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DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS


By Larry Pratt

April 18, 2006 
NewsWithViews.com

Anti-gunners, as with socialists in general, are very adept at taking only as much of our freedom and hard-earned money as they think they can get away with. If they find that they have overstepped, they will back off as much as is needed. When the coast is clear, and nobody is watching, they come back for what they had to leave on the table -- plus a little bit more.

The Left has typically been willing to play political hard ball and they are willing to confront their opponents with the attitude that “What is mine is mine, and what is yours is negotiable.” Many gun owners, and conservatives generally, fail to admit that this is happening, and as a result, prefer to give in rather than be the target of the wild charges leftists make whenever someone disagrees with them.

As the founder and chairman of Gun Owners of America put it in his book, Confrontational Politics, "It takes Leftist Democrat legislators and confrontationally inadequate Republicans to pass socialist programs." (p.87)

This process has been quietly underway in the last several years in spite of Republican control of the Congress and Presidency. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee chairman, Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), rammed through the Congress a renewal of a ban on (plastic) guns that do not exist. He was eager to work with Senator Kennedy in the Senate so it could be said that Democrats are not the only ones who ban guns. Sensenbrenner was so eager,that he did not even negotiate a quid pro quo. The Democrats won it all on this one; the Republicans got nothing.

On another occasion, Senate Republicans agreed to the proposition that people should have their guns unavailable for self defense. That is what they did when they agreed to force retail dealers to include a gun lock of some kind with each handgun they sell. This was embedded in a bill that hopefully will stop predatory lawsuits from being brought against the firearms industry for actions committed by criminals. The House could have told the Senate that their identical bill -- without the "lock up your safety" provision ­- should be voted on by the Senators, but instead, the House capitulated to the anti-gun demands of the Senate.

The latest contribution to chipping away at the right of the people to keep and bear arms is under way in Executive Department.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) is running out of control in a fashion not seen since the 1970’s. One example was their effort to jail a gun collector on a charge that he had illegally converted his rifle to a machine gun. It turned out that the BATFE "expert" had not even looked inside the gun. Had he done so, he might have seen that one of the old parts in the gun was deteriorating and causing the multiple firing. Defects are not illegal under federal law. (By the way, the "expert" was probably a few shots from having the gun blow up in his hands and kill or maim him.)

Other bureaucratic redefinitions of the right to keep and bear arms is under way at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). From the very beginning of its lamentable existence, the DHS has never had a moment’s thought for involving the people in homeland security, even though the Constitution clearly provides for the militia to be used for that purpose (Article I Section 8). They have preferred to concentrate police power in Washington in the hands of government employees, not average citizens.

It has been the DHS that has steadfastly thrown up as many obstacles as possible to keep pilots from being armed. As a result, only a small percentage of the 100,000 or so airline pilots have bothered to jump the high hurdles for obtaining a license to carry a gun in their cockpits. Congress has twice passed legislation directing the bureaucrats to arm the pilots, but their "vicious compliance" has almost completely thwarted Congress' will. It should be added that the Congress has done little to hold the bureaucrats accountable, so it is business as usual.

Lately a new affront to the Second Amendment’s protection of the right of the people to keep and bear arms has been under way in the DHS. The Founders of our republic clearly viewed rights, including the Second Amendment, as universal rights which are inherent in all men. The Declaration of Independence even says that all men are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."

It would be too lengthy to do so here, but an excellent collection of the Founders' statements on the universality of the rights, and the right to keep and bear arms in particular, can be found in a friend of the court brief by Michele L. Lombardo, et. al. (available at Click Here).

The clear intent of the Constitution hasn’t bothered the folks at DHS any more than has the law telling them to send the pilots packing, so to speak. They seem to have taken a liking to an idea popular at the UN instead. The UN has been attempting to impose a gun control treaty on the US. It would require registration of all guns, and the stated intention of the promoters of this treaty, on the record, is to keep guns out of all private hands (or "non-state actors" in UN-speak).

That means that if your government is trying to wipe you and the rest of your minority group out (for example, 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda), it is wrong for you to take up arms because you are not the government.

The application of this amazing view at the Department of Homeland Security is to deny refugee status to minority groups in Burma who have been targeted for genocide. The immediate problem concerns 9,800 Karen refugees whose main crime, other than not being ethnic Burmese, is that many of them are Christians. To keep from being exterminated, some of them have taken up arms (as a "non-state actor!").

The Department of State has given a green light to allowing the Karen refugees asylum status in the United States. The DHS refuses to issue a waiver (which is necessary under our PATRIOT and REAL ID Acts). The DHS anti-gunners are holding to the UN view of the "right of the government to keep and bear arms" rather than the Founders view that "all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."

Now that the Karen freedom fighters have actually been designated a terrorist organization by the DHS, which means "the US government" to foreign governments, the neighboring rulers of Thailand are getting ready to scoop up these unwanted minorities (they are not Thai either) and throw them into Burma from the refugee camps along the border areas they have inhabited for some time.

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If that happens, and when the Karen run out of their limited supplies of ammunition, the genocide will begin. All of which could be prevented if the folks at DHS were told by the President (their boss) to issue the waiver, declassify the Karen as terrorists, and let these freedom fighters enter the US. Other countries would also be willing (and have been willing) to admit Karen refugees, but this is coming to an end if the US continues to label these victims of oppression as terrorists.

Let’s hope that the Department of Homeland Security’s definition of self defense as terrorism will be changed -- and quickly.

© 2006 Larry Pratt - All Rights Reserved

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Larry Pratt has been Executive Director of Gun Owners of America for 27 years. GOA is a national membership organization of 300,000 Americans dedicated to promoting their second amendment freedom to keep and bear arms.

GOA lobbies for the pro-gun position in Washington and is involved in firearm issues in the states. GOA's work includes providing legal assistance to those involved in lawsuits with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the federal firearms law enforcement agency.

Pratt has appeared on numerous national radio and TV programs such as NBC's Today Show, CBS' Good Morning America, CNN's Crossfire and Larry King Live, Fox's Hannity & Colmes, MSNBC's Phil Donahue show and many others. He has debated Congressmen James Traficant, Jr. (D-OH), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Vice President Al Gore, among others. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country.

He published a book, Armed People Victorious, in 1990 and was editor of a book, Safeguarding Liberty: The Constitution & Militias, 1995. His latest book, On the Firing Line: Essays in the Defense of Liberty was published in 2001.

Pratt has held elective office in the state legislature of Virginia, serving in the House of Delegates. Pratt directs a number of other public interest organizations and serves as the Vice-Chairman of the American Institute for Cancer Research.

The GOA web site is:  gunowners.org. Pratt's weekly talk show Live Fire is archived there at: www.gunowners.org/radio.htm  

E-Mail: ldpratt@gunowners.org

Either Pratt or another GOA spokesman is available for press interviews.


 

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The Left has typically been willing to play political hard ball and they are willing to confront their opponents with the attitude that “What is mine is mine, and what is yours is negotiable.”