Archive for April, 2013

VIDEO: One on One with Governor Dick Lamm

Posted by on Apr 29 2013 | Idiot Box (TV Show)

Here’s the video of my last TV show where I went one on one with former Governor Dick Lamm:

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The Truth About Gun Control

Posted by on Apr 26 2013 | Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, guns, Kopelization, Second Amendment, The Founders, U.S. Constitution

Wouldn’t it be great if someone wrote a short essay about the right to keep and bear arms and its opposition in America? Perhaps something of similar length and persuasion as Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” or the Federalist Papers?

Well, our resident Second Amendment scholar, historian, and law professor Dave Kopel did just that for Encounter Books. In his latest book appropriately titled, “The Truth About Gun Control,” Dave gives the reader a foundation for why the right to keep and bear arms is important, who fought this inherent right and why, and what’s at stake today from the likes of Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama. As Dave says, the book is meant to be read in one sitting. Or as I like to say, the book can be read to me in one sitting.

If you’d like to hear more about the book, check out this podcast. He and Justin go into more detail about the book and why it’s an important piece in today’s fight against the gun control machine.

If reading the book and listening to the podcast don’t entirely whet your appetite, I may have just the thing for you. On Tuesday, May 14th, we are holding a book signing and presentation with Dave here at the Freedom Embassy. Admission is FREE, but you must RSVP online or by phone at 303-279-6536. For more information, visit our Facebook page here.

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One on One with Governor Dick Lamm

Posted by on Apr 26 2013 | Idiot Box (TV Show)

Catch me on my show, Devils Advocate, tonight as former Colorado Governor Dick Lamm joins me. That’s tonight at 8:30 on Colorado Public Television 12.

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Another Second Amendment Success

Posted by on Apr 19 2013 | Constitutional Law, Gun shows, guns, Kopelization, Politics, PPC, Second Amendment, U.S. Constitution

The media correctly portrayed Wednesday’s Senate vote against broad background checks as an enormous defeat for the anti-gun movement, and for President Obama, as he put so much of his political capital into it. His decisive defeat significantly weakens him on every other issue.

What might not be as well known is that the Independence Institute was a key player in this success.

We were the only organization to put out a detailed explanation of how Senator Schumer’s background check bill would’ve turned almost every American gun owner into a felon, because it applies not only to gun sales, but also temporary transfers, like lending your shotgun to a friend or family member.

When the gun control lobby realized they couldn’t pass Schumer’s background check, they then proposed the Manchin-Toomey substitute. It was drafted secretly and hastily, and the plan was to rush it through the Senate. Our Second Amendment scholar, David Kopel, spent long & late nights writing articles on and National Review Online explaining how poorly written it was, making it full of unintended consequences. For example, it supposedly outlawed federal gun registration, but when you look carefully at the statutory language, it actually legalized one form of federal gun registration which is currently illegal.

Kopel’s work helped the Senate see that these bills, which were supposedly just about background checks on sales, were actually laden with many other anti gun provisions.

We were there from the very beginning of this fight. According to Senate aides, Kopel’s testimony before the Judicial Committee on January 30 was crucial in stopping a federal ban on so-called “assault weapons.” And from the very moment President Obama began using the horrible murders in Newtown as pretext to crack down on law abiding gun owners, Kopel was in the national media providing the facts and promoting genuine reforms which would actually help public safety.

Joe Biden lobbied hard here in Colorado to pass a litany of anti gun bills on the state level, which were intended to set the stage for a national ban. Kopel’s expert testimony in the state legislature, along with our broad outreach in social media and on YouTube, helped lead to the defeat of two of the worst bills: the ban on licensed carry on college campuses and the bill allowing lawsuits against gun manufacturers. Our work also helped make the bills that did pass significantly less bad than they were to start with.

For the anti-gun movement, Colorado was supposed to be an easy victory leading them to victories elsewhere. Instead they paid a HUGE price for their limited victories in Colorado, and that price will escalate significantly as we provide pro bono representation to Colorado Sheriffs as we lead the legal fight to declare these bills unconstitutional.

Join us for a book signing with our Second Amendment scholar Dave Kopel on Tuesday, May 14th. He will be giving a presentation on his new book, “The Truth About Gun Control,” and signing copies following the Q and A. For more details and to RSVP, please go here.

We fight for Freedom with a long-term battle plan that works. These victories are even more proof. Thank you for being a part of it.

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Those budget ‘cuts’ are actually spending increases

Posted by on Apr 15 2013 | debt, Government Largess, PPC

At’s new Page Two, Independence Institute senior fellow Barry Fagin warns against getting faked out by the Orwellian language trickery being used in the ongoing budget debate in Washington, DC:

We’ve all heard the typical media spin on the budget negotiations. The Democrats are proposing a “balanced” plan of spending cuts and tax increases, while the Republicans are being dogmatic and unreasonable. After all, who can argue with balance? It makes it seem like the alternative is falling over.
Let me state this as clearly as I can: A “spending cut” is when you spend less money than you did before. It’s not that hard to understand. Think about it: If your family has to cut spending, are you going to spend more, or less? It just couldn’t be any simpler.
Unless you’re in Washington. There, cutting spending means spending less than you were hoping to. That’s a very different thing. Think about it this way. If you get a 3 percent raise when you were expecting 5 percent, was that a pay cut? If your taxes go up 5 percent when you thought they would go up 10 percent, were your taxes cut? According to Democratic Party Newspeak, the answer is yes.

Enjoy the whole thing here.

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Education Wonk Fest Tonight on Devil’s Advocate

Posted by on Apr 12 2013 | education, Idiot Box (TV Show), PPC

Friday night means public affairs tv with the Independence Institute, so set your TiVO to wonk. First at 8:00, catch research director David Kopel on Colorado Inside Out. Then stay tuned for Devil’s Advocate at 8:30 as guest host Ben DeGrow is joined by Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at American Enterprise Institute and Douglas County School District Superintendent Elizabeth Celania-Fagen to discuss the importance of strong leadership in bringing about effective education reform. The excitement starts tonight at 8:00 on Colorado Public Television 12. You can find your local CPT12 channel by zip code here.

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Stand with Colorado sheriffs and Independence Institute on gun rights

Posted by on Apr 09 2013 | guns, PPC, Second Amendment, Uncategorized

The Denver Post covers the lawsuit against Colorado’s new gun owner-control laws by Colorado sheriffs:

Thirty-seven of the state’s 62 elected sheriffs are prepared to sue to overturn laws that now prohibit the sale of ammunition magazines holding more than 15 rounds and require background checks for all private gun sales, Weld County Sheriff John Cooke said Tuesday.

The Post piece also mentions the Independence Institute’s role:

The lawsuit would be handled by lawyer Dave Kopel, research director of the Independence Institute, a conservative think-tank, and adjunct Professor of Advanced Constitutional Law at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law…

Damn straight, the Independence Institute is both honored, and ready, to stand with the sheriffs to defend the civil liberties of Coloradans’ against the Bloomberg/White House orchestrated assault on the Second Amendment.

You can donate to the lawsuit here.

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Major Victory in Court for the First Amendment!

Posted by on Apr 02 2013 | First Amendment, Petition Rights, PPC

Colorado has the initiative process; that is, we lowly citizens can act as the legislature and change law. Elected officials of all stripes hate the initiative, and you can understand why. The initiative is the check and balance on their power. Would politicians ever vote to limit their own terms? Of course not. Fortunately, through the initiative, we the people did. Would they ever vote to limit how much they spend, or ask voters for a tax or debt increase? We the people did through the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Would politicians ever vote to make all their meetings open to the public? Well, we the people did…you get the idea.

So in 2009, the legislature passed a bill, HB-1326, that made it so onerous, expensive, and potentially personally bankrupting that no thinking person would ever put something on the ballot again. (And as you’ll see, I am no thinking person.) So we decided to fight to keep our right to petition. It has been a long and expensive fight, but with a judge’s order on Friday, we have now completely won!

Let me give you an idea just how bad this law was. It made the proponents of an initiative personally liable for the actions of petition gatherers. I’ve been a political activist for over two decades and, like most Americans, never thought that being part of the democratic process would land me in court and possibly bankrupt me. Well, that’s just what happened.

I was the sponsor of our Health Care Choice initiative in 2010, along with our health care star Linda Gorman. When the opponents wanted to derail the effort, they used the new law and claimed that a paid petition gatherer misrepresented my initiative to get a citizen to sign my petition. So into court I was dragged. If the opponents won I would be liable for their legal costs. We of course won, but still, my legal costs were about $100,000. This nuisance complaint did what it was created to do – cost time and money. If, however, we’d lost, I’d have had to pay hundreds of thousands to the opponents. I would have been wiped out and in bankruptcy.

After what happened to me, it became clear that no one would ever chance their own fiscal ruin by putting an initiative forward again. With our input, the Secretary of State has made rule changes to provide at least some protection to future sponsors.

If that wasn’t enough, HB-1326 outlawed paying petition gatherers by the signature. Instead, they were to be paid by the hour or on salary, which would make the process so expensive that only very rich people and political interests could get things on the ballot. We were able to get a judge to temporarily enjoin that just in time for us to get the signatures needed for the Health Care Choice initiative in 2010.

On Friday, the judge made that temporary injunction permanent! This is a major victory for the right to petition.

And if THAT wasn’t enough, HB-1326 required that petition gatherers be residents of Colorado, even though the most effective, professional gatherers travel around the country and may be out-of-state. Again, the law was made to make it unaffordable to get something on the ballot. On Friday, the judge permanently enjoined that part of the law, too. We’ve won on everything.

The lawyer we used was none other than David Lane, who skillfully navigated this suit. Thanks David.

To make a long story short, the Independence Institute is willing to take on the nitty-gritty battles, like this one, to protect our freedoms. And this is yet another victory in our path towards true liberty.

Advancing liberty ain’t always pretty, ain’t never cheap, and is always longer and harder than imagined. But if you and I don’t do it, who will?

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Victory for the Citizen Initiative Process

Posted by on Apr 02 2013 | Petition Rights, PPC, State constitutional law

Yesterday, a judge ruled in favor of us in a lawsuit we filed against a 2009 law limiting paid petition gathering. The law was a blow against citizens who wanted to use paid petition gathering to get an initiative on the ballot. And as our lawyer David Lane put it, “I think the intent of the bill was to disincentivize signature gathers.” I commented that this ruling against the law means that you don’t need deep, union-sized pockets to get on the ballot.

Just wanted to give you guys a heads up on this victory. I’ll be writing more on this very shortly. Stayed tuned!

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