September 29, 2000
September 30, 2000
October 1, 2000
"In March 1996, a well-known child abuser walked into a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland, and shot 15 children and a teacher before turning the gun on himself. His name was Thomas Hamilton," somberly related Stuart Andrews, an independent firearms consultant from England, on the incident that lead to the virtual ban on firearms ownership in the United Kingdom.
Andrews was addressing the crowd of pro-firearms activists assembled at a Saturday night, Sept. 20, buffet reception, hosted by the National Rifle Association at the 15th annual Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC) in Arlington, VA (Sept. 29-Oct. 1).
Andrews went on to explain that in less than a day after the tragic incident, the entire world media had known what Hamilton had done and every politician in Britain was getting into the act.
"There was certainly a sense of national grief, but Hamilton was dead and the media looked around for someone to blame. They picked the instrument not the man, and from then on we gunowners saw an inevitable deterioration of our status as responsible law-abiding citizens," Andrews said.
Rupert Murdoch, explained Andrews, took it upon himself to run the nation's most notorious anti-gun campaign in the country's history. As he owned nearly every newspaper in the United Kingdom, Murdoch filled the pages of his trash rags with hired quotes from every "hack ex-cop, every failed psychologist and any idiot he could find."
'Enthusiasts' to 'Sickos'
Gunowners were first described in the press as gun enthusiasts, then gun fanatics, gun freaks and finally as gun sickos. During all of the anti-gun hoopla, with politicians and media heads slandering honest gunowners, something was beginning to smell in central Scotland. There were rumors that someone had protected Hamilton.
"Hamilton was protected on eight separate occasions by Chief Inspector McMurdo of the Central Scottish Police," revealed Andrews. "As it turned out they were good buddies. Hamilton was a pedophile procurer and we believe that McMurdo covered up for him. By any account, it was unthinkable that he would be issued a firearms certificate. We found out that the persons who were spreading stories about irresponsible gunowners were none other than McMurdo and Chief Inspector McKenzie, the president of his police association!"
Prime Minister John Major's conservative government initiated an inquiry that reported that gunowners in Britain were responsible people of good character and that there was no need for a handgun ban. The press then erupted and accused all British gunowners of "trampling on the dead children." An organization called Snowdrop created a petition of nearly 700,000 signatures and presented it to Major at 10 Downing Street. But as it turned out, this petition was a phony."
Every shooting sports council in Britain remained silent as the Labor Party produced bogus anti-gun reports. And in 1996, at the party conferences, where all the top political parties give their speeches on what they are going to do for the country, the Labor Party produced Ann Pearson, the chairwoman of Snowdrop, to read a speech that Andrews described as "written by shyster lawyers and questionable psychologists, exclusively based on emotions and not facts." There were no opposition speeches.
New Ideas Suggested
The reception guests were also treated to some interesting goings-on from author Alan Korwin and Angel Shamaya, executive director, keepandbeararms.com. Korwin, author of Gun Laws Of America and the Texas Gun Owner's Guide, among others, told how he enjoyed visiting his daughter's school last year on Author's Day. He had the children in the class write a line on freedom. The teacher liked the idea so much she had them each write an essay on what they thought was the meaning of freedom.
This year, Korwin is sponsoring an essay contest in his daughter's class where the top prize is $100. "They are going to answer questions like: What is freedom? Where does freedom come from? What are the threats to your freedom? And what is the role of government in freedom? The teachers are going to learn from the students," Korwin predicted.
Korwin sees this as one way of introducing concepts such as freedom, of which gun ownership is a part to the next generation while educating the current generation. After being bombarded with requests from parents all over the country for more information on his essay contest idea, Korwin will be offering the American Freedom Essay Contest package to interested parties shortly. He said to look for details on his website, www.gunlaws.com.
Shamaya urged all of the listeners to think ahead, to beat the gun grabbers at their own game. To prove his point, he divulged that his enterprise, keepandbeararms.com owns sarahbrady.com, sarahbrady.org and sarahbrady.net. "We also own gunwatch.net and what we are going to do is train a webcam on a table and sitting on that table will be a gun. We are going to watch that gun 24 hours a day and make sure it doesn't get up and shoot someone."
In addition to his website strategies, Shamaya said he is currently working on a project to collect brass from people all over the country by which he will have a new Liberty Bell constructed. Hopefully, by July 4, 2001, he can take that bell and a million gunowners to the mall in Washington, DC, and give the so-called "Million" Moms something to think about.
Early on Sunday morning (Oct. 1), following a continental breakfast hosted by MBNA America MasterCard, the GRPC opened up with a panel moderated by Dave LaCourse, public affairs director, Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) asking, Cities v. Gunmakers: Can a Historic Industry Survive? This discussion opened appropriately enough with Andrew Miller, Esq., from the Washington, DC, law firm of Dickstein, Shapiro, Morin & Oshinsky. His firm was successful in a lawsuit that forced insurance companies to defend the gunmakers against frivolous lawsuits. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) retained Miller's firm because its insurer, Scottsdale Insurance Company, was filing lawsuits against NSSF, so that the organization would have to fund their litigation from sources other than Scottsdale.
The city of New Orleans sued the gun industry and Scottsdale denied coverage. The company claimed that there was no case of bodily injury and therefore they were not required to get involved. "The policy reads that occurrence is an accident including continuous exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions," explained Miller. "Well, again, that was what the city complaint was all about."
The judge denied Scottsdale's motion for summary judgement and the NSSF filed a cross motion for summary judgement saying that Scottsdale had the duty to defend. The judge recognized that the duty to defend was greater than the duty to indemnify. "He ruled in favor of the NSSF and on July 11, that decision was upheld by the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Right before the conference, Miller's firm also won a victory for RSR Management Company, a firearms distributor. The NAACP sought an injunction against RSR, and again Scottsdale wasn't going to honor its policy.
Miller also provided advice to gun companies. "Go on the offensive. You need to establish your historical coverage and because many of these suits reach back to an unstated period of time, you need to establish insurance coverage as far back as you possibly can. If that's the case, then you may not only involve your current insurer, but also a number of other insurance companies that previously provided coverage. The US Chamber of Commerce has decided it is going to be much more aggressive with respect to industries which, for whatever reason, are in political disfavor. If there is a situation where the Chamber can be of assistance, they wish to do so," Miller concluded.
Lt. Gen. James Chambers, executive director, Sporting Arms & Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI), lamented the shape this country would be in without a firearms industry.
"How would our military have fared going into battle with foreign-made arms?" Chambers asked. He also said that the firearms industry should be able to withstand tobacco type lawsuits because there is no "smoking gun" with the firearms industry as there was with tobacco. The people within the firearms industry are hard working, honest and they don't hide anything from the public.
"We are certified by the federal government and governed by the federal government. These lawsuits that claim public nuisance are ridiculous. According to the cities, manufacturers allegedly created this nuisance by legally selling too many guns in some area and they should have known that the purchasers of those guns would use them in their illegal endeavors," Chambers said. "I liken this to General Motors being liable because the market for cars is saturated in southern California and individual motorists are blaming GM because of the traffic jams in that area."
Chambers also commented on how many of the lawsuits against the industry claim that firearms are defective, not because they don't work, but because criminals can use them. But these lawsuits fail to take into account Prof. John Lott's study that proves guns are used defensively two-and-a-half million times a year, far greater than the number of firearms crimes committed. "Handguns are the only consumer product for which the manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer all require a federal license. The design of every new model of gun must be inspected and approved by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). These facts are ignored by the antis and the media," Chambers said.
Most of the city lawsuits, Chambers suggested, may be a way for mayors to cover up their own failures to reduce crime because wherever there is a high percentage of gun ownership, crime rates are down.
Suing the Mayors
James Warner, assistant general counsel of the NRA, couldn't agree more. He said the mayors, who are part of the executive branch, have no constitutional basis for trying to do the job of the legislative branch.
"They have no consideration whatsoever of the constitutional restraints placed upon them," he said.
Warner saw a similarity between the city lawsuits and rope-a-dope in the boxing ring. When you play rope-a-dope, you lean against the ropes and let your opponent bang on you until he gets tired and then you let him have it. "That's what the mayors think they are doing to us. Letting us expend all of our energy so that we will exhaust ourselves into bankruptcy by defending against lawsuits that have no meaning."
The way to defeat the mayors in their rope-a-dope ploy, instructed Warner, is to take away the ropes. The ropes in this case are their unlimited resources. "The sole remedy available is for the taxpayers to get injunctions against spending money. You can ask to have any government funds prohibited from being spent. That includes any payments for judgements against mayors and any payments by their insurance companies. If they (the mayors) are sued, the money will have to come out of their own pockets," Warner said.
Sanford Abrams, vice president, Maryland Firearms Dealers Association, had a slightly different take on the subject. "I'm what Sarah Brady would call a dinosaur. I'm an independent firearms retailer. I own Valley Gun in Baltimore. You can have all the firearms manufacturers in the world, but if there are no retailers for those guns, what's the use?"
Last year, Abrams said he received a letter from ATF claiming he wasn't quick enough on a crime gun trace and because of that he would have to send them all of his records for the past three years and continue to do so every month for as long as he stays in business.
"I said no," he said. "With the help of the NRA and some good customers of mine, we went in front of a Clinton-appointed judge and he told ATF in no uncertain terms, that the regulations require them to do crime gun traces for qualified criminal investigations, but not for 'fishing trips.' We won."
There were about 25 other firearms dealers who received the same letter and Abrams encouraged them not to comply because he didn't have to. ATF responded by appealing to the 4th District in Richmond, VA. "We hope to beat them when the case comes up," said Abrams.
The downside to this story was the action by Sports Authority. Sports Authority in White Marsh, MD, also received one of the ATF letters. Within seven hours, they took all of their records and shipped them off to ATF.
"What's up doc?" was the question posed by moderator Peggy Tartaro, editor of Women & Guns, of her guests on the panel, Economics and Science In The Gun Control Movement. Timothy Wheeler, MD, director of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, a project of the Claremont Institute, addressed the problem of physicians doling out anti-firearms advice during office visits. When a doctor asks you if you have guns in the house, or how many guns you have, or cautions you to get rid of your guns because they are dangerous, he or she is committing an ethical violation.
"The doctor is stepping over the line in the doctor/patient relationship to advance a political cause. That's wrong," Wheeler said. One of the ways of fighting this kind of anti-gun ploy is to report these doctors to the boards that license them or the HMOs who employ them. Also, if a doctor or pediatrician advises you to lock up or incapacitate a gun and then someone in your family gets hurt or killed as a result of you're not being able to get at it, you should sue that physician, Wheeler said.
How are you able to sue? Wheeler explained the current theory. "There is a new theory of liability called 'negligent firearms counseling by physicians.' It's the idea of Joe Horn, a retired Los Angeles Sheriff's Department official. He now runs a risk management company and several of his articles have been published on keepandbeararms.com."
Unless a doctor is certified in the area of home safety counseling, if he gives firearms safety advice, he is practicing outside of his field of medicine. "Most of what physicians talk about and the resources from which they draw in counseling people on firearms is nothing but political propaganda from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Medical Association (AMA)."
Wheeler then asked, "Could there also be an issue if the doctor fails to review the whole area of safety issues that are more likely to cause harm to children such as drowning, falls, electrical burns, and poisons?" He hypothesized that perhaps a physician could also increase his liability exposure by failing to cover all of these hazards. Practicing outside one's own area of expertise is one thing that will jeopardize a doctor's liability insurance, and giving advice that can harm patients is another.
"Since the beginning of the year, it has been the standard line of the AAP doctors to tell their patients to get rid of their guns," Wheeler said. If a patient is harmed or killed by his or her inability to use a firearm for defense, the victim or his survivors should be able to sue the doctor who advised getting rid of the gun.
If the public can actually establish "negligent firearms counseling" as a legal remedy, physicians will be forced by their malpractice insurance companies to cease risky behavior like telling their patients to get rid of their guns, Wheeler said.
"All we need is one or two cases where a doctor is sued for practicing outside of his scope of practice and his malpractice insurance denies payment. He then will have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars out of his pocket for that judgement and believe me, news like that gets around the medical community real fast," Wheeler said.
Anti-Gun 'Junk Science'
Jeremy D. Blanks, PhD, of Doctors for Sensible Gun Laws, reiterated the problems of the medical associations cited by Wheeler. As a young scientist, Blanks claimed he was fed the fallacies of the gun control crowd: "lies like you are 43 times more likely to be the victim of your own gun as you are to use it defensively on someone else." Blanks wondered why all of the gunowners in the country weren't killed off. That's when he realized that much of the anti-gun data are based on junk science.
"Junk science is out there in many forms," Blanks said. "We've seen it in the phony breast implant debate, in global warming and cold fusion. Junk science always shows up when there is a dollar to be made, fame to be gained or politics involved. And we are going after organizations such as the AMA who base many of their findings on junk science."
Junk science is science that is presented as legitimate work but falls outside of the scientific method in theory and process. "It can be politically motivated distortions of good scientific work. At its worst, it is simply opinion or speculation by scientists who have been paid by anti-gun lobbyists. The best way to know when someone is intentionally misleading you is they don't present the full set of data or their methodology in how they collected their data."
One question Blanks asked especially resonated with the audience. "If your physician tells you not to have a gun in the house, how in the world can you trust him to give you sound advice about your personal health?"
They say you are measured by the company you keep, which was the gist of the panel, Let's Not Ignore Our Natural Self-Defense Allies, moderated by Michael Connelly, Esq., a CCRKBA board member.
"The Gun Rights Policy Conference has special meaning for me," explained Alicia Wadas, founder of the group Mothers Arms. "It was exactly a year ago at this conference where I brainstormed the concept of Mothers Arms. Little did I know at the same time, somewhere in some room back in Washington, DC, there was a woman and a president coming up with an idea called the 'Million' Mom March. I used to refer to them as the Misguided Million Moms, but I've also come to learn through a series of experiences over the past year that there is a certain segment of them that I call the Malicious Mom March."
Mothers Arms is a group that provides resources for women to learn how to protect themselves and their families. "We use awareness, common sense and the use of safety rescue tools," Wadas said. Those tools can be anything from a frying pan in the kitchen, pepper spray, or even a gun. The organization understands that carrying a firearm requires a personal evaluation on the part of the individual, and you really have to be committed to use it to defend yourself and loved ones.
Wadas said that Mothers Arms and the pro-firearms group Second Amendment Sisters are complimentary and Mothers Arms can "prime the pump" for SAS membership. Many of the women that Mothers Arms reaches do not even understand the Second Amendment and most believe that with 911, the police will protect them.
Wadas explained that when she attends women's expos and asks women what their plan of defense is, they reply they call 911. "I then ask how long does it take before police respond to a 911 call and they usually agree that three minutes would be pretty fast. I then say look at the second hand on your watch and visualize me as an attacker, punching your face, choking the life out of you or stabbing you. I say, now look at your watch. Usually only about 30 seconds have gone by and I say we have two-and-a-half more minutes to go before police arrive. Some of them are shocked and appalled and don't talk to me after that, because I've made them think about something that they do not want to think about," Wadas said.
It is Mothers Arms job, she said, to help women understand that it's not only a woman's responsibility to defend herself and family, but also her God given right.
While women may be the fastest growing segment of Second Amendment supporters, there is another group that is moving into the pro-gun arena, according to the next speaker, Telly Lovelace, director of external affairs, Coalition of Urban Renewal and Education (CURE). Lovelace addressed the racist history of gun control.
"Gun control goes back to the 1600s when blacks and slaves were denied the right to own a gun. It is essentially a freedom issue, especially among blacks," he said. "The pro-gun forces are a natural alliance for the black community. Many people think that most blacks are anti-gun but not at the grass roots. The black leadership is so far left, they are communists. If you live in a housing project in Washington, DC, or Chicago, what are you going to arm yourself with? A knife? That's no defense against an armed drug dealer breaking down your door."
Lovelace cited the many cases in the US, and especially Washington, where guns are outlawed and the crime rate is soaring-as prime examples that gun control in the inner city does not work. He admitted that the issue of gun control is something that CURE, a non-profit organization, is just beginning to look at. He also conceded that he started out with a typical leftist opinion, but after doing a research paper on the subject, he saw the light.
"I came to the conclusion that there was a lot of BS out there. I began to understand the Constitution and not take the interpretation of some of those nutty teachers. When I read the quotes of George Washington, Samuel Adams and John Adams, they made me think that the Second Amendment was really a right. A right to own a gun, a right to be armed and a right to protect myself and my family. "
Not happy with black leadership's views on gun control, Lovelace complained that black leaders condemn gun ownership but they have their own bodyguards and police protection to keep them safe. "Self-defense is a natural right and we need to take that to the black community. We need to adopt the gun issue because it's not only a natural right; it's a civil right. Next year when we come back here, we hope to see more African Americans in attendance," Lovelace concluded.
As everyone agreed that gun control was a freedom issue, Grover Norquist, chairman, Americans for Tax Reform, let everyone know that the largest segment of downtrodden Americans is the taxpayer. And overburdened taxpayers, like gunowners, just want the government to leave them alone, and if they work together, perhaps they could make it happen. He said taxpayers are a center-right coalition of people who not only don't want to be taxed, but they don't want other people taxed, either.
"Traditional values conservatives work well with Second
Amendment supporters because nobody wants anything from anybody
else," Norquist said. "They don't want the government
interfering with their ability to raise their children in the
faith of their choice. They don't want schools handing out condoms
to children or making fun of their religion. As long as Christians
agree not to take away anyone's guns, and gunowners agree not
to raise anyone's taxes, we can all be friends. It's the perfect
low maintenance coalition. The left keeps telling us that we will
fall apart, but they don't realize that although we may be a diverse
group, most people who go to church pay taxes, own homes, possess
guns, etc. We have a lot in common."
September 29, 2000
September 30, 2000
October 1, 2000