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The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution reads:
"A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
www.Dictionary.com informs us that "infringe" means "to commit a breach or infraction of; violate or transgress ... " and further refers us to _Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law_: "to encroach upon in a way that violates law or the rights of another." The latter specifically cites the Second Amendment as an example of the word's usage.
The word "infringe" also carries a connotation of sneaking up, of gradually violating, or taking something away just a little bit at a time -- sort of like what's happened to the right to keep and bear arms.
I mention all of this so that you will understand, right from the beginning of this essay, why I insist that the entire structure of federal, state, and local weapons law is itself illegal, making those who have passed it and those who enforce it criminals. Never forget that.
On second thought, don't worry -- I won't let you.
What we're actually here to consider is the case of a fellow named David Bacon who, according to his attorney, James Leuenberger, was a law abiding young man and an honorably discharged sailor who, like so many of us reading this -- and writing it, too -- was interested in guns.
David met a licensed dealer on the Oregon coast and agreed to act as the licensed dealer's agent at gun shows. David also met another man, a former licensed dealer, who sold non-firearm supplies such as airguns, holsters, AR-15 upper receivers, and so on. David and this former licensed dealer worked together -- not as partners -- at gun shows.
Apparently, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives began to take great interest in the former licensed dealer, based on a tip they had received somewhere that he had unregistered machine guns. The BATFE decided to investigate the former licensed dealer.
Now, I think, would be an appropriate time to remind you that the entire structure of federal, state, and local weapons law is itself illegal, making those who have passed it and those who enforce it criminals.
The former licensed dealer and David both went to a gun show in Vancouver, Washington. The former licensed dealer unknowingly sold a pistol to a BATFE undercover agent named Zeisemer. It was David who actually handed the pistol to Agent Zeisemer at the conclusion of the sale. David and Zeisemer then talked. David gave Zeisemer a business card.
A month and half later, the undercover agent Zeisemer called David and told him that he wanted to buy a particular pistol he had seen at the Vancouver show. David informed the agent that the pistol had been sold, but that he, David, had a similar pistol that he could sell to Zeisemer. Zeisemer came to Oregon to buy the pistol. David sold it to him.
The undercover agent Zeisemer reportedly drove a vehicle with Washington license plates to the location of the firearms purchase, although Zeisemer did not identify himself as a Washington resident. The two mens' conversation was secretly recorded. David allegedly made statements that the government construes as admissions that David knew that Zeisemer resided in Washington and that David knew it was illegal for a person to purchase a pistol from a person from a different state.
That sale was Count Number One.
Approximately two months later, David sold the undercover agent Zeisemer four more firearms. All of the firearms sold by David to Agent Zeisemer were firearms that Washington residents can lawfully own (no short rifles, no short shotguns, no machine guns, and no silencers).
Those sales were counts Three through Six -- and this is probably another good time to remind you that under the Second Amendment, the entire structure of federal, state, and local weapons law is itself illegal, making those who have passed it and those who enforce it criminals.
On July 24, 2005 David, this time acting as the licensed dealer's agent, was working at a gun show in Seaside, Oregon, approximately two hours' drive west of Portland. David did not arrive at the show until 11:00 A.M. However an individual who claimed to have bought a firearm from David later testified that he had purchased it from David at 9:00 A.M.
That individual had lied.
He testified that he had filled out and given to David a form required by Oregon law whenever a dealer purchases a firearm from a non-dealer. There was no such form to be found either at David's home, at the licensed dealer's place of business, or at the former licensed dealer's home, when those locations were searched by government agents on September 1, 2005. David testified that he did not know that he was supposed to fill out such a form, because the licensed dealer had never told him about it. The fact there were no such forms -- either completed or blank -- found during the searches corroborated David's testimony.
More importantly, David was in the Portland area, two hours away from Seaside, at 9:00 A.M. when the illegal purchase was supposedly made. David's cell phone records show him making local calls at that time, then no calls until 11:00 a.m. when he made a couple of roaming calls. David testified that his cell phone provider did not offer local service for Seaside, and the government never contradicted that testimony.
Government agents did spend the night after David's testimony looking for evidence to prove that he had lied. Instead, they found a Starbuck's receipt showing the purchase of a cup of coffee in Milwaukie, Oregon (that's how they spell Milwaukie in Oregon) at 9:00 A.M. on July 24, 2005. The government provided David's defense with that receipt for the first time _after_ David had testified. Properly, the government should have provided it to the defense before his trial.
Although the Starbuck's receipt was admitted into evidence and the jury was informed that it was found by government agents when they searched David's home on September 1, 2005, the prosecution argued that it -- and the government agents -- did not know whose receipt it was. At this point, although David and David's brother both testified that David, acting as the licensed dealer's agent, had sold David's brother twelve firearms on July 24, 2005, and that the sale had been properly recorded on a BATFE Form 4473, the government argued -- and somehow convinced the jury -- that David had only sold his brother eleven firearms, and that he had sold the lying witness the single remaining firearm without properly filling out a Form 4473 for that sale.
David and David's brother both testified that after David sold his brother the twelve firearms at about 3:00 P.M., David's brother had then authorized David to sell the one firearm to the witness. Since David's brother is _not_ licensed dealer, that sale did not require a Form 4473. But because the jury was successfully convinced that David had made a "false" entry on a Form 4473, he was convicted on Count Two.
Now David is serving a fifteen-month prison sentence.
All of the relevant documents for David's case can be found at <http://www.fights4rights.com/1/bacon.php>. The Oregon Firearms Educational Foundation is able to accept money for David's case and offer donors a charitable deduction. The OFEF's web site is located at <http://www.oregonfirearms.org/ofef/index.html>.
And it is time once again to remind all of my readers that the entire structure of federal, state, and local weapons law is itself illegal, making those who have passed it and those who enforce it criminals.
What likely fate does David face? According to professional firearms expert Len Savage, who has considerable experience with the BATFE, "after the conviction is terrible starting point. [Being] late getting out the word" -- and thereby enlisting the help of others -- "cost the man his freedom," a note he says we should all make to ourselves.
Savage points out that if David was an "agent" for the licensed dealer, the licensed dealer failed David in many respects, including not explaining proper sales and purchase procedures. David paid the consequences. Savage adds, "Sounds like he was a 'point' man for deals at gunshows. Most likely for purchases of underpriced firearms for the FFL ... "
This is a situation that the BATFE often exploits, Savage explains. It is human nature to "network" and develop contacts for sales and purchases. That's simply a waiting game for the BATFE. "There's always a core group of gunshow attendees. This is how the BATFE sting works ... I am most curious: did the BATFE offer him a deal of some sort? This particular action is usually used to 'lean' on the individual to roll on either the FFL holder or other gun show patrons.
Savage says the BATFE likes this tactic because it intimidates prospective attendees of gunshows. And once a person has been convicted, he's "tainted" -- most people won't pay attention to his cries of foul. The bottom line is that this play is a win-win for the BATFE, which explains why they used it from border to border -- it works.
A case like this can be retried, and even overturned -- at the cost of original trial, times the cost of the original trial, times the cost of the original trial. That's the cost of overturning a conviction.
Our American civilization has reached an historical crossroads. I remember vividly, as a kid, seeing evil, unfeeling, and inhumane 17th and 18th century English judges, in great movies like _Captain Blood_ <http://tinyurl.com/2hg7vw >, hanging prisoners, selling them into slavery, or transporting them to penal colonies for minor infractions like stealing a loaf of bread. I understood, even at that early age, that these arrogant, bewigged monsters were a reason we had to have a revolution.
Later, I came to understand that it was the class differences in English society that had allowed one group of human beings to look down on another as something less than human as an excuse to use them like farm animals. I came to appreciate the classless ideal here in America.
But, despite our best efforts to the contrary, our once admirably egalitarian civilization has now divided itself into classes, not so much on the basis of ancestry or wealth (although that's surely a part of it) but on the basis of mostly illegally-acquired political power. An example is the BATFE, whose terrible power is rooted in a structure of federal, state, and local weapons laws that are themselves illegal, making those who have passed them and those who enforce them criminals.
Similarly, on more than once occasion a lawyer has taken me aside to whisper "the truth about judges". Generally, according to what I'm told, judges begin as lawyers who are incompetent for one reason or another, embarrassments to their law firms, who get "kicked upstairs", out of the way, where the only harm they can do is to society in general.
There are no judge schools, at least that I know of, so these rejected specimens, already ignorant of the highest law of the land and its history (law school doesn't teach Constitutional law so much as it teaches dodges to get around it), take their lead from vicious prosecutors, or simply pull their increasingly totalitarian rulings out of various bodily orifices that no decent individual like to think about.
Abetted by extralegal prosecutorial contrivances like _voir dire_ (which syndicated columnist Vin Suprynowicz says is medieval French for "jury tampering") to guarantee convictions, and mindlessly toeing the current politically correct line, they rise in the system -- the few mavericks and those with a glimmer of integrity or intelligence are successively winnowed out -- until the very worst rise to the very top.
Increasingly these days, the average Productive Class American has about the same chance of receiving justice at the hands of authorities bloated with taxpayers' wealth and drunk with power as a detainee at Guantanamo.
What can be done? Right now, if history is any guide, we are at the "Committees of Correspondence" stage in the course of human events, where stories like David Bacon's -- and the illegality of the BATFE -- can be circulated far and wide. The really good news is that we have much better facilities for that sort of thing than our ancestors did. It can be accomplished in a few seconds "by word of mouse".
An excellent example is the handbill (Thug or ATF) you can find on the "Freebies" page at http://jpfo.org/filegen-a-m/freebies.htm (with an expansion to printable version) which asks the question, which criminal is more deadly, the commmon freelance thug, who may deal drugs, commit armed robbery, rape, kidnapping, carjacking, and so on -- all on a "retail" basis -- or agencies like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, that falsely imprison gun owners, train their employees to commit perjury in federal courts, enforce unconstitutional laws, and mass-murder innocent men, women, and children. Today you can ask all of these vital questions -- and spread the word -- in the blink of an eye.
The even better news is that the Soviet Union and places like Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria were able to wage their own revolutions against collectivist tyranny and obtain liberty with hardly a shot fired.
May America be as fortunate.
A fifty-year veteran of the libertarian movement, L. Neil Smith is the Author of 33 books including The Probability Broach, Ceres, Sweeter Than Wine, And Down With Power: libertarian Policy In A Time Of Crisis. He is also the Publisher of The Libertarian Enterprise, now in its 17th year online.
Visit the Neil Smith archive on JPFO.
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