Good Things *Are* Happening
After our last cold-water dose of reality about the cost of making a difference, we thought it might be nice to provide some good news (as well as a good resource) about the efforts of others.
First, an update on an earlier post. Last November, we published an interview with Stephen Stamboulieh, the man suing Eric Holder and the ATF over arbitrary and capricious enforcement of firearm regulations. The government's lawyers' first motion, unsurprisingly, was to move for dismissal on the grounds that the plaintiff had no standing. Stephen's response (available here) dismantles their argument on a line-by-line basis and, more pointedly, includes examples in the appendix to the response (available here) that clearly illustrate the absurdity of regulatory findings, such as documentation of the ATF classifying a fourteen-inch-long shoestring as a machinegun because it could be looped around a semi-automatic rifle's trigger. Further examples (including facsimiles of letters from the Department of Justice) illustrate the unequal application of law, with documented instances of the ATF approving the manufacture or transfer of machineguns after 1986 but allowing continued possession of them despite stating they were "mistaken" in doing so - the exact opposite tactic they took in the plaintiffs' cases in 2014. In these recent cases, they confiscated firearms and threatened fines and imprisonment when their "mistakes" came to light.
The documents make for a lengthy read but we highly recommend perusing them to get both a clearer picture of the nature of our regulatory agencies and a greater appreciation of Mister Stamboulieh's efforts in fighting this dysfunctional status quo.
Next, we've run across several pieces of excellent legislative news, courtesy of the folks at The Tenth Amendment Center.
On 2/10, the Virgina House approved, by a vote of 96 to 4, a bill that "takes things two steps beyond simply refusing to cooperate with federal agents in the event of indefinite detention in Virginia." If passed into law, it will place two requirements on Federal agencies seeking to "indefinitely detain" any U.S. citizen in the state of Virginia, pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012.
1. “[T]he U.S. Secretary of Defense shall provide notification within 24 hours of the detention to both the Secretary of Public Safety and the chief law-enforcement officer of the locality in which the citizen is detained…"
2."[T]he U.S. Secretary of Defense or his designee shall seek authorization from the chief law-enforcement officer of the locality in which the citizen is detained prior to removal of the citizen from the locality..."
Also on the 10th, an Arizona Senate passed Senate Bill 1331 on a vote of 4 to 2, with one person abstaining. Should it becomes law, it would ban the provision of money, goods, materials, personnel, training, or "assistance in any form" to any federal agency engaged in the collection of electronic data or metadata without a warrant. Further, it would ban the state from obtaining or making use of such data so obtained, removing any law enforcement incentive to turn a blind eye to incidences of parallel construction.
We commend each state's legislators for taking these positions and hope those of you living in those states reach out to support them and see how you can further these bills, hopefully into law.
A brief review of the Tenth Amendment Center's blog turned up multiple other states following in VA and AZ's footsteps, as well as several states moving bills forward that would curtail the use of drones for warrantless searches, and the tracking of commuters through the use of license plate readers for mass data collection. We highly recommend regularly visiting the TAC blog to see what positive efforts are brewing in your own backyard and thank them for their research.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it." Those words were written by Thomas Paine in 1777 and, aside from the gender-specificity, remain just as true today. Take note, take heart, but above all, take action. Liberty is not a spectator sport, folks, and those good people sticking their collective neck out for the principles of individual rights and freedom cannot bear this burden alone. What will you do to aid them and provide your own support?
ADDENDUM: Per this Ars Technica article, it seems that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has revised its procedures to explicitly provide details to judges regarding the use and capability of "Stingray devices" when applying for warrants for their use. This comes after a Charlotte judge released documents for several hundred cases involving approved applications for Stingray use - documents which appear to illustrate that the approving judges were unaware that the cell tower spoofing devices were intercepting conversations and texts from surrounding phones indiscriminately.
We would certainly file this news under the heading of "good thing" as well....