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Number 67, March 15, 2000
L. Neil Smith, Publisher
John Taylor, Editor
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by John Taylor
Following up on last issue's "Project Exile" notes in this space, I offer two additional takes on the NRA-promoted monstrosity ... soon to become the latest "Instant Check". Presented for your consideration, first from Russ Howard, then from Mark Call:
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Project Exile, or Project Gulag?
By Russ Howard
"In his ... State of the Union address, President Clinton announced plans to require a special photo ID license and mandatory gun course for the purchase of handguns ... '[T]here is only one reason ... [for] a ... database on everyone ... who owns a firearm, [responds Wayne LaPierre,] and that's for the 2nd step -- ... when they decide ... to sweep every firearm from every American house. ...'" (Gun-rights organizations at odds, by David Bresnahan, WorldNetDaily, Mar. 2, 2000)
So true. But then why, should such a law pass, does LaPierre want to enforce it?
Through "Project Exile," LaPierre wants to "enforce existing gun laws" with "zero tolerance" and 5-years in the federal prisons he's helping build, despite the unconstitutionality of most existing gun laws and our bitter struggles against their passage. Predictably, Clinton & Co. are buying in: "Enforce existing gun laws, huh? Hey, that sounds pretty good! How about 500 more ATF agents?" (Which, of course, LaPierre had to swallow, though as usual he didn't seem to mind). Anti-gun-rights enthusiasm for Exile was predictable, considering that LaPierre partnered with pro-defenselessness Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell to grease this sucker deal.
And yet, this from the "NRA Winning Team" web site: "Readers...may be surprised...about the latest politician taking credit for 'Project Exile.' A Buffalo News article (8/10/99) quoted...Sen. Charles Schumer...saying, 'Before Project Exile,...a crime with an illegal gun could mean only a slap on the wrist. But now those wrists are slapped with handcuffs.' (Credit Where Credit Is Due? NRA-ILA Fax Alert, Vol.6, No.32, 8/20/99)"
Why should anyone be surprised to see the Victim Disarmers jump on a bandwagon that will turn decent gun owners into political prisoners, one by one? Is NRA's "Winning" Team really that dense, or, like the corrupt police official in Casablanca, are they "shocked, shocked, to discover there is gambling in this institution" (as they collect their winnings)?
Perhaps when pressed, LaPierre will say something like, "I meant real criminals; you know, violent felons." But while his "Winning Team" chants the "law enforcement" mantra, they take little care to limit the focus of Exile propaganda to convicted criminals; let alone violent felons. Not that these finer distinctions would save us anyway: Intended or not, they will include decent folks busted for CCW or refusing to turn in "illegal" guns, then busted again after doing time. As gun laws grow ever numerous and complex, Exile will victimize good citizens for unknowing violations as well. Moreover, since anti-gunners are designing and implementing Exile, even "Violent Felons" will include decent, victimless offenders. In short, Project Exile will turn political dissidents into political prisoners. Hence, "Project Gulag."
Let's say they come to confiscate your "assault weapon," which respectable sport shooter Charlton Heston says you have no legit reason to own. Maybe you're not enthusiastic enough about giving it up. Maybe you mouth off about your "rights." We'll assume you're luckier than Don Scott, the Weavers, and the little kiddies at Waco, so the police merely beat you and claim you attacked them. Besides a gun "crime," you're also convicted of a "violent crime". Or, suppose while carrying "illegally" for self-defense, you rid the gene pool of a would-be torture-murderer who had not yet racked up a record. As they say, "no good deed should go unpunished." It's your word against your pure-as-the-driven-snow "victim," so to add injury to injury, and some insult as well, the slam-dunk carry case helps convict you of a "violent crime" against him.
In any case, after doing time, you're arrested & convicted again for exercising your "inalienable right" to self-defense. 5 years later and "free" again, your incorrigible attachment to the "RKBA" gets you a 3rd Strike. Thanks to LaPierre's "Winning" Team -- big supporters of 3 Victimless Crimes & You're Out and other cornerstones of the Prison Industrial Complex -- you go to the Gun Gulag for life.
Here. In America. As a political prisoner. Even though you never hurt a soul.
According to Utah constitutional rights leader Arnold Gaunt, "Sen. Hatch ... laments that Reno has prosecuted so few for possession of 'assault weapons'. LaPierre was here [Feb.16], defending Hatch's anti-gun record." Here are some excerpts from Hatch's website:
"I am pleased that ... Clinton appears to be partially signing onto the Republican solution to ... gun violence ... [Like mine, his] proposal ... seek[s] to curb the sharp decline in gun prosecutions ... [which a]fter intense pressure from Congress ... finally increased ... in 1999... [But his] fails to increase penalties for violent offenses... [In] Hatch 10-20-life..., a criminal who commits a federal felony with a firearm ... [faces] minimum sentences: 10 Years for ... a ... felony with a firearm. 20 Years for the discharge of a firearm during ... a ... felony. Life for ... murder ... with a firearm during ... a ... felony. ...[Clinton's] record ... was terrible ...: [F]irearm on school grounds ... Clinton ... prosecuted only 8 cases under this law in 1998 ... [T]ransfer ... to a juvenile ... Clinton ... prosecuted only 6 ... [T]ransfer or possess a semi-automatic assault weapon ... Clinton ... prosecuted only 4 ..."
Consider these scenarios for Hatch's "Republican" program:
- You, a 40-year-old teacher, afraid to be defenseless after all the shootings, begin 'carrying' to work. A student opens fire, deranged by the druggings prescribed for his 'ADD' (formerly known as Childhood). When calling "time out" fails, you shoot back. Even if you miss, you're out for 20. Sorry, no early parole thanks to NRA "CrimeStrike". (Far-fetched, you say? In 1998, a kid shot up his high school, killing 2, wounding 7. The vice principal ran for a gun he'd unintentionally left in his pickup and stopped the rampage without firing a shot. His parking job alone was a felony under the Hatch-LaPierre-Heston Safety-Free Schools law.)
- You survive prison, but at 60, with little means of support and forced to live in a rough "hood," you're nabbed at a post office carrying for self-defense. Now it's 10 & 2. One more & you're out. Batter Up! But wait, wasn't that a '2-fer'?
- "Free at last" (at 70), you're forced to live with a gun-owning son. The police search the place and...You're Out!
- Dad dies young, leaves AR15 to 17-year-old. Mom unaware of ban; kid goes to range...
If a scenario above doesn't flow perfectly from current law, policy, interpretation, or plan, don't worry, it will soon. A felony is what the legislature says it is. As anti-gun legislatures define, redefine, complicate, & federalize more and more felonies, more and more victimless gun "crimes" will fall under Exile, 10-20-Life, etc.
It's coming. On Feb.16, former Virginia Citizen Defense League chief Val Finnell, MD got a chilling view of NRA's Texas Exile in action: "Billboard in El Paso reads, 'Report illegal guns' and gives an 800 number... Fools. All they have to do now is expand the list of people unqualified to own guns. Nazi Germany & the Communist regimes worked on these citizen snitch networks. It is beyond wrong, it is evil!"
But they are expanding the list, and Hatch is working overtime to help them: voting to jail teachers for the "crime" of self-defense, complaining that not enough "assault weapon" owners are doing time, peddling core anti-gun myths. (Why should a crime with a gun draw a stiffer term than the exact same crime and resulting injury committed with a knife? Because guns are evil?) Yet LaPierre calls Hatch "one of the 3 best supporters of gun rights in the entire Senate & House...combined." Really? Who are the other two, Schumer & Feinstein?
And Hatch's A+ rating? Big deal. NRA's A ratings have long been one of the biggest farces in politics. Sadly, everyone's in on the joke but NRA members. Every election cycle, LaPierre gives A and A+ ratings, money, endorsements, even medals to hundreds of politicians who vote for gun bans, and his "Winning" Team killed a board policy I proposed in 1996 to stop it (see "Sleeping with the Enemy?" http://www.goa-texas.org/Badgrade.htm). Like many "pro-gun" Republicans, Hatch "protects" us from gun grabbers the way a "good cop" protects a suspect from the "bad cop." And with LaPierre, Heston & Co. running cover, they can count on us to play the ever grateful sap.
The "Winning" Team is also helping expand the list people unqualified to own guns:
- * Reverse: Expanding the list of guns not qualified to be owned -- by rewarding politicians who vote for gun bans.
- * Direct: Lautenberg "domestic violence" ban. The "Winning" Team "took a walk" on this.
- * Indirect: Safety-Free Schools, federalization, InstaCheck, massive police hiring & prison building - all NRA programs.
Why are we doing this? The theory we've been sold is that lowering violent crime rates by any means possible will reduce pressure for gun confiscation. The theory is wrong. History shows that building a police state paves the way for gun control, and for the genocide of those the latter leaves defenseless against the former (see Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Red China). And "low-crime" countries generally seem to have been as oppressive against citizen self-defense as "high-crime" ones.
The theory implicitly accepts the model that the anti-self-defense/gun confiscation movement is at heart benign, motivated by good intentions, bad logic, and, in many cases, hoplophobia (irrational fear of guns). While the benign paradigm may hold true for most of the followers, the same cannot be said of the leaders, who can barely contain their glee at exploiting each new massacre in a school left defenseless by their policies. With virtual control of the press, such incidents will yield ample fodder for gun control pressure, despite the fact that they are facilitated by gun control, despite dropping crime rates, and despite overwhelming evidence that gun control increases violent crime. In any case, why would hoplophobes give up if crime drops?
And regardless of how successful gun safety programs have been at making child shooting accidents statistically rare, accidents can never be eliminated entirely short of total civilian gun confiscation or storage laws so Draconian as to yield total civilian defenselessness. Until then, there will always be enough horrible tragedies for gun control leaders to do their media blood dance on the nightly news.
The theory also neglects to consider that a police state, once built, cannot be expected to behave and go away when not longer needed. Such an expectation would be as absurd as the notion that Marx's state would "wither away". Like any bureaucracy or organism, it will seek to survive and grow, and it will do so at the expense of citizen self-defense, which it will treat as a threat. Once critical mass is reached, it will run its course.
The 2nd Amendment community's contribution to public safety should be citizen self-defense. Studies and common sense back us up. It's what much of the public expects and wants to hear from us. So why not give it to them, relentlessly? Instead, we hide from our own issue, support Draconian sentences for violations of unconstitutional carry laws, endorse victim defenselessness in schools, restaurants, etc., and fight Vermont carry, while instructors for the much-vaunted "Refuse to be a Victim" program, last time I checked, were prohibited from even recommending self-defense gun training, let alone providing it.
This appeasement plays into the hands of victim disarmers: Setting ourselves up by building the institutional means and demand for our own oppression; implicitly supporting the notion that the police can and should be our primary protectors. I hate violent crime as much as anyone; I've been subjected to it. But 40 years ago we didn't need a prison on every corner. We should ask why. If we were to greatly expand strong CCW (as opposed to weak Virginia-style carry -- intentionally kept weak by NRA), why would we need a police state? The Feds were far too powerful before Project Exile.
Are we a citizen self-defense civil rights movement, or a special interest lobby for professional law enforcement and prison industry expansion? There are dangerous conflicts of interest inherent in trying to be both.
The answer is not gutting the Bill of Rights; it's strong CCW and respecting the Bill of Rights. By and large, the gun rights community strongly supports "the police." But must we worship every ill-conceived or ill-intended policy whim of law enforcement leaders? The rapidly-grown standing army of professional law enforcement is now part of the select militia problem about which the Constitution's Framers worried, and it will naturally see self-defense as competition.
Worse, this unofficial army is now commingling with the official one. A recent Cato Institute paper, "Warrior Cops - The Ominous Growth of Paramilitarism..." observes, "[For] 20 years Congress has encouraged the...military to supply intelligence, equipment, and training to civilian police...spawn[ing] a culture of paramilitarism...[N]early 90% of...cities...over 50,000 had paramilitary units...with M-16s, armored personnel carriers, and grenade launchers[,]...exercises with...Army Rangers and Navy SEALs[,]...behavior and outlook...not appropriate for...police officer[s who]...confront not an "enemy" but individuals...protected by the Bill of Rights..."
Could the "Military Industrial Complex" have a new market for the post-cold war age? From a 1999 CAIB article "The Militarization of the Police": "The program...[is called], 'Technology Transfer From Defense: Concealed Weapons Detection.'...Speaking to...the defense, intelligence, and industrial communities in Nov.1993,...Janet Reno challenge[d them]...'to turn your skills that served us so well in the Cold War to...the war...in the streets'...[T]echnology include[s] '...unobtrusive scanners to avoid "4th Amendment limitations'[,]... 'virtual reality training, simulation, and mission planning...' "
Is it any wonder Colt's would "go with the money" -- supporting gun control and abandoning the civilian market, and in so doing curry favor with government buyers?
The police state's tents are made of concrete, barbed wire, careers, and contracts - not easily folded. The Prison Industry spent millions enacting 3-Strikes & prison-building laws, and voters bought the same bill of goods we're buying on Exile - that it only affects real criminals. Feeding a monster may keep it from eating us, for a while. But as it grows, so does its appetite, until nothing's left but us. Millions of jobs and billions in profits are at stake. As real crime drops, new "criminals" will be created to arrest and to keep the industry "staffed" in more ways than one. (Anyone notice that big business is "hiring" inmates?) Victimless criminals make the best slave laborers, and gun owners are a huge untapped pool.
I am a life member of LEAA. I have friends in law enforcement who honor the Constitution and see citizen self-defense as a blessing. But many don't these days, especially leadership, so being pro-gun is not the best career move. How many Cops with years invested and families to support will stand up like former San Jose Policeman Leroy Pyle, LEAA's first Executive Director? How many will "just follow orders" - especially when NRA gives them the wink and the nod? How many will "turn" under cognitive dissonance, peer pressure and job pressure, and let themselves be pressed into the new mold?
Millions look to NRA for policy guidance. When our "ankle-grabbing Chamberlains" demonize certain gun owners, pass laws we must break, hire Gestapo to arrest us, and build Gulags to hold us, the gun-owning "herd of independent minds" will come to embrace those positions. What was once treasonable, gradually becomes reasonable. Though most cannot or will not see it, the "Winning" Team's insidious redefinition of what it means to be "pro-gun" is the biggest threat faced by the gun rights community. No Clinton, no Schumer, no Brady, and no Feinstein could ever directly achieve it. Such subversion can only come from inside. We're oppressed by the tyranny of the obvious, and we'll be lucky to overcome it.
How confident is the "Winning" Team in the celebrity-worshipping gullibility of NRA members? On Mar.6, Wayne LaPierre had a joint press conference with Handgun Control Inc.'s Jim Brady and other prominent victim disarmers to launch Colorado Project Exile. Of course, some of us aren't so easily taken. Reportedly, Mark Call of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners' "Tyranny Response Team" asked LaPierre, "I missed the phone number to turn in your neighbor. Is it 1-800-Gestapo, or 1-800-Police State?" I'll wager LaPierre thought him more a curmudgeon than a wag. (Thanks to GOA-Texas chief Chris Stark for this info).
Is it really likely NRA leaders don't know what they're doing? I don't think so. In any case, it doesn't matter what they really mean by "enforce existing gun laws." The mindless chant is catching on. Perhaps NRA's "Winning" Team merely was not careful what it wished for or how it wished for it. But they pried open Pandora's Box, and the focus of what comes out will not be limited to "real" criminals. Project Exile will be used against all citizens who flout gun control, and it will work the way the Victim Disarmers want it to.
So what happens when they pass gun owner registration (as if we don't have it already under Heston's '68 Gun Control Act)? Hint: The new motto is, "Fight Gun Control Today, Enforce it Tomorrow." But if LaPierre is really worried about registration, why push InstaCheck instead of viable alternative programs that would enable dealers to check backgrounds without governments knowing who's buying?
Of course, the government is not supposed to keep records. That would be wrong! But it was wrong when the government murdered Don Scott; shot little Sammy Weaver in the back and sniped his baby-carrying mom; machine-gunned, crushed, gassed, and incinerated men, women & children at a religious retreat; and then whitewashed and covered it up, cheered on by bloodthirsty, newsmedia ratings-whores. Far from punishment, the 'perps' enjoyed national approbation, and they are in charge of InstaCheck. Does LaPierre think murderers will hesitate to keep some records? What are they afraid of, the law? Get Real. They are the law.
"Sed quis custodiet ipsos Custodes?", asked Juvenal, some two millennia past. "But who shall guard the guards?" Isn't that why the Framers wanted the People to be the guards? To be primarily responsible for our own defense and the defense of our families and communities, and not to delegate these basic rights and responsibilities? Over the generations since our right to self-defense was paid for in blood, we foolishly ignored Franklin and Washington, trading liberty for an illusion of safety; hiring a dangerous servant and getting a fearful master.
To appease our oppressors and score quickly forgotten public relations points, should we help expand the Military-Police-Prison Industrial Complex, leaders of which will surely come to view the unorganized militia as a political threat, citizen self-defense as an economic threat, and political prisoners as resources? Shouldn't we be trying to reverse this secular mistake, the incremental quitclaiming of our ultimate power? Shouldn't we delegate to or share with government only those functions which enhance our ability to defend ourselves, withholding those which supplant it? Shouldn't we aim to become the guards again?
1995-97, NRA Director (resigned -- see http://www.goa-texas.org/Howard.htm)
(c) 2000 Russ Howard. Forward only in entirety.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Colorado Freedom Report -- http://www.co-freedom.com
Report on the Project Exile Kickoff
by Mark Call, March 9, 2000
They call it "Project Exile."
It's worse than you think. In fact, it's possible that it is worse than you might even be willing to believe.
What is "Project Exile?" Is it a wonderful attempt by a beaten, wiser, NRA to compromise on the harsh but antiquated language of the Bill of Rights, and to recognize that gun control really DOES work -- it just has to be enforced more consistently, say at the point of a gun? Is it an acknowledgment that the "right" to keep and bear arms isn't a natural right at all, much less something "endowed by" our Creator? Or maybe it's something a little more insidious.
What Project Exile is, according to the Jim Brady - Wayne LaPierre et al press conference in Denver on Monday, March 6th, is an effort to win hearts and minds -- and undermine public support for gun ownership and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
More specifically, it is -- in Colorado in 2000 -- a $1 Million propaganda effort to "change the culture" with respect to the new Orwellian buzzwords-of-choice: "gun violence", and the scourge of "illegal guns". Note over the coming months how many times you are hammered with those catch phrases -- and that you will never hear the term "illegal gun" defined, or see any indication of how such a thing could exist at all if the Second Article of the Constitution had not been "exiled," much less infringed.
"Pack an illegal gun -- pack your bags for prison," goes the mantra. Implied, unstated, but literally almost palpable among the assembled zealots in the room, was the inevitable corollary: "Every gun an illegal gun." During the Q&A session, publisher Bob Glass pointedly asked NRA Executive VP Wayne LaPierre if he was aware that in Wellington Webb's Denver, most guns were already "illegal" under a number of local ordinances which were in opposition to the Constitutions of both Colorado and the United States. The question went unanswered, and Mr. Glass' attempts to get a response to the query were shouted down by the "unbiased" press.
There is no "new law" associated with this propaganda effort -- only a well-funded and very public effort to "enforce existing gun laws." Denver DA Bill Ritter and US Attorney Tom Strickland led the parade at Monday's PR blitz to talk about the priority they would now place on prosecuting these "illegal guns." Columbine celebrity-parent Tom Mauser, proclaimed proudly that Exile "...doesn't just punish a criminal _after_ the fact...(!)" [I leave the implications of that insight to the reader.]
LaPierre himself said it best during his speech, "You touch a gun in Colorado, and you're gonna have five years in a state or federal penitentiary." Whether it was a Freudian slip or not, it may have been the truest words spoken on that stage Monday, by expressing the groupthink intentions of the assembled mob. He explained to the press later that federal prosecutions of gun crimes were better than local ones, because there was "plenty of room" in the federal pens, and no parole. He sounded like quite a champion of federal gun laws, and utterly unconcerned about trivialities like the Bill of Rights.
As if to remove any doubt, LaPierre explained the program to the cameras as a plan to "...confront the bad people with guns, and get them off the street." It seemed that the press understood him.
Representative Tom Tancredo, elected as an alleged champion of the Second Amendment, but a clear convert to post-Columbine political expediency, said with respect to additional gun controls, "Show me a law...I'll support it."
Mr. Glass remarked later, "If I hadn't seen it all for myself, I wouldn't have believed it."
Notably absent from discussion was the name "Ismael Mena" or the term "illegal warrant" -- to remind those favoring more police-state tactics of the recent abuses of both the law and the court which resulted in an innocent Denver man being gunned down in his own home, after a bogus "no-knock" search warrant for a wrong address.
Present on that same stage was Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, who earlier had the shameless chutzpah to blame the death of Mena on, guess what? -- claiming that if he had not had the temerity to try to defend himself with a gun from invaders smashing down his door under color of law -- he'd be alive today!
Several questions from the lapdog press during that Q&A session convinced me that I didn't want to waste my own opportunity to expose this fascist farce by asking for more details on the "enforcement" regimen -- whether they intended to break into homes harboring "illegal guns" based on anonymous tips to the "hotline" during working hours, or the dead of night, for example.
By the time I was called on there was only a single question which had been burning in my consciousness ever since seeing the eerily-unsettling TV propaganda pieces almost everyone there was so enamored of: "I missed the phone number to 'turn-in-your-neighbor;' was it 1-800-GESTAPO or 1-800-POLICE-STATE ?"
What surprised me was the reaction: not so much as a stifled chuckle. In fact, there was a full five seconds of utter stunned silence, during which time the moderator turned his back on us, then simply pretended nothing had happened. It spoke volumes.
After the session was over, I lost track of how many times we were asked a variation of this ONE question: "[It obviously works SO well...] How could you POSSIBLY be against sending Bad People with guns to jail?" Anti-gun Denver talk-show host Peter Boyles' comment, when I responded that - among other lesser things - the laws were UNCONSTITUTIONAL, was typical. "Oh, puleease...," been there, done that, as if the Supreme Law of the Land was a non-issue. The hideous lessons of history show clearly otherwise.
Unfortunately, the ignorance of our Constitution and history demonstrated by almost all of the press exceeded even that of Boyles'. Likewise, their blind acceptance of the claims of Project Exile's "great results" stands in dramatic contrast to their tendency to utterly ignore volumes of evidence about the much more pronounced crime-reduction effects of concealed carry and firearms in the home -- from Vermont and Kinnesaw, Georgia, to the works of Professors John Lott and Gary Kleck.
I introduced myself to Wayne LaPierre after the meeting as an NRA Life Member, who was disgusted by this sell-out type of "legislative action," and would be at the protest of Project Exile that very afternoon. When I asked him if he ever understood what the meaning of the word "infringed" was, his answer was clear... he turned his back, pretended to ignore us, and walked away.
Bill Clinton couldn't have said it better.
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Table of Contents
1. Letters to the Editor
by Our Readers
2. Violence is a Function of Behavior, Not a Function of Firearms
by Robert Ellis
3. Rights We Cannot Grant
by Eric Miller
4. Smashing The State
by Bruce Elmore
5. 14 People That Chap My Hide
by Michael J. Bates
6. Stars And Bars
by L. Neil Smith
7. Celebrating America's First Bolshevik
by Vin Suprynowicz
Back to The Libertarian Enterprise 2000 Issues.