700 Personal Searches: No Such Thing As Privacy For Handlers Of Police Database

Minnesota police are the latest to inadvertently demonstrate that the majority of Americans who live some part of their lives within the information grid are so absurdly susceptible to privacy breaches, abuse and warrantless government scrutiny that it would all be funny if the implications weren’t so alarming.

Attorney Brooke Bass, who at one time represented Minnesota’s largest police union, Law Enforcement Labor Services, had become so interesting to various personnel in an array of more than 100 State and local law enforcement agencies that she’s become the subject of 700 (known) in-house searches for her on-file personal information, material ranging from where she lives to a physical description of her appearance.

According to a report in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Bass is considering legal action against the State, as well as municipalities where employees accessed her information.

It would be unfair to share an easily found photograph of Bass; although, for some, it might suggest a motive behind the interest in a woman who wielded such influence as an advocate for the mostly male law enforcement vocation.

But whether it’s her looks, her position or some other unknown aggravating factor, her legal representation is adamant that government employees — law enforcement personnel who hold the keys to vast amounts of private citizens’ personal information — have absolutely no business data-stalking an unwitting target.

Bass’ attorney, Kenn Fukuda, contends that nothing justifies Bass’ elevation among law enforcement types as a person of such interest, especially without her knowledge.

“We don’t think there should be any reason why over 100 entities are looking her up,” Fukuda told the Pioneer Press.

Bass’ case is the largest single (known) instance of data-stalking in the State’s ongoing driver’s license database publicity nightmare. But the attention it’s gotten has only served to bring other citizens out of the woodwork who want to know whether they’re being watched from the inside — and who’s doing the watching. The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, that State’s municipal political lobbying group and one-stop liability shop, has taken 110 claims in 82 jurisdictions and will undoubtedly see far more, as lawyers begin culling the public for potentially lucrative lawsuits against the State.

Guns Company Leaves Connecticut, Calls For Industry To ‘Abandon This State’

PTR (Precision Target Rifle) Industries, makers of the PTR-91 series of rifles, released a statement on its website last week announcing its principled departure from its corporate home in Bristol, Conn.

You know why: Connecticut, site of the Nation’s latest media murder sensation, became an innovator in the recent liberal-State gun-grab disarmament race, passing a 2nd Amendment-abrogating bill on April 4 that creates the country’s first law enforcement registry of dangerous “gun” offenders.

The entire post is worth reading, but this excerpt stands as one of the best indictments of the State Legislature’s wrongheaded subservience to the utopian goal of public safety, and of the secretive and mendacious tactics it used to get the hurried bill before the governor:

What emerged was a bill fraught with ambiguous definitions, insufficient considerations for the trade, conflicting mandates, and disastrous consequences for the fundamental rights of the people of CT.

The magnitude of the constitutional and economic importance of this bill is such that the disregard for public input (in the final version), and the haphazard production of the legislation should be insulting to any citizen or business in CT. It should be a shock to us all that such landmark legislation could be written in one week, and seen by no one (including the rank-and-file legislators) prior to its emergency certification. Having been present in the deliberations in both legislative chambers, it was clear that a majority of our legislators had not even read the bill — and those that had read it had only a cursory understanding.

The process with which this legislation proceeded, along with the language that resulted gives us no confidence that this will be the last violation of our rights in our beloved home state, and we only hope that this does not set a precedent at a national level.

The rights of the citizens of CT have been trampled upon. The safety of its children is at best questionably improved from the day of the tragedy that triggered the events that lead us here. Finally, due to an improperly drafted bill, manufacturing of modern sporting rifles in the State of CT has been effectively outlawed. With a heavy heart but a clear mind, we have been forced to decide that our business can no longer survive in Connecticut — the former Constitution state.

The company hasn’t selected its next home (certainly, it will have its pick of suitors), but it has secured agreements from “a majority” of employees, including gunsmiths, to relocate and continue working for PTR.

PTR is also asking other Connecticut-based firearms manufacturers to “abandon this state as its leaders have abandoned the proud heritage that forged our freedom.”

If those companies heed that call, it would mean Colt (a Connecticut original since 1847) as well as shotgun giant Mossberg (founded in New Haven since 1919) and Stag Arms (2003), which makes AR-15s that Connecticut residents no longer can buy, would all wave goodbye to a State whose history, as much as the Nation’s itself, has been bound since Colonial times to the manufacture and accessibility of firearms for residents, law enforcement and the military.

Presidential Tax Return Made Public

Through White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, President Barack Obama announced the release of his family’s 2012 tax returns Friday. The 32-page tome can be accessed here.

The Obamas reported an adjusted gross income of $608,611, $400,000 of which came from the President’s salary, and almost all of the remainder coming from book sales. The family paid $112,214, or 18.4 percent, in taxes. Through relatively sizable charitable donations, the Obamas’ actual tax liability was $335,000.

Interestingly, the President’s beloved Patient Protection and Affordable Care plan would require only about $2,000 in tax contributions for someone reporting the Obamas’ earnings, according to Forbes. That leaves lower income brackets to foot the rest of the plan’s required $317 billion in new tax revenues over the next 10 years.

Senate Democrats Block Thatcher Honor, Obama’s Gonna Let Me Go, Arizona’s Arpaio Targeted By Bomb, Global Warming Becomes Core Curriculum, President Miscalculated Budget Spending…By $1 Trillion – Friday Morning News Roundup 4-12-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

  • When was the last time Congress disgracefully turned its back at the passing of a staunch diplomatic ally and iconic peacetime head of state? Senate Democrats blocked a customary, boilerplate resolution late Thursday to honor former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died Monday.
  • Talk of amnesty and border reform for illegal immigrants has made President Barack Obama a popular guy among aspiring illegals planning a furtive trip across the Rio Grande. When illegal crossers get caught in the attempt, some are beginning to display a savvy defiance, telling their border patrol captors things like “Obama’s gonna let me go” and “Where do I go for my amnesty?”
  • Someone wants Joe Arpaio, the tough -on-illegal-immigration sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz. dead. Police in Flagstaff intercepted a bomb in a package that was addressed to Arpaio, who’s made national news for years with his old-school attitude toward prisoners and illegal border crossers. He’s facing the U.S. Department of Justice now in a civil rights lawsuit alleging he hasn’t dealt fairly with Hispanics. The bomb threat was real; the device was disabled late Thursday by a bomb squad.
  • New science standards for the Nation’s public schools aim to put the Global Warming agenda at the center of all science curricula, progressively building upon a foundation of global warming indoctrination through every year of a child’s K-12 education.
  • President Obama’s new budget recommendation had already been panned by both parties for its profligacy. But number-crunchers are realizing that this year’s proposal exceeds even the President’s own expectations and promises, surpassing the $3.7 trillion he pledged to spend over the course of his first five fiscal years in office. The new budget revises that figure to a mere $5.3 trillion – 43 percent more than everyone already feared.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

Median Household Income Now Less Than What Government Spends Per Household

If you add up all the money the government is spending, using information supplied by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and divide that amount by the number of households in the United States, you get a figure that now exceeds the median amount of money those households collectively earn.

In a new book called Completely Predictable, author Terence Jeffrey points out that, since 2010, the government has begun spending more money than it can even raise as revenue by taxing households at 100 percent.

That year, net spending at all levels of government — including Federal, State and municipal — amounted to $5.94 trillion. Divided across the 118,682,000 households in the United States, that comes to $50,074 per household. The median household income that year was $49,445: a $629 difference.

By contrast, in 2000, the government was spending $29,941 per household at a time when the median household income was $41,990.

Jefferey observes:

Thus, between 2000 and 2010, government in this country went from spending $12,049 less than the median household income to spending $629 more.

…I think the number demonstrates how completely predictable the fiscal crisis our country faces has become.

A nation whose government spends per family more than the typical family earns is on the road to ruin.

How in the world is something like that possible? Because taxation’s not where the money is. Fabricating money in a debt-based economy is the way we do things in America. The government prints money and creates debt as it endlessly expands the money supply, all under the para-governmental aegis of the bankers who control the Federal Reverse.

Although, at the Federal level, President Barack Obama has rightly been criticized for promoting a monetary policy that takes government spending into the stratosphere; the trend is nothing new. But Obama’s embracing of entitlement spending, as well as his burgeoning enthusiasm for the kind of economic “stimulus” policies his predecessor, George W. Bush, was lambasted for using as a stop-gap bailout measure, constitute the most egregious commitment to the government debt bubble of any President in the Nation’s history, as this chart of “real” inflation-adjusted per-capita (not per-household) spending shows:

hey-ozymandias-can-you-spare-a

“Two things stand out,” the accompanying article notes. “George W. Bush was god-awful. And Barack Obama looks to be even worse.”

Feds Secretly Asked For — And Secretly Got — List Of Every Concealed Carry Resident In Missouri

A report in the Columbia Daily Tribune has uncovered two instances in the past 16 months of Missouri State Police handing over to the Federal government a database that shares the identity of every registered concealed carry permit holder in the State.

They did it without notifying any of the permit holders, and they did it in violation of the law. In Missouri, residents’ concealed carry permit information is stored along with their driver license records; and Missouri law doesn’t allow even the State police to pull more than one resident’s information at a time — and certainly not en masse.

According to the Tribune’s report, 185,000 Missourians can now thank their State police for being known to the Feds as concealed carry owners of firearms — if they ever even learn their information was handed over freely. Not everybody reads the papers.

Missouri State Senator Kurt Schaeffer discovered the data dump after repeatedly quizzing revenue officials as part of a wider investigation into a new driver licensing system. Although an outraged Schaeffer has pledged to grill police officials about why they shared the information, no one has seen a written record that traces the Feds’ request for it back to the source.

Schaeffer told the Tribune the information appeared to have been requested by the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, so that the agency could see which of its beneficiaries with mental diagnoses also had concealed carry permits.

That’s abhorrent, said Schaeffer:

When they turn over the entire list of concealed carry holders in the state of Missouri to the federal government, where is it going? I want to know who all was involved in this transaction because if this is just some phone call saying give me the list of all concealed carry holders, how did the person at the patrol who fulfilled that request know who was at the other end of the phone? How did they know where to send it? How did they know what it was being used for?

Before the list reached the Feds, it had to pass through the hands of State police officials. The driver licensing database where the names are stored isn’t supposed to be configured in such a way that all the names can be extracted and subsequently copied, all at once, in a single “batch.” But, admitted a State police official, that’s exactly what happened — and it wasn’t an accident. It happened twice, “for law enforcement investigative purposes,” as a police captain admitted to the newspaper.

“Now we know… the department is actively and purposefully concealing that information from us,” observed State Senator Joseph Schaaf.

If it’s a crime in Missouri to disclose the names of concealed weapons permit holders, then who inside the public safety office or the department of revenue or any other State agency with potential access to these names is likely to face any criminal reprimand? Or are government officials immune from perpetrating crimes against their constituents?

Just ask supposed “hacker” and private citizen Aaron Swartz, whom the Feds harangued with a prosecution that would have led to decades’ worth of prison time.

Why? For using computers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to download millions of academic articles from a nonprofit database service. There was never a clear-cut crime prosecutors could hang on Swartz; he hadn’t culled any personal information, and he hadn’t stolen anything. He sure as heck hadn’t betrayed the trust of 185,000 individuals whose Constitutional powers he’d agreed to protect.

Swartz is dead, by the way, having hanged himself before his Federal trial. But imagine if Swartz had accessed the Missouri database and given these gun owners’ names away — even to a government agency — surreptitiously. Would he just get away with a strong talking to? Would you?

Obama Budget Would Cap Retirement Savings

Congress is very unlikely to approve President Barack Obama’s recommended budget, submitted Wednesday after much delay.

But if the President got his way, Congress would cap the amount of money people could save in tax-preferred retirement accounts so that no account could earn an annual return of more than $205,000. As U.S. News reports, that means accounts that today hold about $3 million would have reached their savings limit under Obama’s plan.

While $3 million is a lot of money, it’s not as much as it used to be — and that trend is certain to continue. And, whether it’s an extravagant amount, for those who’ve managed to save the money or simply a cushion intended to last a retired family 20 or 30 years, it’s not the dollar figure that should raise eyebrows.

What’s sinister about the scheme is the way in which it reveals Obama’s liberal, regressive attitude toward capitalism and wealth. It stems from the punitive idea that those who earn a lot of money no longer need money as much as others do, and that it’s government’s job to redistribute it.

Obama said as much, telling a POLITICO reporter that “some wealthy individuals are able to accumulate many millions of dollars in these accounts, substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving.”

Where’s the incentive to enter the free market when the government is standing in line to confiscate the wealth you’ve worked for?

Gun Grab Gets A Name, Rand Calls Out Dems At Black College, Iran’s Mystery Time Machine, Texas Goes After TSA, Youth Ain’t What It Used To Be: Thursday Morning News Roundup 4-11-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

  • When you want to take away citizens’ powers, always bury your motives in a lie, one that shows reverences for the very powers you want to seize. Days of Congressional discussion over a Federal gun-control bill has produced an agreement between key players from both political parties, and they’ve given the resulting piece of forthcoming legislation a name: The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act. Was there something wrong with that other act called “The 2nd Amendment?”

 

  • Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) spoke to an assembly at historically black Howard College Wednesday, telling the crowd that the GOP isn’t their historical enemy — despite the party’s futile and halfhearted attempts in recent years to woo to black voters. Slow going for Rand, though. Cops tackled one guy who unfurled a banner that said something about white supremacy. And another student told Paul he doesn’t want a hands-off government; he wants one “that is going to help me.”

 

  • Not that you’d want to, but a new gizmo developed by an Iranian inventor purports to “bring the future to you” by accurately predicting the next “five to eight years of the future life of any individual.” The thing, which isn’t described in any detail at all, evidently predicts Iran will be going to war soon. See? It works!

 

  • Texas is already beloved for its “hands-off” attitude toward property and privacy, so it makes sense that a bill before the legislature could make it a crime for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents to touch you there without probable cause. One Democratic party pooper panned the idea, saying he gets “tired of Texas playing chicken with the Federal government all the time.”

 

  • A study in the European Journal of Cardiology has found that young adults today are so unhealthy that, on average, they might as well be 15 years older than they actually are. Put another way, they’re 15 “virtual” years older than their parents were at the same age. Pass the Doritos.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

Nationwide Push Urging Retailers To Stop Selling Toxic Products Starts Today

A major push begins today urging high-profile U.S. retailers to crack down on selling a host of products that contain chemicals with unsafe — or unproven — track records.

The campaign seeks a commitment from Wal-Mart, Target and other major retailers to devise a plan to stop selling products that contain any of more than 100 chemicals opponents identified as unsafe in various studies and regulated by one or more Federal measures, such as the Toxic Control Substances Act, issued over the past several decades.

The campaign represents a collaboration between nearly 50 health and environmental advocacy organizations that are arguing that most retailers don’t know what ingredients are in the products they sell. Advocates say those products traverse the spectrum of everyday use: clothing, vinyl flooring, shower curtains, packaging, shampoos and bottles, among hundreds of others.

Some retailers and industry advocates claim they have already moved to self-regulate, according to a report Wednesday. Some stores stopped selling products that contain BPAs before the Feds could get around to banning them, for example. And Target, Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and others have imposed their own restrictions on toxins such as polyvinyl chloride, coal tar, formaldehyde, phthalates and parabens.

But one organizer said retailers aren’t doing enough. “[T]he bites so far are too small for the scale of the problem,” said Andy Igrejas of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Homes. His organization, along with groups like the Breast Cancer Awareness Fund, are sending a letter — which they haven’t yet made public — urging retailers to identify and halt the sale of products that contain chemicals which have been linked to cancer, infertility, learning disabilities and behavioral problems.

That letter will go out to Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Kroger, Walgreens, Home Depot, Lowe’s, CVS, Best Buy and Safeway. So far, organizers aren’t talking about coming up with repercussions against retailers that don’t heed the call to eliminate toxins from the products they sell. They simply want to make sure the public knows the stores they frequent are being called upon, at the least, to require their suppliers to disclose what’s in their products.

Colorado Sheriffs Will Sue Over Gun Laws

When the police think that regular citizens — people with whom they must constantly interact in their work — are better off with guns than without them, shouldn’t the people making the laws those cops have to enforce be listening?

More than half the 62 elected sheriffs in the State of Colorado are preparing a lawsuit challenging the Constitutionality of broad gun-control laws the Legislature passed and the Governor signed last month.

The Denver Post reported Wednesday that 37 of the State’s sheriffs are presently involved, although more are likely to join. It’s not known yet whether the suit would be filed in State or Federal court.

The suit would take aim at three gun-control measures signed into law by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper on March 20 — eight months after a mass murder at an Aurora theater elicited a call from liberal legislators, governors, Congressmen and the Administration of President Barack Obama to create new laws expanding government’s role in determining who can own what type of gun.

Together, the Colorado legislation limits magazine capacity to 15 rounds, requires universal background checks that encompass private gun sales and then requires the customer to pay for the background check.

At the time the new measures passed, a Republican State Senator voiced what gun-owning Coloradans were thinking: “I’m telling you right now: I will not obey this law. I will willfully and purposefully and civilly disobey this law.”

The sheriffs’ proposed lawsuit would argue the Colorado laws violate the 2nd Amendment’s right to bear arms, as well as the 14th Amendment’s protection of citizens’ immunities from state infringement.

Sheriffs’ support for the suit isn’t quite unanimous, but it’s gaining momentum. One sheriff who said he won’t be signing on attributed his reluctance not to any disagreement he had with the spirit of the suit; rather, he said he just doesn’t believe in suing “anybody for anything.”

Michigan Man Victorious In Fight To Keep Anti-Obama Signs On His Own Property

A Michigan township challenged local farmer Vern Verduin’s right to display political banners (located on his own property) critical of President Barack Obama’s fiscal policy. They lost.

Officials in Gaines Township had cited and fined Verduin for allegedly violating the local sign ordinance, which forbids political signage unless it’s near an election season, while allowing commercial signage anytime. But a district judge tossed out the charges and ruled the Township’s ordinance is unConstitutional on the grounds it violates 1st Amendment protections of free speech.

Verduin’s signs, which were displayed on two tractor trailers he owns, read:

MARXISM/SOCIALISM

=POVERTY & HUNGER

And:

OBAMA’S “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED”

8% UNEMPLOYMENT

16 TRILLION DEBT

Both vehicles were parked on his own property, where Verduin operates a 40-acre cattle farm. District Judge Steven Servaas ruled that the Gaines Township ordinance violated the 1st Amendment because it favored commercial advertising over free political speech.

Obama 1st U.S. President To Spend $4 Trillion In A Single Year

In conjunction with President Barack Obama’s long-awaited Federal budget request Wednesday, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released projections that show the President is on track to be the first in the Nation’s history to surpass $4 trillion in spending in the span of a single year.

Although not adjusted for inflation, it doesn’t take complicated formulas to understand the difference between the $450 billion deficit Obama inherited upon taking office in 2008 and the $972 billion deficit the OMB projects this year — down from a high of $1.4 trillion high in 2009.

The OMB expects 2016 to be the year when the President’s spending plan will exceed the $ trillion mark.

Rhode Island Gun Law Leaves Campus Cops Holding Billy Clubs And Pepper Spray In Search For Alleged Gunman

When a call came in last week reporting someone had seen a gunman on the campus of the University of Rhode Island, the campus police sprang into action, placing the school on lockdown.

But had there been a gunman (it turned out to be a false alarm), the cops would literally have been bringing sticks to a gunfight. State law in Rhode Island doesn’t allow deputized campus police to carry guns.

State police can carry guns onto campuses, but reports indicate they weren’t at the scene in last week’s incident until 20 minutes after the call.

The scare prompted State Representative and retired cop Joe Almeida to redouble his efforts to get a bill passed that would permit campus police officers who’ve been properly trained to carry firearms while on the job. No word on the number of students and faculty who’d like for that Constitutional power to extend to themselves as well.

Texas Professor Under Fire For Anti-Gun Assignment, Obama Budget D.O.A., Equal Pay Day In D.C., Muppets Can’t Take Manhattan, Student On Lone Star Stabber: ‘We Wish We Could Protect Ourselves With Guns’: Wednesday Morning News Roundup 4-10-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

  • An art professor at Midwestern State University, located in Wichita Falls, Texas, is in hot water with the school administration after evidently asking students to make anti-gun posters for a personal project in which she was involved. The State doesn’t allow university professors to use their positions in any way that would ask students to support the instructors’ personal agendas or beliefs.
  • The President doesn’t (yet) get to enforce the annual budget recommendation he submits to Congress. But it’s customary for the executive branch to offer its version of how the Nation should overspend its money early each year. Now that it’s arrived, President Barack Obama’s budget (which was expected in February) at least has built up a strong bipartisan consensus: No one likes it.
  • Obama also recognized April 9 as national “Equal Pay Day” to push for parity between men and women in the workplace, but a look at the salaries of top-level staffers in the White House reveals the Obama Administration itself would be a good place to start.
  • Imagine living in a city where the worst thing local government has to worry about is people who dress up like Elmo, Mickey and Mario and walk around in public spaces frequented by tourists for their reputation for offering free and quirky street-level entertainment. Welcome to New York.
  • Immediately after Tuesday’s mass stabbing on the campus of Lone Star College in Houston, Texas, one student who had just witnessed the violence told a live TV interviewer on the scene that concealed carry on campus makes sense: “God protected us in the classroom. We wish we could protect ourselves with guns… We would love to have God and the law on our side.” Texas has comparatively open laws on gun ownership, but doesn’t allow concealed carry on college campuses.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

Majority Of Police Think Gun Control Won’t Solve Anything

Another law enforcement organization has weighed in on gun control, with a survey of police officers that strongly indicates the importance of keeping Congress’ hands off citizens’ 2nd Amendment powers.

The nationwide survey, done by policeone.com last month, reveals that 86 percent of law enforcement officers believe gun-control legislation doesn’t help — and, in fact, harms — their chances of staying safe during potentially violent encounters while on the job.

The survey, which canvassed 15,000 law enforcement professionals, found that most of them disagree that gun-control legislation will do anything to help them fight crime and may, in fact, make their jobs harder. The numbers are overwhelming:

  • 92 percent said banning so-called “assault” weapons and semiautomatic firearms either wouldn’t help reduce violent crime, or would actually make it more difficult.
  • 91 percent said they favor citizens’ right to conceal-carry firearms, so long as they are not former felons or have a diagnosable psychological condition that would make them a danger.
  • 86 percent said legislation Congress is considering wouldn’t help them stay safe in the field.
  • 82 percent said gun buy-back programs or amnesty programs won’t help reduce violent crime.
  • 80 percent said citizens who’d been armed in prior mass shooting incidents would have been able to reduce the number of innocent people who were wounded or died.

Congress is set to take up Democrat-sponsored gun control legislation this week, to the objection of a growing cadre of libertarian-leaning Republican Senators who are threatening to filibuster any bill that makes it to the Senate floor.

Several States, meanwhile, have already gotten the jump on Congress, rushing a litany of strict gun-grabbing laws through their spring legislative sessions in knee-jerk response to a mass murder last December in Newtown, Conn. Colorado, Connecticut, New York and Maryland have all moved to outdo each other in the race to make legal firearms harder to obtain.

Police Research Finds Victims Who Stand Their Ground Are Effective Against Active Shooters

The leader of a national police support organization believes there’s been a “sea change” in the approach many law enforcement agencies are taking when it comes to telling people how best to respond when they’re confronted by an armed threat.

In a weekend piece in The New York Times, Chuck Wexler, who heads the nonprofit Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), said high-profile mass murders have encouraged many local law enforcement officials to tell the public that taking matters into your own hands to neutralize a threat is often more effective than dialing 911 and waiting for help to arrive.

“There’s a recognition in these ‘active shooter’ situations that there may be a need for citizens to act in a way that perhaps they haven’t been trained for or equipped to deal with,” he told The Times. That need is a manifestation of the public’s growing rejection of a long-prevailing maxim that victims ‘don’t get involved; call 911,’” as Wexler said.

His remarks were supported with research by Texas State University that revealed regular people often have been successful in defusing a bad situation by defending themselves, either by stopping an attack with force and waiting for police to take over or by shooting the perpetrator outright.

According to Texas State’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center (ALERRT), the idea that average people must take responsibility for one’s safety — whether armed or unarmed — is finally gaining currency among many Americans who, in the past, looked only to the cops for Johnny-on-the-spot assistance.

According to the study, 49 percent of “active shooter” attacks targeting multiple victims between 2000 and 2010 were over with before police arrived at the scene. And, in those instances, victims who stood their ground against their attackers had a similar success rate at stopping the attack as police did in cases when they were able to engage the suspect.

In the 41 (out of 84 total) events that ended before police arrived, the attacker killed himself in 21 cases and fled in four more. When victims decided to take action against the shooters, “the potential victims at the attack site stopped the attacker themselves in 16 cases,” the study notes, 13 times by physically overcoming the attacker and three times by shooting him.

That compares relatively well with the way these types of shootings ended when police took on the suspects:

When the attack ended after the police arrived, the attacker was about equally likely to stop the attack himself (by surrendering or committing suicide) as he was to be stopped by police use of force. The attacker committed suicide in 13 instances and surrendered in 6. The police shot the attacker to resolve the event in 17 cases and subdued the attacker using other methods in 7.

Other instances studied, such as the 2007 Virginia Tech University shooting, demonstrate that, at the very least, would-be victims who aren’t armed can still dramatically improve their chances of living through an attack by taking evasive action or putting up defensive resistance.

‘What Are We Afraid Of?’ McCain Doesn’t Get Why Rand Paul And Friends Want A Gun Filibuster

Senator John McCain got on a CBS News show over the weekend and freely admitted he didn’t understand why young Republican Senators preoccupied with Constitutional freedoms are threatening to stall a Democrat-led effort at passing a Federal gun control bill by filibustering.

McCain’s comments came in response to previous warnings by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and a dozen other conservative Senators that they’ll do anything within the rules of procedure to prevent a gun control bill sponsored by Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) from coming to the floor:

I don’t understand it. The purpose of the United States Senate is to debate and to vote and to let the people know where we stand … What are we afraid of? Why would we not want – if this issue is as important as all of us think it is – why not take it to the world’s greatest deliberative body? That’s the greatest exaggeration in history, by the way, but, you know? Why not take it up in amendment and debate? The American people will profit from it. I do not understand why United States Senators want to block debate when the leader has said we can have amendments.

McCain went on to say he would welcome debate over mandating universal background checks, without saying he would support the measure outright. Reid’s bill seeks to expand background checks and crack down on “pass-through” third-party firearms purchases, along with a number of other gun control provisions; but he’s offered to open up the measures for bipartisan amendment when (and if) the bill comes to the floor.

Paul and others threatening the filibuster argue that the bill’s entire premise represents an affront to Americans’ guaranteed 2nd Amendment powers and, therefore, has no business even coming before the Senate for discussion.

Although McCain isn’t sympathetic with his peers’ use of the filibuster, it’s not as though he doesn’t have a record employing that very same tactic in past Senate debates. He invoked the threat of a filibuster in leading a (temporarily) successful 2010 effort to block a repeal of the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on open homosexuality. And over his long career, he’s sided in favor of using the filibuster 287 times out of the 712 occasions he’s had the opportunity.

Riflemaker Colt Competition Moves Operations To Texas

Colt Competition, which makes AR-15-type rifles for Connecticut-based Colt’s Manufacturing Co., will move its operations from Oregon to Texas, parent company Bold Ideas revealed Monday.

The change comes after a strong courtship effort by Texas Governor Rick Perry to roll out a friendly welcome mat to gun manufacturers frustrated by recent and drastic gun control legislation in their home States. Connecticut’s Legislature passed a comprehensive gun bill last week that made most kinds of AR-15 rifles illegal to own in the State.

Colt Competition will now put down roots in Breckenridge, Texas — potentially trading more than 600 Oregon jobs for jobs in the Lone Star State.

IRS Looking At Facebook And Twitter To See If You’re A Cheat

A Fox News television affiliate in Washington, D.C., is reporting that the Internal Revenue Service has alarmed many social media users by stalking their Facebook postings and Tweets in an attempt to make sure you’re saying all the right things about how you went about filing your tax return this year.

According to Fox 5, the IRS will look to your online presence for potential evidence, if it suspects you evaded or improperly filed your Federal taxes. The government’s official line is that it won’t review a taxpayer’s social media accounts unless his tax form already has been flagged.

“Be careful what you say on social networking platforms,” warns attorney Kristen Matthews. “There are laws that regulate the government’s ability to get a hold of things like credit card transaction history. But those laws have become more permissive in the last several years… and some might say those laws are no longer in line with the average expectation of privacy.”

FCC May Loosen Broadcast Rules For Nudity And Language

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), tasked by Congress with the job of policing Federal laws governing obscenity, indecency and profanity on broadcast television and radio, is considering enforcement changes that would allow brief nudity and some isolated use of verbal expletives during prime-time hours, relaxing restrictions that have long been penalized by severe fines.

The proliferation of media outlets, coupled with an attendant increase in the variety of themes that enter the cultural mainstream as broadcasters vie for Americans’ eye and ears, has led to a massive backlog in complaints, which the FCC hasn’t been able to address as quickly as they’ve been pouring in.

Retiring FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has posited a shift in the commission’s focus: one that would let slide commonplace or “fleeting” curse words, as well as brief nudity that’s not part of a sexual situation. Late last year, he ordered the commission’s enforcement arm to tackle the backlog by focusing only on “egregious” instances of indecency or profanity.

Since that time, the commission has whittled its caseload down by 70 percent, or more than 1 million pending complaints.

For now, the idea hasn’t been implemented. But the effectiveness of relaxing the rules a bit on the enforcement side has prompted the FCC to “seek comment on whether the full Commission should make changes to its current broadcast indecency policies or maintain them as they are,” according to its April 1 announcement.

The FCC is soliciting public comments on the topic through the commission’s Electronic Filing System; the comments of your fellow Americans are also available for viewing at the same address. Commenters can also mail their remarks before the closing date at the end of April.

De Facto ‘Debtors’ Prison’ Freezes Economic Mobility, Favors Plutocrats In Eroding U.S. Legal System

Drawing a direct line — or any line at all — that links criminal guilt with incarceration is becoming impossible in a growing number of cities and States, as people are being put indefinitely in jail for their inability to pay medical bills, traffic fines and court costs.

Since 1833, it’s been illegal at the Federal level to imprison someone for unpaid debt. But individual States still retain the legal prerogative to do just that, and one-third of them still do.

Increasingly, private debt collection has come to put pressure on law enforcement to aggressively pursue available legal opportunities to arrest those who don’t pay their bills — such as when a civil judgment has been issued against an already-delinquent borrower and that person subsequently is found to be in contempt of the judgment because he still can’t pay.

Contempt, failing to respond at court hearings and failing to pay court costs (which mount over time) are all used as legal justifications for jailing someone who originally came before the law in a civil capacity because he couldn’t pay a debt.

An Illinois woman was billed $280, in error, for medical services. She inquired about the error and was told she wouldn’t, of course, have to pay it. But the bill went into collections, and State police eventually showed up at her house. They arrested her.

In Missouri, when creditors win civil judgments against borrowers who can’t pay, they wait for the borrower’s “examination” summons, a post-judgment court date to review a borrower’s financial assets. If the borrower doesn’t appear, the creditor asks the court for a “body attachment,” which is essentially an arrest warrant. Once arrested, the borrower is indefinitely held in jail pending a bond payment that’s set at — guess how much — the amount he owes the creditor (plus court costs).

Without question, lenders who have been defrauded by borrowers have every reason to demand full recourse for recovering what’s owed them under the law. But the spirit of civil law governing economic transactions in the United States holds that both parties are equally exposed to the risks attending any exchange of money for product.

Lenders who collude with local law enforcement and courts to jail debtors are exposing their former customers to more than just the civil consequences of dealing in bad faith; they’re taking away individual liberties. Now switch that antagonism around: If the lenders were the ones defrauding the borrowers, how often would the borrowers’ legal recourse extend all the way to the criminal courts?

Putting someone in jail — not to serve out a sentence handed down for a criminal conviction, but for lacking money owed to another entity (either to creditors or, increasingly, to the state) — is to recreate the debtors’ prison in America, a Nation whose brief, tumultuous experiment with the concept was rejected as vestigial of the old-world European classism the Founders had striven to abolish.

America’s Founders adamantly despised the idea of debtors’ prisons (many served time in them) not only for its cruelty, but also for its ossification of the poor classes. To be put in jail for lack of funds is to be frozen in society with no hope of rising, on one’s own merits and ambitions, to the middle or upper class.

More egregious is the practice of governments throwing people in jail for being unable to pay the government. An Ohio man ended up sitting in jail for 10 days last year because he couldn’t pay the balance on an outstanding $900 in costs owed to the municipal court of the Town of Norwalk. In other words, the court converted the fine he couldn’t pay into jail time, despite a 1971 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found that very practice unConstitutional.

There’s some hope that higher courts will end that kind of state profiteering. An Alabama judge put the hammer down on the town of Harpersville last year, calling a traffic-ticketing scheme involving police, city officials and a private probation company a “judicially sanctioned extortion racket.”

That case involved four people who sued the city for violating their Constitutional rights. If people ticketed for speeding there were not immediately able to fines imposed by the municipal court, they were referred to the private company, which instantly began tacking on additional fees that multiplied the cost of the original offense — all under the sanction of criminal law. Many were jailed on bogus failure to appear charges, and every interaction with the town’s legal system cost them more money.

Shelby County Circuit Judge Hub Harrington heard the case, and he said this in his order:

When viewed in a light most favorable to Defendants, their testimony concerning the City’s court system could reasonably be characterized as the operation of a debtors prison. The court notes that these generally fell into disfavor by the early 1800’s, though the practice appears to have remained common place in Harpersville. From a fair reading of the defendants’ testimony one might ascertain that a more apt description of the Harpersville Municipal Court practices is that of a judicially sanctioned extortion racket. Most distressing is that these abuses have been perpetrated by what is supposed to be a court of law. Disgraceful.

The judge went on to order the mayor and every city council member to attend a scheduled hearing — and every possible subsequent hearing that might arise in disposing the case:

These individuals, who are the officials ultimately responsible for the operation of the City, may wish to consult with Mr. [Larry] Ward [the town’s municipal judge alleged to have been involved in the scheme] regarding the consequences of one’s failure to appear, especially when actually ordered by a court to do so.

Amen. At every level of the court system in the United States, we need more judges like that.