issue. Mack said he’s encouraged by local officials, including Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey, Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon, Allen County Sheriff Sam Crish and Hancock County Sheriff Michael Heldman, who have said they will not enforce the Obama administration initiatives.

“I never thought I’d see the day that this was actually happening, especially to this extent. We’ve always had some sheriffs standing here and there,” Mack said. “This has been happening before but it’s always been spotty. It’s never been this unified as it is right now.

“I’m proud of these men and women that wear the sheriff’s badge that are standing now and doing something that is so American and so patriotic. We’re right now in the most crucial time of American history since the Civil War and we have local officials especially sheriffs that know and understand their duty to stand for freedom. I love it.”

Op-Ed: Obama’s Proposals Won’t Reduce Gun Violence

February 27, 2013

By John R.  Lott, February 13, 2013

Warning that we need to “get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets,” in his State of the Union, Obama kept repeating congress must vote on the three types of gun bills he supports.

The most obvious thing that was left out of the talk was that none of the laws now being proposed would have done anything to stop the various attacks that Obama cited as justifying the laws. Nor does the evidence show that the previous Assault Weapon Ban from 1994 to 2004 reduced crime.

Were some of the killers mentally ill? Undoubtedly, “yes,” but none of these individuals had previously been involuntarily committed as a threat to themselves or to others.

Connecticut already had a strict assault weapon ban. But there is no proposed federal or state ban that would have mattered. Replacing a Bushmaster with a semi-automatic hunting rifle that fired the same small caliber .223 caliber bullets would have made absolutely no difference. The two guns would have fired the bullets with the same rapidity and would have done exactly the same damage.

Nor would it have made any difference to ban magazines that hold more than 10 bullets. Someone who is specifically planning an attack can take many magazines with them. Some of the killers have even worn vests with special pockets that allowed them to conveniently carry multiple magazines. A single large magazine is more of a convenience.

Actually large magazines pose a greater problem for those who want to kill many people because such magazines more easily jam. In a large magazine that holds many bullets, a very strong spring is required to be able to feed the last few bullets into the chamber. The problem is that springs weaken over time and springs in magazines that hold a large number of bullets lose some of their ability to push those last few bullets, thus causing the gun to jam. Guns jammed for this very reason during the Aurora and Tucson shootings.

In the infamous 2011 attack in Norway, the killer murdered 69 people and injured another 110 with his semi-automatic pistol and semi-automatic hunting rifle. He had nothing that would be classified as an assault weapon.

Most of these attacks, such as the Aurora movie theater attack, are planned many months or over a year in advance. Even if the killers were somehow convinced that they needed these large magazines, one must understand that a magazine is simply a metal box with a spring. It is trivially easy to make and virtually impossible to stop criminals from obtaining.

Yet despite being at the center of the gun-control debate for decades, neither President Obama nor Ms. Feinstein (the author of the 1994 legislation) seems to understand the leading research on the effects of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban.

Senator Feinstein’s website points to two studies by criminology professors Chris Koper and Jeff Roth for the National Institute of Justice to back up her contention that the ban reduced crime. She claims that their first study in 1997 showed that the ban decreased “total gun murders.” That is not the case. In fact, the authors wrote: “the evidence is not strong enough for us to conclude that there was any meaningful effect (i.e., that the effect was different from zero).”

Messrs. Koper and Roth suggested that after the ban had been in effect for more years it might be possible to find a benefit. Seven years later, in 2004, they published a follow-up study for the National Institute of Justice with fellow criminologist Dan Woods that concluded, “we cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence. And, indeed, there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.”

My own research also found no increases in any type of violent crime after the federal Assault Weapon Ban sunset in 2004. Nor did the number of civilians or police officers killed with assault weapons increase after the federal Assault Weapon Ban ended in 2004. In fact, they both have fallen.

There has been plenty of research by criminologists and economists on background checks and they have found to be no more effective.

About the best that can be said of Obama’s discussion on guns during his State of the Union speech is that he didn’t spend the time that he normally does demonizing his opponents. For example, when he presented his proposals on Jan. 16, he claimed that people who opposed his gun control regulations did so “because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves.” That they will do “everything they can to block any commonsense reform” that is necessary “to protect our communities and our kids.”

If we finally want to deal seriously with multiple-victim public shootings, it’s time that we acknowledge a common feature of these attacks: With just two exceptions, the Giffords attack in Tucson and another at an IHOP in Carson City, Nevada, every public shooting in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed since at least 1950 has occurred in a place where citizens are not allowed to carry their own firearms. Had some citizens been armed, they might have been able to stop the killings before the police got to the scene. In the Newtown attack, it took police 20 minutes to arrive at the school after the first calls for help.

Presumably, if Obama thought that he had a stronger case, he wouldn’t have to be so deceptive in his arguments. But simply chanting the names of horrible events and demanding that we vote on gun control laws that would have done nothing to stop those attacks fails to add anything to the debate.

John Lott is a former chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission and the author of “At the Brink” (Regnery) to be released this week. Click here to read the op-ed at HumanEvents.com.

San Bernardino Co, CA Sheriff’s Detective Laid to Rest

February 23, 2013
The casket carrying the body of San Bernardino County Sheriff Det. Jeremiah MacKay is taken out of a hearse during his funeral service on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 at the San Manuel Amphitheater in Glen Helen, Calif. Thousands of law enforcement officers from across the Southwest gathered to honorMacKay, who was killed in the violent conclusion of the manhunt for fugitive former police officer Christopher Dorner.
(AP Photo/The Press-Enterprise, Stan Lim, Pool)

Burglary Suspect Apprehended Trying to Break into Federal Agent’s Home

February 23, 2013

From The Rock Hill Herald By Andrew Dys, February 23, 2013

A 63-year-old York, SC man remains jailed without bond after allegedly breaking into a home belonging to a federal agent just hours after his release from jail, according to police and jail records.

When York County Sheriff’s office deputies arrived at the York home of the federal agent, Jeremi Blankley, Wednesday morning just minutes after midnight, Blankley had Fred Michael Capuano, 63, at gunpoint on the back deck, according to the report. Capuano “appeared disoriented and was covering his face with his hands,” the report states, had slurred speech and appeared to be intoxicated.

Blankley, the federal policeman, told deputies that he started to fall asleep when he heard a thumping noise coming from the back of his house, then saw the back door handle being jiggled. Blankley then apprehended Capuano and called police.

Capuano told deputies he was lost and had a couple of beers earlier in the day, yet sheriff’s office records showed Capuano had been released from the county jail around 9 p.m. Tuesday after an arrest for Breach of Peace. His arrest at the agent’s house was about three hours later.

Capuano was charged with burglary and public disorderly conduct.

FBI on Sexting Employees: Everybody Does It

February 23, 2013

Rosa Golijan , NBC News, February 22, 2013

Disciplinary reports published by a news outlet reveal that FBI employees have a nasty habit of sending each other sexually explicit messages — from both personal as well as government-issued cellphones— forcing the agency to comment on the matter.

“The instances described are not unlike those that occur among employees of any other large agency or organization in the country,” a spokesperson for the FBI Office of Public Affairs said in a statement to NBC News. “It is important to note that in an organization of more than 36,000 employees, these disciplinary incidents involve a fraction of one percent of FBI employees.”

The incidents are listed as “misuse of government computer” and “unprofessional conduct” in a confidential quarterly newsletter sent to FBI employees in early January, which was obtained and published by CNN. “Employee used personal cell phone to send nude photographs of self to several other employees,” one of the incident report excerpts describes. “In aggravation, employee’s conduct created office gossip and negatively impacted office operations.”

“Employee used government-issued BlackBerry to send sexually explicit messages to another employee,” another incident report excerpt reads. “In aggravation, employee’s conduct was repeated, intentional, and occurred during work hours.”

According to the FBI spokesperson who spoke to NBC News, “the disciplinary reports cited in the media are […] provided to employees in a transparent effort to educate our workforce about the FBI’s standards of conduct and to aid employees in steering clear of ethical pitfalls and other violations.”

In other words, the FBI is teaching by example, sharing actual incidents, along with the penalties for the employees who were caught. (In case you’re wondering, the employee who used his or her personal phone to send nude photos to co-workers received a 10-day suspension. The one who used his or her government-issued BlackBerry to sext a colleague received a five-day suspension.)

“We’re hoping [that] getting the message out in the quarterlies is going to teach people, as well as their supervisors … you can’t do this stuff,” FBI assistant director Candice Will told CNN. “When you are given an FBI BlackBerry, it’s for official use. It’s not to text the woman in another office who you found attractive or to send a picture of yourself in a state of undress. That is not why we provide you an FBI BlackBerry.”

Will’s concerns aren’t the first shared about inappropriate messages being sent at work, of course. In mid-2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a Southern California case involving work-issued devices and some sexy text messages.

The court, at that time ruled that employees should assume that their bosses can (and will) monitor communications on their company devices — meaning that those sending nude photos and explicit messages are bound to get busted. Additionally, rulings have been made by the House of Representatives to ban access to porn on government-issued computers.