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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 suici

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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.