Sunday, December 4, 2016

BATFE

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border security

Last month, two men were caught on video climbing over the border wall with Mexico and into the United States, carrying with them two large back packs apparently loaded with illegal drugs. The climbers, who were also caught on government surveillance approaching the wall in Mexico before even setting foot on it, easily scaled down into the U.S. within a few yards of not one, but three U.S. Border Patrol vehicles. The Border Patrol officers, although clearly aware of the illegal fence climbers, did nothing. The men re-scaled the wall back into Mexico only after realizing a media crew was filming their escapade.

Such events appear to be “business as usual” at America’s southern border; reflecting a “hands-off” mentality by federal border agents that dramatically undercuts the federal government’s avowed commitment to stop illegal border crossings. It also lays bare the argument that building a wall along our border with Mexico “secures” the border. Clearly it doesn’t; and it will not until Uncle Sam develops the will to stop illegal border crossings.

The ineptitude on display last month brings to mind another botched “border control” operation by this Administration a few years ago — “Operation Fast and Furious” — in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, intentionally allowed firearms to be purchased by known Mexican drug members in the U.S., and then shipped back to Mexico where, in theory, they would be tracked. Due to reasons that can only be attributed — charitably — to bureaucratic incompetence, the guns disappeared; that is, until one showed up at the scene where U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was shot to death.

Tragedies such as Operation Fast and Furious, as well as the Border Patrol’s passive attitude towards stopping flagrant criminal activity, illustrates a problem rooted far deeper than the prima facie absurdity of Obama Administration policies. It reflects a fundamental unwillingness by federal law enforcement agencies to do their job. The question is not are we lacking a high-enough wall, but do we lack the will.

The worsening problems at the border is perhaps the single-most important factor in the rise of Donald Trump as a competitive presidential candidate in 2016. However, though Trump may be the loudest and shrillest voice on border issues, he still, like so many other candidates and office holders, is missing the forest for the trees when it comes to illegal immigration.

Trump and those who share his views on border security focus almost exclusively on the physical aspects of the issue; higher walls, more border patrol agents, and more money. While money, equipment and personnel certainly are important elements of a comprehensive border security program, they are wasted without a true commitment on the part of officials from the President down to agency heads, to actually use those resources to do the job.

The key to “securing the border” lies not in physical security, but in policy security; and without the will to stop illegals from coming in, and until we stop fretting about the risk of “someone getting hurt if our law enforcement officers do their job,” illegals will continue to pour in regardless of the physical obstacles, barriers, and deterrents we place in their way. No number of federal agents assigned to the border, and no amount of blustering from Trump about “growing [the border fence] ten feet higher,” will make a noteworthy difference if we on this side of the wall lack the courage to stop illegals before they ever put their first foot up to climb, or as soon as they touch down on our side.

First, we have to reverse the mixed messages of the Obama Administration to Latin America regarding illegal immigration, and take a strong stand that our borders actually mean something, and that those attempting to enter the country illegally will be sent back, pronto. We must back up this message by ending the absurd “catch and release” programs that kill the morale of Border Patrol agents and continue to demonstrate that we are not serious about stopping illegal immigration. Finally, we must address the economic incentives for illegal immigration by making clear to states and cities that federal funds cannot be used to subsidize pro-illegal immigration agendas of liberal local and state governments. This means Zero Tolerance (and zero federal money) for so-called “Sanctuary Cities.”

To accomplish these things, Republicans must resist the easy route of responding to populist calls for expensive, temporary “fixes,” and focus on the much harder task of reversing Washington’s current attitude towards immigration; replacing it with one that shows we have the courage to protect our borders. In the absence of such a commitment, individuals and government leaders “South of the Border” will continue to laugh at us to our face.

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ammo-registration

Anti-gun extremist Jeffrey Zalles, who serves as president of the Marin County, California chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, is reaching back in recent history to push what amounts to a gun ban that doesn’t focus on guns themselves but the ammunition people need and must have to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

Zalles began his recent editorial in The Washington Post by referring to a second anti-gun crusader, Nicholas Kristof, who wrote in The New York Times this past August “that gun violence claims one life every 16 minutes in the United States.” Kristof did not back up his spurious claim with any empirical evidence a uses the statistic to say “more than 90 American families are broken by gun violence every day.”

This claim could only be true if Zalles and Kristof lump Chicago gang violence, disputes between drug dealers settled at the point of a gun, robberies, home invasions and more with one thing in common – that these criminal acts were committed by those who care little for our laws against murder and not at all about our laws regarding guns.

Zalles solution it to create a hole big enough in the Second Amendment to drive a truck through and does just that when it comes to licensing, rationing, microstamping and even banning ammunition – efforts that would not take away the right to Keep and Bear Arms but take away ammunition in a way that renders the Second Amendment meaningless.

Zalles laments the fact that the National Rifle Association (NRA) – the nation’s leading pro-gun group has stood in the way of “meaningful” gun laws that would “achieve” significant reductions in his gun violence “statistic” and ignores the rapes, killings, robberies, kidnappings and other criminal horrors prevented by the use of firearms by law-abiding citizens in self-defense.

But Zalles take heart in his belief that the NRA is not “forever” and that there will come a tipping point “whereby a majority of Americans, fed up and fearing for their safety, will finally work their will in the form of strict gun-control measures or even a rewrite or repeal of the Second Amendment.”

So for now, Zalles thinks making it difficult to access ammunition will neutralize the ability of gun owners to exercise their gun rights without restricting their access to firearms.

This is the same fascist thinking that gave us “poll taxes” and “literacy tests” to give people the right to vote but only if they could negotiate the speed bumps and road blocks set up to make voting as difficult as possible.

To burnish the validity of his strategy to limit the ability of gun owners to use their firearms by going after the ammunition, Zalles noted that late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said there was a 200 year supply of gun in the United States but only a four-year supply of ammunition.

So Zalles proposes “two steps (that) would work wonders” in fighting gun violence.

The first is to license ammunition buyers – that next best thing to gun registration itself. He proposes “several” non-threatening requirements to gain a license like watching a video, answering a few questions about gun safety, producing some form of photo ID, paying as small fee and passing a passing a background check.

What he leaves out is that if the government knows who has the ammunition, the government knows who has the guns. What’s more, once any part Zalles “ammunition registration” scheme is in place, the government can play with the gun rights of law-abiding people around the edges.

A “small fee” could become a “big fee”. Some form of photo ID could become a government ID issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE). A gun safety test could become a questionnaire, completed under penalty of perjury, requiring you to disclose the types and number of firearms you own.

And Zalles doesn’t ask for a “criminal” background check, he only wants a “background check” that could include questions about military service, treatment for mental health issues, the number of children you have your home – you name it.

Zalles’s second step is to make ammunition too hard or too expensive to make – and that means “microstamping” ammunition at point of manufacture. That’s right, All ammunition would be marked so ammunition could be traced back to the buyer.

Setting the cost of microstamping aside, criminals could gain access to ammunition and simply deface the markings on the round. It would also put a crimp in those gun owners who load their own ammunition. Would these gun owners have to enter into some tortured registration regime overseen by government bureaucrats on the ammo they reload?

And while Zalles says “a focus on ammunition wouldn’t infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners”, he is woefully ignorant in what it takes to be a gun owner and the havoc politicians and bureaucrats to rain down on the right to Keep and Bear Arms.

A government that could impose a poll tax or literacy test on American’s wishing to exercise the franchise could easily take nice sounding well-reasoned and incremental steps against ammunition and turn them up into roadblocks that would stop the right of all law-abiding gun owners to use firearms for hunting, shooting and self-defense dead their tracks.

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