September 29, 2000
September 30, 2000
October 1, 2000
"I am proud to welcome these ladies. We are sisters," Gottlieb said. "We all feel that it is vitally important for us to have the right to shoot, the right to defend our families, our children and our homes." With that she introduced Dianne Sawyer, a co-founder and director of the Second Amendment Sisters (SAS).
Sawyer recalled seeing a plea on an Internet forum for mothers to descend on Washington, DC, to demand Congress enact stricter gun control laws. This was to become the "Million" Mom March. She said that there were five women on the forum who didn't want the ill-informed representing them and that the "Million" Mom March did not speak for all women. These five women made the decision to go to Washington to protest the "Million" Moms. They posted an e-mail address and announced their intentions on other forums to get others interested in a counter rally. In a month, they had a solid following.
"We decided to incorporate and give ourselves a name. Second Amendment Sisters was born. We called our pro-freedom rally the Armed Informed Mothers March. We divided up the tasks from our home computers. Kim Watson of Florida became our spokeswoman. Juli Bednarzyk of Illinois sorted through legal matters. Marinelle Thompson handled mail. Deb Wasilewski created flyers and wrote press releases and I answered e-mail and developed our growing data base of supporters," Sawyer noted.
By the time the rally took place, SAS had state coordinators
in 40 states. Maria Heil became the national press coordinator
and Diane McKeough took charge of national state coordination.
"In excess of 5,000 men, women and children joined us on
Mother's Day in Washington, DC, and attended rallies around the
country, letting Congress and state legislators know that we would
not tolerate further infringements on our constitutional rights."
Bednarzyk, also a director and co-founder, took over from Sawyer and explained SAS strategy. "We are up against a very real enemy. They don't hesitate to paint us as despicable human beings. But we're here to stand up and say we are just like everybody else, only we own a gun."
Bednarzyk said that SAS has three targeted audiences. The first is Congress. The second is the media and the third is the middle-of-the-road mom. She sees the importance of female spokespersons. "We can say things about freedom that if a man said it, he'd be labeled as an extremist."
As for the middle-of-the-road moms, Bednasrzyk puts them into two categories, the frightened mom and the busy mom. The frightened mom, she says, is afraid that the SAS will cause problems for the "Million" Moms by screaming and disrupting marches. Unfortunately, it is the "Million" Moms who take that tactic. As for the second type of mom, the busy mom, she is just too preoccupied to look into the argument.
"You cannot argue against the right to defend yourself and your family and we will get people to agree with us. We will meet our opponents everywhere and be a thorn in their side," Bednarzyk said.
Heil explained that it's not hard to get good press if you know how to handle the media. Prior to the Armed Informed Mothers March on Mother's Day, Heil took a local reporter to the range and the result was a spate of positive news articles. She told how she accepted invites from local radio shows, and that led to a spot on a live call-in show which was the Pennsylvania state equivalent of C-Span. "I went on unopposed because the Democrat gun control man from Philadelphia backed out when he found out he was going up against a mother with a gun."
Heil said that the SAS could not let the "Million" Moms go unopposed. "Can you imagine how they'd be acting now if we hadn't been there?" she asked. "How arrogantly they would be proposing new gun laws, saying that everyone was behind them except the big, bad NRA?"
SAS Virginia state coordinator Melinda Gierisch explained that there are a lot of women who haven't addressed the gun issue but are ripe for education. "We have determined that we have to go where women congregate. And that's not gun shows or gun stores. Women don't tend to go to those places. If we are going to recruit women, we need to do so outside the typical gunowner block."
Gierisch suggested that moms join their local Parent Teacher Association to stop the propaganda that anti-gunners are introducing into the school curriculum and to encourage firearms safety classes.
Stephanie Sailor, SAS Chicago coordinator, admitted that she is not your typical gun rights activist. "I got involved because I was tired of crime. I had been assaulted, I had been shot at. A friend of mine was shot in front of my house and another friend was raped on the street. I am not a victim. I've always been a fighter and I always will be."
Sailor organized a rally in Chicago at which she thought about three people would show up and was surprised when 300 arrived. "One of the things that was popular was the National Police Officers Week. A lot of police officers in Chicago support the right of citizens to arm themselves. We gave them cards to hand out that day that said, 'Mommy, if 911 doesn't come, how will you protect me?' "
Sailor stated she also has had luck taking reporters to the gun range and getting positive feedback. She is also running for Congress on the Libertarian ticket and although she has doubts about winning, she is certain that the mere fact that she is running will generate press to promote the gun rights agenda.
"I just couldn't handle the notion of walking into the
voting booth in November and having no one but an anti-gun Democrat
on the ballot."
Immediately following the ladies there was discussion on Government Eavesdropping on Internet Privacy moderated by Joe Waldron, executive director of CCRKBA. Waldron admitted that during his military service he worked as a cryptologist for the National Security Agency, the federal agency tasked with monitoring foreign communications. "There is an incredible capability there that offers an incredible opportunity for misuse if it's turned inwards instead of toward our external enemies," he said.
Waldon spoke of how the media has played up terrorist bombings, weapons of mass destruction, chemical attacks, biological attacks and other threats to the point where it has desensitized us to the legislation that is being proposed to turn our intelligence capability on US citizens.
Jim Philbin, legislative analyst for Gunowners of America, was of the opinion that the current threat in cyberspace is the government's attempts to control the Internet. He noted that 19th century historian and political theorist Lord Acton was prophetic when he viewed history as a struggle between liberty and power. "Governments have always and through a variety of ways, attempted to expand their power at the expense of the population's freedoms."
The Internet's greatest asset is the fact that it offers an
alternative communications medium outside the traditional sources
where ideas and thoughts can be freely discussed without supervision.
Philbin warned that the new hate crime laws are nothing more than
a backdoor approach to control the Internet.
Joe Huffman a Microsoft Gun Club alumnus, suggested ways to keep the government's eyes and ears from interfering with Internet use. He acknowledged that the government has the ability and desire to read our e-mail, but that we don't have to make it easy for them to do so. He furnished three ways to make it hard for them to snoop. One is cryptography, another is stenography and the third is consumption of resources.
Encryption changes the bit patterns at the binary level so that the message is different than what it was when it was constructed. "Encryption is available to everyone," Huffman said. However, he cautioned that law enforcement could always steal one's crypto keys or set up a monitoring station across the street from one's home and literally read a computer monitor through the walls of a house.
Huffman explained that stenography is a way to hide an e-mail message in another message or a photo. This, too, is available free and can be downloaded from the net. As for consumption of resources, "The more and more you hide your messages and make it an effort for people to look for them, the more they have to develop resources for things that probably aren't that interesting or important."
In the future, said Huffman, we will have e-mail programs that
encrypt messages by default and automatically decrypt them on
the receiving end.
This writer followed Huffman and focused more on Internet piracy than privacy, explaining how the Internet is going to be instrumental in robbing the country of our next generation of gunowners. Internet sites such as MTV offer an array of young singers and musicians of dubious character to poison youngsters against firearms ownership. Sites such as Rock the Vote, American Bar Association, PAX, and the Ceasefire Action Network all twist the truth about firearms. These sites and all like them are supported by the usual anti-firearms organizations. They never provide both sides of the gun control debate.
The American Psychiatric Association has a site and they support almost all of the anti-gun sites. What makes this so hypocritical is that much of the youth violence can be attributed to the phony diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder and the widespread irresponsible dispensing of psychotropic drugs to kids of all ages.
Parents should be ever vigilant as to what their children are
viewing on the web. Many of the anti-gun sites are dressed up
as "health" sites, "fun" sites or "educational"
sites. Underneath they have a whole program of anti-gun bias with
links to hundreds of other gun-grabbing sites.
Greg Nojeim, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), had much to say about the evolution of wiretapping and its Internet equivalent. Nojeim said that there are two ways this country can go. One is where the government has access to everyone's communications and citizens can't communicate in confidence and one where people are able to communicate in confidence without government interference.
The ACLU is opposed to wiretaps. "When the FBI gets a warrant to place a wiretap on a person's phone it doesn't say it will wait until they have probable cause that a particular conversation is incriminating. Each time a wiretap is placed, 200 persons' conversations are intercepted and only one or maybe two of them will ever be indicted. That's tremendous privacy carnage."
According to Nojeim, the Clinton Administration set the record for the most wiretaps in 1993. It broke its own record a year later. It broke the record again in 1996 and then again last year.
Now that the Internet is so pervasive the FBI wants more approval to eavesdrop. The problem for citizens is that much of their personal data is stored by third parties (doctor's office computer, bank computer, telephone company computer, etc.) and the Supreme Court declared that the Fourth Amendment does not protect third party information. So, if your e-mail is stored with an Internet provider such as AOL, it's fair game.
FBI's "Carnivore" is a computer running specialized software at the Internet provider to channel a copy of e-mail from a large portion of that service provider's customers. The FBI then strips out the e-mail of the person under surveillance. With a regular wiretap, the phone company turns over the conversations of only the target. With Carnivore, the FBI gets everybody's e-mail and asks us to trust them.
But it's not all bad news said Nojeim. "There is some good news in Congress. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 2000, HR-5018, requires that the FBI go to a judge and get a court order before it can get a person's private communications. It also prevents e-mails from being used in court."
Introducing the panel, The 2000 Elections: Referendum on the Right to Bear Arms, Alan Gottlieb read a letter that he received from George W. Bush congratulating SAF and CCRKBA on their 15th annual GRPC.
"I believe that law-abiding adults have the right to own guns to protect themselves and their families," wrote the governor. Bush also promised, if elected president, to use existing laws to prosecute gun abusers and make more funds available for more prosecutors and set up separate penalties for crimes committed with guns.
"Not everyone in this room is going to agree with everything George W. Bush stands for," said Gottlieb. "But there is a world of difference between someone who supports our right to keep and bear arms and somebody who believes you don't have that right at all. I think we ought to compliment the governor for being honest and not pandering and for telling us exactly where he stands, something that most politicians would never do."
Kerri Houston, director of the American Conservative Network, followed Gottlieb. It was her opinion that the gun issue and the unions have become Al Gore's "third rail."
Said Houston, "There are a lot of union members who I've spoken to who really have a problem because a lot of them are gunowners and a lot have concealed carry permits, but they have a union leadership that's telling them they have to vote Democratic. And their own money coming out of their paychecks is going to increase the coffers of candidates who are against what they believe in. That's a wedge we can use."
Houston claimed that political battles are not won or lost on Capitol Hill or in the White House, but over the dinner table. This is where people express their feelings on particular issues. She also warned not to be just single-issue-oriented to get your point across. Set a common ground and then couch your Second Amendment support with other matters that people care about.
The team-up of state attorneys general and lawyers has been
devastating but Houston recommended a solution to the tobacco
type anti-gun suits. "I call it the Nebraska solution. Nebraska
discovered a law in its Constitution and tweaked it a little bit.
Any kind of punitive damages must go to a third party and the
third party in Nebraska was the educational fund. The crazy lawsuits
by trial lawyers in that state went from about 179 to three the
first year the law was applied. Lawyers are not ideological. They
just want cash."
A review of candidates was provided by Chuck Cunningham, federal affairs director, NRA-ILA. "The battleground states fortunately are those where gunowners and sportsmen are numerous and strong," he said. "These are states where people like us can make a big difference."
As for Senate races, Cunningham said that we should pick up Virginia this year and probably Nevada. George Allen has a chance to beat Chuck Robb in Virginia and he's got the money and name recognition to do it. Delaware remains competitive with Bill Roth a clear choice over Tom Carper. And Bill McCollum is the choice for Connie Mack's seat in Florida.
In Michigan, Spencer Abraham who is good on the gun issue, has driven up anti-gun Debbie Stabenow's negatives. Minnesota's Rod Grams is looking at a tough race. And Rick Santorum should do well in Pennsylvania. Ron Klink, his anti-gun opponent is having a rough time raising money. Also in Pennsylvania, state senator Melissa Hart, an A-rated candidate, is running strong in her bid for a congressional seat. Her opponent has come out supporting an outright handgun ban.
"New Jersey and New York are what I call RINO races, Republican In Name Only," Cunningham said. "There is a difference now that Giuliani is out of the race. Lazio opposes registration and licensing . In New Jersey, Bob Franks hasn't been a good vote, but his opponent is as bad as Florio on the gun issue."
Robert Aderholt is in a very competitive race in Alabama where
he's challenged by the wife of the former governor. Jay Dickey
in Arkansas is in a tight race and he doesn't accept PAC money.
In California, Calvin Dooley is being challenged by Rich Rodriguez,
a pro-gunner who's pulled ahead of Dooley. In Illinois, Mark Baker
is running against Lane Evans, who has been bad on all the issues.
In Kentucky, anti-gun former congressman Scotty Baesler is running
against Ernie Fletcher who took his seat when Baesler ran against
Jim Bunning for the senate race. And in Texas, Pete Sessions is
in a tough race but his opponent is pushing the unpopular notion
of allowing prisoners to organize labor unions in prison.
The final panel on the GRPC's first day was: Is The Grassroots Ready For a Tough Campaign?, moderated by SAF trustee Glen Voorhees. He admitted that his first active political campaign was for Barry Goldwater. "I went to my precinct meeting and they asked for volunteers who would be willing to knock on doors. Out of 75 people only about eight of us raised our hands. And that's what this panel is about, grass roots."
Voorhees then introduced Sheriff Richard Mack, the man who challenged the Brady Bill. According to Mack, one of the most important elections citizens can ever participate in is that for the local sheriff. He's the one who can stop a lot of the gun control nonsense if he's true to his oath. Waco and Ruby Ridge would never have happened the way they did, said Mack, if the local sheriff remained in control. "Leave the local issues to the local authorities who are responsible to the local citizens who know and understand the people who live there instead of having hit-and-run gangs from Washington, DC, come in and take over then leave."
It's the sheriff, claims Mack, who should protect you when the IRS comes to town to confiscate bank accounts, automobiles and homes. He cited Sheriff Dave Mattis of Bighorn County, WY, who has a policy in his department that says all federal agents will check with him before they serve any papers or make any arrests in his county.
"When your sheriff takes the oath, does he swear to protect
you from only street criminals or does it also apply to criminals
with badges, briefcases and three-piece suits?"
Following Mack, Michael Saporito, vice president of RSR Wholesale Guns, warned against using those arguments that make the pro-gunners sound like nuts and extremists. "Every time you mention a conspiracy, the people you mention it to turn you off and label you a nut. Just because there are a group of people with the same ideas and ideals does not make them co-conspirators. If you are elected to office you are going to staff your office with people who share your ideology," he said.
Saporito cautioned everyone not to waste their vote in this election. He recalled the first election when Clinton got elected. "If you vote for a third party as many of us did when we voted for Perot, you will lose. We said okay we'll show them. We showed them all right. We showed them how to get the 'assault weapons' bill passed and showed them how to get the Brady Bill enacted. That was our reward for showing them."
He also said one of the reasons why the anti-gunners are so
successful is that they are committed, much more committed than
the pro-gun forces. With over 77 million gunowners in the United
States, he asked, why are there only three or four million members
of GOA, NRA and SAF? He encouraged attendees to go back home and
recruit people for our cause and not just pro-gun people.
The last speaker of the day was John Burtt, chairman of the Fifty Caliber Shooters Policy Institute. He recalled how uninvolved he and the Fifty Caliber shooters were until the Administration attacked their interests. With the help of SAF, GOA and the NRA's ILA, he was walked through the growing process of political activism. "The learning process included incorporating our parent organization, the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association, as a non-profit organization. We then formed the Fifty Caliber Shooters Policy Institute so that we could engage in political activities. We also created a PAC and have been involved in raising as much money as we possibly can raise."
His group has raised over $200,000 since last year's GRPC. "Myself and two other members of this organization have become registered lobbyists and we've been spending as much time as we can on Capitol Hill knocking on doors and shaking hands showing people that we are not the demons that Sen. Feinstein makes us out to be," he said.
Burtt confessed that the issue is not a gun issue nor a Fifty Caliber issue. It's a freedom issue and people from all walks of life are recognizing the fact. "Go out and vote for George Bush," he directed.
Part III of Lesmeister's report on the Gun Right Policy
Conference continues in the next issue of Gun Week.
September 29, 2000
September 30, 2000
October 1, 2000