Freedom Updates: June 19, 2003

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

The Colorado Freedom

Freedom Updates: June 19, 2003

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.

Failures of the Drug War
What has drug prohibition done for us? It has given us obscene levels of violence, police corruption, more dangerous drugs, and more health problems. These are general tendencies. However, sometimes it's important to "concretize" the issue by looking at specific cases. Today (June 19), three stories help to illustrate the massive failure of prohibition.

An article in the Denver Post by Ann Schrader reports a gang was recently broken up by police. Of course, the causes of gang violence are complex, and the gang in question, Viet Pride Gangsters, was also involved in thefts. But prohibition provides one key lucrative "business" venture for gangsters: the enormously profitable sale of drugs. Prohibition also encourages the use of violence to resolve disputes and helps fund the illegal purchase of weapons. Schrader reports, "Gang members are accused of attempted first-degree murder, assault, burglary, theft and drug trafficking."

David Shepardson and David G. Grant wrote an article for the Detroit News titled, "17 Detroit cops face charges: Feds allege illegal searches, stealing money, drugs." Some "police" officers today are really just gangsters in uniform. The only difference is they get a government paycheck and their guns are issued by the government rather than purchased on the black market. The authors report, "The officers are accused of stealing money and drugs from drug dealers and prostitutes, searching houses without warrants and reselling drugs." Drug prohibition corrupts police departments in three main ways. First, it drives away many of the best potential peace officers. Second, it provides a temptation that is so obviously difficult for a minority of police officers to avoid. Third, it encourages militarized, brutal tactics.

Thankfully, the third story, from the AP ("FBI's terror investigations leave less time for drug cases"), offers some good news: "Nearly half of the FBI agents who once handled drug cases are now concentrating on the fight against terrorism..." Unfortunately, the sentence continues, "...a shift that has caused concern in Congress about a possible lack of attention to the nation's crime problems." HELLO! The "nation's crime problems" are largely a direct result of drug prohibition. The way to eliminate these crime problems is simple: lift prohibition and reassign ALL federal agents to real crimes. Of course, hypocritical Republicans whined about assigning fewer agents to prohibition, even though there is absolutely no Constitutional authority for national drug laws.

Capitalism vs. Socialism
Tom Hall wrote the following letter, which was printed in modified form by the Louisville Times:

Dear Editor,

I do not like the general direction that this City Government has taken over the last few years.

I have pretty simple views on political things. To me, there are basically two ways that government can operate. Either you support Capitalism, which means you acknowledge the unalienable individual rights held by each and every person by virtue of their humanity, and operate government to secure these rights, leaving us free as sovereign individuals to chose how we live, so long as we respect the rights of others. Or, you support Socialism, which means you envision some kind of social or public good, and empower government to compel people to behave in ways that the government believes is in this public good. This so-called "public good", in reality can never be anything other than the good of some, and when promoted with the force of government it is always obtained at the expense of others.

The willingness of local governments around here, including ours, to facilitate and expand socialized services that pre-empt free market opportunities to provide such services, like recreation centers and single-supplier waste disposal, and their willingness to establish arbitrary rules of social conduct like banning smoking in certain places, makes it clear to me that the these governments, including ours, at least partially support socialism and I do not consent to living under a socialist system.

You can not support both Capitalism and Socialism at the same time. By ignoring individual rights, and promoting some public good, socialist programs declare by example that citizens rights are NOT unalieanable. This attacks and chips away at the very foundation of Capitalism, and tends to grow in its scope and power. Take for example the taxation used to fund these programs, where individual unalienable property rights are violated "only a little bit", and then a little bit more, and then a little more, and so on.

I want urge the Louisville City Government to do government right. To protect the rights of EVERY CITIZEN when you exercise your powers, not just the wishes of the majority of those of us who still have enough faith in this system to actually vote and try to participate, and who are, by the way, ourselves a minority of the people affected by your decisions. Don't look around at neighboring towns and cities and be content that we're not as bad as they are, that our taxes aren't as high as theirs. We can do better than lemmings. Make Louisville a leader in good government.

Tom Hall

Manitou Springs Considers Disarmament Ordinance

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners sent out the following alert on June 12:

As you have probably already heard, the Manitou Springs City Council is considering an ordinance that bans the open carrying of firearms in city-owned or operated builidngs, parks, trails or open space. Littleton is also considering a similar ordinance.

The main force behind the Manitou Springs ordinance is none other than Mayor Marcy Morrison, a former State legislator.

What should outrage gun owners is that the NRA rated Morrison an "A," and even endorsed her in a primary battle against true gun rights stalwart Dave Schultheis (now a State Representative and a former sponsor of Vermont-style concealed carry legislation).

To anyone who watches the Colorado legislature closely this shouldn't be surprising: the NRA routinely gives high grades to those who support gun control. Former Speaker of the House Russ George is the most notable example. He received the NRA's highest rating, A*, just a few months after sponsoring a bill to make it a felony to carry concealed without a permit.

Rather than admit mistakes, the NRA puts out e-mails urging defeat of the proposal, failing to mention that they once categorized Morrison as a hero. Instead of begging forgiveness, they'll go on rating closet anti-gun politicians as "A's" while other "A's" attempt to ban open carry, imprison those without permits, etc. For gun owners, this should serve as yet another reminder that the NRA's ratings are less than worthless...

News reports of the Manitou Springs proposal are full of glaring errors, once again proving that few reporters ever read legislation on which they opine. The Colorado Springs Gazette's Tom Ragan claimed SB25 eliminated city and county firearms regulations completely, and numerous Denver daily reporters claim the same.

Senate Bill 25, the limited preemption bill, did not proclaim that anyone can carry openly. In fact, the sponsor of SB25 specifically allowed cities to ban open carry in specific areas.

29-11.7-104 gives cities the ability to ban the open carrying of firearms " a building or specific area within the local government's jurisdiction." It also requires posting for these criminal safezones.

Why did the sponsor, Sen. Jim Dyer, do that to his own bill? Once again the ugly cancer of the Senate, Westminster Republican Senator Ken Arnold, forced SB25 to include this exception for ordinances of open carry. Arnold is the same Senator who crafted an amendment to the Colorado Brady Act that counts you as guilty until you can prove your innocence when purchasing a firearm.

Does Manitou Springs' ordinance violate SB25? It does provide a blanket statement by including all city property, rather than citing specific areas where open carry is banned. Many a lawyer has made a living litigating the hair's breadth difference, and we suspect this issue will do the same...

Mail-In Ballots

Al Kolwicz of Citizens for Accurate Mail Ballot Election Results sent out a June 18 alert concerning a plan in Boulder County to use all-mail ballots. He writes "Boulder County Commissioners decided to strip Boulder voters of their right to use a secret ballot that voters can trust will be counted in the upcoming November election."

A June 16 article in the Daily Camera verifies: "Boulder County will give mail-only voting another try this coming election and is stepping up efforts to deter ballot fraud and count all votes."

Kolwicz claims, "Aside from an agenda that was tacked to a courthouse door the day before the hearing, there was no public notice... It is outrageous! ... Intensive research of mandatory mail ballot elections in Boulder County has demonstrated that they are fraud, error, and intimidation prone. The results of mandatory mail ballot elections cannot be trusted."

Media Notes

Montrose Grocery Tax -- A June 2 story from the Libertarian Party reports, "The Montrose, Colorado city council has rejected a Libertarian-sponsored initiative to repeal the city's tax on groceries -- and turned the issue over to voters to decide. During a special session on May 16, the city council unanimously voted to not enact an ordinance that would have repealed the city's 3% tax on food purchased for home consumption. Instead, they voted to conduct a mail ballot of city voters on July 15 to decide the issue."

Everyday Heroes -- Sometimes I have a lot of hope, such as when I read articles like this June 18 story in the Denver Post: "Three good Samaritans kicked open doors and woke residents of a north Aurora apartment building before a devastating structure fire could become fatal early Tuesday."

CU Gun Ban -- The only plausible impact of allowing responsible adults to carry concealed handguns on college campuses is to reduce the chances of criminal victimization. Criminals aren't going to obey bans on concealed carry, anyway. CU is a government-affiliated institution, and therefore cannot properly limit Constitutionally-protected rights. Nevertheless, as John Sanko writes for the June 18 Rocky, "University of Colorado officials were elated to learn Tuesday they have authority to bar concealed weapons on all their campuses, according to formal opinion issued by Attorney General Ken Salazar..." Salazar told Sanko, "Colorado's Constitution and statutes authorize the regents to govern the university's internal affairs. Any statute enacted by the General Assembly must expressly limit the powers of the regents. SB 24 is not such an express statutory command that overrides the weapons control policy enacted by the regents." Of course, the best solution would be to completely separate CU from the state government of Colorado, in which case CU's leaders could set whatever policy they pleased. In any case, they would be wise to allow law-abiding adults to carry defensive tools.

Kopel Blasts NYT -- Dave Kopel and Paul Blackman blasted the New York Times over its reporters' tendency to file biased reports about guns.

L. Neil Smith -- Colorado libertarian and sci-fi author L. Neil Smith spoke June 15 at a meeting held by the New Mexico Libertarian Party. His speech, titled Empire of Lies, discusses the history of war in the United States.

Owens' Think Tank -- "Governor" clearly is not a sufficiently lofty title for Bill Owens. As Peggy Lowe relates in the June 19 Rocky, "Gov. Bill Owens' new think tank hopes to raise an additional $2 million by 2005 for national policy work on cutting government spending, preventing Internet taxation and other causes." The good news is Owens, always the political calculator, seems to think that vaguely libertarian themes will win him popular support. I have to give some credit here to James Vance, to whom I have not always been generous. Of all those associated with the Libertarian Party of Colorado, Vance made the biggest deal of protecting the internet from taxation. I am happy that Owens has picked up on this theme.

The Colorado Freedom