COFREE 1999 Shorts

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COFREE 1999 Shorts


Educational Access
When Denver Public School Superintendent Chip Zullinger was fired in May, 2000, a local minority parent supported Zullinger, saying, "We want access -- we want involvement." But minority parents who supported Zullinger on the basis that he granted them more access are riding the wrong horse.

The entire purpose of government schools in America, dating back to the 1850s when children were marched into government schools at gunpoint against the wishes of the parents, is to separate children from their families so that they can be properly propagandized by the State. If you want access and involvement in your child's education, you need to advocate the mass firing of all education bureaucrats and a return to parent-controlled education. - Ari Armstrong


Japanese Suffer Youth Violence
Sharon Moshavi wrote May 26, 2000 for the Boston Globe: "Japan is racked by a growing wave of teen violence, and that has led to a lot of hand-wringing, as Japan wonders what is going wrong with its youth. Japan's violent crime rate is the highest it has been in 23 years..."

But how could that be? According to America's leading leftists, cultural violence is caused by guns. Japan doesn't have any guns. Might this indicate deeper social factors are at work? Nah; that would deny the Democrats their opportunity to fear-monger and hate-monger against gun owners. - Ari Armstrong


Rosen Dispels Another Gun Myth
Local talk-show host Mike Rosen previously used the space in his Rocky Mountain News column to debunk the claim that one's firearm is more likely to harm an innocent person than stop a crime. In fact, more crimes are stopped with guns than are committed with guns -- and that doesn't even count all the crimes deterred because citizens are armed.

In his May 12 column, Rosen pointed out the false assumptions behind the claim that "guns kill thirteen children a day." Rosen writes, "The great majority [of those deaths] are virtually adults between the ages of 17 and 19, and most of those are gang members, not young children who are victims of household mishaps. 'Trigger locks would do nothing to stop gang members from using guns,' says [Yale Professor John] Lott."

Finally we find people in the mass media willing to talk sense on the gun issue. - Ari Armstrong


Cops Steal Drug Money
Is it wrong to take stolen money? If one takes the view that the federal "war on drugs" is Unconstitutional and the entire war violates civil liberties, it follows that money and property taken over the war is taken illegitimately. So was it wrong for officers to take nearly $100,000 dollars of confiscated funds -- most of which came from the drug war -- for their personal use?

Well, yes. But to me, whether the police use the funds for their personal gain or for the gain of their department, hardly matters. The police should never have taken that money from citizens in the first place.

A May 3 Rocky Mountain News article didn't mention whether the funds were taken from victims who had been found guilty in a court of law. In the drug war, officers can take property and money without even charging the victim with a crime. The News article specified only that "cash is missing from three homicides and eight drug investigations."

What this story does demonstrate is that the war on drugs tends to corrupt police departments. That's just one of the many reasons to end drug prohibition. (Interim Chief Gerry Whitman said, "We have reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime has occurred.") - Ari Armstrong


Rosen Gets It Right
On April 28, Mike Rosen wrote an article for the Rocky Mountain News entitled "Anti-gun crowd cooks the books" which outlines the massive distortions propagated by Arthur Kellerman about civil arms. Kellerman's bogus statistics have recently been repeated by Robert Hardaway of the University of Denver, Rosen notes. Kellerman is the originator of the bogus claim that a gun is 43 times more likely to be used in a wrongful death than in self-defense. However, Kellerman's study never considered the vast majority of cases in which a gun is used in self-defense in a non-lethal manner. It also treated suicides and homicides as equal, even though suicides resort to other methods of killing themselves if guns are not available, as they do in Japan at twice the American suicide rate. While I've criticized Rosen in the past, for this article I extend my gratitude. - Ari Armstrong


Constitution Does Not "Give" Rights
In your article "'Legal Community Against Violence' and the Second Amendment," you quote the LCAV as follows: "The Second Amendment, as interpreted by the Supreme Court and our federal appellate courts, clearly does not GIVE individuals the right to possess firearms..." (my emphasis) Perhaps Carla Crowder and those at the LCAV should be told that the 2nd Amendment (and all the rest in the Bill of Rights) does not "give," nor grant ANY rights. Rather the Bill of Right PROTECTS those rights enumerated (plus any powers/rights retained by the people - 9th and 10th amendments). In the Declaration of Independence, the founders of our country stated, "...that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Therefore, the Bill of Rights is a GUARANTEE against Government intrusion. If the second amendment were to be taken away, the people would STILL have the right to keep and bear arms. - Jim Gates


Rest in Peace
"We're very sad knowing how he died. I think it was wrong what they did. He had the right for police to knock on his door." -- Maria del Carmen Moreno, wife of Ismael Mena. (Rocky Mountain News, March 15, 2000)


Selective Profiling
Does the ACLU find no irony in opposing "racial profiling" when it comes to police behavior, but supporting it when it comes to handing out government money?


Friendly Advice from Nevada
Our friends at the Sierra Times reported the following about Colorado:

Hey, Get this: Colorado stands to lose up to $5.4 million dollars in federal funds if they do another Census undercount like they did back in 1990. Colorado gun owners, if your state is off by 2.1% or more, Gov Webb & Co. won't get jack from Uncle Sugar. This all according to Price Waterhouse. So, wanna get back at the SOB's? Now you've found a good use for those Census forms...See you at the Gun range. -SierraTimes

Tempting! However, I'll stick to my advice of filling out only the question pertaining to the number of persons, as per the Constitution. - Ari Armstrong


Touchy-Feeley Gun Control Spin
State Senator Mike Feeley of Lakewood gave the Rocky Mountain News his opinions on guns on March 12. He said:

They believe that, by God, if we go for gun control, the next thing you know jackbooted thugs will come in and take our guns and they'll be rappelling down from black helicopters... But nobody is talking about taking guns away. All we're talking about is reasonable restrictions to make sure guns don't get in the hands of criminals and children. We're trying to close loopholes at gun shows, get people to store guns safely. (16A)

What's amazing is that Feeley can make so many false claims in such a short space. First, Feeley's characterization of gun owners' fears is wrong. Nobody believes the jackbooted thugs will rappel from black helicopters -- they'll just bust down your front door as they have done dozens of times since June 7, 1971, when they planted a bullet in Kenyon Ballew's head during a no-knock raid issued on faulty information. At Ruby Ridge, a jackbooted thug by the name of Lon Horiuchi simply shot Vicki Weaver in the head as she held her infant child in her arms. This vicious government assault resulted from an entrapment based on a technicality of the 1934 National Firearms Act. (There were government helicopters there, though.) Feeley burries his head in the sand and pretends such atrocities never took place.

Civil gun rights activists don't think gun confiscation will take place "the next thing you know," as Feeley asserts. Instead, confiscation will be the end result of decades of ever more restrictive policies (unless current trends reverse).

Feeley's claim that "nobody is talking about taking guns away" is equally ludicrous -- in fact, it's an out-right lie, as everyone knows Californians are suffering some gun confiscations as I write. The fact of the matter is that many leaders of the anti-gun lobby explicitly call for the eventual ban of at least all handguns. They also explicitly call for incremental restrictions toward that end.

Feeley tells another lie when he claims, "all we're talking about is reasonable restrictions to make sure guns don't get in the hands of criminals and children." However, Colorado Democrats proposed legislation that would discriminate against law-abiding citizens ages 18-20, who are neither criminals nor children. He says his proposals to restrict gun ownership are "reasonable," yet neither he nor any party in Colorado has mounted a reasonable case for those proposals. Instead, anti-gun advocates pretend that if they repeat the word "reasonable" often enough, it will somehow come to apply to their demonstrably unreasonable proposals.

Mandatory storage laws have actually increased accidental gun deaths in some states with such laws. In addition, they have increased crime in those states because they render firearms useless for self-defense. Thus, Feeley's allegedly "reasonable" laws result only in more innocent deaths at the hands of violent criminals.

And there is no "gun show loophole" -- today all private transactions, in or out of gun shows, are subject to the same policy. As Feeley well knows, if the gun show "loophole" is closed, the next step will be to close the remaining private transaction "loophole" and require universal background checks. At that point, the Federal government will acquire information on every (legal) gun transaction. The real solution to any "loophole" is to repeal background checks altogether and restore America to a system of freedom and civil rights. Obviously Mike Feeley's goal is to squash freedom, not expand it. - Ari Armstrong


NRA is Right about Clinton

March 13, 2000

The NRA should stand steadfast by Executive Director Wayne LaPierre and NRA President Charlton Heston. I am glad the NRA has finally spoken out despite the expected criticism from the liberal media. The truth is the NRA is correct.

Instead of going after repeat offenders, hardened criminals and violent offenders, President Clinton has asked for more gun control directed at the law-abiding and for more BATF agents, agents which Rep. John Dingell, a Democrat himself, called "Jack-Booted Thugs." These measures are designed to intimidate law-abiding citizens, as well as to establish a federal police force and impose a National ID card. These are the very hallmarks of tyrannical government.

When LaPierre said the president was exploiting the tragedies to pass more gun control, he was echoing the great journalist, H.L. Mencken, who wrote: "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed and thus clamoring to be led to safety." Mencken was in turn echoing James Madison, who wrote that in government arrogating itself power, "Crises were the rallying cry of tyrannical government."

This time all pro-Second Amendment groups should applaud and stand by the NRA. Knees must not buckle.

Sincerely,
Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.


Head Count
March 8, 2000 -- I say make the government pencil-pushers' jobs easier -- heed the Libertarian Party's advice to fill out only the question on the census which is Constitutional: the one asking for the number of people. Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution says (not that many care any more), "The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct." This is for the express purpose of calculating the number of representatives for each state.

An "enumeration" does not include information about race, income, or any other tidbit of a personal nature. Indeed, the federal government arguably cannot lawfully ask for anything except the number of people, in accordance with the Tenth Amendment.

What is the purpose of the federal government asking for personal information? It is to help perpetuate the welfare state. In the words of Kenneth Prewitt, who signed a letter dated March 6 as the Director of the Bureau of the Census:

Official census counts are used to distribute government funds to communities and states for highways, schools, health facilities, and many other programs you and your neighbors need. Without a complete, accurate census, your community may not receive its fair share.

Note Prewitt's presumption that he knows what we "need." Yes, the feds know best -- just ask the children at Waco. The funny thing is, I can't find in the Constitution where the federal government is empowered to fund any of the projects Prewitt mentions. So, again, according to the Tenth Amendment, those programs are illegal. The only provision that comes close is the Section 8 bit about "post Roads," which hardly fits the description of modern highways.

These facts suggest that those who defend the U.S. Constitution are duty bound to not answer any of the questions on the census, except the one pertaining to the number of people. The extra questions themselves are illegal, and so are the programs that information will be used to perpetuate. - Ari Armstrong


Mushy-headed Moms?
Kathleen Hopkins, Colorado coordinator for the so-called Million Mom March, wants to further regulate firearms because she's an expert on the issue, right? Ha!

She wrote to her mailing list on March 5: "It may be that some of you have mistaken that rather 'star wars' looking thing on the main web site as a gun. I thought so, too, at first, but it isn't a gun; it's an automatic shell shot loader (for making your own shotgun shells.)" In other words, Hopkins barely knows what a gun even is. Where does she get off trying to regulate the guns of those of us who actually know what we're talking about?

Hopkins apparently feels that her emotions are sufficient for crafting legislation. She said, "I also wasn't pleased that the Beretta site had a $25 gun that I would consider a Saturday Night Special." Oh, well, if Kathleen Hopkins would "consider" a gun to be something evil, we'd better ban it! God forbid we offend Kathleen Hopkins' prejudices.

Not only is Hopkins ignorant about firearms, but she's paranoid of gun owners, too. She said, "I believe that [a radio host], along with [Norm] Resnik (sic) [of the American Freedom Network on 1360], are inciting the gun-owners into this dangerous and frightening opposition to us." Eh? Dr. Resnick has explicitly called for lawful, peaceable, political action. Or does Hopkins find the First Amendment as "frightening" as she finds the Second? Maybe she only approves of those civil rights which apply to her. I've had the good fortune to meet many of the civil gun rights activists who have attended the recent rallies, and they are decent, honorable men and women, moms and dads. For Hopkins to speak ill of them shows only a flaw in her character. - Ari Armstrong


Ed Stein vs. Straw Man, Round One
Kathleen Hopkins does make one good point, however: apparently a Denver radio host said the six-year-old boy who shot a Michigan girl with a gun stolen by his criminal guardians should be prosecuted as an adult and sent to prison. Truly, that's ridiculous. But that's the only time I've heard such a view mentioned. For her and Rocky Mountain News cartoonist Ed Stien to take that view as somehow representative of the beliefs of most civil gun rights advocates is unfair.

Yet Stein does just that. In a March 8 cartoon, one character exclaims, "Try the little monster as an adult, I say." In a previous cartoon, Stein suggested the NRA would want to arm six-year olds. That's completely ridiculous, though: the NRA has explicitly come out against armed minors (outside of adult supervision). Absolutely no one has suggested that six-year-olds ought to carry a gun. Even L. Neil Smith wants only mature teens to carry guns.

So what's Stein's game? Obviously, he can't rationally counter the position of civil gun rights advocates, so he creates straw men, which he can easily topple. Of course, Hopkins praises Stein's work. Both are biased against at least some gun owners, but neither seems to know why. - Ari Armstrong


Horowitz on Trigger Locks
"Radical Son" David Horowitz responded in the March 3 Salon to Bill Clinton's call for trigger locks following the Michigan shooting. He wrote:

A six-year-old African American shoots and kills a six-year-old white girl in Michigan. The six-year-old shooter has been suspended before for stabbing another child with a pencil. Police discover that he lives in a crack house with his criminal uncle with outstanding warrants for arrest. The boy's father is in jail. His mother is a drug addict. The President of the United States responds to the tragedy by summoning leaders of Congress to the White House to pass a new law, requiring trigger locks on guns. If ever there was a case revealing the moral bankruptcy (or is it idiocy?) of liberalism, this is it. ... Why would a family of criminals, like the one actually responsible for the murder of Kayla Rolland observe a trigger-lock law if it was passed?

Even IF We Could Get Rid of Guns...
Timothy Chichester writes in:

Another argument you can utilize is that if it were possible to relieve all the violent criminals of all firearms forever (and obviously it's not) people would still need guns to protect themselves. The elderly, the sick, the slight of build, the ladies and even full grown tough guys can succumb to an unarmed attack from a 250 pound behemoth w/ no fear, since all of the guns will be (for pretend purposes) gone or regulated out of reach from the honest people too.

So no arguments from the anti-gun side actually succeed when you consider this.

Post, News Cover Rally Fairly
March 7, 2000 -- I've been a pretty tough critic of several writers at both The Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post over the coverage of firearms issues. But today writers of both papers did an excellent job of covering the March 6 civil gun rights rally held to express opposition to the gun restriction proposals of Sane Alternative to the Firearms Epidemic (the name of which likens gun ownership to a disease).

Mike Soraghan and Dave Olinger of the Post wrote two excellent, fair-minded articles at http://www.denverpost.com/news/leg/leg0307b.htm and http://www.denverpost.com/news/news0307g.htm, respectively. (In addition, Soraghan wrote a good article about the matter of concealed carry privacy at http://www.denverpost.com/news/leg/leg0307c.htm.) Soraghan did a great job with his details. For instance, he did not just blithely grant that expanded background checks for private sales at gun shows will close a "loophole;" instead, he attributed that characterization to "gun-control supporters." Good show! He also gave Dudley Brown of RMGO a fair amount of space to voice his alternate views. Kelley Harp contributed to Soraghan's article and so deserves credit as well. The only problem I have with Soraghan's piece is that it quotes a poll claiming to show 84% support for expanded background checks, even though I've argued at length that such poll results are dramatically inflated. Also, Olinger understated RMGO's membership by several thousand.

At the News, Crowder helped make amends for a previous article I regarded as biased. In a pair of articles, http://rockymountainnews.com/news/0307exil2.shtml and http://rockymountainnews.com/news/0307brad3.shtml, Crowder presents both sides with reasonable fairness. I have just a few gripes. First, the sub-head uses a police estimate of the number of ralliers of 300, even though RMGO took a hard count of 492. (Crowder may not have been responsible for the sub-head, and police estimates may have been based on an early count before others arrived.) She referred to Bob Glass, Mark Call, and other civil gun rights advocates who attended the afternoon "Project Exile" meeting as "hecklers." Well, they asked pointed questions, but they had as much right as anyone else to attend and ask questions. Finally, Crowder referred to RMGO and the ralliers as Wayne LaPierre's "troops," even though some of the protesters aren't NRA members. Overall, though, the articles were pretty good.

I give criticism where I believe it is due, but I also give praise when it's deserved. Today, both Colorado papers deserve a big thank you. - Ari Armstrong


So Far, So Good with Rallies
The Tyranny Response Team has one main virtue: its lack of central leadership. It also has one main flaw: its lack of central leadership. Some people who have joined a rally have been put off by occasional colorful language and by tactics seen as overly confrontational. That's unfortunate. If the rallies ever became unruly, we'd earn bad press, and deservedly so. We'd also lose participants. As it is, the de facto leadership has kept the events safe, respectful, and lawful. RMGO has brought in its own security personnel, even though it should be stressed that RMGO participates in the rallies; it doesn't host them.

I think the notion of self-policing is key. I don't mind mild confrontation (such as loudly chanting "Guns Save Lives!") -- so long as it is lawful and issues-based. Certainly our side shouldn't do anything we would criticize the other side for. The "golden rule" applies. I also like the ideas of less confrontational singing, public readings, and the like. So far, everything has gone remarkably well. There have been very few, very minor problems. We're the good guys here -- let's keep it that way. - Ari Armstrong


Thanks, Bryan
Perhaps more than any other popular media figure in the state, Jim Bryan of 710 KNUS has been willing to support civil gun rights. He's had members of the NRA on his show, and he's also given air time to the Tyranny Response Team and Second Amendment Sisters. While I strongly disagree with Bryan's views of homosexuals, on other issues I'm happy to count him an ally. His shows air weekday evenings. - Ari Armstrong


Owens Catches Hell in Washington, D.C.
Governor "Gun Control" Bill Owens spoke at the Heritage Foundation February 29. Incredibly, this normally pro-freedom organization invited Owens to speak about the Columbine tragedy. Owens has pushed harder for more victim disarmament laws than many Democrats in the aftermath of that tragedy, earning him the contempt of many Colorado gun owners. Rocky Mountain Gun Owners urged members to contact the Foundation and let them know that Owens is no friend of the American heritage of freedom.

But friends in Virginia voiced the concerns of Colorado gun owners in person. Michael Romano, a Washington, D.C. correspondent for The Rocky Mountain News, Reported March 1:

[A] gun-rights advocate loudly accused [Owens] of lapses in his own character. The Virginian man branded Owens a liar and a hypocrite, accusing the governor of bowing to political pressure following the Columbine High shootings and betraying his promise to protect gun rights by backing new gun [restriction] laws.

"Isn't your hypocrisy and your promise-breaking contributing to this alienation -- this lack of respect for authority when those in authority violate their promises and their word?" asked Dennis Fusaro, with Gun Owners of America.

GOA is the parent organization of RMGO. Owens said, "I'm a strong supporter of the Second Amendment," thus demonstrating that he has no business speaking on matters of truth or morality. As a quick refresher, Owens wants legislation to prevent lawful adults ages 18-20 from practicing their Constitutional rights, he wants CBI to be able to deny gun purchases based on faulty or incomplete records, he wants expanded background checks on private sales of guns, and he wants gun owners to render their guns useless for self-defense by mandating storage. - Ari Armstrong


Taxation IS Theft
Some libertarians are fond of likening coercive taxation to theft. The phrase, "Taxation is theft!" is well-known in such circles. Loren Lomasky takes issue with this comparison in the October 1999 Liberty Magazine, arguing that taxation is different from theft as the former enjoys broad popular support.

But now it turns out that some IRS agents have been stealing funds in the base sense of that term, above and beyond what the law permits of them. According to a Scripps Howard story by Richard Powelson (published March 1 by The Rocky Mountain News), 65 IRS agents were fired because of criminal histories, but not before over a million dollars in funds were stolen from the agency.

But if taxation is theft, is stealing from the robbers really so bad a crime? Frankly, I believe my tax dollars would do more good in the hands of those 65 criminals than in the hands of Washington politicians. At least the common criminals won't actively spend my money to make my life worse. - Ari Armstrong


Million Moms to March in Denver
Originally, the Million Mom March was supposed to take place in Washington, D.C. Now, it looks like they may focus on Denver. As The Rocky Mountain News reports (March 1):

[T]he local chapter announced this week that its efforts are now focused on a Denver march.

"Colorado has become ground zero," said state coordinator Kathleen Hopkins. "If we send 14 people to national instead of 14,000 that's fine. We need 75,000 here."

Interesting. - Ari Armstrong


Man Defends Home with Semiauto Pistol
On Saturday, February 19, two young men and a woman entered a Commerce City man's home with the intention of robbing the place (Rocky Mountain News, February 22). One of the criminals pulled a knife, prompting the homeowner to fire his semiautomatic pistol at the two male intruders, hitting both of them. The three criminals then fled the home.

If Tom Mauser and his anti-gun group Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic had its way, the homeowner's gun would have been locked up in a safe. After the criminals pulled a knife, what would have happened, had the homeowner not had access to his gun? - Ari Armstrong


Triple Murder in Denver Drug Related
Early Thursday February 24, two criminals murdered three people at a home in north-east Denver and injured two others. According to the February 27 Rocky Mountain News, the murders appear to be drug related. Of course, the fact that the violence is due to the violent black market created by the government won't impede anti-gun lobbyists from including those deaths in their "gun violence" statistics. - Ari Armstrong


Heritage Foundation Sponsors Owens Talk
The Heritage Foundation intends to host a talk by Colorado Governor "Gun Control" Bill Owens in late February. In a release, the Foundation claimed that after Columbine "liberals screamed for stricter gun control and more metal detectors. Others, like Governor Bill Owens, looked deeper and saw the breakdown of the American family that started in the '60's as the more probable cause."

As Coloradans are well aware, Owens was among the first to call for new restrictions on gun owners. Among other proposals, he wants mandatory storage, increased background checks, and a higher age limit to buy handguns. Owens proposals violate both the U.S. and the Colorado Constitutions.

Call the Heritage Foundation and tell them that if they fund a talk by Owens, they will lose all credibility as a pro-freedom institution. The Heritage Foundation can be reached by phone at 800.544.4843 or by fax at 202.546.8328.


Boycott Citibank
February 19, 2000 -- Today I mailed my Citibank credit card back to the company -- cut into pieces. Citibank spokesperson Mark Rodgers said, "Citibank consumer business has a long-standing policy of not engaging in financial relationships with businesses that manufacture or sell... firearms" (Rocky Mountain News, February 19, Page 7A).

Citibank thus demonstrates a callous disregard for the Bill of Rights and the heritage of freedom for which our forefathers died. The company would empower criminals by discriminating against lawful gun sellers, thus making the right of self-defense more difficult to exercise. Citibank also weakens the "well regulated militia," upon which the security of our free nation depends. - Ari Armstrong


CFR Editor Debates Mauser
On February 15, I taped a half-hour television show called Spontaneous Combustion, which will air Thursday, February 24 on Channel 12. I joined Linda Gorman in defending the right to keep and bear arms against Tom Mauser and Eileen McCarron of Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic, the name of which likens gun ownership to a disease.

Paladin Arms' Bob Glass had appeared previously on the show, hosted by Aaron Harber. Glass complained that the other participants ganged up on him unfairly in debate. Perhaps complaints about Glass' treatment made for a more fair environment when I taped. I found Harber to be interesting and respectful.

Mauser, a paid lobbyist, admitted he has never exercised his right to keep and bear arms. He struck me as a kind though misguided gentleman. He adamantly denied being a "gun-grabber," though by expressing support only for "hunting" rifles, he made it clear he has little respect for the fundamental right of self-defense.

Mauser showed me a hateful letter sent to him, apparently by a pseudonymous mailer. The letter contained not a single rational argument, but instead only strung together a barrage of filthy words. Mauser aptly described the results of the letter: "This hurts your side." On that point, Mauser and I firmly agree. I urge advocates of gun-owner rights to win the political battle by pushing rational argument and evidentiary studies. We're right! We don't have to stoop to ad hominem attacks. Leave that to the other side, which has been demonizing gun owners for decades for political advantage. - Ari Armstrong


Webb's Cowardice
Originally, Mayor Wellington Webb planned to unveil his "Wall of Death" on February 10. He canceled this event after civil gun rights activists planned to protest. Webb unveiled his Wall on February 14, but without public announcement and with a hand-picked crowd.

The Wall lists the names of 3,000 victims of gun violence. Conspicuously absent from the wall is the name of Ismael Mena, who was wrongfully killed on September 29, 1999 when a Denver SWAT team riddled his body with eight bullets. Also absent from the wall are the names of those killed by victim disarmament laws. John Lott found that in 1992, laws restricting concealed carry resulted in 1,839 additional murders, 3,727 additional rapes, and 10,990 additional aggravated assaults (More Guns, Less Crime p.58). Other types of victim disarmament laws have also resulted in innocent deaths.

But letting in protesters and facts supportive of the right to bear arms just wouldn't help Webb suck up to Al Gore, now would it? - Ari Armstrong


Columbine Student Defends Right to Bear Arms
Some want to convey the impression that Colorado is now a hot-bed of anti-gun-owner sentiment. It just ain't so. One father of a Columbine victim testified before the U.S. Congress that new gun restriction laws aren't the answer. A student said in a television interview he wishes he would have had his gun during the Columbine massacre so that he could have stopped the two killers. So, even though Tom Mauser is getting paid big money to lead the anti-gun crusade, his views are not representative of others in his neighborhood.

In the February 17, 2000 Rocky Mountain News, Shaun Lee of the Columbine class of 1999 wrote a poignant letter to the editor. It reads:

What happened at Columbine High School was not because Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were able to buy guns. These classmates of mine were bent on destruction and they wanted a way to hurt and murder as many people as possible. Even in their videos, they said they would have found something else to use had they not be able to acquire the guns. We could restrict and limit our constitutional rights by enacting tough gun-control laws, as Tom Mauser suggests, but what would we really be doing? We'd be telling ourselves that we aren't responsible enough to make our own decisions. This is not about putting a lock on a gun, but about making the decision to become aware and educate ourselves about the capabilities of a gun. It is about making the decision to be responsible with guns. Personal, and not legal, responsibility is the key here.

Amen. - Ari Armstrong


Solution to No-Knock Violence
Ismael Mena was wrongfully killed over a misdemeanor drug allegation of a $20 sale. Denver SWAT officers found no drugs in Mena's home or body. Now police admit they had the wrong house, and one officer is up on criminal charges for falsifying information to obtain the no-knock warrant. What a disgusting waste of a life.

When should no-knock warrants be issued? Only when the life of an innocent person is directly endangered, such as in a hostage situation. In less serious cases, the dangers of no-knock warrants -- both to innocent civilians and to police officers -- are simply unjustifiable. - Ari Armstrong


The Gun War Will Lead to More Innocent Deaths
Victimless crimes and arbitrary police powers led to the wrongful death of Ismael Mena. In the February 16 Rocky Mountain News, Newt Vaughan writes:

This country has been trying for decades to get rid of illegal drugs with no-knock raids, filling prisons... and confiscation of property. But drug use still goes on. How are more laws to get guns "out of the hands of kids and criminals" going to do any good?

In today's anti-conceptual society, many can't see the relationship between Mena's death and new gun laws. - Ari Armstrong


"If Mr. Mena Had Not Had a Gun..."
February 6, 2000 -- Denver Mayor Wellington Webb said February 4, "If Mr. Mena had not had a gun, and pointed it at police, he would be alive today" (Rocky Mountain News).

Some have called for Webb's resignation over the police killing of Ismael Mena. By his statement, Webb justifies such calls.

On September 29, 1999, a Denver SWAT team busted into Mena's home while he slept, charged up the stairs, and shot Mena as he held a pistol in self-defense. Police now acknowledge they had the wrong address for an alleged $20 drug sale. One officer has been criminally charged with lying to obtain the "no-knock" warrant. Of course, the police claim Mena had plenty of time to recognize the intruders as police and drop his weapon. But there will be only one side to this story, as Mena's bullet-riddled body is now six feet under. With the police acting as criminal gangsters, is there any wonder Mena was skeptical of their claims to be officers of the law? This is assuming Spanish-speaking Mena even heard the word "policia" in all the confusion.

Now, to add insult to murder, Webb dares to blame Mena for the police's crimes. If only Mena hadn't exercised his Second Amendment right of self-defense. If only citizens would willfully lie down and lick the jack-boots of the thugs running the Police State.

Can you imagine what Jefferson would have wrote in the Declaration of Independence if King George's minions had acted like the Denver police department? Is there hope for our nation? - Ari Armstrong


Republica del Norte
February 6, 2000 -- Secession is a fascinating possible solution to the problem of encroaching statism. It's a shame the South mixed its secessionist movement with the issue of slavery. If Southerners had overcome their bigotry and outlawed slavery as justice demanded, they would have taken the moral high-ground from the North and probably been successful in their quest for autonomy. The world would be a very different place now, I think for the better.

Now there's talk of a new secessionist movement in the South West. Frank Zoretich released a terrific article through Scripps Howard today about the matter, which focuses on the work of Dr. Charles Truxillo of the University of New Mexico. The new Republic would consist of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, northern Mexico and the southern edge of Colorado.

Unfortunately, Truxillo's dream is a nationalistic one. He talks of an "Hispanic homeland" and says "Southwest Chicanos and Norteqo Mexicanos are becoming one people again." He says some Hispanics are attracted to "the American economic way of life" but are reaping "cultural anarchy."

In other words, Truxillo believes one's heritage properly dictates one's modes of life. It's just not right to "assimilate" with others. That's along the lines of what many Germans believed earlier in the century.

For libertarians, secession is about so-called "cultural anarchy." We want a country where all cultures are welcome; where all peaceful lifestyles are tolerated or openly accepted; where race, sex, heritage, and religion are irrelevant to politics. In a word, we want freedom.

The secession I prefer would consist of the Four Corners states plus Nevada and perhaps Wyoming. If Truxillo wants to take California for his nationalistic state, that's fine by me. If libertarians could succeed in creating a new country out of the Four Corners region, the open-boarder policy would of course permit Hispanics and anyone else who wanted to live free settle in.

Another good possibility for secession is Alaska plus parts of Canada and Russia. Of course, a leader of that movement turned up dead, which may have something to do with the fact that secession has never been popular with the federales. One can dream, though. - Ari Armstrong


Why Teachers Won't Teach
January 6, 2000 -- It's the same old story from the teachers' unions when it comes to the current shortage of teachers in government school: it's the parents' fault. Jim Stamper, director of licensing for Aurora government schools, said teachers "say they've been bashed too long. They don't get respect from parents or kids" (Rocky Mountain News, February 6). How dare parents demand a quality education for their children!

I am a private tutor. I refuse to work in government schools. Why is that? For one thing, I have a moral problem with living off tax dollars which are forcibly taken from others. But most people don't share that concern. I have other concerns which are more widely recognized. I simply can't abide by the red-tape and bloated bureaucracies of government schools. Further, I will not surrender my autonomy. Why should those incompetent to teach tell me which course materials and teaching methods to use? The politicization of government schools is as sickening as it is inevitable.

The younger generations are not interested in kissing up and "playing the game." We generally want autonomy, satisfaction in our work, and a sense of being true to our beliefs and our abilities. That's the exact opposite of what government schools tend to offer. - Ari Armstrong


Dumb Guns
February 6, 2000 -- Guns now in production won't fire if you get your hands dirty or the grip dirty. They won't fire if your friend needs to use your gun to defend against a violent criminal. They won't fire if their power supply goes dead or breaks.

And -- if you can believe it -- these guns are dubbed "smart guns" by the PC crowd. The guns incorporate fingerprinting technology. The only thing dumber than these guns are the politicians and disarmament activists who named them. - Ari Armstrong


Just Because You're Paranoid...
February 6, 2000 -- Representative Ken Gordon, a primary backer of expanded honest-citizen background checks at gun shows, said gun owners are "paranoid" when they express concerns about government agencies collecting lists on gun owners. But now that Bill Clinton has called for the licensure of all gun owners, which obviously entails the government maintaining a database on all gun owners, will Gordon come to grips with the civil rights abuses inherent in his legislation? - Ari Armstrong


The Post Makes the Effort
February 6, 2000 -- Ok, so the Denver Post publishes endless drivel about how it's no big deal if Constitutional liberties are violated and honest people disarmed, so long as even one violent person might be prevented from obtaining a gun temporarily. But at least the paper's editors also include material supportive of civil rights.

On February 4, the Post ran three letters critical of Mike Keefe's bigoted cartoon from January 28. Keefe had likened NRA members to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. (That the Post would publish such flagrant bigotry as Keefe's cartoon in the first place is indicative of the state of the culture.) These letters almost make up for the editorial, "Keep background checks," from the same page. Earlier in the section, Sean Kelly wrote a fine article about the Second Amendment civil rights march that took place on February 3. In addition, the Post printed an excellent op/ed by Paul Kelly in defense of civil gun rights. Kelly's is perhaps the finest article on the subject I've ever read in a main-stream publication. I disagree profoundly with the perspective of the Post's editorial board when it comes to matters of civil gun rights. But I respect those on the paper who run material supportive of those rights. - Ari Armstrong


PBS BS
On January 31, 2000, PBS Channel 6 ran a documentary about American federalism that was required viewing for some students at Metropolitan State College of Denver and other state-subsidized colleges across Colorado.

Some segments of the documentary were well-done, but other parts manifest astonishing ignorance and regurgitated demonstrably false items of government propaganda. According to the documentary, the gasoline shortages in the 1970s were caused by the Arab oil embargo. But the real cause of sustained oil shortages in the United States was price controls imposed by the United States government.

In his book The Government Against the Economy (and in his more recent Capitalism,) George Reisman explains why price controls prevented U.S. consumers from bidding up the price of gasoline so that national companies could have afforded to step up production and import oil from other suppliers. Reisman sums up:

If we had had a free economy, the only lasting effect of any embargo the Arabs might have launched against the rest of the world would have been to strengthen our oil industry at the expense of their oil industry.

The PBS documentary is largely an apology for expanded federal power. If it had bothered to get its facts straight, and, what the hell, maybe even taken seriously the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the tax-subsidized PBS program might have been a little more hesitant to endorse national expansions of power. - Ari Armstrong


Elian's Abusive Father
Elian, the Cuban boy whose mother died bringing him to the United States, is supposed to go back to his loving father, right?

Not according to his grandmother. In a January 22, 2000 story released by the Associated Press, Diego Ibarguen quotes Elian's grandmother Raquel Rodriguez as having quite a different view. The story ran in The Rocky Mountain News on page 2A. Rodriguez said:

I know that many say that it was Elian's mother's will that the child remain here. I speak for her because I was her mother: I know what she thought and how she acted. She came here because her husband was very violent and threatened her... I ask and beg those who are interested in helping us, to do everything possible so that the child will be handed over to us, his grandmothers, so that my daughter may rest in peace.

Instead of send Elian back to an abusive father and an abusive dictator, why don't U.S. officials invite Elian's grandmothers to live with him in the States? - Ari Armstrong


The Oral Tradition
"I've learned not to put things in my mouth that are bad for me."

-- Monica Lewinsky, discussing her diet on Larry King Live


"I'm Pragmatic"
Yes, we know, Bill.

While campaigning for George W. Bush in Iowa, Colorado Governor Bill Owens said, "I'm pragmatic. We need to defeat Al Gore" (Rocky Mountain News, January 25, 29A). Certainly Owens is correct in his conclusions. And, in rare situations, a pragmatic answer is the only one possible. Unfortunately, Owens seems to have enshrined pragmatism as policy.

Take, for instance, the disarmament package Governor "Gun Control" Owens is trying to push through the legislature. Owens himself has argued that his proposals wouldn't have stopped Columbine. He has never tried to counter the arguments leveled against the various disarmament bills he supports. Does anyone believe Owens offered the proposals as anything other than a way to appease the Democrats and appeal to voters who don't understand the importance of the civil right of gun ownership? The premise behind Owens' "leadership" is, "I'm pragmatic."

The problem is, pragmatism doesn't work. Only by taking a principled stand can one hope to rationally persuade others of the validity of one's position. Indeed, the pragmatic politician abnegates leadership. Ayn Rand wrote of the follies of pragmatism, and her ideas were discussed by Leonard Peikoff:

The two points central to the pragmatist ethics are: a formal rejection of all fixed standards -- and an unquestioning absorption of the prevailing standards. The same two points constitute the pragmatist approach to politics, which, developed most influentially by Dewey, became the philosophy of the Progressive movement in this country (and of most of its liberal descendants down to the present day).

Hopefully Owens will reject pragmatic politics and find the courage to stand on principle. - Ari Armstrong


Disarmed Colorado Woman Robbed in D.C.
January 25, 2000 -- In today's Rocky Mountain News a woman recounts her experiences with violent criminals in the nation's capitol. Two thugs robbed her at gunpoint in front of her home, one saying, "I'm going to let you go this time." The woman writes, "I watched helplessly as they ran off with my belongings. I'm lucky to be alive! ... Count your lucky stars that you have the right in most areas of Colorado to carry a firearm for protection. If you are uncomfortable around guns, hopefully your neighbor isn't."

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. - Ari Armstrong


Wyoming Sheriffs Assert Authority Over Feds
In a January 22, 2000 interview, Bighorn County Sheriff Dave Mattis of Wyoming told The Colorado Freedom Report that, while some internet stories circulating about him have been "embellished quite a bit," several years ago his office did request federal agencies to contact his office before pursuing actions against citizens in his jurisdiction.

Mattis characterized relations between his office and federal officers as "good."

Hopefully, ATF, IRS, FBI and other federal agents will get the idea that abuses will not be tolerated by local law officers. Surely local sheriffs taking a more activist role in federal activities will result in more consistently "good" behavior by members of those agencies.

The tension between local and federal power poses a problem for libertarian theory. Libertarians oppose civil rights abuses by any level of government. Federal agents acted brutally in the cases of Waco and Ruby Ridge. On the other hand, local agents have also acted tyrannical, as when some officers in the South ran with the KKK and either ignored or participated in civil rights abuses against blacks. Oppression is evil whether practiced by federal, state, or local officers. Perhaps the best answer approach is to encourage each agency to curb the abuses of the others.

Of course, the main problem today is a host of laws against "victimless crimes" that grant arbitrary power to legal enforcers at all levels. The best protection against State brutality and injustice lies in repealing those laws. - Ari Armstrong


CBI Checks and the News
January 22, 1999 -- Today The Rocky Mountain News published some figures about gun background checks conducted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Since August 1999, CBI has denied 4,975 people permission to buy a gun. Of those, 329 have successfully appealed. An unknown number of people who were wrongfully denied either didn't purchase a gun or purchased one through a source that didn't require a background check.

Out of the total, 47 people had been arrested (not necessarily convicted or even charged) for homicide, 148 for sexual assault, and 1,455 for assault. The News reports that "hundreds had criminal convictions."

Based on these numbers, it appears that CBI checks may have denied permission to buy a gun for more citizens who can lawfully own a gun than for felons. (The actual number of wrongful denials is unknown, keep in mind.)

Also, just because CBI stopped "hundreds" of felons from buying a particular gun, that doesn't mean it stopped the felons from buying guns. Now, criminals can buy a gun legally from other sources. If background checks are expanded, criminals will resort to theft and the black-market to get guns.

Honest citizens shouldn't be treated as criminals and suffer a loss of their Second Amendment rights. The law should only punish criminals.

Below is a letter I sent to the News:

The *News* deserves praise for its objective reporting of firearms issues. The lead January 22 editorial provides the most detailed research yet published on gun background checks conducted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, providing information of both the honest citizens and the felons who are denied permission to purchase a gun by the CBI.

In printing Jeff Jacoby's piece (same issue) which describes the media's general bias against Second Amendment civil rights groups such as the National Rifle Association, the *News* proves that it makes an effort to avoid such biases. Also in that issue, the *News* published a letter which defends the rights of the people to keep and bear arms for self-defense.

More than any other main-stream media outlet in Colorado, the *News* has made a real effort to publish *both* sides of the story fairly and accurately. For that, the *News* deserves the respect of *all* readers, whatever their views.

- Ari Armstrong


Self-Defense Against Criminals and Tyrants
On January 21, Frank Meyer wrote to comment upon my writings on the 2000 legislature.

Ari,

I compliment you are your article making known some of the bills before the Colorado legislators.

However, I would caution your emphasis on self defense. Granted that is one of the valid reasons for purchasing a firearm. But, that is not what the gun grabbers are objecting to. They don't want us to have guns period. And if you look at history, the real reason for the Second Amendment was the right of the public to protect itself against a run away civil government.

Granted, that is a real stretch of the mind for most people, but let's keep the issue focused on the fundamentals as well as the practical day to day concerns of people. The enemies of America have chipped away at the Second Amendment for decades. Laws against guns have not and will not stop crime, whereas honest citizens having and using guns to uphold the laws will. Proven FACT! But, the gun grabbers aren't interested in truth, logic or common sense or else they would acknowledge such overwhelming truths.

If we want to protect the schools, arm some of the administration and teachers and put up signs that say something to the effect that if you come on schools grounds to commit a crime, you will be shot dead on the spot and your name and picture will not be allowed to be published in the news reports. That would stop gun violence in the schools once and for all. The Israelis armed their school staffs, and there has been zero shootings on school grounds since then.

Keep the truth before the people. Thanks for your efforts.

Frank Meyer, retired

Generally, I use the term "self-defense" in its broad meaning to imply defense against both criminals and tyranny. However, the threat of tyranny is more long-term and less certain, whereas the threat of violence at the hands of criminals is immediate. - Ari Armstrong


Billy the Kid Takes Aim at Gun Makers
December 9, 1999

Our fearsome tyrant, der fuehrer Clinton, once again has me up in arms over another of his relentless attacks on the people of the United States. With callous indifference toward each individual's right to self-defense and with flagrant disregard for our Constitution, he now targets the Second Amendment.

Under the guise of protecting 3.25 million public housing residents whose security alone costs taxpayers $1 billion annually, he has directed the federal government to set its sights on Colt, Smith & Wesson, and other highly esteemed manufacturers of precision firearms. "Billy the Kid" aims to gun them down in cold blood just as he's already blown away the tobacco companies.

Which industries are next on his hit list? Automotive? Tool? Kitchen cutlery? Video game? Junk food?

Gary Kleck has shown that approximately 2.5 million incidents of guns used defensively save some 400 thousand lives every year. If Clinton's most recent propaganda crusade prevails, undoubtedly the lives of many law-abiding citizens will be sacrificed.

The impeached liar's deceitful rationale for proceeding with this lawsuit is that about 350 total shooting deaths occur in the nation's 100 largest government housing projects each year. With more than 250 million privately owned firearms, when will the body, vehicle, and home searches begin?

Forced registration of all firearms, including those acquired prior to the advent of gun-control legislation, and their subsequent confiscation--which has always preceded enslavement and genocide--would be the only means to prevent criminals from obtaining them.

While Democrats such as Clinton aggressively seek to disarm us, Republicans meekly acquiesce to the mounting infringements of "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms" to avoid losing elections. Only Libertarians comprehend the meaning of "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State."

George Washington and George Mason formed the Fairfax County Militia in 1774 to oppose the edicts of the British crown and its agent, the governor of Virginia. They regulated their militia well, which was necessary to gain security for their free state during the Revolutionary War. Both were also members of the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Both certainly remembered what they had done thirteen years earlier.

Steve Gresh
Media Director,
Libertarian Party of El Paso County, CO


Puzzled by Judicial Decisions?
Here's the real reason why judicial decisions often leave you cold. On Thursday, January 13, the Denver Rocky Mountain News, in a story on page 4A about Randy Pech's legal challenge against affirmative action laws, declared:
 

"In 1997, U.S. District Judge John Kane agreed with the contractor, ruling that Pech -- white and male -- had suffered illegal discrimination in Colorado because of his race and gender.

"But last March, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver declared the entire legal action moot, ruling that Adarand had no legal standing because."

That's why. Because. The courts don't have to use reason in arriving at decisions any more. They just decide things any way they want ... because. Is this a great country, or what? - David Bryant


Justice for Mena
January 20, 2000 -- At the civil rights march celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., a woman held a sign which read,

Dr. King
Legacy of Peace

Denver Police Dept.
Legacy of Murder

Justice for Mena

A Denver SWAT team killed Ismael Mena on September 29, 1999 on a no-knock raid based on false accusations by an informant. - Ari Armstrong


Happy New Year!
January 1, 2000 -- As we enter the final year of the millennium, we leave behind a brutal century. Hitler, Stalin, and other tyrants have killed millions.

The United States has remained largely civilized, but even here the government killed dozens at Waco and thousands more in foreign lands because of the drug war and other interventionist policies.

There have been some good developments. The civil rights of blacks and women are, on the whole, better respected than they were a hundred years ago.

Unfortunately, civil rights generally have steadily eroded. The drug war has left the Second and Fourth Amendments in tatters. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments are forgotten relics. Tax rates sit around 50%, and government interferes with practically all voluntary interactions.

But there are signs of hope. In academics, free-market ideas proliferate despite the dominant Marxist and Post-modern ideologies. Think-tanks pump out market ideas to politicians and the interested public. Especially the younger generations are disillusioned by big-government "solutions" to social problems.

While the calendar is an arbitrary marker, the turning of the digits and the coming new millennium offer a reason to pause and reflect on the state of the culture.

The past thousand years have seen the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and the Digital Revolution.

With undaunted effort and persistent optimism, the next thousand years can be the Libertarian Revolution. Civil rights can be extended universally, government can be restrained to its proper role of protecting property rights, and the economy can be freed to improve the human condition at fantastic rates.

I for one am restless for the day when the 20th Century is viewed as a dark era of barbarism, when war and oppression ran rampant, and the time has come for individual rights, peace, and limitless prosperity.

Live in the present, but fight for a free tomorrow! - Ari Armstrong


Lethal Hypocrisy
December 16, 1999 -- The Rocky Mountain News placed two stories in ironic juxtaposition today. The first headline reads, "Many cop recruits used drugs." The second notes, "FBI probes cop shooting of immigrant." The first story reveals that two-thirds of Denver police recruits have used illegal drugs; the second story discusses the Denver SWAT killing of Ismael Mena in a no-knock raid based on an unsubstantiated drug allegation.

What's truly frightening, if we "read between the headlines," is the realization that the type of men recruited for police duty are those who have no compunctions about terrorizing and even killing others accused of drug crimes the police recruits themselves have committed. Might we wonder about the moral character of those guilty of such flagrant hypocrisy? - Ari Armstrong


Cash, Phones, and Other Drug Paraphernalia
December 7, 1999 -- Do you own a cell phone? Ever carry cash? Dare to exercise your Second Amendment right to bear arms? Do you re-load your own ammunition, using scales to measure out the gunpowder? WATCH IT, BUDDY! You've been profiled as a possible illegal drug dealer.

Incredibly, a December 6 story in The Rocky Mountain News by John Ensslin begins, "Denver police are breaking more doors to search for drugs. And most of the time they are finding them, as well as guns, cellular phones, cash, scales, and other drug-related items, court records show." I guess these days we're innocent until proven born. (Perhaps even that is optimistic; drug warriors could probably confiscate a fetus for trafficking drugs under the doctrine of "deodands.")

The News checked up on 47 recent no-knock invasions. The paper couldn't find information for four of the cases, but found that in three of the cases the police found no drugs. In other words, between 6% and 15% of the time, the no-knock failed to yield evidence of a crime (based on the News's limited inquiry). That may not seem so bad, except that no-knocks are severely traumatizing to the innocent victims of the raids. Just consider Ismael Mena, whom a Denver SWAT team killed with eight bullets September 29 in a no-knock invasion. (No drugs were found on Mena or in his residence.)

But this is a war, after all. There will be "collateral damage." What a pleasant substitute phrase for "cold-blooded killing!" In war, the rules of civility are suspended. We're in a war, a war on drugs, so if the police blast down your door in the middle of the night to take your cash, phones, and other "drug-related items," even if they kill you, that's your problem. We're in a war, so you got no rights. - Ari Armstrong


"Tax-funded Ineptitude Disorder"
December 7, 1999 -- The Independence Institute held a conference some weeks ago entitled, "Beyond Columbine." At that conference, presenters questioned the common practice of labeling school children as having "attention-deficit disorder," or ADD (or ADHD), then drugging them with Ritalin and other substances.

Following the conference, Representative Penn Pfiffner held a legislative session devoted to hearing diverse opinions on the matter. Then, the Colorado state school board voted to discourage the practice of drugging school children.

Most recently, George Will discussed the matter in The Washington Post, mentioning the school board but overlooking the efforts of the Institute and of Pfiffner. Will's article is excellent: it notes the absurdity of labeling children "disordered" merely because they fidget in class. (The article is reproduced in the December 5 Rocky Mountain News.)

So-called "attention deficit disorder" is just another way the failed government school system tries to blame children for the system's incompetencies. But can children be blamed for being bored and acting fidgety in the politically correct, dumbed-down inanity that passes for education these days? The real disease plaguing our communities is "tax-funded ineptitude disorder," and the only way to cure that disease is to privatize the government schools. -Ari Armstrong


Thill's Mistrial and Racism
December 4, 1999 -- On December 2, Nathan Thill's criminal trial for the murder of Oumar Dia at a Denver bus stop was declared a mistrial after the jury deadlocked. Thill admitted to killing Dia because he was black.

Yes, racism still plagues American culture. However, few people in our culture are racial bigots. A Rocky Mountain News headline from December 3 reads, "Verdict outrages black community." Well, it also outrages the white community.

One Denver resident says about the trial in the News story, "It proves racism still exists and we have to protect ourselves. They don't care about human life unless you're white."

Were the jurors who voted to acquit Thill of first-degree murder racists? It's often impossible to get inside the heads of others to determine their motives. Probably these jurors simply bought the defense argument that Thill is mentally ill and therefore incompetent to understand his behavior. Thill once said, "Maybe I just need to stay in a mental hospital," and warned he might murder if released (News, December 3 story by Ann Imse). The dissenting jurors did want to convict Thill of second-degree murder, after all. Most likely, these jurors would have voted against first-degree murder if Thill had murdered a white person. So the racism charge directed against the jurors is unsubstantiated. Perhaps the jurors were gullible, but that doesn't make them racists. Nor is there proof that any other party involved in the trial was racist (except Thill himself).

White people and black people alike should try an exercise suggested in the disturbing but excellent film, A Time to Kill. If Thill had killed a white man, what would the headlines have read after a mistrial? If a black man had killed a white man because of race, what would the reactions of white and black leaders have been to a mistrial? Might some jurors have been sympathetic to the defense claim that the black man was mentally ill? Such exercises are good for helping each individual check his or her objectivity on the race issue.

Many white conservatives bury their heads in the sand and pretend racism no longer exists in our country. However, many black leaders see racism where none in fact exists. If our culture is ever going to move beyond the problem of racism, both these errors must be overcome. - Ari Armstrong


"Coercion is Freedom" in Phone Industry
In the Brave New World of American politics, "free markets" mean those regulated by government enforcers. In order to offer long-distance service, US West must ask permission of government regulators, who force US West to provide access to its network at below-market cost. And this is done in the name of free competition!

In a genuinely free market, the government would have no control whatsoever over the telecommunications industry (except to enforce contracts and to prevent fraud). No company would be coerced into offering services to competitors. And no company would receive corporate welfare or government favoritism in excluding competitors from markets.

What course should the Colorado Public Utilities Commission take if it truly wants to benefit consumers and promote free competition? DISSOLVE ITSELF! - Ari Armstrong


Is DeGette's Clock Ticking on Freedom?
November 22, 1999 -- Congresswoman Dianna DeGette has started a so-called "Columbine Clock" that counts the time since the Columbine massacre until Congress passes more federal victim disarmament laws.

Why doesn't DeGette instead call for the repeal of those disarmament laws which now make children and adults easier prey for murderers and rapists? Congressman Tom Tancredo nailed this one: the Democrats hope their scare-monger tactics will benefit them in the upcoming elections.

A better clock would be one which counts all the times armed civilians protect themselves against criminals -- between 700,000 and 2.5 million times every year. Even by the low estimate, that's 1,918 times per day, or about one defensive act every 45 seconds. - Ari Armstrong


Owens Gloats About Disarming Poor
November 22, 1999 -- Apparently, appeasing anti-gun-owner activists is more important to Governor Bill Owens than the lives and safety of the poorest members of our society. He recently said of his ban on police resale of firearms, "If government didn't provide tens of thousands of cheap handguns to the market, that means the price of handguns is going to go up. And that's good" (Rocky Mountain News November 19). Thus Owens takes pride in making it more difficult for the poor to defend themselves against violent rapists and murderers.

Whether police resale of firearms in fact significantly affects the price of guns, Owens has revealed his motives.

Psalm 72 exhorts political leaders to "judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with justice!" Proverbs 15 says, "He who oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is kind to the needy honors him." And Proverbs 31 offers the advice of King Lemuel: "Open your mouth, judge righteously, maintain the rights of the poor and needy."

Bill Owens has opened his mouth to abuse the poor. FOR SHAME!

- Ari Armstrong


Pseudo-Science Distorts Truth About Guns
November 22, 1999 -- An Associated Press article, entitled "Buying handgun increases risk of suicide, study shows" in The Rocky Mountain News (November 18, 1999), wrongly implies that buying a handgun causes more incidents of suicide.

The piece reads:

Dr. Garen J. Wintemute and colleagues at the University of California at Davis found that buying a handgun is associated with an increased risk of suicide by firearm or by any method. Their study was being published in today's New England Journal of Medicine.

Could it be -- just possibly -- that people who want to commit suicide often buy a gun just for the occasion? Indeed, that is far and away the most plausible causal explanation. Or perhaps guns are possessed by suicide-demons, which they transmit to the purchaser? I guess that's what the anti-gun-owner lobby wants us to believe.

David Kopel explains that "international data provides little reason to believe that handgun control could reduce suicide, and some U.S. data also suggests that while gun control does reduce gun suicide, it does not reduce overall suicide" (Saint Louis University Public Law Review, Volume 12, 1993, http://www.i2i.org/SuptDocs/IssuPprs/lrstlupl.htm. In other words, if somebody really wants to commit suicide, they will likely do so with or without a gun.

Of course, such articles as the recent Associated Press release are used as anti-gun-owner propaganda by activists to call for more victim disarmament laws. But does it really make sense to base general public policy on the actions of a tiny proportion of the population that is mentally ill? That's a bit like whopping off one's leg in order to deal with an ingrown toenail.

It becomes increasingly obvious that anti-gun-owner activists are not interested in the truth or public safety, but only in imposing their social controls by promulgating half-truths and outright lies. -Ari Armstrong


Clinton's Sense of Humor
November 7, 1999 -- Bill Clinton is angry that some organizations rip off the people, willfully deceive them, and solicit them without invitation. In reply, the U.S. government is going to spend tax dollars to send out millions of unsolicited postcards to Americans warning them of this great evil. At least Clinton can't be accused of not having a sense of humor. - Ari Armstrong


Time for Salazar to Go
October 23, 1999 -- First Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar came out with a slate of new anti-gun proposals for our state (which Governor Bill Owens was quick to support). Now he wants us to believe that "numerical goals" are less discriminatory than racial quotas in college admissions (Rocky Mountain News, October 23).

We need an attorney general who supports civil rights, not one who tramples them. Gun ownership, besides being guaranteed in the U.S. and the Colorado Constitutions, documents Salazar has sworn to uphold, is a fundamental civil liberty essential to the preservation of a free society.

In my view it's perfectly acceptable -- and sometimes even a good idea -- for private colleges to intentionally boost their minority enrollment. After all, one of the benefits of college is to expand students' horizons and expose them to a wider range of ideas and culture. However, it's wrong of Salazar to try to force taxpayers who disagree with racial preferences to pay for colleges that rely on those practices. But this argument is over the heads of most modern politicians. So let us merely criticize Salazar because of his Orwellian double-speak that would have us believe "numerical goals" are somehow fundamentally different from "quotas." Discrimination is discrimination regardless of how many people it affects.

With regards to the debate over racial preferences, ultimately the only solution consistent with freedom and civil liberties is to separate school and state on all levels. - Ari Armstrong


Mila 18
October 23, 1999 -- After viewing the terrible film Jakob the Liar, I had to find a noteworthy story pertaining to the Holocaust. I found that work in Leon Uris's Mila 18, about the Jewish uprising in the Warsaw ghetto following Hitler's invasion.

The Jews who lived under German occupation suffered incredible horror; the Holocaust is in a unique class of human evil. However, we must learn well the lessons of the Holocaust in order to prevent anything even remotely as bad as that from happening again.

In his book The Ominous Parallels, Leonard Peikoff discusses some of the ideological similarities between German fascism and modern American culture. Reading Mila 18 has impressed upon me some of the habits of the German occupiers which certain characteristics of American culture are beginning to resemble.

The Germans issued innumerable directives aimed at restricting the activities of the Jews. Today, tens of thousands of Americans fill federal prisons because they violated an arbitrary, ambiguous directive. Thousands of gun owners are in prison on legal technicalities. Under Nazism, government propaganda and scape-goating ruled the culture. Glimmers of this tendency can be seen in America, particularly among anti-gun activists. Uris describes of the situation in Poland,

And the billboards which once announced Irene Dunne movies found her replacement with drawings of bearded Jews violating nuns, bearded Jews using the blood of Christian babies for their rituals, bearded Jews sitting atop piles of money and knifing good honest Poles in the back. For the most part, the German program met with universal success. The Polish people, who could not strike at their noblemen who had now vanished, nor at the Russians who had betrayed them, nor at the Germans who had massacred them, were willing to accept the traditional Jewish scapegoat as the true cause of their latest disaster...

The German propaganda instrument had effects which had never been duplicated. They knew the basic premise that if a lie is repeated often enough even those who knew it was a lie would soon regard it as truth. Then there were half truths based on masterful distortions of facts. (130, 153)

- Ari Armstrong


Witch Hunt 2000
October 23, 1999 -- In a letter to The Rocky Mountain News (October 22), Larry Yates compares the modern court trials of gun manufacturers to the Salem witch trials of the seventeenth century. Yates writes, "We cast lawsuits upon all the evils that plague us. As with the witch trials, it doesn't matter if you are punishing the wrong people, just as long as you are punishing someone." Unfortunately, scape-goating is alive and well as we approach the 21st century. - Ari Armstrong


Good Show, Scott!
October 23, 1999 -- Congressman Scott McInnis "did a good thing," as Bill Johnson of The Rocky Mountain News puts it. McInnis helped 80-year-old Elzena Lyons, born in Texas without a birth certificate, obtain a passport so she could travel to Europe with her granddaughter. McInnis deserves praise for taking action. However, the situation is unfortunate in that it shows citizens may be denied their basic rights unless the political rulers intervene. - Ari Armstrong


Rocky Mountain News
October 23, 1999 -- I'd about given up. While The Rocky Mountain News has printed my material in the past, it had not printed any of three pro-gun letters I'd sent within the past year or so. But on Friday, October 22, the paper printed my letter criticizing Australian anti-gun laws. The next day, it printed a letter from Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners criticizing both Governor Bill Owens and a column by Mike Rosen that supported Owens's compromises.

And the News in general does a pretty good job of giving gun rights advocates their say. It has also printed columns by Thomas Sowell that support gun rights, and it printed a Speak Out column by John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, in which Lott defended his work that supports concealed carry.

Of course, the News has also published some outrageous material attacking civil rights. But that's to be expected, I suppose, of a main-stream paper. At least the exchange gives us the chance to educate the public about our viewpoints and allows us to hone our communication skills. -Ari Armstrong


Columbine: Behind the Rosy Facade
October 13, 1999 -- A pair of teenagers sing about Hitler and threaten to light a Jewish boy on fire. The authorities look the other way. Germany, 1940s? No, Columbine High School, Littleton, Colorado, 1990s.

Even though, in the aftermath of the murders at Columbine, we've seen the moral strength of many of the students and faculty at Columbine High School, a darker side to the school has emerged. In an article that received curiously little attention in Colorado, Lorraine Adams and Dale Russakoff describe for The Washington Post (June 21, 1999, National Weekly Edition) some of the horrors that composed daily life for many students at Columbine before the murders.

One football player, expelled from another school for fighting, routinely physically, verbally, and racially harassed other students at Columbine. The athlete's teachers and administrators did little to stop him. He was, after all, a state champion in wrestling.

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold deserve the harshest moral censure for their abominable acts. The murderers' moral culpability, however, does not relieve the lesser blame for those students who abused others, and it does not excuse the administration's flagrant negligence in ignoring the prior violence. - Ari Armstrong


The Politically Correct Bill of Rights
October 13, 1999 -- Okay, boys and girls, here's your single-problem test. Can you name the missing Amendment from the graphic below?

PC Bill of Rights

If you said the Second Amendment, you get a Gold Star!

The above image comes from page 126 of The Challenges of Freedom, Laidlaw Brothers 1984, which was used at Arvada Middle School in Jefferson County during the 1980s. Apparently, some Amendments in the Bill of Rights are now more equal than others, with the "major/minor" classification of freedoms.

The caption that goes with the graphic reads, "The first ten amendments to the United States Constitution -- also known as the Bill of Rights -- guarantees the basic freedom of all Americans." At least the book reproduces the Bill in full under "Reference Materials," along with the explanation, "Congress cannot take away a citizen's right to serve in a state militia or to keep arms."

The book proves one thing -- one of the central "challenges of freedom" is passing on the American heritage of liberty to school children fed politically correct dogma sanctioned by the political elite. - Ari Armstrong


How Not to Defend Gun Rights
October 13, 1999 -- The comments of two some-time defenders of the right of self-defense in the September 22, 1999 edition of The Rocky Mountain News provide a good example of why gun rights activists are losing the political war.

On page 38A, George W. Bush, after taking criticism for backing the NRA and concealed carry laws, is quoted as saying, "If law-abiding citizens legally carry a gun, I see no harm." I see no harm? That's the best you do, George? Gee, thanks for that heartening support. How about something like, "Concealed carry laws have demonstrably reduced crime in states with such laws. They reduce assault, rape, and other vicious crimes. Because I signed a concealed law in Texas, your daughters can walk safer, because rapists know women just might be armed." Now THAT would be a defense of gun rights!

On page 57A, Charlton Heston does some serious back-peddling, saying, "Arming teachers is perhaps not a good idea. Perhaps that was a careless statement on my part." Why was it careless, Chuck? Because it's wrong? No, because you caught political flack over it. But the real carelessness is in not defending a defensible position. How about, "Joel Myrick, the principal in Mississippi, saved lives by retrieving his gun from his car and stopping a deranged youth from killing more kids. In Israel, school terrorism stopped over-night when teachers and parents armed themselves."

Mealy-mouthed defensive positions will get us nowhere but fascism. We as gun rights activists are right! The moral high-ground belongs to us! We don't have to apologize for speaking the truth, saving lives, and preserving freedom! - Ari Armstrong


Political Corruption "Down Under"
October 13, 1999 -- Politicians' ability to lie and deceive transcends national boundaries. Sandi Logan, an Australian public affairs official in the Washington embassy, wrote a letter to The Rocky Mountain News (October 3) claiming that anti-gun laws in Australia have made that country safer.

In 1996, the Australian government confiscated the peoples' firearms. Within 12 months of disarming Australian citizens, homicides were up 3.2%, assaults were up 8.6%, armed-robberies were up 44%, unarmed robberies were up 21%, unlawful entries are were 3.9%, and motor vehicle thefts were up 6.1%.

Logan writes, "Firearms are being used less often in murder, attempted murder, assault, sexual assault and armed robbery." Duh! When the government disarms its citizens, criminals can more easily kill, rape, and assault others (especially women) with knives and other weapons. Anti-gun laws in Australia have clearly increased crime over-all in that country.

Curiously, Logan reports that gun-related homicides declined from 348 to 333 between 1996 and 1998. This is only a 4% decline -- in the wake of the most comprehensive anti-gun laws in recent history! By her implicit admission, Australia's "comprehensive registration system" has basically failed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

Like most American politicians, Logan is concerned more with spin and her country's politically correct image than with the safety of the citizens. - Ari Armstrong


Some "Hate Crimes" Are More Equal Than Others
October 13, 1999 -- A September 30 headline in The Rocky Mountain News reads, "Rape suspects were seeking white woman." The story is about the gang rape of a University of Colorado student earlier this year.

I strained without success to find any mention of the term "hate crime" within the story. Isn't a "hate crime" one motivated by racial or sexual prejudices? Come to think of it, I can't remember a single example when the assault of a heterosexual white person has been called a "hate crime."

Federal hate crime laws are a terrible idea. But then the entire tendency to federalize criminal law is a travesty. The entire purpose of the judge in criminal sentencing is to take into account extenuating factors. A particularly heinous or senseless crime warrants a harsher penalty, and judges and juries already have this flexibility.

Every crime is motivated by hate. The criminal hates him or herself, the victim, the whole world, or probably all three at once. There's no sense in using federal law to define some types of crime as special categories. Let the punishment fit the crime, whatever the particulars of the motivating factors. - Ari Armstrong


Hope for the Youth
October 13, 1999 -- Project Vote Smart recently ran a poll in which American youth expressed profound distrust of the State (Gannett News Service, printed in The Denver Post September 19).

25% of those under 25 say they don't trust any level of government, and 91% don't trust the federal government. Apparently, children are learning something in government schools, to not believe everything you're told. - Ari Armstrong


The Republicans' Political Death Wish
September 21, 1999 -- Republican politicians have a political death wish. They have an uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Examples of this include George Bush, who was not re-elected because he thought that gun owners had "nowhere else to go." Then Bob Dole thought that gun owners had "nowhere else to go."

Gun owners went elsewhere, supported third party candidates, or simply did not vote.

Gun owners are irate at Republican politicians both in Colorado and nationally. Gun owners are more resolute now than they have ever been. They will not tolerate being sold out by the Republican party again. Thus, we can expect a very interesting legislative session.

Gov. Owens may be willing to test the theory that gun owners have nowhere else to go, but he will do so at his peril. Owens won by the smallest margin in the history of the state. Gun owners made the difference. Gun owners are directly responsible for his win and are critical to his re-election. Asking them to bend over will probably cost Republicans control of Colorado and the nation.

If the Republican Party decides to screw gun owners again I will become a Democrat and work to get the traitors out of office. In my precinct all of the activists will re-affiliate rather than support the slime balls who have sold them out. They will not put up with being sold out by politicians that they worked long and hard to elect.

They have worked long and hard to elect a Republican governor and finally did so. If he sells them out they will work hard to kick him out. - Ed Cole


Government Control, Not Gun Control
September 21, 1999 -- Now that the FBI and ATF are proven liars regarding the Waco assault, Bill Clinton and other politicians want to give these agencies even more power over the lives of honest gun owners.

Agents of the United States government killed over 80 men, women, and children at the Mt. Carmel religious center in Texas. We need government control, not gun-control restricting the lives of responsible citizens!

Besides the Waco conflagration, the government also caused the deaths of 99 children since 1993 by mandating the installation of dangerous air bags in automobiles (Patrick Bedard, Liberty Magazine, October 1999). In this same period, 82 students have been murdered in school shootings. And yet the cry is to increase the government's power!

My new mantra: Government Control, Not Gun Control! - Ari Armstrong


To Serve and Protect?
September 21, 1999 -- Thanks [to CFR] for the uplifting piece about diet pills. You know that if the government doesn't outlaw them, pretty soon everyone will be hooked on them!

The latest thing in Calif. is for cops to dupe people into committing crimes. There just aren't enough homicides, robberies, rapes, etc., to keep these guys busy -- or perhaps these crimes are just too wearisome to deal with -- so now they wander the streets and web sites offering prostitution, photos of naked boys, or illicit drugs (perhaps they'll be including illegal diet pills soon in their solicitations!) to whomever. A purchase is made -- and whooppeee! -- instant crime. A nice arrest, and justice has been served. Thinking of all those men in blue showing such initiative -- actually "seeding" a crime into existence rather than waiting for one to occur -- it makes me feel safe to walk the streets again (in broad daylight near a doughnut shop, of course!). - Jeff Olson


L. Neil Smith
September 21, 1999 -- I was mentioning L. Neil Smith's Fourth of July message to a friend, telling him about Smith's first intended act as president (the arrest of Bill, Hillary, and Webster), and my friend mentioned that Pat Buchanan might have been influenced by the message as he recently ended a speech saying something like, "My first act as president will be to turn to Bill and say, 'You have the right to remain silent.'" Perhaps Mr. Smith's influence is spreading quickly. - Jason Stanfield


Romo-Cop
September 4,1999 -- Douglas County sheriff's Captain Bill Walker and federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents investigated Broncos star Bill Romanowski for over two months for -- wait, you'd better sit down because this is so serious a charge -- TAKING DIET PILLS!

Lord God have mercy! The world may come to an end unless federal and local agents spend tax payer money to -- hold everything, this is earth-shattering, bigger than an "Extinction Level Event" probably -- prevent people from... TAKING DIET PILLS!

But it gets even worse! Not only did the infamous Bill Romanowski -- TAKE DIET PILLS -- but his wife may have participated in a -- CONSPIRACY TO PURCHASE DIET PILLS!

When evaluating this case, one can only wonder why the D.E.A. has not yet brought formal felony charges against this productive and popular football player and sent him and his conspiratorial wife to prison. Won't the Denver community be so much better off when it does so? (Of course, this never would have been a problem if authorities had sent Romo to the electric chair for spitting on that ref, as justice demanded.)

As soon as the D.E.A. completes its task, federal and local government agents can get back to the always-pressing tasks of busting J-walkers, cracking down on ticket scalpers, and ensuring the safety of donut shops everywhere. - Ari Armstrong

Gun-Control Empowers Criminals
September 1999 -- Former mobster Sammy "The Bull" Gravano told Vanity Fair, "Gun control? It's the best thing you can do for crooks and gangsters. I want you to have nothing. If I'm a bad guy, I'm always gonna have a gun. Safety locks? You will pull the trigger with the lock on, and I'll pull the trigger. We'll see who wins."


Hobby Politicians
September 1999 -- Kathy Hall, a Republican County Commissioner in Grand Junction, is reported to have said about fruit growers in the Palisade area (paraphrased), "They're just hobby farmers who don't contribute to the local economy."

Hearing this quote made me seethe, since as a boy I grew up helping my grandpa plant peach trees, thin them, water them, and so forth. I poured my sweat and blood into raising peaches for years, so Hall's comment is offensive to me, to say the least.

It's also offensive to many of the locals who earn their livelihoods growing peaches. So Hall is simply ignorant when she calls them "hobby farmers." But beyond that, what business is it of government to make judgments about the value of private property? The sole purpose of government is to protect property rights, not break those rights by playing favorites.

The controversy revolves around zoning. The problem is that yuppies from California and elsewhere have started moving into the area, thinking of it as an idyllic farming community perfect for raising kids. The problem is, the tractors, the noise, the odors, the insects -- all the realities of the farming industry get in the way of the idealized vision. So then there's political pressure to control the farmers or even drive them out.

Of course, the real solution to this problem is simply to recognize the full property rights of the farmers, who were after all there first. If a farmer has been spraying during nights since time unknown, that's part of the property right, and newcomers have no right to complain about noise or whatever.

But of course such a solution is impossible in today's age. So the farmers are attempting to change the zoning laws such that farms cannot be broken up. While this will help solve the problem of yuppie-infringement, it creates the problem of interfering with the property right to subdivide land. It's a tough situation, and the libertarian solution is not presently within the realm of possibilities. I wish the farmers the best, and I hope power-monger politicians like Hall, who add absolutely nothing to the local economy but only leech off of it, will refrain from destroying the property rights of those who work the land. - Ari Armstrong


Kopel Defends Paladin Press
September 1999 -- In the August/September issue of Reason Magazine, David Kopel of the Independence Institute severely criticizes the law suit against Paladin Press in which the plaintiffs claimed Paladin's Hit Man was responsible for a murder.

The book is read by thousands of readers, notes Kopel, strictly for information or entertainment. Factually, the murderer did not rely significantly on the information in Hit Man to commit his crime, though he had a copy of the book.

Does the suit make sense? No, but then neither do the lawsuits aimed at filmmakers or gun manufacturers. We've nearly reached the logical conclusions of blaming the everything but the criminal for the crime. Isn't it past time we returned to a system of individual responsibility? -Ari Armstrong


Do Gun-Control Advocates Have the Courage of Their Convictions?
September 1999 --I would like to see a state legislator offer the following bill next year:

All unarmed house-holds in the state of Colorado must post a sign on or by their front door which is clearly visible from the street, with red letters on a white background of dimensions to be specified, stating, "The residents of this home do not own firearms."

There don't have to be any enforcement provisions included; obviously, the bill wouldn't ever pass (nor do I really want it to). The point of the bill would be to draw attention to the fact that anti-gunners free-load off the efforts of the rest of us who scare away the criminals by taking the responsibility of arming ourselves. The Democrats want gun bills -- let's give them this one. If they're so proud of opposing guns, they should be all for this law.

If we can't get a bill up, this would be a GREAT publicity stunt for the LP: make up a bunch of said signs and offer them to known anti-gun zealots, with the press watching, of course. We could call it the "anti-gun pride campaign" or something. -Ari Armstrong


911 Privacy Emergency
September 1999 --Although I've been paying a fee for 911 since I moved here in 1995, the San Luis Valley is now preparing to implement this 911 system.

I received a 4 page questionnaire which began with name, phone number, and directions to my house. Next they asked about medical conditions and prescription drugs. Then they wanted to know what "Hazardous Materials" I keep and where they are kept - things like paint, fuel, chemicals, fertilizer, guns, and ammunition. Then they asked for a list of pets and to tell them which ones are vicious.

Hmmm... do I really want to give all this information to a government agency? How will they use this information and who will have access to it? Is it paranoid to think that government might use this information badly? Just ask the New Yorkers who registered their guns -- as required -- and later had them confiscated because the police had a list of their guns. -Sandra Johnson


Governor Gun Control
September 1999 --Governor Bill Owens, not to be outdone by his fellow Republicans such as Congressman Tom Tancredo, has called for wide range of new gun controls laws.

Owens expressed approval of mandatory trigger locks, better known as "death-locks" because they will empower criminals and turn homeowners into victims. He wants to force private dealers at gun shows to conduct back-ground checks, which will make guns harder to buy for self-defense and will expand the national database on firearms owners. Owens also wants to disarm adults between the ages of 18 and 21, leaving them defenseless against crime.

Of course, none of the gun control measures Owens has proposed will stop criminals. Instead they will give criminals the upper hand by making it tougher for honest citizens to defend themselves.

Dudley Brown, Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, put the matter this way: "Governor Owens has staked his claim as Governor Gun Control. He got many of the gun owners' votes in his election, but has been stabbing us in the back ever since." -Ari Armstrong


No Smoke Screen from the News
September 1999 --On August 21 The Rocky Mountain News published an editorial of uncommon sense opposing smoking restrictions in Aurora. The political powers of that town have considered banning smoking in public places such as restaurants.

The editorialist's straight-forward libertarian message moistened my eyes. Here are some excerpts:

The city has no business telling restaurant owners how to run their businesses. They're perfectly capable of deciding how to handle tobacco... [V]irtue coerced is no virtue at all... Just because some habits are bad... doesn't mean they should be outlawed.

If the writers of the News would apply these insights consistently, their paper would be the most libertarian in the nation. The principles expressed imply we should get rid of all victimless "crimes" as well as all State regulation of businesses. - Ari Armstrong


My Native Blood
September 1999 --It turns out my great-grandfather's mother on my dad's side was a Seminole Native American. The Seminoles assimilated escaped slaves, so that means I likely have African blood in my veins as well. I judge people by the actions, not their genes, and it's ironic that many racists themselves have a rich genetic heritage.

Supposedly the Seminoles are still technically at war with the U.S. Federal government. Today, I'm in a strictly ideological battle with the Feds for similar reasons: they're stealing my property. I have to admit, though, that I'm being treated a lot better than were most of the Natives. (Others in our society haven't been so lucky -- just ask Randy Weaver.) The Seminoles weren't just victims, however; they also took Federal money to hunt down other Indian tribes. I suppose the lesson I'd take from this is to never sell out others to oppressive forces. In the most succinct words I've heard from a person of any ethnic heritage, Martin Luther King said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." If we take those words to heart, perhaps tyranny won't have as great a chance in the future. -Ari Armstrong


Kopel Warns Against Mandatory Death-Locks
July 1999 -- David Kopel, Research Director of the Independence Institute, recently published a paper with Eugene Volokh showing that mandatory "safety" locks for guns would in reality become death-locks. The paper, "Loaded Guns can be Good for Kids," is available at www.i2i.org.

Kopel notes that nearly all individuals already handle guns safely. A child has a much greater chance of drowning in a bucket than of being killed with a gun.

Advocates of death-locks often compare the gun locks to "child-proof" safety caps on aspirin. Surprisingly, Kopel and Volokh relate, poisoning deaths actually increased after Congress mandated "child-proof" medicine caps because parents became less careful about storing medicine.

Death-locks would interfere with other gun safety features. In addition, they would render guns useless against crime, and send the message to criminals that they will have the upper hand in any home break-in.

Kopel and Volokh explain eloquently why death-locks will lead to results opposite of those intended. But Congress may just be foolish enough to mandate them anyway. -Ari Armstrong


Squish Tancredo Threatens Public Safety
July 1999 -- I keep trying to give Congressman Tom Tancredo the benefit of the doubt. But every time I see him in the news, he's supporting big government and double-crossing freedom advocates. First he called for more government control of the labor market. Then he backed away from his advocacy of market education and threw his support behind the government school bureaucracy.

But his latest betrayal is the most serious. In an interview with Michael Romano published in The Rocky Mountain News June 18, Tancredo said he now supports mandatory death-locks for guns, which will result in more crime and more death at the hands of criminals. He also supports more background checks by the Federal government, the first step in the confiscation of firearms. Finally, he supports the ban of certain ammunition magazines, which will render some guns useless for self-defense.

I tried to believe the best, but Tancredo seems hell-bent on proving he's an enemy of freedom. The people of the Sixth deserve better. - Ari Armstrong


Ed Stein's Unintended Support for Gun Ownership
July 1999 -- Ed Stein, political cartoonist for The Rocky Mountain News, published a cartoon May 30 showing two young gunmen. The caption reads: "Q: How many school shootings will it take to change the gun control debate? A: One too many." Stein advocates gun control, as is obvious from his previous work. However, it occurred to me that the May 30 cartoon, by itself, could also be interpreted to support the right to own guns, particularly when we look at how existing gun control laws have disarmed citizens and given criminals the upper hand. I wrote Stein a letter pointing this out, which I reprint here.

Dear Mr. Stein,

I love your Denver Squares cartoon.

I also strongly agree with the sentiment in your May 30 political cartoon, in which you ask, "How many school shootings will it take to change the gun control debate?"

Like you, I am disturbed by trends in gun control over the last few decades. For instance, before the recent series of school shootings, in 1995, the Federal government prohibited parents and teachers from carrying guns onto school property, thus rendering them and their students defenseless against armed thugs. Thank God Principal Joel Myrick willfully broke this law last year at Pearl High in Mississippi, and was able to use his pistol to stop the killings at his school! When will politicians and the gun control lobby learn that the more gun control measures the government passes, the more vulnerable citizens will be to criminals? You're right to ask, how many more shootings will it take before we learn this lesson? God forbid we follow the path of Australia and ban guns; that country has since seen an increase in armed robberies of 44%. An armed society is a safe society, as history proves time and again.

Thank you for raising your pointed question; keep up the good work.

-Ari Armstrong


Where's the Responsibility?
July 1999 -- On June 12, a 22 year old "man" named Scott Ramos was drinking alcohol and playing with a .22 pistol at a camp-ground party in Douglas Party, according to M.E. Sprengelmeyer of The Rocky Mountain News, June 16. Ramos fired several shots into the night, and, thinking he was out of bullets, aimed the gun at the head of a young girl and pulled the trigger. He wasn't out of bullets.

This kind of blatant irresponsibility -- and the death it caused -- turns my stomach. Didn't any of the kids at the party have parents who taught them anything about gun safety or even rudimentary common sense? What kind of fool mixes alcohol with guns? Why didn't anyone at the party stop the craziness before it was too late?

Why do parents continue to send their children to government schools which "teach" children to be passive and obedient and to unquestioningly follow orders and go along with the crowd? Who is prepared to stand up and do what is right?

In a June 17 letter to the News, Kerry Neuville naively advocates national (socialist) gun registration. However, she does make an excellent point when she urges gun owners to be "more pro-active in controlling their own." This kind of senseless tragedy makes me outraged! - Ari Armstrong


Scripps Howard Bias Against Guns
July 1999 -- The Rocky Mountain News printed a "news" story June 15 by Lee Bowman which was distributed by Scripps Howard News Service. Scripps Howard is the parent-company of the News. The story, entitled, "7 million homes keep loaded guns," described those who store guns locked and unloaded as "vigilant" and those who do not do so as "disturbing." The story quoted only agents of the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which had conducted a survey of gun owners.

(How many gun owners flat out lied to the Federal agents conducting the survey is unknown. What gun storage has to do with "disease" is also unknown.)

True, parents should keep guns safely away from very young or ignorant children. However, parents should educate their older children how to handle firearms safely. Parents should also consider keeping a loaded firearm ready to protect their family from criminals. The article mentions the "accidental" deaths caused by irresponsibility with guns, but it entirely fails to mention the number of lives saved every year because loaded, ready guns deter crime. - Ari Armstrong


Victim's Father Denounces Gun Control
July 1999 -- Darrell Scott, father of a girl killed at Columbine, told a Congressional committee that gun control is not the answer to violence. He said, "[W]hen something as terrible as Columbine's tragedy occurs, politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that continue to erode away our personal and private liberties" (quoted in The Rocky Mountain News, May 28).


Lakewood Students Defend Their Rights
July 1999 -- In a letter to The Rocky Mountain News June 2, a group of Lakewood High School students wrote, "There are many responsible young adults who safely own and use firearms. Shooting, whether at a paper target or game animal, teaches patience, concentration, responsibility and safety -- some of the virtues most needed by youth... [W]e should not react to the tragedy at Columbine by passing yet more restrictive gun-control laws, but by punishing the people responsible for [crime]."

Federal laws have already largely taken pistols out of the hands of young people. Next the gun control zealots want to take guns out of the hands of 18-21 year olds. If the trend continues, soon few will grow up learning how to handle a gun safely and effectively. And then gun confiscation will be that much closer. - Ari Armstrong


Gun Rights Get a Good Rap
July 1999 -- I recently read the lyrics to a new rap song entitled "Gun Control is Racist." Lyrics by Don Kennedy, music by B-Cube, vocals by Shoanna Z. Copyright 1999 by Corad Records. The organization is on-line at http://coradpress.com/, where the music is available. Here are a few excerpts of the lyrics:

10 million Africans stolen from original land, 2 million slaves genocide and left in the hands of the man...

Check the flow and peak gun control and how the set up begun, sadly on blacks... Hitler used it on Jews, genocide don't be confused, while we chose to stay slaves, what's in store for the race?... Drag a man behind a truck, lynchin tactics... Gun Control! Democrats want me to stress like that...

Michael Stipe and Stallone, Rosie O'donnell push on, in the midst of a battle alone, gun control will have us gone... Liberal Hollywood hypocrite, abusing guns to make your flicks... Jewish Senator Chuck Shumer of all people, to impose Hitler law is just pure evil... Colorado black lynched by racist youths, Clinton's gun control laws sets racists loose... We know who's pushing laws on blacks, gun control, fanatical Liberal Democrats...

Charleton marched with Martin Luther King, to attack Mr. Heston is assault on our King... Heston Fights for our rights both day and night, Liberals all hate him, because they know he's right... George Washington said guns restrain evil interference, listen to George, cause they don't hear us...

Liberals rip the second amendment from the constitution, by doing so they erase our contribution, do you hear me!


Landslide for Webb
July 1999 --Denver Mayor Wellington Webb won his third term in office May 4, 1999 with less than 9.6% support from those eligible to vote.

The Rocky Mountain News reported May 5 that Webb won 80% of the votes cast, but only 15% of those registered to vote even bothered to show up at the voting booths. In addition, only around 80% of those known to be eligible to register choose to do so, and not all who are eligible to register are known to the statisticians.

And the News refers to this election as a "landslide for Webb." A landslide of apathy and cynicism, perhaps. - Ari Armstrong


Al "Capone" Gore
July 1999 --Mafia gangsters gain power by using force to create monopolies for themselves in certain markets. That's what Al Gore is trying to do in the education market for young children. The difference is that the Mafia breaks laws to use force against others, while Al Gore is trying to pass laws to do so.

Mona Charen, a columnist I hardly ever read, happened to write a great piece which ran in the June 17 Rocky Mountain News. She wrote, "[T]he vice president said preschool should no longer be voluntary but should encompass 'every child, in every community in America.'" That's all we need -- children spending less time with their parents and more time with government officials. We also need to pay higher taxes to put more education bureaucrats on the government dole. Why didn't I think of that?

Gore strikes me as one of the more decent individuals running for president. But why does Gore evade the simple fact that he's attempting to bend people to his will in the political arena by forcing them to pay for programs they don't want? If people do want such programs, then they will pay for them voluntarily, without Gore implicitly threatening a prison sentence. Politicians, like Mafia gangsters, just don't play nice. - Ari Armstrong


Suing for Peace
July 1999 --Congressmen Bob Schaffer and Tom Tancredo sued President Clinton in May over the legality of the war in Yugoslavia (Rocky Mountain News May 5). It would seem that some take seriously their oath to uphold the Constitution.

According to the Constitution, "The Congress shall have Power... To declare War..." (Article I, Section 8). I suppose it depends on how you define "war." It depends on what your definition of "shall," is. - Ari Armstrong


Madison Warned Against Presidential Wars
July 1999 --Freedom Daily passes along this wisdom from President James Madison:

The Constitution expressly and exclusively vests in the Legislature the power of declaring a state of war [and] the power of raising armies...

A delegation of such powers [to the president] would have struck, not only at the fabric of our Constitution, but at the foundation of all well organized and well checked governments.

The separation of the power of declaring war from that of conducting it, is wisely contrived to exclude the danger of its being declared for the sake of its being conducted.

Madison also details how war leads to the loss of liberty, through higher taxes, more executive power, and the expansion of government. Freedom Daily is published by The Future of Freedom Foundation. - Ari Armstrong


Worst-Case Scenario
Brian J. Monahan writes in, "Just as Franklin Roosevelt arranged Pearl Harbor by embargoing the shipment of scrap iron to Japan in the 1930s and seeing to it that the military in Hawaii were not notified of the Japanese fleet's approach, rapist-murderer Clinton is hoping for an attack on the U.S. by China and/or Russia so that he can declare martial law and remain in office indefinitely."

It's fairly well substantiated that Clinton is a rapist and that hundreds or thousands of innocent civilians have been killed under his watch (including American women and children at Waco). While his policy in Yugoslavia is stupid and his ineptitude in handling military security with regards to China is frightening, hopefully Clinton harbors no secret desire to enter another world war. However, surely he has increased the risk of catastrophic war, if unintentionally.

In the immediate future, there seems to be greater risk from Clinton imposing martial law over Y2K problems, though I'm not looking for that to happen, either. We could see serious problems, though, if several events converge: a significant Y2K problem, on top of a Chinese attack on Taiwan, on top of Russian unrest, on top of U.S. inflation (say if Greenspan has a heart-attack or something), and we could find ourselves in deep trouble. Again, I'm not looking for such a convergence, even though possible dangers dot the horizon. -Ari Armstrong


What a Tangled Webb We Weave
May 1999 -- Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, who recently spent tax money to publish a full-page tirade against gun rights in the Rocky Mountain News, used to claim he supports gun rights and a broader system of concealed carry.

In a 1991 letter to the Independence Institute's David Kopel, Webb stated, "I do not believe that a citizen should have to prove some unique 'need' to be issued a [concealed carry] permit." The News picked up the story on April 13 in an article by Kevin Flynn.

On April 12, Kopel and Jon Caldara, President of the Independence Institute, discussed on Caldara's radio show Webb's change of heart, as well as the ways a better-armed citizenry becomes a safer citizenry, hysteria from some Democrats notwithstanding. They also reviewed the history of gun control laws, which were originally passed specifically to disarm black people. The problem the anti-gun crowd has in debating David Kopel is that he is one of the foremost authorities on the issue, intimately familiar with the history and effects of gun legislation in the United States and around the world. Perhaps that's why the Democrats avoid discussing substantive issues and resort to scare-tactics - Ari Armstrong


Gun Classes Swamped
May 1999 -- Linn Armstrong, a member of Grand Junction's Pro Second Amendment Committee, reports the gun training classes he's involved with "are filling up faster than ever" in the wake of the Columbine massacre. Linn Armstrong is involved with both the N.R.A. training course and the Hisardut Israeli defense course run by Alon Stivi of the Israeli reserve guard. Both classes are booked nearly through the summer.

Many, it would seem, put more trust in themselves than in "Big Daddy" Clinton to provide for their personal protection. Bill Clinton may "feel our pain," but personally I'd rather he didn't have to.

Gun control kills children! An armed society is a polite society! - Ari Armstrong


Red, Red, White and Blue
May 1999 -- When the Chinese premier came to Denver in April, Governor Bill Owens was only too happy to roll out the red carpet. At a banquet hosted by Owens, the Chinese flag hung level between the United States flag and the Colorado flag. Now, I am anything but an icon-worshiper, but this offended me. The Chinese government flagrantly abuses human rights. The U.S. government ought not restrict free (non-military) trade between U.S. citizens and Chinese citizens, but it should certainly not treat the Chinese government as anything better than it is -- an oppressive, murderous tyranny. Unfortunately, the U.S. government, increasingly intrusive into the private lives of Americans, can hardly claim the moral high ground. - Ari Armstrong


DeGette Votes Against War in Yugoslavia
May 1999 -- I never thought the day would come when I would sing praises to Congresswoman Diana DeGette. She voted April 29 against a resolution that would have shown support for Clinton's air war in Yugoslavia. The resolution failed by a tie.

"I think Congress should have been consulted before the president went in with airstrikes," she said, as reported in the April 30 Rocky Mountain News. While hardly a principled recognition of the Constitutional prohibition of Presidential wars, this is far better than the mealy-mouthed positions of many Democrats on the issue. - Ari Armstrong


Trial By (Politically Correct) Jury
May 1999 -- A criminal has a right to a trial by jury, so long as that jury passes the ideology tests of the State. Laura Kriho sat on a 1996 Gilpin County drug case and voted to acquit. The Rocky Mountain News reported April 30 that a contempt conviction against Kriho was overturned on appeal. She faces more charges which stem from her jury service, though.

It turns out that Kriho had once been arrested, but not convicted, for an alleged drug violation. She failed to volunteer this information to prosecutors, and they never asked. But that wasn't good enough for the judge, who went after Kriho with a vengeance. Apparently, only those who think the way the government wants them to are suitable for jury duty. But all should remember that they have every right to nullify an unjust law as a juror, despite what a judge may happen to think. (Kriho denies she was exercising jury nullification, but only deciding on the merits of the evidence.) - Ari Armstrong


Buy Back the Junk
May 1999 -- Martin Luther King III called on Colorado to initiate a "buy back the guns" campaign (The Rocky Mountain News April 30). Typically in such programs governments or private groups will purchase any weapon for $100 and destroy it.

As far as gun proposals go, this one isn't so bad, so long as the money comes from voluntary contributions rather than taxes. If somebody's dumb enough to buy a $50 gun for $100, let them. Needless to say, nobody will turn in a gun worth more than $100. Presumably, a "gun" wouldn't even have to be functional to qualify for the cash. (I doubt those buying the guns are able to tell the difference.)

King's fear of guns is understandable, having lost several family members to assassins. However, King would do well to consider the usefulness of guns in self-defense. There's a reason the first gun control laws were passed specifically to disarm the black community -- bigoted whites wanted to be able to prey on blacks without fear of retaliation. - Ari Armstrong


Environmental Politics
May 1999 -- A group led by the Sierra Club gave the Colorado Legislature a D-minus on environmental issues, according to Joe Garner of The Rocky Mountain News (April 22). The legislature must be doing something right, then.

A clean environment is a worthy goal. Unfortunately, the Sierra Club usually puts the (non-human) environment above human progress. It also proposes legislation that squashes property rights. There is a healthy free-market environmentalist movement in the libertarian movement, led by the Political Economy Research Center in Montana. Jane Shaw of PERC co-authored a book entitled Facts Not Fear, which is an excellent introductory text to the environment and an invaluable teaching aid. - Ari Armstrong


You Gotta Fight For Your Right to Party
May 1999 -- The Denver Excise and Licensing Department is cracking down on fun. (See Dina Bunn's article in The Rocky Mountain News April 13.) The new Hard Rock Cafe dared to throw an invitation-only opening party late last year in violation of an obscure and ambiguous law which prohibits private parties by restaurants with liquor licenses.

That's what happens when bureaucrats on the government dole have nothing productive to do with their time. We'd be better off paying these jokers to take a permanent vacation on some tropical island. At least then they'd just be taking our money, instead of taking our money to interfere in our lives. - Ari Armstrong


Tracking Teachers' Success
May 1999 -- Linda Seebach writes in The Rocky Mountain News April 11 that Tennessee is tracking the success of students in the government schools from third to eighth grade, making it possible to discover how effective are particular schools and individual teachers.

Seebach notes that students who have "top math teachers" three years in a row are likely to score well on standardized math tests, while those who have poor teachers are likely to score poorly on such tests.

Duh!

This supports the view that pedagogy is the most important aspect of education. It also disproves the myth that some students are naturals in math and others "just can't get it." (There may be some natural aptitude, but this is a minor factor relative to individual motivation and quality of teaching.)

But shouldn't it be obvious to school administrators who are the good teachers and who are the bad ones? Why does it take advanced statistical techniques and state-wide database systems to track the effectiveness of teachers? The answer is simple: the tax-funded government education bureaucracy has no incentive to make sure that their schools do a good job. Usually, they get paid more if they do a worse job. If parents want consistently good teachers and good schools, they will demand to regain the right and responsibility of financing education for themselves. - Ari Armstrong


Union Laws
May 1999 -- Tom O'Keefe, President of Local 535 American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, argues in a letter to The Rocky Mountain News April 6 that unions should have the right to spend union dues to lobby just like businesses can spend revenues to lobby. House Bill 1189 sought to restrict the ability of some unions to collect fees for purposes of lobbying.

As O'Keefe put said, "According to Thomas Aquinas, a law is just if it is directed to the common good and the burdens it imposes on citizens are distributed with proportionate equality."

Too bad O'Keefe ignores the more fundamental issue that the pro-union laws themselves grant privileges to union members at the expense of other workers and consumers. Government should be neutral on the issue of unions. No legislation should force businesses to bargain with unions, as this artificially inflates union salaries, thus weakening the affected businesses, causing unemployment, and inflating prices for consumers. The wage market has always been more successful at resolving wage unfairness, anyway. If a business pays its employees too little, other businesses lure the workers away with higher salaries. Any possible useful service unions might provide pales in comparison to the efficacy of the market. - Ari Armstrong


Mark Paschall: Defender of Freedom
April 1999 -- During the recent House debate on Doug Dean's concealed gun bill, Representative Mark Paschall took a stand for liberty. Dean's bill mandates training and background checks for concealed carry permits. Marilyn Musgrave's now-dead alternative would have kept the checks but skipped the mandatory training. Both these alternatives involve too much State control, according to Paschall, who offered a "Vermont" amendment that would have legalized concealed carry without requiring a government permit.

"I am tired of the legislature turning a right into a privilege," said Paschall. "The secret goal of government is to incrementally take away our freedoms, and I won't be a part of it."

In a brief interview, Paschall continued, "It doesn't happen just with guns. Government has the tendency to identify normal behavior, then outlaw it, and then permit it under regulated circumstances."

"We're becoming virtual slaves. The government controls our will and our capacity to act for ourselves, and it promotes legal plunder. I love freedom. I fear this nation is going to allow its freedoms to be eroded to the point where we won't even deserve them any more."

Paschall has courageously offered his Vermont amendment every year and may offer it as an independent bill in the future. Our hats are off to you, Sir. -Ari Armstrong


Bumper for President
April 1999 -- Word 'round the campfire has it that Jacob "Bumper" Hornberger is running for President in 2000 on the Libertarian Party ticket. He has my endorsement. Hornberger is the founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation, which publishes The Freedom Daily (a small monthly journal).

Hornberger has all the right qualities to pull off a successful LP run. (A "successful" candidate would pull in over 5% of the vote, thereby attracting the media's and the public's attention to libertarian ideas.) He's a real libertarian, not one of these Statists in libertarian clothing that seem prevalent in other parties. However, he's no dogmatist -- he does his homework and backs his radical ideas with evidence and sound reasoning. He's an eloquent, passionate speaker who will play well on television. He may manage to dip into the Hispanic vote, as he speaks Spanish fluently and has long been an ardent supporter of open boarders.

I think Harry Browne was a fine candidate, but he suffered from two problems: his positions often came across as weak-kneed libertarianism, and he was never able to present them in an exciting way. Hornberger is self-confidently extremist in a way that is both assuring and inspiring. I haven't been this enthusiastic about a national political candidate -- well, since ever.

GO BUMPER! - Ari Armstrong


Update: House Votes to Ease Campaign Restrictions
April 1999 -- On March 26 the state House approved Representative Rob Fairbank's bill that would ease restrictions on campaign contributions, allowing individuals to give more money to candidates. Fairbank's bill comes in the wake of 1998's Amendment 15, which placed severe restrictions on contributions. CFR ran a series of articles on the issue in February in which both David Bryant and I come out against campaign restrictions. See Campaign Finance Reform: Making a Bad Problem Worse. - Ari Armstrong


A Smaller Bigger Government
April 1999 -- US Congressman Bob Schaffer of Colorado spoke on the House floor March 2 (aired on C-Span) with a clear, principled message: The Federal government is too big and must be reduced.

Oh, yea, but we still have to maintain the Federal Social(ized) (In)Security scheme and a system of Federally subsidized government schools. Also, a strong tax base. Oh, and a bigger military on the side.

With Republican friends like these, who needs Democrats? If Congressman Schaffer wants to be taken seriously, maybe next time he talks about reducing the size of government he'll talk about all the programs he wants to cut rather than all the programs he wants to keep. - Ari Armstrong


Undermining Education
April 1999 -- A February 24 Denver Post editorial blasts State Senator John Andrews for working toward the abolition of government control of education in favor of a voluntaristic, market system.

The Post says, "[T]he notion that public [government] education should be tossed on the scrap heap of history, rather than reformed to better serve all children, is a radical concept that clearly isn't embraced by most Coloradans." But why does the Post invoke popular opinion rather than evidence or logic? Morality and economic viability are not decided by popularity contests.

The Post closes in self-righteous indignation, "We don't send people to the Statehouse, or the U.S. Capitol, to undermine our schools." By supporting State control of education, the Post does plenty to undermine our schools all by itself. -Ari Armstrong


Tom "I'm Not a Libertarian" Tancredo
April 1999 -- Congressman Tom Tancredo recently published an opinion piece in the Rocky Mountain News (March 7, 1999, page 1B) calling for a "moratorium on immigration." Tancredo relies on two main arguments to support his position.

First, immigrants take welfare money. However, immigrants still provide a net gain to the economy. Why doesn't Tancredo simply suggest immigrants be denied welfare benefits? That's the libertarian solution.

Second, Tancredo argues, certain segments of the economy are not able to adapt to the influx of immigrants. In particular, government schools, government roads, and the government-controlled wage market can't catch up with the changing population. WHAT? Socialized industries are not able to adapt? Who'd have thought? Why doesn't Tancredo call for the abolition of State control over the economy rather than a moratorium on immigration? Tancredo blames scape-goats for the problems we created for ourselves, and he barely manages to disguise his appeal to xenophobic sentiments.

In his 1998 campaign for Congress, Tancredo exclaimed proudly, "I'm not a libertarian!" And he seems determined to prove this again and again. - Ari Armstrong


Go, Doug Dean!
April 1999 -- Representatives Doug Dean and Ken Gordon duked it out March 7 on the pages of the Denver Post over Dean's concealed gun bill. Dean cited the overwhelming evidence that suggests concealed carry laws work very well in other states.

Gordon, on the other hand, served up the same tired, disproved, and irrelevant arguments. He says, "Guns in America are overwhelmingly used either in a moment of anger against a person the shooter knows or in a moment of depression for suicide." However, he cites no evidence to suggest concealed carry permits will increase gun violence, whereas Dean cites plenty of figures that suggest concealed carry laws decrease violence overall. Gordon misses the point entirely: Guns reduce crime without even being used! The mere fact that the citizenry is armed makes criminals think twice before trying to commit a crime.

Further, Gordon never tries to address the point that the vast majority of gun owners use guns responsibly, so why should they have their rights infringed because of the irresponsibility of a small minority? - Ari Armstrong


Deregulated Regulations?
April 1999 -- Ken Chlouber offered an amendment to force US West to offer free long distance calls within Colorado. Chlouber is a Republican representative in the state legislature. The March 11 Rocky Mountain News says, "Chlouber offered the surprise amendment to SB-110, which is one of a host of bills deregulating parts of the telecommunications industry" (John Sanko, page 28A). Oh, and have you heard that freedom is slavery? - Ari Armstrong


The Half-Million Dollar Student
April 1999 -- I used to love watching the bionic man, a.k.a. the "million dollar man," because with some pricey repair work he was able to do anything -- run fast, jump high, see far, save the world. Some, it seems, haven't figured out this TV show is fiction.

What Ridge Middle School has recently received a $481,073 grant from the taxpayers (you and me). The school's principal, Bette Bullock, already has grand ideas on how to spend that money: "We can't just take care of one piece of a child... We're trying to address the multitude of things that impact children's learning" (quoted in the Rocky Mountain News, March 11, page 31A). In other words, spend more time on things other than academics, and the students' academic skills are bound to improve.

Bullock also wants to start a new "literacy" program in which students can stay after school and on Saturdays. But if the school is performing poorly, why is more of it a good thing? - Ari Armstrong


Lobbyists of the World, Unite!
April 1999 -- In an excellent series of articles in the Rocky Mountain News March 7, 1999 (pages 5A, 22A, 23A, and 26A), Burt Hubbard details the influence of lobbyists in Colorado. Hubbard notes that lobbyists outnumber legislators by a 4-to-1 margin. Further, the city of Denver hires four lobbyists to sway the state legislature. So let me get this straight: taxpayers pay the salaries of the legislators, and then they pay the salaries of the lobbyists to tell the legislators how to spend the rest of the taxpayers' money. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. - Ari Armstrong


The Politics of Blame, Hollywood Style
April 1999 -- The logic of holding gun manufacturers guilty for crimes committed with guns threatens to undermine every manufacturing industry. Recently Oliver Stone was sued for making the film Natural Born Killers. Supposedly, this movie incited a couple to shoot a woman during a robbery.

Whatever happened to individual responsibility? The only person responsible for a crime is the person who commits the crime. Isn't it odd, though, that the Hollywood crowd fights for freedom where their movies are concerned, but often fights for more State control where the rights of others (such as gun owners and manufacturers) are concerned?

Practically everything can be and has been used to commit a crime, including rope, pens, wire, baseball bats, chains, water, jumper cables, wrenches, electrical cords, music, electrical appliances, knives, boots, drugs, tape, clothing, cameras, books, dirt, shovels, money, automobiles, and so on. Let's sue 'em all!

By the way, Stone's film, at least in the alternate ending of the director's cut, carries a strong anti-violence message. But then of course, most guns are used to prevent crime, not commit it. Gun manufacturers deserve a medal, not a lawsuit. But what's reason when it comes to America's State-run courts? - Ari Armstrong


Discrimination and Academic Standards
April 1999 -- The March 9, 1999 Rocky Mountain News headlines, "Judge tosses NCAA eligibility standard: Academic rule 'discriminates.'"

In case you weren't aware, top student athletes don't have to meet the admission standards of top colleges. They can meet the much lower NCAA standards to play sports at the school. (And I mean MUCH lower.) Even if the athletes don't meet the NCAA requirements, they can still often attend the school, only they're not eligible to play sports for the first year.

So when I saw today's headline, I figured that the federal judge from Philadelphia had ruled against the NCAA requirements because they let students get around the higher standards.

I should have known better. It turns out that the judge ruled against the standards because they're too high -- it seems many black athletes can't meet them, and that's why they're "discriminatory."

But there is of course a difference between discriminating on the basis of academic ability and discriminating on the basis of race or ethnicity. Blurring this distinction is dangerous and unjust. - Ari Armstrong


Market Imperfections
April 1999 -- Libertarian theory doesn't hold that markets are always and everywhere perfect. The theory suggests that markets in general work better than Statist coercion.

I have recently been miffed by a couple market organizations. I wanted to schedule a rehearsal dinner for my wedding at the Armadillo, a restaurant in Arvada, but the manager of the restaurant told me he had to make a "business decision" to refuse me service. I was livid. More recently, I brought some papers into Kinkos to three-hole punch. I thought there was a standard rate per punch, as their machine punches reams of paper at a time. However, they charged me a per-sheet rate that cost me several times the price I expected.

I'm sure everyone has stories of market organizations that didn't meet their expectations. Why is the market so much better than the State? Because at least I'm not forced to do repeat business with the market groups. I simply won't return to the Armadillo or Kinkos. What would happen to the quality of service if businesses were able to force their "customers" to keep paying them, regardless of level of service and wishes of the customer? The answer is obvious -- they would have no incentive to do right by their customers. Try telling the Federal government that you'd like to try a competing way to save for your retirement instead of Social(ized) (In)Security, or restrict your charitable contributions to market organizations. If you don't do business with Kinkos, you go across the street to Office Depot. If you don't do "business" with the State, you go to jail. - Ari Armstrong


RAPEST!
March 1999 -- In his magnificent novel about a near-future private space-race, Kings of the High Frontier, Victor Koman describes a rape scene by a national political figure that bears disturbing resemblance to Clinton's alleged rape of Juanita Broaddrick. In the novel, the victim manages to render her attacker unconscious and scrawl in his forehead with a knife, "RAPEST." The doctor hired to perform plastic surgery on the politician muses, "I'll bet she started to spell either 'rape' or 'raper,' then changed her mind and decided on 'rapist,' but it was too late to make corrections. Now it's spelled like a superlative. Rape, raper, rapest."

That's Bill Clinton: the RAPEST, the worst sort of scum.

On February 26, Colorado citizens rallied in a public protest organized by shadowgov.com, led by Bob Enyart, the talk show host who recently burned O.J.'s jursey. I saw protesters holding black signs with Clinton's silhouette and the word "rapist," gathered at the State Capitol and at a courthouse in Arvada on Ralston. It heartens me to see a little public outrage over Clinton's blatant abuse of women. - Ari Armstrong


Wisdom from the Rocky Mountain News
March 1999 -- The News published a thoughtful editorial February 21 criticizing SB 150, which would allow people to sue drug dealers if they were affected, even indirectly, by drug use. The main problem is that it would trample the rights of the innocent, even freezing their assets.

Unfortunately, the News would support a "far more limited bill that allowed people to recover actual damages... only after the responsible dealer has been convicted." While less onerous, such a law would still be ridiculous. What ever happened to individual responsibility? People use drugs by choice. If they are thereby hurt, it's their own fault. Similarly, tobacco companies are not responsible for the damages to smokers. Gun manufacturers are not responsible for crimes committed with guns. Neither car makers nor alcohol companies are responsible for House Speaker Russell George driving with a 0.21% blood alcohol level. Each individual is responsible for his or her own actions. The politics of blame leads to less responsibility, more litigation, and more expensive goods and services.

To be sure, if a drug dealer sells poisonous drugs (beyond what's expected), either willfully or by negligence, he or she should be held liable. If a gun manufacturer sells a defective gun that leads to injury, it should be held liable. If an auto maker sells a dangerous car without warning its customers, it should be held liable. However, if the user misuses a product or uses a product known to be dangerous, it's the user's fault, and the user's liability. - Ari Armstrong


Folly on Social Security
March 1999 -- Also in the February 21 issue, the News printed yet another editorial favoring mandatory, regulated savings accounts as a way to "fix" Social(ized) (In)Security.

Let's get this straight. There's nothing about mandatory, regulated savings accounts that will help save Social Security. The problem with S.S. is that the government has promised to take money from the young and give it to the elderly. As the Baby Boomers retire, the number of retirees relative to workers will increase drastically. Forcing the young into mandatory, regulated savings accounts is not going to reduce the S.S. burden, at all. It will merely add a new coercive program on top of the old one.

There are only two ways to solve the S.S. problem: raise taxes or decrease benefits. Obviously, I favor the later. The age at which benefits are paid should be raised slowly over time until the system has been effectively abolished. Sure, the younger generations still get jipped, as we'll have to pay the S.S. tax even though we won't be forcing our children to pay us the tax. However, at least we won't be jipped twice, forced to pay the S.S. tax and forced to divert our money into mandatory, regulated savings accounts.

It's my money! I work very hard for it. It doesn't belong to the elderly, and it doesn't belong to the government to invest. It belongs to me, to spend as I see fit. Right now, I'm trying to pay off my debts and save for a house. Social(ized) (In)Security is the greatest obstacle in the way of me achieving my goals. Every time I write out a check to pay 15% of my income to this regressive tax it makes me physically ill. It's extortion, pure and simple. Stop taking my money! -Ari Armstrong


Squabbling Over the Tobacco Funds
March 1999 -- Governor Bill Owens says "hands off" to the Federal government when it comes to the tobacco money won by several states in a recent court battle (Rocky Mountain News, February 23, 1999). You tell 'em, Bill: Colorado stole that money fair and square!

The very idea of a state suing for damages is silly. If the tobacco companies did willfully deceive smokers in such a way as to cause them more damage, something I find hard to believe given the high level of knowledge about the health risks of smoking, it would owe money to individuals, not to the government. - Ari Armstrong


It's the Drug War, Stupid
March 1999 -- "Senators told smokable heroin may be next crack cocaine," says a Rocky Mountain News headline February 25. Why do all illegal drugs keep getting more potent and more dangerous? For the same reason alcohol became more potent and more dangerous during the Prohibition of alcohol: illegal substances can be smuggled easier the more concentrated they become. The drug war creates more dangerous drugs. There likely would never even have existed crack cocaine but for the drug war. - Ari Armstrong


It's the Government Schools...
March 1999 -- "Parents win round in drive for more say in curricula," says a Rocky Mountain News headline February 25. The article is about Representative Norma Anderson's bill that would reduce state mandates for government schools.

Can you imagine a headline saying, "Customers win round in drive for more say in grocery produce"?

Of course not. Grocery stores are private, not government-operated. Private businesses, which are funded directly by their customers, must react swiftly and surely to their customers' needs. Businesses that fail to do so lose customers and risk failure. The government schools, on the other hand, are insulated from the needs of parents and students, because they collect taxes whether or not they do a good job. (Often they collect even more taxes if they do a poor job.)

For the parents who send their children to government schools, I have this advice: Stop Complaining! If you choose to take education welfare through the coercive mechanisms of the state, you have no right to dictate the type of education you receive. That's what being a ward of the State means: doing what the government tells you. If you really want a "say in curricula," home-school your children or place them in market (private) schools. And pay the bills yourself, or apply for voluntary charity. - Ari Armstrong


Committee Politics
March 1999 -- A bill concerning concealed weapons passed the House Agriculture Committee February 25.

The Agriculture Committee? You know, those cows are up in arms about the proposed legislation.

Why not the Committee for Health, or Judiciary, or Local Government? Any other committee would seem more logical than Agriculture. The truth is that committee assignments are themselves political. If the Speaker likes a bill, it goes to a friendly committee. If the Speaker doesn't like a bill, it gets slammed into multiple, difficult committees. Pretty slick, eh? -Ari Armstrong


Happy Valentine's Day
February 1999 -- How does the State love to regulate thee? Let me count the ways it interferes with love, sex, and romance:
1) Marriage licenses and the prohibition of certain marriages.
2) Prohibitions on certain sex acts between consenting adults.
3) A tax code that socially engineers marital decisions. Sometimes the code encourages marriage, sometimes discourages it, and it encourages having children.
4) Subsidies for children conceived out of wedlock (via welfare).
5) A prohibition of sex for pay (prostitution).
6) A restriction on immigration, thus limiting one's choice of marriage partners. (I know of a terribly sad story of love squashed by the immigration laws -- the American is from Grand Junction.)
7) Subsidies for sex education and condom distribution in the government schools.
8) A tax rate of nearly 50% that pushes most families into dual incomes. - Ari Armstrong


Shawn Mitchell: Defender of Liberty
February 1999 -- Congratulations to Representative Shawn Mitchell, who recently got his bill through committee that would prohibit the state from mandating "charity" service by lawyers and other professions. He even earned a dedicated story in the February 12 Rocky Mountain News. Pretty good for a freshman legislator who promised a "quiet" first session (Colorado Legislators Eye New Pro-Liberty Laws). Bravo! - Ari Armstrong


Privacy for Sale
February 1999 -- According to Carla Crowder of the Rocky Mountain News (January 30), the Division of Motor Vehicles was in the process of selling our driver's license photos to a New Hampshire company, which in turn wanted to sell the pictures to stores and other organizations around the country. This move was set in motion by the state legislature last year, led by Representative Tony Grampsas (R-Evergreen). Thankfully, after public protest, Governor Bill Owens pushed hard for new legislation to ban such sales.

This still goes to show that, whenever the government collects data on us, be it for guns, autos, Social(ized) (In)Security, or whatever, the potential exists for this information to be abused. Unfortunately, the government has also begun toying with national I.D. cards and DNA records. Is 1984 in the past or in our future? - Ari Armstrong


Destruction of the No-Zone Layer
February 1999 -- On Tuesday, February 2, the Colorado Senate heard a bill to stop El Paso County from zoning unincorporated lands and restricting the property rights of the residents.

This raises an interesting theoretical issue. Generally, libertarians argue that coercive power ought not exist at all, but so long as it does exist it should be kept on as local a level as possible. It's easier to tar and feather a local despot, after all, or to escape from one. In this case of zoning, though, libertarians appealed to a larger government entity to stop the aggression of a smaller one. To generalize the principle: limit the aggression of all levels of government as much as possible, and use the power of one government body to limit the aggression of another whenever possible. -Ari Armstrong


Don't Knock Nock
February 1999 -- The topic for the January 13 Austrian Economics Discussion Group was Albert J. Nock's "On Doing the Right Thing." From this meeting I learned a crucial way to categorize activities.

First, there are "personal" actions, things that aren't anybody's business but our own, like which car to buy, which gun to buy, which food to eat, which sexual activities to perform in our bedrooms. Second are "social" acts, which are rightly restricted or encouraged by social pressures. For instance, tipping is a social act; not tipping a good server will earn scowls. Society encourages some ethical behaviors, like overcoming bigotry. Finally is the "legal" realm, in which activities are forced or prohibited.

In a healthy culture, as many activities as possible are left in the personal realm, some acts are seen as meriting social pressure, and only the fewest behaviors, like murder, theft, and so forth, are left to the legal arena. In a sick culture such as our own, personal choices are moved into the social realm, and most activities are assigned to the law. Thus, the pyramid is inverted, until every act not compelled is prohibited. - Ari Armstrong


Taxcutter Rides Again
February 1999 -- Doug Bruce, a.k.a. "taxcutter," is preparing for another ballot initiative for 2000 (if he can get past the "single issue" rule in the State Supreme Court). He's looking for contributions and volunteers to distribute petitions. You can contact Bruce at Box 26018, Colorado Springs, CO 80936, at taxcutter@msn.com, or at (719) 550-0010. The proposed amendment is set to read:

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution establishing a $25 tax cut to lower each 2001 state and local tax bill for each utility customer tax and franchise charge, vehicle ownership tax, and specified income tax and property tax, and, in connection therewith, increasing the tax cut $25 yearly thereafter; requiring state replacement of local revenue when yearly state revenue increases $200 million or more above that year's replacement increase; requiring yearly state audits of tax and spending limits; allowing the state to limit actions that increase replacement costs; specifying rules for construing this amendment; and awarding mandatory attorney fees and costs to successful plaintiffs only?

-Ari Armstrong


Mandatory, Regulated Savings Accounts
February 1999 -- Alan Greenspan has recently come out against diverting Social(ized) (In)Security funds to the stock market. Making the government a major shareholder in private business is a recipe for disaster, Greenspan suggested. But one would never guess Greenspan's views by reading a recent Rocky Mountain News editorial (January 31, 1999), which discusses the problems Greenspan sees with this Federal welfare program but then suggests that it be partially converted to a mandatory stock investment program.

Greenspan's actual ideas are great: slowly raise the retirement age over time and check the increases in benefits to current recipients. Indeed, if the retirement age were continually increased, the program could be eventually fazed out. However, requiring younger people to invest in the stock markets won't help save the system, it will only add new coercive measures on top of the old. Instead of being forced to invest in stocks, we should be allowed to keep our own money to do with what we please! - Ari Armstrong


Deregulating the Schools
February 1999 -- State Representative Nancy Spence, a Republican from Aurora, recently introduced a bill (1044) that would allow government schools to ignore regulations. "My bill allows regular public schools to seek relief from overregulation," she said (quoted in the Denver Post).

While government schools are surely subject to a host of ill-conceived regulations, the principle remains that whoever pays the bills, makes the rules. Whatever level of government provides financing for a project is going to regulate that project. Such regulation is necessary to maintain accountability. Free money without strings is always abused.

Ultimately, the only way to end government regulation while maintaining accountability is to get the government totally out of the way. In education, that means allowing parents and charitable organizations, rather than the government, to pay for school. When parents pay the bills, schools must be accountable to the parents or lose business. The primary issue is the financing. When the government stops forcibly redistributing wealth to schools, it will have no good excuse to regulate them. - Ari Armstrong


Stealing Property for Fun and Profit
February 1999 -- State and Federal agents can take your property if it's used in a crime, regardless of whether you were the one who committed the crime, and keep it for their own use.

On Wednesday, January 6, property seizures was the topic of discussion at the Community Issues Forum in downtown Denver. Jim Russell, Chief of the Assets Forfeiture Unit, a Federal agency, made the case for the policies, arguing that criminals should not be allowed to keep the profits of their crimes. So far so good, but the rampant abuse of the system was pointed out by Stuart Barr, a civil litigator.

I plan to write an extensive article on the matter for November, 1999, with a view toward convincing the state legislature to pass a reform in 2000. Now I'll simply list in brief the essential reforms. If anyone has information on cases of property seizures in Colorado, please write to me. If you know your state legislators, encourage them to co-sponsor a bill next term.

How to reform the laws on property seizures:

  • Permit property to be taken only from convicted criminals.
  • Require the government to prove that the confiscated property was either used directly to perpetrate a crime or gained in profit from a crime.
  • Require the government to prove that the property in question belonged to the criminal and was not merely borrowed or stolen from an innocent party.
  • Send seized property and all proceeds from seized property directly to the state treasury, rather than to the police agencies which seize the property. This would eliminate most perverse incentives.

- Ari Armstrong


Life is Beautiful
February 1999 -- I recently saw the Italian film Life is Beautiful, about the effects of the holocaust on an Italian family. This is one of the best films made about the Nazi era. It's an emotional twister; I fought back tears of rage but at other times laughed uproariously. The feat of this film is to celebrate life even as it condemns national socialism and its death camps. Please see this film. And never forget the horrors of the arbitrary, vicious power of the centralized, socialistic State. -Ari Armstrong


Mental Paralysis
February 1999 -- When I think about how Franklin Delano Roosevelt initiated Social(ized) (In)Security in order to push older people out of the work force during the Great Depression, without regard for the consequences to future generations at the bottom of the Great Ponzi Scheme, I need reminding: was this President paralyzed from the waist down or the neck up? - Ari Armstrong (with thanks to my dad Linn for the idea)


Government for the People?
February 1999 -- Clinton returns fresh from his impeachment trial, ready to move America ever faster down the road of socialism, saying ,"I hope all Americans here in Washington and throughout our land will rededicate ourselves to the work of serving our nation." And all this time I thought the proper purpose of government was to serve and protect the individual. - Ari Armstrong


Random Selection of Officeholders
Consider the advantages of selecting our officeholders from a qualified pool through a random selection process:
1. There would be a very good chance that the office holders would proportionally represent the constituency.
2. There would be no need for campaigns at all, ergo, no money influence, no ballot drives, no debates, no political parties, no political conventions, no political advertising, no charisma contests, no lying about self or others, etc.
3. There would be automatic term limits.
4. Incumbency would never be rewarded.
5. There would be less time to conspire against the people.
6. The legislative process would be grounded more in common sense than in elite sense.
7. The process would be more transparent.
8. It would NOT impair the right of the people to present grievances.
9. It would indeed be government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Interested parties could enact such a proposal via the Colorado ballot. Citizens within a certain age range and who have lived in Colorado, say, more than a year, could be selected to serve one term, as an obligation of citizenship, although they would not have to engage in any of the official activities of the office, and they could be compensated at 1.5 times their current income, or $50,000 per annum, whichever is more. - Tom Goonan


The Stadium Tax
January 1999 -- Last November, voters in the Denver Metro area were faced with a choice: force the minority who don't care about football and don't want a new stadium to subsidize the structure for the majority who do want it, OR risk losing the Broncos to a city where the majority would so force the minority. Tough choice. While I believe the majority voted wrong, I place the blame more on Pat Bowlen. Bowlen could have just said no to robbing the minority, and come up with some ways to subsidize the stadium by voluntary means. He could have sold personalized bricks for a wall at the stadium. He could have hosted $1,000 dinners with the whole Broncos team. The possibilities are endless. What really makes me sick, though, are the millions of dollars and thousands of person-hours that were wasted on the political process. On net, politics, like illegal crime, doesn't pay. It makes some people rich at the expense of others, and it squanders resources in the process. - Ari Armstrong


Tobacco Thieves
January 1999 -- As a devotee of free speech and plain language I was delighted to see the front-page headline in The Denver Post on Tuesday, December 1, 1998:

Groups vie for tobacco dollars

At least that's straightforward and accurate, I thought to myself.  But then I noticed the sub-heading:
Health advocates jam public hearing

Now that would be more accurate if it read as follows:
Swarm of thieves divides the loot!

- David Bryant


LP: Savior of the Republican Soul?
January 1999 -- Even though only 40% or so of the population favored the impeachment of Bill Clinton, this minority was strong enough to bring impeachment to a vote. Indeed, much smaller voting blocks can decide an issue or an election. Jessie "The Body" Ventura, one-time WWF wrestler and new governor of Minnesota, won on the Reform Party ticket with barely over a third of the vote. Chances are good that Ventura would have lost a two-way race with either the Republican or the Democrat. Here in Colorado, the Libertarian Party made waves, even if it didn't win big races. Sandra Johnson won around 22,000 votes for governor, much more than the 7,928 vote difference between Bill Owens and Gail Schoettler. In the State House, the LP may have cost the Republicans two seats. Lloyd Sweeny of Arvada won around 680 votes, compared to the 100 vote difference between Democrat Sue Wendells and Republican Denise Mund -- Wendells won the race. Earl Allen of Northglen won around 540 votes, compared to the 110 vote difference between Democrat Paul Zimmerman and Republican Pam Rhodes. Again the Democrat won. Those who vote LP but who favor the Republicans as second-best should be encouraged by such results. It is argued that the Socialist Party of the early 1900s, while never electing many officials, converted the Democratic Party to socialist causes. The LP could convert the Republican Party to market-liberal causes, thereby saving it from its mushy-headed moderation. - Ari Armstrong


Who Pays for Health Insurance?
January 1999 -- On Saturday, December 5, 1998, I spotted the following headline in The Denver Post:

Employer health costs to rise

I understand that people who write headlines don't have all the room in the world, so I made some allowances for this piece of double-speak.  But the article which followed was no clearer.  Throughout, it perpetuated the mistaken notion that employers actually pay for health insurance.

Get this straight, guys!  The "cost" of health insurance for an employee is paid by his productive labor.  The employer is just a financial intermediary.  The price of fringe benefits is deducted from the wages which the laborer might otherwise have been paid, and the employee's total earnings include not only his cash wages, but also the benefits and services he receives through his employer.

Economic concepts are hard enough to grasp without the double-speak.  Let's use plain language when we talk about them.  Next time just say

Health insurance premiums up

- David Bryant


Moral Lessons from the State
January 1999 -- The idea of the State trying to teach morality to children is repugnant, even when the moral precepts are sensible. All the worse when the moral lessons are misleading or vicious, as with the case of curriculum materials now used in Denver Metro government schools. I recently saw a package called "Teaching Curriculum for Moral Development: Grades 7-12," by A. Lynn Scoresby, Ph.D., published by Knowledge Gain Publications of Orem, Utah.

Under the section entitled, "Teaching Goal: To Correct Certain Misbehaviors/Problems," is listed, as a "misbehavior/problem," Self-Interest. The section "Sacrificing vs. Using" states: "Explain that sacrificing is giving up personal needs or wants to help other people get what they need or want. The opposite of sacrificing is using-manipulating others so that they give you what you want or need."

Of course, this analysis completely ignores the possibilities of mutual self-interest and benevolent trade, the cornerstones of a market, voluntaristic, civil society. Dismissing the possibility of benevolent cooperation is convenient for the State, for that leaves only the options of acting meanly or sacrificing. And what organization is better than the State at demanding sacrifice?

In 1880, the State stole children from Cape Cod parents with the force of guns and herded the children into government education camps. The State continues to force those of us who believe government schools harm children to subsidize such schools. Those who continue the Statist tradition of coercion are among the least suited to teach morality. - Ari Armstrong


Why Does Sun Hate Gates?
January 1999 -- Oddly, on December 6 the Rocky Mountain News printed a flagrantly biased op/ed from Scott McNealy, who as CEO of Sun Microsystems has a direct personal, financial interest in seeing the US government destroy his competition, Microsoft. Bill Gates was not allowed to respond. McNealy's article was long on flowery verbiage and short on reason and evidence. Fortunately, RMN printed a letter December 13 from Steve Lund, a member of the Front Range Objectivist Group, who concluded, "McNealy's argument comes down to a simple, vicious premise: Destroy Microsoft because it is too good. Using political power to punish economic success is, historically, how competition and innovation are arrested." The history of antitrust supports Lund's perspective: these laws have generally been used as weapons by some companies to weaken their competition. (See, for instance, The Causes and Consequences of Antitrust: The Public Choice Perspective, edited by Fred S. McChesney and William F. Shughart II.) Is it surprising that this particular US law has achieved results opposite of those explicitly promised? - Ari Armstrong
(The RMN also printed a nice response from Richard Roloff on December 16.)


State Backs Down, Stops Stomping Private Property and Free Speech
On August 31, 1999, the Colorado Department of Revenue sent its liquor enforcement goons to steal the signs posted in Leonard Carlo's bar in Colorado Springs. Some of the signs displayed curse words.

Thankfully, ACLU lawyer Mark Silverstein beat back these tyrannical actions of the government. In the July 7 Denver Post, Silverstein was quoted, "The Constitution does not permit government inspectors to monitor private businesses to ensure that the owners express themselves in accordance with government-approved standards of good taste." Would that the ACLU were consistently so libertarian!

Obviously, the Department of Revenue has too much time and too much money on its hands. It's budget should be dramatically cut next year by the state legislature, and its liquor enforcement division should be gutted.


Comrade Webb
Apparently, somebody forgot to tell Denver Mayor Wellington Webb that socialism doesn't work. According to the July 12 Rocky Mountain News (pages 4A, 6A, and 1B), Webb wants to increase his control over the citizens' lives in the following ways:

  • Forcibly take money from some citizens in order to subsidize child care facilities. (Just what we need: more help from politicians raising our children.)
  • Also subsidize health care facilities and programs.
  • Expand the hours and scope of operation for government schools.
  • Expand government housing projects and subsidies.
  • Force some citizens to pay for a "Real Millennium" party for others.
  • Expand socialized transportation to DIA.
  • Force Denver residents to pay for a "trade office" in China.
  • Force real estate developers to set aside 10% of their properties for low-income tenants.

If our concern is with the quality of health care, education, housing, and transportation -- rather than with the power of politicians -- then we should advocate getting the government out of all these programs, not expanding the government's role. The reason there's a problem getting child care is that a collective tax burden of nearly 50% forces both parents to work. In addition, welfare dependency encourages having children irresponsibly. The reason there's a problem with housing is that the government skews the market place, in some cases preventing development, in other cases encouraging dumb developmental projects. And America's medical system, now nearly socialized, used to work just fine before politicians like Comrade Webb got their hands on it.

It seems clear that Webb is more concerned about legacy-building and his political future. If he were really concerned about the well-being of the residents of Denver, he'd leave them alone.


Give Me Liberty or Give Me Cabbage
This passed along by the Independence Institute: legalities expanded beyond all reason in the United States.

Pythagorean Theorem: 24 words
The Lord's Prayer: 66 words
Archimedes' Principle: 67 words
The 10 Commandments: 179 words
The Gettysburg Address: 286 words
The Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words
The U.S. Government regulations on the sale of cabbage: 26,911 words


Tancredo's "Third Way"
In a recent fund-raising letter -- er, "opinion survey" which was "printed, published and mailed at taxpayer expense" -- 6th Congressman Tom Tancredo says he supports neither those who would confiscate guns nor those who merely call for the strict enforcement of the 20,000 (unconstitutional) gun laws "currently on the books." Instead, Tancredo puts himself in a "third group, which essentially agrees with the 'stronger enforcement,' side, but who are willing to consider additional measures, provided existing laws are enforced to the maximum extent possible..." Tancredo adds, "I am a strong supporter of 'Colorado Project Exile.'"

In the "survey," Tancredo lists only two alternatives: either support Project Gestapo (Exile), or pass new gun restriction laws. (Do you want BIG government or BIGGER government?) Of course, this list is not inclusive of the possibilities. An alternative which Tancredo doesn't even want to acknowledge exists is, "REPEAL the 20,000 unconstitutional gun restriction laws now on the books and return to freedom and Constitutional government." But in today's America, freedom is not presented as an option, at least not by Republican sell-outs like Tom Tancredo. - Ari Armstrong


SHAFTed by the Drug War
John Singleton should be ashamed of himself, or at least ashamed of Paramount Pictures, which marketed the film he directed, Shaft. Singleton should know better than most that the war on drugs is a war on minorities. Even though more whites do and sell illegal drugs, more blacks are arrested and more blacks serve hard time for this victimless "crime." Many inner cities are war zones because of the gang violence created by drug prohibition.

Yet in the June 23, 2000 edition of the Rocky Mountain News, page 8D, Paramount calls for stepping-up the drug war. The entire ad reads as follows:

Still the Man
"No drugs, no mercy, no doubt... Shaft is back! With detective John Shaft on the streets, there's no place for crime, no place for drugs and no place to hide."
Partnership for a Drug-Free America
Samuel L. Jackson
SHAFT
Any Questions?
This message produced in association with partnership for a drug-free America
www.shaft-themovie.com www.drugfreeamerica.org
Paramount A Viacom Company
TM & Copyright (c) 2000 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Do not have any doubts that the drug war is a colossal failure. Do not have any mercy for black mothers and fathers who are separated from their families for years or decades because of a minor role in a drug offense. Do not show any mercy for Peter McWilliams, who choked to death on his own vomit because Federal agents prohibited him from taking his anti-nausea medication, marijuana. No drugs, no mercy, no doubt. Somebody forgot to mention, "NO JUSTICE."

Shaft is back. It's only too bad he's being used as a pawn in the Federal government's unconstitutional and unjust war on drugs. - Ari Armstrong


School Funding
According to a June 22, 2000 article in the Rocky Mountain News, "The Colorado Education Network is pushing for a constitutional amendment that would increase funding for each pupil by at least 1 percent more than inflation each year for the next decade."

Great -- now even more pencil-pushing bureaucrats can live off the wealth eared by the rest of us. You don't actually think that money would go to improve education, do you? If anything, there's a negative correlation between funding and performance -- the more money spent per pupil, the worse the results. To put it another way, the more non-teaching bureaucrats a school hires, the more time and money it wastes on the latest "educational" fads that detract from true learning.

If education were the true standard here, rather than lining the pockets of the teachers' unions, funding for government schools would be gradually reduced -- all the way to zero. That would leave parents and private charity organizations free to pursue an education that works best for the students. - Ari Armstrong


Don't Waste Your Vote on Bush
George W. Bush supports prior restraint on the Second Amendment. Fred Brown writes in the Denver Post May 31, 2000: "He supports gun rights, Bush said, but he also favors some 'rational' controls, such as background checks on people who wish to purchase guns at private gun shows. 'I think anytime a person buys a gun in a public place there ought to be an instant background check.' He said he would support - and has supported - federal licensing for dealers at private gun shows. 'I think they ought to issue licenses so that gun-show dealers can access the instant background-check system,' he said."


Lock Up My Safety? No Thanks...
"I would like to present a scenario. While my husband is away, an armed robber breaks into my house. In fear, I realize that my husband's smart gun will not recognize my fingerprinting. I shakily try to remember the code to the trigger lock on the only other pistol in the house, only to realize that it is too late. The burglar is in my bedroom, and I realize that his gun is perfectly operable. As the cold steel rips through my chest, I remember the times I lay in my husband's arms and the walks I took with my grandchildren and know that they will never have my warm kisses or hugs again. For I am dead... Will my children be invited to Capitol Hill to discuss more gun control?"

-- Laura West, Washington Times Weekly, April 30, 2000


The American Spirit
"I was in a German prisoner of war camp and it was there I had my first contact with Americans. I found that they had a unique ability, the ability not to envy, but to applaud other people's success. And it was then that I fell in love with Americans and America, and that love affair has gone on through the years. I would like to think that it is epitomized by this gift from you tonight, which I would like to think of as a token of mutual affection. I hope you will allow me to share whatever talent I have with you in the years to come in this country, in this wonderful country. God bless America."

-- British-born actor Roy Dotrice in accepting his Tony Award Sunday for "Moon for the Misbegotten," reprinted in the Wall Street Journal.


Tangled Webb
On April 30, 2000, Denver Mayor Wellington Webb spoke in the nation's capitol in support of gay rights. "The rights of all people must be respected," he said. Webb also cited the 14th Amendment, saying that law requires states to respect the equal rights of gays.

So far, so good. But the 14th Amendment was passed in part to overturn the Jim Crow era laws that disarmed blacks. Minorities -- including blacks and gays -- have always been most empowered by the right to keep and bear arms. But Webb only invokes the Constitution when it's convenient for him. When it's inconvenient, he has no qualms about riding roughshod over it. - Ari Armstrong

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com