It couldn’t happen here

I was poking around in one of my old directories on my network hard drive and found a file from 1994. Yeah, I’m a bit of a packrat.

It was a Usenet post from talk.politics.guns and talk.politics.misc which I had saved. Yes, I’ve been doing this for a long, long time.

Here is the header with the “bang paths”:

From!!!!!!!!HAMBIDGE Thu Jul 14 12:25:08 1994
Newsgroups: talk.politics.guns,talk.politics.misc
Subject: A Canadian’s Letter to Americans
Date: 8 Jul 1994 13:34:30 GMT
Organization: Bristol-Myers Squibb
Lines: 164
Message-ID: 2vjkl6$
Xref: talk.politics.guns:79300

It was a rather disturbing post which I suppose is why I had saved it. I decided to look on the Internet and see if I could find it via another source. Maybe it was just something someone made up for the Usenet tinfoil brigade. Nope:


Posted: Saturday, July 9, 1994 8:00 pm
BY SUSAN RIGGS Knight-Ridder Newspapers

Government can get too powerful before you know it.

An open letter to my American neighbors:

Like you, I woke up today, got dressed and settled down to a steaming brew and the morning newspaper before heading out to work. Unlike you, I read that dozens of my fellow citizens were arrested for carrying copies of The Buffalo News. The newspaper contained information about a trial here that the powers-that-be did not want us to read. It is that simple.It is now 11:15 p.m. Minutes ago, I turned on the Buffalo television station, hoping to see on my TV what could not reach us through the newspapers. I am now looking at a blank screen. We received about 10 seconds of the trial controversy, and suddenly my screen went blank. A message appeared on the screen explaining that because of the contravention of a ban, the station was prohibiting broadcast of the news. Along with the sign was a high-pitched whistle that sounded like the air-raid sirens the Britons used during World War II.

As I sit here alone, I realize that my blood is running cold at the sound of that whistle.

This could never happen here.

Not in Canada.

You must wonder about a country that would deny its own citizens the freedom to read. As a Canadian, I have done a lot of hard thinking about it. I guess the powers

Susan Riggs is a Canadian citizen living in Ontario. She wrote this article for the Detroit Free Press.

have their reasons for the ban. Censorship always has its reasons, but, believe me, when you are on the receiving end of government censorship, no reason amounts to a hill of beans – and that is why I am writing to you.

It is my hope that you will read the Canadian story and, as your famous columnist Ann Landers says, “wake up and smell the coffee’ – while you still have a newspaper to read along with it.

I have always loved the United States of America, and I know that you are now making critical decisions about the role of government in your lives. Many years ago, we in Canada were at a crossroads in our decision making that is similar to the one you are at now. I wish our decisions back then had been very different. Then maybe I wouldn’t be sitting here staring at a blank screen.

Some two decades ago, Canadians were concerned with how government could best help its citizens. We looked around at countries with a comprehensive social welfare system and envied them their cushions of comfort for everything from universal medical care to national day care.

We were a country that held individual freedom in high esteem. Surely, we thought, it was possible to take the best aspects of socialism and weave them into the fabric of a free society. After all, this was democratic Canada and not the Soviet Union.

Over the next 20 years, we developed an extensive social support network at both the federal and provincial levels of government. The government spent money on every conceivable program. We spent and spent. Still, no one was ever really satisfied.

The spending even now continues unabated, and our national deficit today stands at more than $45 billion. (We are now looking to New Zealand for pointers on how to control our deficit.)

When you adopt an extensive government agenda, you soon discover that all the entrenched programs and layers of bureaucracy become impossible to budge. Much of the population works for the government; about 1 of every 4 Canadians now draws a government paycheck.

People learn to depend on government, and all governments, even those whose leaders warn against this dependency, learn to love the power that flows from it.

As for the threat to individual liberty, newspaper censorship is, frankly, the tip of the iceberg. Government intervenes in our lives constantly, and individual liberties are abrogated in new and ever more imaginative ways each day.

Recently, while on vacation, I rented a car in Seattle and tried to drive into British Columbia. My car was confiscated at the border. When I asked for an explanation, I was told that I had not paid taxes on it – a rental car. Had I been an American, there would have been no problem, but, as a Canadian, I had to pay $200 more for a Canadian rental car in order to continue my trip.

Canadians who dare to get a haircut or a car tune-up across the border are being photographed and prosecuted upon their return to Canada. Why? Because they have secured these services without having to incur the 7 percent goods and services tax slapped onto our ever-burgeoning provincial taxes. Even insurance plans are now taxed.

A black market has sprung up, mainly in liquor and cigarettes, which carry the heaviest taxes. Don’t think that the taxes will end there, though.

Once it takes hold, monopolization by government soon spreads to nearly every aspect of your life; in the Toronto area alone, we have six separate municipal governments and one super-municipal government (the “mother’ of all local governments) called Metro, which exists to oversee the others.

You will find that after a time, your state and federal governments – even those of a different political stripe – will join forces to make their task of tax collection easier.

Our entire education system, up to university level, is governed by a centralized bureaucracy called the Ministry of Education, which dictates what can and cannot be taught in the schools and how it is to be taught. Universities are mainly government-funded.

I realize that the issue of government-run programs is particularly important to you now because of the state of your health-care system. I sympathize with you completely. I cannot imagine a world where one could be left bankrupt because of illness. I also think that you are on the right track with your solutions. If anyone can devise a workable system for medical care, it is you.

I suggest that you look upon it as you do your police protection: a guard in place for the physical and mental well-being of your citizens. The real danger in socialized medicine is the attitude of entitlement it engenders.

The stories you have heard about us are largely true. It is not uncommon to pick up a newspaper and read about “The Frightening Wait for Cancer Therapy’ here in Ontario, and the situation is no better in the other provinces. There is a shortage of the most advanced diagnostic technology. Thousands of the health cards that ensure access to medical care have have been issued erroneously.

We do wait two hours for an appointment booked weeks in advance. Despite our world-class doctors, many patients can’t get treatment in time because of overcrowding. When you are faced with a life-and-death medical situation, you don’t mind paying whatever it costs. Under the government-dominated medical system, however, you can’t even buy your way in – unless, of course, you go to the United States.

The sound of the air-raid siren on my TV has stopped, at least for now. As the politicians love to say, this is my “defining moment.’

Writing is my great love, the part of me that can never be censored. This letter was difficult to write, and no one up here knows that I have written it. All these issues are not just personal; they are professional, too.

I am employed in administration at a prominent Ontario university that has historically enjoyed a high degree of autonomy. Last summer, my president wrote a letter to the staff explaining that the government had expressed an intention to take a more active role in the management of university affairs. He described this as an enormous threat to our autonomy as a free-thinking institution, and in the end the government retreated – for now.

As I sit here tonight, it is simply beyond my comprehension that such a well-intentioned and beloved country as my own could go so far astray so quickly. And it is all the more remarkable that it has taken place without grand conspiracies or intricate plots.

Indeed, most Canadians are as offended by the images of totalitarian government as you are. We shared your joy at the fall of the Berlin Wall and the crumbling of the Soviet bloc; we value freedom. And yet we have fallen into a trap where we are not free.

As with that other well-known road, we traveled this one with the best of intentions.

To those who would dismiss me as an alarmist, I issue this invitation: Read our newspapers, watch our news broadcasts (what is left of them) and see for yourselves. Prove me wrong. I wish you could.

When you make critical decisions about the role of government in your life, please think about me, about this letter and about Canada.

Really think about what it could mean when you hear about a government initiative that sounds too good to be true. Thank God for a free press, even when you find yourself criticizing the media for broadcasting stories that you would rather not hear about. The recent publication ban is not the first one. There are others, and their numbers are growing.

Listen and learn, America. Cup your ear to the wind and hear the blood-chilling wail of the siren whistle as it drifts down across your border.

If just one of you reads this letter and pauses, even for a moment, to think about what unchecked government can do, then it has been worth the writing.

I have faith in you, America. Your road is tough and not perfect. Nothing is. Your road will keep leading you to freedom – the freedom to read and think and be exactly who and what you are – if you only let it. Treasure that freedom, love it and resolve never, ever to let it go.

Quote of the day—David Kopel

Gun control laws are dangerous because they don’t do a very good job of taking guns away from people who shouldn’t have them. They’re more effective at taking guns out of the hands of people who can and should use them, if they chose to, for lawful protection. And gun control laws are most dangerous because they provide such political distraction from much more important issues on reducing crime, particularly reducing the illegitimacy rate. And as long as the president is up there yakking about the Brady bill and assault weapons, that’s all the less time he’s going to be putting into welfare reform and other things to rebuild the family, and that’s the heart of any real solution to crime.

David Kopel
Does Gun Control Work?
[Don’t ever let anyone tell you we haven’t been having a conversation on gun control or that we haven’t been saying for decades it doesn’t work and in fact it is counter productive. We have also been saying it is also a violation of specific enumerated and natural rights. It’s time for those people to grow up, accept the facts and stop wasting their, and our, money, time, and human resources.—Joe]

Code practice oscillator

Roberta just posted about telegraph keys and coincidently I ran across this as I was continuing to unpack boxes that hadn’t been touched in 20 or 30 years:


The battery is new and that is all it took to make it functional. It’s a code practice oscillator that Brother Doug and/or I built back in the late 60’s or early 70’s. Once upon a time we put in a half-hearted effort to learn Morse Code but neither of us succeeded at learning the skill.

Old primers

The other day I was cleaning out a box of old stuff and I found this:


It’s some very old primers. I’m pretty sure I bought these in Moscow Idaho about 1975. This was long before I was into guns or had ever reloaded ammunition. I think I was going to use them to make an Estes rocket into some sort of missile with a “warhead” for the 4th of July. I never got around to it and all the primers are still in the package.

Herman’s World of Sporting Goods closed their last store in 1996, but I’m pretty sure the one in Moscow was closed many years prior to that.

Today a box of 1000 Small Rifle Magnum Primers cost about $35.00, if they were packaged and sold in 100 piece quantity, as in the picture above, the price would be just about double what they were when I bought mine.


I was rearranging some things and came across this brick of .22 LR with only four boxes left in it. I decided to throw the bigger box away and just stack the four boxes (of 50 rounds each) on the shelf rather than taking up all the space with the bigger box they were in:


I don’t recall when I purchased this. It could have been 15 or more years ago. But the point is the price. $11.99 for 500 rounds. That’s $0.024 per round. These days I think it’s great deal if I can find any brand of .22LR for under $0.10 per round.

I think we can blame the high price of exercising our specific enumerated right to keep and bear arms on the Democrats.

Quote of the day—Bay Area Official

No one wants to touch the legitimate hunter. But we’ve got to protect society from nuts with guns.

Bay Area Official
[Via Friday A/V Club: What the Gun Debate Looked Like in 1967.

After nearly 50 years of increasingly strict laws, now with some of the most repressive gu laws in the nation, the words they use are nearly the same. California has banned the most commonly sold rifles, used by hunters, sold in the U.S. and yet they never stop pushing for more.

It stops here. It stops now. And we are reversing the trend.—Joe]

Quote of the day—Polybius

All the Britons dye their bodies with woad, which produces a blue colour, and this give them a more terrifying appearance in battle. They wear their hair long, and shave the whole of their bodies except  the head and the upper lip. Wives are shared between groups of ten or twelve men, especially between brothers and between fathers and sons; but the offspring of these unions are counted as the children of the man with whom a particular woman cohabitated first.

About 140 B.C.
As told by Winston Churchill in A History of the English-Speaking Peoples: The Birth of Britain
[I’m not certain I believe this. I mean, why would all the people shave their entire bodies except the head and upper lip? That’s a lot of shaving.

Interesting about the group marriage thing though.

Winking smile—Joe]

Quote of the day—Winston Churchill

Here was another trading centre, to which high civic rank had been accorded. A like total slaughter and obliteration was inflicted. “No less”, according to Tacitus, “than seventy thousand citizens and allies were slain” in these three cities. “For the barbarians would have no capturing, no selling, nor any kind of traffic usual in war; they would have nothing but killing, by sword, cross, gibbet, or fire.” These grim words show us an inexpiable war like that waged between Carthage and her revolted mercenaries two centuries before. Some high modern authorities think these numbers are exaggerated; but there is no reason why London should not have contained thirty or forty thousand inhabitants, and Cochester and St Albans between them about an equal number. If the butcheries in the countryside are added the estimate of Tacitus may well stand. This is probably the most horrible episode which our Island has known. We see the crude and corrupt beginnings of a higher civilisation blotted out by the ferocious uprising of the native tribes. Still, it is the primary right of men to die and kill for the land the live in, and to punish with exceptional severity all members of their own race who have warmed their hands at the invaders’ hearth.

Winston Churchill
A History of the English-Speaking Peoples: The Birth of Britain
[People like to believe the human race has been “civilized” for some time and mass killings and incredible cruelty are an aberration or an artifact of a particular race or religion. I don’t see it that way. I see “civilization” as a thin veneer which barely contains the true nature of people. I’ve heard people claim the atrocities of the 20th century with many tens of millions of murdered by their government will not happen again because “we have learned better”. I call B.S. on that.

Here we have Winston Churchill claiming, “It is the primary right of men to die and kill for the land they live in, and to punish with exceptional severity all members of their own race who have warmed their hands at the invaders’ hearth.”

This should serve as a stern warning to those who would invade a land and the natives who would aid the invaders. I’m not sure where I read it, it might have been The Good Earth, but it went something to the effect of “If you kill a man’s father he will hate you. If you take his land he will kill you.”

Invaders from whatever distant land, be it another continent or the out of touch politicians in Washington D.C. who view the property of others as plunder should study history. They should not count upon the permanence of the good nature of a society when they plunder their property. There is a threshold beyond which the thin veneer of “civilization” is removed and a terrible, bloodthirsty, barbarian emerges.—Joe]

Cute toy

Via email from Joey D:

When was the last time you saw toy guns advertised on T.V.? Many people would consider it evil.

Not many people alive today will remember Roy Rogers. But once upon a time he had a radio series, a television series, was in numerous movies, and was a model for honor, honesty, and clean living.

Times sure have changed.

Quote of the day—Elizabeth Saunders

In all the years I have been in business, I have never seen anything so blatantly un-American as that agreement. The establishment of a government oversight commission with virtually unlimited authority and no accountability is in itself a violation of the basic American concept of free enterprise. No reasonable business person could possibly sign this thing.

Elizabeth Saunders
CEO of American Derringer
March 24, 2000
American Derringer – Statement regarding S&W defection
[Smith & Wesson signed the agreement and came very close going bankrupt after gun owners spontaneously (not the NRA or any other gun rights organization) boycotted them. There were many people who were of the opinion that Smith & Wesson Must Die even after they backed out of the agreement.

See also this quote of Neal Knox about the depth the gun rights movement had fallen to in the mid 1970s. We sometimes think we have it bad now, but remember that in those dark ages we were close to getting national handgun licensing with people openly salivating at the next step being handgun confiscation:

In July 1976, Shields estimated that it would take seven to ten years for NCCH to reach the goal of “total control of handguns in the United States.”

Pete Shields was the chairman of the National Council to Control Handguns (which later became Handgun Control, Inc. which then became The Brady Campaign).

While we do have a long way yet to go we have come a long way.—Joe]

You don’t get to be your own museum

The other day I was unpacking some boxes with targets in them. Some people might say I have a problem with collecting targets but I know that I can quit any time I want.

I sorted them and stored most of them in a cabinet. A bunch of random stuff went in a pile to for my next trip to the range. but there was one from JPFO I just couldn’t take to the range. And as near as I can tell they don’t sell it anymore. But Barb correctly says, “You don’t get to be your own museum.” And since I don’t really have a good place to store it anyway I scanned it:


It is copyright 1991.

Quote of the day—Jeff Snyder

The essence of the “weapon of choice” argument is that, because criminals and madmen use these guns to commit crimes, the law- abiding must give them up. But to ban guns because criminals use them is to tell the innocent and law-abiding that their rights and liberties depend not on their own conduct, but on the conduct of the guilty and the lawless, and that the law will permit them to have only such rights and liberties as the lawless will allow.

By criminalizing an act that is not wrong in itself the purchase and sale of a firearm the ban violates the presumption of innocence, the principle that insures that government honors the liberty of its citizens until their deeds convict them. By completely banning the sale of assault weapons to prevent crime before it occurs, the law effectively and irrebuttably presumes that all who want such a weapon are no better than murderers or madmen, forever ineligible to acquire these firearms.

Obviously, a law which restricts the liberty of the innocent because of the behavior of the guilty, that rests on principle that the conduct of criminals dictates the scope of liberty the law will allow to the rest of society, in no sense “fights” crime. It is, instead, a capitulation to crime, born of a society in full-bore retreat from crime, a society fearful of and desperately accommodating itself to crime.

Jeff Snyder
August 25, 1994
The Washington Times, page A19.
Who’s Under Assault in the Assault Weapon Ban?
[H/T to Craig in the comments.

This same argument can be used against almost any law that presumes to “prevent crime” rather than punish acts which injury others. I’m specifically thinking of I-594 in Washington state but the application is far broader.—Joe]

Quote of the day—Josh Sugarmann

Across America, the firepower in the hands of gun owners of varying stripes is increasing dramatically. The reason: assault weapons. Drug traffickers are finding that assault weapons—in addition to ‘standard issue’ handguns—provide the extra firepower necessary to fight police and competing dealers. Right-wing paramilitary extremists, in their ongoing battle against the “Zionist Occupational Government,” have made these easily purchased firearms their gun of choice. And rank and file gun aficionados—jaded with handguns, shotguns, and hunting rifles—are moving up to the television glamour and movie sex appeal of assault weapons. The growing market for these weapons—coupled with a general rising interest in the non-sporting use of firearms—has generated an industry of publications, catalogs, accessories, training camps, and combat schools dedicated to meeting its needs.

Josh Sugarmann
Introduction to Assault Weapons and Accessories in America
[See also this quote from the same report that contains this infamous quote about deliberately taking advantage of “The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons” to push through bans on “assault weapons”.

I find it interesting that Sugarmann doesn’t talk about actual, measurable crime rates. He conjures up potentialities but not actual victims. This sort of tactic is no more valid than the sort of talk that came about when slave holders wanted to scare people about the problems that might occur from freeing their slaves.

Sugarmann might as well be talking about the hazards of people of color using the same water fountains as whites, black children in the same swimming pool as white children, and interracial marriages. He just doesn’t like it that people have guns even though he can’t show the actual harm and he certainly doesn’t want to talk about any potential benefits.

This 1988 paper is a classic and I can easily see it being a centerpiece in the evidence to be used at his trial.—Joe]

Quote of the day—Pete Shields

It is important to understand that our organization, Handgun Control, Inc., does not propose further controls on rifles and shotguns. Rifles and shotguns are not the problem; they are not concealable.

Pete Shields
Chairman of Handgun Control
In his 1981 book “Guns Don’t Die People Do: The Pros, the Cons, the Facts” (chapter 3, pages 47-48).
[Via email from Jay F.

I find it interesting that the book is available for $0.01 on Amazon. A penny for his thoughts is apparently the going rate.

Handgun Control is now The Brady Campaign.

Even before the name change the organization pushed for more restrictive background checks on rifles and shotguns. And they pushed hard for the “assault weapon” ban that ultimate became law in 1994 which banned many rifles and shotguns in common use.

Do not ever think they will be content with just some class of guns being banned.—Joe]

Quote of the day—The Responsive Communitarian Platform

There is, however, one measure sure to gain monumental benefits in the short run. It is politically nearly impossible to take, otherwise low-cost and very effective.

What is needed is domestic disarmament. This is the policy of practically all other Western democracies, from Canada to Britain to Germany, from France to Scandinavia. Domestic disarmament entails the removal of arms from private hands and, ultimately, from much of the police force.

The Responsive Communitarian Platform
November 18, 1991
[From the dark ages of gun ownership.

Low cost? The cost would be incalculable.

Effective? At what? The only thing I can see it being effective at is mobilizing people to “recall” (one way or another) all the politicians foolish enough to support it.—Joe]

And another thing that made me angry

Thinking back to the dark ages of the ‘94 Assault Weapon ban today reminded me of some other things that upset me at the time. There were numerous court challenges to the law. One of the most frustrating things about the disposition of these cases were that the government would say, in essence, “We haven’t prosecuted anyone under this law so you don’t have standing to challenge it.” I recall (but cannot find a quote) Attorney General Janet “Butcher of Waco” Reno saying that they had no intent of enforcing the law either. Hence the courts dismissed the challenges. Here is one such case.

My interpretation of it was that this they knew they would lose in court and were deliberately preventing us from proving they had overstepped their Constitutional limits.

They lie. They can’t help themselves

Over at Sebastian’s he talks about the distortion of the language by the anti-gun people. In specific the attempt to change the meaning of the phrase “well regulated militia” from “well functioning” to “government regulated”. And how it upset him when he found out about it:

I went through most of the Clinton years not understanding how the Assault Weapons Ban was even remotely constitutional, and wondering why nothing was done about it. When I found out, I became angry.

It was just a few minutes ago when I was having lunch with Barb L. I told her about Speaker of the House Tom Foley losing his seat over the AWB. At about that same time she was a Washington State lobbyist and generally pretty plugged into Washington State politics. But she didn’t understand how he lost his seat.

I explained it was because of the AWB and there were two things that really, really pissed us off above and beyond the ban itself.

One was they called the ban “Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act”. It’s a firearms use protection act that bans guns? They lie. It’s what they do. They can’t help themselves.

And the other was that Foley kept the voting open for several minutes after the stated voting period had expired. The bill failed but by keeping the voting open they got people to change their votes until they had enough for passage. He then closed the voting. The video of him doing that was incredible propaganda for the pro-gun side during his election that fall. Foley became the first sitting Speaker of the House to lose his bid for re-election since Galusha Grow in 1862.

If the gun owners his district in Eastern Washington could have gotten away with it I’m sure you could have sold thousands of tickets to use a horse whip on him.

Quote of the day—New York Times

One way to discourage the gun culture is to remove the guns from the hands and shoulders of people who are not in the law enforcement business.

New York Times
September 24, 1975
The Gun Culture
[“Discourage” the gun culture?

I don’t think “discouragement” would be the response. The New York Times was, and still is, quite out of touch with reality.—Joe]

Quote of the day—Stephen J. Solarz

Mr. speaker, we must take swift and strong action if we are to rescue the next generation from the rising of tide armed violence. That is why today I am introducing the Handgun Control Act of 1992. This legislation would outlaw the possession, importation, transfer or manufacture of a handgun except for use by public agencies, individuals who can demonstrate to their local police chief that they need a gun because of threat to their life or the life of a family member, licensed guard services, licensed pistol clubs which keep the weapons securely on premises, licensed manufacturers and licensed gun dealers.

The time has come for the Congress to place reasonable controls on handguns. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the Handgun Control Act of 1992.

Rep. Stephen J. Solarz, New York
August 12, 1992
Congressional Record, 102nd Congress, 1991-1992, Daily Edition, Pages E2492-2493.
[Those were dark days when “reasonable controls” were a ban on an entire class of firearm.—Joe]