Saturday, October 27, 2012

Seen in Grand Junction, Colorado

I was surprised to see this sign in the parking lot of a law firm in downtown Grand Junction, Colorado. There was one for Hank Reardon, too.

Speaking of Atlas Shrugged, I have watched Part One of the movie, and it remained quite close to the storyline of the book. I was happy to see that, because I was afraid the producer would try to "modernize" it. Part Two is out now, and I plan to see it soon. Here is a link to a DVD of Part One, if you haven't seen it yet.

Monday, October 22, 2012

RIP, Russell Means

The libertarian movement has lost one of its champions today. I have written about Russell Means in the past, here and here.

Russell Means

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Russell Means

Means in 1987
Born Russell Charles Means
November 10, 1939
Wanblee, South Dakota, U.S.
Died October 22, 2012 (aged 72)
Porcupine, South Dakota, U.S.
Occupation Activist, politician, actor, writer, musician
Years active 1968–2012
Spouse(s) Pearl Means (three previous marriages)
A total of 10 children
Russell Charles Means (November 10, 1939 – October 22, 2012) was an Oglala Sioux activist for the rights of Native American people. He became a prominent member of the American Indian Movement (AIM) after joining the organization in 1968, and helped organize notable events that attracted national and international media coverage. The organization split in 1993, in part over the 1975 murder of Anna Mae Aquash, the leading woman activist in AIM.[1]
Means was active in international issues of indigenous peoples, including working with groups in Central and South America, and with the United Nations for recognition of their rights. He was active in politics at his native Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and at the state and national level.
Beginning an acting career in 1992, he appeared in numerous films and released his own music CD. He published his autobiography Where White Men Fear to Tread in 1995.


Early life

Means was born in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, a community located in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, to Theodora Feather and Harold "Hank" Means.[2] He was baptized Oyate Wacinyapin, which means "works for the people" in the Lakota language. His Oglala Sioux parents met as students at an Indian boarding school.[2]
In 1942, when Russell was three, the Means family resettled in the San Francisco Bay Area, seeking to escape the poverty and problems of the reservation. His father worked at the shipyard. Means grew up in the Bay area, graduating in 1958 from San Leandro High School in San Leandro, California.[3] He attended four colleges but did not graduate from any of them. [4] In his 1995 autobiography, Means recounted a harsh childhood; his father was alcoholic and he himself fell into years of "truancy, crime and drugs" before finding purpose in the American Indian Movement in Minneapolis.[5]
His father died in 1967, and in his 20's, Means lived in several Indian reservations throughout the United States while searching for work. While at the Rosebud Indian Reservation in south-central South Dakota, he developed severe vertigo. Physicians at the reservation clinic believed that he had been brought in inebriated. After they refused to examine him for several days, Means was finally diagnosed with a concussion due to a presumed fist fight in a saloon. A visiting specialist later discovered that the reservation doctors had overlooked a common ear infection, which cost Means the hearing in one ear.[6]
After recovering from the infection, Means worked for a year in the Office of Economic Opportunity, where he came to know several legal activists who were managing legal action on behalf of the Lakota people. After a dispute with his supervisor, Means left Rosebud for Cleveland, Ohio. In Cleveland, he worked with Native American community leaders against the backdrop of the American Civil Rights Movement.[6]

Involvement with the American Indian Movement

Means participated—together with his father—in the 1964 Alcatraz occupation. In 1968 at age 29, Means joined the American Indian Movement (AIM), where he rose to become a prominent leader.[7] In 1970, Means was appointed AIM's first national director, and the organization began a period of increasing protests and activism.[8]


On Thanksgiving Day 1970, Means and other AIM activists staged their first protest in Boston: they seized the Mayflower II, a replica ship of the Mayflower, to protest the Puritans' and United States' mistreatment of Native Americans.[8] Later that year, Means was one of the leaders of AIM's takeover of Mount Rushmore, a federal monument.
In 1972, he participated in AIM's occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) headquarters in Washington, D.C. Many confidential records were taken or destroyed, and more than $2 million in damages was done to the building.
In 1973, Dennis Banks and Charles Camp led AIM's occupation of Wounded Knee, which became the group's most well-known action. [8] Means appeared as a spokesman and prominent leader as well. The armed standoff of more than 300 Lakota and AIM activists with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and state law enforcement lasted for 71 days. A visiting Cherokee from North Carolina and an Oglala Lakota activist from Pine Ridge Reservation were killed in April 1973. Earlier an FBI agent was shot and became paralyzed from his wounds.

Indian politics

In 1974, Means resigned from AIM to run for the presidency of his native Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) against the incumbent Richard Wilson. The official vote count showed Wilson winning by more than 200 votes. Residents complained of intimidation by Wilson's private militia. The report of a government investigation confirmed problems in the election, but in a related court challenge to the results of the election, a federal court upheld the results.
In the late 1970s, Means turned to an international forum on issues of rights for indigenous peoples. He worked with the United Nations to establish the offices of the International Indian Treaty Council in 1977. At the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, he assisted in the organization of community institutions, such as the KILI radio station and the Porcupine Health Clinic in Porcupine, South Dakota.

Splits in AIM

In the 1980s, AIM divided into several competing factions. The division was in part over differences among members regarding support for the indigenous peoples in Nicaragua, a nation then led by a socialist government. Means announced his support for the Miskito group MISURASATA (later known as YATAMA), which was allied with the Contras. He traveled to the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua in 1985 and 1986 on fact-finding tours. Some members of AIM supported the Sandinistas of the national government, although they had forced removal of thousands of Miskito from their traditional territory. At that time, the Grand Governing Council of AIM, based in Minnesota, asked Means to cease representing himself as a leader of AIM.[citation needed] Other chapters of AIM continued to support Means.
On January 8, 1988, Means held a press conference to announce his retirement from AIM (for the sixth time), saying it had achieved its goals.[9] That January, the AIM Grand Governing Council, headed by the Bellecourt brothers, released a press release noting this was the sixth resignation by Means since 1974, and asking the press to "never again report either that he is a founder of the American Indian Movement, or [that] he is a leader of the American Indian Movement". The AIM General Governing Council noted there were many open issues and legislation regarding Native Americans for which they were continuing to work.[10]
In 1993, the organization divided officially into two main factions: AIM Grand Governing Council, based in Minnesota, which has the legal right to use the name; and American Indian Movement of Colorado, based in Colorado and allied with Means.

Anna Mae Aquash

On 3 November 1999, Means and Robert Pictou-Branscombe, a maternal cousin of Aquash from Canada, held a press conference in Denver at the Federal Building to discuss the slow progress of the government's investigation into Aquash's murder. It had been under investigation both by the Denver police, as Aquash had been kidnapped from there, and by the FBI, as she had been taken across state lines and killed on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Both Branscombe and Means accused Vernon Bellecourt, a high-ranking leader of AIM, of having ordered the execution of Aquash. Means said that Clyde Bellecourt, a founder of AIM, had ensured that it was carried out at the Pine Ridge Reservation. Means said that an AIM tribunal had banned the Bellecourt brothers but tried to keep the reason for the dissension internal to protect AIM.[11]
The Associated Press (AP) reporter Robert Weller noted that this was the first time that an AIM leader active at the time of Aquash's death had publicly implicated AIM in her murder. There had long been rumors.[12] Means and Branscombe accused three indigenous people: Arlo Looking Cloud, Theda Nelson Clark and John Graham, of having been directly involved in the kidnapping and murder of Aquash.[11] The two men were indicted in 2003 and convicted in separate trials in 2004 and 2010, respectively. By then in a nursing home, Clark was not indicted.
As of 2004, Means' website states that he was a board member of the Colorado AIM chapter, which is affiliated with AIM-Autonomous Chapters.[13]

Other political involvement

Russell Means speaks against the War on Terror at a DC Anti-War Network's anti-war protest on November 11, 2001.
Since the late 1970s, Means often supported libertarian political causes, in contrast with several of the other leaders of AIM. In 1987, Means ran for nomination of President of the United States under the Libertarian Party, and attracted considerable support within the party, finishing 2nd (31.41%) at the 1987 Libertarian National Convention.[14] He lost the nomination to Congressman Ron Paul.[15]
In 2001, Means began an independent candidacy for Governor of New Mexico. His campaign failed to satisfy procedural requirements and he was not selected for the ballot. In the 2004 and 2008 Presidential Elections, Means supported independent Ralph Nader.
Nearly thirty years after his first candidacy, Means ran for president of the Oglala Sioux in 2004 with the help of Twila Lebeaux, losing to Cecilia Fire Thunder, the first woman elected president of the tribe. She also defeated the incumbent John Yellow Bird Steele.[16]
Since the late 20th century, there has been a debate in the United States over the appropriate term for the indigenous peoples of North America. Some want to be called Native American; others prefer American Indian. Means said that he preferred "American Indian", arguing that it derives not from explorers' confusion of the people with those of India, but from the Italian expression in Dio, meaning "in God".[17][18] In addition, Means noted that since treaties and other legal documents in relation to the United States government use "Indian", continuing use of the term could help today's American Indian people forestall any attempts by others to use legal loopholes in the struggle over land and treaty rights.
Following the non-binding United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September 2007, a group of American Indian activists presented a letter to the U.S. State Department, indicating they were withdrawing from all treaties with the U.S. Government. In December, they began contacting foreign governments to solicit support for energy projects on the territory.
On December 20, 2007, Means announced the withdrawal by a small group of Lakota Sioux from all treaties with the United States government.[19] Means and a delegation of activists declared the Republic of Lakotah a sovereign nation, with property rights over thousands of square miles in South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana.[20][dead link] Means said that his group does not "represent collaborators, the Vichy Indians and those tribal governments set up by the United States of America".[21]
On January 8, 2008 the elected leaders President Rodney Bordeaux of the 25,000-member Rosebud Sioux Tribe, and Chairman Joseph Brings Plenty of the 8,500-member Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, said that Means did not speak for their members or for any elected Lakota tribal governments. While acknowledging problems with the federal government's implementation of treaties, they opposed his plan to renounce treaties with the United States. They said the issue instead was to enforce existing treaties.[22][dead link] [23]
In January 2012, he announced his endorsement of Ron Paul in his bid for President.[24]

Other activities


Since 1992, Means appeared as an actor in numerous films and television movies, first as the chief Chingachgook in The Last of the Mohicans. He appeared as Arrowhead in the made-for-TV movie The Pathfinder (1996), his second appearance in a movie adapted from a novel by James Fenimore Cooper. He appeared in Natural Born Killers (1994), as Jim Thorpe in Windrunner: A Spirited Journey, as Sitting Bull in Buffalo Girls (1995), and had a cameo in the miniseries Into the West (2005).
He was a voice actor in the animated film Pocahontas (1995) and its sequel Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World (1998), playing the title character's father, Chief Powhatan. Means appeared as Billy Twofeathers in Thomas & the Magic Railroad (2000).
Means starred in Pathfinder, a 2007 movie about Vikings' battling Native Americans in the New World. Recently Means co-starred in Rez Bomb from director Steven Lewis Simpson, the first feature filmed on his native Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He stars with Tamara Feldman and Trent Ford and Chris Robinson.
He also appeared as a character in the Access Software adventure game Under a Killing Moon.[25] In 2004 Means made a guest appearance on the HBO program Curb Your Enthusiasm. Means played Wandering Bear, an American Indian with skills in landscaping and herbal medicine.


In 1995, Means published an autobiography, Where White Men Fear to Tread, written with Marvin J. Wolf. He recounted his own family's problems: his alcoholic father, and his own "fall into truancy, crime and drugs" before he discovered the American Indian Movement.[5] The book drew criticism from a number of reviewers.[26][27][28][5][29]


Russell Means recorded a CD entitled Electric Warrior under indie label SOAR.[30] Songs include "Une Gente Indio", "Hey You, Hey Indian", "Wounded Knee Set Us Free", and "Indian Cars Go Far".

Representation in other media

The American pop artist Andy Warhol painted 18 individual portraits of Russell Means in his 1976 American Indian Series. The Dayton Art Institute holds one of the Warhol portraits of Means in its collection.[31]

Personal life

Means was married five times; the first four marriages ended in divorce. He was married to his fifth wife, Pearl Means until his death. He had a total of ten children.[2]
On December 29, 1997, Means was arrested for assault and battery of his 56-year-old (then father-in-law) Leon Grant, a member of the Dine (Navajo) Nation. AIM Governing General Council issued a press release to reiterate its separation from Means.[27]

Final years and death

In August 2011, Means was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.[32][33] He told the Associated Press that he was rejecting "mainstream medical treatments in favor of traditional American Indian remedies and alternative treatments away from his home on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation".[34] In late September, Means reported that through tomotherapy, the tumor had diminished greatly.[35] Later he said that his tumor was "95% gone."[36] On December 5 of that year, Means stated that he "beat cancer," that he had beat "the death penalty."[37]
The following year, however, his health continued to decline and he died on October 22, 2012, less than a month before his 73rd birthday.[38]


  1. ^ Native American Calling, 3 November 1999, Native American Public Telecommunications, carried at News From Indian Country. Harlan McKosato said, "... her [Aquash's] death has divided the American Indian Movement ...", accessed 16 July 2011
  2. ^ a b c Russell Means biography, Film Reference Website
  3. ^ Stark, Jessica. "Colonialism perfected on the American Indian: Activist Russell Means to offer insight, experience", Rice University: press release dated November 14, 2007. Accessed November 20, 2007.
  4. ^ McFadden, Robert. "Russell Means, Who Revived Warrior Image of American Indian, Dies at 72". New York Times. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  5. ^ a b c Patricia Holt, "A Rebel's Justice: American Indian Movement leader Russell Means tells his own story of rage and healing", San Francisco Chronicle, 5 November 1995
  6. ^ a b Where White Men Fear to Tread (1997)
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c "Alcatraz is Not an Island: Indian Activism". PBS. 2002. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
  9. ^ "Indian activist Russell Means says he's retiring from AIM", AP, Attachment 3, Articles on Means, AMERICAN INDIAN MOVEMENT GRAND GOVERNING COUNCIL
  10. ^ AIM on Russell Means, Attachment 2, accessed 17 June 2011
  11. ^ a b "Russ Means holds press conference on Annie Mae's murder 11-3-99: Accuses Vernon and Clyde Bellecourt of ordering her Execution", News From Indian Country, 3 November 1999, accessed 16 July 2011
  12. ^ Robert Weller, "AQUASH MURDER CASE: AIM leaders point fingers at each other", AP, at News From Indian Country, 4 November 1999, accessed 17 July 2011
  13. ^ Colorado AIM, Official Website
  14. ^ "Freedom is for Everyone": Seattle Story; Mike Acree, Convention Reflections, Golden Gate Libertarian Newsletter, July 2000.
  15. ^ Caldwell, Christopher (2007-07-22). "The Antiwar, Anti-Abortion, Anti-Drug-Enforcement-Administration, Anti-Medicare Candidacy of Dr. Ron Paul". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
  16. ^ Sam Hurst, "Cecilia Fire Thunder a 'person of character'", Rapid City Journal, 18 December 2005, accessed 5 June 2011
  17. ^ Means, Russell. "Speech: For America to Live, Europe Must Die."."In dio" is found under the speeches tab.
  18. ^ "I detest writing.". Black Hills International Survival Gathering,. First Nations Issues of Consequence. July 1980. Retrieved 2009-03-17. "Columbus called the tribal people he met "Indio," from the Italian in dio , meaning "in God.""
  19. ^ "Descendants of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse break away from US", AFP: Agence France-Presse, 21 December 2007, accessed 17 June 2011
  20. ^ Bill Harlan, "Lakota group secedes from U.S.", Rapid City Journal, December 20, 2007
  21. ^ Faith Bremner, "Lakota group pushes for new nation", Argus Leader, Washington Bureau, December 20, 2007
  22. ^ Bill Harlan, "Two tribal leaders reject secession, Rosebud and Cheyenne River tribes don't support Russell Means' plan", Rapid City Journal, 7 January 2008
  23. ^ Gale Courey Toensing, "Withdrawal from US treaties enjoys little support from tribal leaders", Indian Country Today, January 04, 2008
  24. ^ "Russell Means Endorses Ron Paul", Youtube, January 26, 2012
  25. ^ Tex Murphy series:Under a Killing Moon Microsoft Game Studios
  26. ^ Brent Staples, "Review: Russell Means, Where White Men Fear to Tread, New York Times Book Review, 15 October 1995
  27. ^ a b Malcolm Brenner, "AIM seeks distance from Russell Means", The Gallup Independent, 8 January 1998
  28. ^ Malcolm Brenner, "Where White Men Fear to Tread", Attachment 9, Collection of articles on Means, reproduced at AMERICAN INDIAN MOVEMENT GRAND GOVERNING COUNCIL, accessed 17 June 2011
  29. ^ Mari Wadsworth, "Russell Means Business: From Indian Activist to Hollywood celeb", Tucson Weekly, 15 December 1997
  30. ^ Russell Means, Electric Warrior Sound of America Recordings
  31. ^ "AMERICAN INDIAN SERIES (RUSSELL MEANS), 1976". The Dayton Art Institute. Retrieved 2008-03-13.
  32. ^ "Russell Means: I'll come back as lightning". August 18, 2011. Retrieved October 12, 2011.
  33. ^ "American Indian Activist Means Battling Cancer". Associated Press. August 18, 2011. Retrieved October 12, 2011.
  34. ^ Lammers, Dirk (October 22, 2012). "Tribal spokeswoman says former American Indian Movement activist Russell Means dies at 72". The Washington Post. Associated Press (Tribune Company).
  35. ^ Rickert, Levi (September 23, 2011). "Russell Means Updates His Condition: Tumor Diminished Significantly". Native News Network. Retrieved October 12, 2011.
  36. ^ Russell Means (June 27, 2012). Infowars Nightly News. World News. Event occurs at 9:45. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  37. ^ "Russell Means". TV Tropes. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  38. ^ McLellan, Dennis (October 22, 2012). "Russell Means dies at 72; American Indian rights activist, actor". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 22, 2012.

Second-Amendment Setup: What They Say Isn't What You Get

© By Aaron Zelman and Claire Wolfe
© JPFO Inc, updated December 2008, from 2002 original.

(NOTE - some external links may be time-expired.)

Who made the following statements?
1."The broad principle that there is an individual right to bear arms is shared by many Americans, including myself. I’m of the view that you can’t take a broad approach to other rights, such as First Amendment rights, and then interpret the Second Amendment so narrowly that it could fit in a thimble. But I’m also of the view that there are limits on those rights. Just as you can’t falsely shout fire in a crowded movie theater, you can put restrictions on who can own guns and how, when, and where they may be possessed."
♦ Attorney General John Ashcroft
♦ Solicitor General Theodore Olson
♦ President George W. Bush
♦ Sen. Charles Schumer
2. "While some have argued that the Second Amendment guarantees only a ’collective’ right of the States to maintain militias, I believe the Amendment’s plain meaning and original intent prove otherwise. Like the First and Fourth Amendments, the Second Amendment protects the rights of ’the people,’ which the Supreme Court has noted is a term of art that should be interpreted consistently throughout the Bill of Rights. … Of course, the individual rights view of the Second Amendment does not prohibit Congress from enacting laws restricting firearms ownership for compelling state interests … just as the First Amendment does not prohibit [government from legislating against] shouting ’fire’ in a crowded movie theater. "
♦ Sen. Dianne Feinstein
♦ NRA President Charlton Heston
♦ Attorney General John Ashcroft
♦ President George W. Bush
Hard to tell, isn’t it?
Dedicated Second-Amendment activists may recognize that the second statement was made by Attorney General John Ashcroft in his famous May 2001 letterto the National Rifle Association. For this and other support of the pro-individual rights position, gun owners nationwide cheered Mr. Ashcroft.
But who made the first statement? It exactly reflects Ashcroft’s point of view, but it wasn’t Ashcroft who said it. Here’s a hint: No pro-gunner ever cheered this speaker. The statement was made by Sen. Charles Schumer, one of the nation’s most vehement and persistent opponents of firearms ownership, at a May 2002 press conference in which he criticized Attorney General Ashcroft, not for his views, but merely for his means of expressing them.
Similarly, at his confirmation hearings, Ashcroft admitted he agreed with and would enforce all the restrictions on firearms ownership Sen. Schumer has worked so hard to impose over the years. And in May 2002, immediately after the Justice Department filed a Supreme Court brief claiming the individual rights position as its official policy, Ashcroft said on "Larry King Live" that he fully supported the Brady Law, calling it a "reasonable regulation".
In their verbal sparring, Ashcroft and Schumer look like fierce opponents. Yet they express precisely the same viewpoints. They advocate stringent enforcement of precisely the same laws.
So where is the difference between the two?
And if Second-Amendment supporters have achieved such a victory with the individual-rights position (rather than the "militia rights" or "states’ rights" position) being voiced in high places, why are our opponents suddenly proclaiming individual rights while still working to destroy gun ownership? And why are our "friends" doing exactly the same thing?
As the following examples show, what these politicians and lobbyists proclaim and what they do are universes apart.

Case in point: Project Safe Neighborhoods
Which presidential administration called for appointment of 700 state and federal prosecutors whose sole responsibility is to prosecute "gun crimes"? We’re not talking about crimes of violence, but about miscarriages of justice like these1:
  • Dane Yirkovsky came across a single .22 cartridge while laying carpet, pocketed it, and apparently forgot it. Because he had previous burglary convictions, he was a "felon in possession of ammunition." Fifteen years of his life are being wiped away by a mandatory minimum federal sentence.
  • Katica Crippen went to federal prison for posing for photos holding her boyfriend’s firearm. Crippen, with a previous drug conviction, was another "felon in possession."
  • Michael Maloney had a youthful drug conviction, but had cleaned up his act, undergone extensive background checks to get a liquor license, and believed his felony record was expunged. So when he bought a .22 to protect himself when making late-night cash deposits at the bank, he checked No when asked if he was a felon. The BATF disagreed -- and Maloney got a 15-year mandatory-minimum sentence over the protest of the judge who sentenced him.
  • Candisha Robinson sold illegal drugs to undercover officers. Because the officers later found an unloaded gun locked in a trunk in her closet, federal prosecutors charged Robinson with "using" a gun while committing a drug crime.
Prosecutions such as these are not only a grave injustice to the victims. They are not only destroying trust in the entire justice system. They are not only costing taxpayers a fortune. They divert otherwise ordinary criminal prosecutions from state courts to federal courts. Federalizing of criminal prosecutions is a dangerous process that further undermines the Constitution by expanding federal government authority far beyond the tiny handful of constitutionally-defined federal crimes such as treason.
It wasn’t the Clinton administration that called for more prosecutions like these. It wasn’t the Clinton administration that created hundreds more prosecutors for the sole purpose of imprisoning thousands more non-violent gun owners. It’s the allegedly pro-gun George W. Bush administration, in its Project Safe Neighborhoods.
The Bush administration’s fact sheet for Project Safe Neighborhoods also says, "In addition to strict enforcement of existing gun laws, the President supports expanding instant background checks to close the gun show loophole and banning the importation of high-capacity ammunition clips."
In other words, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. President Bush wants even more laws that violate the Second Amendment. (For more, see our sidebar article "What’s a Compelling State Interest? What’s a Felon?" (In the grey box to the right)
The Clinton administration was ruthless about passing laws, but lax about enforcing them. It takes a law-and-order Republican administration -- enthusiastically backed by organizations like the National Rifle Association -- to carry out the Democrats’ dirty work.
This is what Margaret Thatcher described at the "ratcheting process," in which a "left-wing" government pushes through policies that were previously intolerable to the people, and a "right-wing" government then enforces policies it once ardently opposed after those policies have become business-as-usual.
It hardly matters whether the ratcheting loss of Second-Amendment rights is a deliberate plot or merely the product of the prevailing political mindset that "government should do whatever it thinks necessary, regardless of the Constitution." The result is the continuing loss of liberty --and in the case of Project Safe Neighborhoods, vastly increased danger of punishment for gun owners.

Case in point: Americans for Gun Safety
Americans for Gun Safety also says it supports the individual-rights position on the Second Amendment. This group, which appeared suddenly on the scene about two years ago, initially positioned itself as an "educational group." It said it had no political agenda. It said (we paraphrase): "Let’s face the fact that Americans have an absolute right to keep and bear arms; let’s simply make gun ownership safer."
But from its beginnings, AGS (founded by Andrew McKelvey, multimillionaire founder of threw millions into political campaigns to "end the gun-show loophole" -- politician-speak for having the federal government regulate and track all private sales of firearms.
AGS helped pass state laws in Oregon and Colorado to achieve that goal. And AGS and Sen. John McCain, another ardent gun prohibitionist, have been as thick as thieves in a so-far unsuccessful attempt to impose Brady tracking, government databases, and waiting periods (which still exist despite the alleged "instant-check system") on private firearms sales nationwide.
AGS no longer pretends to be merely an "educational" group. While showing happy gun hobbyists as a background image on its Web site, its entire aim is to discourage gun ownership by making it more difficult to purchase firearms, and to hand the government the name of every person in the nation who ever legally purchases a gun. (Criminals will still buy untraced firearms while their law-abiding brethren submit to government scrutiny.)
Individual-rights hypocrisy
All the while, the proponents of waiting periods, citizen-tracking, unsafe "safety" measures, and arbitrary restrictions on the manufacture and ownership of firearms sanctimoniously claim they believe wholeheartedly in the individual right to keep and bear arms. Just like John Ashcroft. Just like Bush administration Solicitor General Theodore Olson. Just like Charles Schumer.
As Sarah Brady always claimed, all they want is "a few reasonable restrictions." From Ashcroft to Schumer, they devoutly respect our individual right to keep and bear arms, except for a few harmless little limitations like:
  • Not allowing us to buy inexpensive handguns ("Saturday-night specials")
  • Not allowing us to buy handguns with high-capacity magazines
  • Not allowing us to buy short-barreled shotguns
  • Not allowing us to buy semi-automatic rifles with a military appearance
  • Not allowing us to buy fully automatic firearms -- or being able to buy them only at exorbitant prices and after paying exorbitant taxes to the government
  • Forbidding us to own guns if we’re one of the millions of non-violent felons
  • Forbidding us to own guns if we’ve ever (even decades ago) been convicted of a large group of misdemeanors
  • Forbidding us to buy guns if the FBI’s "instant-check" system is down
  • Forbidding us to buy guns if we won’t give a social security number
  • Forbidding us to defend ourselves with firearms on airplanes, in courthouses, and hundreds of other public places
  • Forbidding trained schoolteachers, principals, or parents from defending school children against Columbine-style rampages
  • Forcing us to keep our guns locked away or disabled in our homes so we can’t use them against a violent attacker
  • Forcing us to beg government permission and submit to fingerprinting and criminal background checks to carry a handgun (IF they allow us to carry one at all)
  • Wanting us to tremble before 700 special prosecutors whose sole mission is to arrest and jail people like us
It doesn’t matter what they say
The individual rights position is now referred to by legal scholars as "the standard model." Virtually no serious scholar now gives credence to the "state’s rights" or "militia rights" position from which opponents of gun ownership claimed their authority for so many years.
Are we better off because the individual-rights interpretation now prevails?
We should be, because the change represents a tremendous philosophical shift in the direction of honesty and liberty. To whatever extent courts in the future may use that interpretation to throw out outrageous anti-gun laws and the convictions based on them, we will be better off.
But we are not better off as long as politicians and lobbyists succeed in cynically using the individual-rights position to pursue their old, familiar goals of limiting firearms ownership and punishing firearms owners for harmless, technical violations of obscure laws. And those are the straits we’re in now.
If we are foolish enough to keep paying attention to what they say, rather than what they do, their cynical misuse of our trust and the English language will have no limit. And neither will the injustice they can impose.
        What’s a Compelling State Interest? What’s a Felon?
In his famous, and widely cheered, letter to the National Rifle Association, Attorney General John Ashcroft made the caveat that gun ownership can be restricted for "compelling state interests." But what, in this day of omnipresent government, does that mean? Note that Ashcroft did not say "protection of innocent people against violent criminals."
In theory, when evaluating a law that seems to infringe on a fundamental right, judges are supposed to examine whether the law in question is narrowly tailored to advance a truly "compelling state interest." Great injustice may be permitted, but only in a great cause. For example, during World War II, the Supreme Court ruled that internment of Japanese-Americans was allowable because of a "compelling state interest" -- the preservation of the nation in wartime. It was a decision that seems outrageous to most of us now, but was widely supported amid the tension of the war.
Other laws, that don’t affect fundamental rights, are tested for whether they "reasonably" advance a "legitimate" state objective. As we see every day, there’s virtually nothing the government doesn’t consider its own "legitimate" objective -- such things as:
  • Forcing us to wear seatbelts
  • Regulating how we can landscape our own properties
  • Deciding whom we can hire to fix our roof
  • Determining what substances we can put into our own bodies and
  • Determining exactly what our children must be taught.
Where the courts will draw the line on the Second Amendment remains to be seen; for most of the last century, judges have treated the individual right to own firearms as if it simply didn’t exist. Only in the last few years have we seen even minimally favorable decisions (in the Emerson case). Given today’s climate of government supremacy, there is still no adamant principle to prevent courts from deciding that the state has a "compelling interest" in "preventing an epidemic of gun violence," "protecting children" against firearms, tracking all citizens who own firearms (for "public safety"), requiring firearms to be locked up in a secure storage facility, etc., etc., etc.
One thing we know for certain: It’s clear (as the accompanying article shows), that both "right-" and "left-wing" politicians consider any restriction on firearms ownership to be compelling and in their interest.
In another portion of his statement to the NRA, Ashcroft gave, as an example of "compelling state interests," the authority to forbid convicted felons from owning firearms. But again, government mission creep makes even this reasonable-sounding authority far more dangerous than it appears. When felons were first forbidden to own firearms, a person usually had to commit terrible, violent criminal deeds to become a felon. Now you can make an error on EPA or IRS paperwork and be forbidden forever to own firearms -- without the slightest suspicion that you are a threat to anyone.
Indeed, when reporter David Holthouse examined every prosecution made under Colorado’s Project Exile (a forerunner to the Bush administration’s Project Safe Neighborhoods), he discovered that 154 of the 191 "gun criminals" targeted had no violent criminal records at all and two were merely illegal aliens (a civil offense) with no criminal record of any sort.2

Newsflash, April 12, 2003:
Bush Betrays the Second Amendment and Backs Renewal of Assault Weapons Ban:
1. Examples are from a Cato Institute study, "There Goes the Neighborhood: The Bush-Ashcroft Plan to ’Help’ Localities Fight Gun Crime," by Gene Healy, issued May 28, 2002 (, and from "More Injustice on the Way" a June 12, 2002 column by Paul Craig Roberts (
2. Cato, pg. 10.
© 2002 Aaron Zelman. Permission is granted to distribute this article in its entirety, so long as full copyright information and full contact information is given for JPFO.
Published by:

Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Inc. P.O. Box 270143 Hartford, WI 53027

Phone (262) 673-9745 Fax: (262) 673-9746

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Loopholes: Another Word for Freedom

October 17, 2012

Loopholes: Another Word for Freedom

Jeffrey Tucker
Let's say that a thief demands $100 and lets you keep $10 because he likes your suit. He calls that a deduction. The next day, he demands the whole $110. He says that he is not stealing more. He is only eliminating deductions and closing loopholes. That's the GOP's tax plan in a nutshell.

They say that it is not about raising your taxes. That's what Democrats do, and Republicans don't do that sort of thing. Instead, Republicans favor the "flat tax" that is "revenue neutral." They will "pay for the tax cuts" by capping deductions on high income earners. Or perhaps they will just remove the mortgage interest deduction or other "loopholes" that allow you to keep more of your money.

How stupid do they think we are? Sadly, they might be right. Most people's eyes glaze over when politicians start talking tax reform. They understand that "raising taxes" is generally bad, but they do not understand that "eliminating deductions" amounts to the same thing. Either way, you pay. The only real difference is the public relations pitch.

Actually, the GOP has been raising taxes for decades, just less openly so. Reagan's tax increase of 1983, as recommended by the Greenspan Commission, was disguised as a premium increase to save Social Security, but it was actually a gigantic increase in the payroll tax that was later applied to general revenue. It put off the endgame for Social Security for a while, but for the average taxpayer, it was nothing but a tax increase.

This tax has extracted some $2.5 trillion since it was first enacted. Somehow, Reagan maintained his reputation as a tax cutter, and still does to this day. It has something to do with the need for partisan illusions. Premiums, they tell us, are not taxes. The same thing is happening with the Romney ticket. It is out there every day talking about raising taxes, just with a different name, yet the Democrats blast back with the claim that the Republicans are busting the budget with proposed tax cuts.

Both parties are pushing for some kind of tax reform, but the key rule is "revenue neutrality." All these plans are doped out with the presumption that the planners can perfectly anticipate future revenue, but the regime change has no effect whatsoever on people's behavior in the marketplace.

They presume that a cut here will decrease revenue by a certain amount and that an increase there will increase revenue by a certain amount. The truth is that you can't know. No one expected or anticipated that government revenue would collapse after 2008, for example, and that was with no tax overhaul at all. The political parties can cite all the "studies" they want, but no one can perfectly anticipate the effects of changes in the tax law.

In effect, the rule of "revenue neutrality" means that no one is talking about serious change in taxes at all beyond increasing them in more or less serious ways. It's the same with spending cuts: Politicians can talk about them, but they will not deliver them so long as the Federal Reserve stands in the background ready to print any amount money to cover any amount of debt that the Congress runs up.

If anything, the GOP position is the more dishonest of the two parties because the GOP is forever claiming that the Democrats want to raise taxes whereas the GOP does not. The truth is that both parties have their green eyes fixed on your bank account with the intent to grab more one way or another. The choice voters face really comes down to how they want their tax increases packaged: as a hurt-the-rich scheme or as a flat-tax scheme.

Every tax reform in my lifetime has actually been a push for higher taxes in one form or another. And there are still other ways to raise taxes besides raising taxes, reducing deductions, capping deductions, and closing loopholes. You can raise tariffs, increase user fees, enact quotas, inflate the money supply, or outright confiscate people's property through police state tactics. All these methods suck resources from the private economy into the government.

The goal of every tax reform is to do this in the sneakiest way possible.

The media are no help in clarifying language. When a politician proposes a cut in taxes, the reporter imagines that he or she is a clever and hard-hitting journalist by shooting back: "How are you go to pay for that?" Nonsense. If the thief decides not to take your wallet, he shouldn't be asked how he is going to pay for his failure to steal.

Of course, all of this is beside the point, really. The core problem is spending. If the government didn't spend money, it wouldn't need to tax anyone. The only real way to lower taxes over the long run is to cut spending, but again, this is not going to happen. Even those who talk about spending cuts are really talking about cutting the rate of increase in spending over five or 10 years in budget projections that have never panned out even one time in the history of the universe.

Knowing all of this makes you doubt the whole point of these ridiculous political debates. Yes, that's the idea. It is worse than pure entertainment because the whole show masks the greatest racket in the world today. A useless elite is living off your money and telling you that you are better off as a result. And when you question why, they throw accounting trickery and fancy language in your face that all amounts to the same thing: The beatings will continue so long as you don't run away.

And running away is precisely what is happening. The lower on the list of economically free countries the U.S slips, the more people are looking to the underground economy or to emigration to protect their own freedom. What this suggests is that the scam isn't working as well as it used to. It's long past time that people stop believing these thieves, much less trusting their motives.

Jeffrey Tucker
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Creative Commons License 2012 Agora Financial, LLC. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Reproduction, copying, or redistribution (electronic or otherwise, including on the World Wide Web), in whole or in part, is encouraged provided the attribution Agora Financial is preserved. 808 Saint Paul Street, Baltimore MD 21202

Note: This is a good read. I haven't watched any of the political debates so far, nor do I intend to start. I don't believe a word they say anyway, so why bother?

When I first saw the title of this piece, I thought about the so-called "gun show loophole" the anti-gun lobby is always talking about. That is another case where "loophole" means "freedom." In fact, there is no gun show loophole. Go to a gunshow some time, if you think otherwise. To buy a gun from a dealer at the gunshow, you have to fill out the same paperwork and submit to the same federal background check as if you walked into his store. No, what they are really talking about when they say "gun show loophole" is your ability to give a gun to your son or daughter, spouse, parent or other family member, or sell a gun to your friend who you know is not a felon or otherwise prohibited person. The anti-freedom lobby would like you to have to pay to have a federal background check on your family member, and have him or her fill out and sign an application before opening that Christmas present. Why do they want that? Because then there would be no legal means remaining to no longer be in possession of a gun that their records show you purchased. That is what I call back-door gun registration.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Why I Carry A Gun: Pirates!

I wrote recently [here] about a Jeeping incident that illustrates one reason why I carry a gun. This was just one of quite a few adventures I have had where I was glad I had a gun handy. Here is another one that happened well over twenty years ago, where I survived an attempted robbery by pirates. This incident is somewhat similar to the Jeep story, but it happened on the water and is also quite different in how it went down.

It was a Fourth of July sometime during the 1980s. I had spent the weekend camping and waterskiing with two other guys of my acquantance, then on the afternoon of the Fourth we traveled up the coast via boat to the vacation home of another acquantance, where a party was going on. Near dusk the entire party piled into multiple boats and went to a bay where a large fireworks display was to take place. There were lots of other boats and even one small ship in the bay, floating at anchor and waiting for the fireworks. We all had a great time watching the fireworks, then went back to the house for more socializing. Now it was about midnight, and my two compatriots and I were cruising back to our campsite when we came upon a boat floating in the channel with the lights on but no engine power. The inhabitants of the boat hailed us and asked for a tow to the nearest public dock, saying that their engine quit and would not restart.
I had a bad feeling about the whole situation. I'm not sure what it was, but something didn't feel right. The owner of the boat had no such reservations, and headed for the supposedly disabled boat with no hesitation. When I asked him to hold back a bit, he was less than cordial about my lack of trust for my fellow man. At this point I opened my daypack and retrieved my .357 Magnum revolver. I sat out of sight of the people in the disabled boat, holding my revolver so that it was safe but ready for action should it become necessary. The owner of the boat was extremely displeased with my actions, but I sat quietly and ignored his insults. He had asked me while at the party why I never left my pack out of reach, and I informed him about the gun at that time. He had stopped just short of kicking me off his boat, and I had made up my mind that as soon as I made it back to my vehicle I would head for home and shun any further contact with the guy. Although I had known him for a couple of years, I never had any clue that he was so vehemently anti-gun.
So here we are approaching a disabled boat while I sat holding my revolver out of sight and hoping my gut feeling was wrong, when another boat came racing toward us with spotlight glaring, hailing us with a loudspeaker. Suddenly the engine of the "disabled" boat roared to life, and the boat took off at maximum speed. The other boat pulled alongside us, and turned out to be the marine police. They asked questions about the boat that had just left in a hurry, and informed us that several people had been robbed by pirates claiming that their boat was disabled and requesting a tow. Then the police took off after the pirates, but I don't think they caught them.
My former friend the boat owner didn't say another word to me, nor I to him. As soon as we got back to camp I loaded my gear and left, vowing silently to never again hang out with anyone who didn't support my right to carry a gun for my own protection.
While it is true that the gun didn't save me from the pirates in this instance, it was very comforting to have, regardless of what my anti-gun friend thought of it. The cops happened to show up in the nick of time, but in no way can you count on that to happen.