Sunday, March 29, 2009

Democratic senators declare NO to gun control as a solution to border violence

Is there anyone who doesn't at some point wish they lived in Montana? For Democratic gun rights supporters, that is even more true now that Big Sky country is represented by three of the strongest gun rights advocates in office anywhere: Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer, Democratic Senator Jon Tester, and Democratic Senator Max Baucus.

Earlier this month, Baucus and Tester sent a joint letter of strong objection to A.G. Holder in response to Holder's comments clearly testing the waters to see if violence in Mexico linked to the "War on Drugs" could be used as a pretext to reinstate the so-called Assault Weapons Ban. (Holder's comments were recently echoed by Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, leading to speculation these have become administration "talking points.")

Said Baucus and Tester:

We oppose reinstating the ban on the sale of assault weapons, and we call on the Department of Justice to enforce existing laws before it considers imposing any new restrictions on gun ownership . . . Your comments noted increased violence among international drug traffickers as a reason to reexamine the ban on assault weapons within this country; however, this statement fails to acknowledge laws already in place that work to address this issue. Under current law, both transferring a firearm to someone knowing that it will be used to commit a violent or drug-trafficking crime as well as possessing a firearm in furtherance of a Federal drug trafficking crime are already federal felonies punishable by imprisonment . . .

. . . In the light of the Supreme Court's landmark ruling of District of Columbia v. Heller, affirming the Second Amendment right to bear arms as an individual and constitutionally protected right, we urge you to avoid any legislative proposals that would jeopardize the Constitutional right of law-abiding Americans to own firearms.

Here, here. THANK YOU, Senators.

Senator Tester followed up by repeating this message during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on March 25, 2009. At that time, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Deputy U.S. Attorney General David Ogden were testifying about cracking down on drug-related violence on the Mexican border, and each repeated the (talking) points that Mexican drug cartels are fighting each other and the Mexican military using firearms smuggled from the United States.

The key word in Napolitano's and Ogden's testimony of course should be "smuggled," which as Baucus and Tester both pointed out, is already illegal. (As noted in this NPR article, Mexican authorities even captured a "narco-submarine" last July being used to smuggle five tons of cocaine into the U.S.--perhaps the implication here is that submarines are being purchased using straw buyers at gun shows? The role of gun prohibition in Mexico in feeding the smuggling market or the violence by preventing law-abiding people there from protecting themselves from gansters apparently didn't come up; though you would have thought that would be one of the first topics of conversation.)

During the hearing, Tester had this to say:

I want to be clear,” Tester told Ogden. “Some have used this latest outbreak in Mexico to argue for tighter gun control restrictions in the United States. I don’t agree that that’s the right answer. I think the right answer is really cooperation at all levels of government, and smarter intelligence—more eyes and ears on the border, getting tougher on criminals that are smuggling weapons and drugs.”

Indeed. Please make sure your own members of Congress are urged to join Tester and Baucus in this principled stand for U.S. Constitutional rights.

Friday, March 27, 2009

How Come?

You may wonder why you as a supporter of your 2nd Amendment rights you feel as though you are a minority group in the Democratic Party. The actual facts are that you are not. Huh? Nope, you're not. You don't have a strong support system and it isn't particularly vocal in wide terms, but the actual numbers are on your side. What the anti-guns side has is being well financed and through that all the access to media and political figures whether earned or purchased that comes with it. Unfortunately what pieces of our side have that same advantage are also proving themselves to be enemies of Democratic ideologies well beyond the 2nd.

I have dropped my NRA membership and will not be going back until they figure out the 2nd Amendment is not about the right wing whackoes of the Republican Party. Appearing on Glenn Beck was the absolute end of any argument with myself on that stance, that is ludicrous and so counter to my political ends that I won't play. If you still pay dues this is something I encourage you to think about. But what replaces it?

The GOC/DPO is not powerful, we are just respected enough to be heard - some. That voice could be a lot louder and a lot more persuasive if a couple things were true, a large membership and real financial pockets. Now something to remember is that GOC has little control over money, money to us goes to DPO, but that money is accounted for and it shows plainly in the DPO books. Our access to money increases if we are bringing in significant amounts and we are allowed to pay for our events through what the event brings in. Demonstrable numbers and significant income will drive how loud and how well regarded our voices are.

Yes, this is a recruitment post and a political begging post. You have friends, get them signed up. When we manage to put on events, make the time to come out or donate to the cause. We are thrifty with money, have to be because we don't have any and then reporting requirements keep us very much on the straight and narrow. No one in GOC can profit from our activities and even getting reimbursed is tough. This link will put you or a friend in contact with GOC.

Thanks
Chuck Butcher

Adults in Charge?

Long-time gun rights advocate and Gun Owners Caucus Vice Chair, Chuck Butcher, has posted a good summary of a concern currently gripping many gun rights advocates:

Will the War on Drugs be the new pretext for destroying our 2nd Amendment rights?

His discussion is in a post called "Adults in Charge?" posted on his regularly updated blog, "Chuck For..."

Here's a taste:

Yesterday Rachel Maddow reported on Sec State Hillary in Mexico and her taking on some US responsibility for Mexico's problems, drug demand and guns. Rachel was pleased, the adults are in charge she crowed. Excuse the hell out of me, hardly.

Read the rest and comment here or there.

As a good friend from A.B.A.T.E. said lately, "gun control will be the Democrat's Waterloo." Progressive advocates must not let this happen; there is too much other work to be done to squander political power and prestige on a meaningless, ineffective and ideologically driven anti-gun agenda. Many Democratic politicians realize this; all should have it explained to them again, and again.

Please contact your senators (and Congressmen) and make sure they clearly declare that no treaty with Mexico which abridges U.S. 2nd Amendment rights will ever be ratified:

OREGON SENATORS:
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden
http://wyden.senate.gov/

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley
http://merkley.senate.gov/

Thursday, March 19, 2009

65 Congressional Democrats tell Holder "No" on the Assault Weapons Ban

Led by Arkansas Congressman, Mike Ross, sixty-five pro-gun Democrats--including Oregon's inestimable Pete DeFazio--signed an open letter to Attorney General Eric Holder opposing any effort to renew the so-called Assault Weapons Ban. 65 Congressmen represents a significant portion of Democratic house majority; enough to show clearly the assault weapons ban (AWB) is dead in the current Congress.

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, respectively the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, have already gone on record publicly opposing any new AWB. It is my sincere hope that the perennial anti-gun legislators will recognize the futility of bringing forward any new legislation to ban any currently legal class of firearm, thus avoiding political theater that could only damage Democrats despite the hard work by so many Democratic Congressmen.

Reprinted here is the complete text of the letter, followed by a list of all who signed it. If your own Congressman isn't on the list ask him or her "Why not?"
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Text of Mike Ross's letter:

Dear Attorney General Holder:

As strong supporters of the Second Amendment, we were very concerned to see your recent remarks suggesting that the administration will push for the reinstatement of the 1994 ban on "assault weapons" and ammunition magazines.

We believe that this ban was ineffective during the 10 years it was law, and would oppose its reenactment. Crime began falling before the ban was passed in 1994, and continued falling during and after the ban. The last time the murder rate was at its current level was more than forty years ago.

Even the Urban Institute study of the ban's effectiveness mandated by the 103rd Congress found that it could only have a limited effect because "the banned weapons and magazines were never used in more than a modest fraction of all gun murders."

It is hard to believe the ban would be any more effective in controlling crime by well-funded international drug traffickers, who regularly use grenade launchers, anti-tank rockets and other weapons that aer not available on the civilian market in the United States.

The gun control community as intentionally misled many Americans into believing that these weapons are fully automatic machine guns. They are not. these firearms fire one sot for every pull of the trigger. Some of the guns that would be banned under proposed bills have been around for more than 70 years, and are often passed down from generation to generation.

Many of our constituents lawfully own and use these firearms and ammunition magazines that would be affected by the new ban. Indeed, these are commonly owned firearms through the country. Law-abiding Americans use these guns for all the same reasons they use any other kind of gun--competitive shooting, hunting, and defending their homes and families.

Our constituents also have very real and serious problems that we in Congress urgently need to address. People are worried about keeping their jobs, paying for their families' health care, educating their children, and retiring with the kind of security their parents and grandparents enjoyed. A long and divisive fight over a gun control issue will only distract us from giving these more important issues the attention they deserve.

Again, we would actively oppose any effort to reinstate the 1994 ban, or to pass any similar law. We urge you to abandon this initiative and to focus instead on effective law enforcement strategies to enforce our current laws against violent criminals and drug traffickers.

List of Democratic Congressmen against the assault weapons ban:

1. Mike Ross (D-AR)
2. Tim Holden (D-PA)
3. Jerry Costello (D-IL)
4. Jim Matheson (D-UT)
5. Sanford Bishop (D-GA)
6. John Dingell (D-MI)
7. Marion Berry (D-AR)
8. Nick Rahall (D-WV)
9. Gene Green (D-TX)
10. Chet Edwards (D-TX)
11. Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX)
12. Gene Taylor (D-MS)
13. Bart Stupak (D-MI)
14. Collin Peterson (D-MN)
15. Harry Teague (D-NM)
16. John Tanner (D-TN)
17. Allen Boyd (D-FL)
18. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA)
19. Eric Massa (D-NY)
20. Steve Kagen, M.D. (D-WI)
21. Betsy Markey (D-CO)
22. Paul Hodes (D-NH)
23. Ron Kind (D-WI)
24. Peter Welch (D-VT)
25. Leonard Boswell (D-IA)
26. Tim Ryan (D-OH)
27. Walt Minnick (D-ID)
28. John Boccieri (D-OH)
29. Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
30. Tom Perriello (D-VA)
31. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND)
32. Ben Chandler (D-KY)
33. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
34. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL)
35. Travis Childers (D-MS)
36. Tim Walz (D-MN)
37. Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
38. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX)
39. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA)
40. Rick Boucher (D-VA)
41. Mike McIntyre (D-NC)
42. John Murtha (D-PA)
43. Bart Gordon (D-TN)
44. Zach Space (D-OH)
45. Alan Mollohan (D-WV)
46. Lincoln Davis (D-TN)
47. Artur Davis (D-AL)
48. Charlie Melancon (D-LA)
49. John Barrow (D-GA)
50. Christopher Carney (D-PA)
51. Dan Boren (D-OK)
52. Parker Griffith (D-AL)
53. Charlie Wilson (D-OH)
54. Heath Shuler (D-NC)
55. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD)
56. Jim Marshall (D-GA)
57. Jason Altmire (D-PA)
58. Larry Kissell (D-NC)
59. John Salazar (D-CO)
60. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN)
61. Frank Kratovil (D-MD)
62. Glenn Nye (D-VA)
63. Bobby Bright (D-AL)
64. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ)
65. Joe Baca (D-CA)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader announces opposition to HR 45

Another Oregon Congressman, Kurt Schrader (Democrat - 5th CD), has come out publicly against HR 45, also known as "The Blair Holt Bill."

An active Gun Owner Caucus member received the following reply via email from freshman Congressman Kurt Schrader expressing his opposition to this wide-ranging gun control and registration bill. Schrader took the opportunity to voice opposition to the bill and stake out his own pro-2nd Amendment position:

Dear [name removed for privacy]:

Thank you for writing me with your thoughts on HR 45, Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009. I understand and share your opposition to this legislation.
I am a responsible gun owner. The Constitution allows the right to keep and bear arms. The federally mandated licensing of firearms set forth in HR 45 would over step the bounds on the Federal government set by the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
Thank you again for your letter and should you have any further questions or concerns, please contact my office by calling (202) 225-5711 or 1-877-301-KURT.

Sincerely,

KURT SCHRADER
Member of Congress


And thank you, Congressman Schrader, for making your position clear and protecting the rights of Americans to defend their civil rights. It is good to know our newest Oregon congressman stands with fellow Democratic Oregon Congressmen Peter DeFazio and David Wu in supporting gun owners' Constitutional rights.

A summary of HR 45, Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009, can be found here. This is a truly terrible gun control bill unlikely to have any effect on crime but which would go a long way towards taking away your 2nd Amendment rights. It needs to fail.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Multnomah County Democratic Party Central Committee votes to protect CHL holder privacy

The following resolution was passed overwhelmingly on a voice vote of the Multnomah County Democratic Party on Thursday, 3/12/09. The party, which represents the Portland Oregon metropolitan area Democrats, favors protecting private information of concealed handgun license (CHL) holders as laid out in the following resoltuion:

Resolution No. 2009-15 Privacy of Concealed Weapons permit holders

A Resolution of the Multnomah County Democratic Party Central Committee:
  • Whereas, concealed weapons permits are obtained by people for personal protection;
  • Whereas, concealed weapons permits are obtained to help insure compliance with state laws pertaining to carrying and transporting of firearms;
  • Whereas, the Constitution of the United States guarantees the rights of individuals to keep and bear arms; and,
  • Whereas, individuals who obtain a concealed weapons permit have a right to privacy;
  • Therefore, be it resolved that the Multnomah County Democratic Party supports the withholding of information providing names of individuals, who have obtained concealed weapons permits, from the public.


That sounds pretty clear to me. Keep CHL info out of the public records.
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Update: This story has also been picked up in the Daily Kos: Oregon Democrats Support Privacy Rights for Gun Owners.

The Oregonian public blog to discuss Assault Weapons Ban on 3/15/09

On 3/7/09 the Oregonian ran an opinion called "Growing Fears on the Southern Border." It repeated the canard floated earlier this month that gun control in the U.S. is necessary to help curb drug violence in Mexico. In response, I sent them a letter (see below) which will be posted to The Oregonian public blog at 8 PM Saturday, 3/14. The post will be listed in the Sunday edition, with links to the online discussion.

This will offer a good opportunity to voice your opinions on recent proposals to restrict U.S. gun rights in the name of the War on Drugs. My opinion is that the War on Drugs has from the very begin served as a poor mask for overreaching government policies, on both the right and left, and it's no surprise to see it trotted out in the gun control debate.

To visit the Oregonian post, go to "My Oregon" located at www.oregonlive.com/thestump. The post will appear at 8 p.m. Saturday, 3/14.

Please make your voices heard. Thanks.

-Zak
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Original Letter, excerpt:
Your opinion column in Saturday's edition (3/7/09) titled "Growing fears on the southern border" repeats the current murmur that gun violence associated with narcotics trafficking in Mexico is the result of gun laws in the U. S. . . [This letter is now the property of The Oregonian, please log in to read the full text and to join the conversation. -Z.]

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Pat on the Back to Zak and the Gun Owner's Caucus

Last night at the Multnomah County Dems meeting Zak Johnson made a presentation to the audience (mostly PCP's) regarding the current bill (I'm sorry I can't remember the number of the bill right now) to keep CHL holders' info private. The purpose of Zak's presentation was two fold; to inform, but mostly to have this issue put to a vote to see if there would be support for the bill from the Multnomah County Democrats.

After Zak gave his presentation to the audience the matter was put to a vote. A "pro" vote ment that the bill would be supported by the Mulnomah County Dems, and a "con" vote would mean the opposite. The result of the vote was a resounding "yes", or "pro" support of the bill.

The significance of this is that perhaps the most liberal county in Oregon voted in the favor of gun owners' rights. This is GREAT! It seems that the tide may be changing for the better within our party.

Thank you Zak for making yourself heard and for presenting at the meeting. Thank you to all of you who have shown your support for this bill and others like it by contacting your legislators. Please also thank your legislators that have backed this bill, and/or any other similar bills.

I hope to see you all in Albany on Sunday!