TGIF Morning News Roundup 1-25-2013

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.

 

 

 

 

  • Republican National Convention Chair Reince Priebus says that big changes are coming to the GOP in the next few years. If you’re hoping for a rebirth that involves less spending, smaller government and more libertarian values, don’t hold your breath.

 

  • Inflation alert: Charles Shaw Wine, famous for relative drinkability and cheapness and nicknamed “Two Buck Chuck” wine, has increased in price in California for the first time in 11 years. The price per bottle has gone from $1.99 to $2.49.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

Gun Control Has Always Been A Part Of American History

Let’s allow momentarily for some advocacy of the devil in the gun debate and admit that, for better or for worse, gun control is deeply rooted in the history of the United States.

In our modern, sound bite society, the politicization of any given issue leads to a national discussion that includes neither historical reference nor reasonable debate. Evidence enough is the discourse that has emerged in the wake of the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. And given our human limitations, coupled with a political system in which leaders benefit, both financially and in reputation, by screaming at the top of their lungs either for or against something, there’s no reasonable expectation of any well-thought-out or balanced ideas surfacing.

The debate thus far has been a fallaciously toned one, which ignores a trove of interesting historical footnotes that could no doubt lead the populace to a Constitutionally and socially responsible consensus on the right to bear arms. So far, Americans have instead been prodded into one of the following collective conclusions:

  • Children at Sandy Hook died at the barrel of a gun. A child dying is tragic; therefore guns are bad.
  • Mass killings sometimes involve assault rifles; therefore, banning assault rifles would stop mass killings.
  • Per the Constitution, gun control is un-American; therefore, there should be absolutely no gun control.
  • Gun control has preceded tyranny at some points in history; therefore, any advocate of gun control is an enemy of freedom.

To take on the first point, it is helpful to reference the President’s gun-control address that followed his signing of 23 executive actions related to guns earlier this month. At one point, President Barack Obama called for more gun-related research as he stood in front of a group of schoolchildren placed as an agenda-driving prop and uttered these words: “We do not benefit from ignorance.”

That is, perhaps, one of the most useful things the current President has ever said. So let’s not allow ourselves to be ignorant of the fact that even though what occurred at Sandy Hook was a heart-wrenching and senseless loss of life at the peak of innocence, children have been spared harm on numerous occasions when would-be assailants were stopped by firearms.

Next, if we are to believe that banning classes of firearms based on aesthetics will in any way make Americans safer from the prospect becoming the victim of a mass murderer, we must then accept that there will never be another Charles Whitman, Timothy McVeigh, highway sniper or Monroe Phillips in our midst.

Moving on the Constitutional issue of gun control, most conservatives — and the National Rifle Association, for now — will argue that the 2nd Amendment expressly prohibits infringement on the right to bear arms.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

But, as many religious people also do with the Bible, conservatives and liberals are guilty of failing to take the words as a whole. Conservatives often put all the emphasis of the Amendment on the latter phrasing, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The same holds true for liberals reading the Amendment, salivating over, “A well regulated…”

Conservatives would do better to further the cause of protecting the 2nd Amendment from draconian anti-gun legislation by refuting the assertions of the NRA and anyone historically dishonest enough to believe that the Founders’ vision of firearm responsibility lent itself to a libertarian free-for-all. The Militia Act of 1792 — which by some examinations lends credence to the President’s healthcare mandate — required the purchase of firearms by able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 45 and the inspection of said firearms, and it led to door-to-door questioning about firearm ownership to create records of compliance.

From the Act:

I. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, by the Captain or Commanding Officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside, and that within twelve months after the passing of this Act. And it shall at all time hereafter be the duty of every such Captain or Commanding Officer of a company, to enroll every such citizen as aforesaid, and also those who shall, from time to time, arrive at the age of 18 years, or being at the age of 18 years, and under the age of 45 years (except as before excepted) shall come to reside within his bounds; and shall without delay notify such citizen of the said enrollment, by the proper non-commissioned Officer of the company, by whom such notice may be proved. That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack. That the commissioned Officers shall severally be armed with a sword or hanger, and espontoon; and that from and after five years from the passing of this Act, all muskets from arming the militia as is herein required, shall be of bores sufficient for balls of the eighteenth part of a pound; and every citizen so enrolled, and providing himself with the arms, ammunition and accoutrements, required as aforesaid, shall hold the same exempted from all suits, distresses, executions or sales, for debt or for the payment of taxes.

The best possible gun legislation would solve two poignant modern American disagreements: How big does our military need to be, and who is allowed to own guns in America? British essayist Christopher Hitchens put it well in his 1994 essay “The Myth of Gun Control”:

In exchange for abolition of the military-industrial complex, who would not consider reporting for the occasional weekend – as in many democratic European nations – and acquiring the rudiments of weapons training, to be accompanied by a reading of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? Utopian, you say. No more than the half-baked pacifism that, when preached by gun-controllers, has as its corollary a duopoly of force in the hands of the state and the criminal. Certainly no more utopian than the pathetic “guns for vouchers” swap meets that are now making police precincts a laughingstock as they concentrate on the disarmament of the law-abiding (and the opportunist).

While Congress mandated that any able-bodied man should be prepared to purchase a firearm and join a militia, there were certain segments of the population that were categorically denied the right to bear arms during this period. That group included slaves and free blacks as well as law-abiding white men who refused to swear loyalty to the new Nation.

While the idea of banning guns on a racial basis or in retaliation for failing to pledge allegiance to the State is unsavory, today’s gun laws also contain restrictions that are not so Constitutionally unfavorable. Gun bans on the basis of mental competency, criminality or routine chemically altered states of perception all seem reasonable to even the staunchest defenders of the right to bear arms.

A favorite accusation of gun grabbers, Piers Morgan in particular, is that 2nd Amendment advocates simply want to live in an “utter Wild West hell.” But Morgan fails to realize that the John Wayne and Clint Eastwood depiction of America’s frontier towns was not historically accurate. In fact, local gun laws that mandated that travelers turn over their six-shooters to the town lawman before entering populated town areas were popular at the time.

The Federal government didn’t get in to the business of banning classes of weapons until the 1930s when, emboldened by the government’s foolish prohibition of alcohol, gangsters like Al Capone became a force to be reckoned with when they took to the streets with fully automatic rifles that were a byproduct of World War I. Interestingly enough, the NRA fully backed legislation at the time to take automatic rifles off the streets.

Adam Winkler, author of  Gun Fight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, recounts how NRA Director Karl Frederick appeared before Congress at the time and was asked whether the 2nd Amendment barred legislation that would restrict access to the weapons; he replied that he had “not given it any study from that point of view.”

His response reflects what the organization’s original intention had been. The NRA was started in 1871 by Union Civil War veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate. Dismayed at the bad shooting skills of the men with whom they had served, they wanted to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis.” The organization spent the early part of its existence focused on shooting safety, hunter education and law enforcement and military training.

Perhaps the most accurate of the above-mentioned arguments against heavy regulation of guns is that the lack of firearms for self-defense often leads to tyrannical infringement. This is noted both in the Founders’ remarks about the importance of the 2nd Amendment and in the Nation’s historical record. Ironically, Obama, the Nation’s first black President and the man who so affirmatively stated only days ago that we do not benefit from ignorance, is ignorant of the gun views of the civil rights leaders whom he claims to so admire.

Throughout the Nation’s history, the gun-control laws that have been the harshest are those that were levied against blacks, who, as any compassionate, serious and well-informed student of history would be remiss to deny, have endured tyrannical force at many times since the Nation’s founding.

In the years leading up to the Civil War, States all over the Nation grew increasingly fearful of the prospect of a black uprising that they felt could be carried out by slaves or freed blacks. Nat Turner’s Rebellion in 1831 kicked off a number of gun-control laws aimed at blacks in America’s States.

Virginia responded to the rebellion by prohibiting free blacks the right “to keep or carry any firelock of any kind, any military weapon, or any powder or lead…” Later, in 1834, the Tennessee Constitution was changed from “That the freemen of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defence” to “That the free white men of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defence.” The antebellum South was rife with racist calls for gun control.

These abuses did not stop following the Civil War with the onset of black freedom and, in fact, continued through the Jim Crow-era South right up until the civil rights era.

Martin Luther King Jr., upon whose Bible Obama swore to uphold the Constitution on Monday, reportedly kept an arsenal of firearms in his home to ease his mind about the near-constant death threats he received. The peace-promoting civil rights leader even applied for an Alabama concealed carry permit, but was denied due to racism on the part of the police that had the authority to issue the permit. The Alabama permit law under which he was denied had been an NRA-backed initiative.

King knew that if his life was in danger, he could not count on the police for protection. His willingness to exercise his 2nd Amendment rights was also shared by other notable civil rights activists. Among them, Malcom X, who famously posed on the cover of Life magazine with an M1-Carbine.

The Black Panther Party took Malcolm X’s firearm brandishing and made it a part of their persona. At a time when police harassment of blacks was epidemic throughout the Nation, members learned about gun safety when they weren’t studying Marxism.

The YouTube videos of people open carrying through neighborhoods today to assert their 2nd Amendment Rights are reminiscent of similar armed displays by the Black Panthers in the late 1960s. Panther leaders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale said that because government was “either unable or unwilling to protect the lives and property” of blacks, they ought to defend themselves “by any means necessary.”

The Panthers took to patrolling urban neighborhoods while brandishing firearms to essentially “police the police,” who were infamous for abusing black Americans at the time.

Throughout all of this, the NRA has been on both sides of the gun debate and even supported a measure signed into law by then-Governor Ronald Reagan that set California on track to having some of the Nation’s strictest gun control laws. The 1967 Mulford Act effectively neutralized the Panther Police Patrols by prohibiting the carry of loaded guns in public.

At the NRA national convention in 1977, the group was overtaken by 2nd Amendment purists who shaped the organization more into the lobbying machine that it has become today. Oddly enough, the views the organization’s leaders now espouse are more Black Panther when it comes to gun control than target practice.

Gun control has always been a part of American history. And there is plenty of fairly obvious evidence for both sides of the debate to examine what has worked, what hasn’t and which gun control laws led to tyrannical force being used over segments of the population. If the emotional toll of dead children and the lucrativeness of NRA loudmouthing could be removed from the equation, the Founders’ true intentions could be fulfilled.

With hundreds of millions of guns in American homes, a gun-free future is not going to happen; if it is forced, a bloody and unwarranted fight is likely in the cards. But by taking a look at the gun laws we already have and understanding where they could improve, the debate can come to an end.

Instead of hacking for more membership money by saying what if feels will drive the most fear, the NRA should focus more than ever on its original mission of training Americans to be responsible and well-versed firearms owners.

In every State, before taking control of another potentially deadly machine a competency test is required. The process of driver licensing ensures that vehicle operators are physically and mentally capable of operating a motorized vehicle. Different classes of vehicles require different classes of licenses. Perhaps this is a good universal firearm requirement, both well-regulated and relatively un-infringed.

It’s unfortunate that options like these must be considered, but gone are the days when many young people are raised hunting and seeing the effects firsthand of what a firearm is capable of. Instead, watching the sometimes slow and painful death of an animal downed by a shot that was not placed just so has given way to young minds racking up mass computer-generated casualties onscreen, complete with bloody, cartoonish splatters and bodies that disappear rather than become cold and rot. The demographic of the most recent round of mass shooters makes this evident.

We don’t need new, misguided gun laws that harken back to the days of racial gun bans; we need an emphasis on responsibility and gun respect. And more than ever, we need leaders within the gun movement whose motives are pure.

Marijuana In Colorado Leads To Rethinking Of Laws

Since Colorado voters opted to legalize marijuana, State lawmakers have deemed it necessary to come up with a plan to navigate the murky legal waters of how to police driving while stoned.

The pressure is on for lawmakers to come up with stoned driving laws, as research published following the passage of the Colorado pot legalization initiative indicates that 13 percent of fatal crashes in the State involved pot.

While the law regarding driving under the influence of alcohol is pretty clear, officials say that proving a person is heavily under the influence of pot is a little tricky. Lawmakers say they will set blood limits for pot intoxication at 5 nanograms of THC — pot’s active ingredient — per milliliter of blood.

Critics of the measure say it will lead to drivers who police claim simply smell like pot being hauled in and given blood tests unnecessarily. Unlike alcohol, there is no breath test to test for pot, so suspects will have their blood drawn and tested.

As the State makes moves to cope with the newly legal substance, legislators and advocates in other States throughout the Nation are looking at the measures passed in Colorado and Washington to plan for legalization pushes in their States. Currently, recreational and medical marijuana-legalization options are being mulled over in New York, Illinois, New Hampshire, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Advocates expect a national push to reform marijuana laws to gain steam in the run-up to the 2016 Presidential election, when young voters are expected to show up at the polls in larger numbers.

Thursday Morning News Roundup 1-24-2013

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.

  • Joe Biden really, really wants to be the President. God help us.

 

  • The New York Police Department has portable scanning technology that lets police officers see from a distance whether someone is carrying a concealed weapon.

 

 

 

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

Benghazi Testimony Leaves Questions Unanswered

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finally fielded Congress’s questions about the Sept. 11 terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Despite her theatricality during the Senate hearing, Clinton’s testimony left much to be desired from lawmakers who are still seeking answers about the attack.

“For me, this is not just a matter of policy. It’s personal,” Clinton said at one point, choking up. “I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the sons and daughters, and the wives left alone to raise their children.”

That moment was seized by mainstream media as the defining point of the Secretary of State’s testimony. Largely ignored, however, was the fact that Clinton didn’t satisfactorily answer any of the questions related to the State Department’s bizarre initial response to the attacks.

The Secretary of State was criticized by Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) for not recognizing the possibility for violent acts against the consulate in the destabilized country.

In a terse exchange with Clinton, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) made clear that he felt the top diplomat’s response to the attack should have been a “career ending” failure.

“Had I been president and found you did not read the cables from Benghazi and from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post. I think it’s inexcusable,” he said.

“I think we can understand you’re not reading every cable,” Paul said. The Senator said he didn’t suspect Clinton of “bad motives” but that Benghazi was a “failure of leadership.”

In response, Clinton pointed out that an accountability review board appointed by the State Department had determined that the mistakes made in responding to the Benghazi attack we’re made at levels below her office.

“I am the Secretary of State. And the [Accountability Review Board] made very clear that the level of responsibility for the failures that they outlined was set at the Assistant Secretary level and below,” she said.

The Secretary of State said a department task force has translated the 29 recommendations for improving security delivered by the review board into 64 specific “action items” and that 85 percent of the items are expected to be completed by the end of March.

Paul also asked Clinton about the possibility of the Benghazi attack being related to a CIA-backed scheme to collect weapons in Libya in order to clandestinely arm Syrian rebels.

“Is the U.S. involved with any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons, buying, selling, anyhow transferring weapons to Turkey out of Libya?” he asked.

Clinton brushed off the question, saying: “To Turkey? I will have to take that question for the record. Nobody has ever raised that with me.”

Paul pressed on: “It’s been in news reports that ships have been leaving from Libya and that they may have weapons and what I’d like to know is the annex that was close by, were they involved with procuring, buying, selling, obtaining weapons and were any of these weapons being transferred to other countries, any countries, Turkey included?”

The Secretary of State suggested that Paul should take up the matter with the CIA.

Clinton concluded her prepared testimony by telling Congress that the United States must continue to garner influence in unstable parts of the world like the Mideast and Africa.

“We have come a long way in the past four years, and we cannot afford to retreat now,” she told the Senate committee. “When America is absent, especially from unstable environments, there are consequences. Extremism takes root, our interests suffer, and our security at home is threatened.”

North Korea Vows Stronger, More Nuclear Military

Despite condemnations and expanded sanctions from the U.N. Security Council following a December rocket launch, North Korea has vowed to expand its nuclear and military capabilities.

The Security Council expanded existing sanctions against North Korea this week, unanimously passing a resolution proposed by the United States and even backed by North Korean ally China. The resolution tightens sanctions on North Korea’s space agency, a bank and a number of trading companies and individuals in the country.

“This resolution demonstrates to North Korea that there are unanimous and significant consequences for its flagrant violation” of previous resolutions, said U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice.

The resolution promises that the U.N. will take significant action against the nation if a third nuclear test is carried out.

The Hermit Kingdom responded swiftly to the new U.N. resolution, vowing that it would not back down from its nuclear ambitions.

“We will take measures to boost and strengthen our defensive military power including nuclear deterrence,” its Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency KCNA.

“There can be talks for peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and the region in the future, but no talks for the denuclearisation of the peninsula,” the statement went on.

U.S. officials fear that, given the opportunity to test nuclear devices, North Korea will effectively develop a long-range nuclear missile that could potentially strike the West Coast of the United States.

Wednesday Morning News Roundup 1-23-2013

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.

  • Get ready to see what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has to say about the terror attacks last September in Benghazi, Libya. She will deliver a long-awaited testimony to Congress today.
  • More Presidential fiat is likely on the way as talk increases about the possibility of President Barack Obama bypassing Congress and implementing much of his environmental agenda unilaterally through regulations and executive action.
  • The “most transparent Administration in history” is not very transparent at all, say journalists and watchdogs. Are we supposed to act surprised?
  • The House Republican plan to ignore the debt ceiling for four months has full Presidential approval. Bipartisanship at its finest, screwing the American taxpayer.
  • Police in Florida have been accused of misusing a driver database to look up private information about relatives, celebrities and romantic interests. Who’s watching the watchers?

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

Gun Control In Senate Likely A Tough Sell

Legislators with gun grabbing ambition and with the full backing of President Barack Obama are set to push the Senate to pass draconian gun control legislation in coming weeks. But the news isn’t all bad for 2nd Amendment advocates.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called on supporters to help him fight expanded gun control laws in a frantic email sent by his campaign manager, Jesse Benton, early this week.

“You and I are literally surrounded,” said the email. “The gun-grabbers in the Senate are about to launch an all-out-assault on the Second Amendment. On your rights. On your freedom.”

The email said the White House proposals on gun control essentially set the groundwork for an all-out gun grab that:

  • “[W]ill criminalize firearms by how they look.”
  • Includes a “thinly-veiled national gun registration scheme hidden under the guise of ‘background checks.’”
  • And will ban large ammunition magazines.

“It is almost hard to believe the sheer breadth and brazenness of this attempt to gut our Constitution,” the email goes on.

McConnell has pledged to do everything he can to oppose increased gun control throughout the Nation.

Meanwhile, Senator John Barasso (R-Wyo.) told CNN’s Candy Crowley in an interview this week that the threat to the 2nd Amendment from Democrats may not be as menacing as it appears. This, he contends, is because new gun control legislation puts Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in a tight spot in the lead up to key Senate elections.

“He has six Democrats up for election in two years in States where the President received fewer than 42 percent of the votes. And he doesn’t want his Democrats to have to choose between their own constituents and the president’s positions,” Barrasso said.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is planning to introduce a ban on so-called assault weapons on Thursday. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said he is ready to introduce a ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition and that he has 16 Senate co-sponsors.

Prince Harry Says Taking Lives Is Like Playing Video Games

While guns continue to be vilified by the Presidential Administration and some lawmakers as the sole benefactor in killings, Prince Harry of Wales said something in a BBC interview that should give pause to those who claim violent video games do not affect a person’s psychological state.

There has been little focus by lawmakers or the mainstream media on the possibility that the rash of mass killings carried out by males in their 20s in recent years could be a byproduct of recreational activities. But in a recent interview, the British prince unwittingly offered a shining example of why a look beyond the guns involved in gun violence is needed as he compared the horrors of war to playing video games.

Harry, who co-piloted an Apache helicopter during a 20-week tour in Afghanistan, told the BBC that taking the lives of insurgents was no different than kicking back on the couch and playing video games.

“It’s a joy for me because I’m one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox,” the 28-year-old said. “So with my thumbs I like to think I’m probably quite useful.”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid responded to the Prince’s comparing killing in war to playing games: “To describe the war in Afghanistan as a game demeans anyone–especially a prince, who is supposed to be made of better things.”

Mujahid continued: “It shows the lack of understanding, of knowledge. It shows they are unfamiliar with the situation and shows why they are losing. … It’s not a game. It’s very, very real.”

Clinton Finally Testifies On Benghazi Today

Today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will deliver a long-awaited testimony on the terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that occurred last year. Fireworks are expected, especially as the Secretary of State faces Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

As lawmakers grill Clinton today about how much information the Presidential Administration knew about the attacks, she is expected to answer specific questions including:

  • Did Clinton know about the messages sent to the State Department by Ambassador Chris Stevens expressing security concerns?
  • What were the State Department’s actions before, during and after the attacks?
  • Did Clinton know about reports of growing al-Qaida influence in the region?
  • Why did U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice claim to the public that the attack was the result of a film?
  • Why was only one suspect apprehended in relation to the attack and already released?

Paul surmised that the Barack Obama Administration’s cover-up of the Benghazi incident could be related to an “international Fast and Furious” situation during an interview on New York’s WABC Radio.

“There is also some concern about whether or not Libyan arms are being ferried through Turkey into Syrian rebels and whether or not that had something to do with the cover-up that came out of the Administration when the Administration was saying that, ‘Oh, this attack in Benghazi had something to do with a film,’” Paul said.

“Maybe that was to cover up that there was some kind of gun smuggling going on over there, some kind of international fast and furious was going on in Libya and that this was a cover-up,” Paul continued. “These are some of the questions that we are going to have for Hillary Clinton when she comes before our committee.

“I am very concerned about the President giving arms to Syrian rebels,” the Senator said.

Tuesday Morning News Roundup 1-22-2013

Tuesday Morning News Roundup 1-22-2013

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.

 

  • President Barack Obama has claimed that a decade of war is coming to an end and economic recovery is on the way.

 

  • Global political and business leaders have called for an unprecedented $14 trillion “greening” of the global economy to address environmental concerns.

 

 

 

  • Also from France: Former French President Nicholas Sarkozy and wife Carla Bruni have reportedly been making plans to move to London to escape the Socialist government’s 75 percent tax rate on the rich.

 

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

Another Orwell Prophecy Nearing Fulfillment

There were no telescreens, of course, but there was always the danger of concealed microphones by which your voice might be picked up and recognized; besides, it was not easy to make a journey by yourself without attracting attention. For distances of less than 100 kilometres it was not necessary to get your passport endorsed, but sometimes there were patrols hanging about the railway stations, who examined the papers of any Party member they found there and asked awkward questions. — George Orwell, 1984

Orwell’s grim depiction of a dystopian futuristic society in which the every movement of every person is meticulously scrutinized by the power of the state sometimes appears to have been used by American officials as an instruction manual over the past decade. More often than not, an idea similar to whatever the Department of Homeland Security has most recently proposed can be found within the pages of Orwell’s prescient novel.

Late last week, the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service issued a request for information for microphones that are being considered for placement around Washington, D.C., to detect gunshots.

From the request:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) / United States Secret Service (USSS) is seeking information on commercially available gunshot detection technologies for fixed site surveillance applications. Typical coverage areas are expected to be from 10s to 100s of acres per site, located within urban areas. Due to the secure nature of these sites, a high gunshot detection rate (>95%) is strongly desired while daily, operational monitoring of the system by external parties is undesirable.

But, as Infowars pointed out in a recent report, similar sensors installed in cities throughout the Nation have been used not only to locate gunshots but also to record conversations.

The New York Times pointed out in May that gunshot sensors were actually used to listen to a loud street argument that resulted in a fatal shooting in New Bedford, Mass. While even the staunchest privacy advocates have had little problem with law enforcement using systems like these to pinpoint the location of urban gun violence, law enforcement did generally did not inform the public of the ability of the sensors to record conversations.

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union’s Jay Stanley began asking questions about the gunshot locators: “If the courts start allowing recordings of conversations picked up by these devices to be admitted as evidence, then it will provide an additional incentive to the police to install microphones in our public spaces, over and above what is justified by the level of effectiveness the technology proves to have in pinpointing gun shots.”

It is often noted that the United States is usually not far behind the United Kingdom in terms of police state surveillance measures, raising the prospect that the audio recording infrastructure being implemented now could give way to more blatantly Orwellian developments in the near future.

According to a report from Homeland Security News Wire in June 2010, some English cities already have installed devices that pick up suspicious sounds and conversations.

From the report:

Microphones that can detect aggression by the tone of someone’s voice were installed in Coventry, England, where they will cover an area blighted by drunken violence. The Coventry decision has raised the prospect of microphones coming to other cities in the United Kingdom.

The system, called Sigard, is able to direct CCTV cameras toward suspicious sounds, which can also be gunshots or the smashing of glass. Operators can then direct police straight to a confrontation, in the hope they can stop violence before it erupts.

The system was designed by mimicking the hearing processes of the human ear. It can filter out background noise. The microphones detect suspect sounds, including trigger words spoken at normal volumes as well as angry or panicked exchanges before they become violent.

For now, the 4th Amendment generally protects American citizens from being secretly recorded by law enforcement in conversations in which the officials are not involved. But the Constitution has been little more than a speed bump for legislators, law enforcement and busybodies promising ultimate security to Americans in return for privacy in America since 9/11.

In the quote at the beginning of this article, Orwell was writing about microphones hidden in rural areas. For now, Americans most likely only have to worry about them in urban city centers. But, as with other state surveillance measures, it’s likely only a matter of time until they are universally present.

Republicans Can Win By Being More Libertarian

On Sunday, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that if the Republican Party wants to remain competitive in the American political system, members will have to agree to take a more libertarian approach to policy.

The Senator also told WABC Radio that within the next two years he will have decided whether he wants to take a shot at running for President of the United States.

“Whether or not I am going to run for President, that decision will come probably in two years, and [we] will in the meantime try to be part of the national debate,” Paul said. “We think the Republican Party needs to evolve and adapt, or we are going to become a permanent minority party.”

Paul noted that Republicans remain unpopular in areas with larger numbers of libertarian-leaning voters.

“We are not popular, and we have not been competitive out in California, on the West Coast or in New England,” Paul said.

“So we think a little more of a libertarian Republican, someone who is a strict constitutionalist but also believes in a strong, defensive military but not necessarily in an overly aggressive or bellicose let’s get involved in everybody’s civil war military, I think that has more appeal to independents and some people who have given up in the Republican Party,” he continued.

The Senator’s remarks echo calls from other conservatives for the GOP to lighten up on many of its moralistic political platforms and focus on a more Constitution-based policy approach.

In a recent column published on Breitbart.com, Elena Lathrop suggests that the GOP could draw more youth support if it would “make individualism, self-reliance, and liberty, rather than identity politics, cool again.”

Lathrop writes of the current problem Republicans have relating to younger voters (many of whom have libertarian political leanings):

Where does the GOP’s message fit in here? It doesn’t. It comes through in the real world when college grads have a job to work, taxes to pay, etc. – in other words, when fiscal policy becomes more relevant and in-your-face than ever. We lose the youth vote because we focus too much on politics, which flies over their heads, stresses them out, or bores them…

…Purify the conservative message and let the youth see that there is more to politics than gay marriage, abortion, free birth control, or whatever the cause du jour on campus may be at a given time. When those hot topics are swept aside, Left versus Right essentially becomes big versus small government, and the latter must become the hero of the story.

Despite the message from the likes of Paul and Lathrop, if the events that occurred around the Republican primary last year are any indicator, the GOP has a long way to go if the party elite are to accept outside ideas that don’t toe the big-war and moral-crusade party line.

TSA Peep Show To End Summer 2013, Grabbing Of Junk To Continue

The Transportation Security Administration has been a bane to privacy advocates since its post-9/11 implementation. But increased calls for government to limit the intrusiveness of TSA searches have yielded some small victories for privacy advocates, though there is still much work to be done.

The TSA recently announced that it will discontinue use of so-called “backscatter” machines, which were manufactured by OSI Systems under the name Rapiscan to provide transportation security agents with a detailed naked-body image of travelers to scan for possible weapon threats. The agency says the machines will be replaced by June with new ones that provide only a generic outline of the human body.

The move comes after Rapiscan failed to comply with a Congressional mandate to create security software for the existing machines to obscure images of human genitals during pre-flight screenings.

The TSA first dismissed privacy concerns over the scanners, but after years of complaints about the TSA having a creepy, voyeuristic power to take nude photographs of travelers (which can be turned to detailed photographs with common computer software that inverts negatives) , the agency made some policy chances around 2005. First, TSA officials simply opted to move the screeners viewing the naked body images to a remote location away from the actual screening area. With that came stories of TSA agents working together to single out passengers who they deemed attractive for “random” naked scans.

According to reports, more than 500 complaints were logged against TSA agents by women who felt they were singled out for “additional screening” by the naked-body machines.

The TSA later moved to give passengers the option to opt out of the naked-body scan, whether for reasons of modesty or because of worries over the high amounts of radiation emitted from the machines. But the alternative, an aggressive pat-down which has been reported to have an unusually thorough focus on genitals in some cases, has not been a favorite of Americans concerned with privacy and personal dignity.

The TSA currently operates 174 backscatter machines in 30 airports, and it has another 76 units in storage. The agency says that while it will discontinue use of the machines by summer, they could be put back to use pending software upgrades. For the time being, however, TSA says it is working on outfitting American airports with millimeter wave machines that use radio waves — reducing radiation concerns — and provide only a generic sick figure image of the human outline (hopefully making it much harder for any potential TSA perverts to get their rocks off).

“By June 2013 travelers will only see machines which have ATR that allow for faster throughput. This means faster lanes for the traveler and enhanced security,” the TSA said in a statement.

The action is a result of a suit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center and a coalition of privacy advocates against the Department of Homeland Security.

“It is big news,” Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told CNN. “It removes the concern that people are being viewed naked by the TSA screener.”

Monday Morning News Roundup 1-21-2013

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.

  • Rapper Lupe Fiasco got thrown off the stage at a pre-inauguration concert late Sunday for criticizing the President. Fiasco told attendees that he didn’t vote for the President and criticized the ongoing Mideast wars before being escorted off stage by security.

 

  • President Barack Obama, whose second inauguration is today, is reported to have had one of the lowest approval ratings of any post-World War II President. Only Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford fared worse than the President’s 49.1 percent job approval.

 

  • A Harvard Medical School professor believes he can clone a Neanderthal, the early human ancestor that became extinct 33,000 years ago. But he says he needs “an adventurous human female” to carry the science experiment.

 

  • The Obama Administration is nearing completion of a detailed counterterrorism manual that is designed to establish clear rules for targeted-killing operations but leaves open a major exemption for the CIA’s campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan, U.S. officials said.

 

 

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

Friday Morning News Roundup 1-18-2013

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.

  • This week, President Barack Obama’s jobs council hit a milestone: It has gone a full year without having a single official meeting.
  • New York’s new gun law is so strict that even cops are violating it.
  • One lawmaker thinks it is a good idea to equip every gun in America with a GPS tracker. Welcome to 1984.
  • The demand for gold and silver is so high that the U.S. Mint is out of silver coins.
  • A man in California used a wheelbarrow to carry $14,000 in coins and dollar bills to a bank to pay his taxes.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

Department Of Justice Taunts ACLU

There are certain checks that aid news and civil rights organizations in ensuring that the Federal government does not operate under a veil of secrecy. One such check is the Freedom of Information Act, which allows for suits against the government to obtain secret documents; but the Feds are increasingly treating FOIA as a joke.

Such is the case regarding a recent FOIA request for information about GPS tracking of citizens submitted to the Justice Department by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU filed the request to find out under what conditions Justice deems it appropriate to use GPS tracking to spy on unwitting American citizens.

The ACLU explains in a statement why it wants to know more:

The Supreme Court has weighed in on location tracking, but the government still has wide latitude to exploit new technologies and legal uncertainty. In February 2012, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in U.S. v. Jones, holding that the Fourth Amendment restricts the circumstances in which the government may attach a GPS device to a car and secretly track its movements. Although the Court’s decision in Jones makes clear that the government’s attachment and use of a GPS tracker on a car constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment, it does not say whether that search requires a warrant from a judge—a crucial protection because it forces agents to justify their actions to a neutral outsider. Furthermore, the court’s opinion does not address other methods of location tracking, such as cell phone tracking, drones, or license plate readers.

The ACLU alleges that the information that it needs to clear up important questions regarding the situation can be found in two Justice memos that outline the Department’s views regarding what its obligations are under the U.S. v. Jones ruling. Justice complied with the FOIA request — but it did so in such a way that the information provided does little more than taunt the civil liberties group. The Department released the memos, but they are so heavily redacted that none of the information is available.

The ACLU says it will ask for a court order requiring the Justice Department to release the documents, which the group says are “improperly withheld.”

“The purpose [of] FOIA is to make sure the government doesn’t operate under secret law–and right now that’s exactly what these memos are,” the statement concludes.

Thursday Morning News Roundup 1-17-2013

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.

  • Following President Barack Obama’s “do it for the kids” gun control speech yesterday, Infowars has listed a number of other leaders who have used children as props to push government agenda. Among them: Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, Kim Il-sung.

 

 

 

 

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An Overview Of Obama’s Big Spending Gun Control Proposals

The push for new gun laws by the Administration of President Barack Obama and certain anti-2nd Amendment lawmakers kicked into high gear yesterday with Obama’s “do it for the kids” speech about why his Administration will make gun control a top priority.

At the time of this writing, the executive orders the President signed immediately following his gun control speech had not yet been published on the White House website. But a review of the President’s plan, dubbed “Now Is The Time,” (which did make an appearance on the website) offers an overview of what actions the President has taken unilaterally and the costs associated with those actions.

The Executive Orders

According to a fact sheet handed out to reporters, the President signed orders that will:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.

5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.

11. Nominate an ATF director.

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.

22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

A more complete examination of each of the Presidential actions will likely ensue as the White House provides more specifics regarding the executive orders.

The Call To Action

In addition to his unilateral gun control measures, Obama has called on Congress to reinstate and strengthen the ban on “assault weapons” and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition in the United States. Other legislation that Obama requested from Congress would:

  • Add more restrictions to the already regulated trade of armor-piercing bullets.
  • Give cops more tools to prosecute gun crime.
  • Provide more school resource officers and school counselors, safer climates and better emergency response plans.
  • Help more young people get mental health evaluations.
  • Make sure health insurance covers mental health.
  • Invest in gun violence research.

The Cost

Complete success for Obama would not only mean stricter gun laws in America, but also a hefty price to the American taxpayer. The President’s plan, if completely implemented, would require a minimum of $4.5 billion in new Federal spending.

Among the costly gun control proposals outlined in the fact sheet:

  • $4 billion to “help keep 15,000 cops on the streets” throughout the Nation.
  • $20 million to “give states stronger incentives to make [relevant] data available [for background checks].” $50 million for this in FY2014.
  • “$14 million to help train 14,000 more police officers and other public and private personnel to respond to active shooter situations.”
  • “$10 million for the Centers for Disease Control to conduct further research, including investigating the relationship between video games, media images, and violence.”
  • $20 million for expansions to the National Death Reporting System.
  • $150 million for 1,000 new school resource officers and school counselors.
  • $30 million of one-time grants to states to help their school districts develop and implement emergency management plans.”
  • $50 million to help 8,000 schools “create safer and more nurturing school climates.”
  • $15 million to “provide ‘Mental Health First Aid’ training for teachers.”
  • $40 million for school districts to “work with law enforcement, mental health agencies, and other local organizations to assure students with mental health issues or other behavioral issues are referred to the services they need.”
  • $25 million to provide mental health help to people 16 to 25.
  • $50 million to “train social workers, counselors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals.”

These costs would be in addition to whatever the government might spend if Congress does implement new gun and magazine bans.

The Response

While the President urged Americans with anti-gun sentiments to get out and be heard on the issue, 2nd Amendment supporters are expected to double down on the push against gun control. A number of GOP lawmakers spoke out yesterday in response to the President’s proposals.

Texas Governor Rick Perry expressed disgust at Obama’s political opportunism: “[T]he piling on by the political left, and their cohorts in the media – to use the massacre of little children to advance a pre-existing political agenda that would not have saved those children – disgusts me personally.  The second amendment to the Constitution is a basic right of free people and cannot be, nor will it be, abridged by the executive power of this or any other president.”

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also offered a powerful response to the President’s speech, saying nothing on Obama’s agenda would have saved the lives of mass shooting victims.

“Nothing the President is proposing would have stopped the massacre at Sandy Hook. President Obama is targeting the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens instead of seriously addressing the real underlying causes of such violence,” Rubio said. “Rolling back responsible citizens’ rights is not the proper response to tragedies committed by criminals and the mentally ill. Making matters worse is that President Obama is again abusing his power by imposing his policies via executive fiat instead of allowing them to be debated in Congress. President Obama’s frustration with our republic and the way it works doesn’t give him license to ignore the Constitution.”

Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) chalked up Obama’s plan as another example of the Administration’s attempt to consolidate Presidential power.

“The Second Amendment is non-negotiable. The right to bear arms is a right, despite President Obama’s disdain for the Second Amendment and the Constitution’s limits on his power,” he said. “Congress must stand firm for the entirety of the Constitution — even if, but particularly so, when President Obama seeks to ignore his obligation to ‘preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.’ Taking away the rights and abilities of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves is yet another display of the Obama Administration’s consolidation of power.”

A handful of Republicans have also suggested that lawmakers should initiate the impeachment process against the President if he continues with his ambitious gun control campaign.

Representative Steve Stockman (R-Texas), who has publically endorsed Gun Appreciation Day, which is Saturday, said in a statement: “Impeachment is not something to be taken lightly. It is a grave and serious undertaking that should only be initiated in a sober and serious manner. It should be reserved only for most egregious of trespasses by the President.

“I would consider using Executive Orders to engage in attacks on a constitutionally-protected right and violating his sworn oath of office to be such a trespass. The President cannot issue executive orders depriving the people of full access to an enumerated constitutional right.

“I do not think it will come to that. The President is not an absolute ruler, and his actions and orders can be checked and balanced by the Congress and the courts — if the Congress is willing.”

Representative Tray Radel (R-Fla.) expressed a similar sentiment, saying that the President’s actions are bringing conservative Americans to a “breaking point.”

As lawmakers examine the impact of Obama’s announcements yesterday, a Congressional fight over gun control looms ahead with the draconian assault weapons ban bill introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) waiting in the wings. And though Obama has urged Congress to act and promised to continue to use “any weight” his office holds to force legislative action, gun grabbers will likely fight an uphill battle at the Capitol. The Republican-controlled House will offer the most mighty resistance against incoming gun bills, but even the Democratic-led Senate is expected to have a tough time moving new gun laws.

As the United States continues to be mired in economic calamity with a looming debt crisis forcing near-constant Congressional gridlock, weary politicos can look forward to the forthcoming biggest legislative battle over guns in two decades in the weeks ahead.

Dems Want To Axe The Debt Ceiling

Claiming that Republican lawmakers have “weaponized” the debt ceiling, a group of House Democrats have introduced legislation that would do away with the cap on the Nation’s borrowing limit.

The Democrats argue that a repeal of the debt ceiling would allow Congress to move forward with legislation that promotes jobs, economic recovery and growth instead of arguing over the Nation’s borrowing limit year after year.

“We cannot allow our economy to be threatened every year by political extremists intent on exploiting the debt ceiling to force through massive cuts and so-called entitlement reform,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler (D- NY). “The debt ceiling is arbitrary, doesn’t affect the deficit, and serves no real function in keeping spending down — and it’s time to abolish it. Only then will we be certain to pay our bills on time and take away from extremists this tool for political blackmail.”

The House, which is led by Republicans who use the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip in getting Democrats to agree to spending cuts, is expected to quash the proposal.

The Nation reached its $16.4 trillion borrowing limit at the end of last month. The Treasury Department has since been relying on “extraordinary measures” to pay the Nation’s bills in the time it takes for Congress to agree on what GOP demands will have to be met before it can be raised. It is likely that Republicans will champion a deal similar to that reached during the last debt limit debates, which mandates spending cuts equal to the amount the limit is raised.

The idea of doing away with the debt ceiling has also been championed by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Wednesday Morning News Roundup 1-16-2013

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.

 

 

  • Countries throughout the world are expected to engage in a global currency war, cutting the value of their currencies to remain competitive.

 

 

 

  • French troops launched their first ground operation against Islamist rebels in Mali on Wednesday as they try to remove al-Qaida fighters from the area.

 

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

Gun Control: Some States, Lawmakers Resist

Today at noon, President Barack Obama is expected to unveil the package of gun control proposals compiled by Vice President Joe Biden’s task force and presented to the commander in chief earlier in the week. The package likely includes an assault weapons ban, background checks and restrictions on magazine and bullet sales.

Also included in Obama’s presentation is expected to be a list of 19 executive orders that the President will take unilaterally in an attempt to control guns in America.

“The issue is: Are there some sensible steps that we can take to make sure that somebody like the individual in Newtown can’t walk into a school and gun down a bunch of children in a — in a shockingly rapid fashion?” Obama said at a news conference Monday. “And surely we can do something about that.”

While the Administration is prepared for heavy political blowback from 2nd Amendment advocates, it has signaled that it will aggressively court control measures that can be implemented without Congressional approval.

But not all hope is lost for Americans who are opposed to the draconian gun restrictions the President is expected to unveil today. With the exception of anti-gun strongholds like New York (which is expected to pass the first State legislation banning assault weapons and limiting magazine capacity since the Sandy Hook tragedy), lawmakers in some areas of the country have already began pushing back.

Earlier in the week, junior Representative Steve Stockman (R-Texas) said he would “seek to thwart” any attempts of executive action to implement stricter gun control laws in the United States, even if it means “filing articles of impeachment” against Obama.

In Jerusalem, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) spoke to CBN News to weigh in on the President’s suggestion that executive orders may be used to implement new gun policy.

“I’m against having a king,” Paul said. “I think having a monarch is what we fought the American Revolution over and someone who wants to bypass the Constitution, bypass Congress– that’s someone who wants to act like a king or a monarch.

“I’ve been opposed to executive orders, even with Republican Presidents. But one that wants to infringe on the Second Amendment, we will fight tooth and nail,” he continued.

“And I promise you, there’ll be no rock left unturned as far as trying to stop him from usurping the Constitution, running roughshod over Congress,” Paul said. “And you will see one heck of a debate if he decides to try to do this.”

Beyond lawmakers seeking to thwart the Administration’s efforts to implement new gun laws via Presidential fiat, Obama and his Justice Department are also faced with a handful of States that are moving to put in place legislation to nullify the Federal gun efforts.

Here is a list of States currently working to strengthen gun rights:

Alabama

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has publicly stated that he isn’t pursuing any gun control issues. Legislators in the State have proposed legislation guaranteeing protection against a Federal gun grab.

Alaska

No new gun laws expected. The State has passed the Firearms Freedom Act stating that any firearms made and retained in-State are beyond the authority of Congress under its Constitutional power to regulate commerce among the States.

Arizona

Lawmakers in the State have not yet introduced any firearm-specific legislation, but are expected to work to expand gun rights with the full backing of Governor Jan Brewer. The State has passed the Firearms Freedom Act.

Georgia

Lawmakers in the State have introduced legislation that would relax gun restrictions to allow for carry in churches and on campuses.

Iowa

Governor Terry Branstad said he will not support gun control legislation. Lawmakers in the State are expected to produce pro-gun legislation.

Idaho

No gun control measures are on the legislative agenda. The State has passed the Firearms Freedom Act.

Kansas

Lawmakers in the State are considering a bill to ease restrictions on concealed carry in State and municipal buildings.

Mississippi

Governor Phil Bryant “is strongly opposed to limiting Mississippians’ rights to bear arms.”

Montana

Republican lawmakers are forging a bill that would prohibit State enforcement of any Federal firearm bans on semi-automatic weapons and magazines. Another bill would disallow local governments’ ability to restrict firearms. Montana was the original State to pass the Firearms Freedom Act.

South Carolina

In response to concerns that the Federal government may try to restrict gun rights, lawmakers have proposed a Firearms Freedom Act to protect the 2nd Amendment rights of State residents.

South Dakota

A number of gun bills are said to be in the works in the State, but lawmakers expect that only pro-gun bills would pass. Lawmakers in the State have already passed the Firearms Freedom Act.

Tennessee

No anti-gun legislation is expected from Tennessee. The State has already passed a version of the Firearms Freedom Act.

Utah

The State is already a Firearms Freedom Act State.

Wyoming

Already a Firearms Freedom Act State, Wyoming lawmakers are backing a bill that would prohibit the State from enforcing any Federal restrictions on semi-automatic weapons or magazines. Bills also exist that would allow for concealed carry at schools and prohibit local governments from implementing gun bans.

These are States where legislative action suggests that gun control could intensify, with policies ranging from tougher background checks to all-out bans on different types of firearms being considered:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont

Welfare Spending Could Increase 80 Percent In Next Decade

Numbers out from Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee suggest that Federal welfare expenditures could snowball by 80 percent over the next decade if Washington doesn’t cut back.

According to information put out by the committee, if government could slow the growth rate of welfare spending from 80 to 60 percent, the Federal government could save taxpayers $1 trillion over a period of 10 years.

Overall spending on welfare in the United States dwarfed all other budget items in FY2011. Welfare spending (Federal and State) throughout the Nation topped out at more than $1 trillion for that fiscal year, “totaling enough to mail every household in poverty a check for 60k each year.”

The report states:

Currently, almost 95 percent of spending on means-tested poverty assistance falls into four categories: cash assistance, health assistance, housing assistance, and social and family services. Welfare spending has increased on a year-over-year basis regardless of whether the economy has improved or unemployment has declined, and is projected to continue this dramatic rise indefinitely. Spending on these poverty programs will rise approximately 80 percent from FY2013-FY2022, representing a total cost of $11 trillion—roughly one quarter of cumulative federal spending. Slowing the growth rate from 80 percent to a still massive 60 percent would thus result, according to standard congressional budget accounting, in a $1 trillion savings over ten years.

The Budget Committee blames the sprawling growth in welfare spending on the Federal government’s use of aggressive recruitment methods in recent years to grow the number of American welfare recipients.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R- Ala.), a ranking member of the committee, said last October when numbers were first released indicating that the Nation spent more than $1 trillion on welfare in FY2011: “No longer should we measure compassion by how much money the government spends but by how many people we help to rise out of poverty. Welfare assistance should be seen as temporary whenever possible, and the goal must be to help more of our fellow citizens attain gainful employment and financial independence.”