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Follow the Money

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I’m going to describe a group that recently demanded enactment of a sweeping federal gun control agenda.

Let’s see if you can guess who it is.

The group has 22,000 members in more than 100 countries. Membership categories include “city managers, highway safety specialists, psychologists, attorneys, coroners and management analysts,” among others. The group has offices in Europe and the Caribbean, and the group’s website describes its governing board in your choice of English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.

Why does a new report from the International Association of Chiefs of Police read like every gun-ban strategy we’ve heard for the last 10 years? To find out, all one has to do is follow the money.

Is it a new United Nations disarmament agency? No, the group is the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), headquartered in the nation’s capital. And the story behind the report is a shadowy web of huge donations, made by an activist foundation in the Midwest, leading straight to puppet strings that control the agenda of gun ban groups, the IACP and even New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

The IACP report, called “Taking a Stand: Reducing Gun Violence in Our Communities,” is nothing more than a rubber stamp, bought and paid for, of the pre-existing agenda for gun ban groups. It is a blueprint the enemies of freedom plan to pursue after the 2008 elections--if they win total control of the White House and Congress.

What compelled the IACP to issue this sweeping report? Follow the money. A note on the cover proudly declares that the report was issued “with support from the Joyce Foundation.”

That’s a familiar name to longtime readers. The Joyce Foundation has pumped tens of millions of dollars into the coffers of gun ban groups over the years. The Violence Policy Center (VPC), an unashamed promoter of a total ban on handguns, collected more than $1 million of Joyce money just in 2005 and 2006. In 2000, the Joyce Foundation paid a VPC advisor and former Handgun Control, Inc. board member to edit a “Second Amendment Symposium” issue of the Chicago-Kent Law Review. That slim volume contains nearly half the anti-individual rights articles ever published on the Second Amendment.

The IACP newsletter proudly notes that the Joyce Foundation has “made more than $30 million in grants to groups seeking public health solutions that offer the promise of reducing gun deaths and injuries in America.”

This year, the Joyce Foundation invested heavily in IACP. They paid IACP over $500,000 to host “The Great Lakes States Summit on Gun Violence,” and then to issue the report from the conference. That comes out to nearly $11,000 per page, but the Joyce Foundation got what it paid for--no surprise given the report’s thank you to Joyce Foundation Communications Director Mary O’Connell for “her editing, writing and consistent work to produce this report.”

Of course, she had a lot of help. The list of “Report Contributors” includes Kristen Rand and Tom Diaz of the VPC, as well as David Mitchell, a former staff member of Handgun Control, Inc. The list of “Summit Advisors” is even more swollen with luminaries of the gun ban faction, including the heads of three anti-gun groups that operate at the state and local level--all of which also receive direct funding from Joyce.

The list also includes Fred Grebauer, who happens to be the top gun control advisor to none other than New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Joyce has been generous with Bloomberg as well, paying out $175,000 to the “Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City,” a contribution intended to help “organize a coalition of mayors from around the country to promote national, state and local policies, litigation and law enforcement strategies aimed at reducing the flow of illegal guns into cities.” So now we know who’s paying the tab for Bloomberg’s obsessive gun control campaign as well.

Now that we’ve identified the Joyce Foundation as the wizard behind the curtain, what’s at the end of its yellow brick road? Most of the report’s recommendations are old, tired and shopworn. There’s the standard rhetoric urging Congress to “enact an effective ban on military-style assault weapons.” There’s a call for banning “.50 caliber sniper rifles,” and a demand to ban “armor-piercing” ammunition. The report suggests that Congress should regulate gun shows out of existence, and--of course--there’s a tip of the hat to Bloomberg’s obsessions, in the recommendation to repeal the privacy protections of the Tiahrt Amendment. Nothing new, there.

But the report goes much further, and reveals some of the more bizarre long-term goals of the Joyce anti-gun axis. One section contains suggestions to “Reduce the availability and lethality of firearms to criminals.” Are they suggesting that guns should be less lethal when used against criminals? No. Poor grammar aside, they are actually suggesting that Congress should “enact legislation to allow federal health and safety oversight of the firearms industry.” We know where that will lead; the Joyce-funded VPC has long advocated federal “health and safety” regulation that includes “pre-market approval power” over “firearm products that might pose a threat to public safety,” and total bans on guns that “present an unreasonable risk of injury and death.” In VPC’s world, that means handguns--for starters.

If any gun manufacturers or stores managed to survive the onslaught of such “safety” regulations, the report wants to subject them to a whole new layer of bureaucracy and red tape by demanding that “state and/or local governments should license all gun dealers.” Countless local governments have long abused zoning ordinances to shut down gun shops in places where they don’t want them, but under this proposal, discrimination against gun retailers would be a simple and routine matter of just denying a license.

IACP didn’t forget the customer, either. The report wants states to limit handgun purchases to guarantee that “certain precautions, including the notification of state and local law enforcement agencies, are in place.” Notification of what? That someone is legally buying a handgun? Stop the presses!

And the report wants law enforcement to get to know your firearms as well, demanding that “state and local governments should mandate that a ballistic fingerprint is recorded for every gun sold.” Of course, “ballistic fingerprint” is just a high-tech term for gun registration. But this recommendation goes well beyond even the gun ban groups, who have limited their demands for ballistic registration to apply only to new handguns. I wonder what IACP plans to do with a couple-million envelopes full of spent lead shot from all the 12-gauge shotguns sold every year. Are you starting to get the feeling that the authors of the report wouldn’t know a 12-gauge shotgun if they found one in a labeled box? The report only notes that this mandate “could enhance public safety and curtail gun violence.” We have to wonder if IACP bigwigs envy their overseas colleagues who have no obstacles like the Second Amendment in their way.

The most chilling recommendation is positively Orwellian, calling for “law enforcement agencies and their partners to develop and implement education campaigns targeted at gun owners.” What do they plan to “educate” us about? They cite bogus research that, they say, has “demonstrated that gun owners are disproportionately at risk for gun injuries and gun suicide” and “effectively disputes the argument that gun ownership deters crime.”

So the goal is to convince us to dispose of our firearms, which explains why another report recommendation calls for the implementation of “gun surrender programs.” Once the guns have been surrendered, the report demands that “law enforcement agencies should mandate destruction of all firearms that come into their possession.” This suggestion sounds like it came from a U.N. disarmament agency after all.

There’s more, but you get the idea. Don’t be personally offended, though, at the group’s attitude. After all, they don’t trust rank-and-file law enforcement with firearms, either. The IACP fought against the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, legislation to authorize law enforcement officers to carry firearms outside of their jurisdiction. Congress passed the bill anyway, giving the group what they said was “a lot of heartburn.”

That was then, and this is now. There’s a load of heartburn for gun owners in the IACP report, and the anti-gun axis is already planning to move forward. No matter how many times we close our eyes and click our shoes together, the new offensive from the Joyce Foundation and its puppet groups is not going away. As gun owners, we must be vigilant--and prepare for a long, tough election year to prevent these groups’ political allies from gaining power in Washington.

That axis--in addition to creating a new call for confiscatory bans on a wide range of individually owned, now-legal firearms--also demands mandatory gun destruction on a massive scale.

But don’t take my word for it. Believe what they say.

It’s all spelled out in a new gun control manifesto called Taking A Stand. This Joyce-funded IACP report was largely written by the likes of Tom Diaz and Kristen Rand of the Violence Policy Center (VPC) and David Mitchell, the newly appointed head of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security in my own state of Delaware. As NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox points out in his in-depth special report, Mitchell’s gun-ban credentials include a stint as a major player “for law enforcement” at the Brady Campaign.

Among the IACP/VPC/Brady Campaign/Joyce Foundation recommendations is this anti-gun, anti-freedom directive:

“Law enforcement agencies should mandate destruction of all firearms that come into their possession once any law enforcement use for them is completed.

“Law enforcement is in the unique position of acquiring tens of thousands of firearms a year either through confiscation, recovery or surrender. These weapons should be destroyed … .”

Recovered? That clearly includes stolen guns. They want to destroy my property simply because it was stolen from me?

But seizure and confiscation of guns from individual citizens would also be covered by the IACP’s section making improper storage of firearms in the home a serious crime.

Key among their “recommendations” is this: “State, local and tribal governments should mandate safe storage of guns, provide voluntary off-site storage facilities and prosecute those who fail to comply with safe storage laws.”

You can presume--no, you can bet on it--that prosecution under the IACP/Joyce Foundation vision of “safe storage” would include individuals having their firearms forfeited. And of course, once in the custody of police, those guns would fall under IACP’s rule to “mandate destruction of all firearms that come into their (police) possession.” And how would they know how the guns were stored, anyway? Surprise inspections and no-knock searches?

The IACP claims, “Safe gun storage should be a societal and legal imperative. Firearm owners should secure their firearms to help deter misuse and theft by using devices like safes, trigger locks and monitored alarm systems. Elected officials should mandate safe storage of guns and impose criminal penalties when individuals fail to comply … .”

We all agree that no one wants a child to inadvertently gain access to a firearm, and we act responsibly to make sure that doesn’t happen. But this goes way too far.

The second part of their recommendation is something that was tried in Great Britain, which was a prelude to confiscation of every registered handgun owned by a licensed citizen.

IACP says, “State and local jurisdictions should develop voluntary off-site gun storage facilities to help gun owners reduce the risks to their families.” (Would you trust the IACP or the Violence Policy Center with the key?)

In England, the initial in-home safe storage requirements included no-knock police searches. When home storage was not good enough--and it never was for the freedom-fearing gun ban politicians--handguns were banished from homes, and the “voluntary” government-approved, off-site gun storage facilities became mandatory. Thus, once they had all the legal, privately owned handguns under government control, collecting and destroying those guns was a simple matter of using the key to the locker.

All of this--every word, every concept, every “recommendation” of this $500,000 IACP report--would, in practice, drive a wedge between peaceable citizens and their police departments, and more importantly, their police officers.

Americans support their law enforcement officers because they know that they can trust them. But IACP, in its partnership with the worst of the gun-ban crowd, is telling police departments to betray that trust and to turn on their citizens--as a matter of policy.

I am proud of my years of service as a police officer. But I have to tell you, what IACP is attempting to do is very bad for American law enforcement. IACP is trying to divide America’s law enforcement officers from the very people they serve. But they forget that America’s cops represent all of the people, and know that they must have the trust of the people to do their jobs. After all, at the end of the day, America’s law officers are just a part of the rest of society.

What IACP is saying is that they don’t trust law-abiding citizens. It mirrors the paranoid political philosophy that drives the Violence Policy Center, the Brady Campaign and Mayor Bloomberg’s cadre of power-hungry, big-city politicians.

They don’t trust ordinary law-abiding citizens. To put it simply, they don’t trust you.

I ask a rhetorical question. If someone doesn’t trust you as a matter of course, should you trust them?

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.