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Last week the Austin American-Statesman asked RF to write an op/ed in the wake of Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo’s recent comments regarding “gun enthusiasts.” Then they rejected it, without explanation. Here’s the piece as written.

Back in May of last year, a Twitter user reached out to Austin Police Chief Art Acevdeo. The Twitterer expressed his opposition to “universal background checks,” based on the belief that the Second Amendment prohibits government interference with private firearms sales. Acevedo Tweeted back “Oh, no the horror, gun profiteers can’t sell guns to criminals and nuts.” Gun profiteers? Nuts? Clearly Chief Acevedo has a dim view of the firearms industry, the idea of Americans legally selling legal products to each other and gun owners in general. His most recent remarks, following a shooting spree in downtown Austin, once again revealed the Chief’s disgust for gun rights.

“If you know somebody that’s acting with a lot of hatred towards a particular group especially if you know somebody who’s a gun enthusiast or they’re armed with this type of firearms and they’re showing any type of propensity for hatred, doesn’t mean that we’re going to go and take them to jail, but we might want to vet these people.”

Facing a firestorm of criticism from gun rights advocates, Acevedo said he considered gun ownership a secondary consideration for identifying potentially violent individuals. Alert citizens should look for hatred first, gun ownership second.

Acevedo’s anti-gun prejudice runs so deep that he still doesn’t understand why anyone would be upset about his warning. The long-time campaigner for gun control laws singularly fails to appreciate the fact that firearms ownership is not a marker for potential terrorism or other acts of violence.

Violent individuals have any number of potentially deadly weapons at their disposal: baseball bats, knives, cars, poison, explosives, gasoline, etc. By highlighting gun ownership as a potential threat indicator, the Chief drew the public’s attention away from a potentially dangerous person, towards weapons. “My neighbor’s a terrible racist who threatens to kill black people – but he doesn’t own any guns. So that’s OK.”

Despite his denials, Acevedo’s message implies that the converse is also true: “He doesn’t threaten anyone but he’s got a LOT of guns. I better call the police and warn them.”

A distinct whiff of a police state underlies Chief Acevedo’s public service message. His plea for public cooperation conjures up the image of a city where neighbors drop the dime on suspicious people – gun owners! – so that the police can “vet” them.

Gun owners want the police to treat them as they are legally: innocent until proven guilty. They value their Constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure. And their First Amendment right to free speech. In short, they reject Acevedo’s half-baked plan to investigate law-abiding citizens based on hearsay and gun ownership, without any evidence that a crime has been committed.

Of course, it is illegal to make terroristic threats – regardless of what weapons or potential weapons a person may or may not legally possess. Texas statute § 22.07 makes it a crime to “place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury.” That’s a slightly more stringent standard than “acting with a lot of hatred towards a particular group” but close enough, yes?

Not for Chief Acevedo. Like so many gun control advocates, Chief Acevedo is not satisfied with existing laws against criminal behavior. In this case, he’d like to “vet” [allegedly] hate-filled gun owners to see if they might, what? Kill themselves? Shoot up downtown Austin? Take out a cop? How can he tell? And what then? Lock them up?

Do we really want to surrender that kind of inherently dangerous power to a Police Chief who has campaigned to restrict Americans’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms? We do not. We do not want to live in a city where the Austin Police Department of Pre-Crime knocks on our doors, asks about our guns and takes us away for questioning.

Oh, sorry. The Chief says that kind of investigation wouldn’t involve his officers “going to go and take [armed suspects] to jail.” So why did he say it in the first place?

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      • Because it made sense and sounded well reasoned? They didn’t get the hate-filled diatribe that played into their stereotype of a gun nut.

      • Are there any other newspapers in the Austin area that this could be sent in to? And could you not just send this in as a letter to the editor?

    • Sir, your article has been rejected. It is not sufficiently emotional, contains rational arguments, and fails to honor the sovereignty of the government. We suspect it is right wing. Have a nice day.

    • Because it wasn’t a flaming slobbering response that the Statesman was hoping for to discredit gun owners.

    • My theory is the tone of the the following selections:

      1) “My neighbor’s a terrible racist who threatens to kill black people – but he doesn’t own any guns. So that’s OK.”

      2) A distinct whiff of a police state underlies Chief Acevedo’s public service message.

      Not to be overly blunt, but these sections in particular, in addition to a couple others, have a bit of a “rant” tone to them. I don’t know the quality of the paper in question, but taken in isolation I think this piece could be improved by a more formal tone and a clearer point-by-point structure. The points included are important and relevant, but a rephrasing and restructuring would be beneficial for both clarity and impact.

      • I agree with Kyle, this reads more like a hastily typed out rant (albeit one I agree with) rather than a well written op-ed.

        You’ve gotten used to the blog format, a specialized audience that knows the arguments very well, and a race for clicks. It’s not that your arguments are bad, but they’re not well expressed particularly for those who are uninformed or skeptical. We need to be able to make our case to those are unfriendly in a way that will make them think. This doesn’t do that. You could do much better.

      • Well, an opinion *IS* a rant. They asked for an opinion, and then rejected it.

        “If you don’t want my opinion, don’t ask for it.”

      • Yep, the negative tone was over the top. A more level-headed approach would have been printed even by an anti-gun newspaper. He blew a good chance to educate.

    • Yeah. I too live in Austin. The AAS is a craven, partisan, un-readable POS liberal rag adored by aging hippies, bums, vapid hipsters, self-righteous busybodies, brainwashed college students and leftist ideologues. All of which Austin has in ample supply, I might add.

      This article never stood a chance. Frankly, I’m shocked they even approached RF to write something. I can only imagine the exploding heads, shrill cries, breathless outrage and finger-wagging that went on at AAS when this article appeared in their inbox. The rejection was so hard and so fast that it could be measured in foot pounds. Sorry Robert.

      • “…a craven, partisan, un-readable POS liberal rag adored by aging hippies, bums, vapid hipsters, self-righteous busybodies, brainwashed college students and leftist ideologues.”

        You sure you’re not talking about the Austin Chronicle?

  1. Because he makes a fine argument. It’s not what the paper wanted to here. They wanted a straw man. When they didn’t get it, they declined.

  2. Can one expect anything else from all the west coasties transferred to Austin? Most Texans don’t consider Austin as a part of the state.

    • I am soooo gonna steal that…maybe even have a t-shirt printed up with that slogan to wear the next time I have to visit that inane city. Thank you!

  3. Acevedo is former CHP, and bringing his own brand of CA special to already liberal Austin. He has little time for crime fighting, being much too busy grabbing publicity for supporting the cause d’jour. He’s got his eyes on a bigger office and will get there on whatever backs he needs to climb on to get there.

    • Yes, and we should send him back to California, post haste.

      He does have a very effective presence here. He is everywhere, making sure that the voters don’t forget him. Kind of like Al Capone. Er, I mean Daley.

  4. I for one don’t get it. The publication must be acutely familiar with Mr. Farago’s views on this topic, including his writing style. Why ask him to submit the op/ed in the first place?

    Did the AAS end up using someone else’s article instead?

    • They reached out to Robert probably so they can say that the attempt was made to offer a counter view point, which they can then say “didn’t meet our journalistic standards”.

      • Thank you. Your explanation makes complete sense to me. I’m still a bit naïve when it comes to the lengths the media will go to in order to own or promote their anti-gun narrative.

  5. I suspect that the AAS editors had their own vision of what a argument from the pro-gun side would look like and were let down upon reading RF’s article. They wanted Alex-Jones-style bombast which they mock and deride for days or weeks.

  6. Acevedo certainly is a smug little statist. Most people in authority who are so dismissive of others are showing their insecurity. They are all too aware of their own limitations so they dismiss others in a desperate attempt to hide their own lack of intelligence. Unfortunately for them, their attitude only highlights their inability to think, to frame an argument and to compete in the marketplace of ideas.

    Nothing good ever comes from giving such people authority over others and a gun.

    • We’re not interested in offering the respect of proper pronunciation to a Acevedo who gives no respect to America’s Bill Of Rights.

  7. Ah twitter, the perfect place for a political figure to have nuance constitutional and policy discussions.

  8. I know that ad hominem attacks are forbidden here, so I absolutely won’t say that Acevedo is a piece of garbage who should never have been allowed to be a patrolman, much less chief of police.

  9. You know, it’s not actually a crime to hate anyone or anything, either… or to say so. As long as no threats are issued and no violence, belligerence, or harassment is issued, incited, or advocated, citizens who are “full of hate” should not be the subject of police investigations, either.
    Personally, I hate child molesters, animal abusers, and musicians who rhyme the words “fire” and “desire” in rock ballad lyrics. Those people suck. Since I’ve now said so publicly, I suppose I can expect Chief Acevedo’s goons to come knocking on my door to “vet” me any time now. He shows as little regard for the first amendment as he has for the second.

  10. The un-American statesman strikes again…

    If I wanted to read a bunch of cobbled together leftist trash, I would stay in California and read the LA Times.

  11. Par for the course for the Austin American Spaceman . . . .

    When my firm opened an Austin office several years ago, I got dozens of calls from the AAS soliciting us to get a subscription, run ads, etc. I ultimately told them that I wouldn’t subscribe to the AAS even if they paid ME to take it.

    Haven’t had any calls from them since.

  12. Is Chief Acevedo appointed or elected?

    If he is appointed, put pressure on the people who can un-appoint him. Write letters, actual pen and ink letters. A stack of letters in the mail is hard to ignore.

    If he is elected, to whom do we make the checks payable to help organize and run a recall campaign?

    • He’s hired by and serves at the will and pleasure of the Austin City Council which is exactly the problem. Austin is the lone island of radical progressive liberals in a sea of conservatism that is Texas. Other than Austin, no other Texas municipality would even consider hiring an anti gun liberal idiot from California like Acevedo, and any other city would have fired his ass long ago, but the far left liberals in Austin love the bastard.

  13. The paper didn’t want to upset its readers. “Community harmony” is seen as very important where leftists run things, and it’s strictly enforced.

  14. Acevedo is a California progressive liberal who was CA Highway Patrol Captain before he landed the Austin PD Chief job. The Austin City Council is stacked deep with progressive liberals and they love it when their Chief attempts to force his California values on Texans.

    In addition to his lame attempts to rally support for California style gun control in the Lone Star State (will never happen), Acevedo has repeatedly and unsuccessfully lobbied the Texas Legislature to adopt a California style Driving While Intoxicated law which lowers the blood alcohol concentration limit from .08 to .04 and creates a new lesser criminal offense of Driving Under the Influence.

    Even though his DUI crusade was soundly rejected, Acevedo was not deterred and implemented an Austin PD policy that imposes the California standard anyway. Austin PD officers arrest drivers with any detectable amount of alcohol on their breath and routinely charge drivers with blood alcohol concentrations of .03 and .04 which has resulted in Travis County having the highest DWI dismissal rate in Texas, but Acevedo wears his extralegal “you might beat the rap but you won’t beat the ride” policy like a badge of honor.

    Acevedo is a loose canon enabled by the Austin progressive liberals in control of the city government and you can bet that he will not hesitate to make criminals out of lawful gun owners if given the slightest excuse to impose his California agenda.

  15. Send him up to WA State, he’d probably like it here now since 594 passed. It is really much safer, the criminals don’t have an easy way to obtain guns now. We have a universal check, registration, gun-show protections, they can’t even get one online! And now thankfully we lawful gun owners now know selling in a parking lot at night to a likely criminal is just wrong. First we have to go get a proper transfer at an FFL, then he can have the gun!

    We got screwed.

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