Project Gestapo

The Colorado Freedom Report:  A libertarian journal of politics and culture.

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Project Gestapo

by Ari Armstrong, March 7, 2000

Wayne LaPierre wants to send non-violent gun owners who arm themselves for self-defense to prison if they violate arbitrary, unconstitutional disarmament laws on the books of a local, state, or federal government. That was implicit in LaPierre's message March 6 during a joint meeting in Denver with victim disarmament advocates Jim Brady, Wellington Webb, Mark Udall, and Tom Mauser.

LaPierre, Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association, joined the meeting to promote what proponents are calling "Project Exile." Rocky Mountain Gun Owners said a better name for the policy is "Project Gulag," as its effect will be to send honest gun owners to prison for technical violations of unconstitutional firearms laws. The policy has also been called "Project Gestapo" for its ominous parallels to tactics employed by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

Ironically, the NRA opposed many of the laws LaPierre now wants to see fully enforced.

Not only did LaPierre attend the Denver meeting with anti-gun zealots, but he threw his support (and NRA funds) behind a government propaganda program that encourages citizens to turn in their neighbors for technical firearms violations. Mark Call of the Tyranny Response Team attended the meeting and asked LaPierre if he'd correctly heard the phone number to be publicized for turning in one's neighbors: "Is it 1-800-GESTAPO?"

About 500 civil gun rights advocates gathered later in the day to protest Mauser's group Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic, the name of which likens gun ownership to a disease, which held a fundraising event that evening to place victim disarmament proposals on the November ballot. Many of the protesters also expressed disgust with LaPierre's actions taken earlier in the day at the same location. Some publicly tore up their NRA membership cards in protest.

Bob Glass, a founder of the Tyranny Response Team, said the problem with "Project Gestapo" is that it doesn't differentiate between violent criminals and those who merely violate technical firearms laws which aren't even constitutional. LaPierre's Project will affect those who bear arms to protect against violent criminals, not just the criminals themselves. Glass and others said "Project Gestapo" is bound to have a chilling effect on the use of guns for self-defense.

Most people don't even know what an "illegal gun" is by the myriad of conflicting definitions in force today. Some fear the police, acting on tips from ignorant informants, will eventually seek more no-knock raid warrants to break down the doors of gun owners.

The NRA's Neal Knox is seeking to oust LaPierre and restore the organization to its role in protecting honest gun owners. Knox sent out a letter complaining about many of LaPierre's comments and policies (available at http://www.freecolorado.com/2000/02/nraleaders.html.)

Of course, "Project Gestapo" won't be enforced consistently. For instance, as Kevin Flynn wrote March 5 for The Rocky Mountain News, Dave Conner, who now works for the U.S. attorney's office, once carried an illegal handgun to work. Conner may have broken at least three laws, according to Flynn: "It is illegal in Denver to carry a loaded weapon. Colorado law prohibits carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. And federal law forbids most people from bringing guns into federal buildings."

But did U.S. Attorney Tom Strickland call on Conner to serve time in federal prison? Of course not. Instead, Strickland will work with Conner to "Exile" non-violent citizen gun owners to prison. Strickland had highest praise for his law-breaking fellow prosecutor: "Dave Conner has one of the finest reputations of any prosecutor who's ever served in Colorado. He admitted a mistake, it was fully investigated and he was reprimanded. We're honored that he would consider returning to the U.S. attorney's office."

When politicians, bureaucrats, legal enforcers and other members of the political elite break the law, it's a "mistake" for which they get "reprimanded." What happens when normal people break these same laws? Lee White, Chairman of Colorado Project Exile," said, "No citizen will miss this message: An illegal gun will result in a prison sentence" (March 7 News, 5A, emphasis added).

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