Freedom Updates: April 8, 2002

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Freedom Updates: April 8, 2002

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.


Tattered Cover Wins!

Congratulations to Tattered Cover Bookstore for its victory today in the Colorado Supreme Court. The store issued the following statements.

The Colorado Supreme Court today reiterated this state's long tradition of protecting expressive freedoms in unanimously holding that a city's attempt to obtain customer book-purchasing records from a bookstore was precluded by the government's inability to demonstrate a compelling need for the records. Recognizing that book-purchasing records are protected by both the United States and Colorado Constitutions, the Court further held that in the future, anytime the government seeks to obtain such records, the bookstore must be afforded a due process hearing in advance where a court will determine whether law enforcement officials have a sufficiently compelling need for the information.

The Court is the first state Supreme Court in the nation to address this issue. "Not only is this case a victory for readers and book purchasers in Colorado, but we believe the Court's opinion sets an important precedent for readers, bookstores, and library patrons throughout the country, who can now look to Colorado law for guidance when the First Amendment rights of readers collide with the desire of law enforcement," said Joyce Meskis, owner of Denver's Tattered Cover Bookstore, which brought the appeal.

The case arose from efforts by the North Metro Drug Task Force to obtain book-purchasing records of a suspected drug dealer. The Tattered Cover refused to turn over the records, arguing that the book-purchasing practices of its customers are protected by the Constitution, and that the government failed to demonstrate a compelling need for the records.

Writing for the Court, Justice Michael Bender rejected the City's arguments, and recognized that "the content-related uses of the book purchase records in this case are not easily separated from the non-content related uses." The Court stated, "Had it not been for the Tattered Cover's steadfast stance, the zealousness of the City would have led to the disclosure of information that we ultimately conclude is constitutionally protected." The Court stressed that customer anonymity is vitally important to the free exchange of ideas inherent in the buying, selling and reading of books. "Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation -- and their ideas from suppression -- at the hand of an intolerant society," wrote Justice Bender.

Project Exile a Sham

David Holthouse wrote an outstanding investigative report for the March 21-27 Westword about Project Exile (http://westword.com/issues/2002-03-21/feature.html/1/index.html). Holthouse concludes that most people sent to prison under Project Exile didn't actually use a gun to commit a crime: they were merely busted with a gun and a felony record. Of course, felonies include "white collar" crimes that aren't physically violent as well as "victimless crimes."


State Senator Wrongly Denied for Gun Purchase

The March 19 Denver Post reported, "Sen. Jim Dyer, shopping at the Tanner Gun Show over the weekend, was told he could not buy a weapon because he failed a background check. Apparently, the Littleton Republican has an outstanding warrant in Denver for driving without insurance." While Dyer couldn't locate his insurance card at the time he was pulled over, he later showed proof of insurance.

Dyer told the Post, "How many people are denied for no legitimate reason? This is a classic example of someone being denied a firearm that shouldn't have been."

I'm sure Socialist Alternatives to the Freedom Epidemic is proud of its accomplishment.


Bigotry Against Gun Owners

Dana S. Franklin of Denver wrote a letter for the March 6 Rocky Mountain News in which she asked, "Why can't people be responsible with their guns? It's been proven again and again that we can't expect anyone to be safe from gun owners."

Of course, the truth is that the overwhelming majority of gun owners are highly responsible. While some people misuse guns, most use guns to deter and prevent crime (as well as for sporting purposes).

A March 11 story in the same newspaper began, "An apparent domestic dispute turned deadly early Sunday when a woman was beaten to death, possibly with a hammer, and the suspect stabbed himself while calling police." When does Dana Franklin intend to write in, "Why can't people be responsible with their hammers? It's been proven again and again that we can't expect anyone to be safe from hammer owners." Apparently she isn't bigoted against hammer owners or knife owners, only gun owners.


Bush-Speak

Bush, or at least his writers, released the following statement, which was reported in an AP story that ran March 6 in the Rocky Mountain News: "An integral part of our commitment to free trade is our commitment to enforcing trade laws to make sure that America's industries and workers compete on a level playing field."

That's the remark Bush used to rationalize placing new tariffs on imported steel. Freedom is slavery, and free trade is restricted trade.


Brady's Son Gets GOA Membership

Sarah Brady bought her son a rifle as a gift. It has been alleged that Brady made a "straw purchase" as defined by the laws of Delaware. Gun Owners of America sent out a release March 25 that began, "Gun Owners of America today awarded Sarah Brady's son, Scott, an honorary one-year GOA membership. 'Now that Scott Brady is the proud owner of a high-powered "sniper" rifle, he will most certainly need a fuller understanding of the Second Amendment than he ever received at home,' said Erich Pratt, Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America. In her recent book, Sarah Brady admits to having engaged in a straw purchase when she bought a .30-06 on her son's behalf, allowing him to avoid the required criminal background check."

Of course, Pratt argued the law is unjust, anyway, as a means to register gun owners with the government. "Registration and confiscation have been problems even in this country. New York City registered long guns in the mid-1960s, after promising those registration lists would never be used to confiscate the guns. But in 1991, Handgun Control, Inc., supported the city when it banned many of the very guns which were previously registered. Some homes even received visits from police, who confiscated the banned firearms from the clutches of non- compliant gun owners."

Also see http://www.miami.com/mld/miami/news/politics/2909641.htm.


Campaign Finance Deform

"Congress shall make no law."

Apparently, the Bill of Rights is little more than a joke to the law makers in Washington, D.C. Tibor Machan, an Objectivist philosopher, recently pointed out the origins of campaign finance problems, as well as the only solution for those problems (March 26, http://www.cato.org/dailys/03-26-02.html).

" So long as government is in the business of taking wealth from us and then sending some of it back to a select few, citizens will try to pay off officials so they are the recipients of the largess, not others. Those who believe they are entitled to be given support by this method will work hard to make sure they have the best chance to be the beneficiaries of such wealth redistribution. Yet the evidence of the ineffectiveness of restraints is clear. People in all ages have done their best to get in front of the line waiting to get a handout from the state. And all the hand-wringing and double talk about reform has done nothing to alter this fact. Reason, wisdom, insight, prudence, and common sense counsels that campaign finance reform is a ruse. Yet millions of people put their faith in various measures to produce such reform. It's not unlike tax reform. It starts off with the dream of fairness and efficiency, but quickly becomes no more than the production of loopholes and special privileges. The bottom line? There is no way to make a corrupt system good."


Quillen Takes Drug Czar to Task

Ed Quillen, the Denver Post columnist who will speak at this year's Colorado LP convention, wrote a March 10 article in which he blasted the $3.2 million ad campaign that tries to link drug use to supporting terrorism.

"[I]f it's a global financial network that puts drug money into terrorist organizations, why are the feds still so rabid in going after people who grow their own? It's hard to imagine how that could 'help a bomber get a passport,' but the Bush administration believes we're stupid enough to believe such things, especially if they're repeated often enough in prime time... And here's the big question - why is there so much money in the drug trade? Because drugs are illegal... If we were serious about taking the immense profits out of drugs, we'd be trying some other approach."


Superman For Stem Cell Research

The Washington Post reported March 6, "The debate over whether to ban research on cloned human embryos escalated with a Senate appearance by Christopher Reeve, the paralyzed actor. He warned that extremists are poised to deny the freedom to seek lifesaving treatments for the ill."


Lovell Takes on Littwin

I have enjoyed many of Mike Littwin's columns. I have not enjoyed his prejudiced rantings about civil arms. Clarence Lovell sent out a public e-mail April 8 in which he too criticizes Littwin's treatment of the subject. While I disagree with Lovell on such issues as immigration, I think he hit the nail on the head here.

"To Mr. John Temple, Publisher and President of Rocky Mountain News: Sir, we've been loyal readers of Rocky Mountain News for over 34 years. We intend to remain loyal readers. However, we think you should know we feel there has been a recent slippage in competence evidenced by one of your Columnists - Mike Littwin. - His articles are certainly not the principled, logically objective, substantive [articles of] integrity we have come to expect from the Rocky Mountain News... Mr. Littwin's theatricals, hysterics and emotionalism may admirably suit his background as a sportswriter - but hardly suitable for serious matters relating to unalienable rights, Bills of Rights, rule of law, history. Politics etc. demand serious, sober thought and are too serious for flippant, "cute" writing. Mr. Littwin's articles are certainly disgusting to the more educated readers of your paper. We hope you can continue to strive for the moral and educated standards we have come to expect of your paper."

Littwin wrote three articles about concealed carry:
Carry Concealed Weapons guys look serious (March 21)
Carry Concealed Weapons debate revealing (March 23)
Gun Bill packs no wallop or does it? (April 6)

Incidentally, I do agree with one of Littwin's points. He suggested the NRA is not forthcoming about its intentions. That is often true. Instead of seizing the moral high ground and arguing for justifiable changes, the NRA often sneaks around and avoids making the moral and practical case for gun ownership.

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