Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The First TING's of Spring

What a beautiful day in Iowa! It was 77 degrees when I got off work. (Thank you global warming!) My wife and kids weren't home when I got there, so I decided to head down to the local shooting range.

I shoved my homemade steel silhouette target in the trunk, my .45 auto in my belt and headed out. I didn't want to be gone long and only brought about 30 rounds with me. I didn't do anything fancy, I just enjoyed the fresh air and the "ting!" of copper-jacketing on steel.

It's good to be an American, armed and free. Let's keep it that way.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

10 Questions with Second Amendment March Iowa Coordinator

It's been in the planning stages since February 2009, and now it's almost here. During the Second Amendment March, thousands of Second Amendment advocates plan to descend on Washington D.C. and state capitols around the nation in support of their God-given right to keep and bear arms. The coordinator of the Iowa march, Robert Fowler, agreed to answer some questions about the event.

Fowler, who is now retired, has led an interesting life living in Michigan, Missouri, Texas and Iowa. He was in the U.S. Marines and has worked as a farmer, oilfield roughneck, and truck driver. He is currently a licensed gun dealer and ammunition manufacturer. He is also active in the group Iowa Carry and blogs at Roberts Gun Shop.

1.When and where is the national march?

The National March will be held April 19th 2010 on the grounds of the Washington monument.

2. Where can people find out more information about it?

3. Is there some significance to the date of the march, April 19th?

1775: Minutemen Capt John Parker orders not to fire unless fired upon. A shot is fired and the American revolution begins at the Lexington Common. That was the "shot heard round the world"

[CHC adds: Also, in a bit of historical irony, 168 years later on April 19, 1943 a small band of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto decided to fight against the Nazi occupiers who were butchering their people. Armed at first with only a few pistols, the resistance fighters held the Nazis at bay longer than the entire Polish army had been able to. Once again shots had been fired for freedom.]

4. When and where is the Iowa march?

The Iowa State March will be held on the 19th of April on the west side of the Capital. [CHC: From noon to 3pm.]

5. Will there be any speakers?

Yes there will be. So far I have Dave Funk, candidate for the 3rd Iowa district now held by Leonard Boswell. Sean McClanahan, President of Iowa Carry.

6. Where can people go to keep up-to-date on the Iowa march?

The Second Amendment March has pages dedicated to each state. Go to the Iowa page, I post updates as I get more information.

7. Besides Des Moines, are there any confirmed rallies elsewhere in Iowa?

I have been trying to get rallies in other cities but so far I have not received any replies.

8. How did you come to be involved in the march?

The founder of the Second Amendment March, Skip Coryell Was a member of Iowa Carry and the guest speaker at a Iowa Carry pheasant hunt and dinner three years ago. I had the pleasure of sitting across from him and his wife and next to his children. We had a great time and became friends. We are both from Michigan and were both Marines. We have kept in touch and when he started the 2A March, he asked me to be the Iowa state coordinator. I readily accepted his offer. Along with my work with Iowa Carry, it's one of the best jobs I don't get paid to do.

9. What do you hope that the march will accomplish?

We are trying to bring attention to the people about the way the government is slowly taking our rights away. There are over 20,000 gun laws on the books that try to restrict our rights. We now have 38 states that have "shall issue" laws and Arizona is looking like it's going to be the 3rd state that will allow carry with out a permit. Joining Alaska and Vermont. Iowa Carry has been working on getting shall issue in Iowa making it easier for the citizens to be "allowed" to protect them selves. As you know, Iowa is may issue and permits are at the discretion of the sheriff. This means that in some counties, like Polk, All you have to do is take the training and pass the background check and you get your permit. Other counties will not issue a permit for any reason. The sheriffs of these counties have decided that they know best and honest law abiding citizens have no business carrying a gun. Even though the criminals carry regardless of the law. This is also one of the issues the 2A March is about.

10. Is there anything else we should know?

Everyone should know that the 2nd Amendment is the right that protects all the other rights. These right are not given by the government. They are natural God given rights and the government has been infringing on all of our rights for years. We are trying to educate the general population on what our rights are and what the wording of the Constitution really means. In the 2nd Amendment there are a few words that should tell people exactly what the founders meant. "The right of the people". There is a reason the this phrase shows up in several of the amendments. It is because the people have the right to assemble and speak and to be secure in their homes and possessions and to own and bear arms. "Shall not be infringed" There isn't a politician in the world that understands these 4 words. If there was, we wouldn't have to beg some government official for "permission" to exercise our 2nd Amendment right. Vermont has no permit system. The also have one of the lowest crime rates in the country. They allow their citizens to carry open or concealed without having to beg. And contrary to what the Brady Bunch says, there isn't blood in the streets. This proves that the law abiding citizens can carry a gun and not have shootouts over fender benders and parking spots.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Eric Cooper To Speak At Iowans for Tax Relief Event

Eric Cooper, Libertarian Party candidate for Iowa governor, will be speaking at the 2010 Iowa Taxpayers' Day. The event, sponsored by the public watchdog group Iowans for Tax Relief, will be held Saturday, April 17, 2010 from 3:00pm - 5:00pm at the Holiday Inn Hotel Northwest in Des Moines. According to Ed Failor Jr., President of Iowans for Tax Relief, "Iowa Taxpayers' Day continues our mission to educate and inform Iowans on tax and spending issues."

Des Moines Register political columnist Kathie Obradovich will be the Master of Ceremonies and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is set to be the keynote speaker. In addition to Eric Cooper, Republican gubernatorial candidates Terry Branstad, Jonathan Narcisse, Rod Roberts, and Bob Vander Plaats will also speak. Governor Culver was invited but did not respond.

Cooper is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Iowa State University, and is currently the Vice Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Iowa. When running for the state legislature in 2008, Professor Cooper had the most successful Libertarian campaign in Iowa, winning 21% of the vote in that race. Nick Weltha of Des Moines is running for Lt. Governor. In general, Cooper and Weltha believe in smaller government, less taxes and regulations, and more personal freedom.

For more information visit their website and read my post 10 Questions with Gubernatorial Candidate Eric Cooper.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Embracing Little Brother or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Electronic Surveillance

A recent Cedar Rapids Gazette article says that downtown Iowa City businesses, tired of “bad behavior” on the pedestrian mall, will be installing surveillance cameras outside their buildings to discourage crime. Ben Stone of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa said that the group does not support the move. While the ACLU would be right to oppose more government surveillance (as they often do), in this instance I don‘t think electronic surveillance is all bad.

We should oppose more government surveillance because we already have so much of it. Some would argue that we already live in an Orwellian surveillance state. In Privacy International’s 2007 ranking of 47 industrialized nations, the United States ranked near the bottom for privacy protections, falling into the “Endemic Surveillance Societies” category. Only Thailand, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Singapore, Russia, China, and Malaysia tied with or scored lower than the United States. If the American public is already under the government’s microscope, how can we justify more private surveillance?

Firstly, it matters who is doing the surveilling and where. The businesses on Iowa City’s ped mall, for instance, shouldn’t be able to place cameras where there is some expectation of privacy, such as in dressing or restrooms, but why NOT facing the public walkways around their property? When we are in public areas we can have no expectation of privacy from being seen or photographed. Image if a photographer, taking a wide shot of Times Square in New York, had to get release forms signed by everyone of the thousands of people who may be in the photo. They don’t have to because such a requirement would obviously be impractical. The same principles apply with other forms of observation technology.

Private security cameras and portable recording devices are becoming more and more prevalent with business owners and private citizens. If we call the government’s surveillance organization “Big Brother,” perhaps we can call these private efforts “Little Brother.” (I didn’t come up with that term, I read it somewhere.) Little Brother often helps the government, by supplying video of bank robbers or shoplifters for instance, but it can also keep an eye on the government as well.

The first example of Little Brother watching government officials that springs to my mind is the famous Rodney King beating video. In this footage shot by a bystander with a video camera, several Los Angeles police officers are seen beating Rodney King after he led them on a high-speed chase. King was a drunken convict who was resisting arrest, so whether or not he deserved a few love taps remains open for debate. Regardless, the incident was widely seen as blatant police brutality when it was shown repeatedly on television and led to the 1992 Los Angeles riots and federal charges against four officers.

Another, more recent, example was during the 2009 Iranian election protests. While the traditional media was largely blacked out by the Iranian government, protesters with cell phone cameras were able to record the governments brutal suppression of the protests and transmit the images to the world with some help from social networking sites.

A less epic example occurred during Washington D.C.’s recent blizzards. Some D.C. locals got together for a snowball fight after the idea spread on the internet site Twitter. Things went alright at the snowball fight until a red Hummer passing by got zinged with a snowball. A plain clothes D.C. police officer, Mike Baylor, hopped out and confronted the revelers without identifying himself as a cop. Baylor pulled his sidearm which caused several bystanders to call 911 about an armed man. This caused more police to show up, at least one of whom also drew his pistol.

Despite many cell phone videos of Baylor waving his pistol available on the internet, Assistant Police Chief Pete Newsham stated that, “There was no police pulling guns on snowball people.” He repeated that lie to several news outlets. Mainstream media like The Washington Post unquestioningly declared Chief Newsham’s version to be the official truth. The Post even ignored the eyewitness account of one of their own staffers who was present at the snowball fight. Luckily, bloggers and smaller newspapers like the Washington City Paper, actually investigated the story (imagine!) by watching the videos and interviewing witnesses (including the Post employee) and exposed Newsham’s story as the deceitful cover-up that it was. Score another one for Little Brother!

We will always need to guard against egregious abuse of our privacy by Little Brother, just as we need to roll back Big Brother’s surveillance state. I don’t want Little Brother tapping my phone or ransacking my house any more than I want Big Brother to. But when Big Brother menacingly warns, “We’re watching you,” I want Little Brother to confidently reply with the same phrase.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Jacob Sullum on Chicago Gun Case

Excerpted from an article at

"Yesterday the Supreme Court considered the question of whether the Second Amendment applies outside of jurisdictions controlled by the federal government. The Court will almost certainly say yes, and soon it may consider a question that should be equally easy to answer: whether the Second Amendment applies outside of the home.

"In 2008, the first time the Supreme Court explicitly declared that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to 'keep and bear arms,' it ruled that the District of Columbia’s handgun ban violated that right. Since the Chicago handgun ban at issue in the case the Court heard this week is virtually identical, it will be overturned if the Court concludes that the Second Amendment binds states and cities as well as the federal government. And since the Court has ruled that almost all of the other guarantees in the Bill of Rights apply to the states by way of the 14th Amendment, it would be very strange if the fundamental right to armed self-defense did not make the cut. [...]

"[O]fficials predictably warn that chaos would ensue from allowing law-abiding people to carry guns in public. But that has not happened in any of the states with nondiscretionary carry permit policies.

"Although the crime-reducing benefits of such policies remain controversial, the blood-soaked visions of doomsayers who imagined routine arguments regularly culminating in gunfire have not transpired in the two decades since Florida started the trend toward liberalization. In fact, data from Florida, Texas, and Arkansas indicate that permit holders are far less likely to commit gun crimes (or other offenses) than the general population."

Read the entire article here.

Also, for up-to-the-minute information on this important court case check

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