|Howie Fischer, who runs a tiny media outlet
out of his home called Capitol Media Services, managed to get one of his "news"
stories, attacking both Senator Johnson for carrying a firearm and SB 1629 in
general, published in a number of Arizona newspapers. Either it's a slow news
day, or it fits into their prejudicial agenda. |
The story has been found in the:
Arizona Daily Star: http://www.azstarnet.com/news/182587
East Valley Tribune: http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/89488
Arizona Daily Sun: http://www.azdailysun.com/articles/2007/05/11/news/20070511_front%20page_5.txt
(Caution: You may want to wrap your head in duct tape to keep it from exploding when you read the story)
First, Howie ignores the facts about the Arizona Constitution and gun laws in general. Then he gets all atwitter about women being able to defend themselves, and goes on a misogynistic attack against Senator Karen Johnson, a grandmother, for carrying a firearm. Then, using tortured logic, he twists the story into a hyperventilated attack on SB 1629 because it might keep law-abiding citizens from getting arrested when they attempt to comply with firearms statutes clouded by head-scratching court decisions.
It's time to let the editors of these "news" outlets know that we've had enough of them printing bigoted hit pieces on law-abiding citizens.
This Alert is probably reaching at least 500 people. If the above newspapers received 500 Letters to the Editors about this, they may not print them all, but they sure will get the message that it's not open season on gun owners anymore.
This time we can't give you a cut-and-paste letter, because we want the words to come from you. However, later in this Alert, we will provide some facts you might want to use, along with the contact information for each of the newspapers that printed Howie's story.
First, let's get into "Letters to the Editor" 101:
1. Type or write clearly. Include your name, address, and telephone number. Papers sometimes call to verify authorship. Newspapers will not print anonymous letters.
2. Address your letters to: "The Editors" or "Dear Editor."
3. Be brief and specific. Letters should never exceed one page. State the purpose of your letter in the opening paragraph, and stick to that topic. If your letter pertains to a specific article or editorial, identify it accordingly. Try to keep your letter under 125 words. Always adhere to the paper's guidelines, which should be stated on the editorial page of the paper.
4. Speak the truth. Never make a statement you can't back up with hard figures or facts. Be polite. Avoid name-calling and insults.
5. Stick to current issues. Stay with the debates going on right now.
6. Keep trying! Don't become discouraged if your letter is not published. Most publications receive more letters than they can print, and will often print one letter as a representative of others about the same subject. Keep trying! Unpublished letters are still read by the editors, and can help them determine which topics receive more attention.
Now, let's examine Howie's "story" and look at facts:
· In one paragraph, Howie talks about how "Arizonans did not have the right to carry concealed weapons until the law was changed in 1994." Wrong! For a start, the government cannot "grant" rights. They preexist. Government can recognize and protect rights, or not. In 1990, an Appellate Court (Dano v. Collins) determined that Article 2, Section 26 of the Arizona Constitution ("The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the state shall not be impaired…") allowed for "reasonable regulations," including the prohibition of carrying concealed weapons. Still wearing that duct tape? In 1994, when the State Government passed laws regulating concealed carry, no new rights were granted. The Department of Public Safety gained a revenue stream, and Arizonans gained some convenience and relief from an undue burden on their existing rights.
· Senator Johnson's carrying of her firearm into the Senate building is not connected in any way with her sponsorship of SB 1629, despite what Howie implies. The Arizona Constitution protects legislators from arrest for misdemeanor charges (Article 4, Part 2, Section 6). Carrying a weapon past a "We don't serve your kind here" (e.g., No Weapons) sign can result in a misdemeanor charge. This is not affected at all by SB 1629. In addition, the sign on the Senate building very clearly states that "members of the public" may not carry weapons in the building. That is not generally interpreted as applying to legislators, by anyone except Howie Fischer. Finally, the Senate President controls the building, and may permit anyone to carry inside, despite what any sign says.
· Howie's description of SB 1629 is, to be polite, inaccurate. He insinuates that anyone (i.e., terrorists, murderers, rapists, gang bangers, etc.) caught carrying a concealed weapon without a permit would get a $300 fine. Is that a sterling example of journalistic integrity, or what (hope that duct tape is holding out)? The truth is that SB 1629 would make carrying a concealed weapon without a permit a class 6 felony if you are committing or attempting to commit a "serious offense" or "violent crime", actually increasing the current penalty from a class 1 misdemeanor. A violation committed in connection with any other felony would still be a class 1 misdemeanor. The penalty is only reduced to a petty offense for law-abiding citizens. The only people who would get a petty offense for a concealed weapon violation under SB 1629 are people who are doing nothing else wrong than simply carrying a gun.
· Under current law, if you have not been issued a concealed weapons (CCW) permit, it is a class 1 misdemeanor to carry a concealed weapon. Everyone is treated like a hardened criminal. Sadly, because of a couple of 1994 Appellate Court decisions, there is no clear, objective standard in statute that you can rely on to determine if you are violating the law. If a casual observer cannot easily see your firearm, you are carrying concealed and could be arrested. Wearing a gun in a vehicle = concealed carry. Without a permit you are subject to arrest. Having a CCW permit and wearing a gun in a vehicle puts your non-CCW permit passengers at risk for being arrested for carrying concealed without a permit.
· SB 1629 separates the innocent mistake by law-abiding citizens from the cold-blooded actions of hardcore criminals. SB 1629 even adds the "attempted commission of a serious offense" language to the law, to assist law enforcement in arresting the bad guys
· There is broad bi-partisan support for SB 1629, and among the members of the legislature that support it are several former law enforcement officers and former prosecuting attorneys. Pro-self-defense groups support it. Law enforcement groups support it. The public supports it.
· SB 1629 also specifies that AZ POST certified officers may carry a weapon into any place, and under any circumstances, not specifically excluded in HB 2457, which was signed by the Governor on April 16, 2007. This is another crime-fighting feature of SB 1629. It means a greater law-enforcement presence, and safer neighborhoods, businesses and streets.
OK – You've read Howie's story, and you know the real facts. Now it's time to warm up those keyboards and politely educate some newspaper editors. Below are links to their Editorial pages where you can find email addresses to send your comments to, along with their guidelines for sending letters:
Arizona Daily Star: http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/opinion/64475
East Valley Tribune: http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/232
Arizona Daily Sun: http://news.azdailysun.com/opinion/letter_submit.cfm
These alerts are a project of the Arizona Citizens Defense League (AzCDL), an all volunteer, non-profit, non-partisan grassroots organization. Join today!
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