Click on a link immediately below to be taken to that particular article. Read with an open mind.
Project Gestapo: putting gun owners in jail in record numbers
by Dudley Brown, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners
Federal intrusion: Prosecution of gun law violations belong in state, local courts
from the Grand Rapids Press
Gun-rights groups gang up on NRA
Direct Quotes about Project Exile from the NRA Web Site
Project Exile, or Project Gulag?
by Russ Howard
Harry Browne Blasts LaPierre for Unconstitutional ‘Enforcement’
by Ari Armstrong
NRA Management Turns Against Second Amendment
by Brian Puckett
from the Conservative Digest
Losing the War
by William Lolli, CalNRA
by William Lolli
CalNRA Contributing Editor
September 9, 2000
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the world will change overnight for the better for gun owners if Bush is elected.
Although it is true that California gun owners turned the tide and beat back AB273, and that the NRA’s membership has swelled to a new high of over 4 million members; the facts are that, even if elected with a mandate-motivated majority of the electorate, it would take years for Bush to un-do what the Clinton-Gore Administration has put into place.
I am referring to the thousands of liberal civil servants, EPA bureaucrats, Fish and Game Nazis, Justice Department District Attorneys, and more– liberals who have been hand-picked and hand-placed by the Administration to ensure power- and policy-legacy follow-through.
And that’s just on the Federal level.
On the state level we can count on a continuation of antigun purge here in California, as other freedoms continue to deteriorate as well.
I don’t have to preach to the choir. Second Amendment loyalists know– just as did the Founding Fathers– that if the 2nd Amendment were ever removed, or relegated to the plebian interpretation of a state-power; that other civil liberties would either soon follow, or be synchronized with a rise in both private- and public-trust power abuses.
Such is the case now. One look at our oil problem, our electrical energy scandal, our national security secrets treachery, the pollution and environmental crimes committed by the very city and state agencies tasked with responsible handling of water and waste; reveals that no person in any level of government, or in concert with a government-sanctioned monopoly will be held accountable before the law.
For these people, there is no law. The “law” is only for the rest of us “little people” for whom they hold contempt by their very actions.
Governor Davis and Attorney General Lockyer of California totally agree with the Clinton-Gore Administration interpretation of the 2nd Amendment:
There is no such thing as the individual right to keep and bear arms.
January 1, 2001, tens of thousands of California gun owners will become “non-law abiding” gun owners when they civilly disobey the law and do not register their rifles.
Even more will be added to the list when, next year, AB273 passes into law with the blessing of the masses of California soccer-moms.
Additionally, as crime increases all over the state in the near future, you can count on the press and those in power to continue to support the arming of law enforcement officers and civil-servants of all levels of government with the very same weapons they will be seeking to remove from us– claiming that the arming of the officers is justified so that the officers cannot be outgunned by criminals.
Are we the criminals he is talking about? Absolutely.
The cries of the NRA leadership to “enforce the gun laws we currently already have on the books” will be heeded by the anti-gunners. Indeed, it will eventually become their mantra.
Oh yes, you can count on it. Actually they can’t wait to jump at the chance to enforce the gun laws.
Just wait. They will enforce the law.
Just as soon as they pass that “register all the handguns” law. Then pass the “register all the shotguns” law.
Just as soon as they “close the gun show” loophole. Then they close the “gun store” loophole. Then they close that nasty ammunition loophole.
Just as soon as they amend the registration laws to allow confiscation upon discovery for the good of public safety.
Such are the plans of the new Gore Administration. And the continued plans of the Davis Administration.
Is the war for the 2nd Amendment lost? What do you think?
from the Conservative Digest
Project Exile was started in Richmond, Virginia as a joint project between the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the BATF, The U.S. Marshal’s Office and local Richmond authorities. Richmond was a high crime area and the program was instituted to reduce crime by cleaning criminals with guns off the streets. The strategy is to prosecute criminals in federal rather than state courts and to employ mandatory sentencing. Due to the stiffer mandatory sentencing the program has had notable success in cleaning the criminal element from Richmond. Consequently, there is now a push to expand the program to other cities. Also, it is currently being used in Texas. Purportedly, Project Exile targets previously convicted felons who are caught with a gun. Sounds good, but it’s not that simple, as we shall see.
The National Rifle Association endorsed and financially supported Project Exile in Richmond and with its call to enforce existing gun laws with zero tolerance rather than passing new gun control laws the NRA is helping to expand the program to other areas. This year Congress voted to make available $100 million for states that will embrace Project Exile (NRA Live report, April 11, 2000)
Yes. On the subject of Project Exile the NRA walks hand in hand with the nations most rabid anti-gunners.
How can this be? How can it be that our nation’s most stalwart defender of our Second Amendment is in cooperation with those who seek to destroy it? The answer is two-fold:
First, the anti-gunners favor Project Exile because it is about guns. Project Exile is gun control. It addresses “gun violence”. From their standpoint, any method of confiscating guns is a good method of confiscating guns.
The other reason for this unholy matrimony is that the NRA isn’t the stalwart that it used to be. Under its current leadership, regardless of the tough Second Amendment rhetoric we hear from Wayne LaPierre and Charlton Heston, today’s NRA routinely compromises with the enemy. Using the flawed logic that if they give a little the anti-gunners will be satisfied and go away, the NRA even helps write gun control laws in the hope of ending up with a bill which is “acceptable”. (Two other concepts which represent the NRA’s soft line are instant background checks which are “more acceptable” than waiting periods and “shall issue” permit laws, both of which provide government the opportunity to collect data on gun owners.) The call to enforce existing gun laws rings hollow when one considers that most, if not all, of those gun laws are unconstitutional.
Getting violent criminals off the streets is a common desire of law abiding gun owners. But while the intent is laudible–to save the public from lawless predators–Project Exile is terribly flawed. While the stiff sentencing provided for may be fine concerning some–such as those convicted of murderer, attempted murder and other particularly heinous crimes, the program, even at this relatively early stage, goes to the extreme. Though the initial intent may be to disarm and lock up the dangerous, the program can and will be used against any and all violators. Remember now, the cornerstone of Project Exile is the word “mandatory”. Under Project Exile police have no discretion, prosecutors have no discretion (except to decide whether to prosecute in state or federal court, dependent only upon whether a stiffer sentence is available in federal court under Exile) and courts have no discretion.
And, by the way, if you think that law enforcement is necessarily reasonable and rational (especially where our right to firearms is concerned) and that atrocities are not committed in the name of such, check with Linda Hamilton and Philip Luty.
Project Exile casts too wide a net and will ensnare too many citizens who are not deserving of a five year prison sentence. For instance, thanks to the Lautenberg amendment, a person with a prior conviction of domestic violence (even if it was only one, many years ago, and the offender has been non-violent since) who is found to be in possession of a firearm goes to prison for five years just for possessing the gun. (Many police officers have infractions of this magnitude in their backgrounds.) Then, there are cases these days where a person defends himself from a predator and gets convicted of defending himself too aggressively becoming a “violent felon”. This person, if caught with a firearm, goes to prison for five years just for possessing the gun.
Under Project Exile anyone with a qualifying prior felony conviction who is caught with a gun gets five years. The list of qualifying penalties includes any minor infraction of any unconstitutional federal gun law including the following which, by the way, are some of the laws “already on the books” which the NRA is crying for enforcement of.
- Failure to turn in any newly “illegal” gun
- Possessing a gun within 1000 feet of a school
- Crossing state lines to give a gun to a family member without a background check
- A juvenile alone with a rifle while out hunting with his father
In this upside down, globalism-driven, liberal, Constitution-hostile society in which we find ourselves how long do you suppose it will be before the lawless anti-gunners will be using Project Exile to disarm permanently and put away citizens whose felony is a tax dispute? How long will it take for them to create a new qualifying felony of “hate speech” or begin using it against those who desire controlled immigration with a qualifying felony of “racism”?
Can you see now why the lawless anti-gunners enthusiastically support Project Exile? For them, its a dream come true. Felonies are whatever Congress says they are. Project Exile will systematically disarm more and more Americans based on a growing list of felonies. If you doubt this intent consider Sarah Brady’s words as published in “The National Educator”, January 1994: “Our task of creating a Socialist America can only succeed when those who would resist us have been totally disarmed.”
Another insidious aspect of Project Exile is the Nazi Germany-style tactic of inviting citizens to report people who are in possession of an illegal gun. Those who would be inclined to make such reports would be gun control types, most of whom would have little, if any, experience with firearms. Considering the complexity of today’s gun restrictions, which even experienced gun owners and law enforcement sometimes have trouble fathoming, how would these “snitches” know an illegal gun from a legal one? This policy can be nothing more than a conditioning of citizens to report any gun they see so as to bring in law enforcement to investigate.
In addition to all the aforementioned problems with Project Exile, the entire concept itself is unconstitutional. Article 1, Section 8, which deals with the enumerated powers of Congress, does not delegate any authority to the federal government for crime control. Three Federal Judges of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, in their decision in The United States V. Chad Ramon Jones, made the following comments about Project Exile:
- “The purpose of Project Exile is, beyond question, laudable. However, the problems it targets are undeniably local in both nature and effect. As a comparative examination of the state and federal systems will indicate, local law enforcement authorities suffer from no inherent capacity to redress the problems Project Exile targets. However, instead of bringing the resources of the Commonwealth to bear, local authorities have abdicated their responsibility to the federal government.”
- “Not only does Project Exile threaten to diminish local law enforcement, it also requires that citizens of the forty-nine other states subsidize local law enforcement activities.”
- “Not only does Project Exile force federal taxpayers to support local law enforcement, it does so at a significantly greater expense than would a comparable state prosecution.”
- “In addition to the deleterious effects noted above, Project Exile’s potentially negative effect on the federal judiciary is readily apparent. In his year-end report on the federal judiciary to Congress, Chief Justice William Rehnquist warned that ‘[t]he trend to federalize crimes that traditionally have been handled in state courts…threatens to change entirely the nature of our federal system.’ “
- “Despite its laudable purpose, Project Exile represents a substantial federal incursion into a sovereign state’s area of authority and responsibility.”
As an NRA member of many years and a charter founder of NRA’s Second Amendment Task Force it pains me greatly to come to the conclusion that the National Rifle Association, despite its strong rhetoric, no longer represents the best interests of our Constitution. Rather than taking the lead in assuring that unconstitutional gun laws are enforced via another unconstitutional law, the NRA should be taking the lead in assuring that those unconstitutional gun laws are repealed and that the emphasis is on enforcement and proper sentencing for violations of basic violent crimes. In addition, it should be supporting Vermont Carry and initiatives such as Geoff Metcalf’s VetoTheGovernor.org.
by Brian Puckett
What I’m going to say will anger many readers, but sometimes the truth is painful to hear.
The current management of the NRA has gone from being merely ineffective in halting the latest unconstitutional gun control laws (Brady Law, ’94 Crime Bill, Lautenberg Bill and innumerable state laws) and being ineffective in presenting the moral case for gun rights to the general public, to being harmful to the cause of protecting our Second Amendment rights. In pushing their “Project Exile” program, they have taken the side of Schumer, Clinton, Feinstein, and Handgun Control, Inc. against you, me, and our rights.
For those who are not familiar with “Project Exile”, its principle feature is a demand by the NRA management that the government enforce existing federal gun “laws”. You read that correctly. The NRA’s current management wants to enforce the very same unconstitutional “laws” that for years we have worked so hard and spent so much money to oppose being passed. If you don’t believe this, then you haven’t been reading NRA publications. If you don’t have any handy, visit the NRA website and search for the key words “project exile”.
When you do you will find – among many other similar horrors – this statement by Wayne LaPierre:
“The National Rifle Association believes in no unsupervised youth access to guns, period. We have always supported holding adults responsible for willfully and recklessly allowing access to firearms.”
This means that – even if you leave a gun in a safe place, even if it is accessed by accident, even if you aren’t home, and even if no crime or firearm accident occurs – if a child gains access to one of your guns YOU become a felon if a jury decides to convict you, which these days they probably will. This also means that if you give permission to your 15-year-old boy or girl to take a .22 revolver to go shoot cans at your deer lease or at a friend’s rural property – as I did many times as a teenager – YOU YOURSELF can be criminally prosecuted for giving him or her the gun, and the “Winning Team” wants you PROSECUTED.
And by the way, so much for Thomas Jefferson’s advice about giving young men a firearm to hasten their paths to responsible manhood; so much for hundreds of years of American outdoors tradition; so much for young men hunting or roaming the fields with a .22 the way you did when you were young. The “Winning Team” says “Flush all that down the toilet.”
More from Mr. LaPierre:
“We believe that a lawful, properly-permitted citizen who chooses to carry a concealed firearm not only deserves that right, but is a deterrent to crime. We support the right to carry because it has helped cut crime rates in all 31 states that have adopted it … with almost no abuse of any kind by the lawful citizens who took the courses, submitted to the background checks, passed the tests and became part of a proud citizens movement that’s making America a safer place to live.”
Took the courses? Passed the tests? Properly permitted? So much for the Second Amendment. So much for “shall not be infringed”. So much for the “right” to bear arms. The words “properly permitted” and “right” are mutually exclusive in this context. A right that requires taking courses and passing tests is not a right, it is a privilege granted by the government and revocable by the government. The state of Vermont, unlike the NRA’s current management, understands the Constitution – they allow any law-abiding citizen to carry a firearm any way they want for any legal purpose.
Here’s NRA president Charlton Heston speaking about Clinton:
“Everyone remembers all the press support for his ‘desperately needed’ semi-auto gun ban – that outlawed guns based solely on their appearance. But nobody is reporting that, out of thousands of certain offenders, the Clinton Administration prosecuted four people in 1997 and four in 1998.”
Read that again—the NRA’s current president, a member of the “Winning Team”, is complaining that only four of your fellow citizens were prosecuted for buying, selling, or some other act related to possession of these perfectly constitutional militia rifles.
If you violate the unconstitutional ’94 Crime Bill, which we all fought so hard to prevent being passed, then the “Winning Team” wants you prosecuted. If you or one of your friends attaches a +2 extension to a “post-ban” Glock pistol magazine; or attaches a flash suppresser, folding stock, or bayonet lug to a “post ban” militia rifle; or accidentally carries a concealed weapon (with state “license” or not) into a federally prohibited area; or drives to another state to give a family member (even a son or a granddaughter) a handgun without going through the instant check registration scheme; or possesses a gun while subject to a restraining order, regardless of the absence of violence, and without a trial or any legal adversarial process having taken place; or commits any minor infraction of any unconstitutional federal gun law, then the NRA’s current management wants you prosecuted.
The current NRA management says that local versions of “Project Exile” are working—that they are reducing crime and taking criminals off the streets. But these criminals could have been “taken off the streets” before, and without any “Project Exile”, by simply enforcing existing violent crime laws and making the criminals serve their full sentences. Furthermore, “Project Exile” does exactly what HCI wants to do: by calling for stiff additional penalties and automatic sentencing for crimes committed with guns, it demonizes guns by implying that crimes committed with guns are worse than crimes committed with knives, bludgeons, or bare hands. In any case, no American, not even a criminal, should be imprisoned for violating unconstitutional laws. To do so violates our entire system of government and endangers everyone’s freedom. And make no mistake, these laws can be used against you and eventually will be used against you. But the current NRA management doesn’t care.
Some people say that taking a stand against an NRA program and the current NRA management is “dividing the gun community”.
First, get this straight: the current NRA management, the so-called “winning team” that has watched us lose so many rights in the last few years, is not the NRA. The “winning team” is not the NRA any more than the Clinton administration is our Constitutional system of government. The actual NRA is an organization, composed primarily of good and decent Americans. It can be a great and powerful tool for upholding the Bill of Rights. Therefore the NRA must be directed by men and women with a clear vision of these rights, and that is not the case at this time.
Second, take a look at the KeepAndBearArms.com website page which lists the national, state, and local organizations, as well as individual outstanding RKBA and Constitutional advocates, who are AGAINST Project Exile. Who is wrong in this issue – all of these organizations and the people they represent, or the NRA management? Who, then, is being “divisive” regarding our rights?
If you have any lingering doubts about the effectiveness of the current NRA management, here are some quotes from Wayne LaPierre’s column in the August 1999 issue of the NRA’s American Guardian Magazine:
- “The NRA does the best job of any group in lobbying members….It’s just good, straight democracy.”
- “We’re up against the best lobby in town…My hat is off to them. I admire them. They sure know how to do it.”
- “There’s a lot of talk about extremists here. Let me make one small vote for the NRA. They’re good citizens. You know what? They call their Congressman. They write. They vote. They contribute. And they get what they want over time.”
Who are the patriotic Americans who wrote these glowing reviews of the NRA management? The first quote is from Rep. Barney Frank, D-MA, long-time enemy of the Second Amendment. Second quote, Dick Gephardt (D-MO) House Minority Leader and long-time enemy of the Second Amendment. Third quote, George Stephanopoulos, former Clinton campaign aide and Clinton administration spokesman.
Why would these men be praising the NRA? Why would Wayne LaPierre trot them out to show what a good job he’s doing? Is Mr. LaPierre a fool, or does he think NRA members are fools? All I know is that if the likes of Frank, Gephardt, and Stephanopoulos are praising the way the NRA management is doing its job, then something is seriously wrong with the way the NRA management is doing its job.
Am I suggesting that you resign from the NRA? No – not yet. I suggest this: Write, call, and email the NRA and DEMAND that they stop SUPPORTING these unconstitutional laws. Upgrade your membership so that you can vote in the next election, and vote AGAINST the so-called “winning team”, which has presided over the most profound and far-reaching losses of our Second Amendment Rights since the Gun Control Act of 1968, and vote AGAINST any board member or officer who supported or did not speak out against “Project Exile”. At the very least, vote to oust the top management, who have completely betrayed both your trust and the Second Amendment itself. Again, the “winning team” is NOT the NRA, they are simply the current managers. They are supposed to work for you, not against you
I know these are hard words. They are meant to be, because I view my country, the Constitution, and my rights with absolute seriousness, and I cannot stand by while our largest gun rights organization remains in the hands of those who are either ineffective or harmful to any of the above.
The NRA management’s “Project Exile” is a complete reversal of position on unconstitutional gun laws. It’s an utter betrayal of NRA membership and the organization’s proud heritage.
For those who are still baffled or in denial, let me put it in terms that anyone can understand: the NRA management is no longer calling for the REPEAL of unconstitutional gun laws, they are calling for their ENFORCEMENT. Exactly what part of that do you not understand?
NRA Members, click here: Signed NRA Petitions Needed
by Ari Armstrong, August 23, 2000
On March 6, the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre joined hands with anti-gun lobbyists and politicians at a Denver press conference to announce the NRA’s plans to financially support “Project Exile,” a propaganda campaign backing the full enforcement of the “gun laws on the books.”
Unfortunately, LaPierre failed to distinguish between the “laws on the books” which target violent, inherently criminal behavior; and those “laws on the books” which persecute peaceable gun owners through arbitrary, Unconstitutional statutes. (See Project Exile archives.)
Finally, American gun owners have found a champion with the courage and convictions to argue the Unconstitutional laws on the books don’t work, increase crime, and should be repealed. In May, Libertarian Presidential Candidate Harry Browne published the article, For Safety’s Sake, Repeal All the Gun Laws.
On August 8, Browne took the opportunity to criticize LaPierre directly. At a Little Rock, Arkansas Second Amendment rally hosted by the Dixie Southern Shooting Association, attended by a thousand gun owners, Browne and LaPierre sat on a panel with various Republican officials. In reply to the first question put to the panel, Browne said (in paraphrase from his campaign journal)
[The Second] Amendment doesn’t allow for exceptions — or else it would have read that the right “to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, unless Congress chooses otherwise.” And because there are no exceptions, I disagree with my fellow panelists who say the existing gun laws should be enforced. Those laws are unconstitutional. Those laws are wrong — because they put you at a disadvantage to armed criminals, to whom the laws are no inconvenience. And saying those laws should be enforced is a statement that the Second Amendment isn’t absolute, and that there’s nothing wrong with ‘reasonable’ gun controls. This allows your favorite politicians to compromise on new laws and then claim victory for preventing something worse. I want to repeal all the existing gun laws.
Browne added that the Second Amendment is only an additional safeguard. Beyond the Second Amendment, “the Ninth Amendment would clearly protect an individual’s right to defend himself — because nothing in the Constitution has taken that right away.”
Browne contrasts his approach with that of the NRA spokesperson: “LaPierre has set the tone by saying that the Clinton administration should be enforcing the existing gun laws, rather than proposing new ones. The other panelists pretty much accept that approach as a given.”
Browne’s views on government as Constitutionally limited are radically different from those of George W. Bush, who told the Denver Post that he favors licensing private gun sellers at gun shows, a step even more draconian than the proposal advocated by Republican Governor Bill Owens.
In his campaign book, The Great Libertarian Offer, Browne outlines his proposals to return to a government restrained by the “chains of the Constitution.” Browne’s central campaign issues include repealing the income tax, selling federal lands to pay off Social Security benefits and end the system, and repealing drug prohibition.
Browne is scheduled to address the Constitution Monday rally on October 2 on the West Steps of the State Capitol in Denver. Browne will be joined by a diverse group of civil rights advocates and political candidates and office holders. The event, to be held from 4:30 to 7:30 pm, is partly a response to Janet Reno’s proposed “First Monday,” a day Reno hoped would be devoted to rallying against the Second Amendment. Instead, Constitution Monday seeks to celebrate the entire Bill of Rights.
Ari Armstrong is our kinda liberty advocate. We strongly urge you to get onto Ari’s email list to receive fantastic and insightful writings directly by going to http://www.co-freedom.com.
Project Exile, or Project Gulag?
by Russ Howard from KeepandBearArms.com
March 28, 2000 (earlier versions exist)
“Fight it today, enforce it tomorrow”
“In his…State of the Union address, President Clinton announced plans to require a special photo ID license and mandatory gun course for the purchase of handguns…. ‘[T]here is only one reason…[for] a…database on everyone…who owns a firearm, [responds Wayne LaPierre,] and that’s for the 2nd step…when they decide…to sweep every firearm from every American house….’ ” (Gun-rights organizations at odds, by David Bresnahan, WorldNetDaily, 3-2-2000)
“What’s it going to solve?” asked…LaPierre…”The criminals…won’t comply…”…NRA has warned that Clinton’s proposal to track every gun and bullet used in a crime means that all guns will be registered.” (Bresnahan, 2-8-2000)
So true. But then why, should such gun controls pass, does LaPierre want to enforce them?
Through “Project Exile,” LaPierre aims to “enforce existing gun laws” with “zero tolerance” and 5-years in the federal prisons he’s helping build, despite the unconstitutionality of most existing gun control laws and our bitter struggles against their passage.
Predictably, Clinton & Co. are buying in: “Enforce existing gun controls, huh? Hey, that sounds good! How about 500 more ATF agents and 1100 more gun prosecutors?” (Which, of course, LaPierre had to swallow, though as usual he didn’t seem to mind). Anti-gun-rights enthusiasm for Exile was predictable, considering that LaPierre partnered with pro-defenselessness Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell to grease this sucker deal.
And yet, this from the “NRA Winning Team” web site: “Readers…may be surprised…about the latest politician taking credit for ‘Project Exile.’ A Buffalo News article (8/10/99) quoted…Sen. Charles Schumer…saying, ‘Before Project Exile,…a crime with an illegal gun could mean only a slap on the wrist. But now those wrists are slapped with handcuffs.’ (Credit Where Credit Is Due? NRA-ILA Fax Alert, Vol.6, No.32, 8/20/99)”
Why should anyone be surprised to see the Victim Disarmers jump on a bandwagon that will turn decent gun owners into political prisoners, one by one? Is NRA’s “Winning” Team really that dense, or, like the corrupt police official in Casablanca, are they “shocked, shocked, to discover there is gambling in this institution” (as they collect their winnings)?
No doubt when pressed, LaPierre will say, “I meant real criminals; you know, violent felons.” But while LaPierre’s “Winning” Team chants the “law enforcement” mantra, they’ve taken little care to limit the focus of Exile propaganda to convicted criminals; let alone violent felons. Not that these finer distinctions would save us anyway: Intended or not, Exile will include decent folks busted for CCW or refusing to turn in “illegal” guns, then busted again after doing time. As gun control laws grow ever numerous and complex, Exile will victimize good citizens for unknowing violations as well. Moreover, since anti-gunners are designing and implementing Exile, even so-called “violent felons” will include decent, victimless offenders.
We’re digging our own graves, figuratively, and ultimately literally. Once we’ve pressured the government to bring on line all the agents, prosecutors, police, prison guards, and prisons required to enforce existing gun controls, what gun rights activist in his right mind could possibly imagine that gun laws will only be enforced against real violent criminals? The notion is absurd. Once the resources are in place, what’s to stop a law from being enforced against anyone or everyone who violates it? Prosecutorial discretion? Goodwill to mankind? The tooth fairy?
In short, Project Exile will turn political dissidents into political prisoners. Hence, “Project Gulag.”
The New Political Prisoner – (your name here)
How could Project Exile affect decent citizens, to whatever extent that it does initially only go after “felons” or “violent felons”? Let’s say they come to confiscate your “assault weapon,” which respectable sport shooter Charlton Heston says you have no legit reason to own. Maybe you’re not enthusiastic enough about giving it up. Maybe you mouth off about your “rights”. We’ll assume you’re luckier than Don Scott, the Weavers, and the little kiddies at Waco, so the police merely beat you and claim you attacked them. Besides a gun “crime,” you’re also convicted of a “violent crime”.
Or, suppose while carrying “illegally” for self-defense, you try to rid the gene pool of a would-be torture-murderer who had not yet racked up a record, wounding him instead. As they say, “no good deed should go unpunished.” It’s your word against your pure-as-the-driven-snow “victim,” so to add injury to injury, and some insult as well, the slam-dunk carry case helps convict you of a “violent crime” against him.
In any case, after doing time, you’re arrested again for exercising your “inalienable right” to self-defense. 5 years later and “free” again, your incorrigible attachment to the “RKBA” gets you a 3rd strike. Thanks to LaPierre’s “Winning” Team – big supporters of 3 Victimless Crimes & You’re Out and other cornerstones of the Prison Industrial Complex – you go to the Gun Gulag for life.
Here. In America. As a political prisoner. Even though you never hurt a soul.
Here’s a couple more “gun crimes” we desperately need to enforce with zero tolerance:
· Back in 1967, an 18-year-old Pennsylvanian pleads guilty to misdemeanor street racing and pays a $25 fine, at a time when all misdemeanors were punishable by up to 3 years. Now 51, he goes to buy a handgun. Federal Offense!
· An Atlanta grandmother travels to Chattanooga Tennessee to give her grandson a gun for Christmas, without going though a “background” (registration) check. Federal Offense!
The “Pro-Gun” Republicans (“with friends like this…”)
According to Utah constitutional rights leader Arnold Gaunt, “Sen. Orrin Hatch…laments that Reno has prosecuted so few for possession of ‘assault weapons’. LaPierre was here [Feb.16], defending Hatch’s anti-gun record.” Here are some excerpts from Hatch’s website:
“I am pleased that…Clinton appears to be partially signing onto the Republican solution to…gun violence…[Like mine, his] proposal…seek[s] to curb the sharp decline in gun prosecutions…[which after intense pressure from Congress…finally increased…in 1999… [But his] fails to increase penalties for violent offenses… [In] Hatch 10-20-life…, a criminal who commits a federal felony with a firearm…[faces] minimum sentences: 10 Years for…a…felony with a firearm. 20 Years for the discharge of a firearm during…a…felony. Life for…murder…with a firearm during…a…felony. …[Clinton's] record…was terrible…: [F]irearm on school grounds…. Clinton…prosecuted only 8 cases under this law in 1998… [T]ransfer…to a juvenile…. Clinton… prosecuted only 6…. [T]ransfer or possess a semi-automatic assault weapon…. Clinton…prosecuted only 4…”
Consider these scenarios for Hatch’s “Republican” program:
* You, a 40-year-old teacher, afraid to be defenseless after all the shootings, begin ‘carrying’ to work. A student opens fire, deranged by the druggings prescribed for his “Attention Deficit Disorder” (a serious condition formerly known as Childhood). When calling “time out” fails, you’re forced to shoot back. Even if you miss, you’re out for 20. Sorry, no early parole thanks to NRA “CrimeStrike”. (Far-fetched, you say? In 1998, a kid shot up his high school, killing 2, wounding 7. The vice principal ran for a gun he’d unintentionally left in his pickup and stopped the rampage without firing a shot. His parking job alone was a felony under the Hatch-Heston-LaPierre Safety-Free School Victimization Zones law. Meanwhile, a 42-year-old Virginia teacher with a CCW permit was recently arrested for bringing a gun to school in her backpack).
* You survive prison, but at 60, with little means of support and forced to live in a rough “hood,” you’re nabbed at a post office carrying for self-defense. Now it’s 10 & 2. One more & you’re out. (We’ll assume that wasn’t treated as a ’2-fer’) Batter Up!
* “Free at last” (at 70), you’re forced to live with a gun-owning son. The police search the place and…You’re Out!
* Dad dies young, leaves AR15 to 17-year-old. Mom unaware of ban; kid goes to range…
If any scenario above doesn’t flow perfectly from current law, policy, interpretation, or plan, don’t worry, it will soon. A felony is what the legislature says it is. As anti-gun legislatures define, redefine, complicate, and federalize more and more felonies, more and more victimless gun “crimes” will fall under Zero Tolerance, Exile, 10-20-Life, etc., turning more and more decent gun owners into political prisoners.
On Feb.16, former Virginia Citizen Defense League chief Val Finnell, MD got a chilling view of NRA’s Texas Exile in action: “Billboard in El Paso reads, ‘Report illegal guns’ and gives an 800 number… Fools. All they have to do now is expand the list of people unqualified to own guns. Nazi Germany and the Communist regimes worked on these citizen snitch networks. It is beyond wrong, it is evil!”
But they are expanding the list, and Hatch is working overtime to help them: voting to jail teachers for the “crime” of self-defense, complaining that not enough “assault weapon” owners are doing time, peddling core anti-gun myths. (Why should a crime with a gun draw a stiffer term than the exact same crime and resulting injury committed with a knife? Because guns are evil?) Yet LaPierre calls Hatch “one of the 3 best supporters of gun rights in the entire Senate and House…combined.”
Really. Who are the other two, Schumer and Feinstein?
And Hatch’s A+ rating? Big deal. NRA’s A ratings have long been one of the biggest jokes in politics – one that everyone seems to be in on but NRA members. Each election cycle, LaPierre gives A and A+ ratings, money, endorsements, even medals to hundreds of politicians who vote for gun bans, and his “Winning” Team killed a Board policy I proposed in 1996 to stop it (See “Sleeping with the Enemy?” by Russ Howard, April 97.)
Like many so-called “pro-gun” Republicans, Hatch “protects” us from gun grabbers the way a “good cop” protects a suspect from the “bad cop.” And with LaPierre, Heston & Co. running cover, they can count on us to play the ever grateful sap.* (see post script below for a description of the “Winning” Team.)
NRA’s “Winning” Team is also helping expand the list of people unqualified to own guns:
· Indirectly: Expanding the list of guns not qualified to be owned – by rewarding politicians who vote for gun bans.
· Directly: Lautenberg “domestic violence” ban. The “Winning” Team “took a walk” on this.
· Indirectly: Safety-Free Schools, federalization, Zero Tolerance, InstaCheck, massive police hiring and prison building – all NRA programs.
Less Crime, More Guns?
Why are we doing this? The theory we’ve been sold is that lowering violent crime rates by any means possible will reduce pressure for gun confiscation. The theory is wrong.
Building a police state paves the way for gun control, and for the murder of those whom the controls leave defenseless against the state. Salient examples include Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union & Red China (See “Lethal Laws: Gun Control is the Key to Genocide” by Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.) Throughout history, mankind’s biggest, deadliest criminals have always been governments. Moreover, “low-crime” countries generally seem to have been just as oppressive against citizen self-defense as “high-crime” countries.
The theory implicitly accepts the model that the anti-self-defense/gun confiscation movement is at heart benign, motivated by good intentions, bad logic, and, in many cases, hoplophobia (irrational fear of guns). While the benign paradigm may hold true for most of the followers, the same cannot be said of the leaders, who can barely hide their glee at exploiting each new massacre in a school left defenseless by their policies. With nearly total control of the press by anti-self-defense forces, such incidents will yield ample fodder for gun control pressure, despite the fact that they are facilitated by gun control, despite dropping crime rates, and despite overwhelming evidence that gun control increases violent crime. In any case, why would hoplophobes give up just because crime drops? (Keyword: Irrational).
And regardless of how successful gun safety programs are at making child shooting accidents rare, they can never be eliminated entirely, short of total civilian gun confiscation or storage laws so Draconian as to yield total civilian defenselessness. One way or another, the nightly news will have its parade of gun control vampires, publicly feeding on the blood of their victims.
The theory also neglects to consider that a police state, once built, cannot be expected to behave and go away when no longer needed. Such an expectation would be as absurd as the notion that Marx’s state would “wither away”. Like any bureaucracy or organism, it will seek to survive and grow, and it will do so at the expense of citizen self-defense, which it will treat as a threat. Once critical mass is reached, it will run its course.
Carry vs. Carry, Citizen vs. Subject
The 2nd Amendment community’s contribution to crime reduction should be citizen self-defense, and only citizen self-defense. Studies and common sense back us up. It’s what much of the public expects and wants to hear from us. So why not give it to them, relentlessly? Instead, we hide from our own issue; support Draconian punishment for ignoring unconstitutional carry laws; endorse victim defenselessness in schools, restaurants, etc.; and fight Vermont-style carry.
In Vermont, good citizens are effectively presumed to have a self-defense carry “permit.” That “permit” is known as the 2nd Amendment. No need to importune the government; make “campaign contributions”; become a curtseying, brown-nosing toady; have the right friends, relatives, and connections; “be someone” whose life is worth saving; be presumed a criminal; submit to fingerprinting, mug shots, background checks, registration, and other invasions of privacy and dignity; pay fees; jump minimum training hurdles; or even fill out an application, all of which deter decent citizens – but not criminals, of course – from carrying in other states.
While the rest of America regresses to British-style government supremacy, Vermont in this crucial respect is still part of the American ideal, and its residents are citizens, not subjects: If they feel like it, they simply carry. Not surprisingly then, Vermont boasted the second lowest violent crime rate in America according to 1997 FBI statistics (See Why Adopt a Vermont-style CCW Law? by GOA, April 1999). But rather than welcome Vermont Carry as a model, the “Winning” Team treats it as a contagious disease that must be quarantined at all costs, and threatens to punish pro-gun legislators who support it in other states. (See Gun Control, NRA-style by Vin Suprynowicz, May 97).
In Virginia, rather than hold out for a decent law, NRA signed off on prohibiting carry in any restaurant where liquor is served, even though in over 100 years of prior CCW laws there had never been a single improper incident in such a dining establishment. The Restaurant Ban left many Virginians worse off than before ILA’s “help”. For 5 years the grassroots Virginia Citizens Defense League has struggled to repeal it. Highly-effective for its size, VCDL repeatedly came close and would’ve succeeded had NRA not obstructed its efforts.
Interestingly, the award for highest violent crime rate of 1997 went to Florida, NRA’s model “shall-issue” state.
Meanwhile, instructors for the much-vaunted “Refuse to be a Victim” program are prohibited from recommending or even talking about self-defense gun training, let alone providing it. If there was a Darwin award for political bait & switch schemes, “Refuse” would surely win it.
Police State, U.S.A.
All this appeasement plays into the hands of the victim disarmers: Setting ourselves up by building the institutional means and demand for our own oppression; implicitly supporting the notion that the police can and should be our primary protectors. I hate violent crime as much as anyone; I’ve been subjected to it. But 40 years ago we didn’t need a prison on every corner. We should ask why. If we were to greatly expand strong CCW as opposed to weak Virginia-style carry, then why would we need a police state? Helping to build up the police state diverts energy, resources, money, focus, creativity, concentration, and commitment from what should be the core struggle – to regain true citizenship and citizen self-defense. Besides, the Feds were far too powerful before Exile.
The answer is not gutting the Bill of Rights; it’s strong CCW and respecting the Bill of Rights. By and large, the gun rights community strongly supports “the police.” But must we worship every ill-conceived or ill-intended policy whim of law enforcement leaders? Apparently so.
Ever since the “drug war”, gun control, and other factors began ratcheting up violent crime, the so-called “small-government conservatives”, concerned about the revolving-door justice often given to some of the most vicious criminals imaginable (outside of governments anyway), increasingly backed policies consistent with a subliminal notion that the police and the prison system were somehow not part of the government at all, and thus posed no potential threat to liberty. The same outlook increasingly applied to the military as well, but that’s another story.
Meanwhile, “big-government liberals” were increasingly associated with being wary of police abuse and draconian sentencing for victimless crimes. But a decade or so ago, tired of the soft-on-crime label costing them elections, they seemed to come to a kind of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” decision, as if they realized, “you know, the police are part of the government, and we like government, so why get beat up on the crime issue? Besides, we’re going to need police to enforce our agenda” (and perhaps the military too). Thus, two seemingly rudderless political ships managed to pass each other in the night and still anchor in the same policy harbor – hire more law enforcement.
The Police Industrial Complex?
The rapidly-grown standing army of professional law enforcement is now part of the select militia problem about which the Constitution’s Framers worried, and it will naturally see self-defense as competition.
Worse, this unofficial army is now commingling with the official one. A recent Cato Institute paper, “Warrior Cops – The Ominous Growth of Paramilitarism…” observes, “[For] 20 years Congress has encouraged the…military to supply intelligence, equipment, and training to civilian police…spawn[ing] a culture of paramilitarism…[N]early 90% of…cities…over 50,000 had paramilitary units…with M-16s, armored personnel carriers, and grenade launchers[,]…exercises with…Army Rangers and Navy SEALs[,]…behavior and outlook…not appropriate for…police officer[s who]…confront not an “enemy” but individuals…protected by the Bill of Rights…”
Could the “Military Industrial Complex” have a new market to keep cash flowing in the post-cold war age? From a 1999 CAIB article “The Militarization of the Police“: “The program…[is called], ‘Technology Transfer From Defense: Concealed Weapons Detection.’…Speaking to…the defense, intelligence, and industrial communities in Nov.1993,…Janet Reno challenge[d them]…’to turn your skills that served us so well in the Cold War to…the war…in the streets’…[T]echnology include[s] ‘…unobtrusive scanners to avoid “4th Amendment limitations’[,]… ‘virtual reality training, simulation, and mission planning…’ ” (Thanks to “Waco” producer Dan Gifford for this citation).
Is it any wonder Colt’s or Smith & Wesson would “go with the money” – supporting gun control and abandoning the civilian market, and in so doing curry favor with government buyers?
The Prison Industrial Complex
The police state’s tents are made of concrete, barbed wire, careers, and contracts – not easily folded. The Prison Industry spent millions enacting 3-Strikes and prison-building laws, and voters bought the same bill of goods we’re buying on Exile – that it only affects real criminals.
Feeding a monster may keep it from eating us, for a while. But as it grows, so does its appetite, until nothing’s left but us. Millions of jobs and billions in profits are at stake. As real crime drops, new “criminals” will be created to arrest and to keep the industry “staffed” in more ways than one. Anyone notice that big business is “hiring” inmates? Victimless criminals make the best slave laborers, and gun owners are a huge untapped pool.
“I was only following orders”
As a life member of the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, I have friends in law enforcement who honor the Constitution and see citizen self-defense as a blessing. But many don’t these days, especially leadership, so being pro-gun is not the best career move. How many Cops with years invested and families to support will stand up like former San Jose Policeman Leroy Pyle, who was constructively terminated merely for speaking his mind? Not many. After all, Pyle was hardly a typical cop. He was LEAA’s first Executive Director, and as founder of the Paul Revere Network he helped get the gun rights community “connected” before anyone heard of the web.
If history is any guide, then reluctantly or not, most Cops will “just follow orders” and oppress the people – especially when NRA gives them a wink and a nod. Even now, how many Cops will let decent citizens go after discovering that they’re carrying “illegally”?
“It can’t happen here”
Facing cognitive dissonance, peer pressure, and job pressure, many Cops will “turn” and press themselves into the new mold. Many, perhaps most, already have: Every time an officer arrests a decent citizen for carrying concealed, another political prisoner is created – one more civil rights violation committed, one more crime against the Constitution, one more oath dishonored, one more desecration of our heritage.
It is happening here, and it has been for some time.
We need to decide: Are we a citizen self-defense civil rights movement, or a special interest lobby for professional law enforcement and prison industry expansion? There are dangerous conflicts of interest inherent in trying to be both.
Reasonable, or Treasonable?
Will we make the right choice? Doubtful. The “Winning” Team’s sweetheart PR and direct mail firms spend millions each year turning their “ankle-grabbing Chamberlains” – as activist James Gugino dubbed them – into celebrities that members not only trust, but in many cases worship.
Like a sterile bee queen attracting worker bees to a doomed hive, LaPierre talks tough in the fundraising letters and “don’t let it happen to you” infomercials, then turns around and sells us out on the Hill. Most members have no idea what’s being done to them and wouldn’t believe it if you told them. No wonder he was so quick to grovel over the “jack booted thugs” quote even though it was so richly deserved. Just another fundraising letter telling the restless natives what we want to hear, so why not reassure the folks he really represents?
Anti-appeasement groups like Gun Owners of America, the Lawyers Second Amendment Society, Citizens of America, the Pennsylvania Sportsmen’s Association, Keep And Bear Arms.org/.com, People’s Rights Organization, and many others are picking up support in light of the “Winning” Team’s betrayals, but will they grow fast enough?
Millions naturally look to NRA for policy guidance. As NRA’s “Winning” Team Quislings demonize certain gun owners, pass laws we must break, hire Gestapo to arrest us, and build Gulags to hold us, the gun-owning “herd of independent minds” will slowly but steadily come to embrace those positions. What was once treasonable, gradually becomes reasonable.
Though most cannot or will not see it, the “Winning” Team’s insidious redefinition of what it means to be “pro-gun” is the biggest threat faced by the gun rights community. No Clinton, no Schumer, no Brady, no Feinstein could ever directly achieve it. Such subversion can only come from within. We’re oppressed by “the tyranny of the obvious,” and we’ll be lucky to overcome it.
National Rifle Control, Inc.
How confident is the “Winning” Team’s Vichy-style Junta in the celebrity-worshipping gullibility of NRA members? On March 6, Wayne LaPierre had a press conference with Handgun Control Inc.’s Jim Brady and other prominent victim disarmers to launch Colorado Project Exile.
Fortunately, after enduring the queer spectacle of LaPierre and Brady repeatedly giving each other applause, some activists weren’t buying. Mark Call of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners’ “Tyranny Response Team” gave LaPierre a good needling in the Q&A: “I missed the phone number to turn in your neighbor. Is it 1-800-Gestapo, or 1-800-Police State?” No doubt thinking him more a curmudgeon than a wag, LaPierre simply ignored the question. Small wonder JPFO’s Aaron Zelman refers to “the NRA-HCI merger“, and David Codrea of GunTruths.com has christened the new group National Rifle Control, Inc.
Is it likely that the “Winning” Team’s “sophisticated” beltway insiders don’t know what they’re really doing? Perhaps. In any case, it doesn’t matter what they really mean by “enforce existing gun laws.” The mindless chant is catching on. They’ve pried open Pandora’s Box, and the focus of what comes out will not be limited to “real” criminals. Project Exile will be used against all citizens who flout gun control, and it will work the way the Victim Disarmers want it to. It is, of course, conceivable that the “Winning” Team merely was not careful what it wished for or how it wished for it. But even so, should folks that clueless be running the NRA?
What about the latest choreographed professional political wrestling match between LaPierre and Clinton? The accusation that “Clinton needs a certain number of killings” is, of course, well deserved. The problem is in the evidence offered to support the claim. LaPierre could hardly attack Clinton over CCW issues when LaPierre himself supports prosecuting teachers who carry for self-defense. Nor did he argue that Clinton won’t prosecute violent crimes. No, his main evidence is – can you guess? – that Clinton won’t enforce existing gun controls. So the ‘head’ of NRA now promotes the idea that gun control works!…(If it’s enforced by a police state, anyway).
The secondary argument is that NRA was eager to give Clinton several new gun controls and help imprison gun owners who violate them, but Clinton killed the deal by insisting on one extra control that LaPierre didn’t want – a 72-hour wait. LaPierre says an “instant” registration check with a 24-hour waiting/victimization period is enough. (See Transcript)
This Beltway Kabuki benefits both LaPierre and Clinton with their respective constituencies, while advancing the Fabian Gun Control agenda. Interesting timing: During an NRA Board election, just when opposition to Exile is taking off and members are burning their cards outside the NRA-HCI Gulag Conference. “Uh-oh! The natives are restless again. Time for another diversion.”
Gun rights activists couldn’t help but enjoy LaPierre’s attack on Clinton. Many of us are so parched with thirst for anything resembling an offensive, that while feverishly enjoying the tasty elixir of Heston calling Clinton (of all people!) a liar, we overlook the poison pill of appeasement at the bottom of the cup. Never mind that the “fight” between NRA and the victim disarmers is no longer over gun control, but over how much and how soon; no longer over abolishing the ATF, but over how many more Agents and Prosecutors to hire. You’ve got to hand it to them. The NRA’s “Winning” Team is Master of the Gun Rights Shell Game, and we seem to be the perfect marks.
My Association, right or wrong
Too many activists have bought the notion that since NRA is so much bigger than the other groups, we must support its leadership regardless of what they do to our rights. That’s a self-fulfilling prophesy at best. It also happens to be the moral equivalent of a Frenchman supporting the Vichy government because the underground was “too small to do anything big”.
The belief that the NRA is the only thing between us and disaster is a myth. If it were not, what’s left of our rights would already have been lost long ago. The lion’s share of gun rights work is done by groups and activists who might be stumped by the “what has your group ever accomplished” question, partly because NRA leaders often jump in, co-opt, and take credit for successful programs or campaigns, even after initially opposing them. We ourselves are the only thing between us and disaster; not NRA leadership.
Loyalty to the Constitution and gun rights does not mean blind loyalty to the NRA, nor does loyalty to the rightful mission of the NRA mean blind loyalty to its leadership.
If we reward the biggest group even though its leaders are disloyal to the Constitution, then all we can be sure of is that the biggest group will always be disloyal to the Constitution. There will be no pressure to reform and replace leadership.
Lack of air time for other groups is a symptom of the problem that NRA is an order of magnitude larger than the rest combined. That would be an imprudent lack of diversification even if the “Winning” Team weren’t selling out. And for obvious reasons the anti-self-defense media prefers bumbling appeasers like LaPierre over the many fine speakers to choose from.
InstaCheck, or InstaReg?
So what happens when they pass gun owner registration (as if we don’t already have it in de facto form via the Gun Control Act of 1968 (which Heston supported), via “shall-issue” permits, and many other laws? Hint: The new motto is, “Fight Gun Control Today, Enforce it Tomorrow.” But if LaPierre is really worried about registration, why do he and James Jay Baker keep pushing InstaCheck – AKA “InstaReg” – instead of viable alternative programs that would enable dealers to check backgrounds without governments knowing who’s buying?
Of course, the government is not supposed to keep records. That would be wrong! But it was wrong when the government murdered Don Scott; shot little Sammy Weaver in the back and sniped his baby-carrying mom; machine-gunned, crushed, gassed, and incinerated men, women & children at a religious retreat; and then whitewashed and covered it up, cheered on by bloodthirsty, news media ratings-whores. Far from punishment, the ‘perps’ enjoyed national approbation. By demonizing the victims, the news media made sure nobody cared that the government destroyed not only the evidence, but evidence that the evidence was destroyed. These same perps are in charge of InstaCheck.
Why does LaPierre’s “Winning” Team keep asking us to trust the government? Do they think the government will tell us it’s illegally keeping lists of gun owners? Do they think the government will prosecute itself if we find out? Do they think the mainstream anti-self-defense press will object if the government illegally keeps lists of gun owners? The same press that whitewashed the government’s massacre at Waco? Do they think the courts will intervene? The same courts that let Lon Horiuchi murder an unarmed mother? The courts that sent the surviving Waco victims to prison? The courts that rubber stamped Don Scott’s asset forfeiture death warrant?
Does LaPierre think murderers will hesitate to keep some records? What are they supposed to be afraid of, the law? Get Real. They are the law.
“Sed quis custodiet ipsos Custodes?”
“But who shall guard the guards?“, asked Juvenal, some two millennia past. Isn’t that why the Framers wanted the People to be the guards? To be primarily responsible for our own defense and the defense of our families and communities, and not to delegate these basic rights and responsibilities? Over the generations since our right to self-defense was paid for in blood, we foolishly ignored Franklin and Washington, trading liberty for an illusion of safety; hiring a dangerous servant and getting a fearful master.
To appease our oppressors and score quickly forgotten public relations points, should we help expand the Police-Prison-Military Industrial Complex, leaders of which will surely come to view the unorganized militia as a political threat, citizen self-defense as an economic threat, and political prisoners as resources? Shouldn’t we be trying to reverse this secular mistake, the incremental quitclaiming of our ultimate power? Shouldn’t we delegate to or share with government only those functions which enhance our ability to defend ourselves, withholding those which supplant it? Shouldn’t we aim to become the guards again?
* For a postscript on the state of the Second Amendment movement as it relates to Project Gulag and the NRA’s “Winning Team,” click here.
What Project Exile REALLY Means
“Armed gangbangers should be afraid of getting caught. But in the past 2 years, the President’s Justice Department has prosecuted only 11 juveniles anywhere in the country for illegal possession of handguns.”
[This could be your 15 boy or girl to whom you have given a .22 revolver to go shoot cans at a rural dump, or to go plinking at the country home of a friend. YOU YOURSELF can be criminally prosecuted for giving him or her the gun. And the "Winning Team" wants you to bePROSECUTED. Remember: ALL OF THESE LAWS apply to YOU, too.]
–Quote above taken From NRA WEBSITE on ad campaign:
“First, we believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns
in America’s schools, period … with the rare exception of law enforcement officers or trained se
[This means no ROTC marksmanship programs at schools. This means that if you have a CCW "permit" from your state, and you have your carry pistol in the trunk of your car, and you drive into a school parking lot, then you're an instant felon. Don't think you'd be prosecuted? Don't bet on it.]
“The National Rifle Association believes in no unsupervised youth access to guns, period. We have a lways supported holding adults responsible for willfully and recklessly allowing access to firearms.”
[This means that even if you leave a gun in a safe place, if your child gains access to it -even by accident, and even if no crime or accident occurs involving the gun-YOU become a felon if a jury decides to convict you. And by the way, so much for Thomas Jefferson's advice about giving young men a firearm to shorten and straighten their path into manhood and responsibility. So much for hundreds of years of American outdoors tradition. The "Winning Team" says "Flush it all down the toilet."]
“So we support mandatory penalties for juvenile criminals caught carrying guns. But out of the thousands of these armed teen thugs, we believe the Clinton Justice Department should have prosecuted more than just 3 in 1997 and 8 in 1998. That’s not zero tolerance.”
[This mean that if your minor child is caught hunting or plinking by himself with a handgun, he BECOMES a felon--and the "Winning Team" wants him PROSECUTED. Remember--ALL OF THESE LAWS apply to YOU and YOUR FAMILY.]
“We believe that a lawful, properly-permitted citizen who chooses to carry a concealed firearm not only deserves that right, but is a deterrent to crime. We support the right to carry because it has helped cut crime rates in all 31 states that have adopted it … with almost no abuse of any kind
by the lawful citizens who took the courses, submitted to the background checks, passed the tests and became part of a proud citizens movement that’s making America a safer place to live. The truth is, very few actually choose to carry a gun — but the bad guys don’t know which few they are.”
["took the courses"? "passed the tests"? So much for the Second Amendment! So much for "shall not be infringed"! So much for the "right" to bear arms! A right that requires taking courses and passing tests is not a right, it is a privilege granted by the government and revocable by the government.]
–Quotes above from Wayne La Pierre on NRA website, at:
“But the baseline ought to be, if you catch a felon with a gun, a felon trying to buy a gun, a violent juvenile, a violent gang member with a gun, they ought to be prosecuted.”
[The “Winning Team” wants these unconstitutional laws enforced -- but ALL OF THESE LAWS apply to YOU, too.]
“Some of these are being prosecuted at the local level. But the truth is, and the criminals know it, if they are, they get a slap on wrist not a long jail sentence. If you’re prosecuted at the federal level, you serve 85 percent of your sentence, not a fourth of your sentence or a fifth of your sentence like at the state level.”
[The “Winning Team” wants these unconstitutional laws enforced – but ALL OF THESE LAWS apply to YOU, too.]
“The federal level you have speedy trials. They have the ability to deny bail. They also eliminate judge shopping and that’s going on all over the country. We ought to also computerize the records of those adjudicated mentally incompetent by a court of law so that they’ll be flagged on the instant check system. We call that the Hinkley loophole, but they ought to computerize them.”
[The “Winning Team” wants these unconstitutional laws enforced – but ALL OF THESE LAWS apply to YOU, too.]
“Has anyone bothered to look at the figures? Of those 4700, 4000 of them are 15- to 19-year-old juveniles. Everything they’re doing is already prohibited and illegal with guns. And they’re not being taken off the streets and they’re not being prosecuted under these existing federal laws.”
[The “Winning Team” wants these unconstitutional laws enforced – but ALL OF THESE LAWS apply to YOU, too.]
“You want to stop those children, as the President calls them, from dying, and we all do. You enforce the federal laws on the books against them to cut at the heart of the culture of violence, you’ll do those juveniles a favor and you’ll do the country a favor.”
“But the truth is a tough criminal justice system with tough, no-nonsense enforcement of the federal laws we have on the books and tough gun prosecution of the federal laws we have on the books will cut to the heart of this culture of violence the President talks about.”
“Prosecute and enforce the Gun-Free School Zones Act will at least give us a chance. You can’t say zero tolerance and not mean it and not prosecute.”
[This means that if you have a CCW “permit” from your state, you have your carry gun in the trunk of your car, and you drive into a school parking lot, you’re an instant felon—and the “Winning Team” wants you PROSECUTED.]
“As I said, it’s OK to raise the penalties on illegal possession of guns by juveniles, but why do only prosecute 11 in the whole country when we’re talking about the gangbangers that are killing people on the streets of this country?”
[Juveniles should be able to own and use firearms as they always have in this country - at their parents’ discretion. The federal government has no business keeping juveniles from owning a handgun or any other gun if his or her parents deem them responsible enough.]
–Quotes above taken from Wayne La Pierre speech found on NRA website at:
“For years the NRA has demanded that Project Exile be deployed nationwide. Makes sense, huh? The laws are already on the books. Just enforce them. But Bill Clinton won’t do it. When he says he’s serious about fighting crime, consider that as a matter of policy — as a matter of policy – the Clinton Administration is not prosecuting violations of federal gun law. In fact, they reversed the Bush Administration’s policy of prosecuting felons with guns. Instead, with plea bargains, a wink and a nod, they’ve been letting armed felons off the hook. From 1992 to 1998, prosecutions have been cut almost in half.”
“Everyone remembers all the press support for his “desperately needed” semi-auto gun ban — that outlawed guns based solely on their appearance. But nobody is reporting that, out of thousands of certain offenders, the Clinton Administration prosecuted four people in 1997 and four in 1998.
[Read that again—the “Winning Team” is complaining that only FOUR of your fellow citizens were prosecuted for buying, selling, or some other act related to possession of these perfectly constitutional militia rifles. Are you in violation of the unconstitutional ’94 Crime Bill, which we all fought so hard to prevent being passed? Then the “Winning Team” wants you PROSECUTED.]
“It’s surreal. Mr. Clinton stands in the Rose Garden with his ten prop cops, lip-biting in pained support of some new law. The press does its best to get it passed. It becomes law. Then everybody forgets about it. And Americans buy it over and over and over again.
Maybe you think a politician’s lies can’t hurt you. But let me tell you, armed felons can. Passing laws is what keeps politicians’ careers alive. Enforcing laws is what keeps you alive. But nobody’s getting arrested, nobody’s going to jail, it’s all a giant scam.”
[Read that again—the “Winning Team” doesn’t want these unconstitutional laws to be forgotten. It wants people arrested and sent to jail. It wants these unconstitutional laws enforced – but ALL OF THESE LAWS apply to YOU, too.]
–Quotes above taken from Charlton Heston’s TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES Yale speech, from NRA website at: http://www.nrahq.org/transcripts/yale.shtml
By David M. Bresnahan
© 2000 WorldNetDaily.com
A coalition of gun-rights organizations is attacking the National Rifle Association over the NRA’s support of a program that attempts to hold the line on new gun control legislation by calling for strict enforcement of existing laws.
Citizens of America already has the support of many national pro-gun organizations who have agreed to a declaration of opposition for the NRA’s Project Exile.
The NRA, long critical of the Clinton administration for its failure to enforce existing gun laws and constantly battling efforts by gun-control advocates to pass newer and ever-more-restrictive gun laws, has endorsed the adoption of “Project Exile” — which would require strict, mandatory enforcement of existing laws.
The problem, according to the coalition of gun-rights groups, is that many of the existing laws whose enforcement is promoted by Project Exile are themselves unconstitutional and should never have been passed.
Gun-rights activist Brian Puckett decided to challenge the policy of the NRA by forming the coalition and writing the statement to which member organizations have agreed. The statement calls for the NRA to drop its support of Project Exile and asserts that NRA leaders are actually helping gun-control advocates.
National organizations that have joined the coalition and approved the statement include:
- Larry Pratt, executive director, Gun Owners of America
- Aaron Zelman, executive director, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership
- Steve Silver, president, Lawyers Second Amendment Society
- Nancy Herrington, executive vice president, Women Against Gun Control
- Russ Howard, executive director, Citizens Against Corruption
- Leroy Pyle, president, Paul Revere Network; executive director, Law Enforcement Alliance of America
The statement was also agreed to by many state and local gun-rights organizations and Puckett says others are being asked to come onboard. The statement and a full list of supporters is displayed on the organization’s website, while a separate website was created for members of the general public who want to add their name to the list.
Puckett believes many gun owners give automatic support to the NRA’s positions without taking the time to educate themselves on the issues. In an effort to inform gun owners, Puckett formed a coalition of gun rights groups and leaders when he created Citizens of America. He describes his supporters as “true pro-Constitution, pro-Second Amendment people and organizations.”
Speaking for himself, and not necessarily representing the views of the coalition of gun groups opposing Project Exile, Puckett told WND:
The NRA is a great and powerful tool for upholding the Bill of Rights and it must be directed by men and women with a clear vision of these rights. One should never confuse the NRA or its members with the current leadership, the so-called ‘winning team,’ which has presided over the most profound and far-reaching losses of our Second Amendment Rights since the 1968 Gun Control Act. The ‘winning team’s attacks on the enemies of the Bill of Rights have been timid, misdirected, and ineffectual. And now we have their Project Exile — a complete reversal of position on unconstitutional gun laws. It is an utter betrayal of NRA membership and the organization’s proud heritage.
NRA president Charlton Heston spoke about the controversial initiative in a recent speech.
“For years the NRA has demanded that Project Exile be deployed nationwide. Makes sense, huh? The laws are already on the books. Just enforce them. But Bill Clinton won’t do it,” said Heston in a speech at Yale.
Puckett and his coalition of supporters believe Heston and other NRA leaders are advocating the support of laws that should not be on the books at all. The NRA claims it is all just a matter of strategy. It doesn’t want any more laws enacted and has adopted what it considers an undeniably logical position — require the government to enforce existing laws before making new ones.
Indeed, Heston blames Clinton for enacting laws simply for political gain without any effort to enforce them once they are established.
“Everyone remembers all the press support for his ‘desperately needed’ semi-auto gun ban that outlawed guns based solely on their appearance. But nobody is reporting that out of thousands of certain offenders, the Clinton administration prosecuted four people in 1997 and four in 1998,” said Heston.
“It’s surreal. Mr. Clinton stands in the Rose Garden with his 10 prop-cops, lip-biting in pained support of some new law. The press does its best to get it passed. It becomes law. Then everybody forgets about it. And Americans buy it over and over and over again,” said Heston.
“Maybe you think a politician’s lies can’t hurt you. But let me tell you, armed felons can. Passing laws is what keeps politicians’ careers alive. Enforcing laws is what keeps you alive. But nobody’s getting arrested, nobody’s going to jail, it’s all a giant scam,” said the NRA president.
Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America and one of Puckett’s biggest supporters, told WorldNetDaily it’s wrong to enforce laws that should not have been passed. He went so far as to claim that “most if not all existing gun laws are unconstitutional.”
“American firearm owners and supporters of the Bill of Rights have invested countless millions of dollars and man-hours to prevent these same laws from ever being passed. Clear-thinking Americans continue to work tirelessly to repeal them,” said Puckett (in his statement signed by Pratt and the other gun rights supporters).
The coalition was also critical of federal law enforcement agencies and the use of technical violations of the law to harass innocent people.
“There is no connection between supporting the Bill of Rights and supporting federal laws that are un-American. Moreover, the agencies that enforce such laws slaughtered over 80 people in Waco, shot to death a young boy and his mother at Ruby Ridge and continually commit brutal acts against citizens under the guise of ‘gun control.’ The ‘legal’ excuse behind the Waco massacre was the unproved suspicion of ‘illegal’ machine-gun possession. The ‘legal’ excuse behind the Ruby Ridge killings was a shotgun that may have been a quarter inch too short. Both are examples of ‘zero tolerance,’” said the group in its statement.
The NRA has spoken out strongly in support of the enforcement of federal laws regarding the illegal possession of firearms by juveniles.
“Armed gangbangers should be afraid of getting caught. But, in the past two years, the President’s Justice Department has prosecuted only 11 juveniles anywhere in the country for illegal possession of handguns,” said LaPierre in a recent speech. But, according to Puckett and his group of supporters, despite LaPierre’s good intentions there will be many problems for innocent gun owners if laws are strictly enforced.
“This could be your 15-year-old boy to whom you have given a .22 revolver to go shoot cans at a rural dump or out at the country home of a friend. You, yourself, can be criminally prosecuted for giving him the gun,” explained Puckett about his concern of enforcement of existing laws.
The NRA does not want any minors to possess a firearm of any kind unless supervised by an adult at all times. LaPierre said adults must be held accountable for minors who gain access to firearms.
“So we support mandatory penalties for juvenile criminals caught carrying guns. But out of the thousands of these armed, teen thugs, we believe the Clinton Justice Department should have prosecuted more than just 3 in 1997 and 8 in 1998. That’s not zero tolerance,” said LaPierre.
Puckett said such a policy will make a young boy a felon if he is left alone with a rifle while out hunting with his father and the father will also become a criminal.
Most states require a concealed carry permit for those who wish to have a firearm with them in public. This is another area where the NRA and the coalition differ in opinion.
“We believe that a lawful, properly-permitted citizen who chooses to carry a concealed firearm not only deserves that right but is a deterrent to crime. We support the right to carry because it has helped cut crime rates in all 31 states that have adopted it … with almost no abuse of any kind by the lawful citizens who took the courses, submitted to the background checks, passed the tests and became part of a proud citizens movement that’s making America a safer place to live. The truth is, very few actually choose to carry a gun — but the bad guys don’t know which few they are,” explained LaPierre.
“So much for the Second Amendment. A right that requires getting a permit to exercise isn’t a right, its a privilege granted by the government and revocable by the government,” criticized Puckett.
The group has also called for the repeal of “all laws which infringe upon the right of Americans to freely carry arms in defense of self, family, and country.”
David M. Bresnahan is an investigative journalist for WorldNetDaily.com
Saturday, October 21, 2000
A push by state and local authorities to steer more cases involving gun violations by convicted felons to federal court is understandable but troublesome.
Project Exile, which was formally kicked off in Kent County 10 days ago, encourages local and state authorities to funnel certain gun cases — those involving drug dealers and violent felons — to federal officials for prosecution to obtain stiffer prison sentences. While the intent is good — getting violent offenders off the streets for a long time — the problems targeted are undeniably local and should be handled at the local level.
Project Exile is a substantial federal incursion into the state’s area of authority and responsibility. The fact that state and local law enforcement officials invited the incursion makes it no more acceptable.
Local and state gun violations should be handled at the appropriate state and local levels, not farmed out to federal courts to get harsher sentences.
If state laws need to be changed to impose longer prison sentences for gun violations, law enforcement officials should work to get the laws changed instead of abdicating control to the federal government.
Under Michigan’s sentencing rules, it’s common for someone with a felony conviction to spend only a few years in state prison if caught with a gun. However, someone convicted under federal guidelines is looking at five years or more in a federal prison.
Michigan Attorney General Jennifer Granholm, Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth, Grand Rapids Police Chief Harry Dolan and Grand Rapids Mayor John Logie made appeals to federal officials to bring Project Exile to Kent County. They should lead the charge to toughen Michigan’s gun violation laws to regain control of an issue that inherently belongs at the state and local level.
In Richmond, Va., where Project Exile began in 1997, the legislature has changed the state’s gun laws to make them comparable to federal statutes. Michigan should chart a similar course.
While the program has been used with great success in Richmond — 450 people have been convicted of federal gun violations since 1997 resulting in average sentences of five years — Project Exile also has its critics.
Civil libertarians say the penalties have fallen hardest on minority suspects. Defense lawyers and federal judges also have criticized the program. Federal judges in Richmond say the onslaught of cases has turned their courtrooms into “police courts.”
The desire to make the community safe from gun-toting felons is a top priority, but clogging the federal court system with cases better suited for state and local courts is not the way to do it. Passing state laws that mete out the appropriate justice is the best answer.