Josh Horwitz, the Executive Director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence [sic], has a propensity, nay, a veritable flair for ignoring inconvenient realities, twisting facts into falsehoods and presenting lies with just a soupçon of truth. And Josh (above) can present his mélange well enough to fool even intelligent folks as long as they are not thoroughly familiar with his subject. Case in point: NRA, Not Obama, Is Real Threat to the Rule of Law . . .
With campaign season in full swing, movement conservatives are actively promoting a narrative about the Obama administration being a “threat to the rule of law.” The lightning rod for much of this invective is U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who is facing a possible contempt of Congress citation for his refusal to turn over certain Department of Justice documents relating to the ATF’s discontinued “Fast and Furious” operation on the southwest border.
There’s a beautiful example of Josh’s truthful mendacity right there. To my mind, the phrase certain DoJ documents would indicate a couple of case files, or possibly a few dozen letters; certainly no more than a hundred or so pages. What that phrase certainly does not indicate is the eighty-five thousand-plus documents which the DoJ (ultimately meaning AG Holder) has withheld. Mind you this is out of a total of some 93,000 requested, meaning that DoJ has provided less than 9% of the requested documents.
Brief digression: I can hear people out there saying “Holy cannoli Batman, that’s a lot of documents” and just looking at the bald numbers it is. But these documents have been requested over the course of a year, and according to their budget, the DoJ has 4,000 Intelligence Analysts. This means that if each Analyst retrieved one document every two weeks they would have been able to fulfill the Oversight Committee’s requests.
Back to Josh’s prevarication:
While Republicans’ rift with Holder has been well chronicled, the architect of their messaging campaign has gone largely unnoticed.
Well I wouldn’t say that it’s gone unnoticed; why just the other day, Rachel Maddow went on an 18 minute tear about “militia-blogger-guy” Mike Vanderboegh. Apparently Mike is the puppet-master controlling Rep. Issa and who made Republicans on the Oversight Committee vote for holding AG Holder in contempt.
Oh, wait it looks like when Josh says “architect” he doesn’t mean the man who first broke the story and who, along with David Codrea, dragged it to Congress and the legacy media’s attention:
When CBS News first broke the “Fast and Furious” story in February 2011, the
Oops, gotta interject here: CBS News did not “break” the F&F story. Mike Vanderboegh broke the story (Border Patrol agent killed with ATF-smuggled AR? Some ATF agents seem to think so) with the able assistance of David Codrea (ATF source confirms ‘walking’ guns to Mexico to ‘pad’ statistics) and others.
When CBS News first broke the “Fast and Furious” story in February 2011, the National Rifle Association (NRA) wasted little time in spinning the ill-advised “gun-walking” strategy — which actually began under the George W. Bush administration in 2006 –
Crap, gotta interject again. I believe Josh is referring to Operation Wide Receiver which ran from 2006 through 2007, involved one dealer and about 450 weapons and (pay attention because this is a key difference) was run in conjunction with Mexican law enforcement who were told when, where and how weapons would be crossing the border.
So in Wide Receiver surveillance and control of the weapons was handed off from ATF to Mexican LEOs at the border while in Fast and Furious a considered decision was made, by upper levels of the ATF and DoJ, to not inform Mexican LEOs or try to coordinate with them.
Okay, continuing with what Josh was saying:
National Rifle Association (NRA) wasted little time in spinning the ill-advised “gun-walking” strategy… as evidence that the Obama administration was a danger to “civil society” and “unprecedented in its arrogant disregard for the rule of law.”
This is where Josh is coming into his own, because if you accept his statement at face value (and who wouldn’t, when it is so easy to fact check) you would believe that it was F&F which caused the NRA to lambaste Obama. Au contraire, mes amis! If you follow the link you discover that what the NRA was actually pissed about was Obama using an Executive Order to violate the law. Indeed if you read Wayne’s entire statement he explains:
With the Obama administration, a political bureaucracy has emerged that is unprecedented in its arrogant disregard for the rule of law, the Constitution, and co-equal branches of government. Nowhere is that usurpation of power more glaring than in the Justice Department’s decree establishing a centralized registry of firearm owners in total violation of law.
See Congress is responsible for writing laws, which is why they are called the Legislative Branch of government and the President is head of the Executive Branch (which is why he is sometimes called the Chief Executive) and as such directs the DoJ (among others). Years ago now, Congress enacted a prohibition on the FedGov keeping any sort of registry of gun owners.
My own sticking point with the long-gun reporting requirement is that when Congress wrote the law requiring that multiple handgun purchases be reported to the ATF they specifically chose not to include long guns in that requirement, so it is this long gun reporting requirement leaping fully formed from Obama’s forehead which has my knickers in a knot.
Oh and just parenthetically, I thought that the idea of F&F being used to push for more gun control was the product of black-helicopter conspiracy-minded tinfoil-hatted nut jobs, not Presidential Executive Orders.
Anyway . . . Josh continues:
Give the NRA credit. It has mastered the art of projecting its biggest and most dangerous faults onto its political opponents. This is the organization, after all, that created “Stand Your Ground” laws, which allow gun-toters to shoot other Americans even when they could otherwise safely walk away from a public confrontation.
Again with the bald-faced lies, Josh! The N.R.A. was formed in 1871 to promote marksmanship after the Union calculated that their soldiers fired 1,000 rounds for each Confederate soldier hit. It wasn’t until the lead up to passage of the National Firearms Act of 1934 that the NRA formed a legislative affairs division.
The doctrine of Stand Your Ground, however, was established in 1895 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Beard v. United States – 158 U.S. 550 when they stated:
In our opinion, the court below erred in holding that the accused, while on his premises, outside of his dwelling house, was under a legal duty to get out of the way, if he could, of his assailant … The defendant was where he had the right to be, when the deceased advanced upon him in a threatening manner and with a deadly weapon, … [the accused] was not obliged to retreat nor to consider whether he could safely retreat, but was entitled to stand his ground [emphasis added] and meet any attack made upon him with a deadly weapon . . .
This doctrine was upheld in 1921 (more than a decade before the NRA formed its lobbying division) in Brown v. United States, (256 US 335) when Justice Holmes famously held that:
Detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife. Therefore in this Court, at least, it is not a condition of immunity that one in that situation should pause to consider whether a reasonable man might not think it possible to fly with safety or to disable his assailant rather than to kill him.
Josh also herein makes clear his true feelings about people willing to use deadly force in self-defense:
which allow gun-toters to shoot other Americans even when they could otherwise safely walk away from a public confrontation.
So according to Josh, people willing to defend themselves (“gun-toters”), are sociopaths; nothing but seething cauldrons of homicidal rage and hate, so morally bankrupt that we would actively prefer to kill a fellow human being than escape if we could. In addition, like so many antis, Josh is fixated on the shooting people part of SYG laws and ignores the fact that under duty to retreat (DTR) laws defendants have lost their presumption of innocence.
Under DTR, if I am forced to shoot someone in self-defense the prosecution doesn’t have to prove anything. In order to make a self-defense claim I must admit that I shot my attacker and then convince the jury that my actions were reasonable. I imagine that people like Josh, Jim and Sarah Brady, Dennis Henigan and Dan Gross are quite content with the fact that users of defensive deadly force are guilty until proven innocent, but most of the rest of the country prefers the Constitutionally specified presumption of innocence.
A perfect example of why SYG is preferable to DTR can be found in the tale of Jay Rodney Lewis, who was forced to defend himself against an aggressive drunken felon. Even though all the evidence supported his claim of self-defense he was arrested and charged by an anti-gun county attorney. By the time he was acquitted he’d spent 112 days in jail, had lost his job, been evicted and lost almost all his possessions (which had been piled on the curb when he was evicted). All of which is just fine with Josh and his ilk.
Josh continues with the lies, misstatements and oversimplifications:
This is also the organization that actively promotes the idea that the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to shoot and kill their elected officials when they sense “tyranny.”
Okay first of all, Josh, the Bill of Rights including the Second Amendment does not give anyone a right to do anything; it protects pre-existing rights. This is why the First Amendment does not say:
Congress shall make no law establishing any religion, and the people are hereby permitted free exercise of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of the press; the people are permitted to peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Likewise the Fourth Amendment does not say:
The people are given the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures . . .
The freedom of religion, speech and peaceable assembly and the right to be unmolested by the authorities, these are ours by virtue of being human beings; they are G-d given not FedGov given.
Second, like so many of his anti brethren, Josh is unable to conceive that firearms have any utility except when they are fired. The fact is resistance to tyranny does not solely consist of an individual’s right to shoot bureaucrats; it is far more nuanced. As Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey said in the February 1960 issue of Guns magazine:
But the right of citizens to bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, and one more safeguard against a tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible.
Essentially Sen. Humphrey was saying that the mere existence of an armed population (47% of households according to this October 2011 Gallup poll) provides a check against tyranny. As Noah Webster noted in An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution:
Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops . . .
On a more anecdotal note, I grew up 20 miles north of New York City so, as you can imagine, there were a few liberals in the area. Shortly after Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre I remember listening to my father grouch to a neighbor about some impending town law. The neighbor was aghast: “How can you worry about something like that when Nixon is about to declare martial law and become a dictator?”
“Never happen in the U.S.” replied my father, “not with 100 million people owning guns anyway.”
And Josh continues:
The NRA’s accusations about the Obama administration amount to a staggering act of hypocrisy.
So let me be sure I have this straight: According to Josh it is fine for a President and his advisers to violate their oaths and ignore Constitutional limits on their power by using Executive Orders or “signing statements” to change or ignore laws they don’t like, but it is hypocritical of “the N.R.A.” (by which I think he means gun nuts, but I’m not certain) to get pissed off about it. I would remind Josh of something that Thomas Jefferson said:
“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of Constitutional power.”
Josh then goes on to support his thesis by extensively quoting speeches made by various NRA execs at CPAC in Chicago. I will pass lightly over this except to offer one example which displays Josh’s abysmal grasp of history:
The “Southern boys” that Porter praises as straight-shooters believed that the democratic election of Abraham Lincoln constituted “tyranny.” They engaged in the biggest act of armed insurrection in U.S. history, with disastrous results that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands.
Actually there were a number of things which led to the War Between the States, primarily economic. The “democratic election” of Lincoln did not constitute “tyranny” as Josh claims but was rather an indicator that the Federal Government’s current tyrannies (punitive taxes and tariffs designed to force the agrarian South to support Northern industry) would continue unabated. There were also the issues of the Abolitionist movement, the acceptance of new states from the territories, the shifting of political and economic . . . let’s just say that Josh is utterly incorrect and leave it at that.
Two days later, the practical effect of decades of such rhetoric could be seen when pro-gun activists — openly bearing loaded assault rifles and handguns – crammed into the chambers of the Birmingham City Commission in Michigan to protest the arrest of a [Sean Combs] on charges of brandishing a weapon in public, disturbing the peace, and obstructing a police officer.
So many things wrong with that paragraph, where to start . . .
Okay first of all open carry is perfectly legal in MI, which is why people are questioning why Sean was stopped in the first place. There is no law in MI which requires someone walking down the street to provide ID when asked by a cop. Carrying slung over the shoulder does not constitute “brandishing”. Absent other threatening behavior, open carry does not constitute disturbing the peace. As for the “crime” of obstructing a police officer, it looks to me like asking for a lawyer would violate the law.
The show of force by his supporters at the city council meeting was straight out of the NRA playbook and sent the following message: “Make a law we don’t like, enforce a law we don’t like, and ‘Second Amendment remedies’ are always available to us.”
I guess Josh is only happy with protesters when they are opposing gun rights? But this “show of force” was actually a show of support not for making a law or enforcing a law but for ignoring the law. This is why the city council was the appropriate venue to raise concerns about police officers disregarding actual law and punishing people for “contempt of cop”.
Josh then gives a bunch of examples of things the Obama administration has done which (he claims) aren’t threats to the rule of law, including Fast and Furious.
Speaking just of Fast and Furious I personally am confused how violating several Federal laws and international treaties, lying about it to Congress, and promoting the supervisors and punishing the whistle-blowers does not constitute threats to the rule of law, but then again I do not look at the world through anti-colored glasses.
But Josh then goes on to give examples of things that are threats to the rule of law:
But a powerful special interest group that continues to promote the “legitimacy” of political violence after the attempted assassination of a congresswoman in Tucson, without either shame or remorse? That is a very serious threat to the rule of law.
First the shooting of Rep. Giffords had no more to do with resistance to tyranny than the Norway attacks had to do with promoting multiculturalism. Less. Second why should we feel shame or remorse? The antis are the ones who linked our “violent rhetoric” to the shooting; we know that the two were completely unrelated.
As for promoting the “legitimacy” of political violence being a threat to the “rule of law”, let’s look at some of that promotion shall we? From CSVG’s Insurrectionism Timeline web page:
March 3, 2009— FOX commentator Glenn Beck … states that, “Somebody asked me this morning, they said, ‘you really believe that there’s going to be trouble in the future?’ And I said, ‘if this country starts to spiral out of control and, you know, and Mexico melts down or whatever, if it really starts to spiral out of control, before America allows a country to become a totalitarian country … Americans will, they just, they won’t stand for it. There will be parts of the country that will rise up.’
My definitions of totalitarianism and totalitarian states have a common thread, that totalitarian governments recognize no limits on their power. So Glenn said that if our government suspends the Bill of Rights, the American people will take up arms. So Josh believes that a government which brooks no limits on their power supports the rule of law and people taking up arms to restore Constitutional government threaten the rule of law. Seriously, Josh, what color is the sky in your world?
Then there’s this Wayne LaPierre quote:
March 11, 2009—NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre speaks at the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference and announces that “Our Founding Fathers understood that the guys with the guns make the rules.”
If you follow the link and watch the video you will see a carefully edited statement. For Wayne’s whole statement you can go here and get some context, like:
History has ways of reminding us, in stark and scary ways, why our Founding Fathers gave us the Second Amendment in this country. Without it liberty is nothing but an illusion. Every freedom you have is only as real as the Second Amendment is real … Our Divine rights? They may have been endowed by a Creator but they are preserved by mortals. If we mortals have the means and the will to make it stick.
Kind of puts a different slant on the partial quote that CSGV presented doesn’t it?
Or how about:
April 25, 2009—Joshua Cartwright, 28, a member of the Florida National Guard, shoots and kills two Okaloosa County sheriff’s deputies attempting to arrest him on a domestic abuse charge. Cartwright is killed in an enusing gun battle with police. Cartwright’s wife reports that he was “severely disturbed” that Barack Obama had been elected president. Okaloosa County Sheriff Edward Spooner states that Cartrwight was “interested in militia groups and weapons training.”
Considering that even if CSGV’s wildest wet dreams were to come true National Guardsmen would still have access to weapons I’m not exactly sure why Josh’s boys included this one. But most of them are either irrelevant or as misleading as the ones I’ve looked at here, so let’s continue:
That is a very serious threat to the rule of law. As are NRA policies that promote the unnecessary use of lethal violence on our streets.
Ah, yes, the infamous Stand Your Ground law: The law that loosened the rules for deadly force from:
He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
After SYG passed, someone was only allowed to use deadly force:
if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
So where’s the unnecessary use of force there? Oh, I know, I bet it’s because SYG removed the “duty to retreat”. Well see above regarding Justice Holmes thoughts on demanding detached reflection in the face of an uplifted knife.
As Trayvon Martin’s mother recently noted, “There is something very wrong if there’s a law that a person is using to defend himself for killing a kid.”
No ma’am, there’s something very wrong when a man is charged with murder for defending himself after getting punched in the face, knocked down and having his head bashed against the concrete “MMA style” by a 6’ 160 pound, 17 year-old football playing “kid”.
Josh finishes up with more hyperbole and out of context quotes:
The next time a Republican like Darryl Issa or fellow NRA Defender of Freedom Award winner Ken Cuccinelli rants about the Obama administration’s “disregard for the law,” someone might want to ask them about their steadfast support for an organization that believes chopping off the heads of Democrats is an acceptable way to resolve political differences.
Josh is referring to the Ted Nugent comments at the NRA convention, where Ted said:
We defied the King. We didn’t negotiate and compromise with the King, we defied the Emperors. We are patriots, we are Braveheart! We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November.
Someone should really teach Josh the difference between literal and figurative statements. Ted recalled the colonists’ defiance of an English king and compared us to a historical Scottish patriot/rebel who literally chopped off peoples’ heads in battle. He was saying that voters should figuratively go forth and do battle with the opponents of freedom (chop their heads off) in the November elections.
But of course Josh knows that. He knows that Ted was not suggesting we go to the polls armed with battle axes, he knows Wayne wasn’t saying that gun owners should rise up and make the rules, he knows that lunatic mass murderers will kill en masse regardless of the political rhetoric of the day. His problem is that as more and more people buy and carry guns we (gun nuts) enter more and more into the mainstream of society.
As a result more and more non-gunnies know gun owners and know that we are just as “normal” and law-abiding as anyone; thus requiring more and more outrageous rhetoric on the part of Josh and his ilk trying to paint us as the extremists.