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.

BEARD PAC Funds Candidates Who Sport Facial Hair

In a move that inevitably will be decried, somewhere, for its intrinsic sexism, a new political action committee (PAC) has organized around the idea that candidates with beards (beards, not mustaches or wimpy soul patches) are sorely missing from American elected offices.

So the Bearded Entrepreneurs for the Advancement of a Responsible Democracy (BEARD) PAC is throwing its financial weight behind candidates at all levels of government who sport the facial hair. There’s no other politics tied to the PAC’s agenda. Whether liberal or conservative, Democrat, Republican or independent, a candidate seeking elected office could get the PAC’s campaign support simply for having a beard.

It’s a joke, yet it’s serious at the same time. BEARD PAC’s website argues there’s something to be said for the dedication and commitment it takes to grow and keep a beard:

Bearded Entrepreneurs for the Advancement of a Responsible Democracy (BEARD PAC) feels that individuals with the dedication to grow and maintain a quality beard are the kinds of individuals that would show dedication to the job of public service, as such it is our mission to help elect bearded candidates from across the political spectrum and across all levels of government.

Our support will go to candidates with both a full beard, and a savvy mind full of growth-oriented policy positions that will move our great nation towards a more lush and magnificent future.

What about women? BEARD PAC sends its regrets, saying it’s a shame that women make up less than 20 percent of the present Congress — but they’re not eligible to receive the group’s backing.

Unless they, too, have beards.

Alabama Bill Could Give Gun Owners Free Lifetime Car-Carry Permits

If a bill approved by the Alabama Senate last week passes this year, gun owners would be able to obtain a lifetime permit to carry pistols in their vehicles, something that now requires a concealed-carry permit.

Under the bill, there would essentially be a new category of permit created, one that applies to vehicles only. Gun owners who plan to keep pistols only inside their cars for personal protection wouldn’t need a concealed-carry permit; rather, the lifetime permit — which wouldn’t cost anything — would suffice.

And gun owners who already do possess a concealed-carry permit would automatically be allowed to carry weapons in their cars — just as they presently do.

In addition, the bill would prevent employers from telling employees they can’t keep guns in their private cars while at work. It also would expand the “Castle Doctrine,” which allows for the use of deadly force in self-defense at one’s home, to businesses where employees elect to protect themselves against intruders.

The bill’s sponsor said the new law is really an effort to clarify that Alabama is an open-carry State, and it is intended to strengthen the spirit of that message. The original draft of the bill wouldn’t have required a permit of any kind for guns to be carried in vehicles.

Federal Judge Says Morning-After Pill Can Be Had Over The Counter

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must end restrictions on how old a woman can be to obtain the pregnancy-halting “Plan B” morning after pill, according to a Federal judge’s ruling Friday that excoriated the Administration of President Barack Obama for politicizing the issue.

Before the ruling, the morning-after pill was available only to women who show proof to pharmacists that they’re 17 or older. Pharmacists could also, for reasons of conscience, refuse to sell the pills to anyone at all.

The new ruling makes the pills as easy to get as vitamins or headache medicine, and effectively removes the moral onus from pharmacists by moving the pill out onto store shelves, where a prescription or proof of age isn’t required to make a purchase.

In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman criticized the Obama Administration, saying a 2011 decision by Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the department of Health and Human Services, to limit sales of the pill to those over age 16 was “obviously political.”

“Even with eyes shut to the motivation for the Secretary’s decision, the reasons she provided are so unpersuasive as to call into question her good faith,” the judge wrote of Sebelius.

Unless the appeals process leads to delays, the order will take effect nationwide in 30 days; and morning-after pills could appear on drugstore shelves.

Maryland Goes After Guns, Facebook Goes After Your Privacy, You’re Still Not On Disability!?, Mickey D’s Workers Strike In NYC, Even Hispanics Think U.S. Should Enforce Immigration Law: Friday Morning News Roundup 4-5-2013

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.

  • Yesterday, Connecticut; today, Maryland. The Old Line State has joined the competition to see who can pass the Nation’s most draconian gun-control laws, with the General Assembly approving a by-now predictable bevy of restrictions aping similar laws passed recently in New York and Connecticut. Novel for the Maryland law is this bit of tyranny: Buy a gun, give up your fingerprints.

 

  • The new Facebook Home app for mobile phones has privacy advocates concerned. Installing the app, which essentially takes over your Android phone’s main screen, could enable the app to surrender just about every move you make on your phone — as well as your GPS-based whereabouts in real time — to Facebook servers. It “destroys any notion of privacy,” warns one tech blogger.

 

  • The number of Americans now receiving Federal disability benefits hit a record 8.85 million people in March. That’s more people than live in the entire State of Virginia (and 37 others).

 

  • Employees of fast food restaurants, including McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell, are on strike in New York City, protesting $7.25 hourly wages and leveraging to form a union. For some reason, the walkout was timed to coincide with the day Martin Luther King Jr. was killed amid his ongoing support of a strike organized by Memphis, Tenn., sanitation workers.

 

  • A new poll conducted by the Center for Immigration Studies reveals that a majority of Hispanics, 53 percent, think the U.S. government has done “too little” to enforce its own laws on immigration.

 

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

Congress To Hash Out Cybersecurity In The Dark

Privacy advocates are standing up to oppose a bill before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee that would grant more powers to corporations for sharing customer data among themselves and, if the bill survives the committee process whole, the government.

Not only is the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) a potential legal tool for companies and law enforcement agencies to pass citizens’ private information back and forth; it’s also a piece of legislation the Intelligence Committee doesn’t want to discuss in front of the public as it considers additions.

According to a report at The Hill, the committee is closing the doors on media and the general public when it begins marking up the bill next week, and it won’t allow the proceedings to be streamed on the Internet.

A committee spokesperson deflected criticism, saying the move will expedite the process, that there’s a lot of confidential information that could get out and that the committee did the same thing last year anyway, in similar discussions.

But critics say these are exactly the kind of talks that should be open to the public, because they involve lawmakers trading thoughts over how to craft a bill that one opponent describes as a “backdoor wiretap” on warrantless private data searches.

More than 40 organizations implored the Intelligence Committee to hold open-door talks when CISPA comes up next week, publicizing a letter sent out to committee members Wednesday. The letter asserted that the public “has a right to know how Congress is conducting the people’s business, particularly when such important wide-ranging policies are at stake”:

All Congressional committee hearings and votes should be conducted in accordance with our country’s highest principles of transparency and openness and made accessible to the public…The general rule should be open government.

As you know, it is the practice of most other committees not only to open their markups, but also to webcast them and share the text of the legislation in advance of voting. Closure of the entire markup is unwarranted.

Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), Intelligence Committee chairman, is sponsoring the bill. A copy of the draft — minus, of course, any amendments to come out of the closed-door revisions next week — can be found here.

Connecticut Passes Gun Grab While Other States Dig In To Protect 2nd Amendment

The Connecticut Legislature passed its sweeping package of gun control early Thursday, vastly tightening restrictions on firearms ownership in a State already regarded by gun control advocates, long before the December 2012 Sandy Hook tragedy, as having the Nation’s fifth-toughest gun laws.

The State’s House of Representatives closed the deal shortly after 2 a.m. Eastern time, approving  a broad ban on scary “assault” weapons and high-capacity magazines, along with a host of other regulations on ammunition sales and mental health checks.

Governor Dannel P. Malloy promptly signed the bipartisan bill into law, following a day of demonstrations in which 2nd Amendment supporters greatly outnumbered gun control advocates outside the State Capitol.

The new laws, which also require “eligibility certificates” for prospective gun buyers and mandate universal background checks — even for private sales — begin taking effect immediately. Other provisions, such as the creation of the Nation’s first “dangerous weapon offender” registry, will be implemented over time.

As the Legislature spent the day preparing to vote on the measure, anxious customers made a run on guns and ammunition at specialty stores throughout the State. Shops already experiencing chronic shortages sold out of weapons and ammo. One store owner called it “panic buying,” motivated by genuine fear that government was further tightening the noose around regular citizens’ 2nd Amendment powers.

The rush to interject government into private gun ownership in States where leaders invoke mass shootings and public safety fears has been offset in other States by Legislative action designed to ensure residents their right to bear arms won’t be infringed.

The contrasting approach of lawmakers in the gun-grab States and the gun rights States is stark, with 10 States recently enacting laws that actually broaden residents’ gun ownership rights. Thirty-six States have passed some form of “nullification” legislation intended to repel the enforcement of any Federal-level gun restrictions that may pass Congress.

That’s essentially a Constitutional challenge by the States, daring the Federal government to expose its own double-standard take on the Bill of Rights by inviting it to invoke the 10th Amendment’s Supremacy Clause in order to enforce gun control that violates the clear and simple language of the 2nd Amendment.

First Magpul, Now HiViz: Gun Companies Continue To Flee Colorado

Another firearms company is getting out of Colorado, saying the State’s recent legislation banning high-capacity magazines and requiring residents to obtain and pay for their own background checks is unConstitutional and demonstrates lawmakers’ willingness to infringe citizens’ right to bear arms.

HiViz Shooting Systems of Fort Collins, which makes sights, recoil pads and accessories, announced April 1 that it will relocate out of State, although management hasn’t made a final decision on where the company will end up.

CEO Phillip Howe said in a release that he’d like to be able to stay in Colorado, but promoting business in a State that has begun telling residents where to draw the line on firearms afflicts his conscience and sends the wrong message to lawmakers and residents alike.

“Colorado is a beautiful State with great people, but we cannot in clear conscience support with our taxes a state that has proven through recent legislation a willingness to infringe upon the constitutional rights of our customer base,” Howe explained.

HiViz follows Erie-based accessory manufacturer Magpul as the second high-profile company to quit Colorado since Governor John Hickenlooper signed the gun control bills into law last month.

Following Founders’ Wisdom An Unsafe Choice In Modern America

It’s a sad irony that American government has, over roughly the latter half of our Nation’s lifespan, so thoroughly reversed its Constitutionally defined role. It’s remarkable and hard to believe that government has cast to the margins those Americans possessed of the expectation that the Bill of Rights means today what it has always meant — and that it always should.

There are countless ways in which our leaders have incrementally and systematically betrayed the thinking of our Nation’s Founders. There are just as many ways our own government now seeks to betray those remaining citizens whose serious adherence to the Constitution targets them, in the eyes of Big Government, as extremists, relics and kooks:

Do you feel that the United States and other global military powers grow more and more borderless in their sphere of activity? Do you believe the justification for American military first action, occupation or police-state intervention gets more and more flimsy, more reliant on the discretion of the Commander  in Chief, less considering of the Constitutionally devised tripartite system of checks and balances than ever before?

Do you believe that the conceptual line of demarcation separating wartime from peacetime in America has been purposefully obliterated by our Presidents and war-profiteering policy makers?

Do you really regard civil law enforcement officers in your city, county, State and Nation as citizen peers whose sworn (and compensated) duty is to answer to you and respond when another has criminally infringed on your safety or your property? Would you deign to speak to your servants and protectors as an equal, to let them know, face to face, your expectations and concerns about the public space you share and the private space you each hold dear?

Do you wish that the Federal Reserve would stop printing money to forestall crashing America’s debt-based, fiat economy, while simultaneously weakening our Nation’s ability to negotiate sensible trade agreements because of a devalued currency?

Do you have an inherent suspicion of building up a revealing online presence through the use of Facebook or Twitter? Maybe it’s not even a suspicion; maybe you’re just a very private person. Or maybe you simply believe in the experience of real things, that your outsized personality is too robust a thing to represent via facsimile on a rectangular computer screen.

Do you take responsibility for the manner in which you view, hear and read the information that purports to tell you what’s going on in the world around you? Do you feel that mainstream media lacks incentive to deliver that information to you? Do you prefer to get your news from a bevy of Internet sites that traverse the spectrum of political views?

If you’re among those who answer “yes” to some — or all — of these types of questions, know that it’s getting harder and harder to convince your elected leaders in today’s Washington that you don’t fit some government agency’s description of a domestic terrorist.

It’s small consolation that, were they alive today, the Founders would be right there with you.

DHS Says Fewer Bullets Stockpiled Than Reported; Buys In Bulk To Save Cash

Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) was among the earliest officials to criticize the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for entering into contracts that obligate it to buy more than a reported 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition — enough for a 20-year war.

He demanded an explanation from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano in a letter he sent last November. “Big Sis” evidently responded sometime back in February, but Coburn didn’t publish the full response on a Senate website until this week.

As many critics of the mass bullet buy had predicted, the response (issued not by Napolitano, but by Nelson Peacock, DHS assistant secretary for Legislative Affairs) reveals what the department has been doing, while utterly concealing any real motive as to why:

DHS routinely establishes strategic sourcing contracts that combine the requirements of all its Components for commonly purchased goods and services such as ammunition, computer equipment, and information technology services. These strategic sourcing contracts help leverage the purchasing power of DHS to efficiently procure equipment and supplies at significantly lower costs.

The official response, then, is that computer equipment, IT support and ammunition for guns all cost less when you buy in bulk.

That’s all the verbiage Coburn managed to elicit as to why DHS needs that much ammunition. But, taking at face value the amount of ammo DHS self-reported in an attached itemized summary, the momentum behind earlier reports that the department is stockpiling billions of bullets indeed falters — if only a little.

That’s because DHS reports “only” 263 million total rounds of ammo in its present inventory, though it also disclosed it will maintain the pace of recent years in continuing to spend roughly $37 million on additional ammunition.

As this analysis of the numbers points out, it’s evident that DHS, by its own accounting, isn’t expending ammo at the same rate as it’s buying up the stuff. Rather, it’s averaging more than 70 percent inventory retention (aka “stockpiling”) over the past three years, even though the department’s annual spending on ammunition hasn’t dropped off as its inventory of bullets swells.

Washington State Mulls Allowing Employers To Grab Facebook Passwords

Bosses investigating allegations of workplace misconduct in the State of Washington could soon legally obtain passwords and full access to individual employees’ social media accounts.

CBS Seattle reports a bill before the Washington Legislature could be amended to create the exemption, which would permit employers to “require or demand access to a personal account if an employee or prospective employee has allegations of workplace misconduct or giving away an employer’s proprietary information.”

Additional language in the proposal requires employers to keep whatever they find confidential, unless what they find is deemed criminal. A bankers’ lobbyist lauded the proposal as a way for employers to take care of alleged crimes against their interests without involving the police by expanding private businesses’ investigative powers.

An advocate for online privacy said the whole idea infringes not only on a workers’ rights to individual privacy, but also on the privacy of everyone whom he or she has befriended through social media. The American Civil Liberties Union also blasted the amendment, calling it “an employer fishing expedition.”

Driving High, Mark Of The Beast, J.T. Brings Sexy Back To White House, President A Sex Symbol (So Says Mooch), Big Sis ‘Answers’ Questions About Her Billion-Bullet Spree: Wednesday Morning News Roundup 4-3-2013

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.

  • Secondary issues surrounding the legalization of recreational pot continue to harsh the liberal Colorado Legislature’s mellow. The same Legislature that uses the 2nd Amendment as toilet paper is now grappling with a bill to help Colorado police (who do still have guns) determine what to do when a motorist is too stoned to drive.

 

  • How the Internet does love polls. More than 10 percent of Americans believe President Barack Obama is the one and only Antichrist, according to this one. The same poll shows about twice as many people believe a UFO really did crash in Roswell, N.M., and that the U.S. government has been hiding the truth.

 

  • The White House may be on lockdown to the general public, thanks to that awful sequester, but Justin Timberlake, Cyndi Lauper, Queen Latifah and The Alabama Shakes get a pass. They and other musicians are putting on some kind of Memphis-themed concert for the President and his wife next week; PBS will broadcast it. No word on whether J.T. will reprise his “D!@% In A Box” “Saturday Night Live” character for the First Family…

 

  • …But the first lady is definitely digging in to this pop culture thing. Michelle Obama didn’t exactly demur when “Entertainment Tonight” asked if husband Barack isn’t an American “sex symbol” in the tradition of other Oval Office studs like JFK and Billy Bob. Mooch told the hoary TV tabloid: “He’s got a little swag, you know?” Oh, we know.

 

  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has at last responded to an Oklahoma Senator’s formal request for an explanation of why the department has committed to buying up enough ammunition to wage a 20-year war. Don’t get your hopes up that the curtain’s been pulled back, though; DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano says it’s just a cost-saving effort to buy in bulk. Kind of like Costco, only for hollow-point bullets.

 

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Obama Administration Leads The Way In U.N. Approval Of Global Small Arms Treaty

The National Rifle Association (NRA) and other organizations advocating for the 2nd Amendment are opposing President Barack Obama’s formal endorsement of a treaty limiting the sale of small arms among members of the United Nations.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) strongly condemned an eleventh-hour change in the Obama Administration’s standing caveat — one that Obama’s predecessors also held — that the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty should not be brought to a General Assembly vote until it had the consensus support of all member nations.

That condemnation came after an unnamed representative of the President’s position told reporters Tuesday that the President now believed the U.N. should vote on the treaty regardless of whether all member nations were in agreement on whether a vote should even take place:

It’s important to the United States and the defense of our interests to insist on consensus. But every state in this process has always been conscious of the fact that if consensus is not reached in this process, that there are other ways to adopt this treaty, including via a vote of the General Assembly.

The spokesman also revealed that, if a vote is held, the United States will vote in favor of such a treaty before the General Assembly – whether there’s full international consensus or not.

Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened later on Tuesday, with the U.N. voting overwhelmingly in favor of the Arms Trade Treaty.

In leading American support for the treaty’s approval, the President ignored outright a 53-46 Senate vote last month that specifically blocks the United States from signing the treaty.

While that measure now appears nothing more than an academic exercise, the Senate still holds ratification power over the United States’ participation in the treaty. Two-thirds of the Senate must now approve the U.N. vote, which is highly unlikely.

The NSSF’s Lawrence Keane blasted the Obama Administration’s reversal that led to Tuesday’s vote, saying it reveals the President’s ulterior desire to place global handshakes above the U.S. Constitution at the precise moment when the Senate is set to wage a largely partisan fight over Federal gun control here at home:

This abrupt about-face on the long-standing United States requirement for “consensus” illustrates that the Obama Administration wants a sweeping U.N. arms control treaty. We are troubled by the timing of the Obama Administration’s decision to abandon consensus on the eve of the Senate debate on pending gun-control measures. The United Nations treaty would have a broad impact on the U.S. firearms industry and its base of consumers in the U.S.

We hope that the Members of the U.S. Senate are closely watching the White House abandon its principles and promises in the rush to ramrod this flawed treaty into effect. Not only will they later be asked to ratify this attack on our constitution and sovereignty, but they will also be lavished with new promises from the administration in its drive to push a broad gun control agenda through the U.S. Senate when it returns from recess. They would be right to question those promises strongly.

Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, celebrated the treaty’s approval before the U.N., pledging the treaty won’t create a slippery slope toward a future in which global policy votes supplant Americans’ Constitutional freedoms:

[The Treaty is] a strong, effective and implementable Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that can strengthen global security while protecting the sovereign right of states to conduct legitimate arms trade.

Nothing in this treaty could ever infringe on the rights of American citizens under our domestic law or the Constitution, including the Second Amendment.

The NRA and NSSF strongly dispute that argument, saying the treaty does cover the civilian firearms market in the United States, and that it will have negative effects on the import of foreign-made firearms presently sold on the U.S. consumer market. They also argue that language in the treaty referring to the “transit” of firearms is so broad it can be applied to anything from mass shipments of weapons to a single person who carries a hunting gun on a trip abroad.

Connecticut Set To Pass Major Gun Control Bill

The Democrat-controlled Connecticut Legislature is likely to approve a series of gun-control measures that, if approved by Governor Dannel P. Malloy this week, would give the State broad and comprehensive power over individuals’ acquiring, owning and keeping track of firearms.

Members of both political parties are backing the measure in the State Legislature. Malloy, who has been outspoken in his push for the State to adopt tougher laws against gun ownership, had not gone on record Tuesday indicating whether he would approve the agreement, but State lawmakers said they expect him to sign the bill into law.

In an agreement Republican Senate Minority Leader John McKinney described as “a package that the majority of the people of Connecticut I know will be proud of,” lawmakers portrayed the deal, in part, as an admonition to Congress that “bipartisan” support for a gun control bill at the Federal level is both possible and desirable.

“In Connecticut, we’ve broken the mold,” Democratic Senator Donald Williams Jr. boasted. “Democrats and Republicans were able to come to an agreement on a strong, comprehensive bill. That is a message that should resound in 49 other states and in Washington, D.C. And the message is: We can get it done here and they should get it done in their respective states and nationally in Congress.”

Among other measures, the new legislation would do the following:

  • Ban the sale of “high-capacity” magazines.
  • Require immediate background checks for all gun sales.
  • Require background checks for even private gun sales.
  • Create a new database for mandatory registration of existing magazines that hold 10 or more rounds.
  • Create a statewide “dangerous weapon offender” registry — the first of its kind in the United States.
  • Expand the State’s assault weapons ban to include more than 100 models of firearms.
  • Set the minimum age for buying a semiautomatic weapon at 21.
  • Increase penalties for “firearms trafficking” and “illegal possession” offenses.

Connecticut has remained a ground-zero talking point for gun-grabbing legislators, governors, mayors, Congressmen and President Barack Obama since last December’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown.

A legislative vote is expected to pass the bill on to the Governor today.

AP Stylebook Dropping ‘Illegal Immigrant’

The Associate Press, which for 60 years has published the de facto style reference for newsprint journalism, announced Tuesday its venerable Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law would no longer recommend using the term “illegal Immigrant.”

AP director of media relations Paul Colford attempted an explanation, of sorts, on the agency’s website, beginning with a most paradoxical salvo: “The AP Stylebook is making some changes today in how we describe people living in a country illegally.”

The goal, he continues, is to abolish “labels” that describe actions — in other words, an act can be “illegal,” but an individual cannot be.

The post goes on to offer a number of examples offering alternatives that can be used to refer to someone who’s illegally immigrated somewhere without calling such a person an “illegal immigrant.”

Those include things like referring to a person “living in” or “entering a country illegally” or “without legal permission,” but refraining from using terms like “illegal alien,” “undocumented” or “an illegal.”

Good luck, MSM newswriters.