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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Gun Rights Activists Not Welcome in Coatesville

You know you're doing something right when the establishment press takes the time to lambaste you. That is what happened to the liberty-minded people standing up for gun rights at Coatesville, PA's gun buy. Here's what the Daily Local News had to say about us:
The event was also attended by an organized group of about 15 people who offered to buy guns for cash on the sidewalk outside. Many of those outside said they opposed the buy back for political reasons, as they viewed it as an affront to Second Amendment Rights. These people are welcome to their opinions, but in our view of [sic] part of the problem. They have no clear vision for decreasing the level of gun violence on the streets of places like Coatesville, and seem more interested in maintaining he [sic] profitability of gun manufacturers than in the safety of their fellow citizens. We will be very satisfied if they do not come back.
The firearms will now be held in a police lockup until they are destroyed at a nearby steel mill. Good riddance.
 Never mind the bad grammar and misspelled words, never mind that they shamelessly made up nonsense about us being there to help the gun manufacturers, the Daily Local should get a clue about how to reduce crime. Instead of just seeking to appease politicians and maintain the status quo they should propose real solutions to the crime problem. Since I've been accused of not having a "clear vision for decreasing the level of gun violence on the streets of places like Coatesville" let me refer the editors to an article I recently wrote on the subject "Progressivism’s Violent World":
We need to move to a system of private security. There is no need for local police. History has already proved that private security is better at protecting us than the government is. A shining example is Oro Valley, Arizona. In 1975 they hired Rural/Metro Inc. to be their police department, providing the services previously provided by the county sheriff. Crime rates where greatly reduced at a fraction of the cost of a government police force.
If the editors of the Daily Local really want to help reduce crime I invite them to sign Law Enforcement Against Prohibition's petition and start advocating ending the war on drugs on their pages:
Reducing Gun Violence Isn’t About Gun Control – It’s About the Drug War
So much has been said in recent months on the subject of gun violence, but in the midst of this heated debate, one obvious solution to rampant gun violence has often been downplayed or overlooked: ending drug prohibition.
Is that clear enough for the Daily Local?

Moving on, below is a video of the gun buy. In the video one can see that the city councilperson and the deacon can't offer any proof that these gun buys help reduce crime:

The Daily Local also covered the gun buy. They actually wrote a nice piece about it. See "Coatesville collects 40 guns in buy-back program". Please note the pictures of the guns collected and the poor condition of many of them.

Below is the video of my interview by their reporter:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Democracy Unplugged Gun Control Debate: Guns in America After Sandy Hook (video)

One of several guns at the debate. As expected no one was shot that night.

The Panelists:

David Jahn, Former Chair of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania

John Linder, Mayor of Chester, Pennsylvania; Member - Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Bryan Miller, Executive director - Heeding God's Call; Former Executive Director - Ceasefire New Jersey

Tom Nelson, Member - National Rifle Association - Pink Pistols Delaware Valley

The video of the debate:

Friday, March 8, 2013

Stopping Illegally Funded Gun Buy-Backs

In the video below Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo and Director of Public Safety Fred Harran of Bensalem, PA state that their two day gun buy-back of February 6 and 16 was the first in the nation financed with federal funds seized from drug dealers. 
They refer to the fact that the shared funds must be used for law enforcement purposes and that they are the first jurisdiction to get approval to use such funds for a gun buy-back. Mr. Harran mentions a flier that was sent out to law enforcement agencies across the country informing them that federal shared funds are now available to them for gun buy-backs. A little Internet searching found the February 1, 2013 edition of the Equitable Sharing Wire, the Equitable Sharing Program’s newsletter published by the US Department of Justice. The Equitable Sharing Program is run by the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section.

The article “Gun Buy-Back Programs” outlines how this is to be done. The relevant part is the one sentence third paragraph, “If your agency uses equitably shared funds to run a gun buy-back program, the funds used should be reported on Line C, Informant and Buy Money, of the Equitable Sharing Agreement and Certification form.” However, when one hovers their cursor over the boxes on Line C to report expenditures a bubble appears that reads in part “Miscellaneous petty cash purchases should not be reported in this category. Justice Guide VIII.A.1.a”. Buying unwanted guns from the public would certainly seem to be “Miscellaneous petty cash purchases”.

The above referenced Justice Guide is the “Guide to Equitable Sharing for State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies”. It gives us further guidance. Section
VIII.A.1.a (page 16) reads:
Law enforcement investigations—the support of investigations and operations that may result in furthering the law enforcement goals and mission, e.g., payment of overtime for officers and investigators; payments to informants; “buy,” “flash,” or reward money; and the purchase of evidence.
On the same page we read “Except as noted in this Guide, equitably shared funds shall be used by law enforcement agencies for law enforcement purposes only.” Gun buy-backs enforce no laws nor do they involve payments to informants, rewards, or the purchase of evidence.

The Guide goes on to list other permissible, pre-approved uses for equitably shared funds. Gun buy-backs aren’t on the list.

The bottom line here is that Bensalem is, in this layman’s opinion, improperly using these funds. I would also bring up the question of whether state funded gun buy-backs are being illegally financed. A quick search at the legal website FindLaw found no rulings by the courts on this issue. Hopefully, the attorneys employed by gun rights groups will follow up on the research presented here and can end the practice.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Defending Gun Rights With Civil Disobedience

NJ Second Amendment Society
The gun owners of New Jersey have had enough! They’ve tried asking for their rights, they’ve tried protesting in the streets. It’s not working. The tyrants in Trenton are going to take their gun rights away regardless. Seeing that “There *IS* no redress of our LEGITIMATE grievances within the three branches of NJ government.” The New Jersey Second Amendment Society has announced the start of a campaign of civil disobedience. “In a SINCERE effort to avoid an unhappy outcome, we must attempt to reach the public through acts of non-violent civil disobedience. This is not easy and it will take time, but the alternative at this point is much less attractive.” They are right and deserve our support.

At first glance the idea of civil disobedience and guns may seem like an unlikely mixture, but the opposite is the truth. Choosing non-violent resistance when one could resist violently is the essence of Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy:
Exercise of non-violence requires far greater bravery than that of swordsmanship. Cowardice is wholly inconsistent with non-violence. Translation from swordsmanship to non-violence is possible and, at times, even an easy stage. Non-violence, therefore, presupposes ability to strike. It is a conscious deliberate restraint put upon one's desire for vengeance.
Gun owners choosing not to use their guns aggressively or preemptively is the bravest (and smartest) way they can resist the government’s tyranny. This is fully consistent with the non-aggression principle, which, unlike Gandhi’s Satyagraha, allows for defensive force. It is often wiser to refrain from fighting even when defensive force is morally justified. The Deacons for Defense and Justice exemplify this approach. During the civil rights movement they carried weapons for defense while working non-violently for change. Rarely did they fire a weapon yet they prevented many an attack on civil rights activists.

There is also the passive side, don’t help the oppressor. Make him carry your weight instead of the other way around. In 1849 Henry David Thoreau called for peaceful resistance to oppose the injustices of slavery and the Mexican War. After being jailed for not paying taxes he wrote “Civil Disobedience”. In it he stated:
Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. The proper place today, the only place which Massachusetts has provided for her freer and less desponding spirits, is in her prisons, …the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor. If any think that their influence would be lost there, and their voices no longer afflict the ear of the State, that they would not be as an enemy within its walls, they do not know by how much truth is stronger than error, nor how much more eloquently and effectively he can combat injustice who has experienced a little in his own person ... A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight …If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible. If the tax-gatherer, or any other public officer, asks me, as one has done, "But what shall I do?" my answer is, "If you really wish to do anything, resign your office." When the subject has refused allegiance, and the officer has resigned his office, then the revolution is accomplished.
Lastly, the hardest part, suffering injustice to hold the moral high ground and destroy the legitimacy of the tyrants. Show the world the evil that they really are. In 1819 Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote the poem “The Mask of Anarchy” * about the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, England. His words were an inspiration to Gandhi and the Indians during their non-violent struggle for independence. The mask is the false, benevolent face the government puts on. Their own violence removes the mask. During the massacre the British government used cavalry to attack a peaceful assembly. Some excerpts:
 'Tis to see the Tyrant's crew
Ride over your wives and you -
Blood is on the grass like dew.

'Then it is to feel revenge
Fiercely thirsting to exchange
Blood for blood - and wrong for wrong -
Do not thus when ye are strong.


'Let a great Assembly be
Of the fearless and the free
On some spot of English ground
Where the plains stretch wide around.


'Be your strong and simple words
Keen to wound as sharpened swords,
And wide as targes let them be,
With their shade to cover ye.

'Let the tyrants pour around
With a quick and startling sound,
Like the loosening of a sea,
Troops of armed emblazonry.

Let the charged artillery drive
Till the dead air seems alive
With the clash of clanging wheels,
And the tramp of horses' heels.

'Let the fixèd bayonet
Gleam with sharp desire to wet
Its bright point in English blood
Looking keen as one for food.

'Let the horsemen's scimitars
Wheel and flash, like sphereless stars
Thirsting to eclipse their burning
In a sea of death and mourning.

'Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war,

'And let Panic, who outspeeds
The career of armèd steeds
Pass, a disregarded shade
Through your phalanx undismayed.


'And if then the tyrants dare
Let them ride among you there,
Slash, and stab, and maim, and hew, -
What they like, that let them do.

'With folded arms and steady eyes,
And little fear, and less surprise,
Look upon them as they slay
Till their rage has died away.

'Then they will return with shame
To the place from which they came,
And the blood thus shed will speak
In hot blushes on their cheek.


'Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number -
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many - they are few.'
 Stand firm, New Jersey gun owners, actively and peacefully resisting liberty’s enemies. If you do this fearlessly and with unbreakable wills you will prevail.

*As a libertarian anarchist I don’t like the way Shelley uses the word anarchy. I would have preferred the word chaos instead. Regardless, the poem is powerful, moving, and inspiring. I highly recommend reading and studying the whole thing.