Sunday, September 11, 2011

Your right to self-defense shouldn’t end at state borders

This Labor Day weekend, many families will pack up the car for one last road trip to the beach, lake or park before summer ends. Unfortunately, many of them will have to check their right to self-defense at the state border. Thankfully, there is legislation making its way through Congress that would fix this.

The bill is the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act (H.R. 822) and it would allow any person with a valid, state-issued concealed firearm permit to exercise their right to carry a firearm in any other state that affords that right to its own residents.

The bill was introduced by Congressmen Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and Heath Shuler (D-NC) and it currently has 242 co-sponsors and the full backing of the National Rifle Association. By any benchmark, H.R. 822 has overwhelming bipartisan support.

Currently, 49 states have laws that permit concealed carry in some form or another. In all but eight of those states, the average, law-abiding citizen can carry a firearm without having to navigate an overly restrictive — and in some cases intentionally impossible — bureaucratic process. Only the state of Illinois completely forbids its citizens from carrying concealed firearms outside their homes and workplaces.

The problem is that interstate recognition of these various permits is not uniform. Some states have broad laws in place that liberally recognize permit holders from other states. Other states are more restrictive, and still others refuse to recognize any state’s permit but their own. This can create issues for travelers.

The National Right-to-Carry Act would solve this problem by requiring the various states that allow concealed carry to recognize each other’s permits — much in the same way they recognize each other’s driver’s licenses.

Imagine if America treated state driver’s licenses the same way we treat the right to carry, and every time you drove across a state line you weren’t sure if you were allowed to legally operate a vehicle in that state. If you knew you weren’t allowed to operate a vehicle in a certain state, you simply couldn’t drive there.

There are some who agree with the spirit of H.R. 822 but are concerned that it would create a “federal gun licensing” system. This is simply not true. The bill explicitly protects the right of each state to issue its own permits and determine its own rules and regulations with regard to concealed carry — such as where carrying is prohibited and where it’s allowed.

This is similar to how one highway can have different speed limits, depending on the state in which you’re driving. You can drive on the highway regardless of which state you’re from, but you are required to obey each state’s basic rules of the road.

Others have voiced concern that H.R. 822 would violate the Tenth Amendment right of every state to make its own laws. Again, this is not the case. The Second Amendment guarantees the fundamental, individual right of every law-abiding citizen to bear arms. This is an inalienable right that neither the federal government, nor any state government, may infringe upon. And in fact, the 14th Amendment gives Congress the power to protect citizens from state infringement of their constitutional rights.

Our basic right to self-defense has been recognized in law for centuries. We shouldn’t be forced to forfeit this right at the state line. Call your representative today and ask if he or she is a cosponsor of H.R. 822. If the answer is yes, please thank them and urge them do what they can to push this bill forward.

If the answer is no, then please urge them to become a co-sponsor today, and to support your fundamental right to defend yourself and your loved ones … regardless of which state you happen to be passing through.


Disgraceful Federal harassment of man who shot Grizzly

When the government infringes upon Second Amendment rights through regulation and harsh gun control, it is accused of violating one’s right to self-defense. There is no greater example of this violation, however, than when the federal government attempted to punish a man for killing a grizzly bear that threatened his life and the lives of his family. Fortunately, when the story was publicized and received a great deal of negative media attention, federal prosecutors decided to drop the charges.

Idaho resident Jeremy Hill faced trial after he killed a grizzly bear that came into his yard on May 8. According to Hill, his six children were playing in their yard when three grizzly bears — a mother and her two cubs — entered the property. The children called to their father who was inside of his home. He immediately came out with a rifle.

According to neighbors of the Hill family, the bears had visited several properties that day before their stop at the Hill home. Neighbor Bob Vickaryous told The New American that the bear appeared on his own property, as well as the neighbor Tom Davis’ property. Vickaryous indicates that Davis actually fired off a round of warning shots to scare the bears off, but that the bears appeared unafraid of the weapon and its sounds and remained until they eventually ventured off on their own and arrived at the Hill property.

Hill shot one of the bears, thereby scaring the others away. He then reported the incident to the proper state authorities, who raised no issue with the incident. However, once federal authorities learned of the incident, they charged Hill with killing an endangered species, as the grizzly bear is a threatened species in the lower 48 states, and therefore protected by federal law.

As a result of the charges, Hill faced a year in prison and a $50,000 fine. His trial was set to begin on October 4.

However, Hill’s story attracted a number of supporters, including Idaho Governor Butch Otter, who told the Obama administration in a letter that he supports the right of Jeremy Hill to defend himself and his family. The letter, submitted to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on August 22, read:
I recognize the federal jurisdiction under the Endangered Species Act, but I strongly support the right of individuals to defend themselves and others in such situations. Many, including me, feel Mr. Hill did what a concerned parent would do. Now, Jeremy and his family must endure the cost of the trial.

Otter’s letter went on to explain that the prosecution could potentially impact recovery efforts because the community would be less likely to offer their support.

Otter also declared that the government’s priorities are a tad askew:
One of the flaws of the ESA is the premium it places on protecting species at the expense of everything else. Although an individual can protect human safety under the law — as Jeremy felt he was doing — it’s a shame that the Endangered Species Act still does not enable citizens to protect their private property and pets in the same manner.

Governor Otter’s letter to the Obama administration came at the behest of the Boundary County commissioners, who addressed a letter to Otter asking for him to get involved and come to the aid of Jeremy Hill: “We feel that at all costs, this man has the obligation and responsibility to protect his children. This is not some flagrant or malicious act. We urge you to do all that is in your power to have this matter settled.”

In August, Hill appeared at the U.S. Courthouse in Coeur d’Alene, where he plead not guilty to unlawfully killing a female grizzly bear in his yard. Hill reportedly had so many supporters appear at the courthouse for him that the arraignment was forced to be moved into a larger room.

In attendance was Idaho state Senator Shawn Keough, who said after the hearing, “It seems unjust to me that someone would be charged when they were protecting their family. I’m at a loss to understand why the U.S. government is pursuing this in the manner they are.”

Following in the same vein as Governor Otter, Keough continued, “Jeremy did the right thing, he called Fish and Game. I think that prosecuting this case really sets back the grizzly bear recovery effort.... People are saying, ‘Boy, if that happened to me, there’s no way that I’d report it.’ That’s a human reaction.”

Governor Otter’s assertions that the government’s charging of Hill would discourage Americans from complying with wildlife recovery are certainly realistic. For example, Vickaryous told The New American that he believes the Endangered Species Act should be entirely repealed, and given the experiences his neighbor has had to endure, he may find some support in such a push.

Members of Hill’s community were so sympathetic towards his plight that they raised $19,558 for a defense fund for Hill’s family at a 4-H animal sale in Bonners Ferry.

On September 7, after mounting pressure from a variety of different sources, the federal government decided to drop the charges filed against Jeremy Hill. reports:
As part of a deal, Hill agreed his actions violated a regulation of the Endangered Species Act against removing nuisance bears and paid a $1,000 fine. The act classifies the grizzly bear as a threatened species in the lower 48 states, and the animals are protected by federal law.

U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson issued a press release which indicated, “The United States Attorney’s Office well understands Mr. Hill is a concerned husband and father who wants to protect his family.”

However, according to Olson, investigators were unable to determine the location of Hill’s children when the bears approached, and were therefore unable to determine whether there was acute danger that necessitated the killing of the bear.

Hill, grateful that the ordeal is over, issued a statement thanking all of those who supported him.
“We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of concern from the many people who have contacted us. I received a federal civil ticket and have paid the $1,000 fine to avoid putting my family through the emotional strain and the cost of a trial. I am glad this issue has been resolved out of court, and I am looking forward to putting this unfortunate incident behind me.”

Hill’s lawyer, Marc Lyons, points to this case as a reason for the federal government to review some of its provisions that regulate how people can respond to potentially dangerous wildlife.

“This unfortunate event underscores the need to critically review and evaluate the Endangered Species Act so that people can use reasonable and appropriate actions to protect their families, homes and property,” Lyons said.


NC store owner kills man during robbery attempt: "A Lumberton store owner shot and killed a gunman during an armed robbery Thursday afternoon, authorities said. Police were called to the Westside Seafood & Market at 309 W. Fifth St., about 5:20 p.m., Capt. Johnny Barnes of the Lumberton Police Department said. They found Brandon Eddie Wright, no age or address given, dead in the parking lot, Barnes said. The store owner, who has not been identified, was inside the business, holding a gun on two men who were lying on the floor, Barnes said. Wright and another man came into the business and confronted two employees, Barnes said.Wright pointed a gun at the two and demanded money, Barnes said. The owner, who was in another room, came out and was confronted by Wright, Barnes said. The store owner, who was carrying a handgun, fired two shots at Wright, Barnes said."

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