On the birthday of the Bill of Rights, Thursday, December 15th, 2006 I attempted to enter the Arizona State Capitol Building as I have at least a few times a year for the past 17years. While I am not known to carry a visible firearm on a regular basis I always make a point of “strapping on” when I go visit the capitol. For the first time I was told that the Capital Police will no longer check my firearm. This is of particular interest to me since it was the fact that the Capital Police ‘did’ check firearms that all other near by state buildings didn’t have to provide that service to be in compliance with the law (In their opinion of course). Arizona law requires that “when asked” you must allow your firearm to be checked. Now while you can not be charged with a gun crime when willing to have your firearm checked by the local 7Eleven, you can be charged with trespassing. Legislators tried to get Concealed Carry Legislation amended to force private store owners to allow guns on their property, like it or not. Libertarians came to the defense of private property owners and argued that no right can trump another. The right to voluntary association and property rights can not be trumped by someone claiming the right to carry a firearm on your private property. But public/government property is a whole other matter.
In the late 90’s the State of Arizona made the claim, “just like private property owners” they had the right to restrict the carrying of firearms at highway rest stops. If you were a woman in need of a rest break at 1am on the lone desert highway you were at the mercy of the thugs hanging out at the rest stops. Signs declared (in error) that you had to keep your firearms in your car. This only disarmed the law abiding. In a restroom stall with your panties around your ankles you were nothing more than prey. As the stats built up in Arizona we made a stand and challenged the law by openly carrying in front of Law Enforcement and the press at parks and rest stops until the signs were corrected. But with 9/11 came the race to fortify every government building in the country so we looked like a Central American dictatorship.
So my wife Donna would be required to check her firearm for the 5 minutes that she spent at the DOR (Department of Revenue). This she tolerated, and made quick friends with the security guard that worked for a private contractor. Donna learned that he was constantly having problems getting to work with his firearm when using the bus system (another story). It was exactly at this time that I and other activist friends were asked to help a young woman that worked at the AZDOR that was trained and had a CCW permit that could no longer bring her firearm with her. Shannon Flynn had been molested by her father since a young girl and constantly had her life threatened if she ever turned him in. In her mid teens she did have him arrested. Years later her father was scheduled for release and she feared for her life. Shannon Flynn Background Story Shannon had grown into a strong woman that realized she was responsible for her own life. Her government employer also made it clear that even having the firearm in her car at work would result in her termination. This made her a disarmed victim from the front door of her home to work and back and that was totally unacceptable to her and her husband Steve.
Arizona Gun activists are a very effective bunch Remnant of that campaign Years of honing their skills and networking with all sort of freedom activists have provided them with talents available at a moments notice from at least dozens of sources in many fields of expertise. I was able to talk with Mark Killian and warn him of what was to come but as is usually the case they only know that they are on the side of the government and that we are defenseless against them,… in their opinion. The first mission was to get this story out into the public. Media was easy considering the material and the ability of Shannon to make her case clear and unwavering. The government’s position was in a constant state of flux with constant pressure being put on the director Mark Killian and those above him. Every day at lunch little signs would be placed around the DOR building with various messages. One of the most effective was a cartoon of the director standing in front of the building with a sign in the grass that said, “The Killian Fields” (The old web address is no longer in use but the files are ready for reuse www.unarmedvictimzone.com)
The next step by the government was to no longer allow the public to check firearms at the guard station and require that they travel a ¼ mile away to have their firearms checked at the state capitol building by the Capitol Police. It was their argument that this would put them in compliance with the law. Now that my family was directly involved it was “Game On”.
The New York Times article, “Gun Owners Take Their Concerns to Court” and my guest column in the Arizona Republic, Why trust the politicians who take your guns? (heavily plagiarized from L. Neil Smith with his permission) was just part of the benefit of the legal challenge. A great deal of effort went into the legal arguments over a weekend of pizza and beer. We knew the work would benefit us and others in the years to come. There was the Original Filing and the following argument in the form of a Response where the meat was served Core of Legal Arguments for Future Use .
One clear point of the whole exercise was to point out how the government here in Arizona has no respect for the State or the US Constitutions and the clear wording of the law is interpreted easy enough by simply refusing to rule on the case,… dismissed. But the main point made well before the beginning of the effort was how the media really works. In anticipation of my being arrested for attempting to check my firearm, fearing I would rush the check point ????, the TV press, the print media, some legislators and about 60 activist with signs, guns and guitars were present. Once refused entry I addressed the crowd with Attorney Marc J. Victor at my side I made it clear that the spectacle would not see a single bit of news coverage due to the fact that there was no “Government Number”. Six days later when the civil suit was filed I was all over the press internationally. Without an arrest number, court filing number, campaign filing number, initiative/referendum/recall number or any piece of paper with a government seal on it the press will not address any situation where the individual is having their rights violated by the government. The government number gives the media “permission” in their minds to cover the issue.
This brings me to the reason I was at the State Capitol. The host of the morning show that I produce on Air America here in Phoenix is Charles Goyette. He came to the nation’s attention a few years ago when he was fired by the ClearChannel talk radio station here in Phoenix because he refused to support the war in Iraq. Months before his contract was up he wrote a column in the American Conservative entitled, “How to Loose Your Job in Talk Radio” . Charles and I were on the same station where I hosted a daily radio program “Declare Your Independence with Ernest Hancock” I later became Charles’ producer and we were hired away by Air America to do the morning program Charles Goyette Archive . Charles and I are both libertarians now spreading the word to the left.
A good friend of Charles’ is a well known comedian (Tonight Show appearances) Chris Bliss. While Chris leans more Democrat than libertarian he understands the philosophy and recognizes general hypocrisy when he witnesses it. During the national debate on Ten Commandment monuments being on public land he didn’t feel the need to be too concerned until he learned on his own that there wasn’t a single monument to the Bill of Rights in America. Even though he had some catching up to do (as do most of us) on the history and intent of the document, he was concerned that the document was becoming irrelevant in the minds of the American people. He commented on the fact that the Bush Administration feared a religious fundamentalist government in the Middle East but that it was becoming a requirement here in America. Self motivated to do something about it he created The Foundation Foundation MyBillofRights.org with the goal of privately funding the production of monuments to the Bill of Rights to be placed on public land where ever there were monuments to the Ten Commandments. Many had been placed as a promotional tool for the movie The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston back in the 50’s.
With only a few conversations with interested people while creating the web site, arranging for fund raising events and creating a marketing campaign, legislators and activists across the country are jumping at the chance to introduce legislation providing a few square feet of space to allow the placement of a privately funded monument to the Bill of Rights. In fact Chris has limited donations to no more than $100 per person so that it is truly from “The People” as a clear message to government on their limitations.
I was at the Arizona Capitol delivering postcards to the mail room for the legislators and press room promoting the Arizona Breakfast Club that has meet each Saturday for 37 years The Saturday Morning Arizona Breakfast Club. The postcard also promoted the Benefit for The Bill of Rights Comedy Concert at the Improv in Tempe, Arizona January 24th, 2006 where Tonight Show regular Chris Bliss and Letterman favorite Wayne Cotter will perform. Air America Phoenix is promoting it and Charles Goyette will be part of the program. Here in Arizona there is already a bill drafted to provide the location for the monument. Kyrsten Sinema is a freshman state representative, Democrat that Co-Hosts a 2 hour show on the radio station Air America Phoenix / www.1010KXXT.com and has agreed to sponsor the bill. While Arizona has a Democratic Governor, Janet Napolitano, both legislative houses are Republican. Leaders in the Republican Party have been very vocal in their support of the idea and secretly hope to turn it into a Republican bill. However any attempt to make it a “partisan” issue will do them more harm than good so the race might be about who can be the most gracious. While Kyrsten is proudly the most socialist legislator, the most Conservative in the minds of many is the champion of Immigration Reform here in Arizona, Russell Pearce. Russell is the Appropriations Chairman in the House of Representatives and is a very powerful legislator on several fronts. Of great interest to me is if the Bill of Rights can bring these two legislators together in cooperation over promoting the rights of individuals and the limits of government. Personal conversations with both leave me wondering. Personally I see them both willing to sacrifice the rights of the individual if it empowers the state to accomplish their goals to socially or economically engineer the people. Both understand my views and reasoning but are willing to take on this issue for at least the political gain.
The postcard also gave the schedule for the Arizona Breakfast Club that included this Saturday’s meeting that features the nephew of the late Barry Goldwater. Don Goldwater is seeking the Republican nomination for Arizona Governor but will face a Primary Opponent with the Christian Right in his hip pocket. Len Munsil is the Chairman of the Center for Arizona Policy and is making certain that the issue of “Gay Marriage” is front and center in Arizona. A ballot initiative is being circulated to ban Gay Marriage in Arizona. Weeks after the 2004 election, Libertarian candidate for Governor Barry Hess, myself, my wife Donna and Arizona School Choice Trust founder Jack McVaugh met with Len Muncil and the Arizona Policy Center staff. (Arizona School Choice Trust donate to the School Choice Trust before the end of the year and direct your taxes to a great cause – very libertarian – at no cost) The purpose of the meeting was,… well, it’s a Christian thing. All of us are Christians (I just can’t put myself in the same category as many) and the ‘Christian’ thing to do is to confront your brothers and sisters and discuss where you think they are going down the dark path etc. The attempt to beg ‘Caesar’ to define the intimate and personal relationship called marriage and still consider it “Holy Matrimony” is wrong on many levels. The whole idea that special rights and/or privileges are granted certain individuals based on their living arrangements is social and economic engineering at its worst and can not be supported by the Constitution. While Christian teachings define marriage, I can’t find where Caesar is asked to sanction the rite of the church. When the Priest at my wedding said, “By the power vested in me by the state of,…” I remember thinking, ‘that wasn’t in the rehearsal’ Published Issue Articles by Ernest Hancock
… I just got back from the Arizona Breakfast Club where the featured speaker was Don Goldwater. The conversation was lively but the responses were typical. “reality dictates that we must accept…” The status Quo was defended except where point could be made like on things like the building of border fences using the labor of illegal immigrants that had been caught. This will get support from some and begin an interesting discussion. But the vigorous defense of individual rights wasn’t going to be a part of the Goldwater administration. He stated that he was Pro-Life except in the case of incest, rape or the mother’s life (which isn’t good enough for some – here comes Len Munsil). Don Goldwater’s last 7 years were spend as the Director of Special Events for the Arizona State Department of Administration (never did get a clear explanation of what that job was). So, Don was in the middle of the battle over gun rights of the people vs. the desire of the government not having to be bothered with armed citizens using the public buildings. He sided with the government’s position.
Don Goldwater is a politician. ‘What is practical, doable, prudent at this juncture, politically viable’ etc. Total elimination of any program or tax isn’t on the table, not even the State Income Tax. I don’t expect any fire in this campaign. There was a student that was a leader in the Young Republicans at ASU that came. At 19 he was well versed in the textbook mechanics of what government was suppose to be about but the real life politics has yet to slap him in the face and he was surprised at some of the comments and positions of the people at the breakfast club. I think I scared him a bit with things like the history and news on Vote Fraud, Barry Hess gave him a dose on the issue of voting in general and a couple of others shared their thoughts on several “conspiracies”. So he’s never going to be the same. How and why the best of the Republicans went libertarian or even anarchist might be best explained by the 1980 Oscar Winning Short Documentary, “Karl Hess - Toward Liberty”. Karl was Barry Goldwater’s friend and speech writer and this 26 minute documentary tells a tale the right doesn’t want told View film online here )
Another factor an my motivation for writing this “day in the life of”, is that in the 3rd hour of Charles’ show on Friday Cory Maye is a man on Death Row show another story of what happens when we allow special treatment given government agents.
Radley Balko www.theagitator.com
Cory Maye is a man on Death Row for killing a policeman that busted into his house by mistake. While researching a paper for Cato on the issue of No Knock Warrents Radley Balko came across case after case where a law enforcement officer was not charged or was found innocent for killing an innocent person during no knock warrent raids. Cory's case is about a man at home defending his family and finding himself on death row (BTW - the policeman was the son of the retired Cheif of Police in that small Mississippi town - found guilty, Cory was immediately sentenced to Death). Click Here to see the page
Radley Balko is a American libertarian writer, thinker, and speaker. He is a policy analyst specializing in vice issues for the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. He writes on drug policy, obesity, alcohol and tobacco, and civil liberties. He also writes on trade and globalization issues and more generally on politics and culture. He is also a biweekly columnist for Fox News and a regular contributor to Tech Central Station. His work has been published in Forbes, TIME magazine, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Canada's National Post, and the Chicago Sun-Times. He publishes a personal weblog, The Agitator, and has appeared on CNN, CNBC, Fox News, MSNBC, and National Public Radio.
Of special note, my Freedom Summit partner Marc J. Victor / Freedom Summit with guest host Charles Goyette’s show Tuesday, December 27th for 3 hours and from 8am-9am. Judge John Buttrick will be one of his guests. John Buttrick was the Libertarian candidate for Governor here in Arizona, a member of the Libertarian National Committee and now a Superior Court Judge that was appointed by a Republican Governor only after overwhelming support from all directions.
Friday the 30th will be the year in review by the current Libertarian candidate for Arizona Governor, Barry Hess. He did such a good job last year that we asked him to do a summary of the year’s news again. theLfactor / Western Libertarian Alliance