Grannies, Guns, and Government

Julian VanDyke often gets under my skin. I don’t think I am alone in thinking that his combative attitude makes it tough to have true discussion. That attitude is not reserved only for the discussion posts. Recently, in our inboxes, HoT editors received this challenge:

How about it, Hammer of Truth writers. Write something about this or is the only thing you can do is bash the Iraq war and promote pornography? Let’s see some Second Amendment action. Guys like me are really interested in preserving what little freedom we have to buy, sell and own arms of all kinds and descriptions without interference from big brother. Are you interested in this issue or are you hung up on bashing soldiers and our military?

Naturally, he included a tip. February 15th was reserved for the Oversight Hearing of “The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) Part l: Gun Show Enforcement.” This site provides the testimonies of a gun show manager, a former police officer turned gunsmith and an enthusiast. The testimonies, if true, demonstrate that the BATF has completely failed- either by ignorance or irreverence- to uphold its duty as servant of the American people and the constitution we hold dear. That failure reaches past the Second Amendment and actually brings in the First and Fourth as well.

The oral statement of Annette Gelles, the owner of Showmasters Gun Shows clearly defines her business purpose and expertise:

By way of background, I have been the sole manager and proprietor of Showmasters for 10 years. Showmasters is a family owned business that began as Old Dominion Shows in 1971. My father and mother began the Roanoke Valley Gun Show and Old Dominion Gun Collectors Society 34 years ago. Over the years, we have produced thousands of shows in Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. We are a family oriented business with a conservative customer base. We allow no profanity, pornography, explosive or smoke devices so that the show is appropriate for families with children. Many of the exhibitors are retired or active duty military or law enforcement personnel. Many are just average citizens – hobbyists, knife collectors, coin collectors, holster manufacturers, booksellers, and those offering police supplies and accessories.

She admittedly worked with law enforcement in the past and had insisted on safety and security with regard to vendors, but had never recognized more than a couple ATF officers at a show. I wonder why 475 officers were assigned, without her knowledge, to her August 13 — 14, 2005 show. Ms. Gelles apparently wondered the same.

Mr. Chairman, you might ask if the purpose for this operation was explained to me as the show promoter. It was not. Instead, here is what I observed. People were approached and discouraged from purchasing guns, before attempting to purchase they were interrogated and accused of being in the gun business without a license, detained in police vehicles, and gun buyer’s homes visited by police and much more. An example of what happened is as follows: One individual was simply pulled aside from a table in the middle of a purchase and asked by an ATF agent, “What do you want to buy that gun for?” All weekend long people were interrogated in a similar manner at a table in the concession area just outside the ATF Command Post exit door.

John White, former police officer and owner of The GunSmith, gave similar testimony.

Early activity at the gun shows was entirely appropriate and within the law, however, it appeared that as time went on, the ATF was joined by personnel from other law enforcement agencies who were outside their span of control. As more resources were added, both financial and personnel, the mission and activities seemed to continually expand to try to keep everyone busy. For example, in the early gun shows, the ATF would observe and interview when activity seemed suspicious. Then home checks were added as more local officers participated with the ATF. Then instead of just address verifications, our customers told us that the officers would interview neighbors and family members about how they felt about this person buying a gun.

And then he went a step further:

We would also like to see the inordinate attention on purchasers of firearms who happen to be female stopped. Times have changed and the world has changed. As more women have become head of households, entered law enforcement and the military and learned of their many advantages as competition shooters, more women are interested in firearms for the same reason as male purchasers.

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It seems, however, to be the prevailing opinion for law enforcement at the gun show that any woman who brings a male friend for advice or support must be making a straw purchase.

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If a woman approached a gun table, she was quickly surrounded by undercover officers closely observing her every move. A women was almost guaranteed to rate an interview if she actually purchased or attempted to purchase a gun at that show on Sunday.

James Lalime gave testimony which indicated that he was questioned because he was seen at many shows.

The first question agent McComas asked me was, “We see you at a lot of gun shows, are you in the business of buying and selling firearms?” To which I answered, “No sir, these are my personal firearms.” Again agent McComas said, “well we see you at every gunshow, are you sure you’re not buying and selling guns as a business?” And again I told him that these were out of my personal collection. To which agent McComas replied, “Well, because we see you at all the gunshows we think you are, and you should get a business license to do so, it’s not that hard!” When I tried to explain to agent McComas the reason they see me at all the shows, might be because I work for a FFL dealer and work at those shows. Agent McComas replied, “Are you walking around at gunshows buying and selling guns for the dealer you work for?” I told him no, that I was there for myself, that I had some guns I didn’t shoot and wanted to sell. Again agent McComas insisted that they saw me at, “ALL the gunshows” And again I told him that I worked for an FFL dealer, at gunshows and maybe that’s why they see me at every show. Agent McComas again asked if I was there working for the FFL dealer, and again I told him that I was there for myself. This type of round, and round questioning went on for about another 15-20 minutes.

Violations of rights and liberties are too common today. Many people will read about this gun show and think that it doesn’t affect them. That is unfortunate for us all. I am thinking now of a woman who was well served by her ability to have a gun. Jackie Mae King, an 87 year old Illinois woman, was robbed in December. The crook cut her phone line to keep her from calling her big brother local police department. When a crook attempted again in February, Granny popped a cap into his ass lung. Again her phone line was cut, but she was not beaten as she was in December.

Our government and the anti-gun groups in this country would have you believe that the Second Amendment is something that relates to another era. Tell that to Jackie Mae King or the the people that Fox News found defending themselves.

— Little Rock, Ark: After the assailant attacked him and his son-in-law with a poker, a 64-year-old minister shot a man dead on church grounds. The attacker had engaged in a string of assaults in an apparent drug-induced frenzy.
— Corpus Christi, Texas: A woman shot to death her ex-husband, who had broken into her house. The woman had a restraining order against the ex-husband.
— Tampa Bay, Fla.: A 71-year-old man, Melvin Spaulding, shot 20-year-old James Moore in the arm as Moore and two friends were beating up his neighbor, 63-year-old George Lowe. Spaulding had a concealed weapons permit.
–Bellevue, Wash.: A man shot a pit bull that lunged to within a foot of him and his family. Police said the man’s family had been repeatedly menaced in the past by the dog.
— Jonesboro, Ga.: A father out walking with his 11-year-old daughter was attacked by an armed robber. The police say the father shot the attacker in self-defense and will not face charges.
— Houston, Texas: Andrea McNabb shot two of the three men who tried to rob her plumbing business on the afternoon of Dec. 1.
— Philadelphia, Pa: A pharmacy manager fatally shot one robber and wounded another after the robbers threatened to kill workers at the store. The wounded robber escaped.

The Second Amendment has a purpose. The purpose is to give free (wo)men the ability to protect life, property and/or country. That our law enforcement agencies wish to disregard that purpose should outrage us. That they disregard it while violating other rights should bring us to the point of outrage and action. Our founding fathers knew that we could not ever remain free if we were controlled by the guns of the government and they protected that knowledge by clearly stating it in the Constitution. It is not relative to a different time. It is essential for liberty today.

4 Comments
  1. I can do no more than endorse this essay.

    As the husband of one strong, self-reliant woman and the father of two others, I taught them all to handle firearms safely and effectively. They can all hit what they aim for and the fool who chooses to assail them has better than even odds of winding up gravely wounded or dead. Of course, we pose no threat to reasonable, decent people.

    This is a good thing.

    I will be visiting this site from time to time now that I’ve blundered across it.