Saturday, October 31, 2009

No Government Takeover of Health Care!

I have repeatedly expressed my unalterable opposition to the perpetual out-of-control government intrusion into private enterprise, especially health care and health insurance.

On 29 Oct, my congressional representative, Jim Matheson of Utah) sent out an email wherein he lists his [unconstitutional] objectives for health care reform. He stated his support for the Senate version. I responded that I expect him to oppose it and all other proposals with absolutely no compromise.

In his message he said, "...reform should make sure all Americans gain access to quality, affordable health care. I strongly believe this is the right thing to do--both morally and fiscally."

Everyone already has access to affordable health care through charity. That is the right thing to do -- not grow government! Moral people contribute time, talents, and money to charity for this purpose, among others. Politicians are so out of touch with their constituents that they do not know about our charity! Charity is not the government's role! Charity is a responsibility of people to their families and their neighbors. The only thing Matheson and others in Congress are trying to do is increase government control over our lives -- that is not the right thing to do and it not moral! In fact, the heavy tax burdens our politicians place on us commoners makes it harder for us to be charitable. That also is not the right thing to do and it is is immoral! Instead, Congress and the president should be working for a tax structure that encourages self-reliance and charity.

In his message, Matheson also said, "...reform must fix a broken system where costs are growing way above inflation - that's a trend we cannot sustain."

Perhaps Matheson should make an honest examination of why health care costs are growing faster than inflation. If he did, he will find a couple of significant factors: vastly improved medical technology (that costs money) and out-of-control litigation. I suggest that the cost of improved care as not a reason for concern, but as a reason for rejoicing. But, I do expect Congress to aggressively and immediately attack the problem of out-of-control litigation and its effect on the cost of health care.

Regardless of what omnipotent-government advocates (apparently including Matheson) say, nobody has a right to anything that diminishes with the rights of others. Therefore, Congress has no authority nor right to take money form one person to give it to another. That is exactly what every government "social" program does. This redistribution of the hard-earned money of hard-working Americans is legalized theft, un-American, and unacceptable! If Congress would stop taking money from the steadily shrinking productive segment of society, we all would be in a better position to pay out own bills!

I acknowledge that there are many among us who have not earned health care or health insurance. Some even make the conscious choice to not have health insurance as is their right. I acknowledge that some of these need and deserve adequate health care. Again, this is the role of charity only. Congress has no authority nor legitimate resources to usurp this role.

The only thing Congress should be doing about health care and health insurance is to eliminate all regulations and legislation which interfere with the efficient flow of commerce and free enterprise and to implement meaningful tort reform. All current reform proposals will only make matters worse. (When has government ever made anything better?)

Vote for limited government and for individual rights!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Senate Again Fails to Live Up to Its Oath of Office

Harris Sherman is an extreme environmentalist nominated by Obama and confirmed by the Senate to be Obama's Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment.

Sherman will have total control over 190 million acres of America (the size of Texas) as custodian of the National Forests. National Forests are not National Parks. National Forests are intended to be productive lands for energy from oil and natural gas, electricity from coal, strategic metals for our military and the machines that do our work, lumber and paper, farming and ranching, road-building material, boating, hunting and fishing, other recreation, and much more.

Harris Sherman is a proven enemy of what these federal lands are meant to provide to the nation and its citizens. He has been working to close roads in government lands to eliminate all economic development and visitor use, as recommended in the unfortunate "Clinton-Babbitt Roadless Rule" written by environmental groups in the 1990s. Several days ago I wrote to my congressmen regarding how this anti-human policy has adversely affected me any my family's access to land we had enjoyed for generations.

The US Constitution requires Senate confirmation of presidential appointees. The purpose of this process is, in large part, to satisfy the requirements imposed by the oath every senator takes, "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God." Sadly, most senators are mere rubber stamps in these confirmation votes, believing that the president should be privileged to surround himself with whomever he pleases -- no matter how anti-American-values they may be. Such is the case with Harris Sherman.

Americans had little opportunity to examine Sherman's background before, during, or or after his confirmation hearing. Senators largely ignored his background and agenda altogether. In confirming Harris Sherman, every senator has failed to live up their oath of office.

It's time for some brave Senators to call for reconsideration of the confirmation of Harris Sherman to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment. Obama and the Senate must immediately reconsider the confirmation and stop Sherman before he takes even more public land from the public.

The Sinister Motive Behind Airline Baggage Fees

With the soaring cost of fuel, some airlines are imposing new restrictions on the number of free checked luggage. As an airline captain, it appears to me an attempt to move counted bags in the cargo hold to non-counted bags in the passenger compartment. While the actual gross weight of the aircraft will not change, the assumed payload weight (assumed weight of bags plus assumed weight of passengers) used by the airline to calculate weight-and-balance and fuel requirements will change. This is a sinister effort to reduce fuel costs at the expense of aviation safety. I suggest all airlines who limit the number of free checked bags to less than two be immediately required to weigh all checked and un-checked luggage and passengers and crew and use actual weights in all weight-and-balance and fuel computations.

Airport Security? Hah!

Airport security? Hah! It's all for show.

X-raying checked luggage, reinforcing cockpit doors (except on freighters), and arming pilots have been the only meaningful improvements since September 2001.

Unfortunately, the pilots who have been armed are shackled in their role. They can only wear the gun inside a locked cockpit of an airplane flown only within the US. The program must immediately be enhanced to allow (or even require) pilots to wear (and use, if necessary) their guns at all times when in uniform throughout the world.

I'd even go as far as saying that any law-abiding citizen with appropriate training (such as that required by most states for a concealed firearm permit) should be welcome to carry a loaded gun on the airplane.

Being a very-frequent flyer and having been in Israel a few times, I've seen what real airport security is. It begins with screeners having an IQ above room temperature (something lacking outside Israel -- especially the US). A reasonably intelligent screener can be trained to look for people with evil intent. The best we can expect from the intelligence of TSA personnel all the way up to the TSA Administrator is to train them to look for fingernail clippers and toothpaste. They can't even spot a .45-caliber pistol 25% of the time!

Since September, 2001, only two of the hundreds of TSA civil "servants" checking my ID has looked at me to see if my face matches the photo in my passport! I was sitting at the gate in Seattle one day, looked at my boarding pass and saw a woman's name that bore absolutely no resemblance to my own! I can't fathom how I could possibly have gotten through an ID check with it, but I did. The lady with my boarding pass accomplished the same feat!

Don't get me started on how many times I've been infected with athlete's foot walking in stocking-feet on paths trod by millions of other stocking-feet while gloved hands poke at my shoes! (I never had a single case of athlete's foot before the shoe bomber incident.)

And, we haven't even begun to talk about the danger posed by an 835,000 pound 747 freighter commandeered by a handful of stowaways (yes, we have stowaways) coming out of those boxes of "cargo" that rarely get inspected!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

User Fees vs FAA Services

I am deeply concerned by reports of new or increased user fees for general aviation. These include the possibility of fees for general aviation aircraft using Air Traffic Control (ATC) and Flight Service Station (FSS) services and for landing at the larger hub airports; increased fees to issue pilot, medical and aircraft registration certificates; and a huge increase in the aviation gasoline taxes.

My concern is that each of these fees will severely affect flight safety. If new fees are imposed, pilots and operators will bend to simple economics and take unsafe shortcuts to minimize or eliminate the financial impact of these fees. Those shortcuts will include using fuel that is not approved for aviation use; flying in instrument conditions without the benefit of contacting ATC; flying without filing a flight plan with an FSS; flying high-performance into and out of airports with short runways, minimal or no navigation aids, and no fire/crash service, and not obtaining adequate weather and NOTAM briefings.

Since general aviation pilots and operators will avoid paying fees by avoiding FAA services, the risk of weather-related accidents will increase. The rate of mid-air collisions because of the presence of unidentified aircraft will mushroom. Because General Aviation operators will avoid using the ATC services, I predict that mid-air collisions will even occur at jet cruising altitudes and in the busiest airport areas, such as Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles where radar contact and ATC control are mandatory.

I was an active-duty Air Force pilot when President Reagan fired thousands of air traffic controllers when they went on strike in 1981. As a result of the strike, the capacity of the ATC system was severely impacted. Until capacity was restored, ATC services were provided based on the priority of the flight. Many flights were denied ATC clearances and handling because they were given low priority. I recall that many of those flights often took off anyway, flying into controlled airspace without an ATC clearance. This clearly was a serious safety problem that persisted until full ATC capacity was restored. I predict that exactly the same thing will happen if Congress agrees to impose user fees on aviation.

The airline industry is leading the fight for user fees for services provided by the FAA such as air traffic control. The Air Transport Association, made up primarily of airlines, supports "a new 'cost-based' mechanism for generating revenues necessary to maintain, operate and enhance the national airspace system."

Europe funds its aviation services through the imposition of user fees. (Why must we copy the worst features of Europe?) Consequently, general aviation as we know it is almost nonexistent in Europe. Their fees have driven up the cost of flight training to the point that private flying now is the domain only of the very wealthy. Those who are not wealthy must come to the United States to learn to fly. If we copy Europe's user fee scheme in any way, the cost of learning to fly will skyrocket here as well. If Congress approves the FAA's user fee plan, where will our nation's airlines get future replacement airline pilots -- outsource to India?

Many owners of small aircraft are members of Angel Flight. As Angel Flight pilots, they donate their time and pay all their own aircraft and fuel expenses to transport people who need medical care, but who can't afford the cost of transportation. If Congress imposes user fees, I predict that Angel Flight and other charitable uses of small aircraft will be history.

Aviation services users already are paying fees -- through taxes on airline tickets and aviation fuel, as examples -- to cover the government's costs. The airlines, however, merely serve as collection agents for the government, eventually passing on the ticket taxes they collect from passengers and paying next to nothing to use a government system in conducting their business.
Meanwhile, general aviation (virtually all flying that is not military, other government, or airline), according to a 1997 study by the U.S. General Accounting Office, is responsible for about 6% of FAA's ATC costs while paying -- conveniently -- about 6% of those costs through existing taxes. The sought change in the way the FAA is funded would severely impact General Aviation.

As an airline Captain (Boeing 747) I vigorously oppose any change in the manner of funding of the FAA and its services to pilots. My personal safety, and that of the people who ride in my airplane, depends on retaining the current means of funding the FAA and its services.

Congress must reject any form of user fees in US aviation. The current funding process has given us the safest airspace in the world. Don't try to fix that which isn't broken. Congress must ensure that no legislation is passed which includes or authorizes new or increased fees on general aviation. Likewise, the Whitehouse must immediately warn the FAA and the DOT that new or increased or new fees will not be tolerated.

Excessive Executive Compensation

I read and hear CEO's of airlines stating that executive bonus programs are needed to retain the talent in management. Companies will be left with inferior executives without such programs. This clearly is one of the biggest scams in the business world. And it's not just in aviation, but in every category of business in the US.

It perpetuates because the members of the boards of directors as well as major stockholders are in on the scam. Congress won't do anything about it because many of them also profit from the scam (airlines reportedly outspend airline unions 10 to 1 in political contributions). You don't see that same phenomenon in foreign-owned businesses of the same size. Their execs seem to be compensated at a much more reasonable level.

It has long been my observation that few senior execs stay with one company or even one industry for more than a few years. They quit and move on before anyone recognizes their utter incompetence.

Most senior execs seem to look at their positions merely as a way to add to their stock portfolio with discounted stock. They almost never look for the opportunity to make a positive difference for the company's bottom line or for the employees.

I was watching the well-orchestrated ballet of activity around my airplane after my arrival the other day. That impressive display of organization is put together by people earning perhaps $50k or less per year. I doubt any senior exec of any US air carrier has the organizational skills to accomplish the same feat.

I am opposed to government taking steps to limit executive pay. That is outside their constitutional role. But, I do believe that stockholders need to hold boards of directors accountable for excessive executive compensation -- including compensation for board members.

I also believe both businesses and labor unions should publish CEO total compensation figures, campaign against abuse, and focus employees, union members and public attention on the problem. I suppose neither businesses nor the unions do this, however, because that'd be the pot calling the kettle black. Sadly, most union execs, like corporate and government executives, are compensated far in excess of their ability and responsibility.

Another big part of the problem is the bailout mentality to which we've grown accustomed. Government must stop bailing out unions, banks, auto-makers, and other businesses that get into financial trouble. When the government does so, it eliminates the financial incentives that corporate boards of directors need to have in order to hold CEOs accountable for job performance. With bailouts, there is no penalty for incompetence and poor judgement.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gun-Free School Zones

An overlay map showing the extent of school-zone gun-free zones in a city shows how the law places anyone carrying or transporting a gun at high risk of continually committing a federal felony. Yet, this prohibition does nothing to stop crime of any kind, especially in school zones. What the law does do is provide a safe work environment for criminals bent on harming school teachers and their students. It also gives police and prosecutors unparalleled opportunity to destroy the lives of otherwise law-abiding citizens who wander into the invisible boundaries of this twilight zone. Congress must stop assuming that criminals will obey gun laws. Legislators must stop infringing on gun rights based on that flawed assumption. The "Gun Free School Zones Act" must be immediately repealed in its entirety.

Tiahrt Amendment

The Tiahrt amendment keeps the ATF from requiring firearms dealers to conduct physical inventories of guns, from denying licenses to low-volume gun dealers, and from demanding that some dealers document all used guns sold in a specific period. Contrary to the lies and distortions coming from anti-gun prevaricators such as Sarah Brady and New York's Mayor Bloomberg, the Tiahrt Amendment does not prohibit law enforcement from accessing or sharing firearm trace data as needed to solve crimes and catch criminals. Congress must make permanent the Tiahrt restrictions on ATF's ability intrude into lawful trade in, and ownership of, legal firearms.

Lautenberg vs Gun Rights

The Lautenberg Amendment to the Gun Control Act of 1968 became effective 30 September 1996. It violates Article 1, Section 9 of the US Constitution ("No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.") in that it retroactively punishes non-felons for relatively minor crimes committed prior to enactment of the Lautenberg bill. (This is one of countless examples of the profound lack of understanding of, and respect for, the US Constitution in Congress. Due to their gross ignorance and/or negligence, nearly every US Senator voted for this bill!)

The Lautenberg Amendment potentially affects any soldier, police officer or any other person who has been convicted of domestic violence by voiding their right to possess a firearm.

Obviously, no one defends the behavior of wife beaters and child abusers. But, the argument is about the punishment fitting the crime. If the penalty for a crime is a $50 and no jail time, permanent revocation of an enumerated Constitutional right is clearly excessive. If the crime is deserving of revocation of rights, it is deserving of a punishment of more than a year in prison. The gun rights of all non-felons must be restored by immediately repealing the Lautenberg Amendment. This is bad law!

Blood in Gun Free Zones

A friend in Virginia tried to donate blood at a Red Cross donation center, but was refused because, as a concealed firearms permit holder, he was legally carrying a concealed firearm.

Permit holders undergo appropriate firearm safety training and a full FBI background check to ensure their fitness to carry a gun. Statistics show that permit holders are more law-abiding than the general public. If involved in a gun fight, they are less likely to shoot an innocent bystander than a police officer. In fact, they are more likely end a confrontation without shooting an attacker than is a police officer.

For the Red Cross to deny a law-abiding citizen the opportunity to donate blood simply because he is exercising a Constitutionally-guaranteed right is infantile and short-sighted. The Red Cross is doing nothing more than creating another un-armed victim zone where criminals (who by definition do not obey the rules) are free to reign unopposed.

If the Red Cross is going to prohibit donors from having the most effective means of self-protection (a gun) the Red Cross must immediately put in place an armed security force that will ensure the safety of all patrons or accept full liability for any injury sustained in their gun-free zones.

"Sporting Purpose" and Guns

There is a mounting call for restricting privately-owned firearms to only those arms with a "sporting purpose". Gun-grabbers argue that firearms with a military appearance or with a caliber larger than some arbitrary number have no "sporting purpose". Now, even gun manufacturer advertising is careful to note the "sporting purpose" of the firearms they make. This superfluous standard runs contrary to the intent of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.

When working out the wording of the Second Amendment, the nation's founders were not thinking about duck hunting or any other "sporting purpose". They wanted to ensure that everyone understands that the Constitution guarantees (not grants) the individual and personal God-given right to own and use firearms.

In referencing the militia (defined by 10 USC § 311 as all able-bodied adult males -- not a formal military force) it is clear that they intended for us to have arms comparable to those commonly used by any armed force that might be employed against the citizens by a tyrannical government or enemy nation. (Some of the artillery used by George Washington's army was reportedly on loan from, purchased from, or donated by, private citizens! In fact, until the Gun Control Act of 1968, a US citizen could buy surplus military cannons -- by mail!)

The authors of the Bill of Rights saw gun rights as essential to our ability to protect ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our communities, our states, and our nation from criminal attack, tyranny, and terrorism. The Second Amendment is the nation's original "Homeland Security".

Gun Paranoia

In reading a blog recently I was disappointed to see a mother's pride over her children's response to a harmless starting gun (the barrel is blocked and cannot fire real ammunition) is "A killing gun Mom, a killing gun!"

That comment tells me that her children getting some ill-informed, biased information about a simple piece of steel and plastic (or wood) -- most likely from Mom and/or Dad. I suspect that she and/or her husband were raised in a home where guns were feared out of ignorance -- just like her own home today. I urge her, and all parents, to get some sound information about firearms and firearm safety. They should take a good gun safety class. I guarantee they'll have fun, learn to respect -- not fear guns, and they'll come away knowing that gun owners, for the most part, are the good guys.

Thanks to safety training, firearm accidents have plunged even though firearm ownership continues to grow. Safety training is for kids, too! The NRA's (National Rifle Association) Eddie Eagle program teaches kids a healthy respect for guns as do the NSSF's (National Shooting Sports Foundation) educational videos. Statistics show that children who have been given Eddie Eagle training (which does not include exposure to actual guns during the training) are significantly less likely to suffer or cause a gun shot injury than children who are taught that guns are taboo, evil, or "killing" machines. (I consider my TV far more dangerous to my grandchildren that my guns.)

Does that mother know that her children are more likely to suffer a fatal accident in almost any other sport than in the shooting sports? Does she know that children who participate in the shooting sports are more disciplined and drug-free than children in most other sports? Does she know that there are absolutely no bad adult role models in the shooting sports? (Can't say that about baseball/t-ball, can you?) Does she know that children are more likely to be seriously or fatally injured while playing soccer or while swimming? They are even more likely to die while showering or bathing after a t-ball game! Does she know that a child is more likely to drown in a five-gallon bucket than to die of an accidental gunshot?

There are over 90 million of us gun owners in the US. Forty-eight percent of homes have at least one gun -- and those guns very rarely hurt (or kill) anyone. Firearms are used defensively (usually without even firing a shot) about 2.5 million times a year in the US. While the NRA and other pro-gun organizations rely on reliable statistics from the FBI, CDC (Centers for Disease Control), and NIH (National Institute for Health), anti-gun activists like to push distorted statistics to show how dangerous "killing guns" and their owners are. For example, they claim that 13 children are killed by gunfire every day. The fact is that nearly all those 13 children are gang members killed in gang warfare -- and they count a 23-year-old gang member as a child!

Children in homes with guns where gun safety is honored are almost never hurt by a gun. Why do parents teach their children to swim? Could it be because parents are concerned about their children's safety? Could it be because swimming is a fun and healthy activity (if proper safety measures are taken)? Could it be because swimming competence opens up competitive and scholarship opportunities? Well, all those reasons also apply to the shooting sports. Please, parents, get some competent education about guns before you teach your children about guns.

Guns in Schools

School officials in Harrold, Texas decided last year to allow school staff to pack heat while at work. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has decided to fight that move. (Hey, Sarah, wasn't your husband shot in a gun-free city?)

I have an above average IQ, but I'm simply not smart enough to understand why the Brady Bunch opposes law-abiding parents and school staff having a gun in or around a school for personal protection. With a few exceptions (ie Utah) , the only people (other than cops) carrying guns onto school grounds are people with criminal intent.

It is a fact that the police rarely are able to respond to a 911 call in time to prevent a violent crime. Even if a cop is in the immediate area, a crime can be over in seconds -- before the officer can run down the hall of an elementary school. All that's left for the police is to draw chalk lines around the bodies, file some reports, and post wanted posters to hunt down the perpetrator.

Bigotry and Gun Control

The root of bigotry is ignorance. Most bigots choose to purge or avoid any and all information which conflicts with their bigotry. Anti-gun bigotry is fostered by an anti-gun, self-righteous news media, anti-gun politicians and bureaucrats, anti-gun educators, and anti-gun physicians.

The TV program "30 Days" recently aired an episode wherein a Pia Lalli, a Brockton, Massachusetts gun-control activist spent 30 days living in the gun culture. People like Pia are victims of the dishonest and myopic propaganda emanating from these sources and, rather than learn the facts, choose to similarly victimize those around them. It is clear that this self-righteous anti-gun ignorance was the mindset with which Pia entered this 30-day episode of her life and she struggled to maintain that ignorance.

It took time and patience, but it appears that she eventually gained a bit of appreciation for the fact that gun crimes are committed by criminals -- not law-abiding and trained gun owners, and that a gun is a valid, often essential, tool for recreation and protection. I'm not convinced that her conversion is complete. I hope she continues to participate in the shooting sports and that she fully comes to realize that many lives have been saved by guns in the hands of good people.

I frequently hear of gun-control advocates say it is too easy to buy a gun and that there is nothing to stop them from buying a gun then going out to shoot up some school. That type of comment illustrates the problem. Rational people never think in those terms -- to run down to buy a gun so they can shoot up a school. Gun-control activists assume that because they think that way, we all want to shoot up schools. If gun-banners want to avoid guns because they don't trust their own behavior, that's fine. But don't assume that my behavior is likewise untrustworthy. Talk radio host Michael Savage has it right: "Liberalism is a mental disorder."

Gun Shows and Private Gun Sales

A study from researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Maryland has found "no evidence that gun shows lead to substantial increases in either gun homicides or suicides. In addition, tighter regulation of gun shows does not appear to reduce the number of firearm-related deaths."

The study, "The Effect of Gun Shows on Gun-Related Deaths: Evidence from California and Texas" compared gun deaths between 1994-2004 in two states with large numbers of gun shows annually: California, which has the greatest restrictions on gun shows, and Texas, which has none. These results confirm those in a similar a study for Utah done by Dr. JK Lyon several years ago.

Gun shows are innocuous since potential criminals can acquire guns quite easily through other black market sales or theft. I oppose any effort to impose background checks on private firearms transactions simply because they happen to occur at gun shows. Gun dealers are already required to conduct background checks on buyers, whether at his store or in a gun show.

One gun-control organization falsely claims that "25-50 percent of the vendors at most gun shows are unlicensed dealers." This statistic is true only if one counts vendors who aren't selling guns (e.g., vendors who are selling books, clothing, or accessories) as "unlicensed dealers." Gun-control advocates claim there is a gun-show loophole which allegedly allows criminals to buy guns at gun shows. Congresswoman Diana DeGette dishonestly says that 70% of crime guns come from gun shows. However, multiple government studies prove gun shows are not a source of "crime guns" -- that less than 2% of criminal guns came from gun shows.

The fact is that it already is unlawful to transfer a firearm to prohibited persons such as criminals and the mentally-ill. Any new laws that would impose background checks on private sales, whether at a gun show or anywhere else will increase the already bloated bureaucracy and will create new prohibitions that will result in ever more innocent persons inadvertently violating these new laws!

There are few places on earth that are safer than a gun show attended by hundreds or thousands of gun owners and gun venders.

Since gun shows take place entirely within the boundaries of a single state, Congress has no legitimate constitutional basis (including its "interstate commerce" power) to attempt to control gun shows. We already have over 22,000 local, state and federal gun-control laws in this nation. None of them have been shown to be effective in controlling violent crime to any extent whatsoever. Enough is enough! All politicians must oppose any attempt to regulate private transfers of firearms between law-abiding persons.

Gun-Free Churches? Hah!

Almost two years ago, Kristy Ragsdale was shot in the back and head by a coward -- her estranged husband. She and those around her knew she was in grave danger. But, in part, because of certain policies and probably because of a feeling of "It can't happen to me", she was defenseless and had no ability to fight back.

She should have had a gun on 6 Jan 2008. Her mother, who was with her, should have had a gun. She should have been escorted by a couple of big, burly church members with guns. Then, Kristy would have had a chance to see her children grow to adulthood. Her cowardly attacker knew, that because of church policy, she, and everyone around her, would be defenseless.

No matter how well-intentioned they think they are, it is unconscionable for anyone to deprive another person of the right and ability of self-defense. Evil, in the person of people like David Ragsdale, exists everywhere -- even in our churches. We must always be willing and able to fight evil. Somehow, these policy-makers seem to think that establishing a gun-free zone is effective in controlling the behavior of evil people. Here's a news flash: people with criminal intent, by definition, disobey the law! That includes gun-free churches!

I demand that the legislature of every state hold criminally and civilly accountable every government, church, business, and private entity that establishes a gun-free zone without also establishing absolute safety and security therein.

States Rights and Guns

The State of Montana has defied the federal government and their gun laws. If guns and ammunition are manufactured inside the State of Montana for sale and use inside that State then the federal firearms laws have no applicability since the federal government only has the power to control commerce across State lines. Some Utah legislators are considering similar legislation.

The problem with this legislation is that only liberates guns and ammunition made in one State for gun-buyers in that state. I would have done this a bit differently. My logic follows: Congress controls guns by abusing the "commerce clause" of the US Constitution (The "commerce clause" is one of a few enumerated powers listed in the US Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3). The clause states that Congress has the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, among the States, and with the Indian tribes.).

To justify gun control, Congress argues that since, during the process of commerce, guns usually cross state and, for imported guns, international boundaries, it can do whatever it wants to control guns. (I challenge anyone to name one item related to a constitutionally enumerated right that is so heavily and hysterically controlled as a gun -- a simple, inanimate tool of self-protection and sport.) Montana argues that the guns made and sold in Montana don't cross these borders and are therefore are not subject to the whims of the federal government.

My argument is that although most guns cross borders in traveling from the place of manufacture through distributors to the store where it finally reaches the consumer (and therefore subject to congressional regulation during that process), all transactions between a local gun store and its customers are local transactions -- not interstate or international transactions. Because they are local transactions, they are subject only to State and local regulation and, according to the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution, Congress has no business interfering whatsoever.

So, what the Montana legislature should have done is to simply declare all consumer purchases to be exactly what they really are: local transactions over which Congress has no authority. This would also fix the problem where Congress wants to usurp control over gun shows which also are local gatherings -- not interstate or international trade shows.

If Congress would stop trying to control local gun transactions and gun owners over which it has no authority (and is even specifically commanded by the US Constitution to butt-out), it would have a lot more time to read the stupid legislation that it keeps puking out.

Nevertheless, I am heartened by the fact that a few States are finally telling the federal government that it has overstepped the boundaries established by the people and the States through the US Constitution. We often hear about the separation of powers between the three branches of the federal government. But another, perhaps more important, control over power is the power given by the Constitution to the States and to the people to reign in federal power. After all, it was the people and the States that created the federal government and delegated very specific, limited power to it. The States and the people have allowed (and even accepted and encouraged) excessive power to be concentrated in the federal government and its bureaucrats. That must end!

Guns in Church

Recently, a Louisville-area church had an "Open Carry Church Service" and invited people to bring unloaded guns in holsters that Saturday. My question is this: Why insist the guns be unloaded? What good is an unloaded gun? What good is it? What does anyone expect to accomplish by having a church full of people who, although they have guns, are still effectively unarmed?

I am amazed that there are actually people in this world who are gullible enough to believe that banning guns in churches or schools or anywhere else will somehow stop bad guys from bringing in guns to do harm to whomever they please. Those people seem to be unaware of the simple fact that people with criminal intent, by definition, don't obey laws or respect gun-free zones. Gun-free zones such as churches, schools, and posted businesses are killing zones where evil people can kill at will knowing they will be unopposed for the several minutes it takes for police to finally show up -- just in time to take pictures of the crime scene.

More Gun Safety Education

In July, the local paper published an editorial about a recent child-shooting tragedy. I believe all schools should include a few hours of age-appropriate firearm safety training K-12 every year. I have made that suggestion to our state legislators -- without result so far.

Hunter education saves perhaps dozens of lives every year in Utah alone. But we can do more. A universal firearm safety program in school would save even more lives. As mentioned in this editorial, the NRA already has excellent safety training programs in place. All we need is the legislative will to put them before our children.

While on the subject of firearm safety, why can't the TV and movie industry clean up their act regarding the portrayal of horrible gun-handling? Showing an actor portraying irresponsibility of crooks is one thing, but movies often show the good guys (cops and GIs) with unsafe gun-handling techniques. The entertainment industry must compensate by funding frequent one-minute TV spots to teach their audience about gun safety.

Parental Responsibility Regarding Guns

In 2005, Congress passed the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" to protect the firearms industry from stupid litigation.

Now, some parents want to sue Berretta (the world's oldest firearm manufacturer) for a shooting wherein a 13-year-old shot another 13-year-old while they were handling a pistol with no adult supervision. This is just one more example of where we have gone wrong as a society -- nobody wants to be responsible. In this case, parents don't want to be responsible for the safety and behavior of their children. They don't want to be responsible for teaching their children how to be safe around guns. They don't want their children to be responsible for their own actions.

The firearms industry is the most heavily-regulated business in the nation. Thanks to the safety and education programs developed and offered by the NRA, the shooting sports are among the safest of sports (safer than soccer). Sure, any child's death is a tragedy, but it's time for the parents in this case to grow up a little bit and accept responsibility for that boy's death and the court must tell them exactly that.

Stop Wasting My Money on Flawed Gun Studies!

Epidemiologists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine claim that, on average, guns did not protect those who possessed them from being shot in an assault. The study was based on data carefully selected to dramatically skew the results toward a perceived need for gun control and away from truth. In concert with other anti-gun studies, this study carefully cherry-picked the study and control samples, rejecting majority populations that contradict their goal of denigrating guns and gun owners.

When a study population consists of gang-bangers, at this one did, the results are very predictable. But, the study infers that all gun owners have the same risk of violent injury as do the criminals in the study.

News reporters and editors around the world gleefully regurgitated everything the "researchers" said in their press release word-for-word as if it were entirely truthful without taking even a second to read the study, examine its egregious flaws, and question its methods. This parrot-style reporting is another example of the profoundly lazy, biased, and dangerous reporting in today's news media. The news media's repetition of this article (anti-gun propaganda) would make any legitimate researcher, statistician, news reporter, or editor blush with shame. Instead of recycling propaganda as news simply because it feels good, I expect news reporters and editors to do thorough research before going to press.

No Gun-Control Treaties!

The US State Department announced a policy reversal on 14 Oct, saying the Obama administration supports launching talks on a treaty to regulate arms sales. The decision overturns the position of the Bush administration, which had opposed such a treaty on the grounds that national controls were better. I will always admire and respect Ambassador John Bolton for his courageous fight against such a treaty in the UN.

During the confirmation hearing for Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, I wrote to warn my senators that her confirmation would lead to such treaty negotiations to infringe on our Second Amendment rights. I warned my senators that I would consider a vote for her confirmation the same as a vote against the Second Amendment. Clearly, I was more prescient than the self-proclaimed pro-gun Senators who voted for her confirmation. As I recall, only two senators had the courage to vote against her.

The US Constitution established the Senate confirmation process for presidential appointees to protect and preserve the Constitution and the limits it places on the central government. Instead, the Senate is largely a rubber stamp (except when it rejects appointees who understand and respect the Constitution such as Judge Bork and Ambassador Bolton). The nation and its citizens are the losers.

Now that the Obama administration has announced its intent to negotiate a multi-lateral treaty as well as a possible treaty with Mexico that will affect US gun rights, I urge every senator to fight any such treaty or international agreement with all the power they can possibly muster. Their oath of office demands it. All agreements, treaties, and legislation which diminish our rights in any way or which increase international influence over US interests must be killed immediately! There is no room for compromise on this or any other protection guaranteed by the US Constitution.