Senate True Conservatives Vow Spirited Fight Against Gun Control

Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have hinted that another old-school filibuster may be in store if lawmakers attempt to push any new gun-control legislation.

The Senators delivered a brief letter to Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) stating  opposition to “any legislation that would infringe on the American people’s constitutional right to bear arms.” They will likely attempt to hold up the procedural vote to begin debate on a gun package put together by Reid when the Senate returns from its current two-week spring break.

While it is unclear whether another epic old-school filibuster– like Paul’s demand for answers on drones before CIA director John Brennan’s confirmation earlier this month– is in the cards, a Cruz spokesman said the lawmakers are “prepared to use any procedural means necessary to prevent stricter gun control laws.”

Below is the letter Reid received:

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Identity Theft, Student Loan Debt, Gun Control Support Wanes, And Paul May Filibuster Again: Tuesday Morning News Roundup 3-26-2013

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.

  • Identity theft is at an all-time high in the United States; the victims are most often young Americans.

 

  • Meanwhile, banks wrote off $3 billion of student loan debt in the first two months of 2013, up more than 36 percent from the same period a year ago, as many graduates remain jobless, underemployed or cash-strapped.

 

  • A new CBS News poll shows support for stricter gun-control laws overall has dropped since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

 

  • Jeff Berwick, founder of StockHouse.com and CEO of TDV Media, announced Monday his plans to open the world’s first Bitcoin ATM in Cyprus amid the tiny nation’s bailout insanity.

 

  • Lawmakers in Tennessee freaked out when they thought a newly installed mop sink was a special foot bath installed for Muslims to wash their feet before prayer.

 

  • Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are threatening to filibuster gun-control legislation, according to a letter they plan to hand-deliver to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office on Tuesday.

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

 

 

EPA Empowers Environmental Extremists To Attack American Farmers

A number of farmers are worried that Environmental Protection Agency records containing personal information about agricultural producers in more than 30 States will be used maliciously by environmental extremists.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request by a coalition of environmental groups including Earth Justice, the Pew Charitable Trust and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the EPA handed over records containing personal information about American livestock farmers collected under the authority of the Clean Water Act.

“When we reviewed the information submitted by the states and released by EPA, we were alarmed at the detail of the information provided on hard working family farmers and ranchers, family operations including my own,” said former National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president J.D. Alexander, a cattle farmer in Nebraska.

“It is beyond comprehension to me that with threats to my family from harassment atop bio-security concerns, that EPA would gather this information only to release it to these groups. This information details my family’s home address and geographic coordinates. The only thing it doesn’t do is chauffeur these extremists to my house. For some operations, even telephone numbers and deceased relatives are listed.”

A provision in the Act required large livestock and poultry operations to get Clean Water Act permits under the assumption that they might discharge contaminants into waterways. In order to determine which farms had to comply,  EPA officials gathered data on livestock operations in more than 30 States, including many family farmers who feed less than 1,000 head and are not subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act.

The provision that allowed the EPA to collect the data was later nullified by a Federal appeals court, which ruled that the agency had overstepped its authority in gathering the information on farms that did not directly discharge into waterways. But the EPA continued its data collection efforts by soliciting information from State water agencies.

Representative Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) has spent the past several weeks working to hold the EPA accountable for the collection and release of the information.

“I have serious concerns over the EPA’s release of this information, particularly regarding individual privacy rights and possible bio-security threats to the nation’s food supply,” he said in a recent statement. “Releasing this type of information makes producers potential targets of harassment, or even bio-terrorism. Unfortunately, this release of information is yet another example of the EPA’s overreach into the lives of hardworking individuals in rural America.”

Rand Paul’s Libertarian Vision On Display: Lighten Up On Pot, Get Tough On Federal Budget

In the eyes of many people, the left-right political paradigm has served little purpose beyond saturating political debate with conversations about moral issues, over which legislation has little affirmative power. If Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) gets his way, these conversations may become a thing of the past.

The message that Paul is very publicly pushing is not a new one. Libertarians have been saying the same things for years: Laws that seek to infringe on liberties that come with mostly personal consequences in the short term are unpopular and, often, unenforceable. Thus, the result of moral legislation often is more societal harm than good.

And Paul’s position on Federal marijuana prohibition — while, perhaps, at odds with traditional GOP positions — makes a great deal of sense for a fiscal conservative. According to NORML, the United States’ law enforcement agencies spend $10 billion and arrest 750,000 individuals each year as a result of Federal marijuana laws. This is despite the fact that more than 30 percent of the U.S. population currently lives under some form or another of marijuana decriminalization, including people living in States like Washington and Colorado where full legalization of the drug has been allowed.

In an interview on FOX News over the weekend, Paul — who has previously been an outspoken advocate for legalizing hemp (a non-psychedelic plant in the cannabis family with industrial viability) production — said that current marijuana laws are burdening American society with a Federal one-size-fits-all legal view of drug offenses.

“I don’t want to promote that but I also don’t want to put people in jail who make a mistake,” Paul explained. “There are a lot of young people who do this and then later on in their twenties they grow up and get married and they quit doing things like this. I don’t want to put them in jail and ruin their lives.”

Paul went on to note the publicly acknowledged youthful drug use of President Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

“Look, the last two Presidents could conceivably have been put in jail for their drug use, and I really think, you know, look what would have happened, it would have ruined their lives,” Paul added. “They got lucky, but a lot of poor kids, particularly in the inner city, don’t get lucky. They don’t have good attorneys, and they go to jail for these things and I think it’s a big mistake.”

With regard to youthful drug offenders whose futures can be forever tarnished by a small possession charge, marijuana advocacy groups have expressed a view similar to Paul’s. According to NORML’s statistics, in recent years more than 30 percent of all Americans arrested for marijuana-related offenses were 19 years old or younger.

Paul’s marijuana position is not surprising given his continued call for the GOP to embrace candidates who are fiscally conservative, but capable of appealing to a broader base on social issues. The Senator isn’t just talking the talk, either.

On Friday, Paul presented a budget plan that was considered harshly conservative by many Americans and criticized as “out of the mainstream” by pundits. For a fiscally conservative Tea Party voter, however, the Paul plan — roundly rejected by the Senate — was the stuff of dreams.

Echoing the ideas of his father, Paul proposed eliminating the deficit in five years by doing away with the Departments of Education, Energy, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, while also privatizing the Transportation Security Authority. The Senator’s proposal also called for raising the age for Social Security eligibility, a privatized Medicare system and the annihilation of Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

On top of the spending cuts, Paul proposed that the capital gains tax should be eliminated and a 17 percent flat tax be put into place.

Though his plan was rejected, it did receive a “yea” vote from Paul and 18 other members of the legislative body:  Republican Senators John Barrasso (Wyo.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Cornyn (Texas), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), James Inhofe (Okla.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mike Lee (Utah), Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Jerry Moran (Kansas), James Risch (Idaho), Tim Scott (S.C.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), and David Vitter (La.).

There is widespread speculation that Paul is working to position himself for a 2016 Presidential bid. And while it is yet to be seen whether the junior Senator will be embraced by the GOP as it works to rebrand itself, most analysts say there is no doubt that Paul has the power to bring a broader base of support to the Party. The biggest question, it seems, is how much moral conservatism are traditional Republicans willing to forgo in return for real fiscal conservatism.

Is Obamacare Application A Democratic Voter Registration Tool?

There is some speculation that the Administration of Barack Obama has set up a scheme to register voters to the Democratic Party after it was revealed that the 61-page online Obamacare draft application for healthcare includes a section to register voters.

Near the end of the application packet is the question: “Would you like to register to vote?” The placement and wording of the question could lead some applicants to the conclusion that voter registration is a requirement for healthcare.

The online application states: “This document-the ‘questionnaire’-represents each possible item that may need to be asked for successful eligibility determinations.”

The voter registration question has drawn criticism from lawmakers such as Representative Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La.) who expressed concern in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

“The draft documents wander into areas outside the department’s purview and links applications for health insurance subsidies to voter registration,” he wrote in the letter provided to Washington Secrets. “The position of the question could lead some to think voter registration is somehow tied to subsidy eligibility,” he added.

Bloomberg’s Anti-Gun Blitz, DHS Buys More Bullets, IRS Wastes Your Money And Jim Carey Hates Charlton Heston: Monday Morning News Roundup 3-25-2013

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.

  • Ney York City Nanny Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a $12 million ad blitz against Senators who do not support gun control.

 

  • Your tax dollars at work: The Internal Revenue Service spent about $60,000 to produce a ridiculous “Star Trek” parody for training.

 

  • The Department of Homeland Security is making yet another big ammo purchase. This time the agency announced it plans to purchase another 360,000 rounds of hollow point ammunition.

 

  • Jim Carrey is no longer funny, if you ever thought he was. And, oh yeah, he hates guns.

 

  • The Federal government spends more money each year on cash payments for disabled former workers than it spends on food stamps and welfare combined. Every month, 14 million people now get a disability check from the government.

 

  • Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced an amendment that would prevent the United States from entering into the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty in order to uphold the 2nd Amendment. His amendment passed on a 53-46 vote.

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

Never Again Go Where Your Guns Are Banned

Do you refuse to patronize establishments that ban guns? Well, thanks to a new app, you can avoid places that are posted gun-free zones and find gun-friendly alternatives.

The “Gun Free Zone” app was released last month for Android, Apple and Amazon devices for free. The app’s developers claim it has the ability to identify the “nearest 20 commercial locations, including businesses, churches and schools, as either firearm friendly or gun free.” The app depends on user input to determine where guns are welcome and where they are not.

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The app’s makers say in a press release that both gun advocates and anti-gun Americans can use the app to feel safer:

In some states, a gun free zone sign on the front door of a business has the effect of law. The GunFreeZone app can clearly identify these gun free zones on a map to alert people with concealed weapons, helping avoid those locations to shop elsewhere and avoid an unintentional offense. At the same time, people concerned about the proliferation of guns in society can easily identify gun free zones where they might feel safer.

When a user opens the Gun Free Zone app, GPS is used to determine location and the nearest 20 establishments. A simple click on a store’s name brings up the page where users can select to mark the store as either a gun-free zone or firearm friendly. The app tracks how many people have marked the location as either firearm friendly or a gun-free zone and the information is shared with every other user of the app.

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“We realized that people wanted to know where gun free zones are so that they could either avoid or support those locations and there wasn’t an easy way to get that information,” says John Peden, another founder of GunFreeZone. “We just released the app and already over 3000 people from every state in the US have downloaded the app and have marked almost 10,000 locations so far. At this rate, we expect every commercial location in the country to be marked in short order, allowing people to stay compliant with their state’s gun laws and also effectively support or boycott businesses according to which side of the gun coin they are on.”

Colt Could End 175 Years In Connecticut Over Gun Laws

The CEO of iconic American gun maker Colt’s Manufacturing Company, LLC, Dennis Veilleux, threatened to initiate the process of moving the company headquarters from Hartford, Conn., as lawmakers in that State mull tough gun laws that could even include an AR-15 ban.

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In an op-ed in the Hartford Courant, Veilleux said that recent calls by Connecticut lawmakers and Governor Dannel Malloy for strict gun laws that would make illegal some of the products Colt manufactures could bring the gun maker to pick up its 175-year roots in the State and move the operation to a more gun-friendly environment.

From the op-ed:

We can educate gun owners and enforce laws on the safe storage of firearms in the home (Imagine if the firearms criminally and insanely misused in Newtown had been stored securely.) I have two young children and like so many in our state, I identify with, but can only imagine, the searing pain of those parents who lost children in Newtown. If I thought a ban would make the state and especially its children safer, I could not write these words.

The fact is bans don’t work. We tried to ban alcohol nearly 100 years ago, which just drove a regulated activity underground.

I know one thing that the governor’s proposed ban will do: It will irreparably damage — if not destroy — the brand of any Connecticut firearms manufacturer.

Our customers are unusually brand-loyal. In many cases, they personally identify with the firearm brand they choose. Although our Connecticut heritage has historically enhanced our brand, that will change overnight if we ban the modern sporting rifle.

The CEO said that the only real result of a Connecticut ban on certain classes of weapons would be to hurt the Colt brand name — as well of that of fellow Connecticut-based gun makers Mossberg and Stag Arms — as costumers opt to do business with companies located in gun-friendly States. Veilleux also said that Colt is constantly approached by other States with relocation offers, something the company would consider if tough gun laws are passed.

Earlier in the month, Veilleux closed down Colt for a day in order to have 400 workers visit the Connecticut State capitol to discuss with lawmakers the threat new State gun legislation poses to jobs at the firearm plant.

A similar situation happened in Colorado recently. When lawmakers passed a high capacity magazine ban in that State, gun accessory maker Magpul Industries made the decision to move its 200-man operation elsewhere.

Congress Afraid Of Itty Bitty Knives On Planes

The Transportation Security Administration recently reversed a policy barring small knives on airplanes, but some members of Congress evidently believe the move makes U.S. airspace unsafe. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have filed legislation to reverse the TSA decision.

“Introduced amendment to prevent TSA from allowing passengers to carry small knives onto planes again with @lisamurkowski,” Schumer announced via Twitter.

The legislative effort comes on the heels of a letter sent to TSA Administrator John Pistole calling for the agency to reverse its decision to allow small knives on airplanes.

From the letter:

On September 11, 2001, hijackers on board United 93, United 175, American 77, and American 11 took over these planes using mace, box cutters and knives to attack passengers and crew,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter, first drafted by Reps. Michael Grimm (R, N.Y.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) on March 12.

After these deadly terrorist attacks of 9/11, all knives and dangerous sporting equipment, like pool cues, were placed on a list of prohibited items and banned from planes… Congress acted swiftly to ensure that TSA was afforded the resources and authority to ensure a secure aviation system for the American flying public. We strongly believe that the prohibition of dangerous items is an integral layer in the safety of our aviation system.

TSA officials say taking the knives off the list, however, actually makes American flyers safer.

“That’s what risk-based security is all about, trying to identify what are the most significant risks … and making sure that our officers and our entire national U.S. government national security team is trying to be as precise and focused on those threats that cause the greatest damage,” Pistole said.

Cruz Amendment To Do Away With Obamacare Voted Down

Today, the Senate rejected an effort by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to repeal Obamacare; but it is probably far from the last attempt by Republicans to dismantle President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan.

Cruz’s effort would have been carried out through an amendment to the Senate budget proposal that sought to “establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to provide for the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.” The amendment failed 45-54.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) put out a statement Obamacare  for being too expensive and “not working” in the way that was promised by Democrats.

“Three years later, the President’s health care law remains a job-killer that grows the government and slows the economy, which is why it’s important to repeal the whole thing and replace it with commonsense reforms that lower costs and that Americans actually want,” McConnell said.