Frank Miniter

The Rise of the Anti-Freedom Billionaires

Those on the left say they abhor big money’s corrupting influence in politics — until a leftist billionaire starts trying to sway public opinion. That’s okay with them, because, you know, old George Soros really isn’t creepy at all — he’s just a grandfatherly figure who gives like Santa Claus. And the same goes for Warren Buffett and Michael Bloomberg — their billions are okay, too. All Bloomberg wants is for the rest of us to give up tobacco, big gulps, and guns.

Now Bill Gates has joined on the great lefty-billionaire good-guy list. Gates is donating $1 million to push a voter initiative in Washington State that would require “universal background checks” for all would-be gun buyers. If it passes, all gun sales will have to be vetted by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

“Universal background checks” has a nice poll-tested ring to it, but in reality it will really just make it more expensive and burdensome for private Americans to do what they’ve always done: trade, buy, and sell guns among themselves. According to the Gates initiative, a gun owner can’t sell a Winchester Model 70 rifle to a friend without running the transfer through a licensed gun dealer and paying fees and taxes. A gun owner on a skeet range also can’t say, “Hey Bob, can I try a round with your Beretta? I’m thinking about buying a Beretta.” He can’t buy the gun because, unless he runs off to a licensed dealer and does a lot of paperwork and pays fees, it would be illegal.

The 18-page law would make illegal so much of what law-abiding gun owners do as they shoot socially and go hunting that the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs now opposes Initiative 594. But one thing it won’t do is stop criminals from getting guns. The criminals aren’t going to say, “Gee whiz, now we can’t buy stolen guns any more or get some guy with a clean record to buy us a gun, because you know that’s illegal.”

If the billionaires really want to do something to help stop the mentally disturbed (who commit most of the mass murders) from getting guns, they could … click here to see the rest of my article at NationalReview.com.

This Sheriff Sees the Public as Partners in the Fight Against Criminals

clarkeSometimes someone steps onto the public stage with such moral clarity that people stop and really listen. When this person is an elected official who defies stereotypes to deliver a politically incorrect message, people begin to question what they’ve been told.

Pretty soon, journalists begin sticking their pens in such a savant, sure he or she must be full of hot air. Politicians with opposing positions throw mud, certain it’ll stick. But when the person doesn’t deflate and the political dirt won’t obstruct the message, the detractors step back. By contrast, this startlingly honest official can show them for what they really are.

Such is how those who would ban guns now see Sheriff David Clarke Jr. of Milwaukee County, Wis. Sheriff Clarke has decades of law enforcement experience in a large city—and he is a vocal defender of the Second Amendment.

Sheriff Clarke began speaking out about gun rights after he saw that the police were struggling to effectively protect the people of Milwaukee. The average response time for 9-1-1 calls in the city of Milwaukee had grown to nearly an hour.

“If people have to wait an hour for help, then they have to be able to protect themselves until the good guys arrive,” Clarke says.

Click here to read the rest of my article in America’s 1st Freedom.

My Latest Interview on Newsmax

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 10.22.41 AMI spent 10 minutes on Newsmax TV to talk about my book The Future of the Gun. We discussed so-called “smart guns” and the direction gun technology is taking as engineers learn to integrate other technologies into firearms. You can see the interview on YouTube by clicking here.

The Second Amendment’s Defining Moment

supreme courtIn 2008 I chatted with a silver-haired law school professor under the marble pillars of the U.S. Supreme Court building. He was very excited. The court was to about hear Heller v. D.C. The case would decide whether the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects an individual right to own and carry guns. He had 20 law students with him. He said anxiously, “When I put in the paperwork to get seats months ago I didn’t know we’d get to see one of the last unresolved constitutional questions debated.” He said this while looking at a line of people hoping to get seats that went down the block, around a corner and out of sight.

Months later, when the high court ruled 5-4 that the Second Amendment protects an individual right from government infringement, the media was paying attention. Many, however, are missing what’s happening now. The Second Amendment is having its defining moment in history. The decisions now percolating up to the Supreme Court are deciding what guns the Second Amendment covers, when requirements become infringements and more.

Gun-rights and gun-control groups understand that these court decisions illustrate how much elections matter, as federal judges are nominated by the president and voted on by the senate. However, two recent federal court decisions from judges appointed by former president Bill Clinton show how difficult these decisions can be to handicap.

In one just-decided case, California Senior U.S. District Court Judge Anthony W. Ishii found that “10-day waiting periods of Penal Code violate the Second Amendment” as applied to people who fall into certain classifications. He found this arbitrary wait time “burdens the Second Amendment rights of the plaintiffs.” (The decision can be read here.) This court decision orders the California Department of Justice to allow the “unobstructed release” of guns to those who pass a background check and possess a California license to carry a handgun, or who hold a Department of Justice-issued Certificate of Eligibility and already possess at least one firearm known to the state. Basically, it says if someone already legally has a gun in California the state can’t make that person wait 10 days for a second gun just because it wants to. If that sounds like common sense to you, you’re right, but common sense isn’t a given in the courts.

The rest of the ongoing battle over “assault weapons” and more is in my recent column at Forbes.com. 

See My Debate with an Anti-Gunner

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 10.09.10 AMFor its first “Bookmarks” presentation PublicSquare.net asked me to debate a person who has contrary views of my research and in-depth reporting in The Future of the Gun. It was a good debate and I respect him for sitting down and doing it. Anti-gun groups typically shun honest dialogues on the gun issues. If they can’t control the narrative or get a media member to simply repeat their talking points they won’t have the discussion. James Hedrick, however, sat down for a real debate. Watch it and you’ll get a clean perspective of the battle here between freedom and state control of an individual right protected in the U.S. Bill of Rights. It can’t be easy for a Liberal to sit down and spend 35 minutes arguing Americans can’t be trusted with a civil right, which of course is why gun-control groups shun real debate–well, that and the fact that empirical evidence proves over and over that freedom works.  You can view the debate by clicking here.

The Gun Technology that Could Prevent Another Ferguson

Some see “smart guns” as a chance for the government to control the individual right to bear arms, but let me show you a different future, one where gun technology can instead be a check on the state. To achieve this future all we have to do is understand it—despite the spin on this issue from much of the media—and then to demand it.

To see this future it’s first necessary to know the truth about the smart-gun debate. Smart guns are an emerging technology that use different means to prevent someone else—perhaps a child or a criminal—from firing a police officer’s or armed citizen’s gun. It’s an exciting idea that Hollywood has long toyed with; however, many of America’s 100 million gun owners are worried that smart-gun technology might allow government bureaucrats to put their regulatory fingers in the workings of every gun sold. The federal government, or a state government, could accomplish this by first mandating that all guns sold have some kind of government-approved smart-gun technology installed and then by deciding who is authorized to use them.

The fear is real. In 2002 the “The Childproof Handgun Bill” was signed into law in New Jersey. When smart-gun technology becomes available on the market this law mandates that all new handguns sold in the state must be smart guns. Such a mandate would by definition be a massive gun ban, as all handguns currently available would be illegal to sell.

People who know little about firearms might now ask: Why not mandate that a new safety measure be put on every gun sold?

To see rest of my column on how guns can be changed to prevent another Ferguson click here.

How a Federal Judge Got it Wrong on “Assault Weapons”

gavelMany gun owners are perplexed with how U.S. Federal Judge Catherine C. Blake could possibly base her ruling that Maryland’s 2013 “assault weapons” ban is constitutional on the premise that these semiautomatic firearms are “dangerous and unusual.” The answer isn’t just in her ignorance of the facts, as the plaintiffs did a very thorough job showing how common and popular AR-15s and other such rifles are with U.S. citizens, but instead has everything to do with her background and politics.

Judge Blake is a Harvard educated attorney who was nominated for her current judicial position in 1995 by President Bill Clinton. In her 47-page decision she systematically presented the facts and then judged them, not by the facts, but by her ignorance of America’s history of civil rights (the Second Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights is by definition a civil right) and her politics.

To achieve the ruling she did she had to slip her opinion through the U.S. Supreme Court’s Heller v. D.C. (2008) decision. She tried and fell on her face beneath the facts, but didn’t seem to know it.

Heller found that the Second Amendment recognized and solidified a pre-existing, individual right to keep and bear arms. Specifically, the Court ruled in Heller that “law-abiding, responsible citizens [have the right] to use arms in defense of hearth and home.” By determining that law-abiding citizens have the right to bear arms, the Supreme Court found that D.C.’s complete ban on handguns, which it said was the class of arms “overwhelmingly chosen by American society for [the] lawful purpose [of self-defense],” infringed on the core principle of the Second Amendment.

Now, in Heller, the Supreme Court also recognized that the right to bear arms is not unlimited—by comparison, neither is the First Amendment’s protections of free speech. What Heller found is that the Second Amendment protects guns that are “in common use” and that are “typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.”

Judge Blake noted all this but then wrote: “First, the court is not persuaded that assault weapons are commonly possessed based on the absolute number of those weapons owned by the public. Even accepting that there are 8.2 million assault weapons in the civilian gun stock, as the plaintiffs claim, assault weapons represent no more than 3% of the current civilian gun stock, and ownership of those weapons is highly concentrated in less than 1% of the U.S. population.”

To see why Judge Blake is wrong click here to read my op-ed at HumanEvents.com.

Inside the Black Market for Guns

Across a conference room table on the 35th floor of a Manhattan high rise were three agents with decades of experience investigating gunrunning and other crimes for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). One of the many questions I wanted to answer in my book The Future of the Gun is where criminals really get guns. I hoped these ATF agents could help.

So I said, “Just tell me how it really is guys, how do criminals get guns?”

Agent Charles Mulham tossed his head as he asked, “Where to begin?”

I replied, “How about with how much handguns go for on the black market?”

Agent Mulham said, “Well, a quality pistol like a Glock might go for double or triple retail. Lower-quality guns, however, are often worth only $100 or $200 more than retail.”

Agent Mulham and the other two agents—John Curtis and Jason Zamaloff—all weighed in and agreed there is no precise formula for what handguns go for on the street, but basically guns are so readily available the black-market price is typically just a few hundred dollars more than retail.

A few hundred dollars doesn’t seem like much of an incentive to tempt a licensed gun dealer into going to the dark side. I commented that even for double or triple retail someone with a business to lose would be an idiot to risk a felony conviction by trying to sell guns under the counter for such profits.

For the rest of this investigative piece click here for my article at Forbes.com.

Permalink

gun-diagramThe setting was a behind-closed-doors meeting at the National Institute of Justice (the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice). The place was Washington, D.C. The time was April 2013. It was months after the Sandy Hook massacre and Attorney General Eric Holder was quietly meeting with leadership from some gun manufacturers.

W.P. Gentry, president of Kodiak Arms, says, “I was with other firearms manufacturers at the National Institute of Justice. I then had the biggest development in smart-gun technology coming together at my facility in Utah—the Intelligun.” The Intelligun uses biometric scanners on a pistol’s grips. If a person’s biometrics have been added to the gun’s software the pistol will activate within one second of being touched.

Gentry says, “This interested Eric Holder. He wondered how we might be able to control who was or wasn’t authorized. I stopped him right there. I looked right across a table at Eric Holder—yeah, the attorney general of the United States—and told him ‘if you try to mandate my smart gun technology I’ll burn it down.’ The Intelligun is designed to save lives, not restrict freedom.”

Click here to read the rest of my article at NationalReview.com 

Operation Choke Point Quietly Stops Targeting the Gun Industry

UnknownSo gun companies are no longer on a government black list. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) has reported that firearms retailers are no longer on their “watch list” of businesses classified as “high risk.” Last spring the FDIC’s original list, which was part of the Department of Justice’s “Operation Choke Point,” included firearms and ammunition  companies. The FDIC was warning financial institutions that gun shops and manufacturers are places with a high risk for criminal activity. In this way the Justice Department was strong-arming banks to stop doing business with the firearms industry. After a bunch of firearms-related companies said their longstanding banking relationships had either been terminated or threatened, Congress started looking into what was going on and conservative media groups—most notably the Washington Times—began investigating. When it was clear the Obama administration was targeting legitimate and licensed businesses they found politically incorrect, the FDIC began to backpedal. They began to say there were “misunderstandings” and “misinterpretations.” Really? Jim Shepherd, publisher of the Shooting Wire, asked,
”That ‘explanation’ begs a semi-serious question: If that wasn’t the purpose of the list, then why bother putting a list together (and distributing it) in the first place?”