Freedom Updates: June 12, 2002

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

The Colorado Freedom

Freedom Updates: June 12, 2002

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.

1404 Set to Become Law

Governor Owens signed HB 1404 May 31. That bill reforms Colorado's asset forfeiture laws by requiring a criminal conviction prior to forfeiture in most cases, raising the standard of proof to "clear and convincing" evidence, and redirecting the proceeds of forfeiture. The bill passed the house April 16 by a vote of 51-11, and it passed the senate May 3 by a vote of 23-10.

We should offer our thanks to those politicians who supported the bill, especially Shawn Mitchell who championed 1404 in the house.

We should also remember who voted against it. The following state representatives, all Democrats, voted NO on 1404: Borodkin, Chavez, Coleman, Hodge, Mace, Ragsdale, Romanoff, Saliman, Veiga, Vigil, and Weddig.

The following state senators voted NO on 1404: Arnold (R), Dyer (R), Entz (R), Epps (R), Fitz-Gerald (D), Gordon (D), Hernandez (D), Linkhart (D), Reeves (D), and Taylor (R).

Representatives Grossman (D), Jameson (D), and Plant (D) were excused from the vote, as were Senators Matsunaka (D) and Evans (R).

Insanity at Government Schools

Fourth-grade children were playing space aliens at Dry Creek Elementary School. They pointed their fingers and pretended to shoot each other in this mock conflict.

For everyone who remembers being a child, this is harmless kids' play. For the petty tyrants who run the school, it is an offense deserving suspension. The school suspended seven children over the matter.

Even more disturbing, according to the May 13 Washington Times, "[T]he principal, Darci Mickle, also quizzed the boys on whether their families owned guns."

Dave Kopel responded, "Clearly that's outrageous. That's like asking what political party your parents belong to, or how they voted, or whether they've ever had an abortion. It's none of the schools' business how parents exercise their constitutional rights. The first thing I'd say is, that's extremely bad judgment. The second thing is, that principal should be fired."

John Head, a co-founder of the Colorado group Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic, the name of which likens gun ownership to a disease, disagreed. The Times reported, "Mr. Head backed the district on that decision, saying that society has a legitimate interest in knowing where the guns are. 'I know that doctors are doing it, and increasingly parents are doing it -- asking if there are guns stored in the home before letting their child play at someone's house,' he said."

Fortunately, Head was a little more sensible when it came to the suspensions. He said, "It sounds to me like innocent child's play. I'm not sympathetic to disciplining for that kind of play. What I have a problem with is when children have guns and point them at each other." Head didn't bother to explain why he thought a government school principal should interrogate children about their parents' gun ownership over a matter of "innocent child's play." Does Head believe principals should interrogate all children on such matters?

Arnie Grossman, Head's somewhat more reasonable partner, told the Rocky Mountain News May 14, "I don't really see children pointing their fingers at aliens as being a gun issue. There's no real threat. All of us played cops and robbers when we were young."

What are the lessons taught by this Colorado government school? The rules are ambiguous and capricious. Those in authority rule by fiat. There is no justice, only control. What kind of society is best suited for children who learn these lessons?

The silver lining to this fiasco is that most people seem to realize the school officials are acting ridiculously. Surely these intolerant and insane policies will only encourage more parents to homeschool their children. The father of one of the boys, Chris Dunmall, told the Times about his son, "He's learned that there are some really small people out there who actually get in power sometimes. He's learned to question authority, which is probably not a bad lesson."

To read more about this issue, see the following articles.,1299,DRMN_38_1146964,00.html,1299,DRMN_15_1145302,00.html

Owens Vetoes SB 39

FOR RELEASE: June 10, 2002
CONTACT: Michael W. Seebeck, Public Information Director
PHONE: (719) 382-9529

Owens Vetoes Drug Treatment, Opts to Overcrowd Jails Instead

As the 2002 legislative session came to a close in Denver, several of the 877 proposed bills made their way to Governor Owens' desk. There were a few good bills and there were many bad bills. One such good bill in particular was SB39, which would enact serious drug reform.

This bill would have removed many minor drug users from the jails and put them into treatment programs, freeing up much-needed bed space in the jails and prisons for violent criminals. Owens vetoed it, citing a fictional "risk to public safety."

Upon hearing of the veto, John Berntson, Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Colorado, had these comments:

"Governor Owens, are you this out of touch with reality? Drug abuse is an addiction, an illness, and it is far overdue for it to be treated as such. SB39 would have started Colorado on that good and proper path, yet all you want to do is destroy families, jail everyone, and further intrude government into people's lives, all because of a chemical or a plant voluntarily ingested.

"Those who take drugs do so at their own risk, and while it is a sad thing, it is also an individual choice, and as long as it does not infringe upon others, it should not be a crime. However, when addicts commit crimes such as burglary to supply a habit, that actually is real crime and it needs to be dealt with harshly.

"We need the state to punish crime when it is crime, and the people to treat illness when it is illness. The state should not be punishing illness as if it were a crime. It is past time to enact real reform in these areas, and your obligation to the people of Colorado is to end the state's role in the War on Drugs and state intrusion into private lives."

The Libertarian Party of Colorado supports the legalization of marijuana and ending the War on Drugs, favoring a change to private illness treatment and personal responsibility instead of the current Nanny State.

Owens Signs Cold-Pill Bill

According to the June 7 Rocky Mountain News, Governor Owens signed two bills the previous day making it a crime to have too many cold pills, diet pills, or other items that *might* be used to manufacture methamphetamine.

I wrote about this issue in the article "Felony Cold Pills" at We are rushing headlong into a police state, when diet pills and cold medication are criminalized. Could there be any more clear indication that the war on drugs is absurd, and that, as Milton Friedman said, the "drug war cannot be won... without undermining... human liberty and individual freedom"?

What's interesting is that Senator Ken Gordon, a Democrat well-known for his desire to make the war on drugs marginally less draconian, sponsored the cold-pill bill. Why did he do that? He also sponsored SB 39, which would have reduced by one step the felony charges for simple drug possession. It was a pretty weak bill, but a step in the right direction.

Last year, Gordon killed a bill endorsed by the Criminal Justice Reform Coalition (then the Prison Moratorium Coalition) that would have seriously reformed sentencing for drug offenses in Colorado. Gordon told us he killed that bill so that he could pass a more moderate reform this year. Rumor has it that Owens pressured Gordon to kill last year's bill.

I asked Gordon about why he supported the cold-pill bill. He said it was because meth is so addictive and dangerous. But I think he also expected it would make it easier for Owens to swallow 39.

Owens explained his reasoning for vetoing 39: "It is a sad fact that those who are addicted to illicit substances are more likely to commit other types of crimes in order to feed their habit and that the most effective way to rehabilitate these offenders is through the type of long-term drug treatment program offered in our prisons." The proper conclusion to draw from the fact that drug addicts commit crimes to "feed their habit" is that prohibition should be repealed, because it raises the price of drugs and diverts law enforcement resources away from real crimes. And the suggestion that addicts are best treated in prison is laughable.

Libertarians got the worst of both worlds. Now it's a crime to have "too many" cold pills or diet pills, and we got no reform of the sentencing laws. Is Gordon surprised? I predicted this very outcome months ago. Owens stuck it to gun owners with Amendment 22, and now he has stuck it to Gordon and sentencing reformers.

Johnson Takes On Drug War

Joe Johnson, chair of the Libertarian Party of Boulder County, sent the following letter to the Rocky Mountain News. It was printed on June 10.

Drug war advocate's arguments are shallow

In his Speakout column of June 3, "War on Drugs should not be abandoned," Richard Stacy refuses to recognize facts while daring "anyone . . . to prove otherwise" in his ill-founded argument to continue the failed drug prohibition experiment.

Stacy states ". . . alcohol lands more people in jail than all other drugs combined," despite the clearly documented fact that there are currently more people in federal prisons for drug offenses than all other crimes combined!

To prove just how shallow the prohibitionist argument really is, he then implies that we would suddenly have surgeons operating and pilots flying while high on dope if we ended drug prohibition, as if we currently suffer from drunken doctors and pilots because of the end of alcohol prohibition.

Lastly, he mentions Brittney Chambers' death from Ecstasy. Did he suddenly forget that Ecstasy is already illegal? Would making it "double illegal" bring Brittney back to life? He failed to mention of course, that Ismael Mena would be alive today if we had ended drug prohibition and its concomitant no-knock raids.

Matthew Baker's letter appeared on the same page. He writes, "The author states that any deviation from our current policies would lead 'millions of nonusing Americans' to start 'using those drugs.' There is not one shred of evidence to support his statement. The assertion that a 'surgeon' might shoot 'a little heroin or crank' before fixing your busted ski knee defies logic and is an insult to people who take these issues seriously."

"Drug War Propaganda" Article Gets Attention

My article "The Rapid Rise of Drug War Propaganda and the Police State" ( was mentioned by two other media outlets. linked to the article June 3 and summarized, "A detailed, well-argued rebuttal to a sensationalist anti-meth program airing in the Denver metro area."

The issue became Dave Kopel's lead story in his June 2 "On the Media" column in the Rocky Mountain News. (The column appears on Sunday, when the Rocky gets a page for opinions in the Post.)

Kopel sums up, "[T]he program uses government money to terrify viewers about the alleged need for more government power. Even worse, the program frantically encourages neighbors to inform against their neighbors for engaging in innocent activities."

Kopel covers several points also contained in my article, and he concludes, "Shame on government television for setting neighbor against neighbor -- and kudos to Ari Armstrong, whose Colorado Freedom Report Web site ( first exposed the problem."

The "On the Media" column, which Kopel shares with Greg Dobbs, is the best thing to come out of the quasi-merger between the News and the Post.

The Presumption of Innocence

Sarah Huntley's June 7 Rocky Mountain News article, "Allegations recanted, but a life is lost," serves to remind us of the importance of the presumption of innocence.

Huntley relates, "A young teenage girl said 19-year-old Richard B. Gonzales sexually assaulted her during a party at a friend's house last month. The girl later withdrew the allegation, police said... The 19-year-old Lochbuie man was gunned down as he drove home from his girlfriend's house on May 7... Now two of the girl's relatives are behind bars..."

If the story is true -- the arrested men also deserve the presumption of innocence -- it is a horrible story of justice gone awry. The story reminds us that we need to refrain from jumping to conclusions, consider alternative explanations for events, and treat people as innocent until proven guilty.

Art Renewal

My Objectivist friends turned me on to a truly wonderful web page dedicated to realist or representational art: The following explanation is quoted from that page.

"[T]he Art Renewal Center is building an encyclopedic collection of essays, biographies and articles by top scholars in the field.

"ARC is the Eye of the Storm, at the core, hub and center of a major cultural shift in the art world. With a growing body of experts, we are setting standards of ARC Approval for artists, art schools, systems of training, museum exhibitions and historical scholarship, to bring guidance, direction, goals and reality to an art establishment that has been sailing rudderless for nearly a hundred years.

"Additionally, the Art Renewal Center is a non-profit educational organization committed to reviving standards of craftsmanship and excellence. Only by gaining a full command of the skills of the past Masters can we create the Masters of tomorrow. This is a step forward for our culture. Experimentation and creativity can only succeed and prosper when built on a solid foundation of past accomplishments, with the tools which empower artists to realize their visions.

"Nothing has been more restricting and debilitating than the theories of modernism, which eliminated these tools, along with the skills to employ them. We are providing a forum for artists, scholars, collectors and the public to appreciate great art, and to recognize that they're not alone in their suspicions about the emptiness of modern and postmodern art. These suspicions are fully justified by the overwhelming body of evidence and historical facts."

On-Line Arrest Records

Todd Hartman of the Rocky Mountain News called me May 28 to see what libertarians think about on-line arrest records.

I told him I didn't know.

I offered him some cursory comments and then attempted to put him in contact with experts such as Paul Grant and Sheriff Masters.

Hartman quoted me in the May 29 News, page 9A: "Privacy and civil liberties advocates aren't typically enthusiastic about such systems, but those contacted about the new CBI online database aren't concerned. Ari Armstrong, an activist with Libertarian Party of Colorado, said the question was a tricky one because there are good arguments for and against. 'The argument for online records is it allows people to check up on what police are doing,' Armstrong said."

I wish Hartman had specified my arguments against. (Apparently, a quote he included from another source was cut from the article.) I said the records are often inaccurate and I was concerned people would mis-use the records by assuming guilt.

The good news is, the Libertarian Party was listed as a "civil liberties" group worth quoting. If readers have a well-formed opinion about the matter, please let me know what it is!

Allard: Take Amendment 22 National

Senator Wayne Allard wants to impose Amendment 22 on a national scale. Allard told the Denver Post May 12 he "would support legislation at the federal level that is identical to the state ballot initiative" passed in 2000 that placed more controls on gun shows. Allard said he also voted for Amendment 22.

Dave Kopel wrote an article about the latest attempt to register more gun owners with the federal government and grant more powers to the BATF. It's at While the latest federal proposal is even worse than the Colorado law, any attempt to register gun owners with the federal government is unconstitutional and unjust. A real Senator, someone who cared about freedom, would support the repeal of the Brady law, not seek to expand it.

Congress Shall Make No Law

Mark Call, a radio show host on 1360 AM, 4-5 daily, responded to Joseph Farah's editorial of April 19 at Following is Call's reply to Farah.

Rarely have I found myself needing to write to tell you simply that you are wrong; however, this is such a time. You are obviously correct about the moral compass in our nation, and the venality of kiddie porn. And - as the old saying goes, even a blind pig (certainly an appropriate metaphor for the Supreme Court) occasionally stumbles over a truffle. Unfortunately, in this case, while you were watching for the left jab of immorality, you leaned into the right hook of bad law.

The issue is the words "Congress shall make NO law..."! As the Founders pointed out, there is no power given in the Constitution to the central government to do that for which NO power is given. That should be the end of the story. The fact that they found it necessary to be EXTRA clear -- "NO law" ... prohibiting free exercise of religion, or abridging freedom of speech...or assembly, or infringing the right to arms, is reason to understand that the central government was simply prohibited from trespassing those God-given rights.

Thank you, Joe, but we've already SEEN what criminals in office or in black robes can do when given ANY latitude to twist what the meaning of words "is".

I agree with Jefferson that "To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress is to take possession of a boundless field of power no longer susceptible to any definition." We've seen swarms of bureaucrats sent hither already because of "compelling State interests" to take away our property, prohibit our self-defense, invade our homes without warrant, and - most recently - to prohibit POLITICAL speech 'before an election'; simply because we have allowed them to twist the meaning of the word "NO".

Lastly, the "right hook". If we ever allow the debate to shift from "Congress shall make no law" to allowing Big Brother to define "speech", those of us who know that the Bible is the Word of God will find government's disdain for His Word is even greater than to ours before an election, or to 'virtual' porn. I can already hear - and so can anyone else with ears to hear - the clamor to regulate, restrict, and eventually, prohibit, any book where Lot would sleep with his daughters, or - horrors - where Politically Correct forms of Protected Sexual Expression would be 'dissed' (Lev. 18:22 et al) by the Creator. (We'll start by taking away the offenders' State-granted 501(c)-3 privilege to 'special tax treatment', of course.)

The time to stand on principle, and say "NO!" to usurpation of power, is before it becomes extended by the exercise. We must be exceptionally wary when our knee-jerk reaction is to think "THIS case is an exception"; this time the ends DO justify the means. Tyranny arrives in reasonable-looking steps.

Mark G. Call

PS. I consider the 'it's for the children' argument to be tainted, by obvious bad precedent. Nevertheless, for those that want to fight kiddie porn, virtual or not, the proper forum is clearly their STATE, where it is possible they may find some power still reserved. We have been trained to look to Big Brother first, when Our Lord teaches that we should look to Him, but take responsibility ourselves -- especially for training our children in the way they should go.

The FEE Convention

I attended the convention hosted by the Foundation for Economic Education May 3-5 in Las Vegas. It was a great time. I'll review only some of the highlights. Roger Garrison, author of Time and Money, explained how Greenspan gave up his advocacy of the gold standard and inflated the money supply in recent years, to the detriment of the economy. Johan Norberg, the Swedish author of In Defense of Global Capitalism, gave a talk by the same name.

FEE's "big guns" were Charles Murray and Dinesh D'Souza. I have not spent a great deal of time studying his works, but my impression is that Murray gives insufficient attention to the ways in which intelligence develops after birth, which makes him overly pessimistic.

D'Souza discussed the virtues of America and why some people hate us. He described the "oppression theory" of wealth: "You are down because they are up." In reality, America's wealth does not impoverish other nations, it enriches them. The poverty of other nations is created by internal political and social conditions. Our goal with respect to the religious wars is to "turn Muslims into liberals." D'Souza believes the argument that "a coerced virtue is no virtue at all," may make headway with some Muslims. D'Souza, an immigrant from India, praised American values. "In America, we get to write the script to our own life."

Colorado's own Doug Casey gave a hilarious if irreverent speech that sent some people walking. He argued America is in decline partly because of Christianity. "The United States is the new Roman Empire," he argued. Casey mentioned one parallel I hadn't thought of before. In the U.S., whereas coins were once stamped with images of Liberty and Justice, they slowly came to display the faces of politicians. "If you get anything out of politics, it ought to be entertainment," Casey quipped. He said we need only two laws: Do what you say, and Don't aggress against person or property. Casey also writes for Liberty Magazine, and he's a rather eccentric investment advisor.

I'm taking a wait-and-see approach with Mark Skousen, the new president of FEE. I found his lectures to be bland and uninformative. I thought the convention put too much emphasis on religion and conservatism, and I'm worried that Skousen will ruin Laissez Faire Books, which was recently acquired by FEE. Hopefully, Skousen will demonstrate my fears are unwarranted.

Brian Schwartz, Ron Crickenberger, and Ari Armstrong hang out at the LP's table at the FEE convention.

What Social Security Means to Me

I'm sure you get them, too. "Your Social Security Statement." This piece of junk mail from the national government condescends to tell us "What Social Security Means to You." It says, "We're sending you this Social Security Statement to help you understand what Social Security means to you and your family."

But I don't need some bureaucrat to tell me what government programs mean to me. I already know. What Social Security means to me is that I'm being defrauded by the national government. What Social Security means to me is that 15% of my income is flushed down the toilet. What Social Security means to me is that I live in a condo rather than a house, and my wife and I have put off having children so we can pay off debts. What Social Security means to me is that I'm treated like a child by dipshits in Washington, D.C. who understand less about economics than I do. What Social Security means to me is that my ability to rationally plan for my own future is limited, because politicians and bureaucrats are trying to plan it for me, and failing miserably.

What Social Security means to me is that I first get to subsidize a fraudulent Ponzi scheme, and then I get to pay more tax dollars so the government can send me junk mail that tries to convince me I can't live without this insane program. Thus, insult is added to injury.

I don't want mandated, regulated accounts. I want the freedom and responsibility to spend or invest my money how I want, when I want. Yes, promises to those currently taking Social Security benefits should be kept. And I favor limited, voluntary charity programs to help those truly in need. But Socialized Insecurity must be abolished and wiped from the face of the earth.

Media Notes

Caldara Discusses the Drought

Jon Caldara wrote for the Daily Camera, "The best way to allocate any commodity, including water, is to price it in the market place. We can either ration it like the Soviets did with toilet paper, or we can allow those with water rights sell it in an open market. Terry Anderson and Pamela Snyder of the Political Economy Research Center ( detail the practice in their book 'Pursuit of Water Markets: Priming the Invisible Pump.' The overwhelming majority of Colorado's water goes to farmers... So, Boulder Mayor Will Toor can zone every backyard into brown-grass open space and City Councilman Spense Halvick can force low-flow toilets into every house at gunpoint and it still won't make a dent in this, or any, drought until we address the agricultural use of water. And only by bringing a true market price to water will farmers make tough choices about how they irrigate."

The Independence Institute

The June 2 Denver Post ran a humorous article titled, "A Wal-Mart *and* Jon Caldara in Boulder? Why not?" Barrie Hartman, the article's author, writes, "I like the Camera's efforts to provide more balance on the opinion pages and even of its selection of the controversial Caldara." However, Hartman also claims Caldara "runs the Libertarian sanctuary known as the Independence Institute in Golden." The II is more of a sanctuary for Republicans, though of course many libertarians participate in the organization (including me). Kopel is probably the most libertarian-thinking person at the II, and he's a registered Democrat.

Concealed Carry Debate

John Head debates Alan Gottlieb and Dave Workman about concealed carry in the following two articles.,1002,73%257E507786,00.html,1002,73~507787,00.html

Bob Ewegen on Libertarians

Bob Ewegen wrote an article titled "Libertarians challenge the Drug War" for the June 1 Denver Post. He discussed Tom Preble, a libertarian writer, and Sheriff Bill Masters. Ewegen urged his readers to purchase a copy of Masters' book and concluded, "The Bill of Rights you save could be your own."

On May 18, Ewegen wrote, "The thin but heady air of liberty." He discussed Joe Swyers, the Leadville city council member who dumped the LP. He referred to gubernatorial candidate Ralph Shnelvar as "one of the most eloquent men I've ever met in local politics." He blasted Rick Stanley and quoted his then-opponent Steve D'Ippolito. He concluded, "This year, Libertarians have raised their sights. They're running to win and hope to duplicate their success in Leadville on a statewide stage. They still face long odds. But win or lose, these Sons and Daughters of Liberty are already bringing the fresh air of freedom into the dreary atmosphere of politics as usual."

Airport Insecurity

On June 1, the Rocky Mountain News reprinted an article from the San Francisco Chronicle about an injured military man who was hassled by airport "security." Army Lt. Greg Miller was injured by gunfire in Afghanistan and his jaw was wired shut. His doctor gave him a set of wire cutters "in case he becomes sick and must snip his jaw open to avoid choking." His wire cutters were confiscated by "security" guards at San Francisco International Airport. This guy is getting shot at to protect America, and "security" mandated by the American government treats him like a child and endangers his safety. Any real security policy would have made sure Miller had a gun on the plane in addition to his wire cutters.

Marijuana and Bicycles

The May 28 Rocky Mountain News contained a couple of gems. Paul Campos blasted the federal policy of busting medical marijuana patients, even in states where medical marijuana is legal. He writes, "If values such as democracy and federalism and common human decency happen to conflict with the administration's policy, so much the worse for them." In a letter, Steven Ginther criticized bicycle helmet laws. "We already are a nation of way too many silly laws, so numerous that these very laws become unenforceable... We need to start legislating practicality. Elect law un-makers."

Libertarian Party of Colorado Convention

Colorado Central is a charming magazine published by Ed and Martha Quillen. Ed spoke at the LP convention in Leadville. The May edition previewed the event, relating, "As for the philosophy of the Libertarian Party, think of Thomas Jefferson's statement that 'The government that governs best, governs least,' and you've got it." Carol Hill, the Libertarian council member from Leadville, told the magazine, "The decision was made last year, when there were only two Libertarians on the council. The party decided Leadville was a good site because most of our members are on the Front Range or in the Four Corners area, and Leadville sits in between, so it's convenient." At the time the magazine came out, four Libertarians sat on the council, but since then one became an independent.

"Stanley gets nod in runoff." That was the headline for Charlie Brennan's May 20 story for the Rocky Mountain News. The story began with a description of Stanley's claim that the government may have been involved with the pipe bombings. The story also mentioned Ralph Shnelvar and quoted Sheriff Bill Masters: "Stanley's got a style that is something, as a law enforcement officer and a Libertarian, I can't endorse."

On May 13, Barry Bortnick of the Colorado Springs Gazette wrote a detailed article about the Libertarian contest for U.S. Senate. Bortnick described Stanley's act of civil disobedience. Stanley told him, "The supreme law of the land is the Constitution. I have a right to keep and bear arms, but I am charged and face a year in jail. If we don't have a police state, why was I thrown in jail?" Bortnick also discussed the debate about Stanley's claim that Allard should be tried for treason and then "hung." Steve D'Ippolito told the newspaper, "Most Libertarians disagree with what he has said. I agree that the Patriot Act is unconstitutional, but I do not believe it was treason to support it. A more appropriate punishment would be to not re-elect those who voted for the act."

The May 24 Colorado Statesman carried a front-page story about the Colorado Libertarian convention by Ron Bain. The story also spread across parts of pages two and three and featured four photographs. In addition to summing up the business meeting, Bain outlined Sheriff Bill Masters' main points in opposition to drug prohibition. Masters gave the keynote address at the banquet.

Westminster Politics

Westsider reported April 19 that Westminster's new anti-cruising policy is to fine people who drive around a loop three times or more. This is certainly better than the old policy of blocking access for everyone. But the best policy would be for the police to target actual crimes, not issue fines for merely driving around. My favorite Westminster councilor has been Butch Hicks. But he recently tried to pass a tax discrimination policy to lure more businesses to Westminster, Westsider reports. His proposal failed.

Gun Storage and Child Abuse

Last year, I told a state senate committee that gun storage laws were counterproductive as well as unnecessary, because child abuse laws are already on the books. The April 20 Rocky Mountain News ran a page 1B headline, "Grand jury indicts Arvada couple; Parents of child shot in head face child abuse charges." Obviously, I was correct. Will state legislators still try to pass gun storage laws? Probably.

Property Rights for Fish

The March 2002 PERC Report -- that's the newsletter for the enviro-capitalist Political Economy Research Center -- interviewed a Colorado teacher who led students in a project that focused on property rights in the ocean. Marc Johnson works at Smoky Hill. He told PERC, "Through their research, the students became convinced that the diminishing fish populations in the world's oceans are indeed a tragedy of the commons." The students argued that the best solution for the problem was the "establishment of private property rights." Paradoxically, this story proves that even a socialized system (such as government education) can occasionally produce intelligent results. But if we'd solve the tragedy of the commons in education, we'd see a lot more success stories.

The Cost of Defenselessness

"Dial 911 and die." The Rocky reported April 27, "Early on May 7, 1998, two Philadelphia police officers briefly investigated reports of a woman screaming in her apartment, but soon left without contacting her... About 13 hours later, cops were back, looking at the naked and battered body of 23-year-old Shannon Schieber..."

Germany Shooting

The Denver Post generally supports more restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms. Yet on April 27 the paper's lead editorial discussed the school shooting in Germany: "Germany always has had some of the most restrictive gun laws on the books anywhere, so glib solutions to yesterday's bloodshed may not be so quick in coming."

Drug Prohibition

John Kane is a U.S. district judge who is critical of the war on drugs. He wrote an insightful article for the April 27 Rocky Mountain News titled, "America in a fix: Drug war has proven more corrosive than the drugs themselves." Kane writes, "More costly than money... is the price we now pay for this failed policy in terms of the decline in public safety, the breakdown of our criminal justice system, the erosion of our civil liberties and the pervasive public disrespect of the law." The Rocky ran a May 14 letter from Robert Hickey in support of Kane's views. A May 17 letter from Lee Smith praised Kane for his criticism of the drug war, but it argued Kane didn't go far enough in recognizing the constitutional ban on any drug prohibition.

A story from the April 25 Rocky Mountain News begins, "Abraham Hagos paid $20,000 to have the key witness in his drug case killed, prosecutors told a Denver jury during closing arguments [April 24]." Obviously, this would not be the case but for drug prohibition.

Steve Gresh, the Libertarian candidate for House District 20, wrote a letter to the Gazette that was printed May 10. He argued against increased funding for judges, writing that losers in civil cases should pay court fees and that drug prohibition should be repealed.

Forfeiture Reform

A May 2 letter to the Rocky by Gene Hollowell said, "[1404] should be a 'no-brainer' in a free society! All the bill would do is require a conviction before any seized assets could be sold or used for the state... [and] these greedy DAs and police chiefs get their hands on the money!"

Conservatism vs Libertarianism

Rick Stanley wrote a letter for the May 7 Rocky. It read, "I must take exception to the News referring to me as a 'conservative' candidate. Free-market economist and libertarian F.A. von Hayek wrote an essay called, Why I Am Not a Conservative. He criticizes conservatism because 'by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving.' Today's conservatives want to 'conserve' a whole host of repressive measures that violate the Bill of Rights. They support thousands of unjust gun-control laws. They support the unconstitutional and unjust War on Drugs that creates so much social violence. They support the USA PATRIOT Act that has damaged our rights of privacy. No, I am not a conservative -- I am a Libertarian. I want to change the direction in which we are moving. I want to bring freedom back to this great land." Well said! On the same page, Dr. Matthew Hine encouraged Owens to support SB 39.


On May 4, the Rocky ran a story by Charlie Brennan about Rick Stanley, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate. Stanley said Senator Wayne Allard should be "indicted for treason" and "[h]ung, when found guilty." Then, on May 8, the Rocky ran a lead editorial condemning Stanley. The next day, the Rocky ran six letters to the editor on the matter. My letter stated, "Judging from the May 4 News article... Republicans Dick Wadhams and Alan Philp believe the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 provide some kind of justification for legislators to violate the U.S. Constitution. However, it is precisely during times of crises that it is most important for those in Congress to stand up and reaffirm the principles outlined in the Bill of Rights. The misnamed USA PATRIOT Act indeed violates the Bill of Rights, and the act should be repealed. I do not believe Sen. Wayne Allard should be hanged for violating his oath of office. The Declaration of Independence councils prudent restraint.

On May 15, the Rocky gave Stanley 10 inches of column space to respond. Stanley blasted Allard for supporting the war on drugs and for voting for the Patriot Act. On May 16, John Gurley, who is running for Mesa County Sheriff, supported "Stanley for taking a stand on this." Frederick Blume sent in a letter that was printed on May 21 which read, "Rick Stanley calls things by name... [and] he offers... true liberty and the truth about why our government exists, which is to preserve individual liberty."

Douglas Bruce

Westword offers some of the most in-depth reporting of any newspaper in Colorado. Its May 16-22 issue features a story about Douglas Bruce and his fight with the City of Denver over the use of his property. The paper also has a shorter article about HB 1404, the asset forfeiture reform bill.

Spy Files

At least two libertarians played an active role criticizing the Denver "spy files." Rick Stanley attended a Denver meeting to blast the files. He was quoted in the May 15 Denver Post. The same day, the Rocky featured Stephen Ziegenhagen, who now leads the Tyranny Response Team. "Zig" said, "These files affect anybody who doesn't show up at a protest because they don't want to be on a list. That person's freedom has been taken away."

Zig made a similar case April 21 at a rally to protest the police files. Nick Groke wrote an article for the next day's Denver post that reported, "The rally, organized by the Tyranny Response Team... drew about 100 participants, including members of the Colorado Libertarian Party, the Colorado Green Party and several local motorcycle clubs such as Bikers for Justice." So there is life in the post-Glass TRT!

Gun Trial

Rick Stanley was covered in the media several times because of his Denver trial in which he defended his right to bear arms. Charlie Brennan covered the case in a May 16 story for the Rocky. Brennan explained that Stanley was arrested at a Bill of Rights rally. On May 22, E. Robert Schroeder wrote in a letter, "[T]he presiding judge instructed defense attorney Paul Grant not to reference the U.S. Constitution in the proceedings... How is this possible in a court of law supposedly following the rule of law?"

The philosophy of gun control: Teenagers are roaring through town at 90 MPH, where the speed limit is 25. Your solution is to lower the speed limit to 20. -- Sam Cohen

The Colorado Freedom