Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Doctors, guns, and the NRA

On making a visit to a cardiologist, a patient recently was asked of fill out a history which included the questions shown in this image.

None of those questions are any business of a cardiologist, let alone questions 11 and 12.

Now, if the doctor is also a volunteer fireman, he/she might be qualified to ask about #8 -- when serving in that capacity. Likewise, if he/she is also an NRA-certified firearms safety instructor, he/she might be qualified to ask about #11 and #12 -- when serving in that capacity.

When I'm paying him/her to be a cardiologist, he/she had better stick to what he/she is being paid to do and what he/she is qualified to do.

One observer -- apparently hostile to the NRA (National Rifle Association) -- claimed that "The NRA would tell you to answer honestly to all questions on the survey. They're into you disclosing all kinds of personal information on the 4473s and the NICS. The NRA designed both. So, what does that tell you about the NRA and questionnaires?"

I wonder if that observer has ever wondered why the NRA had its hand in 4473s, NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System), and all other gun-control legislation? Because:

1 - It'd be far worse without NRA influence.
2 - The NRA has little power beyond compromising with the enemy.

I agree that the NRA has made too-frequent regrettable mistakes such as supporting anti-liberty politicians and compromising on anti-gun legislation and regulation. But, at only 5 million members, that's all it can do. Although it is the most hated lobbying organization on Capitol Hill, the NRA is overwhelmingly outnumbered by the membership numbers of anti-gun organizations such AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), AMA (American Medical Association), NEA (National Education Association) and other labor unions, etc. It's outfunded by the likes of George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, and the Joyce Foundation. The reality is that the number of voters a lobbyist represents and the money they bring is what matters to most politicians -- not what's right or what the Constitution says.

Now, if we could increase NRA membership to a mere 25% of the estimated 80-100 million gun owners, the NRA would have the clout to dictate the law -- not compromise and try to mitigate the law. Imagine the clout the NRA would have if 100% of gun owners were members! (One might prefer to support JPFO (Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership), GOA (Gun Owners of America), Firearms Coalition, or CCRKBA (Citizens' Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms) over the NRA, but the size of those organizations is insignificant by comparison. The NRA is the closest to a big dog in the gun-rights fight and the only one has any clout at all in DC.)

As for the ugly things the NRA does (as mentioned above), if one isn't a member, he/she has no say. On the other hand, members get a vote on who will be in NRA leadership positions. That drives the NRA's agenda. When a member writes to NRA leaders and mentions his/her membership status, they pay attention. (Note that the NRA stopped its support for Harry Reid after input from members -- not the complaints of anti-NRA outsiders.)

Everyone who owns one or more arms or who appreciated the right to own arms should be a member of the NRA. Everyone who isn't a member is only one of approximately 95-million gun owners riding in the wagon while five million pull.

Restore the right to arms in and on federal property

In clear violation of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, 18 USC 930(d)(3) prohibits responsible adults from carrying a "firearm or other dangerous weapon" into any federal facility with an exception for cases "incident to hunting or other lawful purposes." When t comes to self-protection the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and firearms; National Park Service; Corps of Engineers; and the other anti-gun denizens of the central government have read this essential exception out of the law -- by executive fiat.

With 39 CFR 232.1(l), the US Postal Service is even more restrictive: "No person while on postal property may carry firearms, other dangerous or deadly weapons, or explosives, either openly or concealed, or store the same on postal property, except for official purposes."

What is it that congressmen and unelected regulators don't understand about the simple and clear phrase "shall not be infringed?"

I can accept a restriction on arms in a limited number of designated places where competent security screening and armed officers are in place to substitute for the disarming of responsible adults (eg court rooms, airport secure areas, etc.). But I cannot tolerate the disarming of responsible Americans when the entity doing the disarming fails to provide comparable or better security.

Compromising the protections of the Bill of Rights is such a severe threat to Liberty that no right identified in the Bill of Rights should ever be compromised in any way other than through specific legislation from Congress or an amendment to the Constitution. Authority to infringe constitutionally-enumerated rights must never be delegated or assigned to anyone outside of Congress!

Of course, any rational person knows and understands that all restrictions on arms only affect responsible people. History and reason indicate that those bent on disobeying laws against violence also disobey laws against arms.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has offered an amendment to the Postal Reform Act (S.1486) in the Governmental Affairs Committee. If adopted, this amendment will restore the right of responsible adults to drive into a post office parking lot with a gun and to carry it into the post office and other federal facilities to the extent state law would allow the carry of that firearm in any other venue.

However, I would like to see Senator Paul amend his amendment to address "arms" instead of "firearms". (The Second Amendment protects the keeping and bearing of "arms". Pocket knives are "arms" too!)

This amendment is a tiny step in the right direction back to following the US Constitution which every congressman, president, judge, attorney, political appointee, and bureaucrat swore to follow and protect. I ardently support this move.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Hate crimes vs equal protection of the law

A hate crime occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain minority social group such as
• disability,
• ethnicity,
• gender identity,
• sexual orientation,
• language
• nationality,
• race, or
• religion.

The hate-crime concept is based on the notion that a crime is somehow more egregious if it is motivated by bigotry rather than covetousness, revenge, rage, or for the fun of it. Hate crimes laws are actually "thought crimes" laws that violate the right to freedom of speech and of conscience and subject individuals to scrutiny of their beliefs rather than focusing on a person's criminal actions.

Hate crime laws are supposedly intended to deter bias-motivated violence. They enhance the penalties associated with conduct that is already criminal under other laws.

Ironically, hate-crime laws are promoted by some of the most hateful among us! In practice, these hate-crime laws seem to protect the above listed protected classes from prosecution under hate-crime laws because they seem to be presumed to be free of hate.

What these laws really do is provide special protections and rights for the above specific categories of people, violating the Constitution's (Fourteenth Amendment) concept of equal protection of the law.

I am deeply concerned by the hostile effect of hate-crime laws on Christians in particular. For example, these laws establish the legal framework to persecute and prosecute those who refuse, for moral and religious reasons, to agree or teach their children that homosexuality, transgender, cross-dressing etc. is normal and desirable.

Evidence of a person's beliefs will be used against any individual who is even suspected of committing a crime. Even Rep. Arthur Davis, who supported a hate-crime bill in 2007, admitted that under this law a minister could be charged with the crime of incitement to violence and punished with a fine or prison if the minister preached that homosexuality is a serious sin and a person in the congregation left church and committed a crime against a homosexual.

The growing cry for "diversity" is simply a demand for acceptance of what many believe to be deviant behavior. The "diversity" movement closely parallels the call for hate-crime legislation. Hate-crime laws intimidate people with certain moral views into forced acceptance of what they believe to be deviant, immoral lifestyles by criminalizing those who reject such immoral behavior.

I believe that everyone, regardless of disability, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, language, nationality, race, religion, etc., should be given the same respect and dignity due to a son or daughter of God. Yet, I oppose governments mandating that respect and dignity. I condemn all criminal behavior regardless of disability, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, language, nationality, race, religion, etc. In the words of the leadership of my church:
God's universal fatherhood and love charges each of us with an innate and reverent acknowledgement of our shared human dignity. We are to love one another. We are to treat each other with respect as brothers and sisters and fellow children of God, no matter how much we may differ from one another.
To presume that a crime is more serious simply because some prosecutor, accuser, or victim believes the perpetrator is a bigot trivializes crimes (and their victims) committed by non-bigots. I therefore oppose any so-called hate-crimes legislation.

There is no authority in the Constitution for Congress and the President to pass "hate-crimes" legislation. The Tenth Amendment clearly places that authority in the States. State legislators and governors must oppose any efforts to pass "hate-crimes" legislation.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Equal opportunity for equal ability and effort

There are plenty of military occupations that aren't a good fit for a certain category of people. These occupations demand brute strength and endurance under a heavy load. There are some people who are fit enough to run a marathon. But, can they carry a wounded buddy, two rifles, and a 65-pound rucksack to safety 50 yards away? No Marine in his right mind wants to fight alongside another Marine who can't.

This issue has repeatedly reared it's head at least since the early '70s when I first joined the Air Force as an ROTC cadet. In spite of reason and basic biology, social engineers keep trying to put women into military occupations where they simply don't fit well. Yet, much to everyone's surprise, the Marines (the last holdouts to be politically cleansed) are learning that women don't have the strength of a man!

When I was flying the C-141 jet transport in the Air Force back in '76-'81, I was occasionally asked to participate in firefighter training. My job was to show the firefighters how to shut down the airplane if the crew is incapacitated. Then, my crew and I served as training dummies as if we were said incapacitated crewmembers.

In those pre-women-on-the-rescue-crew days, it was always very reassuring to know that the firefighter yanking me out of the seat and carrying me down two aircraft ladders was another 200-pound man who met rigorous fitness standards -- not a 110-pound woman who couldn't do 3 pull-ups.

I never got a single bump, scrape, or bruise from those training events. I'm sure there are a handful women that could do that too, but in general, a female firefighter in today's equal-opportunity military would probably either break her neck and mine getting me out or would be forced to leave me roasting in the fire.

As a 23-year veteran, I saw cases where women did just as well as men in their assigned specialty -- sometimes better. I also saw cases where they were a handicap to the unit and a danger to themselves. I saw cases where they exploited their status as women to get easier duty. One common case in aviation maintenance is for women to claim pregnancy during bad weather knowing that pregnant women shouldn't be exposed to radar and radio waves and fuel fumes common on the flight line.

Equal opportunity is great -- if everyone is equally up to the job. But, if any person or group of persons isn't capable of doing a particular job correctly, safely, and without jeopardizing the mission or fellow servicemen, they need to find a job that's a better fit.

The armed forces exist to fight when called upon -- not to be a sociology lab.

BTW, Even I can't do the job anymore either. That's why servicemen are retired when they're still relatively young, but getting too old to get on the horse.

Obama's new anti-rights "executive actions"

Most, if not all, high-profile shootings and other acts of violence have involved perpetrators known to somebody to be dangerously ill. I've written repeatedly about this problem. Clearly, persons who have a mental illness combined with behavior or other signals that makes them a danger to themselves or others should be restricted from possessing dangerous items of any kind.

I therefore support reasonable steps to accomplish this goal provided there is absolutely no compromise of the right of responsible persons to easily and responsibly acquire, posses, and use arms.

I also support the restoration of gun rights to formerly mentally-ill adults who have been successfully treated and to former criminals who have reformed their lives.

I am concerned by today's Whitehouse announcement of new "executive actions" on background checks for gun purchases. It appears to me that the Obama Administration is struggling to expand the pool of gun-restricted mental-health patients in an effort to limit gun ownership.

In its announcement, the Administration, " proposing to clarify that the statutory term 'committed to a mental institution' includes involuntary inpatient as well as outpatient commitments....."

Until this "executive action", your medical information (including some mental health information) has been protected by HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). Until now, no one, not even the government, could legally access your private medical records. Yet, with the stroke of a pen, President Obama has unilaterally struck down parts of this important privacy law to make medical and mental health information available to the FBI for firearm background checks.

This move will be a huge disincentive for gun owners to voluntarily seek appropriate help when they need it. For example, I know an individual who had serious psychological reactions to a combination of medications for ADHD. Because to the side effects of these drugs, this person needed hospitalization to be safely taken off the drugs. That person is is fine now, but I fear that Obama's "executive action" would permanently bar this person from the enjoyment and protection of arms.

Other gun-rights activists are also concerned. For example, Jeff Knox announced:
We really have a problem with what they're doing and the way they're doing it. Congress has looked at this issue and has rejected action on this issue. When Congress looks at something and says 'no', that's not traditionally a green light for the White House to go and do it on their own. That's an overreach on the part of the executive — and if we had a Congress and a system that was functioning properly, they would slap him down for this and they would refuse to allow this to happen.
The Administration's latest move seems to me to be another deliberate step down the slippery slope toward Soviet-style gulags where political enemies -- especially gun-rights advocates -- are branded mentally-ill sufficiently to justify the deprivation of their God-given rights.

On that point, Knox has more to say:
There's a reason we hate the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives). The agency is under the Justice Department and operates the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). They've earned our animosity. They came after us over and over again....Every time they promulgate a new law or a new regulation, they try and make it sound like it's about keeping violent and crazy people away from guns, but the way it's enforced is always they come after us -- the regular gun owners, because we're the easy targets. It's really difficult to find violent and crazy people and catch them in the act. It's really easy to find me -- to comb through my files, my gun safe, my paperwork -- and find some error that I've made and hang me out to dry because of it. They're using these laws to attack us, not to go after criminals, and that's the big problem.
This "executive-action" raises several important questions, none of which the Obama Administration seems willing to answer publicly:
• What is mental illness?
• Who is mentally ill?
• How mentally ill must one be to justify revocation of a fundamental right?
• How "normal" must a person be to own and use firearms?
• Who makes the determination of a person's fitness?
• Are mental-health professionals and facilities really trained, experienced, and equipped to accurately and reliably identify those who pose a risk without infringing the rights of those who are not a risk?
• What steps will be taken to ensure uniform and reasonable standards will be applied to all?
• What qualifies as a mental health facility?
• If treatment (outpatient or inpatient) is successful, will the patient still be barred from possessing arms?
• Will there be due process of law?
• What steps will be taken to protect privacy?
• Which is more important in the minds of the policymakers -- individual rights or security (control)?
• Who gets to make the rules? Will there be an opportunity for public comment or legislative oversight?

Most who are treated by mental health professionals are not mentally ill at all or their illness does not cause them to be a threat to self or others. Nevertheless, Obama's initiative seems destined to trap these responsible Americans into the gun-restricted category. Unfortunately, the NRA seems willing to scapegoat these people in exchange for letting the rest of us off the hook. Such people could be "outpatients" who: • Check themselves into a "fat farm" or otherwise seek help for weight loss, • Seek help to overcome addictions such as food addictions, pornography, or gambling, • Seek the help of a psychiatrist for treatment/counseling for ADHD, PMS, domestic abuse (as a victim), PTSD, rape, or anxiety, • Attend a parenting class or marriage or family counseling, • Respond affirmatively when asked by a physician whether you have a gun in the home, • Attend a diversity-sensitivity class required by your employer, or • Attend a driving re-education course because you have a lead foot.

We already know how hostile our nation has been, from Clinton to today, to the gun rights of our war veterans. More than 150,000 law-abiding veterans have already lost their constitutional rights -- with no due process whatsoever -- because they consulted a VA therapist about a traumatic incident in Iraq, Afghanistan, or the Balkans. This has been a test to see what our politicians can get away with. They got away with it with our vets. Does anyone think that non-vets will be treated any better?

Obama, his staff, and handlers are probing and testing to see how far he can go with their anti-gun agenda. We know he has nearly half of the voters behind him (virtually all of those who voted for him still have no regrets) along with a majority in the Senate and much of the House of Representatives. It is no problem for the Administration to shop around for federal judges who will side with him and his anti-gun supporters. All of these expect Obama to legislate from the Whitehouse -- to unilaterally impose harsh restrictions on civilian arms. Exploiting the mental health aspect is an ideal foot-in-the-door to bypass the People and their elected representatives.

Under Obama's new regulations, tens of millions of police and firemen with PTSD and or people who, as children, were diagnosed with ADHD could lose their constitutional rights without any court order, merely because they sought treatment a benefit under a federal program.

According to the US Constitution, the central government has one legislative branch. That means that only that branch is authorized to legislate -- to make law. The executive branch is designated -- and sworn -- to faithfully execute those laws which are constitutional -- not to make up its own laws as it goes. The executive and judicial branches are out of line when they make laws. The legislative branch is out of line when they authorize the other branches to make laws or ignore them when they do so without congressional authorization.

Every congressman has a sworn duty lead the fight against any president's usurpation of power, including Obama's expansion of what constitutes a gun-restricted person. I also urge Congress to establish a functioning process whereby the mentally ill and former criminals can have their gun rights restored after a reasonable period of responsible behavior. And it must firmly defend its sole-legislative authority.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. -- Edmund Burke
The few good people in Congress are doing nothing. The same is true of most American voters.