6/96 Clinton’s War: The Constitution And Guns

Clinton’s War Against the Constitution and Guns
Larry Pratt
Executive Director
Gun Owners of America
(for Soldier of Fortune 1996)

When you stop and think about it, President William Jefferson Clinton has probably been more effective in destroying the rights of Americans than was King George III.

For a man as famous for lying as is President Clinton, he has been surprisingly open about his desire to disarm the civilian population. Clinton answered a question by Rolling Stone (December 9, 1993) regarding the possibility of banning handguns rather straightforwardly: “I don’t think the American people are there right now. But with more than 200 million guns in circulation, we’ve got so much more to do on this issue before we even reach that. But there are certain kinds of guns that can be banned and a lot of other reasonable regulations that can be imposed.” In that same interview, Clinton outlined his desire to pass the Brady Bill, the ban on semi-automatics (the so-called “assault weapons”) and step up regulatory harassment and reduction of federally licensed firearms dealers (FFL’s).

After pushing hard for it, Clinton signed into law the Brady Bill which requires a national permit to buy a gun, and adding insult to injury, imposes a period for us to wait while the government decides whether or not we can exercise our constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. The Brady Law’s implementation resulted in an immediate abuse of police power as thousands of denials were issued for unpaid parking tickets and other supposedly off-limit reasons. The Brady Law, in addition to being quite unconstitutional, became one more method of tax collection.

Can you see it now in your mind’s eye? There is George Washington, huddled in a freezing tent at Valley Forge with many of his men shoeless, writing in his diary that all of this suffering would be worth it if Americans were able to throw off the yoke of London’s tyranny so there could be a brave new world of government approval of who can buy a gun — especially if it could be done instantly. No doubt he would have appreciated, in this line of thinking, the fascist propaganda of making the trains run on time. Hey, do what you want as long as there is no wait. If you can’t see that in your mind’s eye, neither can I.

The Brady instant check has an additional charm for advocates of civilian disarmament such as President Clinton. As a Justice Department Task Force stated in 1989, “any system that requires a criminal record check prior to purchase of a firearm creates the potential for the automated tracking of individuals who seek to purchase firearms.”

Most background check laws, including the Brady instant check provision, have no effective way of preventing the authorities from compiling a registration list of gun owners. To believe that the government is not making a registration list is to believe people such as Clinton when they tell us “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you.” In fact, a registration list is already being compiled — illegally — by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Operation Forward Trace has involved the BATF in a massive sweep of the country’s gun dealers’ books to record the name and address of buyers of so-called “assault weapons.” A BATF agent told a reporter on the national TV program Day One (on ABC) that the out-of-business records that are sent to the BATF are being computerized — in spite of an explicit congressional prohibition.

Happily, one effort to build a computerized gun registry was blocked when a Pennsylvania court this Spring stopped Pittsburgh from using a grant from the U.S. Justice Department. It was to be a pilot project to design a computer program that when fully distributed, would have linked all local, state and federal agencies together to access information on gun owners nationwide.

Passing the Brady Law did not stop Bill Clinton and the gun grabbers any more than British Prime Minister Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler by inviting him to invade Czechoslovakia prevented World War II. Senator Bob Dole fits the Chamberlain mold well. The habit of offering a deal — “Here, you take only half of what I have instead of all” — for nothing in return and calling it a compromise has been a powerful self deception throughout history. And such appeasement has always resulted in worse loses. It only whets the appetite of the aggressor.

Bob Dole had cut deals with the Democratic leadership of the Senate to allow for the semi-auto ban to go through so as to focus on the Brady Bill. Then he capitulated again and did the same thing to let the Brady Bill through the Senate. Clinton and his allies had an agenda and they pressed on relentlessly toward their goal of eventual civilian disarmament. Having already passed the House, once Brady got out of the Senate, the way was clear to push for the gun ban as well.

Clinton was able to get more than a gun ban as part of the 1994 Crime Bill. He also stole a march toward a national police force and a rape of the Fourth Amendment in the same bill. The Crime Bill, which banned nearly 200 specific guns from civilian possession if they were made after the effective date of the law in 1994 also banned magazines of over 10 rounds.

What a state of affairs. King George’s troops sparked the start of our War for Independence when General Gage’s troops tried once too often (they had been at it for months) to confiscate colonial powder and arms. Only the government should have such weapons, it was argued. Is it not interesting that the same argument that was answered with lead 200 years ago was met with a sporting smile in our age?

Even many gun owners bought Clinton’s idea that guns are only legitimate if they are “suitable for sporting use.” Thanks to the research of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership we know that this notion originated in Nazi Germany and was imported into our country in 1968 as part of Senator Tom Dodd’s versioning of the Nazi law as his 1968 Gun Control Act. Actually, Hitler did not think that idea up all by himself. It was rooted in European history as a way of banning weapons to keep the peasants from hunting on the king’s lands. Of course, the same bans also worked nicely to keep the peasants under control otherwise, say at tax time. In the tradition of European tyranny, Clinton and his allies made the same arguments that the people cannot be trusted with the means of keeping the government from having a monopoly of force.

In the Lopez decision, the Supreme Court finally (after 50 years) admitted that it had been wildly unconstitutional in using the interstate commerce clause of Article I, Section 8 to regulate and ban guns. The Court threw out the federal prohibition on possessing a gun within a 1,000 feet of a school, not on public policy grounds, but strictly because the Constitution does not give the federal government the authority to act in this area. Too bad the Republican Congress in 1995 did not take up on that idea, because they should have been repealing all the federal gun control laws. They could have started with the 1994 Crime Bill with its gun ban.

One of the shortcomings of the repeal of the semi-auto ban passed by the House was the refusal of Gingrich and the other House leaders to act on the version sponsored by Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX). Stockman’s repeal bill would have not only done away with the ban on guns and magazines, but also would have checkmated the rest of the agenda Clinton had announced to Rolling Stone, namely, getting rid of as many gun dealers as possible. The 1994 Crime Bill in effect set the BATF up as the national zoning czar. It empowered the BATF to require dealers to show they have zoning variances to do business. Most of America’s gun dealers have been part timers operating at home. The Crime Bill does not seek to make Amway and Mary Kay dealers get proof of local zoning variances — just gun dealers. The result has been the reduction of the number of dealers from a high of nearly 290,000 in 1993 to 161,000 by April of this year.

Increasing fees, requiring photos and fingerprints as well as the zoning hassle have served as an additional disincentive for people to seek to be FFL’s or to renew their licenses.

Pressure on dealers has also come from an arbitrary regulation with no statutory authority (not to mention that there is no constitutional authority) to require burdensome paperwork of dealers operating at gun shows. If a dealer from out of state wishes to do business at a gun show, the BATF is now requiring him to sign over all of his show inventory to a local dealer at the beginning of a show. Then, after the show, the dealers must go through all of the same paperwork in reverse, minus any guns that were sold and transferred off the local dealer’s books. Heretofore, it was enough for an out-of-state dealer to take just the gun he was selling to a local dealer, transfer it to that dealer’s books, and then have the local dealer transfer the gun to the buyer. Of course, if there were no unconstitutional licensing of dealers by the federal government (another Nazi idea), none of this hassle would take place. Clinton would object that he would then have no way of knowing who was buying a gun. The answer would be what I am sure our founding fathers might have replied, “That’s the idea.”

The Crime Bill also expanded the ability of police agencies to profit from forfeited property. Forfeiture is often a euphemism for government theft of private property. About 80 percent of the over 50,000 property seizures every year have no charges filed. The property just goes into some police department’s control, or is sold so they can buy military-style armament or whatever they desire. The Republicans have really been asleep at the switch to let Clinton grab such unconstitutional and dangerous power.

We are forgetting at our peril that almost no police powers are vested in the United States, these being reserved to the individual states. Architecht of the Bill of Rights, James Madison, pointed out that the Constitution delegated to the national government police powers only in the areas of counterfeiting, treason, piracy and offenses against the laws of nations. Generally speaking, Madison stated that the powers of the United States are few and well defined.

But Clinton is not interested in the Constitution. He is interested in aggrandizing his own power, and he is willing to use any shameless excuse to do so. For an example of this, one need look no farther than the explosion that rocked the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City killing 169 men, women and children. Clinton threatened the Republicans with a bucket of mud if they did not bend the knee before the President’s demands that an Anti-Terrorism Bill be passed in response to the tragedy. Amazingly, the Republicans gave him much of what he wanted — more money for the BATF, a study that will be used to justify the banning of hunting ammunition and several due process violations that tattered the Fifth Amendment guarantee of due process.

One due process violation enacted into law in the Government Terror Bill was a standard of knowledge rule governing those selling explosives, meaning black and smokeless powder, and probably ammunition, that will be a prosecutor’s dream. Sellers can be convicted of a minimum mandatory sentence of five years if a jury can be convinced that they “should have known” that the buyer would commit a criminal act. How do you prove that you did not know? Putting the burden of proof on a defendant is to turn upside down our presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Another violation of due process involves the virtual destruction of the Great Writ of habeas corpus. This is the right of judicial review, and even the power to free one convicted unjustly. Now, thanks to passage of the Government Terror Bill, for practical purposes, a defendant will have to show that the trial court violated one of his constitutional rights in a wholly unreasonably unconstitutional manner in order to get an appeal heard. Why, if a prosecutor withholds evidence that would have led to acquittal, but was only 95 percent unreasonably unconstitutional, what’s the big deal? Let the prisoner rot in jail, right? Well, consider that a lot of judges and prosecutors like convicting gun owners just because they are gun owners. Gun Owners of America has used habeas corpus lots of times to seek redress for the unjustly convicted. Probably no longer, though, thanks to King William I.

To fully appreciate what Clinton got in his Government Terror Bill’s assault on the Great Writ, consider that habeas corpus dates back at least to the Battle of Runnymede in 1215 when the barons of England wrested the recognition of this right from King John. With a majority vote of our Congress, Bill Clinton was able to take back what King John was forced to give up.

But this is not all. Clinton has actually delivered more than he promised to Sarah Brady’s Handgun Control crowd in Congress. As a fan of what President George Bush referred to as the New World Order, Clinton has been seeking to turn over U.S. sovereignty to the UN and other international bodies. This has been from the beginning the dark side of NAFTA and GATT. These treaties have had the result of placing U.S. laws under World Trade Organization and other international bodies’ approval. When Cuba shot down two private planes full of U.S. citizens, there was strong sentiment to tighten the economic sanctions against Cuba. Nothing of the sort happened. Why? Because Canada and the European Community warned the U.S. that they could not do that under GATT and NAFTA.

So, why is the U.S. continuing to participate in the U.N. Crime Commission? This group has called for the harmonization of world gun laws — meaning, dragging the U.S. down to the level of most of the rest of the world. The Japanese and Canadian governments are pushing for an international convention to disarm the U.S. the way they have disarmed their own people. Were the U.S. to ever sign such a convention, it would become the law of the land. Perhaps the scenario would be similar to how forced busing was imposed in the U.S. Courts made rulings and the politicians simply said, “Well there is nothing we can do.” Actually, there was plenty the Congress could have done. Under Article I Section 8, Congress could have withdrawn jurisdiction for busing cases from federal courts. Clinton could easily pull the same charade — sign up for U.N. gun control and then whine that there is nothing he can do since civilian disarmament would then be the law of the land. It is kind of the same defense as that used by the guy that killed his parents and then pled for the court’s mercy since he was an orphan.

All this in Clinton’s first term in spite of what he admits was the heavy political price he paid for pushing gun control in 1993 and 1994. Clinton publicly acknowledged that gun control cost his party control of the Congress. If he has been this bad already, whatever might he be like in a second, lame-duck term when he is no longer seeking re-election?