posted by David J. Theroux - President, The Independent Institute on Dec 20

December 15 marks America’s Bill of Rights Day, the anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution. Beginning on this day, we have created the Second Amendment Book Bomb, a unique and powerful way to communicate the importance of the Bill of Rights’ Second Amendment for the protection of liberty. With your help, we can launch constitutional rights to the top of national book bestseller lists, making a loud and clear statement that Second Amendment rights are unalienable!

As you know, the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2008 landmark District of Columbia v. Heller ruling finally affirmed that the Founders fully intended the Second Amendment to protect an individual right to own and bear arms. The renowned Second Amendment scholar and lawyer Dr. Stephen P. Halbrook, Research Fellow at The Independent Institute, was key to the Heller victory—as well as to three previous gun-rights victories in cases before the Supreme Court. And his definitive defense of the Second Amendment is now available in The Founders’ Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms the first in-depth, book-length account of the origins of the Second Amendment and the most readable, comprehensive, and compelling work ever assembled arguing that the right to own a gun is as fundamental under the U.S. Constitution as is freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Yet, even before the ink was dry on the Heller decision, efforts were underway in Washington, D.C., to resume the assault against gun rights. Further, and despite the rhetoric, both President-elect Barack Obama and his choice for Attorney General, Eric Holder, have repeatedly opposed Second Amendment rights, and any new federal judge appointments will likely be similarly biased.

Thus, preserving our constitutional rights will hinge on our ability to educate the American people on the imperative of Second Amendment rights. The Supreme Court’s Heller decision has provided us with an unprecedented opportunity to do this.

And now we have the tool to do so. Fascinating, seminal, and inspiring, The Founders’ Second Amendment is the perfect way both to educate ourselves and to reach friends and family who don’t yet understand Second Amendment rights. Our goal is to reach one million Americans with Steve Halbrook’s book during the Christmas Holiday Season and throughout the New Year ahead. Will you help?

Let’s make the Second Amendment Book Bomb a publishing phenomenon so great that even the mainstream media will have to take notice. Let’s spread The Founders’ Second Amendment so far and wide that Americans across the political spectrum, and all walks of life, will be discussing the Second Amendment in every possible venue.

With your help, we are seeking to make Stephen Halbrook’s book #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. To make this happen, please pledge to buy at least one copy of the book before or on the December 15th Second Amendment Book Bomb date (or even afterward, if this is your only option), and then spread the word to others. Let’s make this the most amazing and explosive event ever on the right to bear arms, and declare in no uncertain terms that the Second Amendment will be around for a very long time to come.

About Stephen P. Halbrook

Stephen P. HalbrookThe winner of three gun-rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court (Printz v. United States, United States v. Thompson/Center Arms Company, and Castillo v. United States), Dr. Stephen P. Halbrook is Research Fellow at The Independent Institute. He received his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center and Ph.D. in social philosophy from Florida State University, and he has taught legal and political philosophy at George Mason University, Howard University, and Tuskegee Institute.

A contributor to numerous scholarly volumes and journals, Dr. Halbrook is the author of eight books, and he has testified before the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Subcommittee on Crime of the House Judiciary Committee, Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and House Committee on the District of Columbia.

Click here to learn more about Stephen P. Halbrook.

posted by Charles L. Cotton on Dec 19

Eight years of relative peace on the gun-control front under President George W. Bush are coming to an end.  People are clearly aware of this fact as evidenced by near- frenzied buying of guns and ammo at gun shows and elsewhere.  Although the 2008 Presidential Election certainly didn’t turn out as gun owners would have liked, there is no reason to panic.  Plus, panicking won’t help anyway!

So we all need to take a deep breath and go about the business of protecting the Second Amendment they same way we have been for decades.  Although gun owners have not faced the current threats for the last eight years, this is not our first rodeo.  We know what must be done, we know how to do it, so let’s get to work.  But we must also take the initiative to use new approaches to defending our rights.  We must reach out to people who are neither members of the National Rifle Association nor the Brady Campaign [To Ban All Guns].  We need to make a pro-gun ideology truly bipartisan, multi-racial and something upon which both liberals and conservatives agree.

We must also take a very practical approach to showing people that firearms are both useful and fun and while they are to be respected, they need not be feared.  In thirty-five years of firearms training, I have come to know that the single biggest reason some people never own guns is that they harbor an irrational fear of the unknown.  This is true even if these people are not what we would consider “anti-gun.”   On the other hand, many people who own guns don’t use them simply because they are unaware of the shooting activities and locations available in their area.

All this sounds like great theory, but how do we make it a reality?  First, we must diligently work to get all gun owners to join the National Rifle Association and its local affiliates.  In Texas, this would be the Texas State Rifle Association.  This will increase the clout of the NRA in Washington and in state capitols throughout the country.  To this end, a new grassroots membership drive called Project One Million: Texas has been launched with the goal of increasing the number of Texas NRA members to one million.  More information about the project can be found at

To tackle the second prong of reaching people who are neither gun owners nor anti-gun, I have created an education and advocacy organization called Texas CHL Forum, Inc.  This is a membership organization that is unusual in that the “target market” for membership is different than the “target market” for its services.  In short, the Texas CHL Forum, Inc. will focus on providing educational and training opportunities to people who otherwise would likely never be exposed to firearms and legal issues related to their use, at least not in a positive way.  For more information on the mission, goals and activities of Texas CHL Forum, Inc., please click here to read the description in this thread on the  I will also post an article here on the TexasCHLblog in the next few days.

We also need to make a coordinated effort to get inactive gun owners, or people considering buying their first gun, involved in the shooting sports.  While shooting sports includes organized matches shooting under the rules of various sanctioning bodies, it also includes a fun day at the range doing nothing more than “plinking,” or getting self-defense training so one can defend oneself or their family.  Every time someone learns that it is safe and fun to shoot anything with a trigger, whether pistol, rifle or shotgun, we have taken one step further to ensuring the longevity of the Second Amendment.  So while I am primarily a pistol shooter, it is just as important and satisfying to me when I see new shooters arrive at the shotgun ranges at our shooting club, or pull up at the bench-rest range to do some precision shooting.

To promote shooting, both sport shooting and self-defense shooting, a new project is underway to help clubs and ranges throughout the state attract new people into our respective sports and activities.  I can’t give more information at this time, as we will have a planning meeting in January, 2009.  When all of the details are worked out, the new project will be announced here on and on

There is no arguing that gun owners and the Second Amendment face significant challenges in the coming four or more years, but don’t waist your energy panicking.  Take that energy and put it to good use by joining in one or more of the efforts outlined in the preceding paragraphs.  And the very first thing you should do is go to and get involved in that effort.


posted by Stephen P. Halbrook, Ph.D., J.D. on Dec 15

stephen-halbrook1Today is the United States’ Bill of Rights Day, but District of Columbia residents are second-class citizens when it comes to the Second Amendment. President-elect Barack Obama certainly does not support it. When I filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court supporting the respondent in District of Columbia v. Heller on behalf of 55 senators, the senate president, and 250 representatives, Obama declined. And his voting record in the Illinois legislature and the U.S. Congress has been as hostile to American gun owners as King George III was in 1775. What’s in store for Second Amendment rights come January?

Imagine that at Lexington and Concord, British Major John Pitcairn does not shout “Disperse you Rebels—Damn you, throw down your Arms and disperse!” . . . and that the shot heard ‘round the world is not fired. Imagine that instead he reads to the assembled colonists the following decree by British Commander-in-Chief General Thomas Gage, modeled of course after the newly minted 2008 District of Columbia gun law:

  1. Bans “assault weapons,” defined by a long list of various rifles, pistols, and shotguns, and concludes with the catch-all: “Any firearm that the Chief may designate as an assault weapon by rule.” Anyone who disobeys will be imprisoned.
  2. Requires all non-banned firearms to be registered with the Chief, who promises never to confiscate them—unless you forget to register or re-register them, that is—and “registration certificates shall expire three years after the date of issuance unless renewed.”
  3. A non-banned pistol can be registered but only “for use in self-defense within that person’s home.” You cannot defend yourself outside the home. “The Chief shall require any registered pistol to be submitted for a ballistics identification procedure and shall establish a reasonable fee for such procedure.” Oh, and only one pistol can be registered in a thirty-day period.
  4. Within two years—1777 for the colonists, 2010 for D.C. residents—you will go to prison if you have a pistol that is not “microstamp ready” or is an “unsafe pistol” as determined by weirdoes in the futuristic state of California.
  5. Knapsacks with more than ten rounds of ammunition are banned as “large capacity ammunition feeding devices.” Essentially, you will be arrested if you have eleven or more rounds.

Of course the “Chief” is the Chief of Police, and these quotes came directly from the new law. Imagine that the colonists reverently surrendered their “assault weapons” and sought to register their non-banned arms and pay the Chief his “reasonable fee.” Imagine that our founders were sheepish wimps who remained subservient to royal tyranny instead of demanding the American Revolution. Imagine that two centuries later we delegated all power to the California legislature and that in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), D.C. won instead of lost.

Thankfully, that was not the case. The Supreme Court ruled against D.C. and held its handgun ban to be in violation of the Second Amendment’s “right of the people to keep and bear arms.” But with Obama’s recent appointment of Eric Holder as his attorney general and D.C.’s determination to leave its citizens helpless against the criminals the police can’t control, history shows you can’t hold your breath waiting for others to protect your rights. It seems the colonists at Lexington and Concord had it right.

Stephen P. Halbrook, Ph.D., J.D., is Research Fellow at The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif., and author of the book, The Founders’ Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms, as well as the books, That Every Man Be Armed (Independent Institute) and Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms.

posted by Charles L. Cotton on Sep 30

The so-called “Wall Street Bailout Bill” is the hottest topic to hit the airways and Internet in a long time. Regardless of where one stands on the government bailout, the facts are clear as to how this gigantic problem arose. It started with President Jimmy Carter who wanted to generate “affordable housing” and the creation of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to accomplish that goal. While that effort “helped to make affordable housing available,” the seeds of disaster were not truly planted until President Bill Clinton instructed his Treasury Secretary to amend the underwriting rules for loan approvals. This revision lowered the requirements for getting a home mortgage and allowed hundreds of thousands of people to purchase a home they truly could not afford.  (Chick here for a 1999 New York Times article giving a short summary.)

No one can be certain when we passed the point of no return and how late disaster could have been avoided. However, since 2001, the Bush Administration has been warning of serious financial problems looming within Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. These warnings were in 2001, 2003, and 2005. In 2005, Senator John McCain supported “The Housing Enterprise Regulatory Act of 2005.” This bill was strongly opposed by Democrats, many of whom now try to point the finger at the Bush Administration and the Republicans in Washington.

By now you are probably checking the web address to make sure you are really on the TexasCHLblog and wondering why an article on the Wall Street Bailout is posted here. Politics and the 2008 Presidential Election is why this article was written. Senator Barack Obama, Congressman Barney Frank, Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer and many others in the Democratic Party leadership are desperately trying to avoid taking the blame for the financial crisis they have created. Rather, they are blaming President Bush and every other Republican they can slander and they are trying to make it and issue against Senator McCain in the election.  Here is a clip from an interview with Senator Schumer:

Senator Schumer knows his statement was false, he was part of the Democratic blockade of this legislation. But Schumer isn’t the only leading Democrat to lie about Senator McCain’s attempts to pass legislation to regulate Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Look at what Barack Obama is saying:

One of the most vocal Bush/Republican bashers seen on television in recent days is Congressman Barney Frank. However, Mr. Frank must have forgotten that YouTube has published his many public speeches and comments supporting expansion of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and opposing regulation of those entities. So too has Senator Chuck Schumer. To listen to what they said when opposing the efforts of the Republicans and Senator John McCain to pass “The Housing Enterprise Regulatory Act of 2005,” please go to (YouTube has disabled embedding of the video at the poster’s request.)

But Democratic Representative Barney Frank and Senator Schumer are not the only Democrats to have opposed any oversight of Freddie Mac and/or Fannie Mae.  Look at  the efforts of other lesser known Democrats to bury a scathing report by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight presented during a 2004 hearing to investigate Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae “questionable” accounting practices.  Pay particular attention to the salaries and bonuses paid to senior Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae officers.  And now the Democrats screem of over-paid executives in other companies.  Their hypocracy knows no bounds!

The final video in this article is Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Polosi’s speech on the House Floor just before the Wall Street Bailout failed on Friday, September 19, 2008.  As Speaker of the House, she blatantly lied about the history of Republican attempts to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  She summarily credited the failure of these entities and the resulting financial crisis on “eight years of failed economic policies” of the Bush Administration and the Republicans.  That’s a lie Nancy and you know it.

So whether you support or oppose the “bailout,” it’s clear how we came to be standing on the brink of a financial crisis, whether great or small. It’s also clear who repeatedly sounded the alarm and tried to regulate Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to avoid a meltdown of the U.S. financial markets. It’s also clear that Barack Obama and other Democrats are lying about Senator McCain’s position on this issue and his attempts to bring these giants under control.

Choosing to lie about an issue or one’s opponent when there is no proof to the contrary is a test of one’s integrity. Choosing to lie when there is documentary and video evidence to the contrary is a test of one’s stupidity!


posted by Charles L. Cotton on Sep 30

posted by Charles L. Cotton on Sep 17

The American Hunters & Shooters Association (AHSA) is an organization that was created by long time gun control and anti-hunting activists in 2006.  Its sole reason for existing is to deceive hunters and attack the National Rifle Association (NRA) by making false allegations.  AHSA’s goal is to drive a wedge between the NRA and hunters and keep hunters from supporting pro-gun/pro-hunting candidates in November.  It has been exposed for what it is, but that hasn’t stopped the AHSA from mass-mailing emails to supporters of the Brady Campaign gun control agenda.

Brady Campaign and anti-gun/anti-hunting AHSA share email lists

Apparently the Brady Campaign to [Ban all Guns] has provided its email list to the bogus anti-gun/anti-hunting organization deceptively named the American Hunters & Shooters Association . I was forwarded a copy of an email from the AHSA blasting the NRA and supporting proven gun control proponent, Barack Obama. The person who sent me the email is on the Brady email list, but they never signed up for emails from the AHSA. Oops Sarah, you have been caught trying to deceive us — yet again! Do you think freedom-loving gun owners are so simple minded as to fall for this lame trick?

Here is the AHSA Anti-gun email

Connection between Brady Campaign and AHSA

There is more evidence of the Brady/AHSA connection. As noted on the NRA’s website, its President, Ray Schoenke, has a financial history of promoting gun control groups, including the Brady Campaign. He has made political donations to Al Gore, John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, Bill Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, and Ted Kennedy. Mr. Schoenke donated $5,000 to Handgun Control, Inc. (now the Brady Campaign) in 2000 and his foundation, the Ray and Holly Schoenke Foundation also donationed to the Brady Campaign.

AHSA Board member John Rosenthal remains the leader of Stop Handgun Violence, a Massachusetts anti-gun group. And one of the leading organizers of AHSA is Bob Ricker, who has served as a paid expert witness against gun manufacturers in a number of reckless lawsuits. These are mere examples of the connections between AHSA, Brady and numerous other gun control politicians and organizations.

Overall goal and philosophy of AHSA and the Brady Campaign are identical

Even a cursory review of AHSA’s website shows they are nothing more than a shill for the Brady Campaign’s long-standing anti-gun campaign.  The AHSA foolishly used the identical phrase “common sense” used by Brady in a futile attempt to conceal their true goals of gradually disarming Americans.  See if the language in the website tab labled “Common Sense” sounds familiar.

Common Sense

AHSA is committed to advancing common-sense gun policy initiatives that will have an immediate impact on violence, crime, accidental injury and death and make our country safer.

AHSA’s President, Ray Schoenke, must agree with Sarah Brady’s view that those who truly support the Second Amendment are fools who will fall for anything.

Listen to Mr. Schoenke himself and you decide if the AHSA supports  hunters and gun owners, or the Brady Campaign agenda.  Just as the Brady Campaign resorts to lies and scare tactics, so too does the AHSA when it throws out anti-gun cliches like “illegal guns,” “criminals and terrorists,” “support police chiefs and mayors,” and “keep our communities safe.”  Just as the Bradys lie about the Tiahrt Amendment, so too does the AHSA when it claims that  the Tiahrt Amendment denies law enforcement access to BATFE gun trace information.  (For the facts on the Tiahrt Amendment, check out the NRAs website.)

Did you notice the reference to dog fighting and cock fighting?  AHSA’s President Schoenke is so intellectually dishonest as to imply that the NRA supports dog fighting and cock fighting, though he is not so brazen as to expressly state something that preposterous.  In truth, the dog fighting and cock fighting angle was created in the mind of Wayne Pacelle of the anti-gun/anti-hunting Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), but the AHSA is only too happy to promote this false allegation.  The tactic is to equate legal hunting with illegal dog and cock fighting and argue that those who support hunting also support dog and cock fighting.  It is a despicable lie, but Mr. Schoenke is no more constrained by the truth than is Sarah Brady and Mayor Bloomberg.

Here is an excerpt from the NRA’s website on constitutional amendment to defend hunting, and the  opponents’ attempt to equate hunting to dog and cock fighting:

This new approach provides specific protections against the kinds of prohibitions most likely to be sought by Wayne Pacelle’s Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and others. It is hard to argue that including more specific language in a constitutional amendment is bad, especially in an age when many judges seem to believe that their personal political agenda trumps the plain language of constitutions. Addressing specific issues limits the potential for mischief from the bench.

Make no mistake about it; the threat to our sporting heritage posed by HSUS’ Pacelle and the young anti-freedom crusaders his $120 million-a-year organization is funding is real. They are hoping that the continuing population shifts from rural to urban America and the associated changes in values will soon provide for a political climate that will allow the majority of non-hunters to crush the hunting minority—relegating us to political insignificance. For the time being, however, polls show that hunting is supported by a healthy majority of Americans. They understand that America’s hunters are the nation’s true conservationists and ethical wildlife managers who provide an essential public service.

Pacelle has told the Associated Press, “If we could shut down all sport hunting in a moment, we would.” He wasn’t concealing his agenda when he told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, “Our goal is to get sport hunting in the same category as cock fighting and dog fighting. Our opponents say that hunting is a tradition. We say traditions can change.”

AHSA and Brady Campaign support “reasonable restrictions” a/k/a radical gun control

Look also at the not-so-veiled anti-gun rhetoric posted on AHSA’s website. You will recognize the arguments as vintage Brady Campaign lies and propaganda. For example, AHSA sprinkles the terms “common sense,” “safety,” and “security” in their propaganda just like other anti-gun organizations in an attempt to conceal their true goals.  While claiming to believe the Second Amendment is an individual right, AHSA quickly resorts to the use of traditional anti-gun buzz words equating gun owners to “criminals and terrorists.”

Gun Legislation & Policy

‘A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed’

These 27 words protect the rights of Americans to own and use guns. The American Hunters and Shooters Association is committed to these words and the ideas and principals behind them. Protecting our homes, preserving our liberties, hunting, and sport shooting are American values that AHSA will vigorously defend.

But, there is no constitutional right to arms for criminals, terrorists, or others who seek to abuse the very freedoms the Constitution guarantees.

According to legal memoranda filed in court by the United States Justice Department, the Second Amendment allows for the passage of reasonable laws designed to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

Under the Constitution and laws of the United States, gun ownership is a protected right. But it is a right that when exercised requires the utmost in responsibility and vigilance.

In formulating AHSA legislative policy the AHSA Board of Directors will always weigh the common sense interest of hunters and shooters against basic safety and security interests of our community at large. In this way a rational, well thought out approach to firearms policy will be developed and promoted.

Each week AHSA will examine a gun policy issue in order to better inform our members of the issues that shape public opinion about the shooting sports.

(Emphasis added.)

Well, this sounds quite familiar. It should, they are the same lies the Brady bunch has been spewing for years.  While claiming to support “hunting and sport shooting,” there is no reference to lawful use of firearms in self-defense, much less concealed carry for self-defense.

AHSA supports background checks at gun shows

AHSA supports requiring all transfers of firearms at gun shows to be subject to all federal, state and local laws and regulations currently applicable to federally licensed firearm dealers including the conducting of the instant background check on purchasers.

What does this have to do with protecting hunting and hunting grounds? Absolutely nothing! This is nothing more than an attempt to make it look like a hunting organization supports yet more unnecessary and ineffective gun control.

AHSA supports regulating rifles chambered for the .50 cal. BMG

Issue: Modern semiautomatic .50 caliber BMG sniper rifles are weapons designed for military use that combine long range, accuracy, and massive power. Intended for use in combat situations, these weapons can penetrate structures and destroy or disable light armored vehicles, radar dishes, helicopters, stationary airplanes, and other “high-value” military targets. The Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas, Al Qaeda, the Irish Republican Army, street and motorcycle gangs in California, Missouri and Indiana, and various militia groups and criminals across the United States are all documented as having possessed or used modern .50 caliber BMG sniper rifles.

AHSA supports legislative efforts to regulate .50 caliber BMG sniper rifles in the same manner as machine guns are regulated under the provisions of the National Firearms Act of 1934.

What does this have to do with protecting hunting or hunting grounds? Absolutely nothing! Brady and her ilk have been trying to create a problem where none exists, simply to argue that rifles in .50 BMG should be banned.  The AHSA has now joined in that effort.

The American Hunting & Shooting Association is a fraud.  It is nothing more than an attempt by long-time opponents of gun ownership and hunting to deceive hunters and either get them to support Barack Obama, or stay away from the polls on election day.  This tactic is despicable.

People and organizations that have opposing views should virarously argue their respective positions, but they should do so honestly and openly.  Committed gun control fanatics creating an organization named the American Hunting & Shooting Association and claiming to be pro-gun and pro-hunting is as dishonest and deceitful as a bunch of Nazi war criminals forming the Holocaust Survivors Educational Association and trying to convince people the holocaust never happened.

Shame on you Ray; Sarah Brady was a poor role model to choose.


posted by U.S. Congressman John Culberson on Sep 9

Throughout my 22 years of public service, I have been a strong and active supporter of our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.  While I support instant background checks that are immediately erased from government computers if the applicant is a law-abiding citizen, I do not believe that new federal laws and restrictions will do anything to curb gun violence in America.  As a state legislator, I helped pass the conceal-carry law in Texas.  As a Congressman, I have helped pass legislation to arm pilots against terrorist hijackers, as well as the Lawful Commerce in Arms Act which will protect law abiding firearms manufacturers and dealers from liability for crimes committed with firearms, and I supported allowing the Assault Weapons Ban to expire.

Our nation’s capital has the most restrictive gun control laws in America, yet it has some of the country’s highest rates of crime and violence.  Since my first term in Congress, I have cosponsored the DC Personal Protection Act to allow law abiding citizens in Washington, DC to own and keep firearms in their homes.  In June, the Supreme Court overturned the 32 year old DC gun ban in a monumental case upholding our basic freedoms.  I am proud of the Court’s decision, which I endorsed by signing an amicus brief with 55 Senators and 250 Members of Congress expressing our unwavering support for the Second Amendment.

Before we pass more gun laws, we should focus our efforts on enforcing the laws that are already on the books.  The Second Amendment is a basic right and freedom recognized and protected by our Founding Fathers and I will continue to use my vote in Congress to protect that freedom.

posted by Charles L. Cotton on Jul 3

It is unlikely that any 911 tape has been as widely distributed and as thoroughly debated as the one related to Joe Horn’s shooting of two fleeing burglars who had broken into his neighbor’s home. Had it not been for Mr. Horn’s statements on the 911 tape, no one outside of Mr. Horn’s family, neighborhood and a few Pasadena policemen would have known anything about him or the shooting.

Unfortunately, Mr. Horn’s ill-advised and inflammatory statements to the 911 dispatcher thrust him into the spotlight, a position of prominence he came to loath. In spite of how “bad” the tape sounded, those in legal circles knew that his actions were entirely lawful, according to the Texas Penal Code. Unlike many states, deadly force can be used by Texans to protect property under certain circumstances. Deadly force can also be used against fleeing burglars, again, under certain circumstances. (See Tex. Penal Code §§9.41-9.43).

After seeing the ordeal Mr. Horn has had to endure, it should be clear that one must be very careful about what is said to a 911 dispatcher. There is little doubt that much of what Mr. Horn said was the result of a combination of factors such as fear, impatience, concern, bravado and adrenalin-dump, rather than heart-felt comments or a desire to take someone’s life. Nevertheless, the now-infamous 911 tape has been heard literally around the world and it matters not what motivated the comments.

Mr. Horn has received death threats, his home, indeed his entire block, has been the scene of a loud and potentially dangerous protest, and he has been vilified by so-called community activists. Others have called him a model citizen, the perfect neighbor and a hero. Passions have run high on both sides of this event and the Harris County Grand Jury should be commended for not succumbing to this pressure and returning an indictment against a man who so clearly did not violate Texas law.

Throughout this ordeal, the phrase “he took the law into his own hands” was thrown about like a baseball in Spring time. This often used phrase is not found in the Texas Penal Code or in Blacks Law Dictionary, but its colloquial use implies that someone has broken the law. This is yet another inaccurate and unjustified description of Mr. Horn’s actions. While reasonable minds can differ as to whether Mr. Horn acted prudently, or whether others would have reacted to the burglary as he did, it is clear that he did not break the law.

The 2009 Texas Legislative Session may well see an effort by some to change Texas law to prohibit the use of deadly force to protect property, or to stop certain fleeing felons. This effort should be soundly defeated, as it works to the benefit of criminals, not honest citizens. Burglaries often result in the homeowner and his or her family being injured or killed. Diminishing the occupational hazards of being a burglar should not be a goal of the Texas Legislature. If such legislation should pass, the lives of some burglars may be spared, but at the cost innocent lives.

Charles L. Cotton

posted by Jerry Patterson - Texas Land Commissioner on May 8

“I, Jerry Patterson, do solemnly swear or affirm, that I will faithfully execute the duties of the office of Commissioner of the General Land Office of the State of Texas, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State, so help me God.”

I understand that solemn oath as a commitment similar to the oath I took decades ago as an officer in the United States Marine Corps to “uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” I do not regard such affirmations as mere anachronistic formalities. I feel compelled to uphold these commitments even at the risk of my political future in the case of the oath of office as Commissioner, or of my life as in the case of my past career as a Marine.

You’ll note that the above recitation DOES NOT STATE I “will preserve, protect, and defend the constitution and laws of the United States and of this state” ONLY WHEN APPLICABLE TO THE DUTIES OF LAND COMMISSIONER.

The 2nd Amendment provides that, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Art 1 Sec 23 of the Bill of Right of the Texas constitution also provides, “Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the defense of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime.”

Transferring 9300 acres to an agency of the federal government that clearly ignores these constitutionally enumerated rights would simply violate my oath of office. I can only assume that the Fort Worth Star-Telegram believes elected officials should not be expected to comply with their oaths of office.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram may consider my position “untenable” and my zeal for the Bill of Rights “obstinate” and an “obsession,” but I couldn’t care less. In my opinion, any elected or appointed official at any level of government lacking the same zeal and commitment to the U.S. and Texas constitutions should be subject to impeachment.

I guess you can just call me an old-fashioned believer in the wisdom of those who penned the Bill of Rights and not much of a believer in the wisdom of editorial boards.

In the case of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, it’s not even close.

Jerry Patterson
Commissioner, Texas General Land Office
LtCol., USMCR, ret.

[Editor's Note: This is Commissioner Patterson's response to a Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial appearing on May 8, 2008.]

posted by Charles L. Cotton on Apr 27

As I am writing this article, I’m sitting in a lounge chair on my patio. A strong wind is blowing and dark clouds are rolling in. It’s clear that a storm is coming. Well, I wish the only storm brewing was related to the weather! Eight years of relative peace on the federal front are coming to a close and political storm clouds are gathering. President Bush didn’t go out of his way to help gun owners, but he didn’t hurt us either, even when pressured to do so after the Democrats took control of Congress and tried to “deal” on legislation he wanted.

Gun owners have enjoyed tremendous success at the polls for several years, even considering the Democrats regaining majorities in the U.S. House and Senate. Many of the newly elected Democrats claim to truly support the Second Amendment, but only time and an opportunity to vote on gun bills will tell whether these claims are election rhetoric or true commitments. One thing is certain, the 2008 Presidential Election offers the very real prospect of returning an anti-gun President to the White House. This has implications even more ominous than the 1994 passage of the Clinton gun-ban, also known as the “assault weapons” ban. As noted, many of the “new” Democrats in Washington have not had the opportunity or misfortune to see a vote on a gun bill. So Second Amendment supporters must still view the likelihood that the Democratic Party’s margins in both the House and the Senate will increase as an ominous possibility. Clearly, the battle to defend our Second Amendment rights is far from over.

After suffering stunning defeats at the polls in 2000 and 2004, anti-freedom groups like the Violence Policy Center, Sara Brady and their ilk focused on state legislatures. They were hardly content to accept the demise of the so-called “assault weapons” ban and introduced even more menacing legislation in several states. After taking control of the U.S. House and Senate, the Democrats introduced an even more Draconian “assault weapons” ban at the federal level. Though filed, this bill has not been pushed by the Democrats for fear it would hurt them in the 2008 Elections. The anti-gun forces bankrolling the anti-gun Democrats are confident that whether Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton is in the White House, they will remember them as their “friends.” So if we see a President Obama or President Clinton in 2008, then the far-reaching “new” assault weapons ban will be the first of many battles we will have to fight. Remember, Obama has stated he supports not only the assault weapons ban, but also a federal law banning concealed carry by citizens throughout the entire Country!

Under President Bush’s direction, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton lead a successful fight against anti-gun forces within the United Nations and against George Soros’ puppet Rebecca Peters, all of whom were trying to do with a UN treaty what the anti-gun forces have been unable to do in the Legislature. Unfortunately, the U.N. small arms treaty is like a summer cold, it always seems to come back. If Clinton or Obama are in the White House and Democrats like Senators Schumer and Feinstein continue to enjoy a majority in the Senate, a devastating U.N. smalls arms treaty is a very real possibility.

At a time when we should be gearing up for battle, there is a distinct danger that the pro-Second Amendment voter base has grown complacent, because of our successes at the state and federal levels for the last eight years. Our victories have been numerous. The NRA and its state associations have steadfastly expanded law-abiding citizens’ rights to carry handguns for self-defense. “Shall issue” concealed carry statutes are now the rule, rather than the exception, in the majority of states; a feat many would have considered impossible only a few years ago. Anti-lawsuit statutes have been passed in several states to protect firearms manufacturers from frivolous, politically motivated suits filed solely to drive them out of business. This is in addition to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act passed at the federal level to provide a two-pronged defense.

The NRA also took action in response to the atrocities inflicted on helpless citizens in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Former Mayor Ray Nagin, illegally and unconstitutionally ordered the confiscation of all firearms from law-abiding but stranded and helpless citizens, leaving them without the means of self-defense at a time when their lives were clearly in danger. As one woman said, “They didn’t offer me a drink of water, they didn’t offer me any food, they didn’t offer me a ride out, they just took my gun and left!” Thanks to the NRA, federal legislation was passed preventing the repeat of such despicable acts by public officials. However, the NRA didn’t stop there. Suit was filed on behalf of citizens whose property was illegally confiscated and the scope of Mayor Nagin’s lies and deeds came to light during the discovery process. We should also take pride in the fact that this suit was made possible because the NRA had investigators on location in New Orleans to obtain documentary proof of Mayor Nagin’s quest.

The NRA made passage of laws commonly known as the “Castle Doctrine” a top priority in the states. These laws vary by state, but at their core they allow a citizen to defend themselves from violent attack, without having to worry about facing prosecution and prison. Many of the states included civil liability protection in their version of the “Castle Doctrine.”

But make no mistake, all of these successes are in danger. With the Democrats in control of the House and Senate, not only do we face the very real possibility of another assault weapons ban that is more encompassing than Bill Clinton’s version, we could see the repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and the Emergency Powers Act that prohibits the confiscation of firearms in times of emergency. If John McCain is President, he likely would veto such legislation; Clinton or Obama would sign it with a big grin on their face.

I made this statement in 2005 and it bears repeating.

Ironically, our successes can actually work against us, unless we are ever vigilant. It is comforting to see the great strides we have made, but we cannot allow that success to lull us into complacency. Rather, we must use our successes as a springboard for new efforts.

Unfortunately, three years after first making this statement, our “new efforts” are going to be directed largely toward protecting what we have gained.

There is much work to be done. In truth the fight to defend all Constitutional rights, including the Second Amendment, will never end. There will be times of relative peace as we enjoyed from 2000 to 2008, but the threat will always be present to some greater or lesser degree. While we have to guard against complacency that is born of success, so too must we guard against fatigue caused by a seemingly endless battle. So how do we accomplish this? We win by staying in the fight with our commitment of time, energy, effort and money. If you are not a member of the NRA and the TSRA, then by all means join both. If you are already a member, then consider a donation or better yet, regular sustaining donations. Our successes have always come at the cost of time, effort and money and this isn’t going to change. In addition to money, be ready to respond to a call to action by voting, getting others to vote to support their Second Amendment Right, and placing calls, faxes and emails to Senators and Representatives.

Millions of our ancestors fought World War I, the “war to end all wars,” with the fervent hope that their children would know war only on the pages of history books. But only 23 years later, Americans found themselves in World War II locked in a battle to save our way of life. We’ve learned there is no “war to end all wars” whether it is fought on the battlefield, or in the political arena. So pray for peace, even if only for a little while, but do so while preparing for the coming political battles. To do less would guarantee the demise of the Second Amendment.


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