Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Washington, D.C. And The Folly Of Gun Registration

Washington D.C. has the strictest gun registration laws in the United States, forcing gun owners to re-register their guns with the city every three years or face jail time and heavy fines. Each time that a gun owner re-registers his weapons, he has to pay a fee of $13 for per gun.

As if that weren’t enough, the DC police department is now forcing local gun-owners to re-submit their fingerprints (and pay an additional $35 fingerprinting fee) as part of the re-registration process —despite the fact that each of them has already been fingerprinted.

And why is this?

The city is saying that it somehow “lost” the original fingerprints. That’s right —having already fingerprinted as many D.C. gun owners as possible, the city’s police are forcing the same people to undergo the process a second time, at their own expense, simply because it misplaced the original fingerprints.

Can everyone agree that D.C.’s gun registration program has been an utter failure?

Even if gun registration were Constitutional (which it isn’t), the incompetence of the D.C. police is proof that the government lacks the basic ability to administer an effective gun registration database.

The D.C. program was already failing miserably, even before it was revealed that the D.C. government had lost everyone’s fingerprints. Despite the threat of jail time and thousands of dollars in fines, barely a thousand guns have been re-registered since the re-registration policy was instituted in December 2013.

If the police are unable to administer it, and the people aren’t willing to participate in it, isn’t that a sign that gun registration should be scrapped?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Who Is Standing Up For Washington State Gun Owners?

The biggest battle over gun rights this election season isn’t in Washington, D.C. but in Washington State. Second Amendment supporters in Washington are facing off with the gun control lobby over dueling ballot initiatives — a pro-gun bill to prevent gun confiscation (I - 591) and an anti-gun bill to expand background checks (I - 594).

So far, it hasn’t been much of a fight. The anti-gun Washington Alliance For Gun Responsibility, supported by Seattle millionaires like Bill Gates and Paul Allen, has already raised more than $7 million in support of I – 594. The pro-gun side has raised only $1.3 million. The NRA — which just dropped $1.4 million in the Arkansas Senate race — has put only $191,000 into the fight.

Not surprisingly, polls show the anti-gunners pulling ahead, with seventy percent of voters favoring the background checks bill. According to gun rights activist Barron Barnett, many gun rights supporters in Washington aren’t even aware of what is going on. He recently wrote:

“I am terrified. Out of the people visiting their local gun show you would expect at least 90% [to have] heard of what’s going on. It’s more like 50%. Most have no real knowledge of either of the initiatives or their real legal impact.”

Barnett added that he feels abandoned by the NRA, writing that “the NRA is more than happy to take my money but then is no where to be found when things actually go sideways.”

With the NRA out of the picture, the fight is being led by Alan Gottlieb of the Washington State-based Second Amendment Foundation, who challenged Bill Gates to a debate over gun rights last month. But some have questioned Gottlieb’s commitment as well. Last month, the gun writer Claire Wolfe accused Gottlieb of being more interested in money and attention than gun rights, saying that he “need[s] and want[s] gun control because that’s what keeps the money and publicity flowing.”

Gottlieb was also widely criticized for supporting the Manchin – Toomey background check bill of 2013 (although he claims to have done so because the bill actually contained advances for gun rights.)

Time is running out to oppose I – 594 in Washington. One can only hope that gun groups will get their act together before it is too late.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Members Of Jews For The Preservation Of Firearms Ownership Oppose Merger With Second Amendment Foundation

Members of Jews For The Preservation Of Firearms Ownership are opposing the group’s merger with the Second Amendment Foundation, citing founder Aaron Zelman’s personal distrust of SAF leader Alan Gottlieb.

JFPO member and contractor Claire Wolfe revealed news of the merger on August 22nd. In a column for Backwoods Home magazine, she accused Gottlieb of being more motivated by profit than by principles, writing:
“[Aaron Zelman] despised Alan Gottlieb and saw him as an opportunist who used scary mailings to turn SAF/CCRKBA into a fundraising factory. He saw Gottlieb as a person who needed and wanted ‘gun control’ because that’s what kept the money and the publicity flowing.”
Wolfe identified Gottlieb’s support of the Manchin - Toomey gun control bill in 2013 as evidence of his willingness to compromise, pointing out that Gottlieb even boasted of helping to write the bill.

An anonymous JFPO member also accused Gottlieb of trying to gut JFPO simply to get his hands on the group’s mailing list:
“SAF is salivating at this ‘merger.’ What’s not to like? They pay a few bills, but they get a great email and snail-mail list. They probably know that there is very little overlap between SAF members and JPFO members.
But since SAF, Alan Gottlieb, and the lawyers he hires are unprincipled hypocrites, willing to compromise and toady at every turn, they don’t understand WHY there is so little overlap in membership.
The truth is, Aaron Zelman was a fanatic. In a good sense. He had a burning issue and a principled stance. He would never compromise.”
Despite these complaints, the merger between SAF and JFPO was announced on September 4th. Supporters of the deal said that JFPO had no other option. In a press release, the organization stated:
“[T]he Stalking Horse of poor cash flow was always there. We came to realize that JPFO needed one or more major supporters to break through to the next level. Many inquiries yielded nil, it became clear that the most logical and efficient solution was to ally with another 2A organization, while preserving our identity. To solve these problems, the JPFO Board of Directors sought out and elected to merge with the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF).” 
An online petition to oppose the deal currently has almost 1500 signatures.

Monday, August 25, 2014

New York “Gun Offender” Registry Exposes Hypocrisy Of Gun Control

New York City lawmakers are calling for a public database of gun offenders modeled on the national sex offender registry.  The proposal would create a website listing the name, address and conviction of “gun criminals” in New York City.

Supporters of this effort argue that it will increase public safety by educating the general public as to the whereabouts of dangerous criminals.

“It will make our communities more aware of who is in our neighborhood and what actions they have taken,” said New York City Councilman Costa Constantinides, who sponsored a bill in support of this effort. “Part of public safety is knowing who is on the field.”

In reality, this legislation — just like every other law targeting “gun crime” — has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with politics.

If Constantinides were truly interested in public safety, the proposed database would include all violent criminals — not just the ones who use guns. By choosing to target only “gun criminals”, he is implying that someone who has committed a minor gun offense is more dangerous than someone who has stabbed someone to death or beaten his wife.

The obvious hypocrisy of this law seems to be completely lost on its supporters, who are more interested in shaming gun owners than they are in addressing crime.

“If you committed an act of gun violence, if you shot somebody, and you don’t want to be put in the public spotlight, if this is going to embarrass you too much then you know what – just stay away from guns. Don’t do the crime,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

The real purpose of this law is to get votes — not to promote public safety.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Conservatives Should Rally In Opposition To Police Firepower

Regardless of your opinion on recent events in Ferguson, MO, anyone who cares about his or her constitutional rights should be very concerned with the level of firepower that is being granted to local law enforcement agencies these days. Tanks and drones do not belong in the hands of local law enforcement.

Despite what the idiots in the liberal media might say, conservatives and libertarians have been trying to draw attention to this issue for years. In 2012, Sen. Tom Coburn released a comprehensive report illustrating how local law enforcement agencies have come more and more to resemble military units. Glenn Beck has also brought attention to the issue, as has the National Review’s Charles Cooke. Cooke wrote in June:

“Historians looking back at this period in America’s development will consider it to be profoundly odd that at the exact moment when violent crime hit a 50-year low, the nation’s police departments began to gear up as if the country were expecting invasion — and, on occasion, to behave as if one were underway.”

Following the events in Ferguson, Senator Rand Paul also spoke out on this topic, writing:

“Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies—where police departments compete to acquire military gear that goes far beyond what most of Americans think of as law enforcement.”

But the unfortunate truth is that voices like Paul’s are the exception in today’s Republican Party. The RINO establishment has remained silent on the growth of police firepower and even encouraged it.

When an amendment was introduced to the Defense Appropriations Bill in June to prohibit the transfer of military weapons to local law enforcement, only nineteen Republicans voted for it. In 2012, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell of West Virginia recommended that police use drones to hunt American citizens on domestic soil (something that has since become commonplace.)

Even the NRA (or at least one of its paid commentators) has come out in support of police militarization. Earlier this year, NRA commentator Dom Raso released two videos on the issue despite protests from the pro-2A community.

The Republican establishment seems to be more interested in pleasing defense companies who view police departments as customers than they are in protecting the civil rights of American citizens. They need to get their priorities straight and take a stand for basic conservative principles.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

House Bill Would Keep Guns Away From Federal Regulators

Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT) has introduced a bill to de-militarize federal regulatory agencies such as the Department of Education and the IRS.

Unbeknownst to most Americans, these agencies and dozens of others employ a steadily increasing number of armed law enforcement officers and have acquired frightening amounts of arms and ammunition. Stewart’s bill, entitled the Regulatory Agency Demilitarization Act, seeks to strip these agencies of their law enforcement authority and take away their weapons.

“I understand that federal agents must be capable of protecting themselves,” Stewart said. “But what we have observed goes far beyond providing necessary protection…Not only is it overkill, but having these highly armed units within dozens of agencies is duplicative, costly, heavy handed, dangerous and destroys any sense of trust between citizens and the federal government.”

In 2002, the Homeland Security Act gave dozens of non-traditional agencies the power to arrest people and use military grade firearms. Since then, dozens of agencies from the Department of Labor to the Peace Corps have hired armed officers and employed SWAT – type units.

“Like a lot of times, we write bad legislation in the heat of a crisis,” Stewart said. “We did it with Dodd Frank in reaction to the banking crisis. So that’s exactly what happened here, they gave this authority to federal agencies that never had it before. We have to pull it back now because it creates so much distrust with the America people.”

In recent years, there have been a number of disturbing reports of federal agencies abusing their law enforcement powers.

In 2012, the Social Security Administration requested 174,000 hollow point bullets. More recently, the USDA recently requested the use of .40 caliber submachine guns. And earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security contracted to purchase 704 million rounds over the next 4 years, or 2,500 rounds of ammo per officer, per year.

These requests go far beyond what is necessary and raise legitimate questions about what the ammo is actually intended for. Outside of a war zone, why would DHS need 2,500 rounds of ammunition per officer each year?

Congress should pass the Regulatory Agency Demilitarization Act and put all the questions to rest.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Tennessee Senate Primary: Keeping RINOs In Check

With one day left before the Republican Senate primary in Tennessee, supporters of constitutional conservative Joe Carr are refusing to back down. The latest polling shows that State Rep. Joe Carr is trailing Sen. Lamar Alexander but remains within striking distance.

Released on Friday by Red Racing Horses, the latest poll found Alexander ahead of Carr by twelve points, 41 to 29. Twenty percent of voters said they were undecided. If those late-deciding voters rally behind Carr, the unthinkable could happen — Alexander could actually lose.

Carr has received a boost from a record – breaking early voter turnout — proof, he says, that his campaign is building momentum.

Even if Carr isn’t able to close the gap in time, this primary shows yet again that conservatives aren’t happy with the good old boys that the party sends to Washington. At the very least, the pressure will remind Alexander and the rest of the establishment that it has to keep in line.