Category Archives: Member Blogs

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Mitt, please clarify what “Extreme Weapons” are?

Well I just got my letter from my good buddy Mitt Romney, about his stance on the ATF's Back Door attack on the Second Amendment. I got my form letter but I was particularly concerned with what he defines as "extreme weapons, those which were not meant for hunting, sport, or self-defense, have no business being on the streets." I think Mitt may have beat Josh Sugarman to the punch on his coining of a new phrase to demonize certain weapons. I wonder if you can take extreme weapons hunting?

Dear Ryan:

Thank you for contacting me about the important issue of gun ownership and the right to keep and bear arms. I appreciate your interest in my campaign for President and would like to extend my sincere gratitude for taking the time to share your views with me.

I strongly support the Second Amendment right of Americans to keep and bear arms. I am proud to be among the many decent, law-abiding men and women who safely use firearms.

I firmly believe in the importance of responsible gun ownership and sales. As a member of the National Rifle Association, I do not believe that we need any more federal gun control laws. I also recognize that some types of extreme weapons, those which were not meant for hunting, sport, or self-defense, have no business being on the streets.

An individual’s right to keep and bear arms is a freedom guaranteed to all Americans by the United States Constitution. Together, we must ensure this freedom is protected. As Governor of one of the most liberal states in the country, I stood up for the rights of gun owners and sportsmen over burdensome bureaucratic regulation. I look forward to upholding these same ideals in Washington, D.C.

I am running for President because I fervently believe that I have the experience and vision to address the issues facing our country. Throughout my years in both the private and public sectors, I have been successful by pursuing innovation and transformation. If there ever was a time when innovation and transformation were needed in government, it is now.

Again, thank you for contacting me. Please feel free to visit my website at for updated information on 2nd Amendment rights and other issues that may be of interest to you. I look forward to hearing from you in the future, and earning your support.



ATF rebuked for shutting down dealers for record keeping errors

I just happened to receive the Appropriations Bill for 2008 which was passed by the House of Representatives. Take a look at the page titled 63: The Committee has heard reports that ATF has pursued violation revocations and denials against firearms dealers based on violations that consist largely of record keeping errors of various types that are unlikely to impede tracing investigations or prosecution of individuals who use firearms in crime. The Committee encourages ATF to consider lesser gradation of sanctions for record keeping errors. That sounds great but this is an agency that answers to no one! They were told to correct this problem in the 2004 OIG report but it is several years later with several less dealers. So under the ATF's own definition this disobedience is WILLFUL! If you have not already contacted your Senators, then I encourage you to do so. Their agenda to shut down our Second Amendment to justify their own existence has to stop.

The Hypocrisy of the ATF

The ATF has been scrutinizing and criticizing us over a .4% error rate that they deem to be willful, here is our now former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales dodging questions on the ATF's record keeping on April 6, 2006 at a House Judiciary Committee Hearing:

REP. CHRIS CANNON (R-UT): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And, Mr. Attorney General, we appreciate your being here. I want you to know that I share the concerns that have been expressed thus far, but would like to ask you a couple of programmatic questions. Since the 1970s, there have been significant questions about the accuracy of the National Firearms Act maintained by the ATF. The Gun Control Act of 1968 provided an amnesty whereby individuals could come forward and register weapons, which were often war trophies that they got from their parents who'd fought overseas. In 1998, an IG report found that the ATF contract employees had improperly destroyed NFA records, and ATF employees had not followed proper procedures during the registration. This bureaucratic mess has left many of my constituents with potentially illegal guns solely because of ATF mistakes. Would you support legislation allowing collectors to re-register so they are in compliance with the law, especially if they have the appropriate paperwork? And would you agree that an individual should not be faced with prosecution or the loss of a valuable weapon because of ATF's negligence?

ATTY GEN. GONZALES: Well, I don't want to prejudge whether or not there should or should not be prosecution, Congressman, without knowing the facts. I'm not familiar of the incident that you're describing, but I'd be happy to look into it.

REP. CANNON: Look, it's not an incident. There's a report that deals with MANY incidences.

ATTY GEN. GONZALES: I'm not familiar with the report, but I'm happy to discuss with you and look at legislation — I want to have the opportunity to look at that report.

REP. CANNON: Okay, thank you. We will follow up on it. It has a — I have just in my district many, many people who have this problem, and they have paperwork that came from the ATF that is — it's ignored by ATF.

ATTY GEN. GONZALES: That shouldn't be the case.

REP. CANNON: Thank you. I appreciate your stating on the record that it should not be the case, and we'll follow up with that.

You can and will make a difference!

I wanted to updated everyone on the Red's Trading Post Challenge, I have had 10 people complete the challenge and several others indicate they are still working on it. That may not seem like a whole lot but that is over 1,000 letters sent so far. Evidently there are still members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that are still seeking questions of ATF Acting Director Michael J. Sullivan. If the Committee confirms Sullivan then he will go before the full Senate for confirmation to Director. If you write them also feel free to point them to our online petition that currently has over 4,900 signatures. I hope that you will take the time to help stop these back door attacks on our Second Amendment.

Vietnam veteran subjected to outrageous injustice

First, although this is about a veteran being denied, for psychological reasons, his Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms, it is not about H.R. 2640. I am passionately, vehemently opposed to the so-called NICS "Improvement" Act, but this brave man faces the same egregious treatment whether H.R. 2640 passes, or not.

You see, this man, who fought for our nation, who watched innumerable friends die for it, who suffered for it in ways that lesser men (myself, for example) will never comprehend, shares the disability from which I suffer. No–he's not paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair (as far as I know), but he is an Illinois resident. As anyone familiar with Illinois gun laws should know, this is a horrid affliction.

One of the symptoms of this condition is the state mandated requirement for a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card to purchase or possess firearms and/or ammunition. The application for the FOID contains the following question:

In the past 5 years, have you been a patient in any medical facility or part of any medical facility used primarily for the care or treatment of persons for mental illness?

When his FOID next comes up for renewal, he will have to answer "Yes" to that question (on pain of prison time). This is because he has sought treatment at a Veteran's Administration hospital for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He has no record of violence (or even threatening violence), and has not shown indications of suicidal tendencies. He sought medical help from the VA because he does suffer from nightmares, insomnia, and some depression.

That is enough to deny him a FOID. Because the horrors he witnessed still trouble him, he will be denied the means to defend his life. Because he sought treatment for suffering he endured (and still endures) on behalf of this country, Illinois law mandates that he be thrown upon the tender mercies of any thug who means him harm.

What message does this send to war veterans in Illinois whose souls are scarred by the horrors they have witnessed? Deal with it yourself, or be disarmed. It says that the Veteran's Administration is in league with the Illinois State Police to either deny you the care you are owed, or to rob you of your Constitutional rights.

This is an outrage. This is disgusting. This is evil.

Why this citizen disarmament advocating, tyranny enabling, bed-wetting hysteria is a good thing

Oldsmoblogger does an excellent job of dismantling Elizabeth Sullivan's (Cleveland Plain Dealer) column, "Want safer schools? Update gun laws; it's been 800 years." (also see War on Guns, for a quicker, but equally biting, treatment).

Sullivan's argument, as best I can decipher, is that the Second Amendment's guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms is based on 12th century English common law . . . and is therefore silly in our enlightened age. Apparently (who knew?), fundamental human rights go bad after a certain length of time. Evidently, modernity has rendered liberty obsolete. My, ain't progress wonderful?

Rather than trying to repeat the work that Oldsmoblogger and War on Guns have already done–better than I'll ever manage–in rebutting Sullivan's call to join our more enlightened, modern cousins in disarming the citizenry, I'll urge folks to check out WoG and Oldsmoblogger–it's definitely worth the time. In the meantime, I submit that Sullivan's attack on the Second Amendment is a good thing for us.

Why? Because she attacks the Second Amendment, instead of trying to twist it into what it clearly isn't–a meaningless affirmation of a mythical "collective right." The "collective right" interpretation has been a staple of the citizen disarmament movement for years now, and is starting to show some severe cracks. Those cracks have been there all along, of course, but until fairly recently, the citizen disarmament lobby has managed to ignore them.

In the "collective right" interpretation of the Second Amendment, the "well regulated militia" part of the amendment reigns supreme (conveniently ignoring that it's "the right of the people that "shall not be infringed," not "the right of the militia"–as a prime example, check out this Brady Bunch video clip, in which Brady Bunch legal director Dennis Henigan recites the Second Amendment–except that he forgets, I guess, the part about "of the people"). In this interpretation, the Second Amendment protects a right of the states (and only the states) to maintain arms, for defense against an overreaching federal government. Furthermore, the function of the state militia is now served by the National Guard (meaning, apparently, that the Second Amendment exists to protect the right to arm soldiers–something that would seem to not need such explicit Constitutional protection).

Over a year ago, I talked about what I see as one of the biggest problems with that argument. In the 1990 Supreme Court case Perpich v. Department of Defense, Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich sued the Department of Defense for mobilizing the Minnesota National Guard without his consent (or that of the state legislature) for operations outside the state. Perpich lost his case, because the Supreme Court ruled that the National Guard is not a "state militia," and is instead part of the U.S. Army Reserve system–in other words, part of the federally controlled military. If the Second Amendment is intended to provide the means for states to protect themselves from the federal government, to argue that it serves this function by arming troops under federal authority is clearly not going to work.

I do not claim that it was the above that convinced Sullivan (and others) to admit that the Second Amendment means what it says, rather than what the citizen disarmers wish it said (a fair amount of recent legal scholarship has been building that case, and Parker/Heller v. DC has brought a lot of attention to the Second Amendment's meaning). Whatever the reason for this change in strategy, if it signals that the rhetorical gymnastics of arguing the "collective right" myth have become too exhausing to sustain, our position has gotten considerably stronger.

Don't like that the Second Amendment provides Constitutional protection for the right to keep and bear arms–then remove it, if you can (by the way, the fundamental human right that it protects will still be there–and there's nothing that will remove it). We'll be waiting, armed and free–and safe 😉 .

Take the Red’s Trading Post Challenge!

The other night I began to write about what the ATF is doing to our Second Amendment to our Senators and I mean ALL 100 of our Senators. I went from Alabama to Wyoming following this GOA Link: and copying and pasting this message:

ATF using Back Door attacks to shut down our Second Amendment

Dear Senator,

I wanted to make you aware of the back door attack that the ATF is conducting on our Second Amendment. From 1994-2005 the number of dealers has decreased nearly 80%; from 2001-06 the number of license revocations had increased nearly 6 times.

Furthermore, the number of Firearms manufacturers from 2001-06 has decreased nearly 85%. These numbers are very alarming and I hope that you will look into this and stop this Back Door assault on our Second Amendment.


I figure that we greatly out number those who wish to destroy our rights but it is time for the Sleeping Giant to get up and speak out. So here is my challenge to you: Send this message to all 100 Senators (it took me a little over an hour) and then contact me and I will send you a Red's Trading Post Translucent tumbler (Fancy word for Traveling Mug). Good Luck and encourage others to do so as well.

The Nicest People You’d Ever Want to Meet

Alot of things are said in the media about gunowners that are not very nice, but I have to say after spending whole weekend last week at the gun rights policy conference with the so-called gun nuts. I have to say they are the nicest bunch of people on of any group you would ever want to meet. Now I've known that for quite a long time. But by getting so many people together in such a confined area and such a long day could be unnerving for most other groups. But everybody was polite and nice. There were no pushing and shoving during meals, and everyone waited their turn to talk to a lot of the famous leaders in the gun rights community. So the next time you hear the media call one of us a gun nut. It's time to stand up and say I'm one to.


Mark Vanderberg 



Exaggerations from the ATF Seattle Field Division

The ATF Seattle Field Division, which has relentlessly pursued us, was caught exaggerating about their gang sweep and the 77 arrests made. Although the reporter caught them in their exaggeration, they still have not removed it from their web site. This is the same office that exaggerated that we Harassed and Intimidated them, despite a really messed up time line. The Judge already noted how they exaggerated our violations by Double Counting them. This is also the same office that:

Here is the decline of dealers in states within the ATF Seattle jurisdiction from 1994-2005:

  • Alaska has lost 73% of its dealers
  • Hawaii has lost 88% of its dealers
  • Idaho has lost 70% of its dealers
  • Oregon has lost 70% of its dealers
  • Washington has lost 84% of its dealers

Have to shut down the blog . . .

. . . Because I don't have a license to express my views. What's that you say? I don't need a license to express myself? The Constitution guarantees my right to do so, thereby precluding the need for a license, and indeed, prohibiting the requirement for one?

But wait a minute–I was thinking that there was something else the Constitution guaranteed, some other fundamental human right. Something, in fact, that shall not be infringed–what could it be? Oh, yes–I think I have it. Something called the right to keep and bear arms–no, not bare arms, although I reserve the right to wear short sleeves when I want to.

But wait another minute–are there not myriad laws in this country that apply to the manufacture, sale, purchase, possession, storage, and bearing of arms? Do we not, as gun rights activists, call it a "victory" every time we manage to successfully persuade another state to allow us the privilege of paying for a license to bear arms (a rather conditional license, at that–subject to further restrictions)? Do we not pat ourselves on the back every time a state throws us a bone and loosens the restrictions on the exercise of this fundamental right?

It seems that we do all of those things, oddly enough. When you think about it, we have no room to complain about the civilian disarmament advocates' refusal to acknowledge our Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms, when we ourselves insist on treating it as a privilege. Some of us bemoan the Wayne Finchers of the world, for "making us look bad," by not being "law-abiding gun owners." Some of us criticize those who would carry a firearm illegally, for the same reason. Some of us opine that gun shops under siege by the BATFE "have nothing to worry about," if they follow the BATFE's rules (all of them, despite their self-contradictory and ever-changing nature).

I am, despite my disdain for the idea of going to the bureaucrats, hat in hand, hoping for the privilege of carrying the means to defend myself, involved (to the extent my extremely limited abilities allow) with the fight to bring concealed carry to Illinois (I can talk the talk, but I still don't want to go to jail–I'm a hypocrite, but at least I can admit it). In arguing for concealed carry laws, it is common to point out that concealed carry licensees can be counted on to be responsible citizens, because the people who would pose a threat to society are unlikely to jump through the regulatory hoops required for such a license. While no doubt true, that's an argument for which I have little affection. I reject the idea that any unit of government is justified in putting up such hoops in the first place. I reject the idea that my right to bear arms (whether concealed or not) is in any way contingent on my somehow demonstrating, in advance, that I will never use them improperly. I utterly reject, in the final analysis, the notion that a fundamental human right can be subject to licensing.

I'll continue to fight to make gun laws less strict, but I may never shake the nagging feeling that in doing so, I am granting legitimacy to the existence of any gun laws–in effect, assisting in my own oppression (and in everyone else's).

So I guess the blog will stick around after all, because that right is not subject to licensing . . . yet.