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The Second Amendment: A Symbol of Freedom or An Invitation to Violence?

27 Apr

“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.” – The Second Amendment to the US Constitution

You can largely determine where a person will fall in the debate over gun control and the Second Amendment based on their view of government and the role it should play in our lives.

Those who want to see government as a benevolent parent looking out for our best interests tend to interpret the Second Amendment’s “militia” reference as applying only to the military.

To those who see the government as inherently corrupt, the Second Amendment is a means of ensuring that the populace will always have a way of defending themselves against threats to their freedoms.

And then there are those who view the government as neither good nor evil, but merely a powerful entity that, as Thomas Jefferson recognized, must be bound “down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” To this group, the right to bear arms is no different from any other right enshrined in the Constitution, to be safeguarded, exercised prudently and maintained.

Unfortunately, as I document in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, while these three divergent viewpoints continue to jockey for supremacy, the U.S. government has adopted a “do what I say, not what I do” mindset when it comes to Americans’ rights overall. Nowhere is this double standard more evident than in the government’s attempts to arm itself to the teeth, all the while viewing as suspect anyone who dares to legally own a gun, let alone use one.

Indeed, while it still technically remains legal to own a firearm in America, possessing one can now get you pulled over, searched, arrested, subjected to all manner of surveillance, treated as a suspect without ever having committed a crime, shot at and killed. (This same rule does not apply to law enforcement officials, however, who are armed to the hilt and rarely given more than a slap on the wrists for using their weapons against unarmed individuals.)

Just recently, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case of a Texas man whose home was subject to a no-knock, SWAT-team style forceful entry and raid based solely on the suspicion that there were legally-owned firearms in his household. Making matters worse, police panicked and opened fire through a solid wood door on the homeowner, who had already gone to bed.

Earlier in the year, a Florida man traveling through Maryland with his wife and kids was stopped by a police officer and interrogated about the whereabouts of his registered handgun. Despite the man’s insistence that the handgun had been left at home, the officer spent nearly two hours searching through the couple’s car, patting them down along with their children, and having them sit in the back of a patrol car. No weapon was found.

In 2011, a 25-year-old Philadelphia man was confronted by police, verbally threatened and arrested for carrying a gun in public, which is legal within the city. When Mark Fiorino attempted to explain his rights under the law to police, police ordered him to get on his knees or else “I am gonna shoot ya.” Fiorino was later released without charges.

A provision in a Washington State bill would have authorized police to search and inspect gun owners’ homes yearly. Connecticut has adopted a law banning the sale of large-capacity magazines and assault weapons. And a bill moving through the New Jersey legislature would reduce the number of bullets an ammunition magazine could hold from 15 to 10.

Under a proposal by the Department of Health and Human Services, anyone seeking mental health treatment—no matter how benign—could find themselves entered into the FBI’s criminal background check system and have their Second Amendment rights in jeopardy. They would join the ranks of some 175,000 veterans who have been barred from possessing firearms based solely on the fact that they received psychiatric treatment through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Meanwhile, the government’s efforts to militarize and weaponize its agencies and employees is reaching epic proportions, with federal agencies as varied as the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration placing orders for hundreds of millions of rounds of hollow point bullets. Moreover, under the auspices of a military “recycling” program, which allows local police agencies to acquire military-grade weaponry and equipment, $4.2 billion worth of equipment has been transferred from the Defense Department to domestic police agencies since 1990. Included among these “gifts” are tank-like 20-ton Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, tactical gear, and assault rifles.

Ironically, while the Obama administration continues its efforts to “pass the broadest gun control legislation in a generation,” which would include bans on military-style assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and armor-piercing bullets, expanded background checks, and tougher gun-trafficking laws, the U.S. military boasts some weapons the rest of the world doesn’t have. Included in its arsenal are armed, surveillance Reaper drones capable of reading a license plate from over two miles away; an AA12 Atchisson Assault Shotgun that can shoot five 12-gauge shells per second and “can fire up to 9,000 rounds without being cleaned or jamming”; an ADAPTIV invisibility cloak that can make a tank disappear or seemingly reshape it to look like a car; a PHASR rifle capable of blinding and disorienting anyone caught in its sights; a Taser shockwave that can electrocute a crowd of people at the touch of a button; an XM2010 enhanced sniper rifle with built-in sound and flash suppressors that can hit a man-sized target nine out of ten times from over a third of a mile away; and an XM25 “Punisher” grenade launcher that can be programmed to accurately shoot grenades at a target up to 500 meters away.

Talk about a double standard. The government’s arsenal of weapons makes the average American’s handgun look like a Tinker Toy.

It’s no laughing matter, and yet the joke is on us. “We the people” have been so focused on debating who or what is responsible for gun violence—the guns, the gun owners, or our violent culture—and whether the Second Amendment “allows” us to own guns that we’ve overlooked the most important and most consistent theme throughout the Constitution: the fact that it is not merely an enumeration of our rights but was intended to be a clear shackle on the government’s powers.

When considered in the context of prohibitions against the government, the Second Amendment reads as a clear rebuke against any attempt to restrict the citizenry’s gun ownership. As such, it is as necessary an ingredient for maintaining that tenuous balance between the citizenry and their republic as any of the other amendments in the Bill of Rights, especially the right to freedom of speech, assembly, press, petition, security, and due process.

Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas understood this tension well. “The Constitution is not neutral,” he remarked, “It was designed to take the government off the backs of people.” In this way, the freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rightsin their entirety stand as a bulwark against a police state. To our detriment, these rights have been steadily weakened, eroded and undermined in recent years. Yet without any one of them, including the Second Amendment right to own and bear arms, we are that much more vulnerable to the vagaries of out-of-control policemen, benevolent dictators, genuflecting politicians, and overly ambitious bureaucrats.

When all is said and done, the debate over gun ownership really has little to do with gun violence in America. Eliminating guns will not necessarily eliminate violence. Those same individuals sick enough to walk into an elementary school or a movie theater and open fire using a gun can and do wreak just as much havoc with homemade bombs made out of pressure cookers and a handful of knives.

It’s also not even a question of whether Americans need weapons to defend themselves against any overt threats to our safety or wellbeing, although a recent study by a Quinnipiac University economist indicates that less restrictive concealed carry laws save lives, while gun control can endanger them. In fact, journalist Kevin Carson, writing for Counter Punch, suggests that prohibiting Americans from owning weapons would be as dangerously ineffective as Prohibition and the War on the Drugs:

“[W]hat strict gun laws will do is take the level of police statism, lawlessness and general social pathology up a notch in the same way Prohibition and the Drug War have done. I’d expect a War on Guns to expand the volume of organized crime, and to empower criminal gangs fighting over control over the black market, in exactly the same way Prohibition did in the 1920s and strict drug laws have done since the 1980s. I’d expect it to lead to further erosion of Fourth Amendment protections against search and seizure, further militarization of local police via SWAT teams, and further expansion of the squalid empire of civil forfeiture, perjured jailhouse snitch testimony, entrapment, planted evidence, and plea deal blackmail.”

Truly, the debate over gun ownership in America is really a debate over who gets to call the shots and control the game. In other words, it’s that same tug-of-war that keeps getting played out in every confrontation between the government and the citizenry over who gets to be the master and who is relegated to the part of the servant.

The Constitution is clear on this particular point, with its multitude of prohibitions on government overreach. As 20thcentury libertarian Edmund A. Opitz observed in 1964, “No one can read our Constitution without concluding that the people who wrote it wanted their government severely limited; the words ‘no’ and ‘not’ employed in restraint of government power occur 24 times in the first seven articles of the Constitution and 22 more times in the Bill of Rights.”

In a nutshell, then, the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms reflects not only a concern for one’s personal defense, but serves as a check on the political power of the ruling authorities. It represents an implicit warning against governmental encroachments on one’s freedoms, the warning shot over the bow to discourage any unlawful violations of our persons or property. As such, it reinforces that necessary balance in the citizen-state relationship. As George Orwell noted, “That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer’s cottage is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.”

Certainly, dictators in past regimes have understood this principle only too well. As Adolf Hitler noted, “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.” It should come as no surprise, then, that starting in December 1935, Jews in Germany were prevented from obtaining shooting licenses, because authorities believed that to allow them to do so would “endanger the German population.” In late 1938, special orders were delivered barring Jews from owning firearms, with the punishment for arms possession being 20 years in a concentration camp.

The rest, as they say, is history. Yet it is a history that we should be wary of repeating.

 

New York Deadline to Register Assault Rifles Comes and Goes

20 Apr

NEW YORK (VR) – The deadline to register assault rifles in New York is here, but the true number of those who registered is unknown. Some believe that the new law has gained little to no traction amongst the New York gun owning community. Stephen Aldstadt, president of the Shooters Committee on Political Education, told Radio VR that while he can’t make recommendations on how or how not to abide by the law, he has noticed an overwhelming trend.

“As an organization we certainly can’t advise people to not obey the law. What I can say is, the overwhelming majority of people who have been talking to us have been indicating that they don’t intend to comply with the law,” he said.

In response to a public information request by Radio VR, the New York State Police refused to release any statistics pertaining to the number of registered assault rifles, claiming that the records are “derived from information collected for the State Police database and are, therefore, exempt from disclosure.”

Calls for the release of the numbers are growing from both sides of the debate, including from Leah Gunn Barrett, the executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.

“We think [the New York State Police] should release the numbers, a lot of people think they should. We hope that eventually the they will,” Barrett said.

According to the law, owners of assault rifles who fail to register their weapon by the April 15 deadline could be charged with a misdemeanor, and a felony for illegally possessing the assault rifle. Barrett believes that the law won’t affect law abiding gun owners, and goes on to mention that she is confident that the police will enforce the law and New York gun owners will comply.

“The New York State Police will enforce the NY Safe Act which is supported by New Yorker’s by two-to-one majority,” she added. “In terms of compliance, pro-gun groups like to tout that they are law-abiding citizens, well if they’re law abiding they should follow the law because this is a law of New York State, it was passed by a bi-partisan legislature, signed into law by Governor[Andrew] Cuomo, and is widely popular by New Yorkers.”

Despite Barrett’s claims, the number of those actually complying with the law is unknown, as is the number of those ignoring the law. In fact, the true number of assault rifles that are currently owned in New York is unknown as well, with estimates ranging between a hundred thousand to 2 million.

For those that aren’t interested in breaking any laws however, a loophole has allowed gun owners to bypass the restriction and own modified assault rifles that don’t fit the state’s criteria, thus making it legal to own without registration. Instructional videos like these (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xHsjxDqrrg) have even surfaced online explaining step by step how to do so.

According to the NY Safe Act, an assault rifle is classified as a semi-automatic weapon with two or more performance enhancing attachments. By simply detaching these attachments, which range from pistol grips to extended clips, Aldstadt believes that the ability to possess a weapon equal to the capability of an assault rifle is out there.

“They function basically identical to any other semi-automatic rifles that don’t have the cosmetic features on them and they never qualify as an assault rifle so we’ve seen a lot of those become very popular as well,” he said.

While the NY Safe Act still faces plenty of opposition from New York republicans and pro-gun groups, it seems that efforts to overturn the law continue to fail. The question remains however, just how will the State Police enforce these laws? Will the NY Safe Act make New York Safer, or is it just a weightless reflex to last year’s horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary?

Download audio file

Reprinted from The Voice of Russia.

The Cliven Bundy Standoff: Wounded Knee Revisited?

13 Apr

 

We took away their country and their means of support, broke up their mode of living, their habits of life, introduced disease and decay among them, and it was for this and against this they made war. Could anyone expect less? – General Philip Sheridan, who presided over the expropriation of the Plains Indians, in the 1878 Annual Report of the General of the U.S. Army

Following the War Between the States, as the formerly independent South was being re-assimilated into the Soyuz, the US military took up the task of driving the Plains Indians off of land that had been promised to them through solemn treaty obligations – but was now coveted by the corporatist railroad combine.

In 1867, William Sherman wrote a letter to General Grant insisting that “we are not going to let thieving, ragged Indians check and stop the progress” of the railroad. About a year earlier, Sherman had urged Grant to “act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women, and children.” Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo points out that Sherman set out to make the Sioux “feel the superior power of the Government,” even if “the final solution to the Indian problem” required that they be physically annihilated.

Writing in Smithsonian magazine, historian Gilbert King observes that the post-war US military wasn’t adequate to carry out that ambitious campaign. General Philip Sheridan, who succeeded Sherman as Commander of the Military Division of the Mississippi, complained that he had only 14,000 troops with which to carry out “the reduction of these wild tribes and occupation of their country.”

Note that Sheridan didn’t equivocate in describing his army’s role as the occupier of a “country” that belonged, by right, to other people. He had no moral scruples against being an occupier; his objections were limited to practical concerns.

The Plains Indians were canny, elusive, and motivated. However, their dependence on the buffalo provided the aggressors with an exploitable vulnerability. Hunting the Indians was difficult and risky; slaughtering buffalo was neither.

The railroads, acting as a military force multiplier, began ferrying tourists to the West for the specific purpose of “sport-hunting” buffalo.

Unlike the Indians, who never threatened to hunt the buffalo to extinction, or Bill Cody, who was restrained in his efforts to harvest them to feed construction crews for the Kansas Pacific Railroad, the Eastern tourists had no property interest in the continued existence of the species, and didn’t have to pay any price for the profligate destruction they wrought.

“Massive hunting parties began to arrive in the West by train, with thousands of men packing .50 caliber rifles, and leaving a trail of buffalo carnage in their wake,” recalls King. “Hunters began killing buffalo by the hundreds of thousands,” leaving their ravaged bodies to bloat and fester.

When legislatures in some states attempted to enact measures to conserve the buffalo, their objections were overruled by the Feds. The higher “national purpose” required a “total war” strategy that included the destruction of the buffalo in order to break the resistance of the Plains Indians.

“These men have done more in the last two years, and will do more in the next year, to settle the vexed Indian question, than the entire regular army has done in the last forty years,” wrote General Sheridan with satisfaction. “They are destroying the Indians’ commissary. And it is a well-known fact that an army losing its base of supplies is placed at a great disadvantage. Send them [the private buffalo hunters] powder and lead, if you will; but for a lasting peace, let them kill, skin and sell until the buffaloes are exterminated. Then your prairies can be covered with speckled cattle.”

Cattle became the successor to buffalo in the late 1860s and early 1870s. That was the era when the ancestors of Cliven Bundy settled in what was to become the State of Nevada, and began to graze cattle in what would later be called the Bunkerville Grazing Allotment. The Bundy family made peaceful and productive use of that allotment for more than 120 years, mixing their labor with the land to create original wealth.

Unfortunately, the Bundy family — like the American Indians – had been living on a reservation: They were never allowed to exercise ownership of their grazing “allotment,” in much the same way that Indians were not permitted to have clear title to their lands. The land on which the Bundy family raised cattle was “owned” by the government, and the Bundys were required to pay rent – in the form of grazing fees – for the “privilege” of making productive use of it. The public-land grazing system has been described as “the nation’s most conspicuous and extensive flirtation with socialism” – except, perhaps, for the Indian Reservation System.

Indians whose lands were supposedly protected through treaties invariably discovered that the phrase “in perpetuity” means “pending the discovery of something valuable on the land that is desired by a politically favored constituency.” The desired commodity could be gold – as the Nez Perce learned after their homeland in the luxuriant Wallowa Valley, having been reduced to a tiny, barren tract, was seized from them by General O.O. Howard.  It could be fertile farm lands on the banks of the Niobrara River, as the Poncas discovered when they were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma.

Similar “adjustments” were made to practically every Indian band or tribe that signed a treaty in good faith with Washington – only to find themselves reduced to destitution when Washington withheld promised annuities and rations, and then evicted from their lands when it suited Leviathan’s interests. The high and holy purpose of Manifest Destiny nullified the property rights of Indians and any treaty obligations that would inhibit Washington’s drive for continental expansion.

In 1993, the same federal Leviathan State that unilaterally “modified” binding treaty agreements with Indian tribes and bands decided to “modify” the terms of the Bundy family’s grazing permit. This was done in the service of a doctrine even more insidious than Manifest Destiny: A new religion in which all human property rights – including, some adherents insist, the right to live itself – are to be sacrificed on the altar of “biocentrism.” The central tenet of that religion is that “Human beings are not inherently superior to other living things.”

However, there are certain superior specimens within the ranks of humanity who possess a gift of seership that permits them to discern the true needs of nature. On occasion, these infinitely wise and limitlessly benevolent beings – most of whom have found a niche in some foundation-funded eco-radical lobby – will identify “endangered” or “threatened” species whose supposed claim to a “habitat” outweighs property rights and all human needs.

Since none of those non-human creatures can speak on their own behalf, we should consider ourselves extravagantly blessed by the presence of eco-seers capable of discerning their needs, bureaucrats willing to harken to their inspired counsel, and judges who dutifully ratify bureaucratic decisions without being unduly burdened by respect for property rights.

In 1993, acting on an infallible ecocentric pronouncement, the Bureau of Land Management decreed that the land on which Cliven Bundy and his neighbors had long grazed their cattle was actually the “habitat” of the desert tortoise.

Although the BLM – like other agencies involved in administering Washington’s illegal colonial occupation of western lands – has been influenced by biocentrism, it’s not likely that its upper echelons are filled with True Believers in anything other than the Bureaucratic Prime Directive: “Maintain what we have, and expand where we can.”

The BLM’s revisions were imposed during the reign of Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, who in a letter two years earlier (written while he was head of the League of Conservation Voters) declared: “We must identify our enemies and drive them into oblivion.” Babbitt and his comrades have acted with what Sherman described as “vindictive earnestness” in pursuing that objective: In the past twenty years they have all but eradicated cattle ranching in the southwestern United States.

In his book War on the West, William Pendley of the Mountain States Legal Foundation observes that “the enormous might of the federal government has always meant that the life of the West was in the hands of strangers living thousands of miles away. Like the weather that can sweep down upon Westerners and change their lives in an instant, the federal government has always loomed as a distant threat.” During Babbitt’s tenure at the Department of the Interior, the federal eco-jihad specifically targeted “the most enduring symbol of the American West – the cowboy – seeking to price and regulate the rancher off federal grazing lands and out of business, destroying the economy of rural areas.” One of the first initiatives undertaken by Secretary Babbitt in pursuit of his vision of a “New West” was to seek a 230 percent increase in grazing fees charged to ranchers on federally administered lands. Although the proposed fee increase was thwarted by a Senate filibuster, the effort to destroy the ranching industry continued. After the fee increase was proposed, an Interior Department memo surfaced which revealed that Babbitt wanted “to use price increases as a straw man to draw attention from management issues.” While ranchers fought the grazing fee increase, Babbitt and company created “Range Reform ’94,” a cluster of proposed federal land use and environmental regulations which Pendley describes as “A Thousand and One Ways to Get Ranchers off Federal Land.”During the late 1990s – a period in which Babbitt, appropriately, was mired in a scandal involving decades of federal fraud, embezzlement, and graft in the Indian Trust Fund System – ranchers rallied to hold off the federal assault. But like the Plains Indians, the ranchers were facing an implacable enemy unburdened with respect for the law and blessed with access to limitless resources. Of the 52 ranchers in his section of Nevada, Cliven Bundy is the only one who has refused to go back to the reservation. So the heirs to Sherman and Sheridan have mobilized an army to protect hired thieves who have come to steal the Bundy family’s cattle with the ultimate purpose of driving him from the land.

Their objective is not to protect the desert tortoise, but to punish a defiant property owner and entrepreneur. This potentially murderous aggression is being celebrated by Progressives as a worthy effort to make dangerous radicals “feel the superior power of the Government.”

For more than two decades, Bundy has defied the federal land management bureaucracy, and his continued resistance could catalyze a general revolt against their designs for the western United States.

Their intent, as described by Pendley, is to transform the West into “a land nearly devoid of people and economic activity, a land devoted almost entirely to the preservation of scenery and wildlife habitat. In their vision, everything from the 100th meridian to the Cascade Range becomes a vast park through which they might drive, drinking their Perrier and munching their organic chips, staying occasionally in the bed-and-breakfast operations into which the homes of Westerners have been turned, with those Westerners who remain fluffing duvets and pouring cappuccino.”

The high priests of biocentrism and their bureaucratic allies aren’t going to let a handful of ragged but resolute ranchers “check and stop the progress” of Manifest Destiny.

In 1875, amid an entirely contrived Indian Scare in Corrine, Utah, Indian Agent William H. Danilson sent a telegram to Washington complaining about the dangerous “extremism” that had seized the restive Shoshones. “They are taught to hate the government, and look with distrust upon their Agents,” complained the bureaucrat. The Indians impudently maintained that “Bear River Valley belonged to them” and were preparing to resist efforts to evict them from their property.

“Their whole teachings [are] fraught with evil,” concluded Danilson, scandalized that Indians would believe in the sanctity of property, and thus expected the federal government to keep its promises.

Historian Brigham D. Madsen records that an Army investigation of that 1875 Indian Scare found that the Shoshones – who were, as usual, starving because of the government’s failure to deliver promised rations – posed no threat. Nonetheless, the military “issued an ultimatum that all reservation Indians were to return to their reservations at once or [the local commander] would use military force to compel them to do so.”

It didn’t matter that the Indians had done nothing wrong, and that the government had acted illegally: The cause of “law and order” meant that the government simply had to prevail. That was the central theme in Washington’s dealings with the Indians – and in its conduct toward western landowners as well.

Fifteen years after the Corinne Indian Scare, the final flickers of Indian resistance were extinguished by Leviathan in the bloody snows of Wounded Knee. Our rulers clearly intend to use the standoff in Clark County to suffocate remaining resistance to the western states land grab. The only matter left unresolved is the question of how much violence they are willing to employ to accomplish that end.

 

The Fort Hood Murders/Suicide and the Taboo Question: What Brain-Altering Psych Drugs Was Fort Hood Shooter Ivan Lopez Taking?

13 Apr

 

Most of us have been aware of the round-the-clock press coverage of the latest mass shooting incident at Fort Hood, Texas. Seemingly all the possible contributing causes of such a horrific act of violence have been raised and discussed.  However, there is the usual elephant in the room that was only hinted at in the corporate media on the first uncensored day of reporting, just like the day one revelations on 9/11/01 when many eyewitness reporters realized – and then actually reported, on camera – that the three WTC towers 1, 2 and 7 appeared to have come down because of controlled demolitions. On day two, and ever since then, the complicit media have been reporting the approved talking points that fooled most of the people and established as pseudofact the absurd and provably untrue White House conspiracy theories (see www.ae911truth.org for details).

These elephants in the room (both 9/11 and the mass shootings) are something that should be obvious to any free-thinking person of intelligence who has been paying the least bit of attention. Our uniquely American mass shooting pandemic (especially in the schools) did not start until the 1960s, soon after the pharmaceutical industry and the compliant psychiatric industry began the cavalier drugging of Americans.

More recently, military psychiatry has been massively drugging American active duty soldiers and veterans so no one should be surprised about the number of soldier and veteran suicides and related acts of gun violence that are occurring at record levels. (For a partial list of school shooters and their psych drugs see my 2013 Duty to Warn column that was titled “Guns and Drugs Don’t Mix” athttp://duluthreader.com/articles/2013/01/31/1405_guns_and_drugs_dont_mix. And for a list of 5000+ instances of irrational violent acts, just from SSRI drugs, see http://www.ssristories.org.)

We all should be outraged at the failure of most of our so-called journalists (and the editors of the admittedly corporate-controlled media) to thoroughly inquire about the strong connections between brain-altering drugs and gun violence as they are seen to miss every opportunity to probe for real answers to the gun violence epidemic that plagues America. Their failures are certainly appreciated by the psychiatric, medical and pharmaceutical industries who obviously don’t want questions raised about the potential lethality and brain-damaging nature of the psych drug cocktails they seem to hand out like candy. All the groups mentioned above seem to be studiously avoiding that major factor that would help to de-mystify the “senseless” acts of homicidality, suicidality and other seriously aberrant behaviors exemplified at the latest Fort Hood shooting.

<<< Why Can’t we Overcome Taboo Subjects Like Drug-induced Violence?

It is an established fact that brain-altering psych drug cocktails can, just by themselves, cause the extinction of empathy, the extinction of impulse control and thus also increase the likelihood of impulsive acts of violence, suicidality and psychopathic personality trait development. Exposing those facts is a big threat to the previously honorable professions of psychiatry and medicine. And it is an existential threat to the too big to fail multinational pharmaceutical companies (that, by the way, qualify for the diagnosis of sociopathic personality disorder – see http://salem-news.com/articles/march042014/mining-corporations-gk.php). All three of these entities are somehow regarded as, not just too big to fail, but also as too important to criticize.

It must be emphasized that in order to really heal a sick nation of its frailties, traumas and criminalities, it is essential that thorough and unfettered searches for inconvenient truths be made, no matter where the search leads. No exceptions should be tolerated, even if the stock prices of Astra-Zeneca, Eli Lilly, Glaxo, Novartis and Pfizer will be adversely affected and the American Psychiatric Association has to apologize and change its ways.

<<<The Elephant in the Room:

Psych Drugs as a Tipping Point to Overt Acts of Violence>>>

Let me say again: the elephant in the room, the taboo subject, which has kept us as a nation from comprehending the epidemic of mass (and individual) shootings is, in so many cases, the intimate connection between gun violence and the overuse of brain-altering and addictive psych drugs, especially among young children and adolescents of military age whose brains haven’t been hard-wired yet (and are thus more vulnerable to brain altering drugs).

It will take some political will to overcome our nation’s cognitive dissonance and the tendency to reflexively deny and blindly ignore unwelcome new truths while simultaneously rejecting old, increasingly discredited belief systems that have claimed that psych drugs are safe when used long-term. (SSRIs, for example were only tested in human trials for 4 – 8 weeks before being released on the market to patient victims who were going to be told to take them for the rest of their lives)

And not only that but no psych drugs have ever been thoroughly tested long term – even in the rat lab – in combinations of two or more drugs. Yikes! That approach has already failed our children and our soldiers and has only made our uniquely American epidemic of gun violence worse.

The most frequent common denominator in so many of these “senseless” acts of gun violence (whether in the sobering numbers of school shootings or active duty military homicides or the soldier/veteran suicides) is the ingestion – or withdrawal from – brain- and behavior-altering psychiatric drugs. But that unwelcome truth is, as was pointed out above, a taboo subject in the corporate media that just refuses to risk damaging the highly profitable drug industry or the prestige of the psychiatric and medical industries. And it seems that the US military refuses to admit that they had made a mistake in allowing (or even encouraging) the drugging of gun-toting, sleep-deprived, alcohol-abusing, stressed-out, malnourished, combat-traumatized and often brain-injured soldiers.

These popular, aggressively marketed, highly profitable drugs are well known to cause any number of serious adverse effects that include rage, hostility, suicidality, sleep deprivation, depression, memory loss, mania, sexual dysfunction and even hallucinations or other psychotic symptoms.

The popular “sleeping aid” and hypnotic Ambien – the only drug that was accidentally mentioned on day one by name as being taken by Lopez – is notorious for causing sleep-walking, sleep-eating and sleep-driving with total amnesia after awakening! The mass shooter Robert Bales, who massacred a total of 16 innocent civilian members of two Afghanistan villages two years ago had been prescribed Ambien (as well as Lariam, which can cause anger and psychotic episodes). .Active duty soldiers say that Ambien is handed out like candy on the battlefield and is shared widely.

Other important adverse drug effects of psychoactive drugs include an indifference to the suffering of others (and themselves), delusions and impulsiveness Such drugs can easily cause new symptoms that are commonly misdiagnosed as a “new” mental illness or personality disorder, including the potentially lethal “I don’t give a damn” attitude so common among adolescent users of antidepressant drugs.

Most Americans, including prescribing physicians, are tragically unaware that the vast majority of the infamous “school shooters”, from Columbine shooter Eric Harris, to Red Lake shooter Jeff Wiese, to the Virginia Tech shooter Cho, to the Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza have been taking (or withdrawing from) prescription “antidepressant” drugs like Luvox, Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil. (See www.ssristories.com for over 5,000 other examples of similar stories that were mentioned in the media about antidepressant drug-induced irrational behaviors.

But antidepressants aren’t the only culprits, and school shooters aren’t the only category of violent victims of psychiatric drugs, and aberrant behaviors aren’t the only risk for people who are taking them long-term.

<<<Drug-induced Dementia: A Perfect Crime>>>

Practicing psychiatrist and scholar Grace E. Jackson wrote a ground-breaking book that was published in 2009 that was titled Drug-Induced Dementia: A Perfect Crime. The premise of the book was that every category of psychiatric drug (antidepressants, tranquilizers/sedatives, psychostimulants, “mood stabilizers” and antipsychotics) are fully capable of causing both short-term and long-term brain damage, with serious neurodegenerative, behavior-altering and emotion-numbing effects, including dementia. Jackson’s information was gleaned from the vast neuroscience and neurotoxicology literature, information that is almost never published in mainstream medical journals.

Jackson’s book is a sobering revelation that is unwelcome news to those industries like mainstream psychiatry and the multinational pharmaceutical companies that are considered too big to criticize. Psychiatrists have been ignorant of the realities Jackson has revealed in her book, and BigPharma’s well-paid scientists and researchers have been withholding the information from the public, despite the fact that the neurotoxicology data (that comes largely from BigPharma-supported research scientists) has been appearing in basic neuroscience journals ever since the 1960s and 70s, when the chronic use of the “miracle drugs” Thorazine and Haldol were proven unequivocally to cause permanent brain damage in high percentages of users.

Practicing psychiatrist Dr Peter Breggin [www.breggin.com]) has been writing and lecturing for decades about the dangers of psychotropic drugs and the phenomena of drug-induced mental ill health and drug-induced brain-damage. His well-written, well-researched and well-documented books include Toxic Psychiatry; Your Drug May Be Your Problem; Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry; The Antidepressant Fact Book; Talking Back to Prozac; Talking Back to Ritalin; and the book most pertinent to the current issue of drug-induced violence, Medication Madness: A Psychiatrist Exposes the Dangers of Mood-Altering Medications.

Dr Breggin wrote the following after the 2009 Fort Hood massacre, perpetrated by psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan:

“Modern psychiatry is not about counseling and empowering people. It’s about controlling and suppressing them, and that’s a dismal affair for patients and doctors alike. The armed forces have been taken in by the false claims of modern psychiatry.

“By contrast, it’s not depressing to do psychotherapy or counseling. As therapists, it’s inspiring when people entrust their feelings and their life stories to us. There is no burn out when therapists feel concern and empathy for their patients and help them to find the strength and direction to reclaim their lives.

“But being an ordinary (ie, a psychiatric drug dispensing) psychiatrist is deadly depressing. Psychiatrists routinely commit spiritual murder by disregarding and suppressing their patients’ feelings and even their cognitive functions, making it impossible for them to conquer their emotional struggles. It’s no wonder my colleagues have such high suicide and drug addiction rates.

”The most recent data show that soldiers are being snowed under not only with antidepressants and tranquilizers, but increasingly with antipsychotic drugs like Risperdal, Zyprexa, Geodon and Seroquel. To cover up their own therapeutic impotence, psychiatrists chemically suppress our troops and push them back onto the front lines. That’s the kind of poisonous psychiatry that Major Hasan was practicing….”

”Dr. Bart Billings is the founder and director of the premier International Combat Stress Conference, where I made a presentation last year…Dr. Billings confirms that army psychiatrists are nothing more than pill pushers who have no idea how to evaluate anyone’s mental condition. He also agrees that it’s criminal to prescribe psychiatric drugs to active duty soldiers, increasing the risk that they will break under stress and lose their self-control.

“It’s time for the army to reject the false promises and damaging effects of modern psychiatry, and to focus on psychological, educational and moral approaches that genuinely help soldiers to prepare for and to overcome the effects of combat stress.”

<<<The Case of Ivan Lopez is a Good Example of a Murder/Suicide>>>

Potential killers who might be on brain-altering psychoactive drugs are not thinking rationally (although they may not realize it); but they may be aware that they are not likely to get away with the murderous acts without getting killed themselves. The phenomenon is known as “suicide by cop” and it has been true of many mass shootings, including the 2009 Fort Hood case of Major Hasan.

It is easy to imagine how drug-intoxicated, angry, hopeless or suicidal soldiers (who know every which way to kill perceived enemies) decide that they want revenge against the person in the bar who dissed them – or perhaps against the girl friend or wife who wrote the “dear john” letter – or perhaps when their human rights were denied as in the case of Ivan Lopez.

Sometimes the act of revenge will be planned ahead of time so that the perpetrator will go out in a “blaze of glory”, by taking out their perceived enemies in a glorious shoot-out. Ending their hopeless and despairing lives in such a dramatic fashion will ensure that they will be remembered as someone that wasn’t just an invisible nobody but was indeed someone deserving of respect and not scorn (even if it is only because of the size of the gun they are wielding)..

Powerful forces, including the military psychiatrists who “treated” Ivan Lopez by prescribing brain-disabling drugs for him, have been and will continue to be operating behind the scenes at Fort Hood. Secrecy will prevail. Important information about the suicidality-inducing and violence-inducing drugs that were prescribed will be censored out. Lopez’s critically important medical records will be sealed, claiming doctor-patient confidentiality (when the real reason is probably the avoidance of malpractice suits) as was true in the cases of Columbine co-shooter Dylan Klebold, Batman shooter James Holmes, Virginia Tech shooter Cho and Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza. Suicide notes will be carefully hidden away from public view, and thus we will be distracted away from the facts concerning the role of the drugs. And of course the promises about “getting to the bottom of this” from the Fort Hood commanding officer to President Obama will go nowhere.

But, if there is to be any healing of America, a thorough, transparent investigation of all factors needs to be done, even if the toes of those who prefer continuing the cover-up are stepped on. The victims and the grieving families of the school shootings, the military murders/suicides or the truths about 9/11/01 – past, current or future – have the right to know the unvarnished truth, if for no other reason than for our society to be able to understand what has been going on and to plan effective preventive strategies for the future.

 

Gun Law Chaos: Failing Connecticut Blows Up

16 Mar

Published by The Daily Bell – March 11 2014

A showdown is developing between a sizable number of Connecticut state police officers and the politicians who passed into law highly restrictive gun control, gun bans, and bans on high capacity magazines. Gun rights legal expert and activist David Hardy reported Friday that 250 law enforcement officers in Connecticut have signed an open letter stating that they will not enforce the new anti-gun and magazine laws, which they consider to be a violation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A major news story on these developments is due to be published soon, but Hardy received an advanced notice via email from Tyler Jackson, the head of the Connecticut Peace Officers Association, the organization that sent the open letter. – Examiner.com

Dominant Social Theme: Guns are dangerous and courageous state representatives are voting to take them away.

Free-Market Analysis: Connecticut politicos have finally hit the proverbial wall. Following the Sandy Hook shootings of toddlers, Connecticut passed a radical gun-registration law.

Here’s how RT.com describes it:

Legislation enacted after the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT requires that gun owners registered military-style rifles and high-capacity magazines with state officials by the end of last year.

But only a few weeks after that deadline came and went, journalist Dan Haar of The Hartford Courant newspaper wrote that as many as 350,000 assault weapons remained unregistered and that “Connecticut has very likely created tens of thousands of newly minted criminals.”

This is the crux of the matter currently. Not only are citizens refusing to register guns but Connecticut police have not registered their guns, either. With police reluctant to follow the law, let alone enforce it, and Connecticut citizens disobeying in large numbers, Hartford – that state’s capital – faces a significant crisis.

It couldn’t happen to a more deserving state. Connecticut is host to one of the most rapacious, politically correct and corrupt political establishments in the entire United States – and that is saying something.

But anyone who takes a trip around Connecticut and drives along the rivers past hordes of tumbled-down brick factories, or even the ones reconstituted into condos, can see the damage done.

Industry fled Connecticut a long time ago, run out of the state on a metaphorical rail greased by overt corruption, impossible environmental regulations and ever-climbing taxes.

Connecticut, like other New England states, is a mere shell of what it once was when New England boasted of “Yankee ingenuity,” and entrepreneurial activity generated thousands of businesses on a regular basis.

These days a lot of Connecticut business is centered around the state itself. Education, civil policing and firefighting, transit services, regulatory services and a lot more have linkages to various kinds of state funding.

Connecticut bureaucrats have gotten used to this state of affairs. Whenever a crisis strikes – and they strike regularly now – the political establishment passes another law.

Do we sound harsh? Heck, here’s Forbes:

Connecticut has so many advantages that it might be hard to understand how it became one of America’s worst-performing state economies.

As we know, Connecticut is located along an important commercial corridor between New York and Boston. It’s well-served by railroads and highways. Major airports are accessible. Connecticut has many charming towns, historic sights, stylish shops and nice beaches. CNN determined that of America’s 25 towns with the highest median family incomes, four are in Connecticut – New Canaan (#1), Darien (#2), Westport (#5) and Greenwich (#14). The most expensive American home ever offered for sale is Copper Beech Farm which, with an asking price of $190 million, has 50 acres of waterfront property in Greenwich.

Although Connecticut lacks a major high tech region, there’s a concentration of executive talent capable of managing large organizations. Many are in financial services.

Despite these attractions, during the past two decades some 300,000 more Connecticut residents have moved out of the state than have moved in. This compares with the current population of about 3.5 million.

The Forbes article goes on to cite statistics about Connecticut’s disastrous economic performance. Here are three of the most noteworthy:

  • Connecticut ranks #50 – the worst – in annual economic growth. According to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, Connecticut’s economy contracted for the second year in a row. “Connecticut is the laggard,” reported Connecticut Department of Labor economist Daniel Kennedy.
  • Government spending is out of control. Two years ago, Connecticut Governor Dannell P. Malloy signed a $1.8 billion tax hike, the biggest in the state’s history, that supposedly would generate enough. But it wasn’t enough for the next budget, enacted this year. It was balanced mainly with gimmicks like shifting some $6 billion of Medicaid spending off-budget.
  • Connecticut has one of the worst business climates in the country. Factors affecting a state’s business climate include the individual income tax, corporate income tax, sales tax, property tax, unemployment insurance tax and security of private property. For example, as the Tax Foundation reported, “Connecticut imposed a temporary 20 percent surtax on top of its flat 7.5 percent corporate income tax, in effect raising its rate to 9 percent. This 20 percent surcharge is an increase on a supposedly temporary 10 percent surcharge that has been in place since 2009.”

While the above is surely disastrous, Connecticut legislators are still ensconced in a business-as-usual frame of mind. This no doubt contributed to the gun registration law.

But this time, something went wrong. Some invisible line was crossed. Gun-grabbing is apparently where the “law” ends and civil disobedience begins. Here’s more from the Examiner article …

… So far 250 LEOs have cosigned the letter. Gunowners in the state have already ignored the mandate to comply with the new laws, refusing to register with the state government their possession of so-called “assault weapons” and forbidden magazines.

It is estimated that over 300,000 gunowners have practiced civil disobedience in refusing to register and give up the newly forbidden items. Only roughly 50,000 citizens in the state have complied. But now these courageous citizens have key support in high places.

With at least 250 law enforcement officers joining them in disobeying an unconstitutional law, the gunowners have a new weapon in their arsenal – the support of hundreds of police officers. Hardy reported that with the lack of support of police, Connecticut faces massive civilian resistance, with police officers refusing to enforce a law that to most citizens crosses a line that is unacceptable in a free society.

If such a thing can happen in a deeply blue state in New England, what would law enforcement encounter if they attempted such an ill-fated attack on Constitutionally-protected rights in Texas, Wyoming, South Carolina, Utah, or Kentucky?

This is something that the political powers that be in government and law enforcement – and in the Courts – should think long and hard about before acting in such a knee-jerk fashion as Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, and Massachusetts have done.

Our take: “The Internet is a process, not an episode.” The power elite, panicked by what we call the Internet Reformation, has been acting in an ever more bold fashion when it comes to reducing rights with ever more restrictive laws … and not just in Connecticut but at the federal level, as well.

That the police may have joined in a “citizens’ revolt” must certainly disturb those in charge of Hartford’s rapacious bureaucracy. Connecticut depends on the passivity of its citizens to fund its ever-growing state bureaucracy. Taxes alone are driving Connecticut’s middle class into poverty, and this is complicated by the continuing lack of employment in Connecticut.

It has surely occurred to those in power that while they may have overreached, staging a tactical withdrawal may not be easy to do because there is so much else in Connecticut crying out for reversal. If gun laws can be reversed because of civil disobedience then so can other laws. And when that begins to happen, the process could cost the state a great deal of money – which it doesn’t have.

This is always the fear of authoritarian societies – that one example of “weakness” can unravel the entire dysfunctional environment. We shall see what the resolution is, and how hard the political class fights to preserve what was surely ill-advised legislation. But one thing we believe is certain:


Conclusion

Connecticut’s blow-back is “a sign of the times” – one worth noting.

Published by The Daily Bell – www.thedailybell.com – All Rights Reserved.

Connecticut Carry dares state lawmakers: ‘Either enforce the law or repeal the ban’

9 Mar

3/05/14 | by  

Connecticut Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy signs gun control legislation at the Capitol on April 4, 2013 (Photo credit: Steven Senne/AP)

Connecticut Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy signs gun control legislation at the Capitol on April 4, 2013 (Photo credit: Steven Senne/AP)

In a boldly-worded press release, the nonprofit gun-rights organization Connecticut Carry is calling on state officials to either enforce the recently passed expanded ban on so-called ‘assault weapons’ or else repeal the law altogether.

The ultimatum was issued because the leadership of Connecticut Carry believes that lawmakers do not have the temerity to instruct law enforcement to go door-to-door to ensure that every gun owner is in compliance with the ban, which required all citizens to register their rifle defined as “assault weapons” with state police by Jan. 1, 2014.

“From Gov. Malloy, to Undersecretary Lawlor to DESPP, Commissioner Schriro, and Lt. Cooke of the firearms unit, and including Lt. Paul Vance, the state needs to shit, or get off the pot,” said the group’s director, Ed Peruta.

“The fact is, the state does not have the balls to enforce these laws,” he continued. “The laws would not survive the public outcry and resistance that would occur.”

Under the law, those who failed to register their newly banned firearms and magazines (those holding more than 10 rounds) by the deadline will now have to either sell them out of state, render them inoperable or turn them over to the government.

While many folks complied with the law and registered their firearms and magazines — estimates indicate that more than 50,000 firearms and 40,000 magazines were registered by the end of 2013 — many others did not.

In fact, The Hartford Courant contends that as many as 350,000 so-called ‘assault weapons’ were not registered, which means that the state, “has very likely created tens of thousands of newly minted criminals.”

Yet, from the eyes of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration, that will change once people realize they’re illegal and they can’t keep them, then “they’re going to get rid of them,” said Michael P. Lawlor, the governor’s undersecretary for criminal justice policy and planning.

Connecticut Carry, however, disagrees with the notion that people are simply going to give up their lawfully obtained property because its now considered contraband. Once again, the reason is because there’s no credible enforcement mechanism in place. The law has no teeth.

“The anti-gun legislators and officials are scared to implement their tyranny because they know that they did not have any sort of ‘consent of the governed,’” states the press release.

“Now, State officials look down the barrel of the laws that they created, and it is very probably that they now tremble as they rethink the extremity of their folly,” it goes on.

“Connecticut Carry calls on every State official, every Senator, and every Representative, to make the singular decision: Either enforce the laws as they are written and let us fight it out in court, or else repeal the 2013 Gun Ban in its entirety.”

To learn more about Connecticut Carry’s stance on this new law, Guns.com reached out to the author of the press release and the president of the organization Rich Burgess. Below is our brief Q&A:

***

S.H. Blannelberry: If someone hasn’t registered their so-called ‘assault weapon’ with the state by the deadline, what is your advice to him/her?

Rich Burgess: While we don’t give legal advice, we do try to educate people about their rights and about the laws. As such, we would inform people of their lawful options, such as moving the firearm out of the state, selling it to an FFL or altering the firearm to meet the letter of the law. At the same time, we would also try to educate those people who wish to disobey the law about their rights and what to do if the state tries to come after them. We have publications about topics like this, and we have information on our website about it.

We also discussed, in depth, the decision about whether to comply or not to comply by discussing the consequences for either action in our December newsletter.

S.H. Blannelberry: It doesn’t appear that state officials or law enforcement has the chutzpa to enforce the ban, which now calls for confiscation, destruction or sale (out of state) of so-called ‘assault weapons’ — however, what happens if that changes?

Rich Burgess, president of Connecticut Carry.  (Photo credit: Rich Burgess)

Rich Burgess, president of Connecticut Carry. (Photo credit: Rich Burgess)

Rich Burgess: We don’t expect it to change. The state works by ‘boiling the frog’ and making small, incremental moves so as not to get people too angry too fast. It would not serve the purposes of the state for people to see all the grandparents, veterans and hard working people being rounded up in huge swaths.

Many people don’t realize that the State of Connecticut has been confiscating firearms, in ways that we feel are both despicable and unlawful, for over a decade now. We have caught them both confiscating firearms and sending letters threatening arrest for failure to surrender firearms several times without the legal authority to do so. That means that the State of Connecticut is quite the expert in ‘boiling the frog’ with unlawful confiscations and actions against gun owners without going to the extreme of APCs rolling down the streets and kicking in grandpa’s door.

If they decide to roll out the APCs and go door to door, we win the public opinion. They cannot risk that.

Hypothetically speaking, how would your organization deal with state police going door-to-door to round up firearms they deem to be illegal’?

The best defense is a strong offense. That is why since our founding in 2011, we have been educating people on how to defend themselves legally against the State. Making sure people understand the intricacies of the laws in Connecticut is a first step towards making sure that people survive (and win) court cases.

In conjunction with our substantial education efforts, we have worked closely with prominent firearms Attorneys in this state like Attorney Rachel Baird of Torrington, Connecticut. It is not uncommon with the cases she sees where the media and the State have ruthlessly attacked people’s character in public, and that client wants assistance in getting the truth out there. We are very good at that.

S.H. Blannelberry: Looking at the long term, what happens if you guys lose the fight in court? Does that mean Connecticut gun owners would have to surrender their modern sporting rifles?

Rich Burgess: The only good way to fight bad laws is by challenging their enforcement. We don’t buy in to large facial challenges that take decades, cost millions and (especially in our District) go nowhere. We are on the street level, working one on one with the residents of Connecticut.

Connecticut residents that chose to comply with the arbitrary edicts of the windbags in the Connecticut Legislature have registered their modern sporting rifles and they should be fine until the state takes the next step and uses registries for what registries are good for: Confiscation. We don’t see that happening for quite a while. Remember, we have elections coming up.

The ones that did not comply will now have to live with the threat of arrest hanging over their heads. Our hope is that everyone in Connecticut, and in the great states that have been showing their very generous support so far, will keep coming together to help us build an organization with a legal defense fund that will continue to push back one case at a time.

We all have a duty to protect ourselves and our loved ones, but we must also recognize the duty to protect our communities from the State. Part of that responsibility is to make sure our communities are armed, educated and trained. That is what Connecticut Carry is, that is what we do, and that is how we will win.

S.H. Blannelberry: What can people in Connecticut and other states do to help Connecticut Carry defend the residents of Connecticut?

Rich Burgess: People in Connecticut and abroad can help us by donating on our website, or buying the great merchandise we sell. All of these proceeds go towards our continued efforts here in Connecticut. We are a very transparent 501(c)(4) non profit that spends all of our money on the advocacy, educational programs and defense of our members. People can also register on our site as a member for free and they will receive all of our updates, newsletters, announcement and press releases. We put out a lot of content and information and people would be amazed at all the things happening here in Connecticut.

 

Meet Cody Wilson, creator of the 3D-gun, anarchist, libertarian

20 Feb

Cody Wilson, 26, made news when he uploaded plans for the Liberator – a 3D gun. It has been downloaded 100,000 times
Saturday 8 February 2014
Cody Wilson

Cody Wilson and the 3D gun he calls the Liberator. Photograph: Michael Thad Carter/Corbis Outline

Having lunch with the 14th Most Dangerous Person in the World is less scary than you might think. Unless you happen to have a morbid fear of hipster beards, Cody Wilson, a good-looking 26-year-old who blends with the crowd in the east London cafe where I meet him, doesn’t immediately strike fear into the heart.

He chats away with the waitress, discussing the possibilities before ordering east London’s hippest sandwich – the pulled pork burger – and has an easygoing, amiable manner. He is, frankly, about as threatening as a barista. A barista who has happened on a spectacular method of killing people.

Last year, Wired included him in its list of the deadliest people on the planet, alongside Qassem Suleimani, head of Iran’s special forces, and the former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, though Wilson’s notoriety is not to do with human rights abuses and killing. It’s for uploading a bit of software. A bit of software that could unleash a whole new world: one in which anyone can download a set of blueprints and print their own gun at home.

Wilson made news when he unveiled plans for the Liberator in 2012, but in May last year, he went one step further: he successfully fired it, and uploaded the plans on to his website, Defense Distributed. Two days later, the US state department removed them, but by that time they had been downloaded 100,000 times. This is a cat that is well and truly out of the bag. The 3D gun is with us whether we like it or not.

Mostly not, I would say. It’s a gun. It works. And any nut with access to a 3D printer can print one in the privacy of their bedroom and then … well, you get the picture. The plans include a metal shank so that it’ll show up in an x-ray scanner, but it is the work of moments to remove it. And while it is an argument that has a different resonance in the US, where any aforesaid nut can simply go out and buy a gun in a shop, and the rights of nuts to go and buy such guns is enshrined in the constitution, even there, it has caused shockwaves. In Britain, where we hope our robbers carry nothing more than a big stick and arm our police officers accordingly, it’s a potential societal revolution that none of us asked for.

But then, that’s generally the way with societal revolutions. Listening to the radio, just before setting off to meet Wilson, I hear a bulletin that includes the news that the Home Office has updated its firearms rules to make it clear it is illegal to manufacture, sell, purchase or possess 3D printed guns.

“Really?” says Wilson. “I didn’t know about that.” The legislation surrounding 3D guns is moving so fast that it seems not even he is keeping up with it. It follows a news story that a police raid in Manchester uncovered what police believed to be the country’s first 3D-printed gun parts. They weren’t, it turned out, and we already have plenty of laws that cover guns, 3D or otherwise, but it’s a measure of how scary we consider the technology, and how seriously it’s being taken, that this is before a single 3D-printed shot has been fired in anger.

Though, it is perhaps only a matter of time. The technology is there. Hundreds of thousands of people have downloaded the blueprints. And while the Liberator is made of plastic and exploded when the FBI tried to test it, a Texan company has successfully made a metal version

I’ve been emailing Wilson for months, and we finally meet while he’s visiting Britain and we chat for a few minutes about what he’s been doing – picking up a design award, speaking at a conference, being followed around by a documentary crew, talking to publishers. Then before I can stop myself, I ask him the question that eventually everyone asks him: what happens when somebody downloads your design, prints it off and kills someone? When a child is shot with a Liberator?

He stumbles a bit and then says: “Well, I mean, we have to ground it in … I mean it’s a hypothetical … People ask me all the time …”

No, but how would he react?

“I want to reserve a space for the humane. I hope I would react humanely. And I hope it would affect me. But does that lead me to apologise for what was done? And I appeal back to standard discussions about respect for civil liberties. What does that mean? It means people will abuse these rights. But what does it mean, as a structural feature, to have access to military weapons as a society? I’m not trying to brush it off but it means accepting people will abuse their liberties, but that’s why they deserve protection. If no one is going to abuse a gun, it wouldn’t be a right worth protecting. If no one was going to make a speech, we wouldn’t need to defend the principle of freedom of speech. The same thing with the right to be secure in your possessions.”

The problem with Wilson’s argument is that’s it’s an argument, one that you might formulate in the sixth-form debating society. And on the other side, there would be a dead person. Your mother, perhaps. Or your son who, if it hadn’t been for Wilson, and his desire to push the boundaries ofinternet freedom further, would still be alive. But I can’t get through on this point.

Liberator 3D GunThe Liberator. Photograph: V&A”You’re asking me how I would feel? If somebody shot a kid with a Liberator? I guess I’d feel bad. It would be bad. It’d become this whole event. I’m sure I’d have this sinking feeling, ‘Oh my God, they’re going to make a big circus out of it.'”

Er, like, yes! But then isn’t the projection of consequences one of the key aspects of human intelligence, I say. You look at what the potentially bad outcome of an action is and then you don’t do it?

“I think, that this is where it becomes a bit … not disingenuous. It’s like with the Silk Road. It’s easy to accuse hobbyists of unleashing all hell on earth, right? But we literally live now – maybe I’ll just refer to the US – but there are people pulling the levers that operate the greatest terrorist programme in the history of the world. And I don’t just mean the surveillance thing, or warfare. But they are running arms into proxy battles all over the earth that are killing people every day. It’s not something that should be left out of the discussion. Like, ‘Oh Cody Wilson, you hobbyists in your garages, look at what you’re doing.’ But, I think that has to be in the discussion. The attorney general who has been so good about pushing this ban on my guns is accused of covering up the running of actual military grade assault rifles into Mexico. I’m sure he’d say, ‘Well, white man’s burden. We’ve got to make the world safe for democracy.’ But they are killing millions of people.”

As an introduction to the libertarian politics and world view of Cody Wilson, the conversation is not a bad primer. He isn’t some naive bad boy who thought it would be a laugh to make a gun. He’s a self-styled “crypto-anarchist”. He quotes Foucault. His Twitter handle is@Radomysisky, which was the real name of Zinoviev, the Russian revolutionary tried and executed at the start of the purges. He has a 19th-century taste for ideologies and theories. His hero is Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, a Frenchman who, it’s claimed, is the “father of anarchism” and was the first to declare that property is theft. And he believes that the Liberator will be a mechanism for radical redistribution of power.

He was a law student when he co-founded Defense Distributed . It’s an organisation that describes itself as “a non-profit software developer and publisher dedicated to striking the roots of all statist monopolism”. Its mission is to “radicalise digital natives” by “employing political philosophy, activism and technology … to subvert the physical and digital architecture of oppression on behalf of the public”.

What he isn’t is some spotty loner who’s dreamt all this up in his bedroom because he couldn’t get a girlfriend. He was class president of his school, class president of his university, he had offers from Ivy League law schools. He is not even much of a geek. He didn’t write the software, he announced it as a goal, at which point the company, Stratasys, that leased him his 3D printer, demanded its return, and the ensuing fight created headlines that led to developers and engineers flocking to his cause.

He is an articulate proponent of an influential new subculture. Welcome to the world of the techno-libertarians, an ideology based on the convergence of libertarian politics and a free and open web. Its poster boy is Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and a funder of causes ranging from paying young people not to go to college, toSeasteading, a floating offshore nation state. Its spiritual home is Silicon Valley but, like the internet, it’s distributed everywhere, an increasingly visible, well-funded new political ideology.

It is also for many people, liberals like myself, a pretty uncomfortable convergence. Because it’s one thing to be pro-Edward Snowden, pro-internet privacy, pro-the open source movement. And it’s another to be pro the freedom to print off your own assault weapon. And it’s this discomfort that Cody Wilson is revelling in.

“There were a lot of comments on Reddit right when the government shut us down,” says Wilson. “Reddit is normally anti-gun, by the way. It’s young and it’s left. And they were saying, ‘Shit! I’m having to choose between a world of guns and a world of the managed internet! And I won’t give up the internet, so therefore guns! It had forced the decision.”

In fact, the issues that 3D guns raise are more complicated, sophisticated and ultimately unknowable than might first appear. Wilson and Defense Distributed are pushing at the margins of the internet, the margins of freedom, of what the ramifications of this technology will mean. And it’s impossible to know. Technology is changing our relationship with everything. The future, once a far-off place of mind control and replicants, is thundering up behind us in our rear-view mirror. And he’s right: it couldn’t be more political.

Though being anti-government, anti-the rules and prohibitions of the nation state, Wilson is also anti-traditional politics. The Liberator came about, he tells me, because he and his friend Ben “were both in this transpolitical attitude”.

This what?

“OK, so sometimes it’s called post politics,” says Wilson. “It’s just his idea that there’s this western consensus about what is democracy, what is liberal capitalism. And increasingly all questions that might have been traditionally political questions, that we could fight about, have been relegated to an administrative sphere … so I could spend my entire career becoming one member of some segment of the government yelling as hard as I could for many years making a career. Or I could write software that totally explodes the paradigm, right? We’re so dissatisfied in participating in traditional politics, that we’re looking for other kinds of projects that are still innately political and contest what can be done in political terms.”

And then they thought of the gun.

On the one hand, Wilson has the slightly annoying air of being the smartest boy in the class. Or at least the one who likes to show off his intellectual credentials the most. He’s confident and expert at expounding a theory, even when the theory is rubbish. He could, frankly, make a very effective politician. But on the other hand … well, he’s right. What he’s done is more powerful and raises more fundamental political questions than any politician, in recent times.

It’s called the Liberator after the gun US forces devised to distribute to members of the resistance in occupied countries during the second world war. The goal was not what the weapon could do, per se. It was a crude, mass-produced single shot weapon. But what it could inspire: fear. That anyone, anywhere, at any time, could be carrying a Liberator. And that the Nazis would have to live with that knowledge.

Its aim (though the plan was never put into action) was to flip the power dynamic between occupied and occupier. And Wilson believes the Liberator will undermine the power of government and radically democratise everything and transform the relationships between individuals and the state.

Wilson believes this just as he believes that bitcoin, the crypto currency, will disrupt governments’ economic functions, including their ability to raise taxes, which is why he is developing something called Dark Wallet, a secure means of storing and sending the currency.

Cody Wilson speaks at the BitCoin Expo 2013Project manager of Dark Wallet, Wilson speaks at the BitCoin Expo 2013. Photograph: Ray Tang/Rex FeaturesHe also believes there may be trouble ahead. When I ask him, at the end of the interview, about his plans for the future, he says: “I’m afraid that I’ll be forced to engage in something that I don’t want to be engaged in.” What? I say. Like a career?

“No, like a legal case or something. I don’t want to be prosecuted as a criminal for some of the things that I’ve done or will do. And I’m afraid that my government is a bit jealous. I may not even stay there much longer. It’s one thing … but once you start messing with their money …”

He doesn’t finish the sentence. But then he doesn’t have to. There are enough headlines out there which ask: Is Cody Wilson a terrorist? Though my favourite is the one that asks: “Cody Wilson: troll, genius, patriot, provocateur, anarchist, attention whore, gun nut or Second Amendment champion.” Though it could have added, “Or b) all of the above?”

It wasn’t obvious that Cody Wilson was going to become the internet’s latest rebel philosopher king. Though, he’s enjoying its dividends: awards, recognition, a certain fashionable notoriety, and, as of last month, a $250,000 book deal.

His father is a lawyer and his mother worked in insurance until she went into business with his father. And he grew up outside Little Rock, Arkansas. His sister, Cheyenne, is a nurse practitioner. “We were named after western cities in Wyoming. Cody and Cheyenne are kind of like … I don’t know.” And he laughs.

What?

“Cody and Cheyenne are like America’s manifest destiny. My mom picked a theme, I guess, although I don’t know if she was conscious of it.”

The theme, it turns out, wasn’t so far off. When I look up Cody the town, I discover it was named after William Frederick Cody, or Buffalo Bill. And there is a touch of Buffalo Billness to Wilson, one part frontiersman, to two parts showman. Though it raises the question of what, 100 years from now, we will make of the internet’s early cowboy adventurists?

Most cowboys don’t start out at law school though. Wilson screws up his face as if trying to remember when I ask him what his ambitions were before the 3D gun was born. “I was interested in becoming a judge. I like the whole old-world, common law liberal court mentality. I like jurisprudence as a field of inquiry and practice. I thought maybe I’d work as a COO [chief operating officer] or become a lawyer.” So what did your parents make of this transition, I say. From judge or COO to the gun guy on the TV?

“They get it,” he says. “I’d confessed my politics when I was in college. I said: ‘Look, I don’t think I’m just a Ron Paul Libertarian. You could call it … anarchism.’ And my mom was like, ‘Just don’t tell your grandma.'”

If she watches CNN she might have caught on by now that her grandson isn’t just the gun guy off TV, he’s also a “crypto-anarchist”, which, I’m guessing, in Little Rock is not what you dream your little boy will grow up to be. It sounds like one of those made-up words that people who like wearing T-shirts with words on them might use to impress you, but it turns out it’s the title of a 1988 manifesto by Tim May, an electronic engineer at Intel in its early years, and a founder member of he Cypherpunk movement, the belief that strong cryptography will bring about social change.

“Computer technology is on the verge of providing the ability for individuals and groups to communicate and interact with each other in a totally anonymous manner,” begins the manifesto. “Interactions over networks will be untraceable, via extensive rerouting of encrypted packets … these developments will alter completely the nature of government regulation, the ability to tax and control economic interactions, the ability to keep information secret, and will even alter the nature of trust and reputation.”

So, I’ll concede. It doesn’t sound that implausible now. Maybe Cody Wilson is a crypto-anarchist. And maybe we have no idea what that may mean.

Much Confusion Around Both Stand-Your-Ground & Castle Doctrine

1 Feb

By 

AmmoLand.com

January 29, 2014

 

USA – -(Ammoland.com)- This is a great question because there is so much confusion around both these terms.

Much of the confusion stems from the fact that although both of these terms have a narrow, technically-correct meaning they have also been commonly used to refer to other aspects of self-defense law beyond these core meanings.

(In addition, of course, Stand-Your-Ground has been deliberately mischaracterized throughout the media by political activists for their own purposes.)

The Historical Context of Stand-Your-Ground and the Castle Doctrine

First, let’s talk about the core definitions of the Castle Doctrine and Stand-Your-Ground in terms of how they are similar. To provide necessary context, we’ll begin with some history.

America was, of course, a British colony prior to our Revolution, and operated under principles of British law, much of which was based on common law (that is, law developed by practice in courts rather then formed by statutes). Given the length of British history, much of that common law finds its foundations hundreds of years in the past. And it is in that distant past that we encounter the generalized duty to retreat.

The Pre-Gun Era: The Generalized Duty to Retreat

In the days before firearms a defender was likely to be faced only with contact weapons (projectile weapons such as bows were the tools of a highly trained few, and crossbows were essentially the equivalent of today’s SAWs—not in common hands). At the same time, British law tended to see its citizens as subjects of the Crown—in a way, property of the Crown—rather than through the individualistic lens we Americans are familiar with through our own history and culture.

The combination of these two factors led to the common law rule of the generalized rule of retreat—before a defender could use deadly force in self-defense against an attacker, he was required to first take advantage of any safe avenue of retreat available. This became a generalized duty to retreat, and a breach of this duty —the failure to take advantage of a safe avenue of retreat before using deadly force in self-defense—stripped you of any justification for your use of “defensive” force in self-defense.

This rule follows naturally from the weapons of the day and the perspective of the Crown. If it was possible for a defender to move himself even 20 or so feet distant from an attacker, he’s could essentially make himself safe from that attacker’s impact weapons. Further, by doing so he prevented a violent affray in which one of the Crown’s subjects —either defender or attacker— might be mortally wounded and no longer capable of paying taxes, serving the Crown’s military, etc.

Guns Changed Everything

The advent of firearms, of course, change this dynamic considerably. Even if the attacker is armed with a “mere” single-shot flint-ignition arm, the defender moving a small distance away from brings him little additional safety. Combined with the rapidity that an attacker can be brought to bear, the generalized duty to retreat made little sense in this context.

Britain never really changed its common law in this regard. America, on the other hand, was a whole new kettle of fish. We have effectively always had firearms as part of our culture and day-to-day life, and so gun-wielding attackers have always been a part of our self-defense context. As a result, historically in America there was no generalized duty to retreat—and absent any such legal duty, one could stand his ground and face deadly-force attack with deadly-force defense, with no obligation to first consider whether retreat was safely possible. Most commonly, these no-duty-to-retreat provisions of the law were referred to as “True Man” laws.

Urbanized America Begins to Impose Generalized Duty to Retreat

As the decades passed, however, America became more urbanized, with larger population centers beginning to offer such amenities as professionalized law enforcement capabilities. With these in hand, American courts in various —and, later, legislatures— began to reconsider the issue of retreat. They looked back favorably on the old English generalized duty of retreat, and began to adopt it into American law in their own jurisdictions.

In these jurisdictions, it became the law that one had a legal duty to first take advantage of a safe avenue of retreat before using deadly force in self-defense, and the failure to do so stripped the defender of any legal justification for that use of “defensive” force.

The Pendulum Swings Back: Stand-Your-Ground Returns

Over the last 20 years, however, many of these states began to reconsider the wisdom of imposing a duty to retreat on innocent defenders. Over time, and with the encouragement of gun owners —both individually and through various organizations like the NRA— they began to do away with the duty to retreat. In the modern era this has been done through statute, and most commonly these statutes have used some form of the phrase “stand your ground”—hence, high profile of the phrase in today’s self-defense lexicon.

So, what’s happened then is largely a return of the pendulum. America had been entirely stand-your-ground as a matter of our own common law, a number of states had adopted a generalized duty to retreat, and now many of those that did so have reverted back to the stand-your-ground norm.

“Stand-Your-Ground” Is the Majority Position in the United States

Today, 34 states —a considerable majority— are effectively stand-your-ground states in that they do not impose a duty to retreat. About half of these have done so through stand-your-ground legislation, but the other half have simply always been stand-your-ground states.

It is an interesting historical artifact, for example, that politically deep-blue California has always been a stand-your-ground state—indeed, it is arguably the most aggressive stand-your-ground state in the country. In California not only may you stand your ground, you are even explicitly permitted to pursue your attacker if necessary for safety. All this despite the fact that California has no Stand-Your-Ground statute—the rule derives from a long history of case decisions and is captured in the state’s jury instructions (see CALCRIM 505 Justifiable Homicide: Self-Defense or Defense of Another.)

Now that we’ve laid the proper context for Stand-Your-Ground, let’s talk about the Castle Doctrine.

The Castle Doctrine: Exempting the Home from the Duty to Retreat

Obviously, in Stand-Your-Ground states that impose no generalized duty to retreat, there is also no such duty to retreat in your own home. But what about states that do impose a generalized duty to retreat? Does it apply everywhere, even in your own home?

The answer is, no. Even in states that provide for a very broad generalized duty to retreat, an exemption is made for one’s home. The basis of this is the notion that any duty to retreat is supposed to be a retreat to a greater position of safety, and if you cannot expect safety in your own home, to where then would you retreat?

This exception to the generalized duty to retreat became commonly known as the Castle Doctrine, drawn from the expression that “a man’s home is his Castle,” one’s ultimate place of refuge from violence.

Interestingly, the Castle Doctrine was not always an undisputed principle. In my home state of Massachusetts, for example, our supreme court ruled in 1975 that residents of the Commonwealth enjoyed no such exemption from the generalized duty to retreat [see Commonwealth v. Shaffer, 326 N.E.2d 880 (MA Supreme Court 1975)].  The facts of the case are quite horrific. Shaffer and her two small children had retreated from her abusive fiance all the way to the basement of her home. She had received numerous beatings from him in the past.  The fiance, standing at the top of the basement stairs, told her: “If you don’t come up these stairs, I’ll come down and kill you and the kids.” When contrary to the woman’s pleas and warnings he began coming down the steps, she shot him once with a .22 rifle.  The wound was mortal.  Shaffer was indicted for murder, and was tried on manslaughter.  She was convicted at trial, the conviction was affirmed by the appellate court, and then again by the state Supreme Court (in the case cited above), on the basis that she failed to take advantage of a safe avenue of retreat.

The public response to this decision was immediate and overwhelmingly negative, and the MA legislature promptly passed Massachusetts General Law Ch. 278 §8A. Killing or injuring a person unlawfully in a dwelling; defense, creating a statutory Castle Doctrine.  Even today, however, the Massachusetts Castle Doctrine is among the most restrictive in the country, applying only to the space within the four walls of your home—step one foot outside, and the generalized duty to retreat is once again imposed. (Most other states’ Castle Doctrines also apply it to what is known as the curtilage, the area around your home that is part of the ordinary use of the home–so, the porch, the driveway, the front yard, etc.)

The Castle Doctrine: Important Limitations

While few states have as restrictive a Castle Doctrine as does Massachusetts, many do limit it in a wide variety of ways. Some, for example, allow for the exemption only when the homeowner is using force against someone not legally present—an intruder, of course, but it also exempts somebody with some legal authority to be present such as a landlord or inspector–or even to an invited guest (and not just one who was invited by you personally, assuming several people live in your home).

Others apply the Castle Doctrine to every attacker in the world—except the attacker who is also a co-dweller in the “castle”. So if your attacker is a family member living in the household—say, an abusive spouse—or a housemate of some sort, the Castle Doctrine exemption to the duty to retreat is lost in those states.

Needless to say, if you do not know the constraints of the Castle Doctrine in your state, I urge you to learn them.

Tying Together Stand-Your-Ground and the Castle Doctrine

Now, the tie in between the Castle Doctrine and Stand-Your-Ground is essentially this—many folks living in duty-to-retreat states, and enjoying the benefits of the Castle Doctrine in the context of their homes, began to wonder why the doctrine should be limited to just their homes.

If it applies to my home, they wondered, why not to my place of business? With the advent of carjackings in the 1980s and 1990s, many began to wonder why it didn’t apply in their vehicles—for those of us living in highly congested cities, it often feels like we spend more of our life in our cars than in our homes. Finally, if the generalized duty to retreat was going to be waived for homes, businesses, and cars, why impose it anywhere at all? Why not just say that if a defender is the innocent party acting in otherwise lawful self-defense, they simply have no duty to retreat . . . and can stand their ground. And that is how we arrive at the modern adoptions of Stand-Your-Ground statutes, with about 17 states adopting such statutes in the past 20 or so years. (Alaska is the most recent state to adopt Stand-Your-Ground legislation, this past fall, and Ohio is looking like a good candidate to become the next). Keep in mind, again, that roughly 17 states have always were effectively stand-your-ground states, as they never imposed a generalized duty to retreat in the first place.

Now that we’ve, hopefully, brought some clarity to Stand-Your-Ground and the Castle Doctrine, it might be worth a few minutes to highlight some of the areas that cause the greatest confusion.

Areas of Confusion around “Stand-Your-Ground”First of all, Stand-Your-Ground deals only with the issue of retreat in the context of lawful self-defense. It does not authorize any greater degree of force, nor does it allow you to use force under any lesser degree of threat. You must still meet every other qualification for lawful self-defense—innocence, imminence, proportionality, and reasonableness. If you are the aggressor in the fight, for example, you don’t qualify for self-defense in the first place, and Stand-Your-Ground has no application. In particular, Stand-Your-Ground in no way authorizes a “shoot first, ask questions later” approach to self-defense, despite what so many political activists have claimed.

Second, “Stand-Your-Ground” is also not a provision of immunity from criminal prosecution or civil suit. Immunity is a completely separate legal concept from the duty to retreat, and proper legal analysis demands it be kept separate. Florida causes a great deal of confusion here because they provide both statutory Stand-Your-Ground and statutory self-defense immunity, and both provisions were adopted by the legislature at the same time.

As an artifact of this even Florida judges and prosecutors tend to incorrectly use the phrase “Stand-Your-Ground” to reference self-defense immunity. The commonly referenced “Stand-Your-Ground hearing” in Florida, for example, is nothing of the sort—it is a pre-trial hearing to determine self-defense immunity, and is properly referred to as a “self-defense immunity hearing”. Issues of retreat may be considered in such a hearing just as would any other facet of self-defense law—such as whether you were the aggressor, used excessive force, or acted unreasonably—but the hearing has nothing to do with Stand-Your-Ground, per se.

Third, because the purpose of Stand-Your-Ground is to relieve you of an otherwise existing duty to retreat, it can only have application where such a duty to retreat would otherwise exist. Even in the toughest duty to retreat states, the duty is imposed only where it is reasonably possible to retreat safely. If retreat is not reasonably and safely possible, even duty to retreat states impose no legal duty to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense.

This means that an act of defensive force can only be properly deemed a “Stand-Your-Ground” case where a safe avenue of retreat safely exists. If it does not, there is no duty to retreat, and absent a duty there is no role for Stand-Your-Ground.

To put it another way, if you are being beaten into a sidewalk by an attacker astride you, and your numerous efforts to escape have proven in vain, there is no role for Stand-Your-Ground in your use of defensive force—retreat is impossible, therefore not required, therefore no application exists for Stand-Your-Ground. Similarly if you are in the middle of a crowded movie theater where rapid retreat from an attack is effectively impossible—all of us know how difficult it is to move from your seat to the aisle in a crowded theater–then there is no application for Stand-Your-ground to relieve you of a duty that does not exist in the first place.

Areas of Confusion Around the Castle Doctrine

The Castle Doctrine is properly thought of as relieving the homeowner from any legal duty to retreat when defending himself in his home.

The home, however, is also frequently given numerous other advantages in the context of self-defense, relative to other locations. For example, many states have statutes that provide for a “presumption of reasonableness” that the defender’s use of deadly force was reasonable if committed against someone intruding, or attempting to intrude, into the home. Similarly, many states effectively treat a breach into the home as a de jure deadly force attack upon the residents inside the home, thus relieving the need for the evidence to show that an actual deadly force threat against the defender existed.

These and similar provisions, however, are distinct from the issue of retreat, and proper legal analysis requires that we consider them as separate and discrete legal concepts.

As always, if you do not know the limits around these self-defense legal doctrines in your state, I strongly encourage you to learn them.

Reprinted with permission from AmmoLand.com.

American Fascism

26 Jan

January 20, 2014

This talk was delivered at the 2014 Mises Circle in Houston, Texas.

We know about the transformation of the American police, with their paramilitary equipment, their SWAT team raids, and incentive to terrorize people over drug offenses rather than pursue crimes against person and property. We know about the National Security Agency, which can access every American’s e-mails, phone calls, or text messages. And yet too many average Americans have greeted all this with indifference.

This indifference, I suggest, derives from the widespread public acceptance of the myth of the state that Americans are taught from the moment they step into a government classroom. The myth is this: the state is a public-service institution established to provide you with security, both personal and economic. And after years of indoctrination into this myth, it is little wonder that so many Americans are prepared to give the state the benefit of the doubt, and to look upon dissidents as incorrigible troublemakers. The police and the military, the most celebrated public faces of the state, are to be questioned least of all.

All social theory can be reduced to two categories: those that conceive of society as the result of peace, and those for which the indispensable ingredient is violence. This is the fundamental distinction between liberalism and fascism, a point I discuss further in a book I released earlier this year called Fascism vs. Capitalism.

There is some confusion surrounding terms here. When Ludwig von Mises published his book Liberalism in English translation, he changed the title to The Free and Prosperous Commonwealth. He did so because by the latter half of the twentieth century, the word “liberal” no longer carried the meaning it once had. It had come to mean centralization, the welfare state, and a substantial government presence in economic and social life.

The liberalism I have in mind, of course, is not the modern liberalism of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, but the classical liberalism of Thomas Jefferson and Frederic Bastiat. Classical liberalism, by contrast, believed in free markets, free trade, toleration, and civil liberties.

It represented a movement toward a theory of society in which human cooperation emerged spontaneously and without coercion, by means of the natural processes of the market economy. It recognized that society seemed to manage itself without the involvement of extraneous forces like kings, aristocracies, or parliaments, and that the intervention of those forces was more likely aimed at the enrichment of a favored group or of the state itself than of at the well-being of society at large.

The price system, a spontaneous product of the free-market economy, helped entrepreneurs arrange the factors of production in such a way as to produce those outputs most highly valued by society, and to produce them in a way that was least costly in terms of opportunities foregone. Individuals specialized in those areas in which they had the greatest skill or knowledge, and the resulting division of labor meant a vastly greater output of consumer goods for everyone to enjoy. None of this required the intervention of the state. To the contrary, the state could interject only white noise into this naturally occurring process: production and consumption, profit and loss, changing consumer demands and entrepreneurial adjustment to those demands.

For the classical liberal, the state was almost an afterthought. Some would have it provide a few basic services, while others conceived of it as nothing more than a night watchman. Beginning with Gustave de Molinari, the classical liberal tradition even groped toward the possibility that the state was a dangerous, parasitical, and ultimately unnecessary monopoly.

And, of course, it was against a backdrop of peace that the classical liberal described the progress of mankind.

Fascists looked at society and the state quite differently. The prosaic bourgeois virtues of commerce, of producing, trading, and earning profit, are viewed with contempt next to the code of the warrior, which is what the fascist truly respects. Greatness comes not through the ordinary pursuits of the market or the obedience to the duties of one’s state in life, but through struggle.

It is Benito Mussolini’s famous remark – “Everything for the state, nothing outside the state, nothing above the state” – that truly sums up the essence of fascism. The good of the Nation, as defined by the fascist leader, surpasses all other concerns and allegiances. The fascist speaks of the Nation with a religious reverence. An Italian fascist youth movement in the 1920s composed the following creed:

I believe in Rome the Eternal, the mother of my country, and in Italy her eldest Daughter, who was born in her virginal bosom by the grace of God; who suffered through the barbarian invasions, was crucified and buried; who descended to the grave and was raised from the dead in the nineteenth century; who ascended into Heaven in her glory in 1918 and 1922; who is seated on the right hand of her mother Rome; and who for this reason shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the genius of Mussolini, in our Holy Father Fascism, in the communion of its martyrs, in the conversion of Italians, and in the resurrection of the Empire.

This devotion to the Nation is concentrated in allegiance to the charismatic leader. The untrammeled exercise of the leader’s will is a central ingredient in the realization of the Nation’s destiny. Moreover, the leader’s will must trump the array of activities that comprise the free market. The various companies, professions, unions, and government must work together with a conscious plan to ensure the best outcome for the Nation. This is why it is so preposterous to hear opponents of the market economy describe libertarians as “fascists.” No one could be more anti-fascist than a libertarian.

Political centralization was also central to fascism, for if the Nation is the embodiment of the people, and if it is through the Nation that every individual realizes his destiny, we cannot tolerate resistance by lesser jurisdictions within the Nation. As Adolf Hitler himself said:

National Socialism as a matter of principle, must lay claim to the right to force its principles on the whole German nation without consideration of previous federated state boundaries… Certainly all the states in the world are moving toward a certain unification in their inner organization. And in this Germany will be no exception. Today it is an absurdity to speak of a “state sovereignty”‘ of individual provinces…. In particular we cannot grant to any individual state within the nation and the state representing it state sovereignty and sovereignty in point of political power.

To say that there are fascist trends and features in the United States of today is not to say that this country is just like interwar Italy or Germany. There are some features of fascism as traditionally understood that can be found only faintly in American society today, and others than can be found not at all.

But it would be foolish to pretend that America is the very opposite of the fascist dystopias. Whether it’s the emphasis on centralization, the glorification of the police and the military, the yearning for a “third way” between capitalism and socialism, the elevation of “public service” above the services we freely provide one another on the market, the creepy and incessant references to “my president” or “our president,” or the depiction of the state as a quasi-divine instrument, the commonalities are neither trivial nor few.

Americans no doubt recoil from or laugh at that passage from the Italian fascists I shared with you a few moments ago. But few Americans are in a position to render such a judgement. Most have absorbed the idea that their government, far from a merely utilitarian contrivance established to provide them with some basic services, as many early Americans doubtless conceived of it, is a redemptive force in the world.

John Winthrop appropriated a biblical image of the church when he spoke of his settlement of Puritans as resembling a “city on a hill.” By the time Ronald Reagan made that phrase a rhetorical commonplace in American politics, it had been fully secularized. Not the church but the American state would transform mankind as God’s instrument.

Americans, even (or perhaps especially) American Christians, are for that reason not scandalized at politicians’ appropriation of religious language to describe their government. It bothers them not at all to learn that the iconic Abraham Lincoln said “the gates of hell shall not prevail against” America government ideals, or that when George W. Bush said “the light shined in darkness and the darkness did not overcome it,” by “light” he meant American government ideals.

In US history, presidents who avoided war, or who viewed the presidential office modestly and without messianic overtones, are neglected or even denounced by our official historians. You can guess at the views and activities of the presidents favored by the opinion molders. “Beware any politician who is ‘beloved,’” historian Ralph Raico once warned.

The bipartisan adulation of Theodore Roosevelt, the man Bill Clinton called his favorite Republican president, speaks volumes about the values of the regime. Roosevelt once told a friend that it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the US got into a military conflict with Germany, because if New York and other cities on the East Coast were burned to the ground, it would remind Americans how badly they need a system of coastal defenses, and it would force German-Americans to make an ostentatious patriotic display against Germany.

The philosopher William James said of Roosevelt that “he gushes over war as the ideal condition of human society, for the manly strenuousness which it involves, and treats peace as a condition of blubberlike and swollen ignobility, fit only for huckstering weaklings.”

After leaving office, Roosevelt became an advocate of “universal obligatory military training,” and thought every young man needed to spend time in a US Army camp. Roosevelt said, “I believe that for every young man … to have six months in such a camp … [with] some field service, would be of incalculable benefit to him, and … to the nation…. [M]aking these camps permanent would be the greatest boon this nation could receive.”

In how many schools can a benign portrait of Theodore Roosevelt be found looking down at students from the wall? Meanwhile, Ron Paul – the man of peace and civil liberties – was ignored and mocked by the American media. This tells us something about the present regime and what it holds dear.

The cult of personality surrounding the US president has only grown since the age of TR, culminating in the creepy videos of schoolchildren pledging allegiance to Barack Obama and the YouTubes of Hollywood actors promising their eternal loyalty. But some of those who ridiculed these ridiculous displays had themselves been part of the cult of George W. Bush. During the Bush years, Christian neocons made a video about the president set to the tune of Johnny Cash’s classic “When the Man Comes Around.” That song had been written about Jesus Christ. Here are some of the words they set to a video about George W. Bush:

There’s a man goin’ ‘round takin’ names. An’ he decides who to free and who to blame. Everybody won’t be treated all the same. There’ll be a golden ladder reaching down. When the man comes around.

The hairs on your arm will stand up. At the terror in each sip and in each sup. For you partake of that last offered cup, Or disappear into the potter’s ground. When the man comes around.

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers. One hundred million angels singin’. Multitudes are marching to the big kettle drum. Voices callin’, voices cryin’. Some are born an’ some are dyin’. It’s Alpha’s and Omega’s Kingdom come….

Till Armageddon, no Shalam, no Shalom. Then the father hen will call his chickens home. The wise men will bow down before the throne. And at his feet they’ll cast their golden crown. When the man comes around.

That man, remember, was George W. Bush.

Americans are taught that they owe their freedoms to their government’s military. Whether it’s a country music concert, a sporting event, or even a restaurant chain, Americans are subjected to a ceaseless stream of reminders of what they allegedly owe to this particular class of government employees. (Let’s not forget the popular bumper sticker: “Only two defining forces have ever died for you: Jesus the Christ and the American soldier.”) How exactly their freedoms were threatened in any of the military conflicts in question is one of those impertinent questions one does not ask in polite society.

Even people who oppose the wars, and who know they’re animated by propaganda, cheer on airplanes for the returning troops who, the airline staff assures them, are “protecting our freedom.” Americans are taught to say “thank you for your service” only to government employees, and just to the regime’s military branch. They are not taught to ask questions of authority.

The propaganda has worked, to some extent at least. When Edward Snowden revealed the extent to which their government was spying on and lying to them, many listeners of right-wing radio demanded not that these activities cease, but that the leaker himself be silenced. The man who had embarrassed their rulers should be tried for treason and executed. I have heard this phenomenon described as a case of society-wide Stockholm Syndrome, and I don’t think that’s far from the mark.

Americans today give the police the benefit of the doubt, consenting to searches and tolerating behavior that would have elicited revolt in centuries past. For the fascist regime as for our own, the public must be overawed by the state’s shows of force. And although more people are beginning to stand up against police abuse, those who speak up for the rights of individuals against the tactics of a police state are widely thought of as the blameworthy parties. We must be united as one against the Enemy, we are told, for he lurks everywhere. Those who insist too strongly on their individual rights in times of danger do not properly appreciate the righteous cause on which their righteous government is embarked.

If some of the superstitions of fascism have made their way into American life, it could be because both fascism and whatever it is that America has become share a superstition in common – namely, the state itself. The state has been cloaked in all manner of flattering but obfuscating rhetoric. The state looks after the general welfare, provides economic stability, protects us from the bad guys, prevents inequality, and binds us together in a common cause greater than ourselves.

It’s time we viewed the state for what it really is: a mechanism by which rulers enrich themselves at the expense of the ruled. Everything else is a smokescreen.

For the proof of that statement, I refer you to the library of books and articles we make available for free at Mises.org. I might also refer you to the daily headlines.

To be sure, the state continues to extend its reach, as the topics we’re covering at this event today make abundantly clear, but the intellectual opposition, spearheaded by the Mises Institute, is growing, and stronger than ever. Inspired by Ron Paul, throngs of students and young people understand the true nature of the state, and indeed the true nature of the police state. A group called Cop Block, started just a few years ago and consisting mostly of young people, sums up the libertarian response to the police state in the pithy maxim: “Badges don’t grant extra rights.”

The fascists, and the rest of the state’s adepts, manipulate the crowd with irrational appeals. Speaking of the political rivals to liberalism, Mises wrote: “Rhetorical bombast, music and song resound, banners wave, flowers and colors serve as symbols, and the leaders seek to attach their followers to their own person. Liberalism has nothing to do with all this. It has no party flower and no party color, no party song and no party idols, no symbols and no slogans. It has the substance and the arguments. These must lead it to victory.”

Support the Mises Institute as we strive to do exactly that.

 

The Best of Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

California’s Gun-Grabbing Einsatzgruppen

26 Nov

“When you are going to take their guns,” observes Special Agent John Marsh, “they are not happy.” 

“They” are California residents who have been designated as “prohibited persons” by the state’s Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS). Those individuals are said to have “lost” their rights under the Second Amendment. Marsh leads a special APPS paramilitary task force dedicated exclusively to gun confiscation.

Using gun registration lists, and drawing information out of several other databases, APPS stormtroopers “regularly sweep through California cities” to seize firearms from people the state has designated “prohibited persons,”reports the Fresno Bee.  California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a bill that will use a $24 million surplus from firearms purchase fees to hire 36 new jackboots for the squad.

As is always the case with “gun control” initiatives, APPS does nothing to abate violent crime, because criminally inclined people do not register their firearms. California gun owners who comply with the state’s laws are subsidizing a program that is increasingly used to confiscate guns from innocent people on the whim of bureaucrats who aspire to disarm the public at large.

Speaking of the tens of thousands of Californians who have been classified as “prohibited persons,” California’s proto-Stalinist Attorney General (and presidential pinup) Kamala Harris insists: “They are those people who have been proven to violate the law, and present a threat to public safety.” Harris insists that proactive disarmament of “dangerous, violent individuals … is smart and efficient law enforcement.”

Harris, predictably enough, is lying through deliberate over-statement. Only a minority of “prohibited persons” are convicted criminals, and not everyone who meets that description is a felon – violent or otherwise.

A criminal conviction is not necessary for enrollment on the civilian disarmament register. All that is necessary is an official finding by the state’s Welfare bureaucracy that the gun owner is “a danger to himself or others.” This determination can come in the form of a restraining order issued ex parte in a domestic dispute, an involuntary “mental health” hold (a formal commitment proceeding is unnecessary), or conviction for a “violent” misdemeanor, including one issued for the non-crime of resisting arrest. It is estimated that at least 20 California residents are enrolled on the disarmament roster every day.

According to attorney Chuck Michel, who has represented gun owners in court, “there are 30 different ways you can be prohibited from owning a gun. Most of the people on the list aren’t a threat, and don’t even know they’re on it.”

Clad in black tactical gear and prominently displaying high-powered weaponry, Harris’s firearms confiscation stormtroopers typically carry out raids late at night, or early in the morning. They arrive in overwhelming numbers and, without the benefit of a warrant, seek to intimidate targeted individuals into permitting searches of their property in order to confiscate any firearms that might be found. If the “prohibited persons” refuse to cooperate, the raiders will “seek a warrant and lock down the house until they get results,” explains the Bee.

Commissarina Harris clearly sees California’s gun confiscation program as a template for similar initiatives across the nation. 

“California is leading the nation in a common-sense effort to protect public safety by taking guns away from dangerous, violent individuals who are prohibited by law from owning them,” boasted Harris – who speaks exclusively in collectivist boilerplate, it appears – last January. In a letter to Vice President Biden, she urged him to use APPS as a national model. To that end, California Democratic Congressman Mike Thompson has sponsored the federal Armed Prohibited Persons Act of 2013, which thus far has failed to find traction in the house.

So far, California is the only state to deploy a dedicated gun confiscation team — but it isn’t the only one to engage in pre-emptive civilian disarmament.

In 1999, the Connecticut legislature enacted a measure permitting police to confiscate firearms from any individual believed to pose “a risk of imminent personal injury to himself … or to other individuals.” All that is necessary for the seizure to occur is a sworn complaint “by any state’s attorney or assistant state’s attorney or by any two police officers to any judge of the Superior Court.” The confiscated firearms can be held for up to a year, without any criminal charges or civil action being taken against their owner. Thousands of firearms have been seized under that provision, which famously did not prevent the Sandy Hook Massacre.

In the Glorious Democratic Republic of Massachusetts, police and prosecutors didn’t even bother pretending that they were enforcing a law permitting the pre-emptive disarmament of Gregory Girard, a resident of Manchester-by-the-Sea, after his estranged wife — who appears to be a temporally displaced subject of East Germany — called health and welfare officials to report that her husband held eccentric political views. Specifically, Mr. Girard believed that martial law, complete with gun confiscation, is imminent. Since it is impermissible for people to believe that government agents will carry out paramilitary raids to confiscate firearms, a paramilitary squad was sent to Girard’s home to confiscate his firearms.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 – which was largely modeled after the German civilian disarmament measures that proved so useful to the National Socialist Regime – prohibited the sale or transfer of firearms to anyone who is “adjudicated as a mental defective” – a term that itself savors of language that was in vogue in Germany circa 1938.

Germany’s “Law on the Disarmament of the People” was enacted by the liberal Weimar Republic in 1920. It was followed in 1928 by another “common-sense” firearms law that centralized enforcement of gun laws. That 1928 law was employed by the successor regime to disarm those it sought to expropriate and, eventually, to annihilate.

The “purpose” and “goal” of the German gun law, explained the Weimar government’s disarmament commissar in 1928, was “to get firearms that have done so much damage from the hands of unauthorized persons” — a statement that would be a serviceable German translation of Harris’s rationale for California’s APPS program.

Given that pedigree, it is appropriate to refer to Harris’s “Gun Apprehension” units as einsatzgruppen – that is, paramilitary “special task forces” that operate outside of normal legal channels.

As is true of all similarly constituted “task forces,” the purpose of the APPS einsatzgruppen is not to protect the public from violence, but rather to enforce the state’s monopoly on aggressive violence. This fact was stated with remarkable clarity by a prominent spokesman for California’s law enforcement rank-and-file: Emeryville Police Chief Ken James, who in 2012 was presented withwhat we’re assured is the prestigious Joe Malloy Award for his tireless campaign to disarm everybody but the state’s punitive priesthood.

“A gun is not a defensive weapon,” insisted Chief James in a press conference earlier this year. “That is a myth. A gun is an offensive weapon used to intimidate and used to show power. Police officers do not carry a gun as a defensive weapon to defend themselves or their other [sic] officers. They carry a gun in order to do their job in a safe and effective manner, and face any oppositions [sic] that we may come upon. If it was a defensive measure, why did we lose 55 officers nation-wide last year to gun violence — and unfortunately in just the two months of this year so far, we’ve lost two officers to gun violence in the State of California alone? We deal with gun violence on a daily basis.” (Emphasis added.)
The substance of what this marginally verbal embodiment of arrogant privilege said is that police deal out gun violence on a daily basis – a vision neatly embodied by Harris’s black-clad APPS einsatzgruppen, who are field-testing tactics that will soon be emulated by gun-grabbers nation-wide.