Thursday, December 31, 2009

More Lies from Mayors Against Illegal Guns

A recent Freedom of Information Act request by a California attorney (Eric Flagel, with Michel & Associates; Long Beach ) has obtained the Mayors Against Illegal Guns "Blueprint for Federal Action" via the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. In reading the document (forwarded by our good friends at Amendment II Democrats), I don't think there's any illusion left, if there ever was, that the MAIG agenda has any intention other than to completely disenfranchise Americans from their 2nd Amendment rights.

Politically, the most ominous & disturbing recommendation in the report is "Recommendation #38" (pg 34) that calls for an executive order to create a ban on the import of all "non-sporting purposes" firearms. Throughout the document, MAIG pretends such an order would merely enforce existing law, though clearly that is not the case. Hopefully President Obama will live up to his campaign promises not to take away firearms as MAIG brings increasing pressure to bear on him. (Letters from pro-2nd Amendment Democrats would be especially helpful now!)

I don't know where the fanaticism and extremism of MAIG's position stems from, but it's worth reviewing the document, which makes it clear MAIG does not act in good faith and deserves no cooperation or consideration as a legitimate source of information or policy recommendations. Hopefully, pro-gun activists and others who support laws and policies based on both the Constitution and on facts will contact their senators and representatives to ensure they get accurate information. (Hint, hint.)

Some excerpts:
"The Blueprint for For Federal Action on Illegal Guns" (Dated August, 2009)

pg 9. "...The events at Virginia Tech demonstrated the potential for catastrophe when mentally ill people gain access to guns..."

Fact: The events at VT happened in part because a psychiatrist illegally took the young man's records HOME where they were not available for years to other mental health experts. Nothing proposed or in current law would have prevented the purchase of firearms that took place. Prosecution of the doctor is, of course, not included in the MAIG manifesto.

pg 13. Proposes keeping records for 20 years for proceed sales to anyone on the "terror watch list."

Fact: The terror watch list violates 5th amendment protections of due process and further is rife with sloppiness and errors that include putting children on the list. Other sections in the manifesto would require prosecution for anyone banned from a firearm purchase who tries to buy a firearm, which seems to include simply being on a list.

This is downright Orwellian or Kafkaesque: you don't know you're on a list you shouldn't be on and no one will tell you if you're on and then you get prosecuted for violating a law that prohibits you from doing something you had no way of knowing you were prohibited from doing. WTF?

pg 19. MAIG data repeats the demonstrably false statement that "90%" of illegal firearms in Mexico come from the U.S.

This claim more than anything shows the willingness of MAIG to use data they cannot but know is wrong & in this case, an outright lie. Claims like this make it impossible to accept ANY of MAIG's data without reviewing the original sources. In short, they have no credibility.

To expose the lie behind the "Myth of 90%" please see the excellent LA Times article from March 15, 2009:,0,229992.story

From the LA Times: "Traffickers have escalated their arms race, acquiring military-grade weapons, including hand grenades, grenade launchers, armor-piercing munitions and antitank rockets with firepower far beyond the assault rifles and pistols that have dominated their arsenals...Most of these weapons are being smuggled from Central American countries or by sea, eluding U.S. and Mexican monitors who are focused on the smuggling of semiauto- matic and conventional weapons purchased from dealers in the U.S. border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California."

Enough said on that?

pg 23. One of the problems that comes out in the MAIG manifesto is a lack of proper focus.

MAIG is going after dealers when even in their own report they cite that one of the largest sources of guns used in crime is theft from private homes. Their proposal to require FFLs to report thefts of firearms is ludicrous, since an FFL would always report a theft of property, especially guns unless they were engaged in subterfuge that the ATF is already well equipped to look for and catch. Such language makes one wonder what the true aim is.

Data directly following pg 23 implies dealer resistance and subterfuge in avoiding ATF requests is common among FFLs, again, without citing any data showing that to be the case. In this section, the insidiousness of the tone is hostile to gun owners & gun dealers without even realizing it--clearly this manifesto is intended for a presumed "friendly audience." Similar attempts throughout the report to link gun dealers with child pornography rings also show MAIG's actual contempt for gun owners & the general public.

pg 33. MAIG calls for research into the sources of guns used in crime.

This is a telling section that shows their complete ignorance on this subject. In short, this exposes that they are proposing solutions without having any knowledge of the problem & that they have not even availed themselves to the available data, probably because it is at odds with their proposals. There is already a good deal of information on the true sources of illegal guns in both the U.S. and Mexcio, but reading it or referencing it would require MAIG to expose the worthlessness of most of their proposals.


MAIG's Recommendation #38: "The federal government should resume enforcement of federal law that bans importing "non-sporting purpose" firearms and ammunition."

First off, there currently is no such law. MAIG is calling for an executive order from the president to get this ban re-enacted.

Secondly, this call for a ban comes after the section admitting they don't have information on the sources or types of guns used in crimes.

Third, the MAIG report claims that crime in Mexico justifies a new ban, which is based on the myth of 90%.

Fourth, and most misleading, the MAIG report at this point claims that many firearms are illegally imported into the U.S. by dealers who then sell them into Mexico. As evidence of the illegal imports, MAIG claims to reference a GOA report (citation 104), but the actual citation is to a "Violence Policy Center" publication that misquotes the GOA report:

In fact, even this hand-picked VPC report includes NO INFORMATION on illegal imports of firearms into the U.S. The same report does, however, include odd references to "armor piercing pistols" that show the authors are either ignorant or intentionally misleading their presumed audience. It also erroneously claims that the "assault weapons ban" is still in effect but simply not enforced, which is inaccurate (putting it generously), and then repeats the call to "enforce the existing ban." This bit of sophistry pretty much condemns the whole report to the dust bin for me.

pg 34. At the risk of undermining their own exaggerated claims about semi-automatic pistols and rifles, MAIG on this page vilifies 12 gauge shotguns as their next target.

So, if you were looking for some fiction reading for the long weekend, this report is it. If you're looking to start a conversation in good faith about building safe communities in America, look elsewhere.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Viva la Revolution!

As the world sits on the sidelines, Iranians take to the streets to demand the freedoms so many take for granted:

Picture of another brave woman #iranelection on Twitpic

"Iranian security forces fired on stone-throwing protesters in the center of the capital Sunday in one of the bloodiest confrontations in months, opposition Web sites and witnesses said. At least five people were killed.

Some accounts of the violence in Tehran were vivid and detailed, but they could not be independently confirmed because of government restrictions on media coverage . . . "

Stay tuned. And remember the real purpose behind our own 2nd Amendment.


Monday, December 14, 2009

U.S. Senator Inhofe, Uganda, Gay Genocide and the Second Amendment

“Close your eyes, it can’t happen here…” (California Uber Alles, Dead Kennedys)

Genocide is the boomerang crime: as hard as we try to throw it away, it just keeps coming back.

Anyone who thinks the Second Amendment is a frontier anachronism best swept under the rug or apologized for at smart cocktail parties need look no further than recent actions by elected U.S. senators and congressmen to see why the Second Amendment is now and always will remain relevant for the defense of life and liberty:

In his recent book “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power," journalist Jeff Sharlet exposed ties between “The Family,” a lobbying organization disguised as a prayer support group, and currently elected members of Congress. He went further and also showed links between The Family and new legislation in Uganda that would make homosexual behavior a crime punishable by death.

In short, the Ugandan law is nothing short of genocide, a genocide backed and enabled by The Family and those members of Congress who belong to it.

According to The Raw Story:
“Sharlet reveals that David Bahati, the Uganda legislator backing the bill, reportedly first floated the idea of executing gays during The Family's Uganda National Prayer Breakfast in 2008.”

Worse, U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) appears to have been there in person when the plans for genocide were hatched—at a "prayer breakfast," no less.

Rachel Maddow’s December 9th interview (embedded below) with James Sharlet details the strong ties between the U.S.-based Family, the Ugandan branch of The Family, and the kill-the-gays legislation. As Maddow implies, even for members of The Family (and Congress!) not actively supporting this, silence implies more than consent:
“We have talked to the offices of a number of elected officials, conservative politicians here in the U.S. associated with The Family, and while a number of them have told us they’re against this bill none has said they will do anything publicly to stop it,” says Maddow.
In addition to Inhofe’s involvement, some members of Congress apparently live at reduced rent rates or free in The Family’s compound in D.C. It's impossible to see how you could live rent-free with an organization and then claim not to be supporting its goals, or to claim you aren't in any way responsible for its actions. Members of The Family are NOT restricted to far right Republicans—Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) has lived in the shadowy group’s house for seven years.

Despite the The Family’s links to genocide in Uganda, at this writing President Obama himself is scheduled to speak before The Family’s National Prayer Breakfast in February 2010. Such is the influence of money and power in Washington that the president himself—an alleged friend of gays and gay rights—will be speaking before a group actively engaged in rounding them up and murdering them in plain view of the world.

Which brings us to the Second Amendment. If you think Senator Inhofe and other elected American leaders working for genocide in African wouldn’t do the same thing in America if they could, you are deluded. If you think Americans couldn’t be cowed into going along, or turning a blind eye, the lessons of history—even in our own country—strongly indicate otherwise.

The Second Amendment is not about hunting; it’s not really even about protecting yourself from burglars or assault. The Second Amendment is about never having to worry about the midnight knock at the door when they come for you, your loved ones or your neighbors. It’s best we remember that, especially when we see our elected officials working to create death camps right before our eyes.

Molon Labe.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

P.S. Uganda established gun control in 1970, one year before the reign of terror began under Idi Amin.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Cheap Shots for 2009

Daniel Barnett over at Amendment II Democrats offers his "Cheap Shots for 2009," the best & worst (mostly worst) in gun rights and gun grabbing efforts for this nearly over Year of Our Lord, two thousand and nine.

A sample:

The "Things That Could Have Been Brought To My Attention YESTERDAY" Award
Dr. Robert C. Miller, Former Director of Cook Counseling Center at Virginia Tech

Seung-hui Cho's deadly 2007 rampage at Virginia Tech could have been prevented - not by new and restrictive gun laws, but by consulting Cho's mental health records when he sought to purchase his guns. But the records that could have prevented a massacre remained in the home of Dr. Miller and were never shared with the proper authorities, so they never came up in Cho's background check. And even after the shootings, it took more than two years for those records to see the light of day. The system broke down, and the students at Virginia Tech paid dearly for what appears to be Dr. Miller's pallid incompetence.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

America's Pointless Gun Fight

Long-time gun rights activist Richard Feldman tells it like it is in today's LA Times. The former NRA regional director and author of "Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist" blames both the anti-gun rhetoric of the extreme left and the anti-government rhetoric of the extreme right for hiding the reality of a broad consensus on gun rights in America.

Polls show the majority of Americans favor gun policy that is pro-civil rights, pro-security, and pro-keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, kids and the insane. It's the two screaming fringes that make it hard to hear ourselves think.

Says Feldman:

The "crazy" thing about the gun debate in America is how misguided and off-base both sides of the issue are. An example from one side is The Times' Dec. 1 editorial on the Washington state police officer shootings, "Crazy about guns"; from the other side, we have almost any fundraising appeal over the last year from the National Rifle Assn. Both sides offer little compromise on this issue, making the gun debate one of extremes. Our leaders ignore the important truths needed to formulate and articulate policy proposals that address the reality of life in America in a constructive and collaborative way.

Hard to disagree. Read the rest of the article, here: America's Pointless Gun Fight.

Sunday, November 29, 2009



On Friday, Gun Owners of America sent out an action alert to its 300,000 members warning that the Senate health care bill "would mandate that doctors provide 'gun-related health data' to 'a government database,' including information on mental-health issues detected in patients, which could jeopardize their ability to obtain a firearms license." The alert also claimed that the "wellness and prevention" provisions in the health care bill would allow the Obama administration to issue a "no guns" decree.

The so-called "gun-related health data" is actually anonymous statistical information to help researchers develop health programs and initiatives that serve specific population groups or further the study of various conditions and medical needs. Section 2705 of the Senate health bill permits employers to vary insurance premiums by as much as 30 percent for employee participation in certain health promotion and disease prevention programs, but stipulates that the employer wellness program must be "based on an individual satisfying a standard that is related to a health status factor." Gun ownership does not fall into this category.

This fear-mongering should be seen not only as a threat to health insurance reform, but as the continuation of a multimillion dollar effort launched by the gun lobby to portray Obama as "a threat to the Second Amendment rights." Prior to the election, the National Rifle Association (NRA) claimed of Obama, "[N]ever in NRA's history have we faced a presidential candidate...with such a deep-rooted hatred of firearm freedoms." Since the election, the NRA and other gun groups have continued to misinform voters about Obama's gun policy proposals, claiming that unrelated policies -- like the economic stimulus -- are part of a broader campaign to strip gun rights.

"I'm not going to take away your guns," Obama has repeatedly said. Nevertheless, sensing an opportunity to gain more members and fuel gun sales, the gun lobby insists on preying on people's fears by making up false claims.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Medford Teacher Loses Appeal to Have Firearm in Classroom

The Oregon Court of Appeals held that the Medford School District has the right to have a policy preventing teachers from possessing firearms on campus. The central issue was the state law which gives the state legislature exclusive authority to restrict the right to carry firearms. In particular the state law prohibits local governments from passing civil or criminal ordinances regulating firearms. The Court of Appeals held that the school district's policy was not an ordinance and thus not subject to the state preemption. It is a detailed opinion based on the meaning of the state statute and the legislature's intent. Read it for yourself here and beware of media summaries.

Mike Arnold,
Attorney at Law
Eugene, Oregon
Visit Arnold Law Office on Facebook

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Beretta 92fs I like it!!!!!!

The Beretta 92fs is a handgun that people seem to feel passionately about. Many love it, and many loath it. This model is a traditional double action pistol that is meant to be carried uncocked with the first shot being double action, and the remaining shots being single action. It is a rather large gun with a 4.9" barrel, steel slide, and large aluminum frame. If one does an online search (google, yahoo, etc.) on the Beretta 92fs, one will find many, many reviews, both positive and negative regarding this now classic platform. I have always been intrigued by this gun based on its gorgeous lines, but always found that my wants and/or needs took me in another direction. Well, I finally decided to purchase a used one a few months ago. I will share my thoughts about this popular handgun.

As I mentioned above, much info can be found online regarding Beretta's model 92fs. When one is reading reviews of this weapon, one will no doubt encounter horror stories regarding failing locking blocks in this particular model of pistol. Most of these reports seem to revolve around military use of this pistol (the 92fs replaced the model 1911 as the standard military sidearm around 1984 I think), and many are second hand stories about someone who knows someone who experienced a locking block failure. I'm not saying that these failures have not happened, but I'm almost certain that they do not happen nearly as often as some of the reviews would lead one to believe.

Another common complaint is that the 92fs (or M9 as it is called in the military) has reliability issues in the sandy desert environment of the Middle East. It seems that many of these issues are caused by poor quality after-market magazines that were purchased by the military (someone please correct me if I'm way off here). From what I have read, it seems that if one is using original Beretta magazines, or high quality magazines such as those made by Mec-gar, the problems tend to disappear (please realize that this info is based solely on info that I have read and not experienced for myself).

More often than not when researching this pistol, one will find that it is regarded as an extremely reliable and adequately accurate sidearm. It was these many reviews coupled with the elegant lines of the pistol that finally solidified my decision to purchase one after wanting to for years. After finding one that appeared in good condition for an excellent price on, I submitted my bid and won the Beretta. After it arrived at my favorite FFL, I went to pick it up, and after BSing with my FFL holder for a bit, I took my new acquisition home.

The example that I bought is an older model that features a straight dustcover and all metal (steel I think) small parts. On most of the newer models the dust cover is now slightly angled, and many of the small parts such as the guide rod, trigger, hammer, etc. are now made of plastic (or at least coated in plastic). It seems from my internet research that most users/owners prefer the all steel small parts, and most people (myself included) prefer the look of the straight dust cover. My gun came with two 15 round magazines. It turned out that one was an original Beretta mag, and the other is a cheap after market unit.

The 92fs is a very large pistol for a somewhat small caliber such as 9mm. This is a common complaint about this model, and is a valid one as there really isn't any reason that a 9mm needs to be so bulky. At its widest point, this gun is over 1.5" wide. The frame is also very wide making the grip quite thick, which makes it somewhat difficult for those with small hands to get a good grip on it. I myself have pretty small hands, but I find the grip to be very comfortable indeed. The grip is big enough to make the trigger reach in double action a bit of a reach, but in single action it is very ergonomic for me. As such a large gun, there is considerable heft. The gun weighs in at 33.3oz. (specs can be found here: For a gun this size, it is actually reasonably light weight considering how much more it would weigh if it had a steel frame instead of aluminum.

One of the things that enjoy most about the 92fs (besides the look of the gun) is the fit of the parts. For a gun in this price range, the parts seem to fit together and interface with each other very well. Racking the slide is joyous indeed. It is glass smooth and feels excellent. This gun points quite naturally for me, however, the sights could stand to be a bit bigger. My example came with the now almost standard 3 dot set up. The dots on mine are white, but on the stainless models I think they are usually red. I should mention that on the 92fs the front sight is integral with the slide, so it would definitely take some gunsmithing to change it. The rear sight is dovetailed in place. I have seen examples of these guns fitted with adjustable rear target sights. Another feature that I love about this gun is the ease of take down and the ease of cleaning.

The double action trigger pull on my example is very smooth. I don't own a trigger pull guage, but I would guess it to be right around 10lbs, but it is smoother than any other DA/SA pistol that I have owned. The single action pull is acceptable, but not as light as I would prefer. I would guess it to be around 6lbs. I am currently entertaining the idea of switching out my mainspring with what is commonly referred to as the Beretta "D" spring. This is the mainspring that is used in the double action only version of the Beretta 92. I have ready many accounts that switching this spring greatly reduces and smooths both the double action, and single action pulls when installed in the DA/SA version of the 92fs.

For being such a large gun, the 15+1 round capacity is not very impressive considering that many smaller, lighter guns hold more rounds. However, Mec-gar makes 18 round mags that fit flush like the original mags, and 20 rounders that have a slightly extended base pad. Mec-gar makes excellent mags, and supplies many manufacturers with OEM magazines. I will be purchasing at least one 18 rounder in the near future. Regarding the magazines; the original one that came with my gun works flawlessly, but the after market one often will not lock the slide to the rear after the last round has been fired. It does however seem to feed fine.

I have only put around 500 rounds through my 92fs thus far, but they have been very enjoyable rounds. This gun is really a pleasure to shoot. The small 9mm caliber, along with the guns heft and wide back strap really negates recoil. The gun returns to be on-target almost instantaneously. It is certainly not my most accurate handgun, but it is plenty accurate and has been 100% reliable so far (besides the crappy after market mag not locking the slide to the rear). I trust the reliability of this gun enough to use it at times as a concealed carry piece. It is a bit big for being ideal for concealed carry, but I pull it off pretty well in an IWB holster.

I am thinking about getting the gun refinished in the future. There are some wear marks since I purchased used, but it is in good condition especially for the $399 that I paid for it. If or when I do decide to get it refinished, I'm not sure if I will send it to Beretta for a factory finish or go a different route. I have always loved the look of the Inox models (Inox is Beretta speak for stainless steel), and therefore have thought about getting mine hard chromed. Hard chrome is an excellent and very attractive finish. It is one of the most wear-resistant finishes available. However, I'm not sure if the aluminum frame cam be hard chromed. Does anyone out there know if it can be done?

In conclusion, I HIGHLY recommend the Beretta 92fs to anyone looking for an excellent defensive/duty style 9mm. There are certainly other options out their that are better suited to concealed carry, but in a duty/range/home protection role the Beretta really shines. It would make an excellent addition to anyone's collection. It is up amongst my favorite handguns that I have owned. I often find myself admiring its classic, gorgeous lines every time I pull it out of the safe.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fun neck wear for gun lovers!

Hello all. I attended a wedding this weekend and as I was getting dressed up in my finest duds (something that I rarely do), I decided to wear a tie that my lovely wife got for me for our last anniversary. The black silk tie features an almost life-sized, silver image of a Colt 1873 SAA also known as the "Peacemaker." It occurred to me as I received the many "cool tie" comments, that some of you may be interested in something similar. I was just browsing the website, and saw that they now offer an AK47 tie as well. Here are some links to the two that I have mentioned:

Now I doubt that these ties were actually meant for gun enthusiasts such as ourselves, but hey, they sure do tickle my fancy. Just to be clear, I have no idea about this company's views on second amendment politics (or even if they have any), but I thought some of you may be interested in these ties for fun. They do seem to be very well made. I hope you all wear your firearms and fashion accessories in good health!

P.S. I also have a pair of "Pistol Pete" Adidas shoes that feature crossed Peacemakers on them.

Friday, October 02, 2009

GOC Chair Greeting

My name is Chuck Butcher and I am the new DPO/Gun Owners Caucus Chair. Zak Johnson had been the GOC Chair from the formation of our organization which was an outgrowth of the DPO Resolution 2005-008 which I authored. I was a DPO sponsor and charter member of GOC though I have tried to stay in the background of the Caucus. I already have quite a few Party functions, I am a PCP, Baker County Chair, and Baker County SCC Delegate so I preferred to be helpful from a low profile. That's not how this went so I now will share my ideas regarding GOC.

The DPO/Gun Owners Caucus is one of the larger Party Caucuses but it is not nearly large enough. This is not about a competition with any other Party Caucus, it is about the process of convincing people that the Democratic Party is not a party of gun grabbers, it is in fact a Party which respects the 2nd Amendment. There are some politicians who wear "D" after their name and there are those who claim to be linked to the Party who are not. The GOC is an official part of the Democratic Party of Oregon which is an official part of DNC and Resolution 2005-008 is the official stance of the DPO. Number are politically impressive, and they are impressive to the media. I believe our first mission is to increase our numbers while making it clear that we are not the NRA or any other professional fundraising scare machine arm of the Republican Party.

It is extraordinarily easy to become a member of the GOC,the link is right here. While the GOC might occasionally do some fundraising or help with events, the most likely thing to be asked of a member is to recruit more members. In fact I am asking that now.

The rules around political fundraising within an organization like DPO are somewhat arcane and create difficulties in compliance. It is seldom in the interest of something like the GOC to try to raise funds for itself. While it is quite easy to comply while asking for contributions to DPO it also is not in our interest to pester our members. Many of us have at one time or the other been members of organizations like NRA and been endlessly pestered for money, we shouldn't go there.

Events like shoots whether for competition or fun are useful for our own bonding and as earned media tools. This is particularly true when politically visible people are involved in the activity. Visibility is a real goal and best achieved with a large number of members, that makes us interesting to media and to politicians. We have tools to reach voters and that is valuable to any politician.

I now have a pretty steep learning curve to utilize the tools and maintain communication with our membership. I'll do that and I'll ask you to reach out to your friends and acquaintances to join. You can reach me at cbutcherATbakervalleyDOTnet.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

News From the SCC Meeting

Hello all. There is big news from Sunday's SCC meeting that was held in Salem on 9/2o/09. As you all know, Zak Johnson (our former Chair) moved to the East Coast recently. In Zak's absence, Chuck Butcher (our former Vice Chair) was acting as our Chair. Well, after an election held at the SCC meeting, I am pleased to announce that Chuck is now officially the Chair of the Gun Owners' Caucus of the DPO. This created one problem (perhaps more if you are Chuck :)). With our former Vice Chair moving in to the Chair position, we needed to elect a new Vice Chair.

After Chuck announced the fact that we indeed needed to elect a Vice Chair he graciously asked for nominations. After an uncomfortable silence, I slowly spoke up an asked a few questions about the responsibilities of the Vice Chair position. A few seconds later, I found myself being nominated. I am somewhat pleased, though terrified to announce that I, Brian Reichhoff (former Treasurer) am the new Vice Chair (and still Treasurer......I think). I hope that I am able to perform my duties, whatever they may be, and help keep the GOC going strong.

Another Awesome member of the GOC, Jodi Russell, has been acting as the caucus Secretary for the last couple of months. Even though there was not an official election held at the SCC meeting for this position, Jodi will continue to perform these duties. I am very thankful, and excited for this as Jodi has some great ideas and is willing to take on the big responsibility of this position.

After talking with Chuck and Jodi, we decided that organization should be a top priority of the caucus at this time. We are looking at creating some small focus groups, and/or committees to focus on certain aspects of gun ownership and responsibilities such as fund raising, making connections for events, recruiting new members and such. We have no idea what this will look like as of yet, and I am probably prematurely mentioning it as we have not discussed it in much length or detail, but if any of you are intersted in helping, please let us (Chuck, Jodi, or I) know.

In closing, I would like to thank Chuck Butcher for agreeing to be our fearless leader, and Jodi Russell for continuing at the Secretary position. I believe that with strong people like them, we will continue to grow and thrive as a caucus.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Hiking with a Concealed Firearm in Oregon: Legal or Not?

Many Oregonians mistakenly believe that there is an exception for hiking on public lands with a concealed weapon. If you are hiking with a concealed firearm without a concealed handgun license, you'd better have current hunting tags, a shooting club card, or a fishing pole and be prepared to prove such at a jury trial.

The safer bet is to get a CHL, even if you never plan to carry on a day-to-day basis. Many Oregonians get a CHL just for transporting firearms or to be safe on a hiking trail.

ORS 166.250 is the statute that prohibits carrying a concealed firearm on your person or readily accessible within a vehicle. ORS 166.260 sets forth the exceptions:

(1) ORS 166.250 does not apply to or affect:
* * *
(h) A person who is licensed under ORS 166.291 and 166.292 to carry a concealed handgun.
* * *
(2) [Except for convicted felons], ORS 166.250 does not apply to or affect:
(a) Members of any club or organization, for the purpose of practicing shooting at targets upon the established target ranges, whether public or private, while such members are using any of the firearms referred to in ORS 166.250 upon such target ranges, or while going to and from such ranges.
(b) Licensed hunters or fishermen while engaged in hunting or fishing, or while going to or returning from a hunting or fishing expedition.

Mike Arnold,
Attorney at Law
Arnold Law Office, LLC
Eugene, Oregon

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Portland Gun Club - New Shooter Day Photos

The Portland Gun Club played host today to a joint "New Shooter Day" put on by the Gun Owners Caucus of the Democratic Party of Oregon and the African American Hunting Association (AAHA). Portland Gun Club board member Rick Policar led a new shooter safety orientation and helped seven brand new shooters fire off their first shots:

Here Sunshine Dixon gets ready to fire her first round.

Beth Reichhoff gets a feel for steel.

Dreyvon Stevens shows he knows how to hold a long gun, though this was his first time with a shotgun--which he noted kicks a bit more. But he fired a good 20 to 25 rounds with the youth model 20 gauge and hit more than one.

Adults from left to right: Gun Owners Caucus treasurer, Brian Reichhoff, State House Representative Jules Bailey (D - Portland), and Sonia Doolittle on the line. Sonia proved to be the surprise of the day--nailing about 25% of her shots even though it was her first time ever firing a gun:

Sonia celebrating after turning another clay into dust. (Seriously, Sonia, keep with this--you're a natural!)

Stuart Johnson gets ready to fire his first round. The .410, even with the youth stock, was still a little long but he kept with it, too, showing off his bruised arm later. ; )

Amy Bailey firing at skeet for the first time: nailed it! (Naturally! Never bet against a beginner at the range!)

Donny Adair (picture, above), founder of the African American Hunting Association, brought along his "little brother" in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program to give him some fun and instruction. Donny and I are both strongly of the opinion that shielding youth from firearms is the absolute worst thing you can do to their education into adulthood.

Face it, guns are fun, attractive (especially to young men) and are part of American life. Our children need to know how to handle a gun safely, how to recognize safe (and unsafe) handling when others are holding the gun, and that we need to treat guns with respect. Days like today are perfect opportunities for shooters young and old to learn gun handling, safety and "gun culture," which is more than just competent usage. Gun culture includes many levels of respect, an asset in life best learned from adults but which can also be found in youngsters such as were with us today.

If you're concerned about the future of gun rights and gun culture in America, it's good to be involved politically. But politics follows culture, not the other way around. Vote, lobby, agitate, but most of all: take someone shooting!

Left to Right...
Front Row: Brian Reichhoff, Sonia "Dead Eye" Doolittle
Back Row: Sunshine Dixon, Stuart Johnson (held), Jodi Russell, Donny Adair, Rick Policar, Amy Bailey, Jules Bailey.

Donny Adair nails a few clays with the youth model 20 gauge.

Though the blog of course continues, this will be my last post to Blue Steel Democrats. I am moving within the week to New Hampshire and will no longer be an Oregonian. I will of course still be a gun owner - "Live Free or Die," as they say in NH. It's bitter sweet to go, but today I saw that the caucus we founded three years ago is in good and capable hands and continues to grow. Protecting the Second Amendment by expanding the pool of hunters, shooters and gun owners is the best investment in democracy you can make.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Oregon man gets 19 months for killing intruder

This outrages me. A man is sent to prison for 19 years for killing a man who broke into his house in the middle of the night. In Oregon, if someone breaks into your house, they must DO YOU HARM before you may defend yourself. Otherwise, you'll be on the wrong side of the law.

This strikes me as something in need of fixing next session if not before. Maybe the initiative system - this is the stuff of plain ole common sense. The legislature thinks we should have a violent felony perpetrated on us before we can defend ourselves? I think they need to hear from us on this one.

I'm going to attend Rep. Wu's town hall for health care next week and will bring this issue up at that time.

Anyone have a different perspective on this subject? I'd be interested to hear it.


PS: Here's the link, in case it didn't come through:

Oregon University firearms ban challenged in court of appeals

A Western Oregon University student who had a valid concealed handgun license was suspended for possessing a gun on campus. There was and is an administrative rule in place that prohibits firearms on campus. However, there's an Oregon statute that says that only the legislature can regulate firearms. The Oregon Firearms Educational Foundation is challenging the university rule as inconsistent with state law. Their lawsuit can be found here.

This is not so much a Second Amendment issue as it is a statutory construction issue. Oregon law gives the state legislature exclusive authority to regulate firearms in the state. ORS 166.170(1) (emphasis added) states:

...[T]he authority to regulate in any matter whatsoever the sale, acquisition, transfer, ownership, possession, storage, transportation or use of firearms or any element relating to firearms and components thereof, including ammunition, is vested solely in the Legislative Assembly.

C. Michael Arnold,
Attorney at Law
Eugene, Oregon

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly: The domino effect of the Prohibition mentality

New Post on the American Hunters and Shooters Association website:

"We remember the Saint Valentine's Day massacre and the gangsters of Prohibition, but this is history we refuse to learn from. Prohibition of drugs leads to violent crime and a burgeoning class of unemployable felons. The murder rates among drug gangs in the US and abroad have led some to call for additional prohibitions on guns. It would be more effective to spit out the original "fly" and do away with prohibition altogether."

What do you think? Is it time to get rid of prohibition in order to protect our civil liberties, including gun rights?

Read the rest and give your feedback there.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Gun Problem or Drug Gang Problem?

It's not a good day in Baltimore:

"A feud between rival drug gangs led to a shooting at a backyard cookout that left 12 people wounded, including a pregnant woman and a 2-year-old girl, Baltimore's police commissioner said Monday.

In all, 16 people were shot, two of them fatally, in four incidents in poverty-stricken east Baltimore over a period of about three hours Sunday night and early Monday morning, police said. At least one of the subsequent shootings was related to the attack at the cookout, Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said."

The anti-gun hysteria this will undoubtedly generate is predictable, but the true causes of violence--poverty, disparity in education, and the mammoth profits made possible for gangsters by our continuing drug prohibition--will remain unaddressed.

Certainly if I lived in this neighborhood I would never leave the house unarmed; and law-abiding people shouldn't have to.

However, the commissioner seems to understand the problem is people, not weapons:

"Bealefeld's strategy is to target 'bad guys with guns' — the relatively small number of armed, repeat offenders who are responsible for the majority of the city's violent crime.

Police need more cooperation from the community for that strategy to bear fruit, the commissioner said.

'We need people to get involved. The families surely will grieve at funerals. The families certainly will be upset at going to the hospital to visit wounded and maimed loved ones,' Bealefeld said. 'We need them to get on the telephone and help us put an end to this stuff.' "

Perhaps there is hope we can learn about effective crime policy after all?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor Explicitly Supports the Heller Decision

The news is in: Sonia Sotomayor explicitly endorses and supports the individual right to bear arms as decided in the Supreme Court case DC v. Heller. The following are direct quotes from her testimony this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee:


LEAHY: I've owned firearms since my early teen years. I suspect a large majority of Vermonters do. I enjoy target shooting on a very regular basis at our home in Vermont. So I watched that decision rather carefully and found it interesting.

Is it safe to say that you accept the Supreme Court's decision as establishing that the Second Amendment right is an individual right? Is that correct?

SOTOMAYOR: Yes, sir.

LEAHY: Thank you.

And in the Second Circuit decision, Maloney v. Cuomo, you, in fact, recognized the Supreme Court decided in Heller that the personal right to bear arms is guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the Constitution against federal law restrictions. Is that correct?


LEAHY: And you accept and applied the Heller decision when you decided Maloney?

SOTOMAYOR: Completely, sir. I accepted and applied established Supreme Court precedent that the Supreme Court in its own opinion in Heller acknowledged, answered the -- a different question.

LEAHY: Well, that -- let me -- let me refer to that, because Justice Scalia's opinion in the Heller case expressly left unresolved and explicitly reserved as a separate question whether the Second Amendment guarantee applies to the states and laws adopted by the -- by the states.

Earlier this year, you were on a Second Circuit panel in a case posing that specific question, analyzing a New York state law restriction on so-called chuka sticks (ph), a martial arts device.

Now, the unanimous decision of your court cited Supreme Court precedent as binding on your decision, and that Supreme Court -- longstanding Supreme Court cases have held that the Second Amendment applies only to the federal government and not to the states.

And I noticed that the panel of the Seventh Circuit, including people like Judge Posner, one of the best-known very conservative judges, cited the same Supreme Court authority, agreed with the Second Circuit decision. We all know that not every constitutional right has been applied to the states by the Supreme Court. I know one of my very first cases as a prosecutor was a question of whether the Fifth Amendment guaranteed a grand jury indictment has been made applicable to the states. The Supreme Court has not held that applicable to the states.

Seventh Amendment right to jury trial, Eighth Amendment prohibition against excessive fines, these have not been made applicable to the states. And I understand that petitions asking -- seeking to have the Supreme Court revisit the question applied to the Second Amendment to the states are pending (inaudible) that case appears before the Supreme Court and you're there how you're going to rule, but would you have an open mind, as -- on the Supreme Court, in evaluating that, the legal proposition of whether the Second Amendment right should be considered fundamental rights and thus applicable to the states?

SOTOMAYOR: Like you, I understand that how important the right to bear arms is to many, many Americans. In fact, one of my godchildren is a member of the NRA. And I have friends who hunt. I understand the individual right fully that the Supreme Court recognized in Heller."

'Nuf said.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Oregon State Administrator Believes that she's above the law

Hello all,

I have been invited to guest blog here by Zak Johnson for this one blog post, and I appreciate his faith and invitation enormously.

As many of you know, Jeff Maxwell is a veteran Marine who was recently arrested at Western for legally carrying a firearm on campus. While the charges were dropped, his campus punishment was not. To boot, it seems that Jeff has since lost his GI Benefits for not breaking the law. Jeff then applied to Oregon State University where he was accepted. Oregon State later rescinded his acceptance.

Now I found out about this from the following press release made by the Oregon War Veterans Assoication here. At the time, I was unable to confirm anywhere else that this press release was true.

However, I'm both an alumni and a former administrator/employee at Oregon State and the Oregon University System. So I know a little about navigating the administration on campus. Because of that, I called and tried to speak to Michelle Sandlin, the Director of Admissions. At the time, she was not in, so I was connected to the Assistant Director of Admissions (whose name is Alicia Ortega). Sidenote: OSU's directory has her listed as Associate Director, while various other publications and reports have her listed as Assistant Director or Senior Assistant Director. So I'm not sure which is truly the correct title. I will use OSU's from this point forward.

I'll finally get to my point: The Associate Director told me two important things. First, she claimed that the acceptance was rescinded due to the fact that Maxwell had made a mistake on his application in that he had not listed Western as a previous place of schooling. While this sounds like political air-cover to me, it is certainly plausible, and OSU is certainly within the letter of its policy on that issue.

The other far more interesting thing that the Associate Director told me is that she personally believes that it is O.K. for university administrators to violate a students' civil liberties in order to ensure their safety. I have to admit, it didn't surprise me that she believed that, but it almost knocked me over that she was willing to actually say it to an Alumni and former employee of the university system.

So there you go! A senior administrator partially responsible for deciding who is allowed to attend a major public university personally believes that she should be above the Constitution (state or federal) in order to ensure students' safety. I don't know what the readers of this blog think, but in my mind that is exactly the logic that lead to the imprisonment of some 110,000 Japanese-American citizens in World War II. I can't say I'm a fan of the idea.

On the 21st of April, I met with Larry Roper (Vice Provost for Student Affairs). While he told me that he certainly disagreed with that view, I have still not heard what has actually been done to address the situation at Oregon State. You may, of course, make your own judgements.

I'm not usually a politically partisan person. I like to keep a low profile. But in this case, I seem to have stepped in something unpleasant. I know that I will be making former colleagues at OSU unhappy, and may even be making powerful enemies. I certainly hope that not to be the case, but I felt it important to air this issue, because I don't believe that administrators should be able to enforce their own views on students or faculty to a degree where they believe that can act outside of the law, even when they feel the cause is just (where have we heard that recently?).

It is truly shocking that OSU is so blatantly willing to circumvent civil liberties in search of illusory safety. I hope that readers here will express themselves to congress critters and OSU administrators alike.

Gun Rights Join Communism, Atheism and Free Love at Reed College

The following is a guest column by Ty Marbut, a student activist at Reed College in Portland and Oregon state director for Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC). SCCC seeks to get rid of the "gun free zones" which make students and faculty sitting ducks, and even magnets, for acts of pointless mass violence.

For more info on SCCC, contact Marbut at tyrel.marbut [at] reed [dot] edu.

I have two items to report: the national organization Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC, and a new and very exciting shooting organization at Reed College.

SCCC is a national student-run organization that promotes self-defense on America’s college campuses by addressing both state laws and campus policies, and by working to dispel commonly held falsehoods about the feasibility and importance of self-defense on college campuses. I was recently appointed Oregon State Director of SCCC (although I’m not speaking on behalf of the organization here), and in Oregon we have chapters at Linfield College, Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Oregon, Portland Community College, and my school, Reed College. Also, I’ve been in contact with campus groups across the state independently working towards the same goals.

A general description of SCCC can be found on our website, – click on “About Us”. Summarized, we are about 40,000 college students, faculty, staff, and others who form the organization as a non-partisan, grass-roots endeavor for the purposes I mentioned.

SCCC organizes a (roughly) annual event called the Empty Holster Protest in which thousands of American college students participate. There have been two so far, one in the fall of 2007 and another in the spring of 2009. The protest consists of students wearing empty holsters to their classes for a week, and culminates with letter writing, a money bomb, and get-togethers on Friday.

The most recent incident involving SCCC’s political domain (which I report to give you a taste of the campus concealed carry political world) was the arrest of marine veteran Jeffrey Maxwell, a WOU student, on Jan. 28, 2009 for legally carrying a concealed handgun on the WOU campus. A decent writeup of the story (though not a neutral one) can be found at:

In Oregon, there is no law that prohibits concealed carry on college campuses. However, there is also no law to prohibit public universities from barring legal carry. The Polk County DA (rightly) dropped all charges against Maxwell in this case, but he was expelled by WOU (as the result of a public mock trial at which Maxwell wasn’t allowed to speak) and he would be allowed to return to school on the condition that he pass a psychological examination and that he author a 10-page paper about “the importance of following the law, accepting responsibility for his actions, and recognizing the impact of possessing weapons on a college campus” (Schilling - WND).

In general, this attitude towards concealed carry is typical of American universities, and Oregon colleges are (unfortunately) no exception: “if they want to carry guns, they must be crazy – send them to the shrink”. Perhaps this will help to sketch for you the political landscape that SCCC inhabits.

On a much more positive note, I’m also very excited to report on our new group at Reed College. For your readers who aren’t familiar with Reed College, we’re a small (~1300 students), private liberal arts college in Portland (more info on Wikipedia: Depending on who you ask (Princeton Review, etc.), Reed is between the 2nd and 8th “most politically and socially liberal” college in the country, comparable to UC Berkely. Our school’s unofficial seal (which is found on t-shirts, coffee mugs, Christmas ornaments, and dozens of other items in our school’s bookstore) proudly sports the hallowed trinity “Communism, Atheism, Free Love.”

Every year before the start of the spring semester in the last week of January, Reed College sets aside one week which we call Paideia, a time when anyone at all, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, and “friends” of the college may teach any type of class they like. A class has to be approved by the Paideia Czars and can be funded by the school. The week’s course offerings include classes like “Underwater Basket Weaving” (a perennial favorite), bread making, board game tournaments, joint rolling for beginners, henna art for beginners, lock picking, etc.

This year, I decided to put a challenge to the college (i.e. see how many people I could piss off) by teaching a 3-step handgunning course. First I’d have a 2-hour lecture on everything having to do with handguns and shooting that wasn’t really politically charged, which would essentially bring someone up to speed to engage in range shooting/target practice (gun safety rules, the history and function of handguns and ammo, more gun safety talk, good shooting principles, information about ranges). Next, I’d take the students to the range to burn some real powder and have the opportunity to try a couple different models of handguns. Finally, I’d offer a 2-3 hour lecture about self-defense with firearms, including the relevant laws, concealed carry, self defense shooting, verbal and physical tactics, non-lethal options, etc.

I had arranged for funding for 40 students to go on the shooting range field trip, partially from the Oregon Firearms Federation and partly from the college – students would have to pay $10 each for 2 hours of coaching, 200 rounds of ammo, a good place to shoot, and transportation. However, just before the start of the first lecture, the thought crossed my mind that, in the freakish event that more than 40 people showed up, I might have to figure out some sort of makeshift lottery system. In fact, over 120 students, staff, and campus security officers attended the first class, and the crowd spilled out into the hallway where some students sat on the floor for more than 2 hours to hear the lecture.

Some quick calculations revealed that between 10 and 15% of the students who were in town for Paideia wanted to shoot guns, and therefore, theoretically, 10-15% of the student body would want to shoot guns. Our range trips went very well with the help and hospitality of the Clackamas County Sheriff Office’s Public Safety Training Center, and the result was a new student group, the Reed Shooting Sports Kollectiv (named in honor of our campus “kommunist” organization, the “Reed Kommunist Shit Kollektiv” – they’re RKSK, we’re RSSK). RSSK grew in the first half of Spring Semester to be, most likely, the largest membership organization on campus (and if not the largest, we’re not far behind the “kommunists”). At the end of the semester we’d taken a number of funded trips to the shooting range, to the gun show, and held a number of gun safety seminars (which were coincidentally ice cream socials). Our members made up over 10% of the student body (136 as of May) and have expended about 10,000 rounds of ammo.

As members of the Blue Steel Democrats, specifically, might imagine, it’s been a very interesting journey bringing a gun organization to fruition in one of the most politically “liberal” environments you can find in the U.S. However, so far it’s been a testament to the spirit of Reed’s liberalism (this time without quotation marks) that such a group can thrive here. Most of our new shooters have heard exactly one political message about guns (a very negative one, of course) before contact with me and RSSK, and are often intrigued rather than appalled that I talk about gun rights in the context of other civil rights. The whole experience has seemed very promising to me, in that these young “liberals” who by-and-large have a solid grasp of the political world and who, by-and-large, think intelligently and independently about politics, are not only drawn to the novel political message I’m sending them but can, in many cases, accept it easily when it’s couched not in the context of the good ol’ boys of the Republican Party but in the realm of civil, individual rights.

In short, real liberals, like the students at Reed College, get it.

This coming fall, RSSK will be featured in the new student orientation days and will put on a number of gun safety workshops and perhaps visit the range once or twice. We’ll be a prominent fixture in the student handbook, the campus newspaper, and in general we have made a name for ourselves in the student social landscape.

Towards the beginning of the coming semester, we’ll also form a specific political committee. It’s been important to keep political talk separate from RSSK news and agenda in general because I promised everyone who signed up for our e-mail list that it wouldn’t be a political propaganda forum. However, most RSSK members are interested in the political stuff (i.e. SCCC), and once the committee is established, we can and will launch a fairly aggressive campaign to alter our school’s disarmament policy – what I call the “fish-in-a-barrel” policy. We’re hoping to get permission for and perhaps finance a gun safe in our campus security building where on-campus students can store guns and check them out to go to the range. We’re also working to make available “scholarships” to subsidize concealed weapons permit classes and other external (more official) shooting classes for Reed students and faculty. Then, come next Paideia (mid-January), we’ll host another series of classes, hopefully even more extensive than last year’s.

Any questions about RSSK (or, of course, info or offers to help us put on or fund shooting events!) should be directed to Ty Marbut at tyrel.marbut [at] reed [dot] edu.

Monday, July 06, 2009

John R. Lott Interview: More Guns = Less Crime

Below is an interview with John R. Lott, University of Maryland research professor, formerly a senior research scholar at Yale Law School and previous John M. Olin Law and Economics Fellow at the University of Chicago. Dr. Lott is the author of More Guns, Less Crime and Straight Shooting.

Dr. Lott has looked at statistics around gun control and come to the simple conclusion that guns lower crime rates. He discourses at length on that topic and how it relates to Washington D.C.'s horrific murder rates in this interview on CSPAN:

Says Lott, ". . . if you look at the types of multiple-victim public shootings . . . one thing that you continually find is that they take place where guns are banned in the United States . . . all the attacks in the United States involving more than three people killed have all taken place in gun free zones where civilians are not allowed to take guns . . . rather than creating safe zones for victims, what you unintentionally do [with gun free zones] is create a safe zone for those intent on carrying out the attacks . . . " This isn't news to those who've been paying attention, but Lott brings the research to back up his claims.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Oregon Hunting Fees Raised by a Third

The Oregon legislature has passed HB 2223, which raises hunting and fishing license fees each by roughly 30% (or 20%, depending on how you do math.) The bill passed the House 34-to-22 on June 12 and passed the Senate today 19-to-11. It now heads to the governor for his signature.

Read the Oregonian synopsis here.

HB 2223 is being described as a bill to allow ODFW to impose a "20%" fee hike, but it the numbers listed by the Oregonian for the final bill are as follows:

  • Annual fishing license: rises from $24.75 to $32.50 for anglers age 14 and older.
  • A resident hunting permit will go up from $22.50 to $29.
  • Annual combination license -- fishing and hunting -- will rise from $43.75 to $57.50.
I'm not sure what math is used to arrive to claim any of these figures as being 20%, but I've never taken "legislative math." 20% of $22.50 is $4.50; 20% of $29 is $5.80. The rate increase for hunting is $6.50. That's about 29% of 22.50, so I would call it a 1/3 increase. The closest method I see is to divide the rate increase by the final amount: $6.50/$29 = 22%. Not how I would have done it, but I guess a 20% hike is easier to sell than a 30% one. Clearly, I have no future as an accountant. If your math skills are better, please explain.

The reasoning behind the bill was to avoid a $17 million dollar shortfall in the 2009-2011 ODFW budget, and well as to avoid even higher price hikes in 2011-2013. New game & fishing officers are also proposed. Read the ODFW reasoning on HB 2223.

The Oregon Hunting Association has their legislative summary here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Oregon House Rep Judy Stiegler on HB 2727, a bill to protect CHL holder privacy

The following post is authored by Oregon House Representative Judy Stiegler (D-Bend). Representative Stiegler worked with House and Senate members to help shepherd HB 2727, a bill to protect the privacy records of Concealed Handgun License (CHL) holders from unfettered public disclosure, through the Oregon legislature. The bill is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.

Representative Stiegler's comments are posted in their entirety without editing. The text of HB 2727 can be read here.

House Bill 2727 came to the House Committee on Judiciary in early March and eventually passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 54-4. I am not the Chief Sponsor of this piece of legislation, but I saw an opportunity to work this bill to bridge two very opposing sides of the issue. My purpose in writing this explanation is to respond to the venomous criticism which has been directed to me as a result of working on this bill. I have no problem with folks leveling criticism at me, but I do become irritated when that criticism is based on misinformation. If one is going to be the recipient of criticism for an effort, at the very least it should be factually based and the result of an honest disagreement on the issue at hand. I wholeheartedly endorse the idea that we all will not agree on many issues, and in fact welcome honest discussion of differing views. However, the criticism leveled at me on the issue of concealed handgun license records has been unfairly characterized in light of the facts set out below.

Let me be clear, I am not a gun opponent. My husband and son are hunters and guns have been part of our family’s culture. My goal was to strike a balance between the very legitimate privacy interests of law abiding citizens, concealed handgun license (CHL) holders, and Oregon’s nearly four decade history of public records laws (known as Oregon’s Sunshine Law).

As the bill was originally written, CHL records would be completely exempt from public records laws. That concept is completely antithetical to Oregon’s history of openness in government. I consulted with citizens, legislators, and interest groups to craft the strongest exemption for allowing release of CHL records, ultimately giving CHL holders the most protection possible. Under this version of the bill, when a release would be requested, there would be a very heavy burden on the requesting party to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the release was in the public interest. Usually, if a requesting party such as a newspaper did not like the denial of this request by the Sheriff (a likely result); it would then be up to the District Attorney and/or Circuit Court Judge to make the decision about the release of the records. Making the required showing would indeed be difficult to do. This is why many newspapers in Oregon blasted this protection for CHL holders. This bill provides CHL holders the ability to protect their privacy and have security in knowing, that except in rare circumstances, their information is not going to be released.

Unfortunately, in the Senate, the bill became a battleground for those on both sides of the issue-- those adamantly in favor of looser standards allowing greater access to the records, and those who tried to completely exclude them as a public record. Instead of gun owners having common sense privacy protections from passing HB 2727 this session, they will likely end up with nothing. The bill will probably remain held up in the Senate Rules Committee until the session ends. Rather than solving a problem, the legitimate concerns of the vast majority of CHL holders have been sacrificed to moving political agendas. Oregon’s Sunshine Law as it currently exists, allows unfettered access to these records with no protections.

-Judy Stiegler, Oregon House of Representative (D-Bend)
House Distritct 54

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Murdering Citizens to Preserve the Regime

Today in Iran they are murdering their children. The regime, faced with outrage and peaceful protests against a blatantly stolen election, allowed a few days to pass then cynically declared war on their people via sermons in the Friday Mosques.

Without trying to take political advantage of the ravages suffered today by Iran and its civil society, let me just say that the images below always have and always will be the end result when any government has a monopoly on violence and the instruments of resistance. Rocks will only get you so far, though we can hope to be wrong in this case.

About 3:30 minutes in, this is what state-sponsored murder looks like:

This is a photo mantage of the developing events:


Friday, June 19, 2009

Posting senators' home addresses is a bad idea!

I’ve been hearing many comments about folks wanting to retaliate against what they consider the cowardly state senators who could not stand up to party leadership to protect our privacy rights and our Second Amendment rights. The most popular idea submitted seems to be to publish the personal home addresses of Senate Democrats (those in the senate leadership and the Judiciary Committee in particular) and newspaper editors.

While this on its face may sound like fitting retribution for those with no regard for our personal privacy and safety, I strongly caution against this approach. We should be taking the high road here and not personalizing this fight. Exposing their personal contact information is a bad idea and puts those that supported House Bill 2727 on the same level of those that post home addresses of abortion doctors. Don’t do it!

C. Michael Arnold,
Attorney at Law
Eugene, Oregon

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Second Hand Private Gun Sales - How to do it right

A lot of hullabaloo is made about the so-called "gun show loophole." This is a law in some states that allows non-dealers who sell at gun shows to sell firearms without conducting a background check on the buyer. Licensed dealers always have to perform the check. In Oregon a "gun show" is legally defined as any place where 25 or more guns are available for purchase. But in this state, there is no "gun show loophole." If you sell at a gun show you must do a background check. Here's the statute that says so:

166.433 Findings regarding transfers of firearms. The people of this state find that:

(1) The laws of Oregon regulating the sale of firearms contain a loophole that allows people other than gun dealers to sell firearms at gun shows without first conducting criminal background checks;

(2) It is necessary for the safety of the people of Oregon that any person who transfers a firearm at a gun show be required to request a criminal background check before completing the transfer of the firearm; and

(3) It is in the best interests of the people of Oregon that any person who transfers a firearm at any location other than a gun show be allowed to voluntarily request a criminal background check before completing the transfer of the firearm.

I happen to agree with this law for the simple reason that people at shows are generally selling to strangers. You should not sell a gun to a stranger without doing a background check on who they are. Sorry, but that's just common sense. There are no rights without responsibilities; and showing responsibility is the first step in preserving a right. Gun owners have the right to possess and to transfer firearms, but they should also exercise some judgment and use the resources available to try to keep guns out of the hands of criminals as much as that is possible. I don't pretend background checks are going to stop gun crime or gun buys on the street from burglaries or illegal unlicensed dealers. But it might stop some purchases, and that makes it okay with me to spend a little extra time and money that might save a life.

I've sold guns in the past. I've bought guns from non-dealers and accepted presents from non-dealers. I've bought guns I later gave as gifts. In all these transactions the common thread was that the person giving the gun and the person getting the gun knew each other well. No background check was necessary or would have served any purpose.

In Oregon there is no requirement that you conduct a background check when a non-dealer sells to a non-dealer. To me that makes sense--it's stupid for me to have to run a background check on my dad or he on me if we exchange guns as gifts. The state and public have no compelling interest in this. If I were a felon or if my dad were, then we shouldn't be selling guns. But the point is I'm already 100% sure he's not, and vice versa. (Even Sarah Brady bought her son a rifle without doing a background check, so there!)

Some gun rights advocates also believe that requiring state approval for all gun transfers is the first step to a registration list, which in turn is seen as the first step to confiscation. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. The events of the New Orleans police in 2005 are still shocking enough for me to know rights aren't always as secure as we think. So no, I don't support tracking all secondary sales. Philosophically, I think gun owners should--and have a duty--to take care in the distribution of firearms on their own. Owning a gun is partially about self-reliance and self-responsibility. So let's see some: know who you're selling to or don't make the sale.

If you do want to sell a firearm in Oregon to a stranger, and you want to do the right thing by finding out if they are eligible to own a firearm; here's what you need to do:
  1. Have the buyer with you.
  2. Be sure the buyer has government issued ID with a picture.
  3. Call the Oregon state police firearms unit at 1 800 432 5059.
  4. Read off the information on the government ID.
  5. Provide the buyer's date of birth, race, sex and address.
  6. Pay a $10 fee, Visa or Master Card accepted. : )
That's it. These rules are laid out in Oregon statute 166.436 Firearm transfers by persons other than gun dealers; criminal background checks authorized; liability.

I doubt this is as simple as it sounds for a couple of reasons. First, it was very difficult to find this information. The information is not listed on the state police website or on my local law enforcement websites. This leads me to believe that in spite of the available service, nobody or at least darn few people are conducting background checks. (Let me know if I'm wrong, please. I hope I am.)

Second, when I got a call back from the state police in answer to my questions about this, the officer noted that the buyer should be present with me at the time I make the call. Okay . . . but what if they are turned down? What if the policeman on the phone mentions there are outstanding warrants for the person standing next to me in my kitchen? Talk about awkward.

For these reasons, I think it would be prudent in any discussion on the phone or internet prior to a meeting to let potential buyers know you are going to make the background check on them before they ever come by to see the firearms. That ought to take care of most felons. Also don't meet them alone. Again, common sense.

In addition to being socially responsible, another very good reason for taking the time to do this background check is to absolve yourself of liability. In 166.436, Sec 7 (a), the law reads:

Except as otherwise provided in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this subsection, a transferor who receives notification under this section that the recipient is qualified to complete the transfer of a firearm is immune from civil liability for any use of the firearm from the time of the transfer unless the transferor knows, or reasonably should know, that the recipient is likely to commit an unlawful act involving the firearm.

If protecting the public isn't good enough reason for you, then protecting yourself ought to be. The fact is, the more responsible gun owners are about controlling the transfer of weapons through such measures as conducting voluntary background checks and keeping guns locked in secure locations when they are not under our immediate control, the less ammunition we give to those seeking to abridge our rights or to saddle us with absurd regulations such as requiring background checks on our parents or childhood friends.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Register-Guard attempts to violate your privacy.

I recently recieved word from the Lane County Sheriff that the Eugene-Springfield area daily newspaper, The Register-Guard, requested each and every name of the 10,000-plus CHL holders in his jurisdiction. Here is the full text of the letter I recieved from Sheriff Russel Burger:

Lane County Sheriff’s Office
Russel E. Burger, Sheriff

June 12, 2009
Jack Moran
Register Guard
3500 Chad Drive Eugene OR 97408

Dear Mr. Moran: I am in receipt of your email requesting public records, specifically a list of all concealed handgun license holders in Lane County. We have the records you are requesting.

Earlier this year I sent a letter to all concealed handgun license holders in Lane County, asking if they wanted their personal information released to the public. A copy of that letter has been provided to the Register Guard.

A few individuals responded stating that they did not want their information to be confidential; and, I will provide copies of those responses. The vast majority of concealed handgun license holders responded that they obtained a concealed handgun license as a personal security measure and they do not want their personal information disclosed.

Regarding those responses, I am denying your request pursuant to ORS 192.501(23). The names and addresses of license holders that stated they obtained a concealed handgun license as a security measure are exempt from disclosure. I am also denying the request under ORS 192.502(2) since the release of that information would be an unreasonable invasion of privacy; and, ORS 192.502(4) as a confidential submission that is not otherwise required to be submitted.

If you are interested in obtaining a redacted copy of those responses, with the names and addresses removed, we are able to provide that to you. Those responses asking for confidentiality, numbering approximately 8,923, were sent to this office both electronically and by mail. In order to provide that redacted information, we estimate it will take approximately 80 hours of staff time, in addition to photocopying charges; and approximately 5 hours of time for our information services department to redact and provide the electronic information.

I do not believe that the public interest would be served by redacting and providing this information, since the remaining information is a simple yes or no response to two questions posed in our letter. Because of that, we will not waive the fees associated with providing a redacted copy of these records.

If you wish to obtain a redacted copy of these records, please send a written request and I will provide you an estimated cost. Upon receipt and approval by you of that estimated amount, we will provide the redacted records.
Russel E. Burger Sheriff
cc: T. Turner - Undersheriff
Lane County Counsel
125 E. 8th Avenue ∙ Eugene, OR 97401 ∙ Phone: (541) 682-4150 ∙ Fax: (541) 682-3309 ∙

I think the Register-Guard's actions really speak for themselves to the necessity of a comprehensive and uncompromising CHL privacy bill. There WAS such a bill, HR 2727 which passed the Oregon House by a huge bipartisan margin. Unfortunately, this bill has been held up in the Oregon Senate by those opposed to gun rights on principle. Thankfully my Sheriff has been incredibly proactive in ascertaining the privacy desires of CHL holders and honoring the nearly 9,000 responses in favor of complete privacy.

But the fact remains that under the current laws in Oregon, he didn't have to. He could as easily have justified selling Lane County's responsible gun owners down the river.

I don't have much else to add, and would love to hear comments and ideas about making them pay. They had no reason to take such actions against the responsible citizens of their community. I'd like to give them some reasons not to. Maybe financial. It's no secret that readership of newspapers across the nation is at an all-time low, and I hardly think the Register-Guard can afford to alienate 10,000 plus current and potential subscribers.

EDIT: Here's a link to the Oregon Firearms Federation's take on this and how it relates to the recent blockade and weakening of our CHL privacy bill.

PLEASE contact your Oregon state senators and demand that they follow the Oregon House in protecting us from these fishing expeditions and intrusions which, while doing nothing to prevent crime, punish those who seek to comply with the law.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Safe Guns, Scarce Ammo

New blog post on American Hunters and Shooters Association, "Safe Guns, Scarce Ammo."

Hysteria creates scarcity. Unfounded hysteria creates politics. Do the actions of President Obama and the Democratic Congress justify the continued hoarding ammunition for a coming ATF Armageddon? The record to date would indicate not.

Read the rest & comment on AHSA's website.