Confiscation in California: A Test Case for the Nation?
"Once the 90-day window of opportunity for turning in such assault weapons concludes, we will send each sheriff and police chief a listing of the affected individuals [who own banned firearms]." - California Department of Justice Information Bulletin, June 11, 1999
So read the ominous words printed in a bulletin addressed to law enforcement officials in California.
The California Department of Justice issued the notice in June to explain how more than 1,500 individuals in the state were in possession of illegal firearms-- all of which were subject to forfeiture without compensation.
The document entitled "RELINQUISHMENT OF ASSAULT WEAPONS," along with two other equally ominous documents, were inadvertently leaked to the public sending shock waves through the gun rights community in California.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) wants to register all handguns. But California's experiment has shown that registration is usually followed by attempts at confiscation.
Residents were stunned, and many threatened to move out of the state.
State legislators had begun registering these firearms in 1989, leading many gun owners to warn that confiscation of these semi-autos could eventually result.
But legislators laughed, decrying such concerns as just fear and paranoia . . . until the plans for impounding these guns were leaked from the DOJ's office.
Registration and confiscation go hand-in-hand
The semi-automatic firearms to be seized were registered with the state pursuant to former Attorney General Dan Lungren's instructions. He had allowed thousands of gun owners to register these guns after the initial deadline for doing so had lapsed.
GOA founder and chairman, Senator Bill Richardson, blistered California officials after plans to confiscate firearms became public.
In good faith, these gun owners handed over their names, addresses and firearms information to the government. But now the state was reversing course.
GOA's founder and Chairman, Senator Bill Richardson, sharply rebuked administration officials after news of the documents leaked out.
"This is what law abiding gun owners get for trying to do the right thing by registering their guns according to the Attorney General's instructions," said Sen. Richardson.
"This proves our point once again: the ultimate goal of registration is to facilitate confiscation! If you don't believe me, just look at what's happening right now in Australia."
Not surprisingly, once the official documents were leaked, the DOJ denied that they ever planned to confiscate anything and that these documents were merely "drafts" and "for discussion only" and that they had no plans to implement them at that time.
"It never fails," Richardson said. "As soon as these guys get caught with their hands in the 'cookie jar,' they lie about what they're trying to do."
More registration, more bans
It would have been embarrassing for officials to begin confiscating firearms from honest citizens at the very same time the legislature was engaged in passing a new registration and gun ban.
After all, how are Californians supposed to take a new registration law seriously when they're rounding up firearms that were previously registered?
The law that passed recently in California extends the 1989 ban to include even more magazines and firearms. The law goes into effect January 1, 2000, and gives Californians up to one year to register the newly banned firearms.
Once again, Californians will go through a "grace" period where they will be given permission to own their property.
But only if they first give vital information to government officials-- their names, addresses, and the types of "banned" firearms or magazines they own.
One wonders what will happen 10 years after the registration period closes? Will the government start knocking on people's doors then?
Threats to register guns nationwide
The scene playing itself out in the Golden State is an omen of the coming battle to be fought nationwide.
Already the gun registration chorus has begun its calls for licensing gun owners.
In June, the President set the gun owning community on edge with his declaration that we should "register guns like they register cars."
Then Vice-President, Al Gore, followed his chieftain the following month by calling for draconian invasions of privacy into the lives of gun owners.
During an appearance on ABC's Good Morning America, Gore said that requiring a photo license for handgun owners and imposing new ways to trace weapons would be just as effective as mandatory registration of all handguns.
"But if other provisions are needed, fine," Gore said.
On Capitol Hill, anti-gun Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) called for and predicted that all handguns would be registered and licensed in five years as a result of the Los Angeles Jewish center shooting spree.
While these Democratic leaders are now beginning to float the idea of registration for the entire nation, it is already a reality in California.
And one only wonders if and when the next step will arrive . . . confiscation.
Gun bans threaten ability to defend one's family and property
The California gun bans strike at the very heart of an important issue-- at the very ability of good people to defend their homes and property from violent attack.
For example, many of the guns targeted by these bans are the very guns with which the Korean merchants used to defend themselves during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
Those firearms proved to be extremely useful to these merchants, and it was their stores that were left standing while other stores around them burned to the ground.
This should not come as a surprise, as crooks don't like to burglarize occupied homes or businesses since they might get shot.
Indeed, this self-evident truth has been discovered in recent years by criminologists like Dr. Gary Kleck of Florida State University.
He found that burglars in the United States are less apt to enter an occupied home than their foreign counterparts who live in countries where fewer civilians own firearms.
In his highly acclaimed book, Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, Dr. Kleck shows that:
- Forty-six percent of homeowners are present when burglars strike in the countries of England, Canada and the Netherlands-- countries where guns are oppressively restricted; but
- Only thirteen percent of residents are at home in the United States when a burglar strikes-- guns being plentifully available in the U.S. for self-defense.
The truth is that the California gun bans will actually increase, not decrease, crime.
As for any short-term plans to confiscate firearms, the citizens of California have dodged a bullet-- at least for now.
But the confiscation threat is there. Like a "sword of Damocles," it will be forever hanging over its victims' heads.
Registration's Slippery Slope
To be sure, some politicians in the legislature will not rest until they've taken firearms out of citizens' hands.
Assembly Majority Leader Kevin Shelley of San Francisco is one that wants to see tougher gun laws passed in the state.
"I too would love to see guns banned. I can say that . . . and win reelection," Shelley boasted.
As the representative for the very left-of-center San Francisco area, Shelley's statement is not surprising.
But what is amazing was his bold admission that he will work incrementally, step-by-step to ban firearms that are currently owned by honest Californians.
Shelley confessed that most of his colleagues could not survive politically if they supported the type of gun bans that he supports. Society is "not there yet, so we vote on [gun control] measures now that we can support and then we move society along."
In other words: "Regulate and restrict what you can now; use the law as a means of educating society; but keep working towards the eventual goal of banning firearms."
HCI: Taking one step at a time
This, of course, sounds reminiscent of the battle plan articulated many years ago by Pete Shields, the founder of Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI).
In a July 26, 1976 interview with The New Yorker magazine, Shields laid out his strategy of incrementalism:
We're going to have to take one step at a time, and the first step is necessarily-- given the political realities-- going to be very modest. . . . So then we'll have to start working again to strengthen that law, and then again to strengthen the next law, and maybe again and again. Right now, though, we'd be satisfied not with half a loaf but with a slice. Our ultimate goal-- total control of handguns in the United States-- is going to take time. . . .
The first problem is to slow down the increasing number of handguns being produced and sold in this country. The second problem is to get handguns registered. And the final problem is to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition-- except for the military, policemen, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors-- totally illegal.
It is not surprising that HCI's head, Sarah Brady, has not objected to the recent events in California.
Even though Brady claims she only wants to get guns out of the "wrong hands," gun owners should not expect to hear her balking at any attempts at confiscation.
In California, her silence has been deafening.
For those who would like more information on the situation in California, or would like to read photocopies of the leaked documents in their entirety, point your web browser to http://gunownersca.com/Summer99.htm#1 on the Gun Owners of California web page.
GOF Supporting 2nd Amendment Ruling
-- Countering DOJ appeal of case that struck down gun law
Earlier this year, a federal judge dismissed charges against a man accused of breaking a federal gun law that prohibits someone under a restraining order from possessing a gun.
Not surprisingly, the Clinton administration has appealed the decision.
The case involves Timothy Joe Emerson, a doctor from San Angelo, Texas.
U.S. District Judge Sam Cummings agreed that Emerson has a right to own guns under the Second Amendment and that any law infringing upon that right is unconstitutional.
Moreover, Judge Cummings ruled that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is a protected individual right-- and not a right belonging to an organized militia, as federal prosecutors have contended.
Judge Cummings stated that he based his decision on a "historical examination of the right to bear arms, from English antecedents to the drafting of the Second Amendment."
The stakes are high for the Clinton administration, now that they have appealed the decision. If government lawyers were to lose again, the case would more likely then go to the Supreme Court-- a situation the Clinton administration would like to avoid.
Gun Owners Foundation (the legal arm of GOA) is preparing an amicus curiae brief to counter the Clinton administration's arguments, and support Doctor Emerson.
Those who wish to read the U.S. v. Emerson case can go to http://www.gunowners.org/legal.htm (and simply scroll down to below the "Educational Links").
Media Bias Quite Obvious when Handling Guns
by Thomas Sowell
You would think that a man who saved three people's lives, at considerable risk to his own, would be recognized as a hero.
But his story would be politically incorrect, so it has received virtually no media attention and his name remains unknown.
It all started when a gunman took three hostages at a San Mateo, California, shooting range.
He had left a note announcing his intention to kill hostages and then himself, so this was worse than even the usual hostage situation.
At this point an anonymous employee of the shooting range took one of the guns on the premises and shot the gunman, freeing the hostages.
This happened on July 6th, but have you seen the story anywhere? People get more media attention than this for recycling aluminum cans.
It is politically incorrect to let it be known that guns in the hands of law-abiding private citizens can save lives as well as cost lives. Yet this has happened any number of times.
There have even been cases of a policeman under fire being rescued by a private citizen with a gun.
One year, more criminals were reported killed by private citizens than by the police. But it wasn't reported very widely.
People who have been wringing their hands asking, "What can we do to stop shootings at schools?" have apparently not been told that a couple of these shootings were in fact brought to a halt by an armed adult on the scene.
Fox News Network has the slogan, "We report. You Decide." That clearly is not the watchword at most major media outlets. They decide what you ought to believe and then tell you only what they want you to know, so that you will believe it. . . .
It is a matter of plain fact-- no matter how much these facts are ignored in the media-- that violent crimes have declined immediately and dramatically in virtually every case where local gun-control laws were modified to allow law-abiding citizens to readily obtain permits to carry concealed weapons. The statistics are available in a book titled "More Guns, Less Crime," written by John Lott, who teaches at the University of Chicago Law School. . . .
Blind opposition to guns in anybody's hands reached a new level of irresponsibility in San Francisco recently, when the school board declared that policemen who come on school grounds should not be armed. Fortunately, outcries from both the public and city officials forced this silly policy to be repealed.
What will it take to bring some sense of responsibility to the media?
Thomas Sowell (c)1999 Reprinted with permission of Creators Syndicate. All rights Reserved. Those who wish to read the entire column by Thomas Sowell can go to http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell071699.asp on the internet.
Gun Control Prevents Real Crime Control
by Thomas Sowell
Now that the mass shootings in Atlanta have led to predictable demands for more federal gun control laws, let us at least make an effort to think rationally.
Is the way to prevent more tragedies like the one in Atlanta to pass laws ensuring that virtually all Americans will be as helpless as those who were shot and killed by Matt Barton? Does that make any sense?
When people ask emotionally, "How can we stop these things?" the most straightforward answer is to ask: How was it in fact stopped?
It was stopped, like most shooting sprees, by the arrival on the scene of other people with guns.
It is the monopoly of guns by people with evil intentions that is dangerous. Some of the most dangerous places in America are places where strict gun-control laws provide assurance to violent criminals that their victims will not be able to defend themselves.
What if every third or fourth person in that building in Atlanta had a gun available at the time?
Under such conditions, it is very unlikely that Matt Barton could have shot 22 people before he was stopped. . . .
The one thing that so-called "gun control" laws do not do is control guns. They disarm potential victims.
People who do not care about the law can always get guns in a country with 200 million guns and more coming in, both legally and illegally.
We can't even stop millions of human beings from coming into this country illegally-- and a handgun is a lot smaller than a person.
That basic reality is not changed by politicians and media loudmouths who appeal to emotions and symbolism by crying out for more guns laws.
You can always pass feel-good laws and ignore their actual consequences. In fact, we have already done too much of that on too many other issues.
Thomas Sowell (c)1999 Reprinted with permission of Creators Syndicate. All rights reserved. Those who wish to read the entire column by Thomas Sowell can go to http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell080599.asp on the internet.
To Prevent a Life of Crime, Buy Your Kid a Gun
"Isn't it too bad the government has never conducted an actual scientific study on how it affects a child's likelihood of committing crimes if his parent buy him a gun?
"Um, actually ... they have.
"The study was conducted from 1993-1995 by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. . . . Their findings?
"Children who get guns from their parents don't commit gun crimes (0 percent) while children who get guns illegally are quite likely to do so (21 percent)....
"It used to be common knowledge that the best way to get kids to act 'responsibly' was precisely to give them some 'responsibility.' Why would we assume a child taught by his parents to use a gun responsibly wouldn't also be more responsible in his other behaviors?"
-- Vin Suprynowicz, Assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal
Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) led the charge on the House floor in defense of gun owners' rights.
Gun rights advocates win key, though symbolic, victory in House
In late September, supporters of gun rights in the House of Representatives charged the floor with an arsenal of high-powered arguments in defense of 2nd Amendment liberties.
Led by Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), pro-gun Republicans challenged their leadership in presenting an extremely cogent case in defense of our freedoms.
"It's not the right of the army," Doolittle roared. "It's not the right of the National Guard." The Second Amendment "says 'the right of the people'-- [it's] an individual right."
Doolittle cited constitutional authorities from James Madison to Laurence Tribe in making his point that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right.
He also quoted the highly acclaimed Dr. John Lott in making the simple point that "more guns equals less crime," as he waved a copy of Lott's new book for the cameras.
GOA on the front lines
In anticipation of this floor fight, lobbyists from Gun Owners of America provided pro-gun offices with dozens of self-defense incidents from this year alone.
Pro-gun Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R-ID) took the list and read self-defense example after example on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
"The stories go on and on," Mrs. Chenoweth concluded. "In fact, a 1997 Clinton Justice Department study found that as many as 1.5 million people use a gun in self-defense every year."
The anti-gun side could offer no rebuttal to this point.
Regardless, they remained entrenched in opposing the motion made by Rep. Doolittle.
His motion instructed House negotiators to drop any provision that infringes on the 2nd Amendment rights of individuals. Such provisions would include restrictions like:
- The ban on private sales at gun shows, which can only be surmounted by the buyers submitting to a background registration check;
- A new gun ban for young adults;
- An import ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds; etc.
Pro-gun support helped the Doolittle motion pass overwhelmingly by a vote of 337-73.
However, representatives then sent a "conflicting" message when they voted to instruct the conference members (241-167) to include gun show registration checks in the final version of the bill.
The latter motion, offered by Zoe Lofgren of California, directly contradicts the Doolittle motion.
While contradictory messages are not unique on Capitol Hill, one should realize that all of the motions were non-binding.
As this issue of The Gun Owners goes to press, it is not clear when the conferees plan to report the crime bill out of committee.
But sources on Capitol Hill indicate that the differences among the committee members are narrowing, which means that an agreement could be reached at any time.
GOP moderates and Democratic leaders united in their support for gun control
Republican moderates, like House Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde (R-IL), took the floor to explain that he and many other members of the House want to impose further restrictions on gun owners' rights:
We are working on common sense gun legislation, and I am confident we will pass something that will better the present situation. . . . It probably will not be everything I would like. But it will be useful.
It will contain a clip ban for those large clips; it will contain safety devices, trigger locks. It will contain a juvenile Brady. It will contain a prohibition for minors for possessing assault weapons. It will have mandatory background checks that are reasonable, including at gun shows.
On the Democratic side, the anti-gunners were led by Rep. Lofgren (D-CA).
She argued that the 2nd Amendment does not protect an individual right, and that the anti-gun crime bill which is currently in conference does not conflict with the Second Amendment.
Joining Congressman Doolittle in speaking out for the 2nd Amendment were Representatives Chenoweth, Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), and John Hostettler (R-IN).
Lesson of Waco:
Government Control, not Gun Control
Abuse by the Federal government of gun owners in the name of enforcing federal gun laws is not news to GOA members. About a decade ago, Gun Owners Foundation documented abuses committed by the BATF in its video Breaking the Law in the Name of the Law: The BATF Story.
Revelations of FBI lies and cover up have been steadily coming to light as a result of "smoking guns" found in the Waco evidence room. Attorney General Janet Reno has pledged a vigorous investigation, even while her own department's Civil Division continues to stonewall the plaintiffs efforts to get at that evidence in the wrongful death suit brought by Davidian survivors and families.
Adding to the impression that cover up is still the actual policy of the Clinton administration, the U.S. Attorney for Waco, Bill Johnston, has been removed from any contact with the case.
Johnston aggressively prosecuted the Davidians, and may have even gone too far when he took part in the 1993 raid decisions.
But the times may be changing, and Johnston let the producer of Waco: Rules of Engagement see some of the evidence the Justice Department has been illegally hiding from the Davidians' lawyers.
That led to the proof that the FBI had been lying about not using any pyrotechnic rounds the day of the fatal fiery end of the government's 51-day siege.
(Both the BATF and the Waco tapes are available from Gun Owners Foundation and can by ordered from the GOA web page at http://www.gunowners.com/video.htm or by calling 703-321-8585.)
BATF caught in more lies
The BATF's mendacity has been exposed again, with renewed calls to include their actions in the congressional reviews that are cranking up.
The BATF had an undercover agent with a colleague in the Davidian buildings, shooting with Koresh, handing over the agent's .38 revolver, some two weeks before the military-style raid conducted by the BATF.
The BATF kidnapping of Karen Kilpatrick and her gun-store business partner is also emerging as a factor.
Kilpatrick was kept in "custody" and incommunicado while the siege was under way. She would have publicized that Koresh had been on the phone with her when the BATF was in her store, and the Koresh had invited the agents to come and inspect his inventory.
Such information would certainly have brought the government's actions under closer scrutiny during the raid.
There were obviously plenty of opportunities to act like real cops and search Mt. Carmel and arrest David Koresh. But the BATF lied about drugs being present.
Their lie was used to get military equipment from the armed services so they could conduct a military attack, presumably for making a good impression during the appropriations hearings that were to be held shortly after the February 28, 1993 raid against the Davidians.
Video films taken by the government of the last day of the siege are also finally available. As the Washington Post has asked, who was it that was firing machine guns into the Davidians' building shortly before the fire? The FBI has denied they fired a shot all day.
Is there a distinction between police and military?
Resolution of Wacogate goes well beyond getting Janet Reno out of office.
The tragedy of Waco can result in good if we resolve that commando raids on American citizens are entirely inappropriate for police tactics.
The scandal of the Delta Forces goes beyond their being at Waco, and perhaps even being involved in the operations of the last day.
The scandal is that any American police agency would want guidance from the military who are trained to kill people, not arrest them and bring them in for a trial.
As a post-Waco Delta forces commander now teaching at Harvard told the Dallas Morning News, Gen. James Scott, "If any good comes out of these new investigations, it will be to redraw a bright line between the military function and the police function."
Another good that can come out of Wacogate is the realization that the FBI and the BATF are so ethically challenged that they have no business keeping registration lists of American gun buyers. Not only is this unconstitutional, it is subject to great abuse.
We have seen abuse from the data collection efforts of the FBI in Filegate. It has never been explained why the FBI was keeping files on close to 1000 politicians and people in public life who have broken no laws, and then turned them over to the Clinton White House.
If the Republicans cannot get to the bottom of politician registration, should we expect better results from gun owner registration?
(Over 3,000,000 gun buyers have already been added illegally to the FBI registration lists since the inception of the Brady Instant Registration Check in November, 1998.)
The politicians need to hear from their constituents that we need government control, not gun control.
Bet The Media Didn't Show You This!
The legislature of the Central American republic of El Salvador voted to legalize the ownership of semi-automatic rifles on July 2 of this year.
Of course, the media made sure that the discouraging news of gun registration and confiscation in England and Australia were put before us.
But pushing back gun control? That's supposed to be as impossible as Marx's belief that the march of communism could not be stopped.
Manuel Melgar, a legislator in the party made up of former communist guerrillas, argued that nobody needs a rifle to defend himself with.
This was an interesting change of views. Ten years ago, the guerrillas wanted all the rifles they could get. Perhaps they do not want average citizens stocking up on semi-auto rifles (AK-47's, AR-15's, etc.) because it would be that much more difficult for the guerrillas the next time.
Gun Show Promoter Runs for U.S. Senate in Ohio
Ron Dickson has had it.
Regulations are so bad that he gave up running gun shows in his home state of Ohio.
As it is, he is one of the country's largest gun show promoters with just the shows he runs across the Ohio River in Kentucky.
Now the U.S. Senate, including Ohio Republican Senator Mike DeWine who voted in lockstep with New York Democrat Senator Charles Schumer, has voted on legislation that would put gun shows out of business under the terms of the Lautenberg amendment to the Juvenile Justice Bill.
Dickson is running in the March 7, 2000 Republican primary against DeWine which only leaves five months to go.
The Ronald Richard Dickson for U.S. Senator committee is located at P.O. Box 741, Oxford, OH 45056. The phone number is 1-513-523-3574.
The High Price Of Gun Control
by Maggie Gallagher
A friend of mine once heard screams from the rooftop of his New York City building. Grabbing his gun, he interrupted a rape in progress with a few well-timed shots at the intruder's legs and buttocks. The criminal fled; the woman was grateful. When the police arrived after the fact, as they usually do, they told my friend he was a hero. They also told him he was under arrest.
Eugene Assencao was luckier. As an ex-cop, he was legally allowed to carry the gun he used [in August] when he peered into the window of a Brooklyn 7-Eleven and saw three men pointing a gun at store workers. According to the New York Post, Assencao pulled over, called the cops, then watched as one of the thugs angrily threw a frightened clerk to the ground. Assencao shot one of the criminals in the stomach, while two others fled.
Assencao is just one of literally hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Americans who use a gun they own to protect themselves or others from crime-- the number is somewhere between three-quarters of a million to 3 million people each year, depending on which national poll you believe, as University of Chicago criminologist John R. Lott Jr. reports in his fascinating book, "More Guns, Less Crime."
Sharon Stone has just dramatically announced she's renouncing her guns, even though she once brandished one to turn back an intruder. I hope she's luckier than Alan Berg, the liberal Denver talk-show host who was murdered by members of the Aryan Nations after the police turned down his permit request. Or the less famous James Edward Scott, who in 1995 shot and wounded an intruder in the back yard of his West Baltimore home. The authorities took away his 22-caliber rifle. Less than a year later, another intruder broke into his row house. This time the 83-year-old man was strangled.
Men and women with guns protect not only themselves; they protect the rest of us. Especially, it turns out, women. Guns are a women's issue, but not in the way that most people (including Elizabeth Dole) think. "Murder rates decline when either more women or more men carry concealed handguns, but the effect is especially pronounced for women," reports Lott. Every women who carries a concealed handgun reduces the murder rate for women "by about three to four times more" than one additional armed man reduces the male homicide rate. The effects are indirect as well as direct. Guns are the great equalizer. When some women carry guns, criminals begin to look at all women with, shall we say, new respect.
While opponents of concealed carry laws argue they would lead to gun battles over fender benders, the reality is, as Lott points out, "There exists only one recorded incident of a permitted, concealed handgun being used in a shooting following a traffic accident, and that involved self-defense." No permit holder has ever shot a police officer, but several have used their guns to save police officers' lives. In a rational world, George W. Bush shouldn't fear his strong support for law-abiding citizens' right to bear arms. More children are killed each year by bicycles than guns.
So why the new push for gun control? Fear is driving this debate. Fear and the fantasy that we can just turn over the task of protecting ourselves to the police, trusting the professionals (as we once trusted our parents) to make us feel safe. The reality is that as adults, we make our own safety in a hundred different ways, from fleeing to gated communities to building neighborhoods where people know (and are willing to defend) one another; from reporting minor crimes to the police to, yes, arming ourselves with the knowledge and ability to use a gun safely.
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