Archive for January, 2013

Kopel Goes to Washington

Posted by on Jan 30 2013 | Gun shows, guns, Kopelization, Michael Bloomberg, Politics, PPC, Right to carry, Second Amendment, Self-Defense, U.S. Constitution

Our resident genius and Second Amendment scholar Dave Kopel was in Washington DC this morning to testify on gun violence, public safety, and the right to arms. He was on a panel of five experts who each gave a 5 minute prepared statement and then fielded questions from the US Senate Judiciary Committee.

Here is a PDF of Kopel’s prepared remarks.

Here is the video of Kopel’s testimony and all the questions he fielded from the Senators.

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Dave Defends Guns in DC

Posted by on Jan 29 2013 | AR-15, guns, Kopelization, Second Amendment, U.S. Constitution

Our Second Amendment expert, Dave Kopel, has never been in more demand than he is right now. As the well-fueled hysteria against the Bill of Rights is at full throttle, voices of reason are being overrun. We are certain reason can prevail when we cut through the emotion of panic that the gun-grabbers feed on. Dave is the antidote to that panic. I invite you to see him in action.

The US Senate Judiciary Committee is set to hear from five witnesses who are authorities on firearms, gun violence, and public safety. Dave will be one of the five testifying in Washington DC tomorrow morning at 8am MST.

Along with reading a prepared statement, witnesses will be fielding Q and A from the committee. Gun owners are lucky to have Dave defending their Second Amendment rights in our nation’s capitol. If anyone can make headway with DC bureaucrats, it’s Dave.

You can watch Dave on TV via CNN and via the Internet on C-SPAN this Wednesday morning at 8am.

You can also arm yourself with the truth on this hot issue by visiting his web page

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28th Annual Founders’ Night Featuring Walter Williams

Posted by on Jan 28 2013 | Economic LIberties, Economics, Economy, Events, PPC, Taxes, U.S. Constitution

Mark your calendar right now for the biggest party of the year. And it’s coming up fast. Our 28th Annual Founders’ Night Dinner will be held March 7th at Infinity Park in Glendale.

Every year we honor one person who has gone above and beyond to fight for Liberty and the future of Colorado with our David S. D’Evelyn Award. Past recipients include Mike Rosen, Jake Jabs, Bruce Benson, William Coors, Hank Brown and many more.

This year we are thrilled to recognize with this award a true Independence Institute original – one of our former Senior Fellows and former Board Trustee. This person was a lawyer for the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a free market public interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty and property rights. This person also served as Attorney General for the State of Colorado and later as the Secretary of the Interior of the United States of America.

Haven’t guessed who it is yet? Here’s a hint – liberal actor/activist Robert Redford was so enamored with this person that in a public letter to her, he said, “Sadly, since assuming the Interior Secretary post, you have compiled an abysmal record of capitulating to big businesses at the expense of the nation’s public health, public lands and wildlife.” How can you not love her?

Yes that’s right: Liberty’s Warrior, the Honorable Gale Norton will receive our D’Evelyn award.

And now for the main act…

America is on the edge – the edge of fiscal ruin by governmental spending, the edge of moral ruin by mortgaging our children’s future, the edge of Constitution ruin by an unchecked federal government.

Perhaps like you, we at Independence find ourselves wondering – is it too late?

We wanted to bring that question to someone qualified enough to actually answer that question. After a great deal of in-house argument as to who was best to understand and explain the role of government in a free society, we all found ourselves drawn to the same name.

I am more than excited to announce our keynote speaker on March 7th is the great economist and communicator, Walter Williams.

Following in the trail blazed by Fredrick Hayek and Milton Friedman, Walter Williams is the nation’s finest, clear-thinking economist. And his thinking has brought him to what he told me was his solution for the nation’s crisis – Obey the Constitution.

Dr. Williams is Chairman of the Economics Department for George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He is the author of over 150 publications which have appeared in scholarly journals such as Economic Inquiry, American Economic Review, Georgia Law Review, Journal of Labor Economics, Social Science Quarterly, and Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy and popular publications such as Newsweek, Ideas on Liberty, National Review, Reader’s Digest, Cato Journal, and Policy Review. He has authored ten books including Do the Right Thing: The People’s Economist Speaks, More Liberty Means Less Government, Liberty vs. the Tyranny of Socialism, Up From The Projects: An Autobiography, and Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed On Discrimination?

He has made scores of radio and television appearances which include Nightline, Firing Line, Face the Nation, Milton Friedman’s Free To Choose, Crossfire, MacNeil/Lehrer, Wall Street Week and was a regular commentator for Nightly Business Report. He is also an occasional substitute host for the Rush Limbaugh Show. In addition Dr. Williams writes a nationally syndicated weekly column that is carried by approximately 140 newspapers and several web sites.

Seats for this event will be going quickly, very quickly. If you wish to join us, you have the opportunity to purchase tickets online here, or you can email Mary MacFarlane at

Don’t be the person who someday says, “Oh, I wish I had been there!”

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The Dick Act and Gun Control

Posted by on Jan 25 2013 | Dick Act, guns, Militia

The first federal statutes governing the Militia of the United States were enacted in 1792.  There were some revisions in 1795. During the Civil War, an amendment removed the language that had restricted federal militia membership to free whites.

The old militia statutes were repealed and replaced by the Militia Act of 1903, 32 Stat. 775, commonly known as the ‘‘Dick Act’’ for its sponsor Representative Charles W.F. Dick, a Major General in the Ohio National Guard.

The Dick Act gave formal federal recognition—and financial support—to the National Guard, which had begun as a volunteer state-based civic organization after the Civil War. According to the Dick Act, the ‘‘organized militia’’ of the United States is the National Guard, plus Naval Militias maintained by some states. 10 U.S.C. §311(b)(1).

The Dick Act also defines the ‘‘unorganized militia.’’ The unorganized militia is all able-bodied men between 17 and 44 years of age who are United States citizens (or ‘‘have made a declaration of intention to become
citizens’’), and who do not belong to the organized militia. 10 U.S.C. §311(a), (b)(2). They are subject to call-up by the federal government in order to ‘‘execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections [or] repel Invasions,’’ under the Constitution’s Militia Clauses. (Clause 15 of Article I, sect. 8 is the “Calling Forth” clause. Clause 16 grants Congress the power to organize, arm, and discipline the militia.)

The best book on the early history of the National Guard, including the Dick Act, is Jerry M. Cooper, The Rise of the National Guard: The Evolution of the American Militia, 1865-1920 (2002). During the late 19th and early 20th century, the National Guard and the National Rifle Association were very closely intertwined.

The Dick Act has long been a part of the Second Amendment debate in the United States, since the Act plainly shows that Militia is not solely the National Guard.

These days, however, a ridiculous email is being circulated, which claims that the Dick Act absolutely prohibits any form of gun control for men 17-44. Further, the email asserts, preposterously, that the Dick Act is unrepealable, because repeal would violate the Bill of Attainder and Ex Post Facto clauses. David Hardy deconstructs this email over at his excellent blog, Of Arms and the Law. Hardy’s blog is mandatory reading for anyone with a serious interest in firearms law and policy.

Grotesquely wrong emails such as this are, objectively speaking, helpful to gun prohibitionists. To the extent that pro-rights activists mistakenly rely on the email, and use it as the basis for arguments that they send to elected officials in opposition to proposed anti-gun laws, the activists are wasting their time with arguments that are plainly incorrect, and therefore will not be persuasive to elected officials. Further, some readers who fall for this email hoax may imagine themselves immune from vast array of repressive laws which are being pushed in Congress and the state legislatures, some which have already been enacted in New York. As a result, these readers may sit on the sidelines politically, failing to get involved at a time when citizen activism is essential.

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All-In for Liberty Poker Tournament!

Posted by on Jan 21 2013 | Events, PPC

Enjoy pizza, beer, and poker with other liberty-minded friends… all while raising money to promote free markets! Mark your calendar for Saturday, January 26th to attend “All In For Liberty”, and join us for your chance to win money while supporting a good cause.

Our good friends at Liberty on the Rocks are hosting a fun poker tournament this Saturday. Even if you aren’t the greatest poker player (like me), you’ll still have a great time. I promise.

Registration begins at 1PM, cards fly at 2. Your $40 buy-in includes pizza, beer and a fun afternoon of no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em poker. In case you “bust out” early, there’s unlimited re-buys up to – and one add-on during – the first break (if you’re still in, but short on chips).

There’s a 40-player limit and seats will go quickly. It’s first come, first serve… so make your reservation here on the Facebook page. It’ll be a great time for a good cause. RSVP today, and we’ll see you this Saturday!

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Ronald Reagan’s AR-15

Posted by on Jan 15 2013 | AR-15, Colt Single Action Army revolver, guns, Ronald Reagan

In June 1992, retired President Ronald Reagan was presented with some gifts from the American Shooting Sports Council, a trade association for the firearms industry. (ASSC later merged with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an older industry group.) The gifts were a Colt semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, a gold-engraved Colt Single Action Army .45 revolver, and a beautiful custom holster from Galco. He loved the gifts, and had a great time with them at his Rancho del Cielo. As he explained, many of the guns which he had been given as President were in the Reagan Museum, and he was not allowed to use them. So he was grateful to have some new guns of his own. You can read the whole story here, with lots of photographs, in this PDF from the August 1992 issue of The Alliance Voice, the magazine of the ASSC:  Ronald Reagan’s AR-15.

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Activities for Gun Appreciation Day

Posted by on Jan 14 2013 | guns

Saturday, January 19, is Gun Appreciation Day. Americans are urged to “go to your local gun store, gun range, or gun show” and to show their support for Second Amendment rights. The blog Shall Not Be Questioned, which has long been one of the most influential and thoughtful pro-RKBA blogs, endorses Gun Appreciation Day, but raises some important caveats.

In particular, many people imagine “that by going to the gun show, or by buying guns and some ammunition, they were making a statement. Folks, if this belief becomes widespread, we’re going to lose. Communicating with lawmakers is crucial at a time like this.”

If you want to go to a gun store, and pay $3,000 for an AR-15 (assuming you can find one) that would have cost $900 five weeks ago, go ahead. Or if you want to practice gun safety at your local range, while wearing a pro-rights shirt, that’s fine too.

But neither of these actions is going to have much practical effect in protecting the Second Amendment. Far more valuable would be volunteering to help a local organization hand out flyers at a gun show. These days, the lines are literally hours-long just to get into a gun show, so you’ll find plenty of people waiting in line who will be grateful for something to read.

Alternatively, spend a couple hours writing some short letters to your U.S. Senators, U.S. Representative, Governor, State Senator, and State Representative. A printed postal letter is best, because it demonstrates that you took some time to create it. Chapter 15 of my 1993 book Things You Can Do to Defend Your Gun Rights provides tips on writing letters to elected officials.

For your friends who don’t want to write a postal letter, but who might be willing to send an e-mail, the Ruger website provides easy tools to find your legislators and email them. (An admirable change compared to 1989, when Ruger, like a lot of the American firearms industry, was too timid to speak out against the false claim that semiautomatic rifles are “assault weapons.”)

January 19 is an especially propitious day to become a member of the National Rifle Association or another Second Amendment group.

If you want to engage in firearms commerce, there are alternatives to fighting the crowds at gun stores and gun shows. My favorite place to purchase accessories is MidwayUSA, which has an incredibly large variety of tools and supplies. MidwayUSA is also a very generous contributor to Second Amendment groups, and to conservation.

While political participation is very important, the most important long-term factor in the survival of the Second Amendment is the percentage of the population which understands firearms. The mass confiscations of firearms in Great Britain and Australia, which Howard Dean (among others) touts as the model for the United States, never would have taken place if the general public in those countries had even a minimal familiarity with firearms. So take a newbie shooting. I recommend that you introduce them to a .22, at a outdoor range. Ranges may be less crowded on Jan. 20 than on the 19th.

If all you knew about guns was what you learned from MSNBC, or much of the rest of the national media, then you would imagine that the only time that guns are important are when then are used in terrible crimes. But in truth, guns in America are used every day in America in ways that never attract national media attention:  Far over a thousand of times per day (literally) for self-defense. Their presence is so many American homes is the most important reason why burglars attack American homes so much less often then the occupants are present, compared to countries where defensive gun ownership is prevented. They are the last-resort deterrent to genocide, as shown by the fact that every genocide perpetrator in the last century has assiduously disarmed the intended victims first. Besides that, guns are used for target shooting, to put healthy food on the table, and the Pittman-Robertson excise taxes are a prime reason why so much American wildlife is thriving today, having recovered from the dire conditions of the early 20th century.

Appreciate guns on January 19? Definitely. Do so in a way that will help protect the Second Amendment from immediate threats, and will preserve it for the future generations.

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Mark Waller And “Commie Cowboys” On Devil’s Advocate This Week

Posted by on Jan 10 2013 | criminal justice, Idiot Box (TV Show), Popular Culture, PPC

Be sure and tune in to the Independence Institute’s public affairs television show Devil’s Advocate this week. First, Colorado House Minority Leader Mark Waller sits down with host Jon Caldara to talk about why it has been so hard to cut the Colorado corrections budget and close empty prisons, even as the prison population is steadily declining. Then local author Ryan McMaken comes by to discuss his new book “Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoise and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.” That’s this Friday night starting at 8:30 pm on Colorado public Television 12.

You can look up your local CPT12 channel by zip code here.

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Bleg on Apps development

Posted by on Jan 09 2013 | Uncategorized

I would like to create an Android app and an IOS app for my website, My requirements are: I want to be able to submit the app to the Google Play and Apple Stores, rather than the app being available solely on a third party website. The app does not have to be highly sophisticated; my website has about a thousand html files, and a lot of pdfs, but (except for my three-column home page) all the html files are single column, without a lot of coding. (I recently figured out how to use CSS.) The app needs to be able to handle typical things such as a Twitter feed, RSS, search, YouTube channel, audio and video links, etc. But nothing fancy; I don’t create Flash for my website.

I’m willing to pay, and would prefer to pay a one-time fee, rather than a perpetual monthly fee. So, in light of all that, what web services do readers recommend for me to build the apps?

Update: To clarify my objectives, in response to comments. Basically, I’m looking for something like the apps created by Reason, Cato, or Daily Caller. To give people simpler access to information about what’s new on the site, and to enable them to navigate the site. I’m not trying to put all the full site content itself into somebody’s cell phone.

I realize that anybody can get the same information just by using their mobile phone browser, and visiting the website directly. All my html pages have the barebones coding to be mobile-friendly:

<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=2.0, user-scalable=yes” />

In my own use of Android, I sometimes find it easier to just use the Reason App, rather than browsing to, in order to see what’s new at Reason, and to possible read an article, or watch a new Reason video. All I’m trying to do is provide similar a similar app for my site.


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How to stop school shootings right now: Abolish pretend “gun-free zones”

Posted by on Jan 09 2013 | education, guns, Right to carry

Real gun-free zones (enforced by metal detectors backed up by armed security guards) are fine for certain buildings. Pretend gun-free zones (bans on gun carrying by licensed people, but no procedures to keep out criminal gun carriers, and exacerbated by the absence of armed security) are magnets for mass killers. There is a reason why mass killers frequently attack schools, movie theaters, or shopping malls which are pretend gun-free zones.

My article Pretend “Gun-free” School Zones: A Deadly Legal Fiction, 42 Connecticut Law Review 515 (2009), examines the policy arguments. The article details some (but far from all) of the instances in which a lawfully-armed person at the scene has thwarted attempted mass murders. The reason that everyone knows about Sandy Hook Elementary, and few people know about Pearl High School is that the latter had a Vice-Principal with a gun.

NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s call for armed guards in schools is a good idea. Especially in light of the copycat effect which results from heavy media coverage of notorious crimes, the policy ought to be implemented right away.

Opponents of LaPierre’s proposal say, wrongly, that armed security at Columbine did no good. At Columbine High School, the attack coincided with the “school resource officer” (a sheriff’s deputy) being off-campus.  The officer returned during the start of the attacks, and fired some long-distance shots at the killers, who were on the school porch. Those shots drove the killers into the school building, and saved the lives of several students who had been wounded. Atrociously, the officer failed to pursue the killers into the building. Dozens of additional officers arrived within minutes, but none of them entered the building either, even though an open 911 line indicated that killings were taking place in the library, while police stood outside, near the library door, just a few feet away. At least 11 of the 13 Columbine deaths could have been prevented if the police had acted promptly. Fortunately, since Columbine, police tactics have changed drastically, to emphasize that whoever is at the scene should immediately and aggressively counter-attack an active shooter. Unlike gangsters or ordinary street thugs, mass killers tend to be weaklings and cowards who crumble quickly at armed resistance.

The limitation of LaPierre’s proposal is that a single guard cannot cover a large building simultaneously, and on a large campus, such as Virginia Tech, campus police may be spread too thin to provide prompt protection.

So LaPierre’s idea ought to be supplemented by the Utah model: if a teacher has (after a fingerprint-based background check, and a safety training class) been issued a permit to carry a concealed handgun throughout the state, there should not be a special exception which prevents the teacher from carrying at her place of employment.

People raise all sorts of speculative objections to this policy. But the Utah experience refutes the speculation. The policy has been in effect for years in Utah, and there have never been any problems caused by armed teachers. Not a single one.

At Utah public colleges and universities, the same law has applied for years, so that school employees, and students who are least 21 years old, can carry lawfully. That has been the rule at Colorado State University since 2003, at almost all other Colorado public institutions of higher education since 2010, at the final hold-out (the University of Colorado) since early 2012, when CU lost 7-0 in the Colorado Supreme Court. Opponents have raised all sorts of hysterical scenarios (e.g., 18-year-olds bringing Kalashnikov rifles to a kegger; students pulling a gun during a heated debate in a literature class), but of course none of these scenarios have come to pass.

The various gun control proposals of President Obama, Mayor Bloomberg, Senator Feinstein, and Rep. McCarthy might or might not be a good ideas in themselves, but even under a best-case scenario, they are not going to instantly and drastically reduce the death toll from mass shootings. Pervasive armed resistance–the abolition of pretend gun-free zones–would have that effect.

To recognize and then eliminate the deadly peril of pretend gun-free zones does not preclude a person from also supporting new gun controls, or improvements in mental health care, or less glamorization of criminal violence by  Hollywood, or whatever else the person thinks could be helpful in in the long run. In the short run, stopping the next Sandy Hook means ending the deadly policy which gave the killer 20 minutes (until people with guns, the police, finally arrived) to fire 150 shots and repeatedly change magazines, murdering at leisure.

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