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Was This an April Fool's Joke? Or Does This Politician Not Get It?
By Michael Z. Williamson
daggers@iquest.net


April 20, 2004


KeepAndBearArms.com -- About two years ago, I spoke to the State Representative from this area, one Woody Burton, about some possible changes to the Indiana switchblade ban. He told me at the time that he wasn't aware they were illegal, and would be willing to see this law repealed. As our legislators meet part time, he suggested I contact him later in the year to get legislation started.

I moved before then, due to various circumstances, and got no joy from the representative in my new area. But I was hopeful when I relocated back to the south side of Indy once again.

I contacted Mister Burton (I hesitate to call him "Representative," for reasons that should become clear) early in April through his website. I mentioned the law which bans anyone except military personnel on duty from possessing an automatic knife. However, virtually every police officer in the state carries one illegally. Clearly, this law is not meeting the needs of either law enforcement or the civilian community.

Imagine my surprise to receive the following reply:

Amy Berkemeier wrote:

Dear Mr. Williamson,

Thank you for contacting Rep. Burton. He appreciates your comments and input. However, he is not sure that he can agree with you on this issue. He knows that people have used these knives as concealed weapons before and does not want to put other citizens at risk. He does want to research this and get information from police agencies and maybe even the prosecutor. He would be more than willing to sit down and talk to you about this issue.



Mister Burton alleges to be a conservative, yet repeats the age-old statist screed of, "they are used to hurt people so we must ban them." I wonder, can't that same logic be applied to guns? He claims in speeches to be pro-gun. Of course, he told me on the phone he was pro-knife.

I replied as follows:

As with guns, banning them doesn't stop criminals from using them. We're talking 3" to 4" pocket knives here. And the police and rescue workers are widely violating the law by carrying them. This seems to me to be a very bad law.

I will be happy to meet with him (We did speak on the phone about it two years ago, and he was favorably disposed toward considering changes, I thought) and provide a variety of samples of both "legal" and "restricted" knives for him to examine. It really takes a lawyer to know which is which, and that is the fundamental problem. It's not clear to a normal citizen what is lawful and why.

Do please help me set up an appointment to that end.

And regardless of disagreements, I am happy to have him as Representative. Honest motives are something I respect, and we need more of it in the political arena.

Thanks much,
Mike



Sadly, my last paragraph is no longer accurate.


Amy Berkemeier wrote:

Thank you for your response. Feel free to call Rep. Burton at his office in Greenwood at 888-9300 to set up an appointment.

So I did. Now, this is his real estate office. He's usually busy with work, not legislation. However, he does have voice mail and does check it often for his day job. At least, one would assume so.

I reached him, we exchanged pleasantries, I told him why I was calling, and he cut me off with, "You ran for office a couple of years ago, didn't you?"

I had, and was glad he remembered me. I was a Libertarian candidate for a nearby district, met him at a candidate's forum at the library, and we were all well received and got along well despite our differences. Or so I thought. I had no sooner confirmed this than he said, "Listen, can I call you back in five minutes? Let me get your number. Thanks."

He didn't call back that day, Wednesday, which I chalked up to business.

He didn't call back Thursday.

I left another message on Friday.

He hasn't called back in ten days.

Now, with voicemail, an assistant and an office aid, I can't fathom this being an accident. He's telling one of his constituents that he doesn't want to discuss the laws we live under, that he's happy with the police violating a law through accident or intent, and that "weapons used in crime" shouldn't be available to private citizens.

In short, he's not representing me. He's not acting like a conservative on defense and Second Amendment issues. And he appears to be too much of a coward to tell me that to my face, or rather, over a phone line.

I'll be following up on this with my State Senator instead. In the meantime, if you're in the Greenwood, IN area, or anywhere in Indiana, you might want to tell "Representative" Burton that if he's going to pretend to be a conservative, we'll pretend to vote for him. Meanwhile, there are other candidates out there.

It shouldn't be illegal for me to carry a pocketknife, regardless of mechanism. It certainly shouldn't in a state where I can legally conceal and carry an automatic firearm. If there is such a law, the police shouldn't be able to flaunt it-they are not a privileged class, nor are they immune from the law.

Or are they? Woody Burton doesn't seem to mind. Or maybe he's bothered by the idea of freedom-loving candidates trying to make inroads into his cherished position.

His email is H58@in.gov

His assistant, the polite and helpful Amy Berkemeier may be reached at ABerkeme@iga.state.in.us


Michael Z. Williamson is a featured writer for KeepAndBearArms.com and an accomplished science fiction novelist. His first novel, Freehold, came out this year. His newest novel, "The Hero" (with John Ringo) will be available in hardcover at bookstores everywhere June 1. Advance orders can be made through his site at www.MichaelZWilliamson.com.

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The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them. Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States; With a Preliminary Review of the Constitutional History of the Colonies and States before the Adoption of the Constitution [Boston, 1833].

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