by Ari Armstrong, March 7, 2000
Wayne LaPierre wants to send non-violent gun
owners who arm themselves for self-defense to prison if they violate arbitrary,
unconstitutional disarmament laws on the books of a local, state, or federal
government. That was implicit in LaPierre's message March 6 during a joint
meeting in Denver with victim disarmament advocates Jim Brady, Wellington Webb,
Mark Udall, and Tom Mauser.
LaPierre, Executive Vice President of the
National Rifle Association, joined the meeting to promote what proponents are
calling "Project Exile." Rocky Mountain Gun Owners said a better name
for the policy is "Project Gulag," as its effect will be to send
honest gun owners to prison for technical violations of unconstitutional
firearms laws. The policy has also been called "Project Gestapo" for
its ominous parallels to tactics employed by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.
Ironically, the NRA opposed many of the laws
LaPierre now wants to see fully enforced.
Not only did LaPierre attend the Denver meeting
with anti-gun zealots, but he threw his support (and NRA funds) behind a
government propaganda program that encourages citizens to turn in their
neighbors for technical firearms violations. Mark Call of the Tyranny Response
Team attended the meeting and asked LaPierre if he'd correctly heard the phone
number to be publicized for turning in one's neighbors: "Is it
About 500 civil gun rights advocates gathered
later in the day to protest Mauser's group Sane Alternatives to the Firearms
Epidemic, the name of which likens gun ownership to a disease, which held a
fundraising event that evening to place victim disarmament proposals on the
November ballot. Many of the protesters also expressed disgust with LaPierre's
actions taken earlier in the day at the same location. Some publicly tore up
their NRA membership cards in protest.
Bob Glass, a founder of the Tyranny Response
Team, said the problem with "Project Gestapo" is that it doesn't
differentiate between violent criminals and those who merely violate technical
firearms laws which aren't even constitutional. LaPierre's Project will affect
those who bear arms to protect against violent criminals, not just the
criminals themselves. Glass and others said "Project Gestapo" is bound
to have a chilling effect on the use of guns for self-defense.
Most people don't even know what an
"illegal gun" is by the myriad of conflicting definitions in force
today. Some fear the police, acting on tips from ignorant informants, will
eventually seek more no-knock raid warrants to break down the doors of gun
The NRA's Neal Knox is seeking to oust LaPierre
and restore the organization to its role in protecting honest gun owners. Knox
sent out a letter complaining about many of LaPierre's comments and policies
(available at http://www.co-freedom.com/2000/02/nraleaders.html.)
Of course, "Project Gestapo" won't be
enforced consistently. For instance, as Kevin Flynn wrote March 5 for The
Rocky Mountain News, Dave Conner, who now works for the U.S. attorney's
office, once carried an illegal handgun to work. Conner may have broken at least
three laws, according to Flynn: "It is illegal in Denver to carry a loaded
weapon. Colorado law prohibits carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. And
federal law forbids most people from bringing guns into federal buildings."
But did U.S. Attorney Tom Strickland call on
Conner to serve time in federal prison? Of course not. Instead, Strickland will
work with Conner to "Exile" non-violent citizen gun owners to prison.
Strickland had highest praise for his law-breaking fellow prosecutor: "Dave
Conner has one of the finest reputations of any prosecutor who's ever served in
Colorado. He admitted a mistake, it was fully investigated and he was
reprimanded. We're honored that he would consider returning to the U.S.
When politicians, bureaucrats, legal enforcers
and other members of the political elite break the law, it's a
"mistake" for which they get "reprimanded." What happens
when normal people break these same laws? Lee White, Chairman of Colorado
Project Exile," said, "No citizen will miss this message: An
illegal gun will result in a prison sentence" (March 7 News, 5A,
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