Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lock em up!

My morning edition of the Portland Oregonian metro section had coverage of another drive-by shooting yesterday in our fair city. Nothing remarkable about that, alas. But the article is worth a close read:

"A car pulled over for speeding and squealing tires on a North Portland street Tuesday night turned out to have been involved in a drive-by shooting moments before . . . Two handguns were recovered from the backseat floorboard; one was reported stolen from Vancouver . . . At least three cars were involved in what police described as a gang-related "running gun battle" with nearly a dozen shots fired between the vehicles in the 8000 and 9000 blocks of North St. Louis . . . Remarkably, police said, no one was hit. "

The only good news about this would be the inference that gang-bangers don't have many opportunities to practice firing their stolen guns, and hence have less than perfect aim (though I won't claim I'd do better firing blindly from a speeding Chrysler Sebring.)

But the bad news is that break-ins and other thefts continue to provide criminals with guns. Here's another quote from the article:

"All guns on the street are stolen," [alleged shooting suspect Gary Lonell] Black told police, the affidavit says."

So there you have it from the horse's mouth--not the NRA, not the GOA, not the OFF--but from a shooting suspect himself: "All guns on the street are stolen." Please note that Mr. Black did NOT say that guns are flooding the streets because of any "gun show loophole."

The take-home message here is clear. As firearms owners it is our responsibility to keep our guns out of the hands of criminals. I do not support laws that mandate keeping your guns under lock and key, even when you're not home. When you are home, whether you lock up your guns or keep them "at the ready" is a personal decision you have to make by balancing your need for security from intruders with your own housing and family situation, (i.e. young children + loaded guns in bedside tables = bad idea.)

But when you aren't home it's only common sense that an unsecured gun isn't going to do you any good. You're only leaving it around for a burglar to find and then sell to someone like Mr. Black. And by doing so you help perpetuate gun crime and the anti-gun crusaders.

Do us all a favor: when you're not around, lock them up. If you can afford guns, you can afford a gun safe. If you can't afford a safe and only have a single firearm for protection; then I recommend you get a concealed carry permit and take it with you when you're not at home. Again, what you do depends on your own situation, but an once of prevention can hold off a lot of anti-gun extremists thinking more legislation is the "cure."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Montana Sec. of State Declares the 2nd Amendment is a Contract with the States

In an interesting development regarding the pending U.S. Supreme Court Case of DC v. Heller, the Secretary of State of Montana has effectively threatened succession if the court sides with the District of Columbia in declaring the 2nd Amendment to be only a collective rather than an individual right:

Montana Secretary of State Brad Johnson declares, "urged the Supreme Court to uphold an individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment, rather than a collective interpretation, as best in keeping with Montana’s Compact with the United States."

This isn't a conspiracy or exaggeration--the statement is found on the Montana SOS's home page.


Here's the complete text of the letter:

Second Amendment as individual right:

"The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide D.C. v. Heller, the first case in more than 60 years in which the court will confront the meaning of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Although Heller is about the constitutionality of the D.C. handgun ban, the court's decision will have an impact far beyond the District ("Promises breached," Op-Ed, Thursday).

The court must decide in Heller whether the Second Amendment secures a right for individuals to keep and bear arms or merely grants states the power to arm their militias, the National Guard. This latter view is called the "collective rights" theory.

A collective rights decision by the court would violate the contract by which Montana entered into statehood, called the Compact With the United States and archived at Article I of the Montana Constitution. When Montana and the United States entered into this bilateral contract in 1889, the U.S. approved the right to bear arms in the Montana Constitution, guaranteeing the right of "any person" to bear arms, clearly an individual right.

There was no assertion in 1889 that the Second Amendment was susceptible to a collective rights interpretation, and the parties to the contract understood the Second Amendment to be consistent with the declared Montana constitutional right of "any person" to bear arms.

As a bedrock principle of law, a contract must be honored so as to give effect to the intent of the contracting parties. A collective rights decision by the court in Heller would invoke an era of unilaterally revisable contracts by violating the statehood contract between the United States and Montana, and many other states.

Numerous Montana lawmakers have concurred in a resolution raising this contract-violation issue. It's posted at progunleaders.org. The United States would do well to keep its contractual promise to the states that the Second Amendment secures an individual right now as it did upon execution of the statehood contract.

BRAD JOHNSON
Montana secretary of state
Helena, Mont."


Once more it is worth noting that the Democratic Party of Oregon has already declared that the 2nd Amendment is an INDIVIDUAL right.

Stay tuned and get your passport ready for that trip to Glacier Park.

Friday, February 08, 2008

DeFazio Joins Bipartisan Majority Opposed to D.C. Gun Ban

God bless America and Oregon Democratic Representative Peter DeFazio--we've got a show of some sanity and courage from Congress, which is weighing in on the District of Columbia vs. Heller case, which is scheduled for arguments on March 18.

Peter DeFazio joined a bipartisan majority of both houses of Congress that filed an Amicus Brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn the blatantly unconstitutional D.C. gun ban:

As reported in today's Washington Post:

"Majority of Hill Stands Against D.C. Gun Ban"

"A majority of the Senate and more than half of the members of the House will file a brief today urging the Supreme Court to uphold a ruling that the District's handgun ban violates the Second Amendment. . . Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.), who led the effort to file the friend-of-the-court brief, said her staff could not find another instance in which such a large portion of Congress had taken a position on an issue before the court . . . Hutchison and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who spoke at a Heritage Foundation said the court could find D.C.'s law unconstitutional without another trip through the courts and without endangering Congress's ability to pass other gun control legislation, such as banning assault weapons."

Way to go Tester! This proves the importance of the U.S. Senate races in 2008 and the need for us to back our pro-2nd Amendment Democratic candidates for Congress.

I should also note (as mentioned in the article) that the Bush administration is SUPPORTING THE DISTRICT in its effort to maintain bans on personal or individual ownership of firearms (another reason Bush sucks, as if we needed one.)

Here's a portion of the Amicus Brief worth highlighting:

"IV. A HANDGUN BAN IS UNREASONABLE ON ITS FACE, RENDERING A REMAND FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS UNNECESSARY

Congress has historically viewed the Second Amendment as protecting from infringement the right of the people at large to keep and bear arms. It has further regarded ordinary, commonly-possessed rifles, handguns, and shotguns to be constitutionally protected arms. It has also passed regulations for engaging in firearms businesses and to require background checks on firearm transferees, and has restricted certain dangerous categories of persons from possession of firearms.99 None of these laws is called into question by the lower court’s limited holding.

The standard for whether a right is “fundamental” is whether it is “explicitly or implicitly protected by the Constitution, thereby requiring strict judicial scrutiny.” San Antonio Independent School Dist. v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1, 17 (1973). The right of the people to keep arms is obviously such a right. Yet even if this Court applied a lower “reasonableness” test
as the standard of review, the District’s handgun ban is unreasonable on its face. The lower court’s categorical approach in holding a prohibition on handguns to be unconstitutional per se was correct."

There it is; hard to be any clearer than that. Let's hope SCOTUS sees the light.

Here's the list of members of the House and Senate cosigning the amicus brief. Remember to send Peter DeFazio your warmest regards and contributions!

-Z.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Gun Owners Caucus Meeting in The Dalles Oregon

Greetings Gun Owners!

The Gun Owners Caucus of the Democratic Party of Oregon will be holding our quarterly meeting February 9th in The Dalles, Oregon in conjunction with the ongoing DPO State Central Committee that same weekend.

To accommodate conflicts with other caucus meetings, we'll hold our caucus meeting near the others at The Dalles Middle School at 2:30 where the State Central Committee meeting is to be held. Andrea Cooper has got us a room and folks can feel free to bop back and forth to other caucuses in which our members are heavily involved (Rural, GLBT, Faith, and Motorcyclists to name a few.)

For those who are interested, there are shooting ranges in The Dalles so there will probably be opportunities for an informal shoot sometime over the weekend. It's a pretty short agenda for the meeting:

AGENDA:
1) Statement of purpose
2) Volunteers for the state DPO Platfrom convention April 11-13. We hope to have a booth--let me know if you can staff it for an hour or two over that weekend. This is a prime advertising and statement recruiting event.
3) Pro-2nd Amendment statement by Oregon Senatorial candidate (by proxy, not in person, alas, but still very good news)
4) Gun Owners Caucus phone banking in the general election (post-primary)
5) Open forum

Please send me other topics of discussion, and remember to represent.