Chuck Wooten, a military veteran, was already ticked off about Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) pushing through the “bipartisan” budget deal, which includes cuts to veterans’ retirement benefits. So when he got a fundraising email from Ryan’s office asking for money, he decided to really let the Wisconsin congressman know how he feels.
The scathing open letter, posted on Facebook last week, is going viral – and you only have to read the first few sentences to know why. It should be noted that because Wooten’s Facebook page is set to private, we weren’t able to review the original post on his wall and had to rely on re-posts.
“Please note that this request by you for a cash donation from me is extremely unfortunate and very ill-timed,” Wooten writes in the open letter to Ryan. “You see sir, I am one of the military retirees your ‘bipartisan’ budget just impacted. You and every Republican (both in the House and Senate) that voted to pass this travesty betrayed and broke trust with me and everyone like me.”
He continued: “You may not know us by name, but we’re the people, Congressman, who answered our Nation’s call, some of us at a very early age to willingly serve YOU and others LIKE YOU so you could safely attend college and pursue your personal ambitions without fear of harm.”
Wooten went on to remind Ryan of the bravery his “brothers-in-arms” display every single day as they boldly answer the call of duty, “without fail, without complaint.”
“And for that service, we were given absolute assurance our so-called retirement benefits would be protected by law. The very law you shattered in your zeal to impress your Democratic cohorts in your back room deal–with the enemy. Yes, I said it. The liberal Democrats are an enemy to the American people and our Nation,” the veteran writes. “Your lack of judgement and eagerness to compromise on the backs of us who protected you is sickening.”
Wooten concludes by assuring Ryan and his Republican “colleagues” who supported the budget deal that they will “NEVER” receive another cent of financial support from him.
“Remove me from your contact lists,” he added.
In an exclusive interview with TheBlaze on Thursday, Wooten explained that he was stunned by the “grand irony” of Ryan’s team asking for money after putting together the “backroom deal” that cuts military benefits.
“You’re picking my pocket and then you’re asking me for a handout,” he said.
Still, Wooten told TheBlaze he never anticipated all the attention his open letter has generated so far.
He also made it clear that he does not speak for the U.S. Air Force or the U.S. military, but shares the same views of many other veterans who feel betrayed by politicians in Washington.
Read the entire viral letter below and share the post:
I’m still mulling this Paul Ryan budget deal that stole money from every military retiree (past, present and future). This morning, upon opening my email, I noticed I had a letter from Congressman Paul Ryan… and it was begging me for an “emergency end of the year donation.” It only proves what we already know. The folks in Washington are indeed clueless. Instead of hitting the delete button, I decided to call Congressman Ryan out on his audacity and lack of self-awareness. I sent the following to him. I’m also posting it on the FB USAF Chiefs page as an open letter to the Congressman. If you’re a retiree, I will tell you we may have lost the battle, but not the war. If you’re inclined and find it worthy, let’s flood social media with this letter and see if we can get some traction. Thanks.
To Congressman Paul Ryan
Today at 8:19 AM
Please note that this request by you for a cash donation from me is extremely unfortunate and very ill-timed. You see sir, I am one of the military retirees your “bipartisan” budget just impacted. You and every Republican (both in the House and Senate that voted to pass this travesty betrayed and broke trust with me and everyone like me. You may not know us by name, but we’re the people, Congressman, who answered our Nation’s call, some of us at a very early age to willingly serve YOU and others LIKE YOU so you could safely attend college and pursue your personal ambitions without fear of harm.
You might also want to note that for at least 20 years, my brothers-in-arms answered that call of duty EVERY SINGLE DAY, without fail, without complaint, without enough money to sustain our loved ones we had to leave behind while we DID OUR JOB in every corner of the Earth. And for that service, we were given absolute assurance our so-called retirement benefits would be protected by law. The very law you shattered in your zeal to impress your Democratic cohorts in your back room deal with the enemy. Yes, I said it. The liberal Democrats are an enemy to the American people and our Nation. Your lack of judgement and eagerness to compromise on the backs of us who protected you is sickening. Congressman, you and every Republican that voted for injuring military retirees have engaged in a complicit, sordid affair with the Democrats who’s objective has always been to dismantle the military. By climbing into their bed on this issue, you have confirmed you are absolutely no better than they and have proven it with your vote.
Congressman Ryan, the audacity which you display is noteworthy, but to unceremoniously snatch earned money from a small group that has added so much more value than the paltry $6B you looked to “save” (which is all smoke and mirrors and you know it), is reprehensible and insulting.
We have, despite the hardships, meager salaries and harsh conditions, have performed with honor and excellence… in silence, which is something most members of Congress have no idea about doing. Our job approval was, is and always be better than yours. We knew our mission and we got it done, then handed it off to a new generation in better shape than we found it.
Your ability to look us in the eye, take money from us (apparently there was ZERO, other source of waste within the federal government that you could have recovered this money from…right, got it), while simultaneously holding your hand out to beg (with passion) for our cash is stunning. Your actions have proven you do not have the tremendous intellect you’ve sold the American people on. I say, with all seriousness, Congressman, what you lack in intellect and spinal rigidity, you make up for in cajones.
I hope you and your cowardly, Republican “colleagues” hear a message from me loud and clear. You will NEVER receive another cent of financial support from me. Further, if you happen to be at a Capitol Hill dinner or at a K Street cocktail party with RNC Chair Reince Priebus, Rep. Ron Barber, Sen. Jeff Flake or Sen. John McCain, I would be honored if you communicate with them that I am launching an effort to ensure NONE of you traitorous “representatives of the people” ever receive another vote from a military retiree. Remove me from your contact lists.
Chief Master Sergeant, USAF (Ret)
President Barack Obama signed the budget deal on Thursday while vacationing in Hawaii, according to the Associated Press.
“The deal reduces across-the-board cuts already scheduled to take effect, restoring about $63 billion over two years. It includes a projected $85 billion in other savings,” the AP reports.
Ten Senate Democrats have signed on to a letter crafted by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) urging the Obama administration to extend the open enrollment period for the recently launched health-care exchanges.
Shaheen called for the extension this week in light of myriad problems with the HealthCare.gov Web site.
As of now, Americans are required to obtain health insurance by March 31 or will face a penalty under the individual mandate. Some have suggested the penalty could be delayed, given the problems with the Web site might prevent people who otherwise want insurance from obtaining it.
The White House on Wednesday announced it would give Americans six weeks longer than previously thought – until March 31 – to enroll before facing a penalty, but also said the change had nothing to do with the Web site problems.
“Extending this period will give consumers critical time in which to become familiar with the website and choose a plan that is best for them,” the letter states. “Individuals should not be penalized for lack of coverage if they are unable to purchase health insurance due to technical problems.”
The letter doesn’t state how long the senators would like to extend open enrollment, only that it should be beyond March 31. One of the signers, Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), called for a two-month delay in remarks on Thursday. Separately, another Democratic senator, Joe Manchin (W.Va.), has called for a one-year delay in the individual mandate.
The signatories to the letter are Shaheen and Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Hagan (D-N.C.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).
Begich, Pryor, Landrieu and Hagan are all top GOP targets in red states in 2014, and Bennet is likely to be targeted in 2016. (Shaheen and Mark Udall face reelection in swing states in 2014 but aren’t considered among Republicans’ top targets.)
Feinstein stands out as a long-time liberal senator from California. Tom Udall is considered largely safe for reelection in New Mexico next year and Heinrich was just elected in 2012 in the same state.
Here’s the text of Shaheen’s letter:
Dear Secretary Sebelius:
When fully implemented, the Affordable Care Act represents a bold step forward in reforming our nation’s health care system. It has the potential to improve the quality of care we all receive and provides the opportunity for millions of Americans to purchase quality, affordable health insurance.
The newly created federal and state health insurance marketplaces are intended to allow consumers the opportunity to compare health insurance options and find a plan that fits their needs and their budgets. For three years, we have been eagerly waiting for the launch of these marketplaces. However, now that the marketplaces are open, we have become discouraged and frustrated with the problems and interactions that are occurring with the Affordable Care Act’s federally-administered website, healthcare.gov.
As long as these substantial technology glitches persist, we are losing valuable time to educate and enroll people in insurance plans. Our constituents are frustrated, and we fear that the longer the website is not functional, opportunities for people to log on, learn about their insurance choices, and enroll will be lost.
Given the existing problems with healthcare.gov and other state-run marketplace websites that depend on the federally-administered website, we urge you to consider extending open enrollment beyond the current end date of March 31, 2014. Extending this period will give consumers critical time in which to become familiar with the website and choose a plan that is best for them. Individuals should not be penalized for lack of coverage if they are unable to purchase health insurance due to technical problems.
The Affordable Care Act has already had a significant impact on the lives of millions of Americans; seniors are now paying less for their prescription drugs, critical preventive care services are available for free and important work is being done to improve the quality of care we receive. Americans will now have the opportunity to receive tax credits to purchase quality health insurance, and starting in January 2014, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny health coverage because of a pre-existing condition or drop coverage if someone is sick.
We appreciate your efforts to fully implement this law and look forward to working with you to accomplish that goal. Thank you for considering our requests to extend the open enrollment period if the healthcare.gov substantial technology glitches continue.
Health-care premiums in Wisconsin will almost double under Obamacare, compared with their current rates, according to a report from the MacIver Institute.
The state’s free-market think tank figured the average premiums of the insurance plans the Obamacare exchange offers for several categories of Wisconsinites: 27-year-olds, 50-year-olds, and a family of four from data found on a federal database. The institute then compared those rates with the average premiums on the private market, using figures from eHealthInsurance.com.
MacIver found that rates will jump significantly, especially for the young: A 27-year-old will see premiums more than double in one county in 2014, and see his rates go up by 93.6 percent in Madison, 91.2 percent in Milwaukee, and 72.6 percent in Eau Claire.
Fifty-year-olds will be paying more overall, too, but their premiums won’t go up quite as much, jumping by about half. Families will see their premiums rise at similar rates to young people: A family of four will see a spike of 97.2 percent in Brown County, and increases of just below 90 percent in Milwaukee and Dane counties.
Late Monday evening after visiting an Obamacare call center in Arizona, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held a brief press conference during which she was peppered with questions. One reporter in particular asked Sebelius how she feels about those calling for her resignation. Sebelius responded by saying she “doesn’t work for them” and stressed that nobody has been fired.
“The majority of people calling for me to resign I would say are people who I don’t work for and who do not want this program to work in the first place. I have had frequent conversations with the president and I have committed to him that my role is to get the program up and running and we will do just that,” she said.
Apparently Sebelius thinks she only works for, and answers to, Barack Obama.
Nearly three dozen Republicans sent a letter to President Obama earlier this week demanding he fire Sebelius. Democrats have stated that “someone” should lose their job over the Obamacare website roll out.
An online (unscientific) CNBC poll shows 85 percent of people think Sebelius should be fired.
According to a Fox News poll, 60 percent of people think Obamacare implementation is a “joke.” Also as a reminder, Obamacare is still extremely unpopular among “the people” Sebelius claims she doesn’t work for.
A majority continues to dislike President Obama’s signature achievement: 51 percent of voters use negative terms to describe the health care law, saying it is either “a step backward” or “disastrous.”
Earline Davis, the Obamacare hotline operator who took a call from conservative radio host Sean Hannity on Monday, has apparently been fired over the conversation.
Because his decision to call the operator technically led to her firing, Hannity generously offered the mother of two a year’s tax-free salary of $26,000 and also vowed to help find her a new job.
“Earline did NOTHING wrong, she was kind, polite, helpful, honest and extremely patient,” Hannity told TheBlaze via email. “The president said we should call, and I did, and Earline did what she was hired to do. How sad she got fired and Kathleen Sebelius still has her job!”
Davis joined Hanniy on the radio again on Thursday afternoon, this time to discuss the details of her termination.
The morning after speaking with Hannity on the air, Davis was led into an HR meeting and told she would be let go because “contact with the media is not allowed.”
However, the mother told Hannity that she was not made aware of the rule during her initial operator training.
“I was just out here trying to help everybody,” Davis added.
Hannity then apologized for the entire situation and told her, “I don’t want you to have to pay a price just for taking our call… So I want to help you out here.”
After talking to his accountant, Hannity discovered he can “legally gift” Davis a tax-free sum – $13,000 for her and $13,000 for one of her kids. The gift covers what would have been her full-time annual salary.
“I want to try and get you a new job,” Hannity continued. “I’m sure you want to get back to a normal routine.”
Listen to the entire segment below:
Less than two-hours ago, I submitted a revised W-4 form to our payroll department. My goal is to avoid being in a position where at the end of next year I am owed a refund from the federal government. As an act of civil disobedience, I am refusing to purchase health insurance. This means that I am subject to a tax/fine of 1% of my income (2% the following year, 2.5% thereafter). But the beautiful thing is that unless I am owed a tax refund, the government will never get any of that money.
My decision to not purchase health insurance is a decision a lot of people – possibly millions – are going to make, either out of protest, or once the ObamaCare site is up and running and they finally get a look at the increased cost of their monthly premiums under the Orwellian-named Affordable Care Act. Purely by coincidence, during his radio show today, Rush Limbaugh went into great detail about all of this:
Anyway, [my accountant] said to me that, according to the law, the only way that the government can collect the fine or penalty for you not buying insurance is if you are owed a tax refund. If you do not owe a tax refund, they cannot go into your bank account or anywhere else and get that money. Now, the sad thing is that most people file their taxes to get a refund ’cause they think they’re screwing the government, and they’re not…
Therefore, the only way that they can collect the penalty or the fine is by taking money from your refund. If you are not owed a refund, they cannot get money from you. They can’t issue a lien. They can’t garnish your wages. They can’t use any of the normal procedures available to them if you owe them money, even though the Supreme Court has said it’s a tax. So for those of us – I mean, folks, I’m in fat city. I’m in fat city because I always structure to where I owe money. Well, not entirely. There have been years. But if you structure your taxes so that you do not get a refund, you do not have to buy insurance and you do not have to pay a fine ’cause they can’t collect it from you if you don’t have a refund due.
And that is just another nail in the coffin of Obamacare imploding on itself.
Limbaugh also points out that in order for ObamaCare to succeed, the program needs to coerce a few million young, healthy suckers into paying for something they do not need. Like me (a healthy 47-year-old), all we want and need is a catastrophic plan in case the unthinkable happens. But Obama has outlawed affordable catastrophic plans and is using the mandate/fine/tax as a way to force us into paying for services like maternity, vision, dental, mental health, and drug and alcohol treatment.
According to the CBO, up to 20 million people could lose their health insurance because the plan they are currently happy with (and Obama repeatedly promised they could keep) has been made illegal under ObamaCare. There is little doubt that these ObamaCare victims are going to face higher premium costs that they might not be able to afford, or just don’t think are worth the potential of a 50% to 150% premium increase with a higher deductible.
For those of you who – for whatever reason – will not be buying health insurance next year, remember that you legally do not have to pay that fine if you legally make sure that at the end of the year you are not owed a refund from the federal government.
Fight the Power.
Asians, Hispanics… They all look alike to the O-Care website designers.
The Obamacare Hispanic website features Asians – not Hispanics.
The Hispanic website was inoperative all month.
It looks like they finally got it going, featuring Asians.
Are you in jail and didn’t know it?
Don’t worry. Obamacare will tell you.
That’s the “circumstance” for a commenter to a government website taking responses to the problems with the failing Healthcare.gov website, which has been unable to provide reasonable access for Americans.
“Website said my wife and I were ineligible due to current incarceration,” wrote Fred in an acknowledgement by the left-leaning ProPublica of the website problems. “We have never been arrested in our lives, both 63!!!!!!!!!!!”
Charles Ornstein, in the ProPublica report, documented some of the responses on the federal site collecting comments.
“The Obama administration has not always been transparent about Healthcare.gov: A case in point is how HHS has withheld the number of people who have been able to successfully enroll. But in this instance, the administration allowed comments to the blog post to be seen by all.”
Ornstein wrote that the feedback largely has been negative.
“While some comments root for the site’s failure, many are from people who’ve tried to use the site without success,” his report said. “Some pose specific questions; others voice general frustrations. Because their identities and contact information isn’t listed (for understandable reasons), there was no way to verify their stories.”
Besides the couple told by Healthcare.gov that they were in jail, Joanna noted that the system was telling her that her daughter was added twice. So she now lists two daughters with the same name and Social Security number, and no deleting was allowed.
Also, she added, “I choose that my husband is the father of our daughter and that my daughter is a dependant (sic) to me and my husband. What it actually shows though is that my daughter is a stepdaughter to her father and that my daughter is now both my husband and I’s parent (sic).”
Rhonda added that she could sign in, but was told her identity “has been compromised.”
Another, Francine, said she was told she could only submit one application per state, and now the system has her blocked.
The comment collection site optimistically labeled “Doing Better: Making Improvements to Healthcare.gov,” says that 19 million visits to the site show that “the American people are looking for quality, affordable health coverage, and want to find it online.”
They’re apparently not finding, however.
“Unfortunately, the experience on Healthcare.gov has been frustrating for many… some have had trouble creating accounts and logging in to the site, while others have received confusing error messages, or had to wait for slow page loads or forms that failed to respond in a timely fashion,” the government admits.
New code has been introduced to fix some problems, but “we know there’s still more work to be done,” the site explains.
The stories were not encouraging.
Julie, an insurance agent, reported: “My client and I spent three hours alone today trying to get her registered so she could look at plan info and find out what subsidy she would get, once again 24 days into this websites (sic) launch all we got were error messages… I am 24 days now without a sale and will NOT have a paycheck this month do to the lack of ability to access this site.”
Noted Greg: “Has anyone got insurance thru the gov program yet? If so who? I would like to talk with one that has this in place.”
Jeb asked, “I don’t understand why men have to pay for ‘women’s health care’ items.”
Noted Mel: “I’ve filled out and submitted the application at least 10 times… Have I inadvertently started 10 different files that will all need to be sorted out someday?”
Said Don, “Give me the private sector and free market system!”
“I continue to be unable to create my account,” said Elizabeth. “I have tried all month. My high risk insurance will terminate at the end of December so it is critical that I be able to get new insurance through the marketplace.”
Ryan wrote that his current premium of $208 per month is rising to $887 per month. “The affordable Care Act is a contradiction, and destined to implode and take our economy with it. Hold on friends – it aint’ gonna be pretty!”
Penny wrote: “Can’t create account. Trying over and over again.”
Elizabeth was out of patience: “I give up!”
Occasionally, someone in support of the program turned up. This came from John: “The Repukes and the biased conservative main stream media need to stop lying about the Obamacare website. It works just fin (sic) if you follow the instructions. Unfortunately there are a lot of dummies out there so it may take awhile .. be patient. I also suspect TEA tard sabotage. Obama needs to take a hard line against the repuke saboteurs.”
The Obamacare wrecking ball is not only skyrocketing premiums, but destroying healthcare jobs as well:
President Obama and supporters of his health-care law have defended it by saying that the Affordable Care Act is “the law of the land.” However, the spending reductions in the 2011 Budget Control Act – the so-called sequester – also remain “the law of the land.”
In promoting the former, the Obama administration has failed to enforce the latter. As a result, people trying to buy health insurance on the new exchanges are getting incomplete and misleading information, and they may experience more sticker shock next year.
Some have claimed that the sequester “exempts” ObamaCare’s subsidies from spending reductions. That is only half true. The Budget Control Act does exempt from sequestration the premium subsidies for households with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level ($94,200 for a family of four) and that meet other eligibility criteria.
But other ObamaCare subsidies, paid directly to insurance providers on behalf of eligible beneficiaries, are subject to the sequester – namely “cost-sharing subsidies.” These include subsidies for households with incomes below 250% of the federal poverty level ($58,875 for a family of four) to reduce copayments and deductibles. They also include subsidies to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for households with incomes up to 400% of the poverty level.
The Obama administration has acknowledged that the cost-sharing subsidies are subject to sequester reductions. A May report from the White House Office of Management and Budget estimated that the sequester would reduce the subsidies by 7.2% in fiscal year 2014. That amounts to a $286 million reduction through next September – the first nine months of ObamaCare.
However, the administration hasn’t issued guidance on how it will implement the required cuts. Appearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Aug. 1, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner declined repeated requests to explain how the cost-sharing subsidy reductions would be applied. She did, however, pledge that the administration would release more information before the Oct. 1 start of open enrollment in ObamaCare. But that deadline came and went without more information.
Clearly, someone will be left holding the bag, and the administration doesn’t want to address who that someone will be.
There are two possible outcomes. The first is that individuals who have managed to enroll in subsidized health insurance will find they’ve been misled about their copays and deductibles. Families who currently think their plan will charge a $20 copayment for doctor visits may instead face a $25 charge when the sequester kicks in. Individuals who now believe they face maximum out-of-pocket costs of $2,000 may end up paying hundreds more.
The other alternative is that insurers may be stuck with the sequester cuts. A May 31 Congressional Research Service report, noting that ObamaCare requires insurers to reduce cost-sharing for eligible individuals regardless of the sequester, concluded that “insurers presumably will still have to provide required coverage to qualifying enrollees but they will not receive the full subsidy to cover their increased costs.” In other words, the CRS, Congress’s own think tank, believes insurers may be forced to eat the costs of the sequester reductions – $286 million through September, and billions more through 2021.
Having first proposed the sequester two years ago, the Obama administration now finds itself on the horns of a self-imposed dilemma. It can tell the American people that the “good deal” President Obama promised isn’t as good as they thought – that those who spent hours and days signing up on Healthcare.gov bought coverage that will cost more than advertised. If full disclosure truly were to prevail, the administration would also admit that this classic bait and switch occurred solely due to its failure to account for its responsibilities under the Budget Control Act.
Or the administration can try to force insurers to bear the full costs of the sequester reductions—and watch them promptly drop out of the exchanges.
This is no mere “glitch” in the website, nor was it unforeseen. The administration has known for years that the cost-sharing subsidies were subject to sequester, but has failed to plan for its impact.
In her Aug. 1 appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Ms. Tavenner testifed that it is the administration’s “strong preference that the issue of sequestration go away entirely.”
But neither Ms. Tavenner nor President Obama can pick and choose which laws they wish to enforce. And the administration’s rush to implement one law, while ignoring the requirements of another, means Americans could face a rude awakening when they discover what their ObamaCare coverage will cost them.
The following letter was disseminated and signed by over 1,000 current and former Army Special Forces soldiers (Green Berets) in support of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, specifically as a defensive measure against tyranny. The letter was compiled through the joint efforts of current and former Special Forces personnel over at www.ProfessionalSoldiers.com, and quietly disseminated for signatures among secure, vetted circles.
PROTECTING THE SECOND AMENDMENT – WHY ALL AMERICANS SHOULD BE CONCERNED
We are current or former Army Reserve, National Guard, and active duty US Army Special Forces soldiers (Green Berets). We have all taken an oath to “…support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…” The Constitution of the United States is without a doubt the single greatest document in the history of mankind, codifying the fundamental principle of governmental power and authority being derived from and granted through the consent of the governed. Our Constitution established a system of governance that preserves, protects, and holds sacrosanct the individual rights and primacy of the governed as well as providing for the explicit protection of the governed from governmental tyranny and/or oppression. We have witnessed the insidious and iniquitous effects of tyranny and oppression on people all over the world. We and our forebears have embodied and personified our organizational motto, De Oppresso Liber [To Free the Oppressed], for more than a half century as we have fought, shed blood, and died in the pursuit of freedom for the oppressed.
Like you, we are also loving and caring fathers and grandfathers. Like you, we have been stunned, horrified, and angered by the tragedies of Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Fort Hood, and Sandy Hook; and like you, we are searching for solutions to the problem of gun-related crimes in our society. Many of us are educators in our second careers and have a special interest to find a solution to this problem. However, unlike much of the current vox populi reactions to this tragedy, we offer a different perspective.
First, we need to set the record straight on a few things. The current debate is over so-called “assault weapons” and high capacity magazines. The terms “assault weapon” and “assault rifle” are often confused. According to Bruce H. Kobayashi and Joseph E. Olson, writing in the Stanford Law and Policy Review, “Prior to 1989, the term ‘assault weapon’ did not exist in the lexicon of firearms. It is a political term [underline added for emphasis], developed by anti-gun publicists to expand the category of assault rifles.”
The M4A1 carbine is a U.S. military service rifle – it is an assault rifle. The AR-15 is not an assault rifle. The “AR” in its name does not stand for “Assault Rifle” – it is the designation from the first two letters of the manufacturer’s name – ArmaLite Corporation. The AR-15 is designed so that it cosmetically looks like the M4A1 carbine assault rifle, but it is impossible to configure the AR-15 to be a fully automatic assault rifle. It is a single shot semi-automatic rifle that can fire between 45 and 60 rounds per minute depending on the skill of the operator. The M4A1 can fire up to 950 rounds per minute. In 1986, the federal government banned the import or manufacture of new fully automatic firearms for sale to civilians. Therefore, the sale of assault rifles are already banned or heavily restricted!
The second part of the current debate is over “high capacity magazines” capable of holding more than 10 rounds in the magazine. As experts in military weapons of all types, it is our considered opinion that reducing magazine capacity from 30 rounds to 10 rounds will only require an additional 6 -8 seconds to change two empty 10 round magazines with full magazines. Would an increase of 6 -8 seconds make any real difference to the outcome in a mass shooting incident? In our opinion it would not. Outlawing such “high capacity magazines” would, however, outlaw a class of firearms that are “in common use”. As such this would be in contravention to the opinion expressed by the U.S. Supreme Court recent decisions.
Moreover, when the Federal Assault Weapons Ban became law in 1994, manufacturers began retooling to produce firearms and magazines that were compliant. One of those ban-compliant firearms was the Hi-Point 995, which was sold with ten-round magazines. In 1999, five years into the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, the Columbine High School massacre occurred. One of the perpetrators, Eric Harris, was armed with a Hi-Point 995. Undeterred by the ten-round capacity of his magazines, Harris simply brought more of them: thirteen magazines would be found in the massacre’s aftermath. Harris fired 96 rounds before killing himself.
Now that we have those facts straight, in our opinion, it is too easy to conclude that the problem is guns and that the solution to the problem is more and stricter gun control laws. For politicians, it is politically expedient to take that position and pass more gun control laws and then claim to constituents that they have done the right thing in the interest of protecting our children. Who can argue with that? Of course we all want to find a solution. But, is the problem really guns? Would increasing gun regulation solve the problem? Did we outlaw cars to combat drunk driving?
What can we learn from experiences with this issue elsewhere? We cite the experience in Great Britain. Despite the absence of a “gun culture”, Great Britain, with one-fifth the population of the U.S., has experienced mass shootings that are eerily similar to those we have experienced in recent years. In 1987 a lone gunman killed 18 people in Hungerford. What followed was the Firearms Act of 1988 making registration mandatory and banning semi-automatic guns and pump-action shotguns. Despite this ban, on March 13, 1996 a disturbed 43-year old former scout leader, Thomas Hamilton, murdered 16 school children aged five and six and a teacher at a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland. Within a year and a half the Firearms Act was amended to ban all private ownership of hand guns. After both shootings there were amnesty periods resulting in the surrender of thousands of firearms and ammunition. Despite having the toughest gun control laws in the world, gun related crimes increased in 2003 by 35% over the previous year with firearms used in 9,974 recorded crimes in the preceding 12 months. Gun related homicides were up 32% over the same period. Overall, gun related crime had increased 65% since the Dunblane massacre and implementation of the toughest gun control laws in the developed world.
In contrast, in 2009 (5 years after the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired) total firearm related homicides in the U.S. declined by 9% from the 2005 high (Source: “FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Master File, Table 310, Murder Victims – Circumstances and Weapons Used or Cause of Death: 2000-2009”).
Are there unintended consequences to stricter gun control laws and the politically expedient path that we have started down?
In a recent op-ed piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, Brett Joshpe stated that “Gun advocates will be hard-pressed to explain why the average American citizen needs an assault weapon with a high-capacity magazine other than for recreational purposes.”We agree with Kevin D. Williamson (National Review Online, December 28, 2012): “The problem with this argument is that there is no legitimate exception to the Second Amendment right that excludes military-style weapons, because military-style weapons are precisely what the Second Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear.”
“The purpose of the Second Amendment is to secure our ability to oppose enemies foreign and domestic, a guarantee against disorder and tyranny. Consider the words of Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story”: ‘The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defense of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.’
The Second Amendment has been ruled to specifically extend to firearms “in common use” by the military by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v Miller (1939). In Printz v U.S. (1997) Justice Thomas wrote: “In Miller we determined that the Second Amendment did not guarantee a citizen’s right to possess a sawed-off shot gun because that weapon had not been shown to be “ordinary military equipment” that could “could contribute to the common defense”.
A citizen’s right to keep and bear arms for personal defense unconnected with service in a militia has been reaffirmed in the U.S. Supreme Court decision (District of Columbia, et al. v Heller, 2008). The Court Justice Scalia wrote in the majority opinion: “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.“. Justice Scalia went on to define a militia as “… comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense…” “The Anti-Federalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved.” he explained.
On September 13, 1994, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban went into effect. A Washington Post editorial published two days later was candid about the ban’s real purpose:“[N]o one should have any illusions about what was accomplished [by the ban]. Assault weapons play a part in only a small percentage of crime. The provision is mainly symbolic; its virtue will be if it turns out to be, as hoped, a stepping stone to broader gun control.”
In a challenge to the authority of the Federal government to require State and Local Law Enforcement to enforce Federal Law (Printz v United States) the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a decision in 1997. For the majority opinion Justice Scalia wrote: “…this Court never has sanctioned explicitly a federal command to the States to promulgate and enforce laws and regulations When we were at last confronted squarely with a federal statute that unambiguously required the States to enact or administer a federal regulatory program, our decision should have come as no surprise… It is an essential attribute of the States’ retained sovereignty that they remain independent and autonomous within their proper sphere of authority.”
So why should non-gun owners, a majority of Americans, care about maintaining the 2nd Amendment right for citizens to bear arms of any kind? The answer is “The Battle of Athens, TN”. The Cantrell family
had controlled the economy and politics of McMinn County, Tennessee since the 1930s. Paul Cantrell had been Sheriff from 1936 -1940 and in 1942 was elected to the State Senate. His chief deputy, Paul Mansfield, was subsequently elected to two terms as Sheriff. In 1946 returning WWII veterans put up a popular candidate for Sheriff. On August 1 Sheriff Mansfield and 200 “deputies” stormed the post office polling place to take control of the ballot boxes wounding an objecting observer in the process. The veterans bearing military style weapons, laid siege to the Sheriff’s office demanding return of the ballot boxes for public counting of the votes as prescribed in Tennessee law. After exchange of gun fire and blowing open the locked doors, the veterans secured the ballot boxes thereby protecting the integrity of the election. And this is precisely why all Americans should be concerned about protecting all of our right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment!
Throughout history, disarming the populace has always preceded tyrants’ accession of power. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao all disarmed their citizens prior to installing their murderous regimes. At the beginning of our own nation’s revolution, one of the first moves made by the British government was an attempt to disarm our citizens. When our Founding Fathers ensured that the 2nd Amendment was made a part of our Constitution, they were not just wasting ink. They were acting to ensure our present security was never forcibly endangered by tyrants, foreign or domestic.
If there is a staggering legal precedent to protect our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms and if stricter gun control laws are not likely to reduce gun related crime, why are we having this debate? Other than making us and our elected representatives feel better because we think that we are doing something to protect our children, these actions will have no effect and will only provide us with a false sense of security.
So, what do we believe will be effective? First, it is important that we recognize that this is not a gun control problem; it is a complex sociological problem. No single course of action will solve the problem. Therefore, it is our recommendation that a series of diverse steps be undertaken, the implementation of which will require patience and diligence to realize an effect. These are as follows:
1. First and foremost we support our Second Amendment right in that “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.
2. We support State and Local School Boards in their efforts to establish security protocols in whatever manner and form that they deem necessary and adequate. One of the great strengths of our Republic is that State and Local governments can be creative in solving problems. Things that work can be shared. Our point is that no one knows what will work and there is no one single solution, so let’s allow the State and Local governments with the input of the citizens to make the decisions. Most recently the Cleburne Independent School District will become the first district in North Texas to consider allowing some teachers to carry concealed guns. We do not opine as to the appropriateness of this decision, but we do support their right to make this decision for themselves.
3. We recommend that Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) laws be passed in every State. AOT is formerly known as Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC) and allows the courts to order certain individuals with mental disorders to comply with treatment while living in the community. In each of the mass shooting incidents the perpetrator was mentally unstable. We also believe that people who have been adjudicated as incompetent should be simultaneously examined to determine whether they should be allowed the right to retain/purchase firearms.
4. We support the return of firearm safety programs to schools along the lines of the successful “Eddie the Eagle” program, which can be taught in schools by Peace Officers or other trained professionals.
5. Recent social psychology research clearly indicates that there is a direct relationship between gratuitously violent movies/video games and desensitization to real violence and increased aggressive behavior particularly in children and young adults (See Nicholas L. Carnagey, et al. 2007. “The effect of video game violence on physiological desensitization to real-life violence” and the references therein. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 43:489-496). Therefore, we strongly recommend that gratuitous violence in movies and video games be discouraged. War and war-like behavior should not be glorified. Hollywood and video game producers are exploiting something they know nothing about. General Sherman famously said “War is Hell!” Leave war to the Professionals. War is not a game and should not be “sold” as entertainment to our children.
6. We support repeal of the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it obviously isn’t working. It is our opinion that “Gun-Free Zones” anywhere are too tempting of an environment for the mentally disturbed individual to inflict their brand of horror with little fear of interference. While governmental and non-governmental organizations, businesses, and individuals should be free to implement a Gun-Free Zone if they so choose, they should also assume Tort liability for that decision.
7. We believe that border states should take responsibility for implementation of border control laws to prevent illegal shipments of firearms and drugs. Drugs have been illegal in this country for a long, long time yet the Federal Government manages to seize only an estimated 10% of this contraband at our borders. Given this dismal performance record that is misguided and inept (“Fast and Furious”), we believe that border States will be far more competent at this mission.
8. This is our country, these are our rights. We believe that it is time that we take personal responsibility for our choices and actions rather than abdicate that responsibility to someone else under the illusion that we have done something that will make us all safer. We have a responsibility to stand by our principles and act in accordance with them. Our children are watching and they will follow the example we set.
The undersigned Quiet Professionals hereby humbly stand ever present, ever ready, and ever vigilant.
Read the full post at Professional Soldiers.