29 January 2009

Fables, Myths & Other Tall Tales #1


FABLE I: A gun in the home makes the home less safe.

Firearms are used three to five times more often to stop crimes than to commit them,1 and accidents with firearms are at an all-time recorded low.2 In spite of this, anti-firearm activists insist that the very act of keeping a firearm in the home puts family members at risk, often claiming that a gun in the home is "43 times" more likely to be used to kill a family member than an intruder, based upon a study by anti-gun researchers of firearm-related deaths in homes in King County (Seattle), Washington.3 Although Arthur Kellermann and Donald Reay originally warned that their study was of a single non-representative county and noted that they failed to consider protective uses of firearms that did not result in criminals being killed, anti-gun groups and activists use the "43 times" claim without explaining the limitations of the study or how the ratio was derived.

To produce the misleading ratio from the study, the only defensive or protective uses of firearms that were counted were those in which criminals were killed by would-be crime victims. This is the most serious of the study's flaws, since fatal shootings of criminals occur in only a fraction of 1% of protective firearm uses nationwide.4 Survey research by award-winning Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck, has shown that firearms are used for protection as many as 2.5 million times annually.5

It should come as no surprise that Kleck's findings are reflexively dismissed by "gun control" groups, but a leading anti-gun criminologist was honest enough to acknowledge their validity. "I am as strong a gun-control advocate as can be found among the criminologists in this country," wrote the late Marvin E. Wolfgang. "I would eliminate all guns from the civilian population and maybe even from the police. . . . What troubles me is the article by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz. The reason I am troubled is that they have provided an almost clear-cut case of methodologically sound research in support of something I have theoretically opposed for years, namely, the use of a gun in defense against a criminal perpetrator. . . . I do not like their conclusions that having a gun can be useful, but I cannot fault their methodology."6

While the "43 times" claim is commonly used to suggest that murders and accidents are likely to occur with guns kept at home, suicides accounted for 37 of every 43 firearm-related deaths in the King County study. Nationwide, 58% of firearm-related deaths are suicides,7 a problem which is not solved by gun laws aimed at denying firearms to criminals. "Gun control" advocates would have the public believe that armed citizens often accidentally kill family members, mistaking them for criminals. But such incidents constitute less than 2% of fatal firearms accidents, or about one for every 90,000 defensive gun uses.8

In spite of the demonstrated flaws in his research, Kellermann continued to promote the idea that a gun is inherently dangerous to own. In 1993, he and a number of colleagues presented a study that claimed to show that a home with a gun was much more likely to experience a homicide.9

This study, too, was seriously flawed. Kellermann studied only homes where homicides had taken place--ignoring the millions of homes with firearms where no harm is done--and used a control group unrepresentative of American households. By looking only at homes where homicides had occurred and failing to control for more pertinent variables, such as prior criminal record or histories of violence, Kellermann et al. skewed the results of this study. After reviewing the study, Prof. Kleck noted that Kellermann's methodology is analogous to proving that since diabetics are much more likely to possess insulin than non-diabetics, possession of insulin is a risk factor for diabetes. Even Dr. Kellermann admitted, "It is possible that reverse causation accounted for some of the association we observed between gun ownership and homicide." Northwestern University Law Professor Daniel D. Polsby went further, writing, "Indeed the point is stronger than that: 'reverse causation' may account for most of the association between gun ownership and homicide. Kellermann's data simply do not allow one to draw any conclusion."10


FABLE I: A gun in the home makes the home less safe.

1. Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control, N.Y.: Aldine de Gruyter, 1997, p. 160; FBI Uniform Crime Reports, Crime in the United States, annual reports.

2. National Center for Health Statistics and National Safety Council.

3. Arthur L. Kellermann and Donald T. Reay, "Protection or Peril?: An Analysis of Firearm-Related Deaths in the Home," New England Journal of Medicine, 1986, pp. 1557-1560.

4. Kleck, pp. 163-164.

5. Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, "Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense With a Gun," The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Fall 1995, p. 164.

6. Marvin E. Wolfgang, "Tribute to a View I Have Opposed," The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Fall 1995, pp. 188-192.

7. National Center for Health Statistics, 1999, the most recent year for which data have been published.

8. Gary Kleck, "Keeping, Carrying, and Shooting Guns for Self-Protection," Essays on Firearms and Violence, by Don B. Kates, Jr. and Gary Kleck, San Francisco: Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, 1995, p. 208.

9. Kellermann, et al., "Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home," New England Journal of Medicine, 1993, p. 467.

10. Daniel D. Polsby, "The False Promise of Gun Control," The Atlantic Monthly, March 1994


28 January 2009

OPPOSE H.R.45 !!!

Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009

If passed, this bill will require that anyone wishing to purchase, own,
or possess a "qualifying firearm" - that's any handgun, and any long gun
capable of accepting a detachable magazine - would have to be licensed by
the state or the federal government in a licensing program managed by the
Attorney General. We already know where he stands on gun ownership. Contact your congressmen now,and let's try to nip this thing at the bud.

26 January 2009

Setting The Record Straight On BATF Firearms Traces


"Gun control" advocates purposely mischaracterize BATFE firearm commerce tracing for several purposes, frequently to promote "assault weapon" (AW) bans. Before the 1994 Clinton Gun Ban (the federal "assault weapons" and "large" magazine ban), data from state and local law enforcement agencies, and federal prison inmate surveys, uniformly showed that AWs were used in only a small percentage of crime.1 Crime victim surveys indicated the figure is only 0.25%.2 Murders with knives, clubs and hands outnumbered those with AWs by more than 20-to-1.3

In order to portray AWs as commonplace crime guns, and gain support for the Clinton ban, the "gun control" lobby manipulated BATFE traces. Since AWs were a hot political issue, there was a particular interest in tracing them, so they were traced disproportionately, relative to their use in crime. Anti-gunners claimed, incorrectly, that because AWs were often traced, it meant that they were often used to commit violent crimes.4 Typical claims alleged that AWs were "traced to crime."

The claims were unsupportable. For one thing, BATFE doesn`t "trace guns to crime." A trace is merely a process by which BATFE contacts the manufacturer or importer of a specific gun, asks to whom the gun was sold, repeating that process down the chain of commerce in an attempt to identify the gun`s most recent purchaser. Traces are used to identify individuals involved in illegal gun purchases and sales.

Additionally, most guns that are traced have not been used to commit a violent crime, and most guns used to commit violent crimes are never traced. The Congressional Research Service reported in 1992:5

* "The [B]ATF tracing system is an operational system designed to help law enforcement agencies identify the ownership path of individual firearms. It was not designed to collect statistics."

* "Firearms selected for tracing do not constitute a random sample and cannot be considered representative of the larger universe of all firearms used by criminals, or of any subset of that universe."

* "A law enforcement officer may initiate a trace request for any reason. No crime need be involved. No screening policy ensures or requires that only guns known or suspected to have been used in crimes are traced." BATFE "noted it is not possible to determine if traced firearms are related to criminal activity."

* "Trace requests are not accurate indicators of specified crimes .... traces may be requested for a variety of reasons not necessarily related to criminal incidents. For example, a trace may be conducted on a firearm found at the residence of a suspect though the firearm itself is not associated with a criminal act. Traces may also be requested with respect to abandoned firearms, those found by chance, those seen by officers for sale at gun shows or pawn shops, or those used by suicide victims. . . . It is not possible to identify how frequently firearm traces are requested for reasons other than those associated with violent crimes."

* "[B]ATF does not always know if a firearm being traced has been used in a crime. For instance, sometimes a firearm is traced simply to determine the rightful owner after it is found by a law enforcement agency."

With the Clinton Gun Ban scheduled to expire on Sept. 13, 2004, anti-gun groups are demanding that it be extended indefinitely, and expanded. In an attempt to justify an extension, they now claim that AW traces have decreased, so the ban must have reduced crime.6 These new claims suffer the same flaws as their predecessors, and more.

The study Congress required of the AW ban noted, "because the banned guns and magazines were never used in more than a fraction of all gun murders, even the maximum theoretically achievable preventive effect of the ban on gun murders is almost certainly too small to detect statistically." It also noted that the ban`s 10-round magazine limit isn`t a factor in multiple-victim or multiple-wound crimes.7 A follow-up study found "gunshot injury incidents involving pistols [which use magazines] were less likely to produce a death than were those involving revolvers" and "the average number of wounds for pistol victims was actually lower than that for revolver victims."8

Additionally, the ban couldn`t have had an effect on crime, because it banned only attachments (e.g., angled grips) that have nothing to do with crime. Moreover, AWs account for a smaller share of traces today because they are no longer a hot issue (there is less interest in tracing them) and BATFE now encourages traces on other guns. For more information on the AW issue, see the NRA-ILA Clinton Gun Ban and 1994 Crime Bill fact sheets.


1. See Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns, 1997; Dave Kopel, "Rational Basis Analysis for ‘Assault Weapon` Prohibition," www.davekopel.com/2A/LawRev/rational.htm. Bureau of Justice Statistics: Survey of State Prison Inmates 1991 (3/93), Guns Used in Crime (7/95), Firearm Use by Offenders (11/01).
2. Kleck, p.112. Basis: National Crime Victimization Surveys, which identify many crimes not reported to police.
3. In 1993, the most recent year of statistics available when Congress passed the ban, knives were used in 13% of murders, clubs, 4 %; and bare hands, 5%. In 2002, it was knives, 13%; clubs, 5%; and bare hands, 7%. (FBI)
4. Ex.: "Assault weapons are twenty times more likely to be used in crime." (HCI adv., "We Want a Nationwide Ban on These Weapons of Destruction!," Roll Call, April 18, 1994.)
5. "Assault Weapons": Military-Style Semiautomatic Firearms Facts and Issues," May 13, 1992, 92-434 GOV.
6. Ex.: "Trace requests for assault weapons in the 1993-95 period declined 20% in the first calendar year after the ban took effect." (www.bradycampaign.org/facts/gunlaws/awb.asp)
7. Roth, Koper, et al., Urban Institute, "Impact Evaluation of the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994," 3/13/97. Available at www.urban.org.
8. Reedy and Koper, "Impact of handgun types on gun assault outcomes," Injury Prevention, Sept. 2003

25 January 2009



Americans use upwards of seven billion rounds of small arms (rifle, shotgun and handgun) ammunition every year, mostly for target practice, competition and hunting. Commercial manufacturers produce most small arms ammunition used by private citizens, all small arms ammunition used by law enforcement agencies, and all small arms ammunition used by our armed forces. (Commercial manufacturers operate military ammunition plants, and produce ammunition for the armed forces in their own plants as well.) Many improvements in firearms that were developed for private citizens have later been adopted by law enforcement agencies and the armed forces, and the same is true for ammunition (for example, particularly accurate varieties of rifle ammunition developed for civilian marksmanship competitions).

For decades, when gun control supporters have failed to get severe restrictions on guns through Congress and state legislatures, they have tried instead to restrict ammunition in one way or another.

“Encoded/Serialized Ammunition”:
In the 1930s, when gun control supporters failed to achieve national firearm registration, they proposed an ammunition registration scheme envisioning a small tape bearing a serial number being implanted in every bullet, and people being required to register ammunition purchases with their names and fingerprints. The idea lay dormant until 1969, when President Lyndon B. Johnson’s National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence recommended “to implant an identifying capsule with a distinctive number in each bullet and require firearms dealers who sell the ammunition to maintain records of the persons who buy all such numbered ammunition.”

Not long ago, one company claimed to possess technology sufficient to turn the 80-year-old concept into reality, and gun control supporters in more than a dozen states quickly introduced so-called “encoded” or “serialized” ammunition legislation to prohibit the manufacture and sale of ammunition unless its bullet and cartridge case are marked with a code and registered to its owner in a computerized database. Indicative of the ultimate purpose behind the legislation, it would also require gun owners to forfeit any non-coded ammunition they possess, without compensation.

: Another of the LBJ-era commission’s recommendations, “a system of giving each gun a number and the development of some device to imprint this number on each bullet fired from the gun”—now termed “micro-stamping”—was mandated in California at the end of 2007, to take effect in 2010. In 2008, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) introduced a bill in Congress, supported by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), to mandate micro-stamping nationwide. Even if micro-stamping worked from a technological standpoint, however, it would be relevant to only a small percentage of guns, namely handguns made after the law took effect and acquired from retail dealers. (The 250+ million guns already owned would not be affected, nor would newly-manufactured rifles and shotguns, and nine out of 10 guns used in crime are acquired through unregulated channels.) The main purpose of micro-stamping legislation is to price handguns beyond the reach of many Americans, by requiring handguns to be made with gadgetry capable of creating the required stampings upon the ammunition.

Taxes: Another proposal to make gun ownership too expensive for most Americans, has been to drastically increase the federal excise tax on ammunition, from the current 11 percent to as much as 1,000 percent. In 1974, Kennedy said “if [banning handguns] is not feasible we may be obliged to place strict bans on the production and distribution of ammunition. No bullets, no shooting.” Since then, Kennedy and others in Congress have introduced bills to ban or impose prohibitive taxes on .25, .32, 9mm, 5.7x28mm, and .50 caliber ammunition; cartridge cases under 1.3 inches in length; hollow-point bullets; ammunition that “serves no substantial sporting purpose and serves primarily to kill human beings”; and (via the Consumer Products Safety Commission) “defective” ammunition. Sen. Obama supports prohibitive ammunition taxes.

“Armor-Piercing Ammunition
”: Over the years, Kennedy and others have also tried to ban commonplace ammunition used for hunting, target shooting and other legitimate purposes by amending the federal “armor piercing ammunition” law, which currently restricts bullets made with certain metals and jacket constructions designed to penetrate protective vests worn by law enforcement officers. The change, supported by Sen. Obama, would ban any bullet that can be used in a handgun and that can penetrate the least protective vest worn by law enforcement officers. The concept has been rejected by the Justice and Treasury departments.

Such a ban would affect virtually all center-fire rifle ammunition and many calibers of handgun ammunition, because many rifle bullets can be used in hunting and target handguns, and minimum-protection vests are not designed to protect against center-fire rifle ammunition or the more powerful varieties of handgun ammunition, regardless of how their bullets are constructed. Kennedy has claimed that he is not trying to ban hunting ammunition, but he has objected to private citizens having .30-30 Winchester ammunition, the most popular deer hunting ammunition in American history.

Ammunition That Expands: Along with calling for banning ammunition that penetrates, gun control supporters have also called for banning ammunition designed instead to expand (self-defense and hunting ammunition). This is comparable to them claiming that handguns should be banned because they are small, and that rifles should be banned because they are large.

Conclusion: Goldilocks thought one bowl of porridge was too hot, and another too cold, but she eventually found a bowl that was “just right.” Gun control supporters’ complaints never end. Their many attempts to ban or prohibitively tax one or another type of ammunition, under one or another guise, are just some of many ways that they try to eliminate or severely curtail the ownership and use of firearms by private citizens.

Change in black politics

Washington Times

Amid the focus on Barack Obama being the first black president, there has been a change, subtle and largely unnoticed by most, regarding black politics in the Democratic Party. Black Democrats - and the great majority of blacks are Democrats - have almost entirely moved away from pulpit politics and are now firmly rooted in traditional politics with only a marginal influence by pastors.

The Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy's retirement as pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church last Sunday was the embodiment of a change in political leadership that has taken more than 40 years to ripen. Mr. Fauntroy truly embodies the political and ministerial confluence as a pastor deeply involved in the civil-rights movement who became the District's first delegate in Congress in 1971. He was preceded in Congress by the Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., pastor of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church, who represented that part of New York City from 1945 to 1971. And black ministers who succeeded Mr. Fauntroy included the Revs. William Gray, pastor of Philadelphia's Bright Hope Baptist Church, who became the first black House Majority Whip; Floyd Flake, pastor of Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Cathedral, who represented Queens, N.Y.; and (although they have never been congregational ministers) Jesse L. Jackson Sr., the first African American to win a statewide presidential nominating contest, and Al Sharpton, who also ran for president.

"I will be touring the nation with many other pioneers of the civil rights movement at historically black colleges and universities, holding 'pass the torch' ceremonies and symposiums," Mr. Fauntroy said. He gave more than a hint that his retirement represented a passing of the torch of political power to black politicians and activists whose values may be rooted in faith but who are not persons of the cloth.

It may seem presumptuous to say anyone succeeded or preceded Mr. Fauntroy, but he does represent a political culture that is waning in influence over Democratic and civil-rights politics and activism. The current NAACP president, Ben Jealous, and for that matter the two preceding him, Kweisi Mfume, a professional politician, and Bruce Gordon, a corporate executive, have not been ministers. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was founded by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., has had two presidents since 1997 - Martin Luther King III and current president Charles Steele Jr., neither of whom is a minister.

It seems that with the ascension of Mr. Obama - but only in small measure because of it - the days of the political minister-activist are over in the Democratic Party. And that may be a profoundly unsettling change for some who are involved in black politics

Robocop's Comment:

Maybe the whining will stop.

24 January 2009



Handguns account for over one-third of Americas' 250+ million privately owned firearms. More than one million new handguns are sold in the U.S. annually. About three-fourths of new handguns are semi-automatics; most of the remainder are revolvers. A quarter of households has one or more handguns.

Defense: The most comprehensive study of defensive gun use, by award-winning criminologist Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz (1993), found that handguns were used for defense nearly two million times per year, amounting to two-thirds of defensive gun uses. Kleck separately studied National Crime Victimization Surveys and found that people who use guns to defend themselves are less likely to be attacked or injured than people who use other means, or no means, of protection. Kleck has concluded that guns are used to defend against crime 3-4 times more often than to commit it. Forty states have Right-to-Carry laws allowing people to carry concealed handguns for protection away from home, and such states have lower violent crime rates, on average, compared to the rest of the country. Since 1991, the number of states that have Right-to-Carry laws has risen from 17 to 40 (an all-time high) and violent crime has dropped 38 percent.

Target Shooting: Millions of handgunners enjoy recreational shooting, and hundreds of thousands participate in thousands of local, state, regional and national handgun matches, such as NRA Bullseye and NRA Action Shooting, International Shooting Union, International Practical Shooting Confederation, and International Defensive Pistol Association events, at 10,000 NRA-affiliated shooting clubs, and commercial and military ranges. Two-thirds of NRA's 55,000 Certified Instructors are certified in handgun disciplines.

Hunting: Most states allow hunting with handguns. Acknowledging the growth of handgun shooting sports in a 1998 report to Congress, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms noted, "The handgun has developed as a sporting firearm used in both target shooting and hunting." Among contributing factors, BATF cited renewed interest in the single-action revolver, the development of new cartridges for field use, and the popularity of silhouette pistol shooting.

Handgun Bans: Gun bans have historically been aimed at minorities and disfavored political classes. The French Black Code (1751) and southern states' Black Codes after the Civil War prohibited possession of firearms by blacks. Tennessee's "Army and Navy" law (1879), prohibited handguns other than expensive army or navy pistols, thus denying handguns to poor blacks, as do modern bans on relatively inexpensive handguns referred to by gun control advocates with the racially-charged term "Saturday Night Specials." New York's Sullivan Law (1911) prevented new immigrants from legally obtaining handguns, by prohibiting possession of a handgun without a license issued at the discretion of the police. Washington, D.C., banned handguns in the mid-1970s, within 15 years its murder rate tripled, and for the last 20 years D.C. has usually had the highest murder rate of any major U.S. city. (The Supreme Court, in District of Columbia v. Heller, 2008, overturned the ban as a violation of the Second Amendment.) Chicago banned handguns in 1982 and in a decade murders with handguns more than doubled. Sen. Barack Obama has expressed support for a complete ban on handguns.

Anti-Gun Groups: Brady Campaign chairwoman Sarah Brady has said, "the only reason for guns in civilian hands is for sporting purposes." The group's first chairman, Nelson Shields, said crime victims should "put up no defense - give them [the criminals] what they want." The group's supposed legal expert, Dennis Henigan, has said that self-defense is "not a federally guaranteed constitutional right." The group has called for "a ban on the manufacture, sale, and importation of all handguns and handgun ammunition" and "to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition...totally illegal."

21 January 2009

What They Didn't Tell You Today


Are gun owners going to be a high priority target for the Obama administration?

Jim Shepard, who writes the Shooting Wire, says:

"Democratic insiders are telling us the firearms industry will be used as an object lesson to both sides of the aisle.

To the left, it's the always-popular smackdown of a group of right-wing loonies (that's you and me, by the way) who want gunfights on the streets of our hometowns.

To the right, it will represent a little payback for the rhetoric that was taken very personally by the incoming administration. In other words, a little taste of the whip should keep both sides nicely in line."

We don't know yet what the Obama administration has in store for us, but as Shepard reminds us, it's a matter of "when," not "if," the Second Amendment is going to come under attack. I know you're ready to defend your firearms freedom, but if you know a gun owner who's not yet a member of the NRA, get them to join. We need to be as strong as possible in 2009 in order to fight these attempts to restrict your constitutional rights.

20 January 2009

Inauguration Day

Arms and the Greeks

by David Kopel

The founders didn't conjure up the right to bear arms out of thin air. They learned its value from the founders of Western civilization.

The creators of America's republican form of government did not make everything up as they went along. American political philosophy — including the right to keep and bear arms — was firmly grounded in historical experience and in the great works of philosophy from ancient Greece through 18th-century Britain. The Declaration of Independence was derived from what Thomas Jefferson called, "the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, etc." What did Aristotle — the most influential philosopher of Western civilization — say about the right to arms? Quite a lot that still rings true today.

Aristotle was a student of Plato, and studied at Plato's Academy outside Athens.

The Founders of the American Republic were intimately familiar with the writings of both Plato and Aristotle. And while Plato and Aristotle disagreed about many things, they agreed on the importance of arms-bearing to a society's political structure: whoever controlled the arms would control the government.

Plato's greatest work of political philosophy is The Republic, written in the first part of the fourth century, BCE. In The Republic, Plato explains his theory for why societies always progress from oligarchy (rule by a small group of elite rich) to democracy (rule by the people) to despotism (rule by a single man). At each step, the control of arms is essential.

In an oligarchy, "They next proceed to make a law which fixes a sum of money as the qualification of citizenship; the sum is higher in one place and lower in another, as the oligarchy is more or less exclusive; and they allow no one whose property falls below the amount fixed to have any share in the government. These changes in the constitution they effect by force of arms, if intimidation has not already done their work" (The Republic, Book VIII — "Four Forms of Government," Benjamin Jowett transl.).

Plato points out one of the disadvantages of oligarchy: "Another discreditable feature is, that, for a like reason, they are incapable of carrying on any war. Either they arm the multitude, and then they are more afraid of them than of the enemy; or, if they do not call them out in the hour of battle, they are oligarchs indeed, few to fight as they are few to rule."

Eventually, the oligarchy is supplanted by democracy, "whether the revolution has been effected by arms, or whether fear has caused the opposite party to withdraw." In other words, either armed revolution or the credible threat of armed revolution causes the oligarchy to lose its power. But after a while, the people succumb to demagogy, and a tyrant arises. The tyrant does not begin his worst abuses until after he has disarmed his victims. In The Republic , which is a series of teacher-student dialogues, the teacher explains: "Then the parent (the people) will discover what a monster he has been fostering in his bosom; and, when he wants to drive him out, he will find that he is weak and his son (the tyrant) strong."

Student: "Why, you do not mean to say that the tyrant will use violence? What! Beat his father if he opposes him?" Teacher: "Yes, he will, having first disarmed him."

In Plato's ideal state, the one-man rule of a tyrant is replaced by the one-man rule of a philosopher-king. The king uses a professional military/police class — the Guardians — to keep everyone else in line. Like the people of the former Soviet Union, the common people of Plato's ideal state would be trained periodically (once a month) in use of arms, but would have no right to arms, and arms would be centrally stored in state armories (Plato, Laws).

In Plato's utopia, "no one, man or woman, must ever be left without someone in charge of him; nobody must get into the habit of acting independently in either sham fighting or the real thing, and in peace and war alike we must give our constant attention and obedience to our leader. . ." (Laws).

The country most in harmony with Plato's theory of government is modern Singapore: tightly regulated, with a subject's entire life carefully controlled by a "benign" state.

Plato's most important philosophic descendent is the German Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 1831). Hegel provided the intellectual foundation for fascism, seeing the state as sacred, and the individual as absolutely subservient to the state. (Hegel and Plato differed on many other issues, such as the basis of perception, but their politics were essentially similar.)

Like Plato, Aristotle considered arms a fundamental source of political power, but unlike Plato, Aristotle wanted ordinary people to possess this power. In Aristotle's book Politics, he argues that each citizen should work to earn his own living, should participate in political or legislative affairs, and should bear arms.

Aristotle criticized the theory of another philosopher (Hippodamus), who wanted a strict division of roles between skilled labor, agriculture, and defense: "But the husbandmen have no arms, and the artisans neither arms nor land, and therefore they become all but slaves of the warrior class" (Aristotle, Politics, translated by Benjamin Jowett).

Aristotle considered the possession of arms synonymous with possession of political power: "when the citizens at large administer the state for the common interest, the government is called by the generic name — a constitution . . . in a constitutional government the fighting-men have the supreme power, and those who possess arms are the citizens" (Book 3, ch VII).

Aristotle linked the development of democracy (rule by the people) with military innovations making foot soldiers relevant: "But when cities increased and the heavy armed (as opposed to the cavalry) grew in strength, more had a share in the government; and this is the reason why the states which we call constitutional governments have been hitherto called democracies" (all of the above quotations from Book 4, ch. XIII).

It was inevitable that control of arms would lead to control of the state: "since it is an impossible thing that those who are able to use or to resist force should be willing to remain always in subjection . . . those who carry arms can always determine the fate of the constitution" (Book 7, ch. IX).

Arms are essential to any good government: "Let us then enumerate the functions of a state, and we shall easily elicit what we want. . . . thirdly, there must be arms, for the members of a community have need of them, and in their own hands, too, in order to maintain authority both against disobedient subjects and against external assailants" (Book 7, ch. VIII). It was hardly surprising that dictators always disarmed their subjects: "As of oligarchy so of tyranny . . . Both mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of their arms" (Book 5, ch X).

Sometimes the disarmament was not accomplished directly, but instead by encouraging people to neglect arms training. "The devices by which oligarchies deceive the people . . . relate to . . . (4) the use of arms; (5) gymnastic exercises. . . . Concerning (4) the possession of arms, and (5) gymnastic exercises, they legislate in a similar spirit [trying to keep the poor from participating]. For the poor are not obliged to have arms, but the rich are fined for not having them; and in like manner no penalty is inflicted on the poor for non-attendance at the gymnasium, and consequently, having nothing to fear, they do not attend, whereas the rich are liable to a fine, and therefore they take care to attend."

Theorizing the people who bear the burdens of government should be the ones who run the government, Aristotle wrote that "The government should be confined to those who carry arms." The early American Republic essentially reflected this scheme; the group of people liable for militia duty was roughly the same as the group of people eligible to vote.

In The Athenian Constitution, written about 350 BCE, Aristotle gives a political history of the city-state of Athens. Rediscovered in the late 19th century, The Athenian Constitution provides historical evidence for Aristotle's theory that tyrants aim to disarm the people. Although The Athenian Constitution was not available to the American Founders, many of the political events described in the book were known to the founders through other sources.

In the sixth century BCE, a tyrant named Pisistratus took over Athens. Aristotle explained how the tyrant obtained absolute power by disarming the people of every city he controlled:

After his victory in the battle at Pallene he captured Athens, and when he had disarmed the people he at last had his tyranny securely established, and was able to take Naxos (a Greek island) and set up Lygdamis as ruler there. He effected the disarmament of the people in the following manner. He ordered a parade in full armour in the Theseum (a temple), and began to make a speech to the people. He spoke for a short time, until the people called out that they could not hear him, whereupon he bade them come up to the entrance of the Acropolis, in order that his voice might be better heard. Then, while he continued to speak to them at great length, men whom he had appointed for the purpose collected the arms and locked them up in the chambers of the Theseum hard by, and came and made a signal to him that it was done. Pisistratus accordingly, when he had finished the rest of what he had to say, told the people also what had happened to their arms; adding that they were not to be surprised or alarmed, but go home and attend to their private affairs, while he would himself for the future manage all the business of the state. (Aristotle, The Athenian Constitution, ch. 15, translated by Sir Frederic G. Kenyon)

Incidentally, Pisistratus maintained a peaceful foreign policy, "probably because he dared not allow the Athenian citizenry to bear arms in a major war," according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Pisistratus was succeeded by his son Hippias. Hippias's younger brother Hipparchus was assassinated. "At first the government could find no clue to the conspiracy; for the current story, that Hippias made all who were taking part in the procession leave their arms, and then detected those who were carrying secret daggers, cannot be true, since at that time they did not bear arms in the processions, this being a custom instituted at a later period by the democracy" (The Athenian Constitution, ch. 18). In other words, carrying arms during a parade was an activity of freemen in a democracy, not of the subjects of a tyrant.

After Athens's defeat by Sparta in the Peloponnesian War, Sparta appointed the Thirty Tyrants to rule Athens in 404 BCE. Among this group of 30 was a long-time Athenian politician Theramenes, who had negotiated the peace with Sparta, but who opposed the more extreme measures of the Thirty. Aristotle explained how the Thirty Tyrants consolidated power, and how disarmament prepared the way for direct military rule:

Thereupon the Thirty decided to disarm the bulk of the population and to get rid of Theramenes; which they did in the following way. They introduced two laws into the Council, which they commanded it to pass; the first of them gave the Thirty absolute power to put to death any citizen who was not included in the list of the Three Thousand, while the second disqualified all persons from participation in the franchise who should have assisted in the demolition of the fort of Eetioneia, or have acted in any way against the Four Hundred who had organized the previous oligarchy (which had ruled in 411 BCE). Theramenes had done both, and accordingly, when these laws were ratified, he became excluded from the franchise and the Thirty had full power to put him to death. Theramenes having been thus removed, they disarmed all the people except the Three Thousand, and in every respect showed a great advance in cruelty and crime. They also sent ambassadors to Lacedaemonian (Sparta) to blacken the character of Theramenes and to ask for help; and the Lacedaemonians, in answer to their appeal, sent Callibius as military governor with about seven hundred troops, who came and occupied the Acropolis. (ch. 37)

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "Aristotle, more than any other thinker, determined the orientation and the content of Western intellectual history." The discussion of the right to arms in the next 24 centuries has followed the lines laid down by Plato and Aristotle; one side in favor of an unaccountable central government having all the arms and all the power; and the other side favoring rule by citizens who maintain their right to arms. Whatever the issue du jour of the contemporary gun control debate (e.g., gun registration in Canada; gun locks in the United States; handgun confiscation in the United Kingdom), friends of civil liberty should never forget the ultimate issue that drives the gun control movement: the determination to make armed citizens into disarmed subjects of a powerful, sometimes benign, collection of people who call themselves the government.

Central Front

Oliver North

Washington, D.C. —
With all the preparations for the biggest, most expensive and most restrictive inaugural celebration in history, this is probably not the time to remind our president-elect of things he said and wrote, promises made or commitments pledged. Perhaps one of his new aides will clip and save this for his perusal later next week.

Candidate Obama repeatedly described Afghanistan as "the central front in the War on Terror." Sometimes he included neighboring Pakistan, which he occasionally threatened to attack. After a brief visit to Afghanistan in July 2008, he said that, "one of the biggest mistakes we've made strategically" was "failing to finish the job." He used a sports metaphor, "we took our eye off the ball," to accuse his predecessor of being "distracted by Iraq." Then he pledged that if elected, "I will once and for all dismantle Al Qaeda and the Taliban." That is what we were told by once-senator, now president-elect, soon to be commander in chief, Barack Obama.

But that's not what he is saying today.

This week, he announced that despite 61 released detainees returning to commit more atrocities, the Guantanamo Bay detention facility will be closed — likely making it official in his inaugural address. He authorized his secretary of state-designate to testify in congressional hearings that he will soon be "engaging with Iran." Though Obama has given the nod to deploying 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, his soon-to-be vice president, standing in Kandahar this week, spoke nothing of victory. Instead, Senator Biden said just that he was "very interested in what becomes of this region, because it affects us all."

All of this demonstrates a frightening naïveté about who our adversaries are, what is at stake and what to do about it.

After Tuesday, the ball is in Obama's court and in the hands of a new set of advisers — some of whom I have known well for decades. Hopefully, they will be willing to apprise our new chief executive of some hard realities.

First, we're not at war against the Taliban or Al Qaeda or Jemiah Islamiah or Hamas or Hezbollah or any other "group" — no matter what its trade name. Our fight is against radical Islam that declared an unprovoked war against us — just like the ideological struggle we waged against fascism and communism. The "central front" of this war may be on the Indo-Pakistani border today, but it could be in Somalia next month. It began in the 1980s when Islamic radicals began blowing themselves up to kill Europeans, pro-Western Muslims, Israelis and Americans. We just didn't fight back until more than 3,000 of us were killed by Islamic radicals on Sept. 11, 2001.

From October 2001 until March 2003, Afghanistan was "the central front." From then, until late 2007, the battle was waged primarily in Iraq. The goal — no matter how poorly articulated — was to prevent radical Islamists from using Mesopotamia as a haven for acquiring weapons of mass destruction and to fight them "over there" instead of here. It took longer and was more expensive in lives and treasure than anyone wanted, but it worked.

Today, the campaign against radical Islam in Iraq is won. In countless battles, young Americans in flak jackets and helmets defeated often-suicidal enemies, built schools and clinics, established civil order and trained and equipped a new ally in a part of the world where we need friends. Americans became the protectors of Muslim women and assured their rights to participate fully in the economic, social and political life of a country. That's a major victory in the fight against radical Islam. Hopefully, at some point in the not-too-distant future the new commander in chief will acknowledge his predecessor's resolve and thank the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen and Marines who achieved it.

Instead of expressing "interest" in what happens in the shadow of the Hindu Kush, the new administration needs to realize that failure is not an option. Despite significant cultural and tribal differences between Afghanistan and Iraq, they are equally "winnable" if we do the right things:

— Use the presidential bully pulpit to remind Afghanistan's neighbors that if Taliban/terror bases on their territories are not closed, they will be attacked.

— Commence building paved roads throughout all of Afghanistan's 34 provinces to generate jobs, reduce casualties from IEDs and mines and show the Afghan people that their government cares about them.

— Stop corruption and illicit drug production from the top down, not the bottom up. Arrest and prosecute the kingpins and then go for eradication and crop replacement. It worked in Colombia and it can work in Afghanistan.

— Shut down the NATO-ISAF command structure in Kabul. "Allied" forces that can't — or won't — fight should be thanked and sent home. Then, replicate the effective and successful counter-insurgency strategy General Petraeus devised for Iraq.

— And finally, a solution to relocating the violent enemy combatants in Gitmo: Pick up the detainees, the guards and support personnel in Cuba and bring them to the brand new, as yet unoccupied, 1,600-bed "super-max" Thomson Correction Facility in Illinois. They can keep Governor Blagojevich company.

19 January 2009

Bush Finally Does One Thing Right

Bush Commutes Sentences for Two Former Border Patrol Agents

On his last full day in office, President Bush commuted the controversial sentences of two former Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting a Mexican drug runner in 2005.

The imprisonment of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean had sparked outcry from critics who said the men were just doing their jobs and were punished too harshly. They had been sentenced to 11- and 12-year sentences, respectively.

Their sentences will now expire on March 20 of this year.

Ramos and Compean were sentenced in connection with the shooting of Osvaldo Aldrete Davila, who was shot in the buttocks while trying to flee along the Texas border. He admitted smuggling several hundred pounds of marijuana on the day he was shot and pleaded guilty last year to drug charges related to two other smuggling attempts.

The pair's case ignited debate across the country, as a chorus of organizations and members of Congress -- many of them Republican -- argued that the men were just doing their jobs. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., was particularly outspoken on the issue, at one time describing Ramos and Compean as "unjustly convicted men who never should have been prosecuted in the first place."

Nearly the entire congressional delegation from Texas and other lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle pleaded with Bush to grant them clemency. Conservatives hailed Bush's decision Monday.

"The whole thing was ridiculous from beginning to end, and two years was way too long for them to serve," said radio talk show host Laura Ingraham. "Conservatives are very happy across the country."

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said in a written statement that Bush had "responded to the calls for compassion that came from across the country and made the right decision in granting these two men commutations."

The border agents argued during their trials that they believed Davila was armed and that they shot him in self defense. The prosecutor in the case said there was no evidence linking the smuggler to the van that contained the marijuana. The prosecutor also said the border agents didn't report the shooting and tampered with evidence by picking up several spent shell casings.

The agents were fired after their convictions on several charges, including assault with a dangerous weapon and with serious bodily injury, violation of civil rights and obstruction of justice. All their convictions, except obstruction of justice, were upheld on appeal.

Bush has been cautious in his use of pardon powers, and particularly careful when it comes to commutations of prison terms. A pardon is an official forgiveness of a crime (typically requested at least five years after the completion of a prison term); a commutation is a reduction of sentence.

Before Monday, Bush had granted 189 pardons and nine commutations. By comparison, President Clinton granted 396 pardons and 61 commutations, many on his last day in office. President Reagan granted 393 pardons and 13 commutations.

The White House has until noon Tuesday, when President-elect Barack Obama is to be sworn in, to grant any more clemency requests. But White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said Monday's commutations would be Bush's last acts of clemency.

A number of high-profile criminals had been requesting clemency from Bush for months.

Randall "Duke" Cunningham, a former Republican congressman from California, was among those seeking a commutation. Cunningham pleaded guilty to conspiracy and other charges for accepting $2.4 million in bribes in exchange for steering defense contracts to conspirators. He was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2006.

Former Democratic Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, who was convicted in 2000 on racketeering charges and later sentenced to 10 years in prison, was also appealing to the president for a reduction of sentence.

Former Republican Gov. George Ryan of Illinois was doing the same. Though he's served only one year of his 6 1/2-year sentence -- he was convicted on racketeering charges in connection with a host of schemes, including steering contracts to lobbyists and covering up bribes paid in return for truck drivers' licenses -- he earned the support of figures like Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat who recently sent a letter to Bush asking for Ryan's release.

More than 2,100 clemency petitions were pending before the president. John Walker Lindh, the American who pleaded guilty to aiding the Taliban in 2002 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, had a commutation request before the president. Lindh's parents had appealed to the president for their son's release, saying he made a "mistake."

Media mogul Conrad Black, who was convicted of fraud, was also seeking commutation, and former junk bond salesman Michael Milken, convicted of securities fraud, had requested a pardon.

Justin Volpe, the former New York City police officer sentenced to 30 years in prison for sodomizing and assaulting a Haitian immigrant in police custody in 1997, had requested a commutation.

One of the most significant clemency decisions by Bush so far was the call earlier in his second term to commute the 30-month prison sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, who was convicted of perjury and obstructing justice in connection with the 2003 leak of then-CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.

Libby was left with two years' probation and a $250,000 fine; he did not request a full pardon.

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, the Republican senior senator who was convicted on corruption charges in October, also will apparently not receive clemency.

"Assault Weapons" & Semi-Autos


General Information

Semi-automatic firearms were introduced more than a century ago. The first semi-automatic rifle, a Mannlicher, appeared in 1885; the first pistol, a Schonberger, in 1892; and the first shotgun, the legendary Browning Auto-5, in 1900. President John F. Kennedy, an NRA Life Member, owned an M1 “Garand,” a semi-automatic rifle used by the U.S. military during World War II and the Korean War, and owned by hundreds of thousands of target shooters and collectors today.

Semi-automatics account for about 15 percent of the 250+ million privately-owned firearms in the U.S.1 Semi-automatic handguns are used in most defensive gun uses;2 semi-automatic rifles and shotguns are commonly used for hunting;3 semi-automatic rifles (including some that have been labeled as “assault weapons”) and semi-automatic pistols are the most common firearms in NRA, Civilian Marksmanship Program, International Practical Shooting Confederation, International Defensive Pistol Association and other major marksmanship competitions, and semi-automatic shotguns are widely used for shotgun sports. Semi-automatics are used to defend against crime more often than to commit it4 and, as with other types of firearms, the vast majority are owned by people who don’t commit crimes.

Semi-automatic firearms fire only one shot when the trigger is pulled—like revolvers, bolt-actions, lever-actions, pump-actions, double-barrels and all other types of firearms except fully-automatics5 (machine guns), the importation and manufacture of which have been prohibited since 1968 and 1986, respectively, and which are otherwise regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934.6 A semi-automatic also uses energy from a fired shot to operate its loading mechanism.

Certain misrepresentations about semi-automatics by groups, politicians and media interests that support “gun control” warrant correction. Because semi-automatics fire only one shot when the trigger is pulled, they can’t “spray fire,” and they aren’t designed to be fired “from the hip,”7 as indicated by the fact that they possess sights, which can be used only if held at eye level. They aren’t “easy to convert” into machine guns.8 Federal law, which prohibits manufacturing a machine gun, also prohibits manufacturing an easily convertible firearm, converting a firearm, possessing a converted firearm, and making or possessing a part designed for converting a firearm.9

Semi-automatics, including “assault weapons,” aren’t “high-powered.”10, 11 Power is determined by the ammunition a gun uses, and semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and rimfire handguns use the same ammunition as other guns, while semi-automatic center-fire pistols use ammunition covering the same range of power as center-fire revolvers.12, 13 “Assault weapons” aren’t designed for, or used by, the military; they’re not “weapons of war;” they’re not “designed with,” “equipped with,” nor “designed to accommodate” silencers; and they’re not used by terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq.14 Our soldiers and the terrorists they fight use fully-automatic rifles.

The Beginning of the “Assault Weapon” Issue and Lies About Machine Guns

In the mid-1980s, gun control groups invented the slang term “assault weapon” and applied it to certain semi-automatic firearms which, though designed for civilian use, look like modern fully-automatic assault rifles used by the military.15

In 1988, handgun ban activist Josh Sugarmann, then of the New Right Watch (watching the “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy” before Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., coined the expression), now of the Violence Policy Center (funded by the Joyce Foundation, of which the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, Sen. Barack Obama, was a director from 1998-2001), recommended that gun control groups campaign against “assault weapons” to bolster their long-standing efforts to ban handguns,16 and that they try to trick the public into believing that “assault weapons” were fully-automatic machine guns designed for the military, because of the way the guns look:

“[A]ssault weapons . . . will . . . strengthen the handgun restriction lobby . . . . [H]andgun restriction consistently remains a non-issue with the vast majority of legislators, the press, and public. . . . Assault weapons . . . are a new topic. The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. . . . Efforts to restrict assault weapons are more likely to succeed than those to restrict handguns.”17

To bolster the lie, CBS, NBC, CNN and network affiliates deliberately ran videos of fully-automatic firearms (machine guns) during reports on semi-automatic “assault weapons.”18 The Violence Policy Center uses machine gun photos to spruce up its “assault weapon” propaganda.

The BATF Importation Ban

Sugarmann also mused, “Criteria to identify and categorize assault weapons could be developed by ATF now and applied toward restricting the availability of both foreign- and domestically-produced assault weapons.” The BATF20 imposed the first “assault weapon” ban the following year.21, 22

Under a federal law passed in 1968 (as amended in 1986), the government (in practice, the BATFE) “shall authorize a firearm . . . to be imported . . . if the firearm . . . is generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.”23

Under that law, BATF had approved the importation of many firearms, including 43 rifles that gun control groups called “assault weapons.” In 1989, however, the BATF reversed itself, and prohibited the importation of the 43 rifles on the basis of their having various external attachments, such as a pistol-like grip, a folding stock, or a flash suppressor.24 (The attachments have always been legal on other firearms. For example, all handguns, including those approved for importation, have pistol grips. None of the attachments provides an advantage to a criminal.)

Self-defense is the primary purpose of the right to keep and bear arms,25 thus a firearm shouldn’t be prohibited from importation on the basis of its relationship to sports. And, any firearm that is legal to manufacture in this country should be eligible for importation. Nevertheless, the importation law focuses on sports. Yet all of the 43 rifles were, at a minimum, “readily adaptable to sporting purposes.” Comparable U.S.-made rifles dominated most major center-fire rifle marksmanship competitions in this country in 1989, as they do to a greater extent today.

The BATF arbitrarily decided that “‘sporting purpose’ (sic) should properly be given a narrow reading,” to include “organized marksmanship competition,” provided paper targets are used, but not to include “combat type competitions.” Under that political-purpose-driven standard, the BATF expressly rejected, as non-“sporting,” the preeminent rifle and pistol marksmanship competitions in the United States, the NRA/Civilian Marksmanship Program National Matches, at which rifles of the type the BATF prohibited from importation are the most commonly used.

The National Matches certainly are “organized.” They were authorized by Congress in 1903 and have been conducted annually ever since.26 And though target material is irrelevant to whether a competition is “sporting,”27 only paper targets are used at the National Matches.

Combat marksmanship competitions are certainly “sporting” as well. Congress authorized the National Matches to enhance combat marksmanship skills among citizens, particularly those eligible for military service. In 1905, Congress provided support in furtherance of that objective, by passing a law signed by President Theodore Roosevelt, authorizing the sale of surplus military rifles and ammunition to civilians under the rules of the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice, approved by the War Department.

With America’s entry to World War I impending, Congress provided additional support to civilian combat marksmanship training in the National Defense Act of 1916, authorizing the War Department to distribute military arms and ammunition to civilian rifle clubs in support of their training programs, providing funding for military marksmanship instructors to assist the clubs, opening all military rifle ranges to civilians, and creating the Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship under the National Board. Under the National Defense Authorization Act of 1996, the Civilian Marksmanship Program continues the mission undertaken a century ago, by selling surplus military rifles and ammunition to members of marksmanship clubs, and co-sponsoring the National Matches. Civilians and military rifle team members have always competed together in the matches, now held at the National Guard’s Camp Perry Training Site, in Ohio.

State “Assault Weapon” Bans

California banned “assault weapons” in May 1989, and New Jersey banned “assault firearms” in 1990. California’s ban labeled several dozen firearms as “assault weapons” by name, while New Jersey’s named a similar number of guns but banned additional guns on the basis of their external attachments.28 Both states allowed owners to register and keep banned guns already owned, but New Jersey limited that option to guns “used in competitive shooting matches sanctioned by the Director of Civilian Marksmanship” (AR-15s, M1As and M1 Carbines).29 In both states, only about 10 percent of the estimated number of banned guns were registered. California expanded its ban in 2000, by defining other guns as “assault weapons,” including those having only one of the proscribed attachments. Other states subsequently banned “assault weapons” (Connecticut, 1993; Massachusetts, 1998; New York, 2000; or “assault pistols” (Hawaii, 1992; Maryland, 1994).30

The Brady Campaign calls California’s ban the “model for the nation,”31 though California’s murder rate increased every year for five years after its 1989 ban, 26 percent overall, while in the rest of the country murder increased 11 percent; and California’s rate has increased 13 percent since its 2000 ban, against a two percent decrease in the rest of the country.32

The Federal “Semiautomatic Assault Weapon” Ban (the Clinton Gun Ban)

In 1991, the House of Representatives adopted an amendment by a vote of 247-177, stripping an “assault weapon” ban from then-Rep. (now Senator) Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) crime bill. However, many Democrats who had voted against the ban in 1991, when President George H.W. Bush was in office, voted for it in 1994 at the urging of their party’s leader, President Bill Clinton, who had said people “can’t be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans to legitimately own handguns and rifles.”33

Semi-Automatic Firearms and the Clinton Gun Ban)

The ban, which had been passed by the Senate, was passed by the House by two votes after Speaker Tom Foley (D-Wash.) did not close voting at the end of allotted time, to allow Democrat Party whips to convince several members to vote for the ban.34

The 10-year ban, which began on Sept. 13, 1994, and which was disingenuously named the Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act because it exempted various firearms (a pretense with no tangible effect), defined semi-automatics as “assault weapons” if they had more than one external attachment.35 In crime-prevention terms, this approach was pointless because, as noted, the attachments are useless to criminals and are common to other firearms. The ban defined “large” ammunition magazines as those holding more than 10 rounds.

For propaganda purposes, President Clinton and the Brady Campaign claimed that the ban reduced the number of “assault weapons.”36 However, the facts indicate otherwise. The ban did not prohibit guns already made, motivating its Senate sponsor, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), to say, “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, Mr. and Mrs. America turn them all in, I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren’t there.”37 The ban also had no effect on foreign-made “assault weapons,” such as AK-47s and Uzis, because the BATF had banned their importation in 1989. And it didn’t prohibit the importation of magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

The ban also didn’t prohibit the manufacture of any guns entirely, it prohibited making certain ones with their standard complement of external attachments. Thus, for example, during the ban AR-15s were made with a pistol-like grip, but without a flash suppressor, bayonet mount and, in the case of carbine models, adjustable-length stock. In practical terms the most significant thing about the ban was that it prohibited the manufacture of magazines holding more than 10 rounds, the majority of which are standard-equipment for handguns not defined as “assault weapons.”38

Rather than reducing the number of military-looking semi-automatics and standard-size magazines, the ban caused their numbers to increase more than they would have otherwise. As the ban approached, consumer demand rose and manufacturers increased production accordingly. And when the ban expired, demand for the original, multi-attachment versions of the guns and the standard magazines soared. Moreover, during the ban, hundreds of thousands of one-attachment versions of the banned guns and millions of imported standard-size magazines were sold.39

Why Congress Refused to Renew the Federal “Assault Weapon” Ban

A study of the ban mandated by Congress concluded, “the banned guns were never used in more than a modest fraction of all gun murders” before the ban, and the ban’s 10-round limit on new magazines wasn’t a factor in multiple-victim or multiple-wound crimes.40 A follow-up study found “gunshot injury incidents involving pistols [many of which use magazines that hold more than 10 rounds] were less likely to produce a death than those involving revolvers [which typically hold five or six rounds]” and “the average number of wounds for pistol victims was actually lower than that for revolver victims.”41 Crime reports and felon surveys showed that “assault weapons” were used in only 1-2 percent of violent crimes before the ban; 42 crime victim surveys indicated the figure was 0.25 percent.43 In the 10 years before the ban, murders committed without guns outnumbered those with “assault weapons” by about 37-to-1.44 Also, most crimes committed with such guns could be committed with other guns, and some could be committed without guns.45

Moreover, violent crime, which began decreasing three years before the ban, continued decreasing as the number of firearms, including “assault weapons” and other semi-automatics, increased. This is true whether based upon the Violence Policy Center’s proposition that virtually every semi-automatic rifle and shotgun should be considered an “assault weapon,”46 or its fall-back position, that “assault weapon” should be redefined to include not only multiple-attachment guns banned in 1994, but one-attachment guns made to comply with the ban.47

Between 1991-2006, U.S. total violent crime and murder rates decreased 38 percent and 42 percent, respectively and preliminary reports from the FBI indicate that rates dropped further in 2007.48 Meanwhile, the number of privately-owned firearms has risen by more than 75 million, about one-third of them being semi-automatics, and about 15 percent of semi-automatics being “assault weapons.”49 The number of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds rose by 50 million during the years of the ban alone, according to the ban’s House sponsor.50

Also, the ban’s 10-round limit on new ammunition magazines infringed the right of self-defense. Police officers carry multiple standard-size magazines for good reason—their protection. Other citizens have the same right to protect themselves, and the arbitrary magazine limit potentially put them at a disadvantage against criminals. The limit had other flaws too. Criminals who fire guns fire only three shots on average,51 and those that fire a greater number could defeat a magazine limit by carrying multiple magazines or multiple guns. There was no evidence to justify a limit on magazine size, let alone the arbitrary number of 10 rounds.

One can hope that Congress also objected to the truly un-American tone of the rhetorical question that the Brady Campaign repeated ad nauseum during the ban, believing that it alone shouted down any possible opposition to gun prohibition. The question, “who needs an assault weapon,?”52 was, of course, illegitimate. In America, the burden of proof is not upon those who wish to exercise rights, it is upon those who wish to restrict rights, and there is no evidence that an “assault weapon” ban reduces crime. An irrational bias against guns, mixed with an assumed sense of intellectual, social or cultural superiority to gun owners, may seem to gun control supporters like sufficient grounds to ban firearms, but such notions are insufficient in a democracy.

Anti-Gun Groups Disagree About The Ban

The Brady Campaign claims that BATFE firearm trace data shows that the ban reduced crime.53 However, the BATFE says it “can in no way vouch for the validity” of Brady’s claim.54 Traces do not accurately indicate the frequency with which any type of gun is used in crime. The Congressional Research Service reports, “Firearms selected for tracing do not constitute a random sample and cannot be considered representative of the larger universe of all firearms used by criminals” and “No screening policy ensures or requires that only guns known or suspected to have been used in crimes are traced.”55 Also, firearm trace requests don’t indicate whether a firearm is a multi-attachment “assault weapon” or a one-attachment firearm.

The study for Congress noted, “because the banned guns and magazines were never used in more than a fraction of all gun murders, even the maximum theoretically achievable preventive effect of the ban on gun murders is almost certainly too small to detect statistically.” The ban couldn’t have had an effect on crime, because the attachments it banned have nothing to do with crime. And “assault weapons” accounted for a smaller share of traces after the ban, because they were no longer a hot political issue, thus there was less interest in tracing them, and BATFE increasingly encouraged traces on other guns.

Even the radically anti-gun Violence Policy Center (VPC) said “you can’t argue with a straight face that the ban has been effective.”56 Brady Campaign has even contradicted its own claim, pointing out that the ban only required omitting one or more attachments on guns made during the ban.57 Separately, VPC has incorrectly claimed that one of every five police officers slain in the line of duty between 1998-2001 was killed with an “assault weapon.”58 Information published by the FBI59 shows that in most of the crimes in question, “assault weapons” were not involved.

Current Efforts to Ban “Assault Weapons”

H.R. 1022, introduced by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), would ban every gun banned in 1994, plus guns made to comply with the ban; guns exempted by the ban; fixed-magazine, semi-automatic, center-fire rifles holding more than 10 rounds; semi-automatic shotguns; detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifles; and any semi-automatic shotgun or rifle an Attorney General one day claims isn’t “sporting.” Meanwhile, bills have been introduced in some states to ban pump-action firearms as “assault weapons.”60 That idea, conceived by Donna Dees-Thomases, the founder of the Million Mom March and a friend of Sen. Hillary Clinton, is urged by the Legal Community Against Violence, which has drafted a “model” assault weapon bill to be used in state legislatures.61


1. Of new guns sold in the U.S. since 1985, semi-automatic handguns have accounted for about 75 percent of handguns and about 30 percent of all guns. Semi-automatic rifles and shotguns have accounted for significant percentages of long guns. Fifty percent of guns imported since 1985 are handguns, the vast majority semi-automatic. (BATFE, Firearms Commerce in the United States, 2001/2002 and Annual Manufacturing and Export Reports, 1998-2006, and U.S. International Trade Commission.) Through 1984, 36 percent of guns in the U.S. were handguns. (Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns, Aldine de Gruyter, 1997, p. 97.) Semi-automatics previously accounted for a smaller share of handguns.
2. Handguns are used in two-thirds of defensive gun uses (Gary Kleck, “Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense With a Gun,” The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Fall 1995, p. 185) and semi-automatics account for most new handguns sold in the U.S. since 1985 (see note 1). Semi-automatic rifles and shotguns are commonly kept for home defense.
3. One of the most important factors in a hunting firearm is the suitability of its ammunition for the game being sought. Semi-automatics use the same ammunition as other firearms that are used for hunting.
4. Criminologist Gary Kleck, co-author of the most comprehensive study of defensive gun use to date, compared defensive gun use data to crime data reported by the FBI and the Justice Department’s annual National Crime Victimization Surveys, and concluded, “defensive gun uses by crime victims are three to four times more common than crimes committed with guns.” (Note 1, Kleck, p. 184.) A study for the Justice Department found that 34 percent of felons had “been scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim. (James D. Wright and Peter H. Rossi, Armed and Considered Dangerous: A Survey of Felons and Their Firearms, Aldine de Gruyter, 1986, p. 155.) The study concluded that citizens being armed also deters some crimes, finding that 40 percent of felons had “decided not to do a crime because [they] knew or believed that the victim was carrying a gun.”
5. A fully-automatic firearm, such as a machine gun, fires repeatedly as long as the trigger is held rearward.

6. The National Firearms Act places strict conditions on acquisition and possession of a “machinegun,” defined to include “any weapon that shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.” (26 U.S.C. 5845) The Gun Control Act prohibited the importation and manufacture of “machineguns” for sale to private citizens (18 U.S.C. 922d3 and 922o).
7. For example, “Semi-automatic assault weapons are designed to be spray-fired from the hip,” “Pistol grips on assault rifles and shotguns help stabilize the weapon during rapid fire and allow the shooter to spray-fire from the hip position,” and “Assault weapons are designed to be spray-fired from the hip,” (Brady Campaign, Assault Weapons in America: Military Guns in Civilian Hands, Assault Weapons Threaten Our Safety And Security, and The Assault Weapons Ban: Frequently Asked Questions.) “‘Spray-firing’ from the hip, a widely recognized technique for the use of assault weapons in certain combat situations, has no place in civil society.” (Violence Policy Center, Bullet Hoses, Ten Key Points. To justify the claim, “Bullet Hoses” includes photographs of military personnel firing machine guns in this manner.) “Key assault weapon features include . . . pistol grips . . . facilitating spray firing from the hip.” (Legal Community Against Violence, Banning Assault Weapons: A Legal Primer, 4/04, p. 1.)
8. For example, “[Brady Campaign’s Michael] Barnes noted that not only were many AK-47s and AK-47 copycat weapons for sale, but also conversion kits to allow the guns to operate as machine guns.” (Brady Campaign news release, 2/14/05.)
9. The National Firearms Act (see note 6) defines “machinegun” to also include “any part designed and intended solely and exclusively. . . for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun.”
10. For example, “[T]he infamous TEC-9, a high-powered gun . . . .” (Brady Center, On Target: The Impact of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Act , March 2004, p. 5.), “[T]here is a good reason why these features [pistol-like grips, etc.] on high-powered weapons should frighten the public.” (Note 7, Brady Campaign, “The Assault Weapons Ban: FAQ.”)
11. The “power” question is not particularly relevant where criminals are concerned. A study for the Department of Justice found that criminals ranked “large caliber” 9th among 13 handgun attributes. (Note 4, Wright/Rossi, p. 163.)
12. AK-47s and most AKMs (and SKSs, not usually defined as “assault weapons”) use 7.62x39mm, a .30-caliber round producing about 1,500 ft./lbs. of energy at the muzzle, thus suitable for deer hunting at close range. The caliber is less powerful than all other .30 calibers commonly used for hunting: .30-30 Winchester, .308 Win., .30-’06 Springfield, .300 Win. Magnum and .300 Weatherby Magnum, which produce approximately 1,900, 2,650, 2,800, 3,600 and 4,200 ft./lbs., respectively. AR-15s fire the .223 Remington varmint cartridge (1,300 ft./lbs.). Some AKMs use 5.45x39, which is comparable to .223 Remington. The FAL and M1A use 7.62x51, which is interchangeable with .308 Winchester (see above). The Uzi and Tec-9 fire the 9x19mm pistol cartridge, producing under 400 ft./lbs.
13. Typically, revolver ammunition cases are rimmed; pistol cases are rimless.
14. For example, “[D]esigned for military purposes, assault weapons are equipped with combat hardware, such as silencers. . . .” and “Assault weapons are commonly equipped with . . . a threaded barrel designed to accommodate a silencer.” (Note 7, Brady Campaign, “Assault Weapons in America: Military Guns in Civilian Hands” and “The Assault Weapons Ban: Frequently Asked Questions”); “These are military weapons, weapons of war.” (Bill Clinton, Remarks of the President on the Assault Weapons Ban, 4/6/98.) “The oft-seen file footage of Osama Bin Laden, aiming his AK-47 at an unknown target, is now a familiar reminder of the incontrovertible connection between terrorism and assault weapons.” (Brady Campaign’s StopTheNRA.org, “Terrorism and the Assault Weapons Ban: The Threat to Homeland Security, 9/12/04.) Osama bin Laden’s AK-47 was a fully-automatic military assault rifle, not a semi-automatic “assault weapon.”
15. “[T]he term ‘assault weapon’ seems to be an invention of gun control advocates dating no farther back than 1985.” (Note 1, Kleck, p. 110.) The term was derived from “assault rifle,” which refers to a modern fully-automatic military rifle, to which some semi-automatics are similar in appearance.
16. In 1982, California voters rejected Proposition 15, a handgun ban referendum, by 63-37 percent. Most states have never seriously considered a handgun ban.
17. New Right Watch and Educational Fund to End Handgun Violence, “Assault Weapons and Accessories in America,” chapter on “Conclusions.”
18. One video showed L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies exploding a melon with a semi-automatic AK-47. It was later revealed that the deputies shot the melon with the AK-47 without effect, then exploded it with a handgun loaded with expanding bullets. The video was edited to show the AK-47 fired and the melon exploding. A May 2003 video, by CNN’s John Zarella and Broward County, Florida, Sheriff Ken Jenne was deceptively edited to show a gun that was not an “assault weapon” being fired at cinder blocks and a bullet-resistant vest without effect, when in fact the gun had been fired at the ground. Then the video showed the blocks and vest being shot to pieces with a gun that Jenne claimed was a semi-automatic, but which in fact was a machinegun.
19. Note 7, Violence Policy Center. Even the cover photograph is of a submachinegun.
20. “ATF” is how the BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) refers to itself. “Explosives” was added to the agency’s name in 2003, when its enforcement functions were transferred from Treasury to Justice.
21. A 1932 law passed by Congress prohibits the possession, in D.C., of a “machine gun,” defined to include not only fully-automatics, but also semi-automatics that hold more than 12 rounds. Corrective legislation has been introduced.
22. The BATF suspended the importation of a slightly larger number of rifles in April, conducted its reconsideration of the rifles, and in July made the ban “permanent” for the 43 rifles.
23. 18 U.S.C. 925(d)(3), part of the Gun Control Act of 1968, originally said that the government “may authorize the importation.” The Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986, among other things, changed “may” to “shall.”
24. “Report and Recommendation of the ATF Working Group on the Importability of Certain Semiautomatic Rifles.”
25. The constitutions of the U.S. and 44 states, common law, and the laws of all the states recognize the right to use arms in self-defense. The constitutions of the U.S. and 38 states mention defense and/or security as the reason, or one of the reasons, for the right to arms. Iowa’s and New Jersey’s constitutions have no provision expressly protecting the right to arms, but guarantee the right to self-defense in general terms.
26. Except for several years during World War II.
27. In shotgun sports, targets are almost always frisbee-like discs made of a ceramic composite.
28. California ( Chapter 2.3, the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989); New Jersey (Chapter 39w).
29. The M1 Carbine was not considered an “assault weapon” by the federal ban of 1994-2004, discussed above, because in conventional configuration it does not possess more than one of the external attachments the ban proscribed.
30. See BATFE State Laws and Published Ordinances.
31. Note 7, Brady Campaign, “Assault Weapons in America.”
32. FBI annual crime reports, data available from the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
33. Ann Devroy, “President Rebukes Rifle Association,” Washington Post, March 2, 1993, p. A9.
34. At the end of time allotted for the vote, the ban had failed by one vote. Foley (D-Wash.) held the gavel until party whips convinced one Democrat to switch his vote and two others to vote for the ban. Foley, a member of Congress for 30 years, was voted out of office the following November.
35. Proscribed attachments included, for shotguns and detachable-magazine rifles, a pistol-like grip, or folding or telescoping (adjustable-length) stock; for the rifles, a bayonet mount, a flash suppressor or muzzle threaded for same, or grenade launcher (included for propaganda purposes, since true grenade launchers and grenades are restricted under the National Firearms Act, see note 6, section 5845f); for shotguns, a fixed magazine in excess of five rounds capacity or the ability to use a detachable magazine; and, for pistols, a magazine outside the grip, a threaded muzzle, a barrel shroud, an unloaded weight of 50 ounces or more, and “a semiautomatic version of an automatic firearm.”
36. For example, “We must keep UZIs and AK-47s off our streets!” (Brady Campaign news release, “The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence United with the Million Mom March Host First Annual Taste of Los Angeles and Toast to Hollywood,” 10/11/02.) In his March 20, 1999 radio address to the nation, President Clinton said, “Over the last six years we’ve . . . . taken more criminals and deadly assault weapons off the street.”
37. CBS 60 Minutes, 12/5/95.
38. Ultimately, the most significant aspect of the ban was political. A number of Democrats who supported the ban were voted out of office in November 1994, and Republicans took control of Congress until January 2007.
39. For example, during the ban, nearly 900,000 one-attachment AR-15s were sold, though this figure includes rifles sold to law enforcement agencies. (Note 1, BATFE.)
40. Roth, Koper, et al., Urban Institute, “Impact Evaluation of the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994,” 3/13/97, p. 2.
41. Reedy and Koper, “Impact of handgun types on gun assault outcomes,” Injury Prevention, Sept. 2003.
42. Kleck, Targeting Guns; Dave Kopel, “Rational Basis Analysis for ‘Assault Weapon’ Prohibition.” Bureau of Justice Statistics: Survey of State Prison Inmates 1991 (3/93), Guns Used in Crime (7/95), Firearm Use by Offenders (11/01).
43. Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Criminal Victimization 2002,” p.112.
44. Note 31, FBI. Between 1984-1993, 37 percent of murders were committed without guns. Knives are used in about 13 percent of murders, bare hands in about five percent, and clubs in about four percent.
45. The worst mass murders in this country have been committed with hijacked commercial aircraft, explosives and fire.
46. In 2004, VPC endorsed Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s (D-N.Y.) bill to ban guns banned by the 1994 ban, guns made to comply with the ban, guns exempted by the ban, all semi-automatic shotguns, and all detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifles. (See NRA’s fact sheet on the bill, introduced in the current Congress as H.R. 1022.)
47. “Changes that allow an assault weapon to stay on the market can be as minor as removing a flash suppressor at the end of a gun’s barrel.” (VPC, “United States of Assault Weapons,” Section 1.)
48. FBI, “Crime in the United States 2006,” violent crime table 1 and Crime Statistics 2007.
49. Note 1, BATFE and U.S. Trade Commission.
50. Schumer Press Release, “Schumer Moves to Renew Federal Ban on Assault Weapons,” 5/8/03.
51. Note 39, p. 10.
52. “Who needs an AK-47 to go duck hunting?” (Note 7, Brady Campaign, “Assault Weapons in America.”) For the record, ducks are hunted with shotguns; the AK-47 is a rifle.
53. “The [ban] led to a dramatic decline in the incidence of assault weapons traced to crime.” (Note 7, Brady Campaign, “Assault Weapons Threaten Our Safety And Security.”) “[T]he Federal Assault Weapons Act has contributed to a substantial reduction in the use of assault weapons in crime.” (Note 10, Brady Campaign, p. 12.)
54. Torsten Ove, “Assault weapon ban’s effectiveness debated,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/28/04, p. A1.
55. Keith Bea, “Assault Weapons": Military-Style Semi-Automatic Firearms Facts and Issues, 5/13/92, 92-434 GOV.
56. R. Montgomery, “Clock ticking on assault gun ban: Flaws put extension in doubt,” Kansas City Star, 5/2/04, p. A1.
57. “In the years since the ban took effect, assault weapon manufacturers here and abroad have responded by cosmetically altering several of their best-selling weapons and putting them back on the market.”
58. Violence Policy Center, Officer Down, Section One. For more information, see NRA-ILA fact sheet.
59. FBI, Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, annual reports, containing incident descriptions.
60. E.g., Rep. Cedric Richmond’s (D) dishonestly-named “Assault Weapons Protection Act,” Louisiana H.B. 68 (2008).
61. Donna Dees-Thomases and Carolynne Jarvis, “Why wait to tackle gun violence? Germany’s timely action should serve as example for America,” Detroit Free Press, 8/8/02; and Note 7, Legal Community Against Violence, p. 59.

18 January 2009

Food For Thought

First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

First they came for the Conservatives, but I was not Conservative so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Gun Owners, but I owned no guns ,so I did not speak out. And when they came for the Christians, but I was an Atheist so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.



Guns Magazine

“The election of Barack Obama as President and Joe Biden as Vice President was a decisive victory for common sense gun laws,” the Brady Campaign crowed in its election follow-up report.

“The election also represents a critical loss for the National Rifle Association,” the report continued, gloating “The gun lobby pledged to spend $40 million this election cycle, with the largest portion to defeat Obama. They failed.”

John McCain’s defeat was hardly NRA’s fault. They did what they could to warn us “Obama would be the most anti-gun president in American history.” But McCain’s past support for political speech suppression, aka “campaign finance reform,” and his continued endorsement of ending private sales, aka “closing the gun show loophole,” made him a tough sell — particularly to ornery gun owners fed up with sell-outs, and tired of holding their noses and voting “lesser of two evils.”

While choosing gun rights-friendly Sarah Palin as his running mate helped to mollify some gun owners, and fear of Obama’s history of overt hostility to gun rights motivated others, very few gun activists had the fire in their bellies to actually get enthused by the GOP ticket. When you don’t have that, your ability to attract contributions and volunteers suffers.

Add to that the “sporting purposes” crowd, who took their lead from the Obama-supporting American Hunters and Shooters Association (see “Beware of Moles,” January 2006 issue), secure in the belief their duck guns weren’t at risk. Well, Obama did say he wasn’t going to take anyone’s guns (followed by the foreboding admission he did not have enough votes if he wanted to). In a bit of side-drama, Dan Cooper of Cooper Firearms created such an Internet firestorm, when he told USA Today he supported and had donated to the Obama campaign, that he was forced to resign his position as chief executive.

So what does this mean for us as gun owners? Is it all doom and gloom?

Some commentators tell us not necessarily, pointing to the number of “pro-gun Democrats” who got elected. The thing is, nearly every one of those deferred to political party reality and endorsed Obama, you know, “the most anti-gun president …”

I have to question their commitment to buck their leadership, to resist the lure of the carrot, to endure the whack of the stick, to jeopardize key committee assignments, or forego that big helping of pork for the folks back home. Especially when going along with the agenda is just so much more rewarding.

Agenda? Sure, this is hot off the Obama/Biden power transition Web site, CHANGE.GOV.

“Obama and Biden also favor commonsense measures that respect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners … They support closing the gun show loophole and making guns in this country childproof. They also support making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent, as such weapons belong on foreign battlefields and not on our streets.”

What, you were hoping for something different? We ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Get ready for some change.

12 January 2009

Who Are the Real Nazis?

by Jonah Goldberg

"Go back to the oven! You need a big oven, that's what you need!"

This is what one young woman thought passed for acceptable discourse during an anti-Israel rally last week in, of all places, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Other chants were similarly unlovely. You can watch it on YouTube if you like.

But why bother? The Fort Lauderdale outburst is just one window on the upside-down world of Israel hatred. Across the Islamic world, and in too many points West, it is still considered a penetrating and poignant insight to call Zionists the "new Nazis." For instance, in Sunday's Gulf News, Mohammad Abdullah al Mutawa, a sociology professor at United Arab Emirates University, penned an essay titled "Zionists are the new Nazis." He began: "Today, the whole world stands as a witness to the fact that the Nazi Holocaust was a mere lie, which was devised by the Zionists to blackmail humanity."

At a Saturday protest in New York against Israel's military assault on Gaza, some carried signs that read: "Israel: The Fourth Reich," "Holocaust by Holocaust Survivors," "Stop Israel's Holocaust," "Holocaust in Gaza" and "Stop the Zionist Genocide in Gaza."

Type "Israel" and "Nazi" into any news search engine and you'll be rewarded, or punished, with a bounty of such statements from just the last week or so. Gaza is the new Auschwitz, the Israeli Defense Forces are SS troops ... I find myself tempted to simply write "et cetera" because it's all so familiar by now. But to do that is to dismiss, and therefore accept, such grotesqueries as trivialities, when in fact such charges are deeply revealing -- just not about Israel.

First, let us note that if supposedly all-powerful Israel is dedicated to exterminating the Palestinian people, it is doing a bad job. The Palestinian population has only grown since 1948. There are more Arab citizens living in Israel proper today than there were in all of Palestine the year Israel was founded.

Perhaps one reason Israel fails at genocide is that it isn't interested in genocide? That would explain why Israel warned thousands of Gazans by cell phone to leave homes near Hamas rocket stockpiles. It would clarify why, even amid all-out war, it offers aid to enemy civilians. It would even illuminate the otherwise mysterious clamor from Israelis for a viable "peace partner."

But no. For millions of Israel haters, the more plausible explanation is that the "defiant" Palestinians have miraculously survived Israel's determination to wipe them out.

Meanwhile, calls for the complete extermination of Israel are routine. The Hamas charter, invoking the fraudulent "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" as justification, demands the destruction of Israel. Hamas exists solely because it is dedicated to the complete obliteration of the "Zionist entity." Remove that "principle" and Hamas is meaningless.

A sick mixture of Holocaust envy and Holocaust denial is the defining spirit of Hamas. Indeed, Holocaust denial passes for a scholarly pursuit not just in Gaza but throughout much of the Arab and Muslim world.

The head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, literally earned a doctorate in it. His doctoral thesis became a book, "The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism," in which he denounces "the Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that 6 million Jews were killed." In Hamas' eyes, Abbas is an incorrigible moderate.

It's Palestinian Islamists who have ideological and political ties to Nazism stretching back to the days of "Hitler's Mufti," Haj Amin al-Husseini, a happy warrior for the Nazi cause.

So why the obsession with casting the Israelis as the new Hitlerites? One answer is surely that critics know such charges are painful to a country largely born of the Holocaust and marked by its scars. It also grabs attention, galvanizes radicals, vents legitimate frustrations and anger, and helps demonize the enemy and, hence, justify the murder of "Zionists everywhere," as Hamas often declares in its communiques.

But I think the desire to cast the Israelis as Nazis is fueled, deep down, by the haters' need to see their own hatreds and ambitions mirrored in their enemy's actions. Hamas has an avowedly Hitlerite agenda. The only way to make such an agenda defensible is to convince yourself and others that the Israelis deserve it. Hence, Hamas and its allies insist that when they aim rockets at grade schools and playgrounds, they are resisting the "new Nazis." It brings to mind Huey Long's reported prophecy that if fascism ever came to America, it would be called anti-fascism. Well, with Hamas, Hitlerism comes to the Middle East wearing the mask of anti-Hitlerism.

Robocop's Comment:

Typical response from the opposition when things do not go their wayis to revert to racism, something they are "against".