3/02 Ethics Group Headed By Deceptive President

Ethics Group Headed By Deceptive President

Larry Pratt

Common Cause bills itself as a citizens’ group that promotes “honesty and integrity in government” according to its own web page. But they have thrown this into question by retaining a scandal-plagued anti-self-defense politician to be their chief spokesman.

Since July, 1999, the President of Common Cause has been Scott Harshbarger, formerly the Attorney General of Massachusetts.

A scandal is now unfolding from his term of office. The U.S. Attorney General’s office is concerned about “extensive fraudulent activity” under Harshbarger, according to Massachusetts News.

In the name of consumer protection and the safety of the children, Harshbarger found a backdoor way to ban many guns in Massachusetts. He promulgated regulations that made it uneconomical for manufacturers serving a national market to tailor their products just for Massachusetts. Moreover, one has to wonder what is the safety relevance of a second, tamper-resistant serial number on a gun (as if the current numbers are not tamper-resistant).

In the year and a half following promulgation of Harbarger’s regulations, sixty percent of the gun dealers in Massachusetts went out of business, and a huge number of firearms previously available to the public are no longer offered for sale in Massachusetts.

The Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts (GOAL) spent some $15,000 to get at 24,000 pages of documents pertaining to the Harshbarger anti-gun scam. In a report issued and available on the GOAL web page (goal.org), the case against Harhsbarger is laid out.

Mike Yacino is the Executive Director of GOAL. Among the finds of Yacino are:

* There were no complaints about gun safety from citizens or groups.

* There was no record of gun owners being harmed by the current manufacturing standards for guns.

* There was no evidence that any manufacturer failed to live up to their warranty.

* As written, the Harshbarger regulations void all firearms warranties for Massachusetts residents. If a gun owner were to send back to the manufacturer a defective gun because a replacement were needed, it could not be sent back to a Massachusetts gun owner. The replacement would be a new gun having been made after the grandfather date in the regulations.

Internal staff memos made it clear that the staff was finding no safety reasons for the regulations. For example, “Who’s [kidding] who here? Why don’t we admit this is a publicity stunt?” Or, “[The regulations are] absolutely worthless from a consumer protection and law enforcement perspective.”

Regarding the regulation that was subsequently published requiring a certain melting point for the metal in the guns, this comment was found: “We have been unable to secure any witnesses who would testify on this area at the hearings (or provide us an official opinion in writing).”

In passing, it should be noted that the current state attorney general, Tom Reilly, has had legislation introduced in the legislature that would overturn the freedom of information act used by GOAL to expose the Harshbarger scandal.

Now that Harshbarger is at the self-proclaimed citizens’ ethics and good government group, Common Cause, he has been active in attacking gun owners.

Gun Owners of America has strenuously opposed the Campaign Finance legislation proposed by anti-gun Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). While we object to any violation of the Constitution including the First Amendment’s stipulation that Congress shall pass no law… abridging the freedom of speech” — we particularly object to the provision in the McCain bill that would gag gun owners groups at election time.

Gun groups would be prohibited from mentioning the name of an candidate for federal office sixty days before an election in any issue advocacy advertisement.

For those not clear how this would hurt gun groups, here is a quote from Harshbarger following the House passage of its version of the McCain bill: “Certainly in the case of guns, the evidence is overwhelming that money is the primary obstacle standing in the way of common sense gun laws.” So, gag gun groups, and let the anti-self-defense bills roll.

Harshbarger + Common Cause = Ethics? Not.