Wednesday, December 31, 2003

This thread over at led me to this story. It's about a family that goes by the surname of Pilgrim.

In summation they moved to Alaska for religious & ideological reasons. They simply wanted to live a very simple life away from the influence of modern society. They Found some land in McCarthy, Alaska & thought they'd found their promised land.

Enter the Federal Government.

The land they purchased is about 14 miles inside a National Park. The National Park Service is harassing them because they attempted to use a bulldozer to maintain the road that leads from their property to the outside world.

The Pilgrim family is trying to go through the proper legal channels. But as it stands now, the only access to their property is by snowmobile, horse & airplane. That's 14 miles by snowmobile, horse or airplane.

Sure, riding snowmobiles & horses is fun. But try it for 14 miles hauling supplies with ya. & planes can get expensive, not to mention a bit risky. One plane has crashed already trying to get supplies to the Pilgrim family.

."A key point of argument was the law that the Pilgrims have learned to pray about: RS 2477, an 1866 mining statute getting new attention as a way for states to claim historic rights of way across federal land.
'It took me so long to memorize those numbers, two four seven seven,' Papa Pilgrim said. The next moment he was describing his case with all the savvy of a veteran land-rights lobbyist.
'I have a whole map of all the 2477s in Alaska,' he said. 'We're simply using what's been here 100 years. This road is a perfect example of a 2477 right of way."

Now the state government of Alaska is generally supportive of having road access into & across federal land. But they aren't doing much on behalf of the Pilgrim family because they feel the use of a bulldozer will generate negative PR & thus the Pilgrims aren't the State's ideal test case

"The Murkowski administration is eager to press its RS 2477 claims with a friendly Bush administration. Unfortunately for the Pilgrims, the state would prefer to establish precedents without generating headlines about bulldozers in national parks.
'I am going to be the last one to argue they shouldn't have the right to go back and forth to their land,' said Murkowski aide Jack Phelps. 'But it's not a good test case for RS 2477, and that's why we've been fairly low key."

But what really should get your attention is the way the NPS has handled things. According to the Pilgrims they were merely maintaining a road that had been in existence for about 100 years. The Park Service claims that their bulldozer wandered off the road in a few places, & that part of their cabin & about an acre of oats was located on National Park land instead of their property. So we have a few things that the Pilgrims may have been in error on. & one would think it would be easily corrected.

Remember though, the NPS is a federal agency & they have a reputation to live up to.

"The Pilgrims might even have gotten a permit to run a bulldozer seasonally up the old road, since any lesser vehicle couldn't make the dozen or more crossings of the boulder-strewn stream, said Sharp, the chief ranger."

Seems here the Park Service is admitting that a bulldozer was a necessity, doesn't it? But like a lot of other necessities they must be government approved.

"Finally this summer, with the Pilgrims still insisting they had needed no permits, the Park Service got tough. Park officials said their patient, nice-guy approach seemed to be encouraging the Pilgrims to break other park regulations."

Well, first of all when the hell did requiring a permit for a necessary activity constitute being nice? Especially when there's a dispute about the legality of requiring said permit?

"Surveyors flown in by the park in June found that two-thirds of the family's cabin was over the five-acre parcel's line -- the kitchen's cookstove was in the national park. The family had also cleared an acre or so of alder to plant oats in what proved to be the park.
The Pilgrims blame Wigger, saying he assured them the buildings were on private property. Wigger says they never asked. He says the lines were always vague, based on long-lost corners, and the house was built on I-beam skids so it could be moved."

Again, this seems like something that could be chalked up to a misunderstanding of the property lines on the Pilgrim family's part. Move the cabin & oat field & the problem would be solved right?

"Ironies multiplied. The federal survey's lines, cut with chain saws, left a highly visible rectangle in the woods of the national park. And with Wigger's bulldozer padlocked, the family had no way to skid their building onto their property."

Well I guess padlocking the bulldozer would make moving the cabin a bit trickier now wouldn't it?

"For two weeks in late August, park biologists and other specialists were helicoptered daily to the Pilgrims' site and followed the old road to assess bulldozer damage and build a civil case against the family, noting particularly where the bulldozer might have strayed off the historic right of way. Armed rangers in bulletproof vests stood nearby to keep the Pilgrim children from meddling with investigators. Both sides wielded video cameras as well. Park officials said that without guards, investigators could never discuss the case in the field because the Pilgrims were always in their midst taking pictures and notes."

Let me repeat part of that last paragraph in case y'all missed it:

"Armed rangers in bulletproof vests stood nearby to keep the Pilgrim children from meddling with investigators. Both sides wielded video cameras as well. Park officials said that without guards, investigators could never discuss the case in the field because the Pilgrims were always in their midst taking pictures and notes."

Armed park rangers to keep the children from taking pictures & notes????

"We've kind of had it. We're not going to back up and go away," Sharp said. "I represent the people of the United States, and I'm going to do my job."

If he represents the people of the United States then I'll gladly renounce my citizenship. He represents the government of the United States, which, sadly to say, is very far removed from the people. Authorizing armed agents to keep children or adults from taking pictures or notes of said agents activities is not something to be proud of. Unless you were in the Hitler Youth program.

"Joseph, 26, was cited for trespassing and vandalism, accused of breaking into the park's mine shaft after rangers chained it shut. He was written up by a ranger who staked out the mine shaft entry from a nearby ridge with binoculars. Joshua, 24, and his mother, Country Rose, were cited for leading a commercial horse trip in the park without a permit or insurance after an undercover agent contracted for a ride. Park officials say the family was warned they needed permits to work in the park, just like other McCarthy businesses."

breaking into a mine shaft on park property may be something legitimate, if the family's claims that it is a historic access point is discredited. But the latter instance sounds more like entrapment to me. Being paid to guide someone through the park on a horse doesn't exactly strike me as something the government should regulate in the first place, but aside from my free market ideas, we're dealing with a relatively poor family & I'd argue that any offer of cash for what they'd feel is a reasonable & lawful activity is not as much an indictment of the Pilgrim family's guilt as it is of the NPS's desire to discredit the family in any way possible.

BTW, if you recall the NPS is a federal agency. Care to guess how much of your tax dollars have gone to their efforts to build a case against the Pligrim family?

"Critics are calling the park's response absurd. They estimate the cost of the investigation, including helicopters and staff time, at $200,000 to $500,000. The park superintendent, Candelaria, acknowledged the cost was in that range."

$200,000 because a family used a bulldozer to maintain a road, an acre of oats was planted in the wrong place & their cabin strayed a few yards off the property line??? Wonder what they charge to prevent a rape?

"The dispute reached the public eye in early summer, with Internet alarms sent out by Kenyon and others over a park plan to dispatch a special team of armed rangers with the surveyors. The park and its critics accused each other publicly of encouraging a "Ruby Ridge" type armed showdown, with children in the line of fire.
The Park Service quickly backed down and sent in the survey team without guards, according to a June 4 park memo, to reduce risk of a confrontation 'being deliberately constructed to serve the narrow interests of some of the citizens of McCarthy and the Hale family."

So they feel that if they sent armed guards to escort a survey team on another persons property, that could be used to serve "narrow interests" of said property owners & residents of the town? I suppose "narrow interests" means anything that the government doesn't approve of or can't get away with?

Concerning the support the Pilgrim family has received:

"They're allies of convenience,' said Sharp, the park ranger. 'I think we have people in this community who hate authority and the government. (The Pilgrims) are the poor pioneers just trying to live in the old-fashioned way. There are people who think you can drive the federal government out of here if you do this just the right way."

He wonders why people hate authority & government? He orders armed escorts for his armed Rangers, entraps the family, fines the family, & prevents them using equipment he states is necessary to travel the road to their property but yet he admits that the Pilgrims are basically good people? Are we to assume that this is the way good people must be dealt with?

"I felt like I was back in the 1800s scouting through hostile Indian territory,' Sharp said."

Ah, we see where his creed for dealing with non-government employed peoples comes from.
He made that statement after explaining that he felt the Pilgrim family members were tracking him & fellow agents. He also seemed a little surprised when he recounted how the Pilgrim family's eldest sons told him to stay off their property.

In summation, what it seems like is the NPS does have a few legitimate issues about the Pilgrim family's activities. However the NPS has a love of authority that is blinding it to the degree of seriousness to take the Pilgrim's actions as well as the appropriate responses.

They're acting like masters, not stewards.

Sadly that's all to common with government agencies - & agents.

Here's a page that has updates on the Pilgrim family's plight.

Monday, December 29, 2003

From this thread over at The High Road I found a link to a survey about gun control that's being conducted by a gentleman from Yale.

From the opening page of the survey:

"Thank you for taking part in this exploratory study on society and current issues! This survey is being used to develop a larger national survey, and it is important that you answer each question carefully. The questions vary widely, and there are now "right" or "wrong" answers. We want your opinion or best guess." (emphasis added)

Of course there's a Right & Wrong answer to these kinds of surveys. Odds are I flunked it. I'd be ashamed of myself if I didn't. :D

If you opt to take the survey, page 3 is where the gun questions crop up. Some of the wording leaves a lot to be desired, such as "As long as criminals, the mentally insane & those that are a danger to themselves are prohibited, would you support a law that allows private citizens to carry a firearm?" (Going from memory - the wording may not be exact, but it's close). Now a lot of people wouldn't want serial killers to own weapons, but criminals could mean jaywalkers as well as murderers. This is a flaw I've found on damn near every survey, so I'm not going to hold ambiguity of questions against them.

But if you have time take the survey. If nothing else it's always interesting to cause a person to alter their research to support their conclusions (assuming rather prejudicially that Yale means the surveyor is pro-gun control), but it might lead someone to discover that not all people are terrified of firearms & better yet it might help this fellow convince his colleagues that firearms aren't as generally feared & despised as they believe.

I'll try to post more on this when/if the results come out.
Glenn Reynolds opines in this post that the "assault weapons" ban will sunset.

I wish he were correct, but it still remains up in the air.

I refer you to this post for some background on the political theories concerning the ban, look at this post for some information on the 100 co-sponsors for the McCarthy-Conyers bill to make permanent & strengthen the "assault weapons" ban, & look at this post for how the Senate & House break down in terms of supporting or opposing gun control bills.

Bottom line is that there are enough votes in the Senate & probably enough votes in the House to pass any version of an extension of the "assault weapons" ban. Veto-proof isn't a concern as Bush promised to sign it into law & Bush always keeps his promises no matter how much it infringes on our Rights (In all fairness I'd have to go back before Roosevelt - not the good Roosevelt; FDR - to find a president who would stand up for the Constitution despite political pressure).

So what it comes down to is whether or not any of the bills that would make permanent & strengthen the "assault weapons" ban will come to a vote. If it does I'm pretty sure it'd pass.

But most people assume it won't come to a vote. This is mainly because of House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-Texas) said it wouldn't come up for a vote. This was said in May.

But House Speaker Dennis Hastert )R-Illinois) said a few days later that he hadn't yet decided whether the House would vote on renewing the ban. "'I need to have some discussions with the president and (Republican) leadership before I make that decision" were his words.

So we're by no means out of the woods yet. If Hastert brings any one of the "assault weapons" ban bills to the floor, it's likely to pass. The Senate's a done deal. & Bush will betray us yet again. The courts? Heh. SCOTUS has been ducking direct second amendment questions for almost 54 years. I doubt they'd grow some spine if someone challenged the "assault weapons" ban again.

I wish I could share Prof. Reynolds' optimism, but I fear I know too much about what's going on.

Here's the section of my archives that deal with proposed bans. Most of the stuff from halfway down to the end of that section deals with the "assault weapons" ban & proposals to renew it. It's not going to be an uplifting read, but if you would know all the details (at least all that I could find) feel free to browse. Of course if you see any flaws with my reasoning or know something to be different than I stated it, please drop me a line. I want to be wrong about this.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

In this thread over at The High Road, a rather interesting discussion was getting started. Specifically around page 4 it was becoming more interesting to me, but alas, it deviated too much from the original topic & was locked.

The orginal question was about answering or not answering an LEO's questions at a traffic stop. It morphed however into a discussion of what constitutes legitimate law enforcement (i.e. how can a cop vioate your Rights by merely enforcing the law) & what defines one as "pro-gun".

First let's look at the "pro-gun" definition.

A law enforcement officer made the claim that he was " pro-gun as anybody..." while going on to say that there needs to be some gun laws to keep the wrong people from having weapons & cops should not be blamed for enforcing those laws. He seemed a little miffed when i pointed out that he was not in fact pro gun, but simple not as hard core anti as others are.

But here's what I think is a workable definition of "pro-gun": Being oppossed to any prior restraint based gun control laws.

Simple, eh?

Of course that's not very popular as it would exclude those who think that we should enfocre the laws we have. In other words those who think the NFA of 34 &/or any firearm law since then would not fall under my definition of pro-gun. That's simply because they in fact support gun control. So it ticks people off who are not members of the VPC that they wouldn't be considered "pro-gun".

Folks there are varying degress of damn near everything, but generally being "pro" or "anti" means you're either in favor of something or against it. These are two extreme points with most people who label themselves one or the other falling in between. & labels do tend to take on their own meanings over time, especially to those on one side of the issue or the other, but for my purposes & from my perspective I see it as a person either being for gun control or against it, with those who support even minimal gun control as being less than "pro-gun".

& I'm sure there are die hard firearms prohibitionists who see anything less than a desire to confiscate all civilian owned arms as being "pro-gun". But I think that wanting most guns left alone while some are confiscated helps the anti's more than those who want most guns confiscated but some left alone helps us.

That's not to say they're necessarily bad people, or they're our enemies; just they lack either an understanding of the subject or that they are not absolutely on my side all of the time. Sure, they'd help out if an effort was needed to stop a bill that would ban all firearms, but maybe not one that let anyone carry concealed sans permit, or one that made short barreled shotguns legal w/o the extensive paperwork we know have.

Here's an old joke that perhaps illustrates my point:

A man walks up to a woman in a bar. he asks her if she'd sleep with him for $1,000,000. She says yep she would. He then asks if she'd sleep with him for $5. She looks offended & replies, "What kind of girl do you think I am?!?!?". He answers. "Ma'am, we've already established that; now we're bartering".

Similarly those who support prior restraint based gun control laws are offended if you dispute their assertions of being pro-gun. The fact is if you support a little gun control, then what you are is already established. What you're contending is the degree to whcih you are anti-gun. More or less you're attempting to use a relative standard to include yourself in an absolute definition.

But if you do support some gun control laws - fine. I'll argue with you all day long about the effectiveness of said laws, & they're Constitutionality & the degrees to which they violate our Rights. I won't spit on you or otherwise degrade you even if I do disparage your decision. But don't try to tell me you're pro-gun while wanting to infringe upon my Right to Arms.

So what is a good word or phrase to describe those who are not "pro-gun" by my definition but not "anti-gun" by the gun prohibitionists definition?

& I'll try to address the other topics covered in the aforelinked High Road thread at some point soon, as they tie in well with the post I've been thinking about for weeks concerning revolution.

Continue the discussion with Spoons concerning the reversal of the 9th Circuit's decision on waiting times for forced entry when serving a warrant by SCOTUS:

"Your response basically makes three arguments, as I see it. Two of them, I submit, were not relevant in this case. First of all, you object that the warrant in this case was based on an anonymous tip. To my understanding, this was not an issue in this case, and the Defendant was not arguing that the warrant was not supported by probable cause. Correct me if I'm mistaken on that. In any event, obtaining a warrant is not quite as simple as you suppose. When police go before a judge, they have explain in detail, under oath, the nature the facts which they claim give them probable cause. This is what the Fourth Amendment expressly requires. In most cases, an anonymous tip, without more, will not be sufficient to get a warrant. If, on the other hand, the police get information from an informant who has proven reliable in the past, or who is in a position to have specialized knowledge, this will be more persuasive to a judge, and may lead to the issuance of a warrant. In any event, this is the same sort of evidence that has always supported warrants -- going back as long as we've had a Fourth Amendment.

Your second argument is that the Feds don't have the power to make drug posession illegal. That's a more interesting argument, theoretically, but it was NOT an argument at issue in this case. This was a case about execution of search warrants. If you object to all drug prosecutions generally, that's fine. However, given the fact that the Supreme Court is not going to agree with you on that structural question (which the defendant didn't raise and which COULD NOT therefore be addressed by the Court), I think we still want to address the general warrants question honestly, and to create a rule that can apply in all sorts of cases.

So that brings me to the third issue; namely, the length of the wait. You propose:

'Now there are situations where cops busting into someone's house would be acceptable, but they'd be limited to demonstrating a serious & imminent danger to someone's life & limb if they didn't do it. Certain hostage/kidnapping scenarios come to mind, but little else.'

'What I would prefer is that except in those situations where life & limb are threatened by not acting, that cops simply not enter a person’s home without permission irregardless of any warrant. They shouldn't have merely increased their wait time; they should have simply not entered the home until permission was obtained.'

That's a completely unworkable rule. More importantly, it's never been the law in this country. It's not what the Fourth Amendment says, nor what the framers intended. We rightly pillory liberals for making up new rights in the Constitution -- we shouldn't get into the business ourselves. The rule you suggest would cripple legitimate law enforcement. Not only drug crimes, but many other crimes that you don't have a problem with, would become difficult or impossible to prosecute, as long as the criminal worked out of the home. Simply keep the shades drawn, and destroy all the evidence when the cops come around and announce themselves (as the Court has said they must do). Better yet, if you're out of the house and learn that police have been by, simply don't go home. Hit the road, and the cops will never be able to get in.

I find it odd, too, that you object to the police entering your home -- with a warrant -- when the suspect is not home. What about when the suspect IS at home, but refuses to open the door? Is that entry okay? If so, why?

You also misunderstand the Castle Doctrine. That doctrine never had anything to do with a homeowner's right to disobey a lawful warrant. Indeed, a warrant from the King would always permit the King's men to enter anywhere in the realm (for the past 500 years or more!).

In short, my objection to your proposed rule are twofold. One, the rule you propose is utterly unworkable, and would devestate law enforcement -- even with respect to crimes that you don't disagree with. Second, and more importantly, the rule you propose is rooted nowhere in the Constitution (or even in Common Law)."

To address the first point made by Spoons, anonimous tips are a lousy basis for a warrant. Even disregarding that it allows for a flagrant abuse (i.e. making up the informant to secure a warrant or paying an informant to "inform" to base the warrant on) it offers nothing more than heresay as a basis for deprivation of a Right. In a court of law assuming Spoons & myself had equal standing (i.e. clean records, "respectable" backgrounds, etc...) he could testify that I had proscribed drugs or guns & it shoudl have no bearing, as it would be his word against mine with no proof to back it up. It may sway a jury but objectively it should have no bearing on any matters. Further I suspect that most anonymous tipsters are of less than upstanding background themselves. Hence their credibility is somewhat suspect which further discredits them in a peron's word against another person's word context. & I would remind Spoons that our favorite gun control org, the BATF, uses "informants frequently. Typically they threaten to bust a gun owner for something & offer him the chance to rat out someone else in exchange for leniency or immunity.

But here's another thing that must be considered: revenge on the part of the tipster as a motive. Say Spoons & I are at a bar & both trying to attract the same girl. For some reason she prefers me over him (i.e. she's had a drink or twelve on an empty stomach) & Spoons gets ticked off. So he calls the local PD & gives an anonymous tip that I have a machine gun & am selling coke. Now suppose the local cops have read my blog & are less then happy with my rants about the inappropriate actions that they took in a matter. They take this anonymous tip to the judge & get a warrant based on it & the judge's deference to them. So the cops come a knocking & we have at minimum a real tense situation. All because of a desire for revenge. Yes, it's a straw man but one that is probably more accurate than any of us would like to believe.

So despite anonymous tipsters being an old & accepted method of basing warrants I contend that it's flawed in many respects & shoudl be discontinued.

As to the argument that the Feds lack authority to make drugs illegal, we probably both have heard more sides of this issue than we can remember. But to sum it up, I see nothing in the constitution that allows the Feds to make any drugs illegal. States may be a bit different, but the Feds simply lack the authority.

Now as to the irrelevance of thse two points, I disagree. A court should look at all aspects of the case, not just those whicht he lawyers bring up. If a person is fighting a conviction for carying a concealed weapon & his attorney is basing his defense on some regulatory provision that allows such in one's car, that should not disuade the judge or jury from examining the question of whether or not the state has authority to prohibit or regulate the carrying of weapons at all. In fact courts should first look at a law & decide whether or not it is indeed constitutional before even considering other matters. So as you might imagine I am no fan of the presumption of constitutionality doctrine that has misled the courts for the last several decades.

The courts simply should have looked at these issues regardless of counsel bringing them up or not.

Now as to the third point Spoons addressed concerning my proposal, I do not see it as unworkable or as crippling law enforcement. What I see it as doing is perhaps inconveninecing law enforcement, but to the benefit of law enforcement & the people.

Under my program cops would still be able to break down doors & dress up in their space ninja outfits, but only when doing so would attempt to save life. This business about busting down someone's door for suspicion of possessing an illegal substance or object would be eliminated. I do not see it as hampering legitimate law enforcement efforts. If you accept gun control & drug prohibition as acceptable then officers could still enforce those laws. They just would not be able to bust into someone's home to do it, unless said person was taking potshots at passers-by out of his window, or he was holding someone against their will.

Now I will grant you this: my idea would devestate law enforcement as we know it; it would strip away a lot of power from the government to enforce its laws. But it would do so to the benefit, not the detriment of the people. In short it would only be damaging to the system as it is now, not the system as it should be.

As to it creating new law &/or Rights, I don't see it as that. I see it as merely enforcing the Rights of the people as they should be enforced. Quite simple the idea of Federal government agents, or local agents acting on behalf of the Feds to enforce Federal law, was not seen as something essential to daily operations of the federal government. In short those accussed of counterfeiting & other legitimate federal crimes were to be the only ones subject to Federal search warrants. & I doubt it was seen as something that would or should happen with any frequency. Moreover I doubt that a statement from someone whose intentions may be suspect would have been viewed as a legitimate exception to the Fourth amendment when it was penned. Keep in mind that in 1791, the Feds were suppossed to have limited powers & a limited number of agents in its employ. States had a little more discretion but still there weren't even any organized police forces - at least not as we know them today.

I really do believe that any signer of the respective constitutions - State or Federal - would have serious issues with the way the courts have interpreted the Fourth amendment as it pertains to the granting of warrants & forced entry into a person's home just as much as they'd not be happy with the courts treatment of the Right to Arms provisions.

& if Spoons is saying that the Castle Doctrine was irrelevant if the King signed a piece of paper saying it was, then I think that would do more to support my point rather than refute it.

The idea that a person's home is off limits to the government embodies the Castle Doctrine. But saying that a King could merely sign a piece of paper & the sanctity of the home would be forfeit is to essentially make the Castle Doctrine useless. Now I know that this was the case in England - the King most certainly could make exceptions at whim to the Castle Doctrine, but this does not justify its continuance today in the form of court issued search warrants.

The Fourth amendment sought to address this by the use of certain words, such as unreasonable & probable cause.

Here's the Fourth amendment in it's entirety:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Now as to the first part, essentially what Spoons & I are arguing is what constitutes unreasonable. I feel that busting in someone's door for a non-life threteaning reason is unreasonable. Spoons does not view it in this light.

As for the probable cause, again we disagree. I do not feel the word of one other person constitutes probable cause. Spoons sees it as an acceptable way to enforce laws that he fears would be unenforcable otherwise.

Further I believe that courts have used too little discretion in the issuance of warrants, especially the no-knock variety, while Spoons feels that adequate procedural safeguards are in place.

These three things in esence sum up the disagreement that Spoons & I have. If time permits I'll attempt to expand further on these (but as y'all may have noticed, time hasn't permitted much blogging as of late).

But in the meantime check out the comments in this post as there's some decent discussion of this issue going on.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003 needs your help. They've been drained pretty heavily by their efforts on behalf of the Silveira vs. Lockyer appeal & more or less times are tough. So if you've this blog useful wander over there & give what you can. Most of the news items I have written about come from & without them I'd probably be blogging less than I have these past few months.

So if you're able throw some cash their way.

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& don't forget the other fine groups that are doing what they can for your Rights. Visit GOA, JPFO & your local no-compromise orgs & give them what you can as well.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

First let me address a comment left by Spoons. It was concerning the SCOTUS decision reversing the 9th Circuit's decision involving forcible entry in the execution of a search warrant.

"I disagree. I distrust the gumm'int as much as the next guy, but the criminal-friendly Ninth Circus was wrong, and the Supreme Court was right. This wasn't a warrantless search. The cops had evidence that this guy was a drug dealer, presented that evidence to a judge, and got a warrant -- just like the 4th Amendment requires. They went to his home, knocked on the door and said "Open up! Police!" They then waited for twenty seconds (which is an astonishingly long time -- count it out) for the drug dealer to answer the door. When he didn't, they broke in, found the evidence they expected to find, and arrested the guy.

What exactly is the problem here? What rule would you like to suggest? Should the police have to wait 60 seconds? Five minutes? Should they assume he's not home and come back later? These cops followed the law and the constitution, and did everything right. It turned out (possibly) that this guy may have been in the shower when police knocked. The police didn't know that, though. He could have been flushing the drugs down the toilet, loading his gun, or hiding under the bed. The cops didn't do a no-knock raid here. They knocked and waited.

One of the problems I have with my pro-gun brothers is that sometimes we allow our (proper) distrust of government authority to automatically oppose the government in all things. That's counterproductive. We WANT the government to be able to arrest criminals. Gun owners, more than most people, perhaps, are keenly aware that there are bad guys out there and that they need to be dealt with. While we know that we can't (and won't) depend on the cops exclusively, we ought to support what they're doing when they play by the rules. Here, the cops played it straight and arrested a drug dealer. Good for them. And good for the Supreme Court for smacking down the Ninth Circuit's attempt to let yet another criminal go free.

Oh, on an unrelated note, the Silviera petition advanced SIX different issues to the Supreme Court, not three."

I concede that Spoons is correct in that the Silveira case posed six questions, not three. I should have clarified that but the point I was making concerned Clayton Cramer's assessment of things & he used the three questions to make his point.

But with Spoons assertion that SCOTUS was correct in this instance I have to disagree.

First of all, the "evidence" that formed the basis for the warrant in question was the word of someone else. No photos, no signed statements, no tape recordings - just someone else telling a cop that this guy had drugs.

Many warrants are based on such "evidence" & are flawed because of it. You, me, anybody could walk into a police station & claim that another person had illegal drugs, or illegal weapons. If the cops were interested in that person to begin with, or if they were having a slow day, the statement you or I made would form the justification for a search warrant. It's an extremely low threshold to climb over & one that wouldn't objectionably pass constitutional muster - if the constitution were to be taken literally.

So Spoons could claim I had a machine gun, a silencer & a couple of pounds of illegally imported plants. As long as Spoons seemed credible (i.e. told them what they wanted to hear) & they were sufficiently interested in either me or the objects Spoons claimed I had in my possession, then they'd seek a warrant. Odds are they'd get it.

This process does not take into account the possibility that Spoons could be lying. As long as he doesn't make the lie too obvious he could claim I had anything plausible without much scrutiny. Granted, I doubt they'd take him seriously if he said I had a homemade nuke in my garage, especially if I didn't have a garage to begin with, but barring that they'd deem it probable cause if the object was more common, such as drugs or proscribed weaponry.

Now the officers did in fact find drugs in the defendant’s home. This does not establish the validity of using third party accounts to establish probable cause. With the complexity of the legal system as we know it, odds are if they searched 100% of the homes in America, in 80% they'd find something proscribed, such as a gun or drugs. So more or less they rolled the dice & came up lucky. That does not condone their actions unless you're a Jesuit (i.e. the ends justify the means).

So I submit that the process for obtaining the warrant was much less burdensome than intended.

Now as for the substance of the warrant itself, pardon me but I see nothing in the Constitution of the U.S. that authorizes the feds to prescribe or proscribe any substance. In short the law that made it a crime for this gentleman to have the drugs in the first place exceeds the Constitutional limits placed on government. That is not even entertaining the arguments that if it were constitutional to prohibit certain drugs that it would be a good policy decision.

So I submit that their warrant was baseless on its face.

Finally we come to the waiting period. The cops waited 20 seconds before they busted the door down. I have issues that they busted the door down at all. There was no danger to life or limb of anyone concerned. The only thing at risk was disposal of evidence of a victimless crime. This is not sufficient justification for breaking & entering.

Let's look at how things could have turned out for a moment:

Let's assume Spoons was ticked off at me because I claimed that my cat was more feline than his (hey - there have been arguments about more abstract things!). He goes down to the local PD & tells them I have drugs & a machine gun. He further tells them I showed the machine gun to them & he saw the selector switch while we were smoking a joint & that I bought the gun through profits made from selling pot. The cops haven't been thrilled about my anti-cop (rather pro-people) writings on this blog, so they immediately apply for a search warrant. The judge grants it (after all, if I've got nothing to hide...etc) & they come knocking on my door.
It's early morning & I'm asleep so I don't hear the knock at the door or the statements that it's the police with a search warrant. What I do hear is my door being busted down. Since I have no drugs or proscribed weaponry I don't jump to the conclusion that it must be the cops. Further I catch a glimpse of a man with what looks like a submachine gun in a mask entering my place. 30 minutes & 4 seriously injured cops later I realize that they in fact are cops, but since I shot 4 of them (at least) thinking they were un-uniformed criminals I have the option of surrendering & going to jail for a long time (based on how the courts seem very protective of cops despite the circumstances) or fighting it out & at least dying like I was free.

All this because a person claimed I had proscribed objects, a judge thought that probable cause was satisfied & cops didn't realize that breaking & entering into a persons house after a 20 second knock time might be dangerous for them & best avoided.

Or alternatively Spoons reads about a militia member, gun nut, anti-government psychopath who shot a few cops before a police sniper took him out.

All over someone's assertion that someone has objects that are verboten.

It's simply not enough to justify the risk to the individuals or the officers to break into someone's house. & yes, I realize that many drug dealers, gun runners & others who are on the opposite side of the law will get away with their crimes. That's a very acceptable price to pay to ensure public safety.

But busting in someone's house is not the only way to catch someone committing such a crime. What would be objectionable about arresting someone as they leave their home or in some other such place? Yes, it'd be more time consuming, but again I see this as an acceptable trade off for ensuring the safety of the public in their homes.

Now there are situations where cops busting into someone's house would be acceptable, but they'd be limited to demonstrating a serious & imminent danger to someone's life & limb if they didn't do it. Certain hostage/kidnapping scenarios come to mind, but little else.

What I would prefer is that except in those situations where life & limb are threatened by not acting, that cops simply not enter a person’s home without permission irregardless of any warrant. They shouldn't have merely increased their wait time; they should have simply not entered the home until permission was obtained.

But what SCOTUS did was in effect say that as long as the paperwork is in order a person's home is not safe from government intrusion. It set the Castle Doctrine back several centuries by doing so, even if in this particular case you agree with the actions of the cops.

& change the circumstances around somewhat. It's easy to sympathize with the cops if you agree with the War on Some Drugs since they did in fact find drugs, but would your view be different if the object of the warrant was to find outlawed firearms (future tense, as a 6 shot revolver banned by some Republican-Democrat Smart Gun law ten years from now)? Or would it be different if the object described in the warrant was not found? Or perhaps if a radical such as myself didn't know or believe that they were cops & a gunfight ensued despite the objects not being on the premises?

So I object to SCOTUS' decision not because I think all criminals should go free (though in this case I do question the validity of the law making it a crime) but because there is an inherent danger to all parties when the state busts into a home without permission.

If you still disagree I'll be more than happy to publish your responses here & continue the debate.

Friday, December 05, 2003

As Nicki pointed out below, Mr. Spaulding was denied his Right to Arms as a condition of his release. No charges have been filed, no trial conducted, yet he had to agree to not possess weapons in order to secure his freedom.

This was done by a judge who has immunity in almost any action he takes upon the bench. He cannot be prosecuted, arrested, or detained. At most he could be held accountable for any wrongdoing by other judges; but this almost always involves an administrative proceeding that results at worst in the loss of his job.

The person Mr. Spaulding shot was not arrested for the attack he was shot in the process of committing. He was treated & released & then arrested after he attacked someone else that same night. If he wouldn't have been so foolish as to attack again the same night he'd probably still be free. Nothing has been said about his companions so I assume they're free as well.

Another thing judges are virtually immune from is being defenseless. Should the criminal Mr. Spaulding shot decide to attack a judge, odds are he'd face one who is armed as judges are routinely excepted from any state or federal prohibitions concerning carrying weapons. If a judge feels particularly nervous he has access to police protection. Not a patrol car driving by his house two or three times a night mind you, but actual police protection.

But should the companions of the man Mr. Spaulding shot wish revenge upon Mr. Spaulding then they're in for a much easier time of it than if they went after a judge. After all, Mr. Spaulding is defenseless; disarmed by a judge. disarmed by a system. Even more to the point - disarmed by us.

Why us? What have we done to cause Mr. Spaulding's disarmement? Nothing. & for that we should be ashamed.

We've stood by & let Congress pass laws that eroded our freedom. We've let judges interpret the Constitution in such a way as to disadvantage ourselves. We've let policeman bully us around with or without the law backing them up. We've stepped & fetched to hold onto a tenth of our Rights for the sake of getting along peaceably. We let them steal 25% of our money instead of causing a scene by telling them no. Hell, some of us pay money to have a permit to carry a weapon - as if it wasn't a Right in the first damned place.

Because of our playing by the government's rules - even when they change those rules to suit their position - we have devolved into a nation whose every action is judged by the government & those who aren't found guilty are too scared to speak up for the ones who are.

But you aren't scared: you write your congressman, you show up at city council meetings, you sign petitions, & you even write heated letters to the editor of your local paper. Hell, some of you may even blog. Lemme ask you something; do you think you're more free or less free than you were ten years ago?

What good has letter writing, e-mailing & arguing with the government done? In some states you can pay for a piece of paper to carry a weapon & that piece of paper says you've not only registered yourself as a gun owner, but kissed government ass to do it (that'd be a concealed carry permit in case the NRA has tricked you as well). In two states you can carry without groveling for permission. That's cause for joy - unless you don't live in one of those states. & that joy is bittersweet because those two states are only doing what they should, what they ought to do. They don't deserve sweeping praise because they don't rountinely round up their citizens & kill off a certain percent at random, & neither do they deserve praise for doing the right thing concerning their citizens Right to Arms. But compared to the rest of the nation, they seem to have a better idea of freedom.

How about taxes? Any letter writing stopped the IRSS from stealing your money before you even freakin' get it cashed? At most some people have seen a reduction in the amount stolen. Relatively speaking that's better but it's still not an improvement. They shouldn't be stealing your money at all, yet you're happy when they smile at you & promise to steal a little less next year?

No-knock searches. Ever heard a judge or politician promise to end this abysmal & dangerous practice because you wrote a letter to him? Or is it still possible that the break-in at 3:a.m. next door is really officers of the law serving their office?

Any of y'all bought a brand new assault weapon lately? How about a brand spankin' new submachine gun? Perhaps a silencer that didn't have a $200 tax & a months long wait to see if your groveling was sufficient to gain permission for it? A 12" shotgun for under $125 including tax? Or a factory fresh 20 round magazine?

My point is that as much as I'd like to believe that writing letters, e-mails, signing petitions & participating in protests is an effective tactic to regain our freedoms, I simply don't think it will be enough to do any of us any good.

Yes, things could be worse. & I guaran - damn - teeya they will be before it's over. Not because we didn't try to do things peaceably. No, I think things will be worse because we've tried things peacably for too damn long. Think about it; if our humble supplications, too numerous to count, haven't secured the freedoms that our Constitution acknowledged, then how the hell will they prevent the kind of tyranny it will take to wake most of the people up?

More to the point, being polite hasn't even gotten us the freedoms secured in the Bill of Rights. How will that same tactic prevent the kind of oppression we abhor when we see it in other countries?

A 71 year old man was arrested, held without bail, released on the condition of his disarmament & still could face attempted murder charges for defending a friend from violent attack by three people. This in the state most of y'all would point to as a great defender of the Right to Arms - the first state with a shall-issue concealed carry law.

A 17 shot .22 rimfire rifle can land the owner in jail for up to 5 years in a state that fought for its independance from England.

It costs $100 & requires groveling to some petty bureaucrat to own friggin' pepper spray, let alone a firearm, in the state whose citizens rose up against a trained army that came to disarm them in 1775.

The highest court in the land has for the past 66 years been refusing to even address whether or not we have a Right to Arms as it says in the Constitution, while lower courts routinely ignore said Constitution's acknowledgement of our Right to Arms.

Congress keeps passing prior restraint based gun control.

The President keeps enforcing prior restraint based gun control.

The IRSS forces your employer to rape your paycheck for the government eveyr week.

A War on Drugs justifies the invasion of your privacy as well as the confiscation of your property until you can prove your innocence.

Any cop can force you to do tricks for his amusement under the guise of the drunk driving laws.

The DEA will take your house if they find one proscribed plant in the smallest corner of your property.

The EPA will forbid you from altering your property for the sake of some animal that it claims is endangered & can only live on your land.

Agents of the Department of Agriculture & even postal employees are allowed to carry arms on planes, yet you'll get your swiss army knife stolen if you try to fly with one.

A victimless crime committed in defiance of the government will usually net you more jail time than a violent crime against a human being or his/her property.

To reinforce that last point, an attack on a government employee will carry a harsher senetence than the same attack, or in some cases a worse attack, on a private citizen.

In short, the government hasn't declared war on us. No, they'd have to respect us & think we're at least a half-way formidable adversary to declare war. They've bitch-slapped us & they continue to bitch-slap us as they force us down to lick the boot that kicks us.

In between bitch-slaps we write letters. If thos eletters are answered at all they usually just point out that we aren't really getting bitch-slapped; those are just love taps. Then they smile in our face as they bitch-slap us again.

So - & I ask this in all seriousness - is there anyone out there who can convince me that revolution isn't the only way we'll ever be free? Or is it too late even for revolution to work for our freedom?

Thursday, December 04, 2003

When I first read Peter Mancus' Reflections Upon the U.S. Supreme Court's Rejection of Silveira, my initial reaction was, "It bleeds."

"What do you mean?" asked Founder and Executive Director Angel Shamaya when I told him my opinion of this piece.

"You can feel his pain when you read it," I explained. "You can feel his heart bleed."

Having read it again this evening, after Angel published it on our website, I stand by that assessment.

Mr. Mancus' words bleed. Every paragraph radiates hurt, anger, outrage and outright agony over the demise of our republic, the destruction of our Constitution, the enslavement of our society and the annihilation of our freedoms.

He writes with the passion and pain of a family member watching a loved one dying and unable to do anything about it.

"The United States Supreme Court rejected the Silveira v. Lockyer case, and I do not feel free. I have not felt that way for a long time. My brain’s rational thought processes convince me that I am not truly free. This is because I, and others, have been, and still are, denied one or more of our most fundamental rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Instead, we have only the illusion of freedom and the reality of oppression. Oppression is enforced via perverted rules, misleaders and their subordinates." ...

"What value is the “right to petition to redress grievances” or to file a lawsuit (which is a form of the right to petition government for a redress of a legitimate grievance) when the petition or lawsuit or both crashes into the solid legal wall of government immunity or the government refuses to hear the petition (lawsuit) or refuses to take it seriously or refuses to apply the applicable law correctly."

"This is ironic: Government “lives” as a legal fictitious person but it does not have lungs, it does not bleed, it does not have emotions. It is a non-air breather. But Government tells the air-breathers (citizens with lungs, who bleed when cut, who have a mortal existence) they must circulate in public unarmed and vulnerable to criminal predators."

It is ironic, Mr. Mancus. People have created government, not the other way around. And now these same people are told that they exist for their state, that the state is their master, that they must follow the state's rules.
Since free men created the state to serve them, the absurdity is clear. In her first novel "We the Living," Ayn Rand puts this absurdity in perspective:

"And what is the state but a servant and a convenience for a large number of people, just like the electric light and the plumbing system? And wouldn't it be preposterous to claim that men must exist for their plumbing, not the plumbing for the men."

Yes, wouldn't it be preposterous?

And yet, that is exactly what is happening in this country. Question is: Will anyone notice?
Florida citizens have some strong words for the tyrannical bureaucrats who continue to victimize Melvin Spaulding

Here are some of the excerpts of the letters they sent about Mr. Spaulding's plight.

"When three young men are beating the hell out of a 63-year-old man, that is not a simple fistfight. If you want to talk about "excessive force," I'd say that's what they were using. No one has the right to put his hands on anyone else against that person's approval. I applaud the actions of Melvin Spaulding. He should be given a good citizen award." ...

"It's a good thing our legal system is looking out for the rights of the alleged attackers. They sure aren't looking out for the rights of Mr. Spaulding or his friend, George Lowe."

One punch can be deadly

However, the police arrested the man on a charge of attempted murder, saying he should have called 911, and that he can only shoot at aggressors to prevent them from "killing someone or causing great bodily harm."

What short memories some people have. Forget the fact that a man can be long dead before the police respond to a 911 call. Have they forgotten Christopher Fannan? One punch was all it took to kill the 18-year-old kid. And Chris isn't the only person who has been killed recently by a punch to the head. How do we tell the family of Chris Fannan that being attacked by three men can't do "great bodily harm"?

There's little to study

"Once again Pinellas County has proven its stupidity by jailing an elderly man for protecting a friend from a group of teens. I am appalled that the state attorney has to even study, much less "carefully study," this to determine if the man being beaten was in danger of losing his life, which caused his friend to shoot one of the teens.

Maybe the state attorney should be put in a room and kicked by a group of teens to see if his life would be in danger. The state attorney would probably determine his life is in danger and would probably have no problem dropping all charges of attempted murder on this man and charge the teens with attempted murder.

Thanks, Pinellas County, you make me proud - not!"

A right to be a victim

"Call 911? That's a real joke! By the time the police got there, George Lowe could have been dead.

Come on - wake up, folks. It's tyranny when a person cannot defend himself but has a right to be a victim." ...
The Travesty of Justice Continues in Florida

Just when you thought Melvin B. Spaulding couldn't be treated any worse, after having defended his 63-year-old friend and neighbor against violent thugs, who had him on the ground and were mercilessly kicking him...

After holding this heroic man in jail for defending another's life, the authorities who claimed he should have dialed 9-1-1 and watched as his friend was being violently victimized, have now deprived him of his right to defend himself with the most effective tool on the market today.

According to the above-referenced story, "Spaulding has a concealed weapons permit, but as part of his release he’s been told he cannot have a gun."

Now, remember, no formal charges have been filed against Mr. Spaulding. As a matter of fact, the "benign public servants" who saw it fit to arrest Mr. Spaulding on charges of ATTEMPTED MURDER (completely disregarding the fact that he stopped three slimebags, who were kicking an elderly man on the ground), in their infinite benevolence "have not decided" whether or not they would file formal charges this heroic man. But nonetheless, in their tyrannical and constitutionally ignorant fashion, the authorities are treating Mr. Spaulding like a criminal and depriving him of his right to keep and bear arms, even as two of the three attackers are walking around, free to victimize yet more defenseless people.

Words fail me.

It's difficult to address this travesty without outrage.

Mr. Spaulding's ordeal is indicative of how far we have fallen as a society. Instead of praising and rewarding heroes like Mr. Spaulding, the system punishes them for being self reliant, for being courageous and for failing to depend on the nanny state or ask government for permission to defend a life. And while their public servants continue to wield the whip of tyranny over them, the ignorant, subservient sheeple simply bow their heads and obey and bleat in relief that they don't have to take responsibility for their own lives and well-being.

Melvin B. Spaulding's ordeal is a symptom of a gargantuan, black cancer that's eating away at the very fabric of our society and of our humanity. And unless we wake up and take immediate action, we will be swallowed next.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Via The Smallest Minority I found a link to Ravenwood which pointed to this story about a 71 year old man being held without bail for shooting a group of men who were beating up his 63 year old friend.

"ST. PETERSBURG -- A 71-year-old man was arrested for firing a gun at three men beating up his 63-year-old friend, striking one of the men in the arm, deputies said.
Melvin B. Spaulding held up his .22-caliber pistol and told the men to stop hitting and kicking his friend George Lowe. When they didn't listen, he fired the gun, Pinellas County Sheriff's spokesman Tim Goodman said."

Three men against a 63 year old man? Mr. Spaulding should have shot them all. Repeatedly. Then reloaded & repeated.

But then we get to these pearls of wisdom:

"I'm sure he was concerned for his friend's safety...,' Goodman said. 'The use of a weapon to stop a confrontation is not the right way. He would have been better off calling 911.''

Hmm. Three young men beating up a 63 year old; your options are shoot the little punks & stop the attack right now or call 911 & hope they get there before the 63 year old dies from the beating. I think I'd opt for the former, immediete solution.

& they actually pay this guy to be a sheriff's spokesman? I knew it was hard to find good help, but damn!

"Spaulding, who had no criminal record in Florida, acknowledged firing the gun, according to sheriff's records. He was being held without bail in Pinellas County Jail.
The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's office would carfully investigate the case before deciding whether to file an attempted murder charge against Spaulding, prosecutor Bruce Bartlett said."

Held without bail while they decide if they're going to prosecute him for attempted murder. All because this 71 year old man stopped some young punks from beating his friend to death.

I would not be at all oppossed to the good people of Florida getting some tar & feathers & paying a visit to the sheriff, sheriff's spokesman & the D.A.

"As far as I'm concerned, he's my hero,' said Lowe, who suffered a torn leg muscle, bruises and a sore back in the fight. 'He's my friend, but he's also my hero.''

At least the 63 year old has a clear perspective on things. Then again, it was his life that Mr. Spaulding saved.

Yep, I think we stopped using tar & feathers prematurely in this country. & I understand why they don't make lamposts strong enough to hold a rope anymore - it'd intimidate the government too much.

Please use the following contact info to tell these government officials what you think of their actions

Pinellas County Public Information Office

Pinellas County Sheriff Everett Rice

Be sure to mention that if Mr. Spaulding continues to recieve this abysmal treatment for exercising his Right to Arms in defense of his friend & community, that you'll damn sure reconsider vacationing in Florida.

Thanks to Henry at The High Road for the contact info.

Further Update:

Via the same thread linked above on The High Road we find the following:

776.031 Use of force in defense of others.
A person is justified in the use of force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to prevent or terminate such other's trespass on, or other tortious or criminal interference with, either real property other than a dwelling or personal property, lawfully in his or her possession or in the possession of another who is a member of his or her immediate family or household or of a person whose property he or she has a legal duty to protect. However, the person is justified in the use of deadly force only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.

776.08 Forcible felony
"Forcible felony" means treason; murder; manslaughter; sexual battery; carjacking; home-invasion robbery; robbery; burglary; arson; kidnapping; aggravated assault; aggravated battery; aggravated stalking; aircraft piracy; unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb; and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.

Seems the sheriff & the prosecutor are not only acting immorally; they're acting illegally. Thanks to starfuryzeta at The High Road for being more on top of Florida law than the folks in the Pinellas County government.
Via The Volokh Conspiracy comes the news that SCOTUS has unanimously reversed a 9th Circuit ruling concerning forcible entry in the execution of a warrant.

To sum things up, the police were serving a search warrant on a man's apartment that was suspected of selling drugs. They knocked & announced their presence, but after about 15 to 20 seconds they decided to bust down the door. They discovered crack cocaine, weapons & what they refer to as "...other evidence of drug dealing". The man in question was in the shower when all this occurred & claims he didn't hear the police knocking or announcing themselves & first realized it was in fact police when he went out of the bathroom still dripping from the shower.

He moved to have the evidence suppressed because he was in the shower & argued that the police had no authority to bust down his door unless he actually refused them admittence or a more reasonable amount of time had elapsed. The 9th Circuit agreed & suppressed the evidence.

Enter the Supreme Court. Citing previous decisions which the 9th Circuit failed to acknowledge they determined that the officers actions were Constitutionally permissable as a reasonable amount of time had elapsed & there was a danger of the evidence being destroyed. They further opined that the main reason for knock & announce warrants was to give a person the chance to avoid having their property damaged by a forced entry of the police in the execution of the warrant, & that if a reasonable amount of time passed where there was a danger of the evidence being destroyed then they were justified in busting the door down. They further chastised the 9th Circuit for the test the 9th Circuit came up with, saying there could be no all encompassing test to determine the reasonableness of a warrant & it must be examined on a case by case basis.

Say Uncle doesn't seem happy about this. He cites 18 U. S. C. §3109 as well as the 4th Amendment & concludes that 15 to 20 seconds is not necessarily a reasonable amount of time.

But I'm afraid my good buddy Say Uncle misses the point: it's not what's reasonable for us - it's what's reasonable for the government. Whether or not a reasonable amount of time to answer the door is 20 seconds, it is unreasonable to make agents of the government wait 20 seconds (in some cases less than 20 seconds) in order to bust in your door & steal your property.

Say Uncle seems to think that the courts should value the protections of the 4th amendment over the needs of the state to confiscate property it deems innappropriate. & if the courts were to actually respect the Constitution he'd be correct. But what he & I & evryone else seems to forget (at least from time to time( is that the courts themselves are a branch of government. They are not accountabe to the people (in most cases judges are appointed for life - not elected) & their interest does not lie with the people. Think a Federal judge is going to jeapordize an important source of revenue (income takes, property seizures in regards to the war on drugs, etc...) just because it conflicts with constitutional protections guaranteed to the people?

Nope. The courts aren't the answer - they're part of the problem.

SCOTUS will reverse a 9th Circuit decision that would add some additional safeguards for the people against unreasonable enrty by government agents but it will refuse to hear a case challenging the 9th Circuit's assertion that the 2nd Amendment entails no individual Right & therefore it is not incorporated under the 14th Amendment.

There is only one reason I can think of that adequately explains this series of events: the Supreme Court is concerned with maintaining the federal government's power & cares not about the Rights of the people. It assumes that because enough evidence of probable cause is presented to a judge to sign a warrant that you are guilty. I mean if innocence was presumed then the court wouldn't have said it was justifiable to bust down the door if a reasonable cop felt evidence may be destroyed. It's saying that because a judge signs a piece of paper, you must be guilty & any steps necessary to prove your guilt will be taken. reasonable is determined solely by the government & if you don't run to the door & answer it promptly then it'll be busted down & the cops will treat you as a threat. So when the King's men come a callin' you best step'n'fetch lest they bust your door & Lord knows what else.

To say that government agents cannot enter unless entry is explicitly refused unless there is danger to the life of someone else (i.e. in a hostage situation) is to say that the government's interests do not outweight your Rights. Few courts will say that because , as part of the government, it hinders their power just as much as the government agents the courts send to execute warrants in the first place.

Ya see, the courts are as politically minded as the legislature; they're just not nearly as overt about it. That is why they only hear 2nd Amendment cases which do not require a judgement on the 2nd Amendment itself. They wouldn't hear Emmerson or Haney, but they did hear Bean (which was about a due process claim, not the 2nd Amendment). They decided that the lower court in Bean erred because it did not have jurisdiction to restore Bean's firearm Rights in relation to a felony in Mexico (that felony was possessing ammunition).

Kevin of the Smallest Minority thinks that the courts can't duck the 2nd amendment issue forever. I don't know if he's correct in the literal sense, but for the past 65 years they've been doing a bang up job of it. But whether or not they can duck the issue forever (as in until the end of time) doesn't matter. What matters is they've ducked it yet again. They refuse to take any sort of stand. They do not want government power to regulate weapons diminished, but they don't want to risk the anger of the people by coming out & saying so in an opinion.

Clayton Cramer thinks we're better off not having the Supreme Court decide Silveira, as he thinks the case is flawed. Clayton is a good historian. His research (from what I have seen) is impeccable. But I'm afraid he's off base on more current affairs.
Clayton thinks the 3 questions involved in Silveira were too complex & too numerous. He would prefer a slower approach with one question at a time addressed & the scope of the question narrowed.

& on that Clayton & I disagree. I also disagree with those who say it'd be better to wait for a more favorable court to bring these issues up at all. Newsflash - there's no way of knowing if this court isn't going to be the most favorable for decades to come. Bush may get to appoint a justice or two, but think about it - Bush himself is in favor of gun control; do you really think he'd appoint a justice who would strike down a federal power just because it intereferes with the Rights of the people?

As to the complexity of the questions presented in Silveira I don't see how they could be any more simple & still deal with the issue. The questions were:

1; Does the 2nd Amendment guarantee an individual Right?

2; Does the 14th Amendment incorporate the 2nd Amendment?

3; Are "assault weapons" protected by the 2nd Amendment?

Seems pretty damn simple to me.

& yes, SCOTUS could have answered "no" to all the questions in Silveira. I don't doubt for a minute that "no" to all questions was a possible outcome. But we'd have at least known with some finality that we have no recourse through the legislature or the courts, & it would have woke some people up who think they'll never have to give up their "wabbit" gun.

But it's a non-issue because once again the Supreme Court has decided that it's easier to avoid the issue than tell us where they stand.


So what to do? Wait for the CATO lawyers' D.C. case to go up before SCOTUS? Hold our breath while we pray they grant cert? That's soon to be a non-issue as well because Sen. Hatch is determined to get his D.C. gunowners legislation through & effectively kill the CATO lawyers' case.

So while we're waiting for SCOTUS to hear a 2nd Amendment case we'll just have to be sure to rush to the door every time we hear a knock - otherwise the cops might bust the door down.

Geek With a .45 has an idea: pepper your elected reps (from any & all parties) with copies of the Bill of Rights.

Mike Vanderboegh tells a story about a more radical strategy to try to keep your congresscritters in line.

My suggestion? Pick one or the other. I seriously doubt either will have any positive effect on the going on in congress &/or the courts. I don't think we're gonna see anything close to freedom unless there's another revolution. The government has too much of a hold on power & it will not let it go easily.

But I would suggest that if anyone busts down your door, defend yourself. It may be cops & it may not. But if I can't check out their credentials & read the warrant to determine its validity before they enter, I'll assume they're either criminals in disguise or just criminals in uniform & attempt to repel them accordingly.

In summation none of this bodes well for the Republic, or its people.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

A New Study Says Gun Laws do Not Reduce Criminal Violence

"Restrictive firearm legislation has failed to reduce gun violence in Australia, Canada, or Great Britain. The policy of confiscating guns has been an expensive failure, according to a new paper The Failed Experiment: Gun Control and Public Safety in Canada, Australia, England and Wales, released today by The Fraser Institute."

"What makes gun control so compelling for many is the belief that violent crime is driven by the availability of guns, and more importantly, that criminal violence in general may be reduced by limiting access to firearms..."

Violent crime is not driven by the availability of guns, but rather by opportunity. Criminals do not want to face an armed victim. This has been proven again and again, by the number of "hot" burglaries in the UK (nearly 60 percent) where the vast majority of the public is disarmed, giving the criminal ample opportunity to commit the crime with impunity, and by a survey of convicted felons by Professors James D. Wright and Peter H. Rossi. According to this survey, when asked if the one reason burglars avoid houses when people are home is that they fear getting shot, the vast majority of criminals either agreed (39 percent) or strongly agreed (35 percent).

In other words, gun availability is not a deterrent, but the realization that the victim might be armed (lack of opportunity) is.

Additionally, a simple review of the law of supply and demand tells us that where there is a demand, there will always be a supply. In the UK, where private firearms ownership has been all but destroyed, criminals are modifying air guns to shoot real bullets. This phenomenon is contributing to the UK's rising gun crime.

This new study confirms what we already know.

Isn't it nice to know some academics are on our side?

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

There are some really scary people among the enemies of freedom.

It's amazing that someone would actually wish pain and death on a peaceable citizen who wants nothing more than to preserve our freedoms. The gun control advocates assert that we are the violent ones - we're the paranoid - we're the ones relishing the thought of shooting someone, while at the same time, some of their cohorts spew hatred from every pore.

Here is my reply to this particular psychotic:

Dear Mr. Bellamy,

Your sick, hateful letter to Mr. Shamaya of has prompted me to do something I have NEVER done before: write a reply to someone with so little human decency that he actually wishes pain and suffering on another human being, his innocent infant son and his wife and mother just because he disagrees with that person's political views.

Why would anyone want to own an AK-47? The obvious answer is "why not?" Why should anyone who wants to own an effective tool of self defense have to justify their "need" to you, to the state or to anyone else? Who are YOU to tell peaceable, law-abiding citizens what they should and should not own? Who are YOU to determine anyone's need? All YOU need to know, sir, is that an AK-47 in the hands of a law-abiding citizen is no more dangerous than a sword, an axe, a power drill or a Ferrari.

But people like you don't understand tyranny, because they have never lived under its yoke. You don't understand what it's like to have to justify your reading habits, your purchases, your very existence to the state. You don't understand the meaning of freedom. You are afraid of it and the personal responsibility it demands. And your fear is causing you to lash out in hate toward those who are brave enough to embrace true freedom and treasure the responsibility involved in preserving it.

You have stated that Mr. Shamaya represents all that is wrong with America (and the world).

I'm wondering why it is you feel that a man who is fighting tyranny warrants such strong sentiments. I'm wondering why a man who treasures human life enough to fight for the people's right to protect it warrants your spite. And I'm wondering what kind of subhuman monster wishes death upon the innocent family of said man.

Many people have written me with sentiments similar to yours, hoping that I die a heinous, painful death by gunfire, hoping that my family is shot, my life ruined by guns. They then proceed to interrogate me about why I choose to carry my gun. "Are you paranoid?" they ask. "Do you relish the thought of shooting someone?" "Do you see bad guys around every corner?"

My only answer to people like you, who publicly threaten innocents - women and children, in particular - is, "Look in the mirror."

Nicki Fellenzer
Newslinks Director
Think you're safe from the Patriot Act on the net? Think again.

"A bill approved by Congress last week to extend the reach of the Patriot Act would expand the FBI's business document and transaction power to cyberspace stations like eBay, Internet logs, and Internet service providers, and without requiring a judge's approval."

I'm not that concerned about the Patriot Act itself, as it mainly just extends pre-existing powers in the name of terrorism. What concerns me is that government has those powers in the first place. So the Patriot Act is very similar to giving beer to teenage boys that already have whiskey & car keys. Still I hate to see anything expanded in the direction of the Net, as it will most likely have a chilling effect (to some degree) on activities that were previously thought to be beyond the reach of The Man.
Larry Pratt of GOA talks about the abuse of science at the FBI:

"Whitehurst also found that the FBI laboratory would often break a chain of evidence, thus making it impossible to prove that the "evidence" had not been planted. In some cases, it was planted. One example was that of the crime scene at Ruby Ridge, Idaho where U.S. Marshals and an FBI sharpshooter murdered a mother and her son and wounded two other family members. The physical record of the firefights did not support the depositions of the Marshals and FBI Agents, so one bullet was planted in a key spot to frame a family member and make it seem like he had been involved in the firefight when, in fact, he had not. Unfortunately for the government's case, the bullet was planted in two different directions in two different photographs."

"The bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City resulted in the conviction of two perpetrators. Excluded from the stand were any witnesses who could not be dissuaded from reporting that they had seen middle eastern-looking men with Timothy McVeigh. "Working backwards" by one of the FBI's incompetent bomb experts, Dave Williams, excluded any investigation into why columns of the building collapsed which could not have been toppled by a fertilizer bomb parked on the street."

There's more. Check it out for yourself.
Sen. Lautenberg is pushing a bill to make sure terrorists don't get firearms. Sounds okay, right?

"The Act would:
Require the maintenance of records for certain handgun transfers to coincide with the current Homeland Security Advisory System during heightened terrorist risk; and
Close loopholes that have allowed terrorists to acquire firearms Strengthen the regulatory controls and enforcement of gun dealers who violate gun laws Implementing this rational approach to gun regulations for the security of our Nation is of paramount importance and needs to be addressed now before another disaster occurs."

What the first part means is that while the Homeland Security Advisory System is at yellow or higher, then gun buyers would be subjected to greater scrutiny & the FBI would have 20 business days to conduct the background check. So it could take 4 weeks as oppossed to 3 days before they get back to you & unlike the current system where you can buy the firearm if they don't respond one way or the other within 3 days, you would not be able to make the purchase until they sent approval. Hell if you start the paperwork to purchase a firearm on February 1rst they could make you wait until March 1rst as february only has 20 business days in a non-leap year.

BTW, the Homeland Security Advisory System has not dropped below yellow since its inception & I doubt it ever will. So the chances of it staying at green for 180 days & allowing us to revert back to the current system are slim.

The second part just means he would outlaw all private transactions concerning firearms - or as many as he can get away with - while making it tougher for licensed gun dealers to stay in business.

So the same old spin is used to push a gun control bill. Nothing new here at all.

He goes on to list some reasons why this reform is so badly needed:

"An al-Qaeda training manual recovered in Afghanistan entitled 'How Can I Train Myself for Jihad,' advised terrorists to 'obtain assault weapons legally' in the United States because firearms are readily available and gun laws are enforced inadequately."

He doesn't seem to be concerned that there's a black market where they could obtain weapons much easier than going through the "legal" channels. Nor does he seem to recall that firearms don't seem to be the weapon of choice amongst terrorists. Car bombs & box cutters used to hijack planes & turn them into missiles have been much more common implements of terrorism.

"On the evening of the September 11th terrorist attack, a federal jury convicted Ali Boumelhem, a known member of the terrorist group Hezbollah on seven counts of weapons charges and conspiracy to ship weapons and ammunition to Lebanon."

Note the subtle reference to September the 11th. He doesn't go into detail about it as it would not support his case, but he wants you to get emotional at the thought & be more susceptible to his BS.

But the guy was being charged with shipping weapons overseas? I'd have thought Lautenberg would've been happy that guns were leaving the U.S.

"In 1997, Ali Abu Kamal bought a Beretta handgun from a gun shop which he used to open fire on tourists on the observation deck of the Empire State Building in New York City. Kamal killed one person and wound six others. Although he was not a U.S. citizen, Kamal was able to purchase the Beretta handgun only 37 days after his arrival in the U.S. by using a motel receipt as proof of residency."

He fails to point out that the Empire State Building - like the rest of NYC - is a victim disarmament zone. The reason Kamal did as much damage was that he had no opposition; his victims were disarmed by the same type of bastards as Lautenberg is. Nor does he mention that if Kamal had been denied a firearm at the gun store he could have purchased one on damn near any street corner.

"Last year, John Muhammad and John Malvo terrorized the Washington DC area for more than three weeks as they embarked on a shooting spree with a sniper rifle, murdering 13 innocent people before being caught. The sniper rifle was a Bushmaster XM15 rifle that was missing from the Bull's Eye Shooter Supply in Tacoma, Washington, but was never reported to local, state or federal authorities."

First of all, an AR-15 is a sniper rifle? Perhaps when compared to a flintlock musket.
Speaking of flintlocks, Iwonder if Lautenberg knows that they could have achieved the same rate of fire & the same level of accuracy had they used a flintlock with a rifled barrel? One shot per victim at a range of a little over 100 yards at most; almost any muzzleloading rifle can do the same thing. But to bring that up would blow the "sniper rifle" or "assault weapon" angle, wouldn't it?

& the firearm was stolen. What does he expect his bill to do; make stealing guns illegal again? Maybe if it's only illegal once that's not a deterent but if it's illegal twice then murderers will choose another weapon rather than doubke break a law? No; Lautenberg wants every gun store held ridiculously responsible for any crime that is committed with any weapon they sell even if that weapon is stolen. It's just a first step towards shutting down licensed gun dealers completely.

Here is the text of The Homeland Security Gun Safety Act of 2003.

In addition to what I've already pointed out, this bill would deal with explosives as well. Whereas under 50 pounds was the criteria in Section 845(a)(5) of title 18, United States Code, Lautenberg's bill would alter that to under 5 pounds.

& perhaps the most disturbing of all:

"There are authorized to be appropriated for fiscal year 2004--
(1) $50,000,000 to hire not less than 500 new inspectors within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Department of Justice; and
(2) $100,000,000 to hire not less than 1000 new agents within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Department of Justice."

500 BATF inspectors & 100 new BATF agents. At $100,000 a piece no less. Of course there salary would presumably be about half that & the rest would go into training & such. But spending $0.01 on a BATF agent is too damned much.

& yes, I know they're the BATFE now - but they'll always be tax boys with delusions of granduere to me so I omit the "E" on purpose.

So that's what happens when a state court disregards its own laws in order to allow a candidate they favor participate in an election. For those of you unaware, the NJ Supreme Court ruled that since it would deprive the people of NJ of a choice in the election, then Lautenberg could have his name on the ballot. This despite it violating NJ law for him to have enetered the race so late & despite the numerous third party candidates on teh ballot. But what do you expect from a state who views a .22 as an assault weapon?

So don't be fooled by Lautenberg's BS: this is simply more gun control under the guise of fighting terrorism. If they were serous about fighting terrorism then passengers wouldn't have been so disarmed that men with boxcutters could take them hostage & use their planes as weapons. So when they say it's about security, remember it's the government's security, not the people's that they are concerned with.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Another tale of, I mean Homeland Security, as related by J.J. Johnson:

"Seattle, Washington - 52 year old Desseria B. Whitmore had a pretty good life, some would say. After all, she had no criminal record, and was a Seattle bank executive. She and a travel companion were heading for a flight to Spokane, on the other side of the state... According to Port of Seattle police, federal screeners pulled them aside after finding what must have been something that was so dangerous to air travel, that it demanded immediate attention."

"The autopsy in this case is forth coming, but more than a few folks think this one stinks to high heaven. Right now, there are those ready to pound on the keyboards; fussing at the author for daring to question the police' actions in this case.
Before you do so, ask yourself, was stopping her for a marijuana pipe justified in the first place, or is that part of our new 'Homeland Security'?"

I would comment but I'm too disgusted. Go here if you're like to read Mr. Johnsons summary.

Edit - I happened across this just before I shut down the computer & thought it'd be an appropriate footnote:

As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms. — Tench Coxe in `Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution' under the Pseudonym "A Pennsylvanian" in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789 at 2 col. 1
Rick Stanley writes from jail (via Liberty for All) He's not happy & I don't blame him one bit.

Pam Stanley has this update (dated Oct. 28th) over at Rick's blog. (permalinks aren't working but it's the first post as of today.)

Rick Stanley's website has more background info for ya.

Now I don't agree 100% with Mr. Stanley's tactics, but giving the circumstances I understand how he arrived at them. & it's not so much the idea of performing citizen's arrests on judges who violate the law (&/or constitution) that I disagree with; it's that his arguments tend to wander too close to a conspiracy theory for most people's taste.

That being said what really matters is that Mr. Stanley was arrested for openly wearing a firearm, prosecuted & sentenced in very questionable courtrooms by very suspect judges, & is now in jail because he told the judges (albeit in a crude way) that they didn't have the authority to do that to him, as his actions were protected by not one but two (count 'em; two) constitutions. He told them they were violating their oaths of office by continuing in this nonsense & they would be arrested if they kept it up.

Did he phrase it in the best way possible? Nope. But the basics of his sentiments are no damned different than any of ours would be were we in his position.

Mr. Stanley risked his freedom to challenge an unjust law in an unjust system. Perhaps he could have done it better, but before I berate him for his mistakes I must admit he made those mistakes in an attempt to defend our Rights.

Anyway, hit the links & read what the man has to say. & if you're in Colorado be sure to drop the appropriate parties a note. (Denver's mayor John Hickenlooper; Thorton's mayor Noel Busck; Colorado's governor Bill Owens; etc...) Hell, if you're outside of Colorado write the governor & remind him that your tourist dollars will probably go to the state least likely to jail you for exercising a Right.

& drop Mr. Stanley a note if ya can. Jail's a rather boring place to be from what I've heard. A letter might cheer him up.

Rick Stanley
Adams County Detention Facility
Box 5001
Brighton, CO
Here's an interesting explanation of why so many firearms in Iraq are malfunctioning:

"...But our investigation has found that a lubricant supplied by the military may be actually causing guns to jam. What's worse, soldiers say they were blocked from getting a better lubricant at a time when they needed it the most."

The report goes on to say that CLP (Clean, Lubricate, Protect), the military lubricant is causing sand to gum up the works of most weapons, particularly the M16, while Miltec is a better lubricant in this regard & was being denied to the troops by the military.

In a desert environment sand is a major problem for any weapon. To have lubricant in your weapon increases the ability of sand to get stuck in tight places on said weapon. Unfortunately because of friction some lubricant is necessary for prolonged use such as you might encounter in combat.

The problem is that most lubricants are oil based. This means that they do have a tendency to latch onto any small foreign particles, as they're sticky. CLP is oil based. Miltec appears to be some form of synthetic based liquid though.
There may be some truth to the articles (& Miltec's) claims; Miltec contains some formula that is supposed to impregnate the metal & still provides an adequate level of lubrication even when the liquid is wiped completely off.

So if they are correct then Miltec would be a superior lubricant to CLP. But they put too much weight on the choice of lubricant I'm afraid.

It's not that a good & correct lubricant won't make a difference; it most definitely will. But they neglect that the M16 design is somewhat problematic. It uses direct gas impingement to operate the action. This means there's a little tube that siphons off gas from the barrel & directs it directly towards the bolt. This in turn will foul up the action in short order, as residues from the gas are deposited in the receiver where the most critical parts must move.

The M16 design is basically the same, minus the automatic capabilities, as the AR15 style firearms. I have seen a lot of AR 15's in sporting use; from competition to varmint hunting. & in those roles they are good. They're lightweight, light recoiling, & accurate. But they do require more maintenance than other semi-automatic designs. This is mainly because the gas system fouls up the action more than another design of self loading rifle would, but the oddly shaped bolt head & chamber do present some minor cleaning problems, albeit to a much lesser degree.

In the civilian world there is usually time to clean the weapon at proper intervals & use enough preventative maintenance to minimize malfunctions. In the martial world there is not always going to be that chance to keep your weapon perfectly maintained.

So while a proper lube may have helped in general, they are still overlooking the fact that as a design the M16 is not appropriate for a combat role. & that is not even going into the cartridge the military uses in it; the 5.56x45mm NATO.

The nearest (but not exact) commercial equivalent to the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge is the .223 Remington. The military switched to the 5.56x45mm Nato round from the 7.62x51mm Nato round (whose nearest but not exact commercial equivalent is the .308 Winchester) based on the idea that the smaller cartridge would enable a soldier to provide more accurate fire, especially in fully automatic weapons & that the projectile would be sufficient for wounding enemy soldiers. Wounding is supposedly desirable as a wounded soldier ties up more of the enemies resources than a dead one.

However that avoids the issue of stopping power, which is where the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge lacks. In fact, its nearest commercial equivalent (the .223 Remington) is illegal to use on deer size game in most states. Coyotes are about the biggest animals that can be safely & legally hunted in most states with such a cartridge.

But I admit that I have little first hand experience with either the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge & M16 or their respective commercial equivalents. This is partially for the reasons I mentioned above concerning their respective shortcomings, but it's mainly because I've always been more partial to the .30-06 Springfield cartridge & the M1 Garand as a general purpose rifle & the humble little .22LR cartridge & the Ruger 10/22 carbine &/or rifle as a short range small game & varmint hunting round.

In any event while the choice of lube may be part of the problem by focusing on it they're ignoring the main problem, which is that the M16 is a design not suitable for general issue to front line troops.